The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: A review of a much anticipated biography of Dorothy Day

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Just like Kate Hennessy at the beginning of this book, I don’t even know where to start. In life, Dorothy Day hated to be written about. I hope she’s looking down happy with this book. I bet she is.

I bought this book on pre-order the moment I learned about it. I’m a huge Dorothy Day fan only becoming more and more so with each passing year. When I became a Lay Dominican, I chose her name as my religious name. As I write this review, I have an icon of her looking down on me from on top of my printer.

I was not disappointed. As the subtitle says, it is a truly intimate portrait of Kate Hennessy’s grandmother. It tells the story of her life in great detail from the roaring ’20s until her death and it’s aftermath. It speaks lovingly of the good, the bad, and everything in-between and I guarantee any follower of Dorothy Day will learn something new. It certainly gave me more to ponder.

In some ways, the book was as much about Tamar, Ms. Hennessy’s mom and Dorothy’s daughter, as Dorothy. It was not a detriment, however. I’m sure plenty of Dorothy Day’s fans, like me, are just as curious about Tamar as Dorothy. I’m not alone in wondering what it was like growing up with the Catholic Worker in the shadow of a famous mom.

The book itself is simply beautiful. The image above doesn’t do the cover justice. Inside the cover, the writing is poetic and memorable. Kate Hennessy does bounce around a bit in the timeline so sometimes it’s hard to follow. The beginning was so hard to follow, I got a little worried, but it became easier to follow with time. Her writing did remind me a lot of her grandmother’s. It is clear that she comes from a long line of writers and thinkers on both sides.

It touches upon some important social justice issues, as you’d expect. It reveals some family secrets. It paints everyone as the human beings they were, gifts, flaws and all.

The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is available now from your favorite bookseller. It is a must-read for any and all Dorothy Day devotees. It is also such beautiful writing, I’d recommend it also to anyone who is curious about Dorothy Day who loves poetic writing.

PS: I’m now an Amazon affiliate, so if you click on that link and buy anything from Amazon (it doesn’t even have to be the book, although I’d recommend it), I get a cut at no extra cost to you. Please support my family and the blog!

Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet: Book Review

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I was über excited when I won this book from the Dominican Institute. I had heard a lot about it and I’ve been praying the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet back to back regularly for a few months (ever since I learned about my maternal grandfather’s death). I wanted to see what it would look like praying them together. I was not disappointed, however I think it’ll take more practice to really get somewhere with it.

So far, I have prayed the Joyful Mysteries a couple times with the assistance of this book. At first, it is a little jarring to pray 10 Hail Marys followed more-or-less immediately by a decade of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but you do get used to it. I was particularly intrigued by the reflections that went with the mysteries however. I’ve never read a set of reflections that connected each of the Joyful Mysteries with the mystery of the Cross before. It’s strange and edifying to look at each of the Joyful Mysteries in light of Jesus’ death. Looking ahead, all of the reflections in this book connect each of the 20 mysteries to the passion and death of Jesus.

Why? It is one way of marrying the two prayers. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is all about the Crucifixion, asking for God’s mercy in light of it. Other great thinkers such as Venerable Fulton Sheen have pointed out that the Gospels need to be read in light of Jesus’ crowning moment on the cross. These meditations participate in that.

Honestly, I had wondered if putting the prayers together would save me time in prayer, but it doesn’t. Don’t come to this book thinking it’ll save you time. Come to this book wanting to deepen your prayer life.

You do not need to be really familiar with both prayers to be able to follow this book, but it does help to have some familiarity with the Rosary. You don’t need to be familiar with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at all, as the book does give a good introduction to it.

Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet is available at your favorite bookseller now. I highly recommend it for deepening your prayer life and an opportunity to look at the Rosary and the Chaplet in a new way.

