Advent Booklist

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I think this has been our best Advent so far. We may have fallen off the St. Andrew Christmas Prayer train last week and never got back on but for the first time we have an Advent wreath (sans greenery) and we’ve been reading a little bit of Scripture every evening around the candlelight. I’ve finally come to a place where I don’t feel like I need to start all the traditions immediately. Learning to be at peace with this small act which we can build on next year with another small act has been a good thing for me.

However, I did want to devote more time this Advent to extra spiritual reading. So far I’ve devoted my attention to other, less significant literature by the likes of Alexander McCall Smith, Dashiell Hammett, and Dorothy Sayers. All good stuff (there’s something about reading mysteries in the winter!), but not quite as meditative as I probably need right now.

This isn’t so much a list of books that I’ve read and am recommending to you as a list of books that have been recommended to me by blogs and friends which I’m compiling here for future, personal reference. But maybe you’ll find it useful too.

1. On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius. This is the only one on this list I have read. I read it freshman year of college in my honors class and was blown away by its beauty, simplicity, and depth. I think this one will always top the list of Advent/Christmas reading to better enter into the mystery of the Incarnation. Plus, the most popular edition in print has an excellent forward by C.S. Lewis (which you can read here).

2. Cradle of Redeeming Love: the Theology of the Christmas Mystery by John Saward: Auntie Leila has suggested this one on numerous occasions and calls it “a book that bears reading, re-reading, and bringing to prayer (not something that one often says about a theological work.)”

3. Redeemer in the Womb by John Saward. Saward again because when I looking up Cradle of Redeeming Love, I stumbled across this one and my slight obsession with the intersection of pregnancy and spirituality makes me think that it must be really good.

4. Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI. I was planning on putting this one on the list and then Kasia posted it on her Advent reading/watching list and affirmed my decision. It’s unfortunate that I haven’t read more of Pope Benedict because everything I have read is enormously moving and intelligent.

5. The Blessing of Christmas by Pope Benedict XVI. Another one! These reflections are taken from his sermons and other writings with beautiful illustrations and artwork. I’d love to incorporate this into our family’s Advent and Christmas reading each day.

6. Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross: The Little Way of the Infant Jesus by Caryll Houselander. This one has been recommended on several blogs and all the things I’ve heard about Houselander’s sacramental, mystical imagination makes me wonder why I haven’t picked it up already.

7. Child in Winter by Caryll Houselander: I didn’t mean to put two books per author up on here but here’s another one I stumbled across when looking up the previous book. This one is more of a devotional book taken from various writings from Houselander so there might be some overlap in the material between the two. That makes me think it’s a good choice when you can only devote fifteen minutes in the morning to spiritual reading rather than tackling a thick theological text for a couple of hours.

Do you have Advent reading recommendations? I’d love to find more homilies or texts by saints and the early Church fathers to add to the list.

Bonus! Here are some Advent articles and snippets from the web that I’ve been reading and loving this season:

The Coming of Christ, the Golden Blossom from A Clerk of Oxford

Dwindled Infinity from Dominicana Journal

Poetry and Prayers for Advent from The Catholic Catalogue

 

 

Advent Booklist

Reading, Eating, Et Cetera


Linking up with Kelly for the first time in forever!

Reading

1. A lot of Britishy things. First, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which I basically read because I’ve been wanting to watch the Merchant Ivory dramatization with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, but felt like I should read it first. The prose is really lovely and it’s slow moving in the absolute best way.

On our roadtrip to and from Colorado for Thanksgiving, we audiobooked Pride and Prejudice, The Hobbit, and a dramatized (unfortunately abridged) version of The Lord of the Rings. I really loved that while I was singing to Leo during one of his trapped-in-carseat-induced meltdowns, Joe kept shushing me and rewinding P&P so that he could hear the final proposal. He was bewitched. #bodyandsoul.

And I just finished the Village Diary, the second book in the Fairacre series by Miss Read, which is always the lovely rural village life escape I’m looking for.