PS: I highly recommend clicking on the link above to check out the book on Amazon for two reasons:

  1. Shane Kapler messaged me on FB to encourage you to look at the “Look Inside” feature on the book on Amazon. It gives you a taste of the cool, classical art work that accompanies every reflection on every mystery of the Rosary.
  2. I’m now an Amazon affiliate, so if you click on that link and buy anything from Amazon (doesn’t have to be the book, although I highly recommend it), I get a cut at no extra cost to you. Please support my family and this blog!

Eye of the Tiber publishes Ground-breaking Catholic Exposé

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It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will shock you. You cannot finish this book without being moved.

Eye of the Tiber, the leading website in Catholic news, has published some of their best eye-opening articles in a handy book form you can read when you’re stranded somewhere without the internet. All of the news stories you care about: liturgical tragedies, papal statements, the daily trials of being Catholic and more, written about in a way that will make you laugh and, if you want to, think. I loved the article chosen to be the last in the book, but you won’t appreciate it until you’ve read the whole book first, so no cheating!…

To read more of the review (and some more of the stuff I’ve written over the years) head over to Ignitum Today!

Editors note: You’re not crazy, I did accidentally publish another review this morning. It wasn’t quite ready for the world yet, so it’s been sent back to drafts to be published again at a later date.

She Means Business: A Different Review

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Today I’m gonna break from my usual routine of religious and spiritual books. I’ve been on an entrepreneur kick lately trying to get my rosary shop off the ground and looking into other opportunities. I’ve discovered there are hundreds of people out there who want to help women succeed as business owners. Two in particular have become my favorites. One of those, Carrie Green, has recently published a book.

She Means Business reads just like you’re sitting at a coffee shop talking business with your best friend. Carrie Green is so transparent, so real. She talks personally about the nitty-gritty of having an idea and working to make that idea a reality. She gives practical steps to help you solidify your idea and make it happen.

She talks about all the things we don’t want to admit: doubts, fears, procrastination, losing the fire. She gives tips to help through all those things.

You can easily read the book through in one sitting. All the writing is bite-sized and very conversational. I read it over a week because I tried to respond to all her action steps as I went along. If you buy it soon, you can join a Facebook group of like-minded women who are really great to get to know. You might have the option of taking the 28 day challenge with us (I’m not sure if that was only for pre-orders.)

I know a lot of my followers are Catholic like me so I will add a disclaimer: Yes, she does sprinkle in some of that new-age-y, pop psychology stuff that might make you uncomfortable. Like, didn’t that nun back in grade school warn us about this stuff? I think the value of the book far outweighs those sprinkles though and it’s really not that bad.

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road, it’s good to have a girlfriend, even if she’s a book and she doesn’t share your religious views. And, as I’m sure Carrie would encourage, look for another entrepreneur to meet with in person, too!

Is the Bible Good for Women? Review

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Is The Bible Good For Women? I’m gonna spoil the whole book for you. Yes, yes it is.

But really, in this well-researched, well-reasoned book, former Presbyterian deacon Wendy Alsup makes the case in this post-Christian, feminist world why the Bible is actually really really good news for women. The main premise is that you have to read the whole book through the lens of Jesus, which all Christians are really supposed to do anyway.

I had heard all the time in my Graduate studies that the Old Testament should be read in light of the New. In this book, she gives very solid examples of just that, tackling head on some of the hardest parts of scripture such as the rape of Dinah. All of these difficult parts of scripture look very different in light of the Savior.

As a Catholic reading this book, I still got plenty out of it. Yes, she probably has a much heavier emphasis on scripture than I do (“Sola Scriptura” and all that), but that does not mean that anything she says about Scripture is wrong. In fact, I love her concept of “The Bible is the best commentary on itself.” One can go crazy with all the commentaries and translations of the Bible out there, but as it was all inspired by God, often the best way to understand a difficult passage is to look at other related passages where the same word or phrase is used or the same topic is discussed. As a Catholic, another one of my favorite commentaries would have to be the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but what she says is still sound advice.