2. All the Light We Cannot See for my Well Read Mom book club. I didn’t absolutely love this one. I think I liked the synopsis more than the actual book. I listened to a lot of it on audiobook and it made me highly aware of how much I skim when I read and miss good chunks of detail. But Doerr writes with a stuccato like details one after another and I wasn’t keen on feeling trapped into listening to every one. And also, I haaaated that it was written in present tense. I have a weakness of defaulting to cynicism with a lot of contemporary fiction. However, I’m trying to be better about it, so I picked up Trains and Lovers today in hopes of being pleasantly surprised.

3. How the Urgency of Motherhood Made me a Writer

“Writing isn’t: where I pour most of my time and energy; the first or only way I define myself; an escape plan in case my marriage fails; or the life I would rather be living. Writing is: a means of strengthening my critical thinking while also demanding my emotional authenticity and presence; a practice that can bend and flex around the needs of the care-work I do for my family; an outlet in which to pursue excellence; and a means of connecting with others in conversations that are meaningful to me.”

Eating

4. Leo’s iron test came back and he’s slightly anemic, so I’ve been trying to incorporate more iron into his diet which mainly means I’ve gone crazy town on spinach. We’ve done green smoothies, spinach quiche, falafel (delicious with these marakesh carrots), spinach-feta yogurt dip, and spinach-walnut pesto.

7. A lot of non-penitential things after I announced my intention to eat semi-penitentially during Advent. Specifically, chicken gratin which was one of those meals that’s on a higher plane than most meals and orange French yogurt cake. I just know it would have been grand with cointreau-spiked coffee and whipped cream but I fought that non-penitential craving nobly.

Et cetera

6. I watched all of Gilmore Girls and overall, I was fan! But here are some specific things I loved and hated:

Loved:

  • That Stars Hollow charm: the old things and the new. The picnic basket auction, Petal the pig, the secret bar!
  • Emily Gilmore–utterly magnificent.
  • Lane and Zach and their kids and their band. Still going strong and I loved it.

Hated:

  • Rory. The worst as usual. Bad at relationships. Bad at journalism and professionalism. Bad at humility. I think, as Headmaster Charleston suggested, she should teach at Chilton. She’s the girl who made the Yale prospective student smell books in the library. Clearly, she just wants to share her love for learning with young minds.
  • Logan and his insufferable Life and Death Brigade friends.
  • That weird thirty-somethings gang they kept dragging out as a “funny” bit.
  • Rachael Ray. I have nothing against her. She just can’t act.
  • The Stars Hollow musical. It could have been funny-bad, but it was just bad-bad.

7. I have a date with A Cup of Jo’s beauty uniform series to research new hair products after getting told at my hair appointment yesterday, “You have beautiful hair but you don’t take care of it. Do you buy your products at the grocery store? There’s a lot of build up.” Mmm. Thanks. But yes to all of the above.

….

Happy Feast of St. Francis Xavier!

Reading, Eating, Et Cetera

Hopes for Liturgical Living: Advent

I started this little series of how I would like liturgical living in our home to look like because two years into marriage and the rich, unfailing rhythms and traditions that I always imagined would be an effortless part of our lives are haphazard at best but mostly non-existent.

It’s the first week of Advent and this season has proved to be no different so far. Last week I bought an Advent calendar from Trader’s Joe and…that’s all I’ve got. And even though it was cute and cheap, I really think we can do better than just a piece of chocolate per day till Christmas. Here we go:

Food

I’m all about doing simple, sort of penitential meals during this season. Avoiding eating out as much as possible. Toast without toppings for breakfast. Soups for dinner that can be batch cooked and eaten all week. Less meat and dairy and more legumes and vegetables. I don’t want to be feasted out by the time the actual feast begins.

Wear

In my previous liturgical living posts, I’ve written about how I like the idea of wearing darker, more subdued colors during penitential seasons and brighter, cheerier colors during festive seasons. I think this idea can work here without having to create two winter wardrobes. Just having neutral basics and then darker scarves and accessories during Advent and brighter ones during Christmas. This probably sounds ridiculously trivial, but these are just my imaginings for a life integrated with faith in every possible way.

Another thought is donating warm clothes to those in need. St. Martin of Tours’ feast day is in November, but the tale of him sharing his cloak with the freezing beggar is a fitting Advent story to tell children. (Fun fact though: in the early centuries of the Church, a period of forty days of fasting before Christmas was celebrated starting on November 12th, the day after St. Martin’s feast. It was called Quadrasegimi Sancti Martini–St. Martin’s Advent.)

Work

I want to spend the first two weeks deep cleaning, decluttering, making our home generally more peaceful and ready for Christmas. And then I really like the idea of spending Gaudete Sunday onward making salt dough and cinnamon ornaments, popcorn garlands, paper snowflakes, and so on and then putting them aside until Christmas eve. As Auntie Leila says, Advent is for making.

I also want to give extra encouragement of a spirit of charity within the family during this season. I’m still not sure about how to tread the line of gift giving between materialism and giving and receiving out of love, but I think a good place to start is emphasizing that doing good works in secret for family members (like making a sibling’s bed for them or helping out without being asked) is just as much if not more a gift as buying them a present.

Leisure

This one is huge for me since I have a terrible addiction to distractions that eat up my scant leisure time but I am trying to cut them out this Advent and for all Advents in the future to make more time for resting and for prayer.

For children, I really like the idea of a wrapping books and letting them open one a day as a countdown each day till Christmas. Elizabeth over at In the Heart of My Home has a master list of books to read with your children during this season.

It is also my one true wish (and has been for the last five years) that Joe and I will learn a Christmas carol duet on the piano. And it is another ardent wish of mine that all our family members will put on a Christmas talent revue for the entire family one day. So I really like the idea of preparing for the Twelve Days by learning Christmas carols to sing or play on an instrument; memorizing a Christmas poem; putting together a Christmas skit; so that we might share those gifts with one another and with the newborn King rather than putting all the focus on material gifts.

And as far as keeping Christmas carols at bay until the Christmas season goes, I’ve found it’s not much of an issue once you realize just how many good Advent carols there are.

Prayer

All the usual: as much of the divine office as will fit in our daily lives, daily rosary etc. but extra things for this season:

Obviously the Advent wreath with prayers and Scripture reading. I also like the idea of adding evening prayer in here, singing an Advent carol, doing this Advent litany, and for the Octave before Christmas, “The Golden Nights”, adding in the O Antiphons–but you know I’m always unrealistically ambitious.

Then there’s the thirty day St. Andrew novena. (Starts tomorrow! Alarm is set and ready on my phone because I’m the wooorst at keeping up novenas.)

And of course there are all the other feast days that break up the quiet of this season and stir up excitement for the coming Nativity. We have St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th with treats in shoes and baking cookies over at the grandparents’ house. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. Every year on this day, I want to make ultimate Mexican comfort food: albondigas and Mexican wedding cookies which look like delicious little snowballs–both perfect for winter.  And then St. Lucy’s Day on December 13th with cinnamon buns in bed, cuccia for dinner, and hymns by candlelight.

Most of all, I want to make time for myself to spend in prayer and reflection. I just ordered the Blessed is She Advent journal and there are a host of good books to read during this season. This year at the very least I’m going to try to revisit St. Athanasius’ beautiful work, On the Incarnation.

….

Other things around the Internet that have been inspiring my Advent brainstorming:

A Simple Advent Plan from Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee
Catholic New Year Resolutions from Kaitlyn at Lily and Mama
All the advent links from Like Mother Like Daughter
December Liturgical Living from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas

Happy Advent! Come, Lord Jesus!

Hopes for Liturgical Living: Advent

The Crown, the election, and the Solemnity of Christ the King

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The release of the Netflix series, The Crown, coming soon and possibly purposefully after the election was welcomed by those of us all too happy to dip into another country’s removed and far more decorous politics.

I binged through the show at an embarrassing pace. In my defense, my computer, on which I blog and work, died an unceremonious death one day and left my evenings free to read and watch Netflix. But I’m not complaining. It’s sumptuous and beautifully acted and had me reading an unhealthy amount on my phone about the ins and outs of the British royal family.

However much it may stray into fiction, the show gives us an intimate view of the personal lives of the royals. That human and flawed internal life in relation to the external life of the Crown—holy, dignified, and immutable—was incredibly fascinating to me.

Philip kneels before his wife and queen at her coronation and, on camera, looks to the world unremarkably dutiful when it was actually a tense and difficult moment for him.

Elizabeth and Philip seem to ennoble all they touch at home and abroad and yet the peace within their marriage is subject to strains of exhaustion, over-scheduling, and family drama that any married couple might feel.