I also really, really loved her analysis of Genesis. She really skirted along the edges of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in her discussion of the God-given dignity of women and their role in the world. I wonder if Wendy Alsup has ever read about Theology of the Body or John Paul II’s Letter to Women. I think she’d appreciate his work.

In short, I’d recommend this book to anyone trying to defend the Bible in today’s world. She gives a fair hearing of the other side of the debate and then defends the Bible very well.

I was given the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in Blogging for Books. It will be available at your favorite bookseller on March 21st.

Our Lady of Fatima: A Book Review

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This was simply a lovely, thorough book. I went into it knowing very little about Our Lady of Fatima besides some of the whack-job end of the world theories based on it. (By the way, plenty of well-meaning Catholics think the world is gonna end this year because it’s the 100th anniversary. Consider yourself warned.)

Our Lady of Fatima: 100 years of stories, prayers, and devotions tells in great detail the story of the apparitions, the life stories of the three visionary peasant children, and the aftermath of the event. It gave me a lot of appreciation for this apparition. If you have been turned away in the past because these visions have been adopted by people predicting the end, I encourage you to give them a second look. There is much more to these visions.

Without knowing it, you may already been engaging in practices started by this apparition, such as the prayer ending each decade of the rosary:

“Oh my Jesus,                                                                                                                                 forgive us our sins,                                                                                                                           save us from the fires of Hell,                                                                                                           lead all souls to Heaven,                                                                                                       especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

Honestly, I didn’t know that prayer was from Fatima.You may have heard of the First Saturday devotion. It predates Fatima, but Our Lady really encouraged it at Fatima. You may have heard of the “secrets” of Fatima. They really aren’t that mysterious once you really look at them, but they are a great encouragement to work towards holiness.

And that’s really what this book and the whole of the apparition is all about: Holiness. All baptized Christians have been called to holiness in whatever vocation or state of life they find themselves in. Everyday we are called to follow our Lord more closely and many, many saints testify that the best way to do that is to follow our Lady.

I got the opportunity to read this book through my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Franciscan Media for this book! It will be available through your favorite bookseller on March 31. It is a bestselling pre-order on Amazon now!

Wisdom of the Body: A book review

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I was a little disappointed in this book. It’s not what I had hoped it would be with a real look at the beauty of the body from an orthodox Catholic position. But let’s review this book on what it was rather than what I hoped it would be.

The Wisdom of the Body is almost a self-led retreat to embrace your body with all of its gifts and flaws. Women don’t need to look far to see media that encourages them to hate their bodies. All of us get the messages, we’re either too fat, or too thin, too many stretch marks, too many freckles or zits. Any woman growing up in the western world has seen the ads and the photoshop and at some point in their lives compared themselves to these unrealistic images.

Each chapter includes a reflection, a profile of a female saint or woman from Scripture, a recommended art project, journaling project, dance, yoga and poetry. Sprinkled in are the responses of women in the past who have done these things. The responses really give the reader a bit of a feeling of community, that other women who have done these exercises before had similar responses and has similar feelings about their bodies.

Despite the fact that this book is published by Ave Maria Press, the audience for this book is intended to be much more broad than Catholic. You don’t even necessarily have to be Christian to appreciate the reflections and exercises in this book. This might (especially when I mentioned the word “yoga”) set off warning bells for some of my readers, but I really didn’t see anything problematic in this book. I’m a firm believer that yoga and eastern thought in and of itself is not necessarily bad, God’s light can shine in all sorts of places, just don’t replace it with the Gospel.

I did some of the exercises with my 4-year-old son. He loved the free dancing and the art. I can’t say I really discovered anything new about myself or learned anything else about appreciating my body through the activities, but I was also corralling a child. I might have had a different experience if I had been able to do them on my own. The reflections themselves were pretty and refreshingly body-positive.

I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Ave Maria Press again for this book!  It is available starting March 3 through your favorite bookseller.