Elizabeth is expected to and appears to keep calm and carry on through scandals and drama within the government and within her own family, but she relies enormously on moral support from her husband and sister and mother to carry out her duties for the good of her country.

It’s made me reflect on marriage and monarchy as very general concepts but also in the very specificity of my own life. I’m of course the queen of nowhere and no one but my tiny home and family. And yet, the amount that my husband and I are willing to humble ourselves to one another and bear one another’s burdens also has long lasting, though far subtler, reverberations for the whole world. After all, our children carry whatever environment we raise them in, be it imbued with love or fraught with fear, out into the world.

Yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King. The election and all the ugliness it’s brought out has made me feel this urgency in my heart to actually live out in concrete ways the truth that our allegiance lies first with Christ the King rather than any earthly power. So, painful as it is for Philip to kneel before his wife and painful as it might be to sometimes metaphorically kneel to my husband, i.e. bite back my urge to snap at him when I’m upset or tired, it’s actually to the Crown, the heavenly Crown, to the truly holy, dignified, and immutable kingship of Christ, that I kneel.

So if this election’s got you down (and frankly, if you’re like me, would have got you down no matter the outcome), exercise your civic duty by volunteering, donating, and speaking out in constructive ways in the name of the oppressed and vulnerable, rather than just reposting and complaining in your echo chamber. But also worship your true King by loving the people in your own small kingdom well.

The Crown, the election, and the Solemnity of Christ the King

What is your true style?

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This is a completely unnecessary post–a first world problems post. I have a roof over my head and homemade French onion soup currently in my belly and a very cute baby who gets oatmeal stuck to the carpet and a very good husband who painstakingly cleans up after him. So my basic needs and more have been met and there’s nothing really legitimate to complain about. But for a little fluff post–let’s talk about style.

My sister and her husband bought a house not too long ago and she’ll ask for second opinions about door knockers and bedside tables and whatnot. This has led to a lot of conversations about style. What is her style? What is my style? What is the significance of styling one’s home in the first place? And the more I think about it, the more I think about how social media, particularly pinterest and instagram, have either shaped my style or perhaps imprinted a false style over my true style.

I think in one way, visual social media has helped me hone in what I really like. Without pinterest or instagram, I wouldn’t have discovered and fallen in love with designers such as Ulyana Sergeenko or Stephanie Fishwick who have made me rethink the possibilities of things like fashion and calligraphy.

But at the same time, the thought of “what my style should be” increasingly creeps into my head. When I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and picture after picture of perfectly unstyled-styled homes with exposed natural wood furniture and white walls and thrifted trinkets and treasures and bonnet capped children (okay, that I can totally get on board with), I start feeling like I have too much visual noise in my home (not to mention too much very plastic tupperware), or like I’m at the mercy of a home full of things that have unconsciously been thrown together and don’t really make aesthetic sense. And then all of a sudden this “simple living” that these bloggers and influencers espouse, feels more stressful and expensive than simple.

Some of it is a work in progress. I would prefer pretty weck jars to the tupperware. But some of it is just a difference in style. And sometimes I just need to remind myself to follow my own stylistic impulses rather than go where are the legions of followers are. So what is and is not my style?

I adore Joanna Gaines but I don’t want wide open spaces and the bright whites from top to bottom in my home. I actually weirdly prefer colorful closed off rooms which I think has something to do with my feeling that rooms should be designated spaces for particular activities.

I think I might die of happiness if someone banished me to isolation in an English cottage but I wouldn’t say I’m all that into the shabby chic, vintage, and distressed look.

If we ever bought a house with a subway tiled kitchen, I would never ever ever breathe a word of complaint, but I’m more into this sort of thing.

I love spode and wedgewood and milk glass and jadite and brass but l love it all mismatched together. I like velvet, tufted furniture but in vibrant colors. I like patterned rugs, floral wall paper, black and white checkerboard floors, and whimsical touches like this.

So I guess my style is eclectic, whimsical, vibrant, elegant, a little bit happily chaotic?

But styling a home goes so much deeper than choosing and arranging things in it. (I guess this is going to get a little less fluffy than I originally planned.) When I think about the house and home I truly want, I think about homes I’ve been in that were made beautiful by my experiences in them. I remember falling asleep on the couch one advent evening in the glow of our Christmas tree. I remember exploring the prickly hill my grandma’s sunshine filled house sat on in Arizona. I remember crowding into my stara mama’s kitchen playing board games or eating bread and butter or just being together.

And then I think about films or stories that feature warm and loving homes. Mr. and Mrs. Badger’s home in Narnia, George and Mary’s drafty old house in It’s a Wonderful Life, the Bennet home in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, Mole End in The Wind in the Willows, both the houses in Nanny McPhee 1 and 2 and so on.

And while many of the things in all those homes have usually been chosen with a sensibility for style and beauty, it’s the living, breathing community that talks and plays and laughs and reads and prays and sometimes weeps or is silent together that imbues the physical objects in a home with their power to evoke emotion and memory.

So, I do think, depending on the community (or the disunity) within, the most photogenic and home tour worthy home might, in reality, be a cold and tense place to live. And the more mismatched and rumpled home might be the most desirable place on earth. And vice versa.

I suppose my conclusions are more questions. What do you think the relationship between fostering community and styling a home is? Can you focus too much on one at the expense of the other? Has social media helped or hindered you from discovering your true style? Do you even think there’s such a thing as a true style? And how much does discovering your true home style or clothing style or whatnot really matter in living your life well?

Image above: William Morris wallpaper–always a good idea in my opinion.

What is your true style?

Notes on love and meatballs

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When I started dating my husband, I was one of those girls who is in love with love. The kind who craves and feels entitled to the most beautiful love story, the most beautiful engagement story, the most beautiful wedding, and the most beautiful babies.

But on the day my husband and I got engaged, we went to the grocery store. I don’t know why that detail always sticks out to me. I didn’t include it in when I told people our engagement story (I also didn’t include the fact that I was dreading telling my parents whom I didn’t think would be all that stoked that I was engaged at the age of twenty), but I always remember that we went to the grocery store and I was tired and from the moment we left the grocery store to the moment we pulled up at the church, I totally knew I was getting engaged.

The story I told people was all about how Joseph unintentionally chose October 12th to propose which was the Feast of Our Lady of Pilar and was just perfect and providential since in the early days of Jominika, I had prayed for our relationship at the shrine of Our Lady of Pilar in Spain. I told about how Joe liked that my ring had seven stones because it seemed a beautiful symbol: three larger gems for the theological virtues and four smaller ones for the cardinal virtues. I told about how sweetly nervous Joe was and how it reminded me of our first date. I told all the dreamy bits of our engagement story.

And yet, now I love that we went to the grocery store right before we got engaged. I love how ordinary that is when, at the time, all I wanted was the wondrously beautiful parts of love. But those things are a gift and not a right. And the ordinary things which our lives are so full of right now (read: sticky little hands and so much poop) are, in fact, part of something wondrously beautiful and larger than ourselves.

This year we attempted and failed pretty badly at saying a novena to Our Lady of Pilar. We said the prayers dutifully on days 1, 3, and 4 and missed the other six. On the actual day of our engagement anniversary, Joe got home late and went straight into CPA study mode. But I made meatballs and cranked up Dean Martin and danced around with Leo and a few times Joe snuck out of his study cave and danced around with us too. We agreed the meatballs were the very best meatballs we’d ever had and that they made for a perfect engagement-versary feast on an otherwise very ordinary day.

Sage and Ricotta Meatballs (adapted from this recipe):
-2tbs olive oil
-2lbs lean ground beef
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup red wine
-1/2 cup bread crumbs (I toasted sandwich bread and threw it in the food processor)
-2-3tbs fresh sage chopped up (adjust for taste. I like pretty sagey meatballs.)
-2 cloves of garlic minced (I also like my food garlicky, so just use one or omit if you don’t.)
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-fresh grated parmesan or fontina
-tomato sauce (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rub a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Combine the ground beef, garlic, ricotta, eggs, wine, bread crumbs, sage, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until combined well.
  3. Roll the mixture into tightly packed, round balls. Place the balls in the baking dish in close rows. (They can be touching).
  4. Roast for 20 minutes.
  5. When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Sprinkle the grated cheese over that. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.

Tomato Sauce
-5 tomatoes
-4 cloves garlic minced (I may have used six or so…)
-bunch of fresh herbs chopped (I used sage since that’s what I had on hand, but basil, oregano, and rosemary would all be good)
-1 cup red wine
-1 large onion chopped
-1 stick of butter
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Use a knife to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an x. Bring salted water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add tomatoes and boil for five minutes.
  2. Remove tomatoes and pour out the water. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. (I usually chop my herbs in the food processor first and then add the tomatoes to the mixture).
  3. Heat a little olive oil in the pot. Add garlic and onions and heat until onions are translucent. Add tomato and herbs.
  4. Add red wine and butter.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.

Some notes:

-Chop and mince everything possible in the food processor and it makes the process so much easier. With sauces and meat mixtures, you’re not looking for pretty.
-Serve with something better than barilla. That fancy imported pasta you never feel you can justify buying, a mound of hot, cheesy polenta, a bowlful of gnocchi. Just do it. It makes all the difference.
-I ended up with too much meatball meat and didn’t have any tomato sauce on hand when I pulled the leftover meat out of the freezer (which explains why the meatballs pictured above are sauce-less). I threw together some brown butter and sage for a sauce and grated a ton of cheese on top and it was almost as good. Almost.

Notes on love and meatballs

Coffee Table Evangelization: The Catholic Catalogue

I’ve always had this problem where I get really nervous about talking about my faith with non-Catholics but at the same time I can’t keep quiet about it because it is who I am. I think I’ve gotten better with age. There was a point in my life when I stressfully felt like I had to convince people of the truth of my faith. But now, it’s more like this is a beautiful thing that informs every aspect of my life so it’s just bound to spill over into conversation wherever I am whoever I’m with.

Most of my friends growing up were not Catholic, and I remember them saying that they could never be Catholic because of all the things you would have to know.Now I think I understand. Looking from the outside in it does seem like there’s just so much seemingly superfluous stuff: all the patron saints and feast days and icons and statues and priests and nuns in strange clothes and titles of Mary (and what is it with Catholics and Mary anyway?). But at the time, the idea that there was too much to learn left me reeling. It was like saying you could never go to school because there was too much to learn. Or that you could never get married because there too much to get to know about a person. Too much to know and to love.

In college, I read Evelyn Waugh’s words on conversion and I wish I had known them before then, because it put into words those innate feelings I had:

“Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.”

And then I wish I had The Catholic Catalogue on hand. Not because I think everyone must be Catholic and must be Catholic this instant. (I think everyone should be wherever God wants them to be.) But just in case they were curious about all the seemingly superfluous stuff.

If conversion, as Evelyn Waugh makes it out to be, is the limitless exploration of a new land, The Catholic Catalogue, subtitled A Field Guide to the Daily Acts that Make Up a Catholic Life, is like a guide book for that journey.

Written by a mother-daughter team who runs a website by the same name, the book is organized in different sections titled: Smells and Bells (topics include among others: relics, oils and incense, praying the rosary, and processions), Seasons of the Church Year (describing how to keep and celebrate Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Ordinary Time as well as the various feasts within those seasons), and Seasons of Life (explaining sacraments and different vocations but also giving practical advice for things like naming a child, finding a spiritual director, and choosing a Catholic tattoo).

I think what I love most about this book is that it’s coffee table evangelization. It’s the sort of book that would have piqued my interest as a kid. I have this feeling that a good deal of imaginative, spiritual formation is actually hands off with raising children. (Maybe I think that because it keeps me from stressing about the enormous task of making sure your kids end up decent and faithful people.) It made a big deal in my childhood that there were simply good books around me. So I think exposing the natural curiosity of children to truth and goodness and beauty in indirect ways goes a long way.

The Catholic Catalogue is also perfect for newly (or not so newly) married couples trying intentionally to make their home into a domestic church. It makes for an ideal reference book in creating a rule or rhythm for living out the Christian life that’s tailored to your family’s own particular needs and devotions. The spiritual nourishment it offers makes it a beautiful gift idea for any sacrament in a person’s life.

Basically, if I know you and you have a major Catholic life event coming up, you’re probably going to receive this book from me. You’re welcome in advance.

Coffee Table Evangelization: The Catholic Catalogue