Thursday, December 04, 2008

10 Books That Straightened Out My Life - Part 2 of 3

Part 1 of 3 here

Nicole and I married in August of 2000. In 2001 #1 was born and in 2002 #2 was born so most of my reading consisted of children's board books! In October of 2002 Pope John Paul II declared October 2002 to October 2003 the "Year of the Rosary". He also released the Apostolic Letter - Rosarium Virginis Mariae On The Most Holy Rosary (online print version). As soon as it was available in English I printed the entire letter out and took it to the adoration chapel at our parish. I sat there for hours and read the letter in one setting meditating on every word. This letter changed my life in a way that no other work had done. I fell deeply in love with Mary and the Rosary and more deeply in love with the Catholic Faith. After reading it I was inspired to write my own rosary book in an effort to bring to life what I had learned from John Paul II. It was well received even without a "publisher" and "distributor" and I am hoping to complete a second by Easter of next year.

As the boys grew older and in number I began to read more books for them and less for myself, or so I thought. The boys loved to be read to. Even if they didn't understand everything, I think they just liked that time with dad reading books. We would sit on a futon mattress, which was their bed, in our one-bedroom-apartment in the evening with a large blanket over my head forming a tent. I would read until they fell asleep or my neck hurt from being the main support for our tent or until the flashlight batteries died. As they grew older we were able to move to more complicated stories. Although I had never read any of The Chronicles of Narnia growing up, I thought it would be fun to read it to my children. The boys loved every book in the series as did I. C.S. Lewis' world of Narnia opened up great possibilities to me in my writing. I began to explore my own ideas and continue to work on stories for my children. We have read the Chronicles a couple times now and will probably read them many more.

After reading The Chronicles and other books of that nature, I realized the power that literature has over the mind. For the boys, they began to act out the scenes, take on the personalities, and live, in a sense, in Narnia. For me, it encouraged thought and creativity. Yet I realized that not everything they or I might read would have these positive effects. So, in an effort to guard them and myself I began to read a wonderful book by Michael O'Brien. Michael O'Brien is a well known Catholic painter and novelist famous for his Children of the Last Days series (which is awesome). He wrote a book for parents to help them discern the literature put before their children. A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind helped me to fully understand the power of the written word and the power of the mind. It helped me to be on guard for books that could lead my children astray if given to them at the wrong time or before they were formed in the Faith. I am very grateful for Mr. O'Brien and this book.

Like Felix Timmerman's book about St. Francis, Father Thomas Dubay's book, Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom led me to desire more simplicity in my life. Never before have I read and shared a book with others that stirred up so much emotion. There were those who were inspired and those who were outraged. There were those who were interested in giving it a shot and others who dismissed it outright upon learning of its focus. I knew it was a true Gospel message with such reactions. In this book, Fr. Dubay challenges us to rethink spiritual poverty as well as voluntary poverty for the sake of others. He gets his readers to really consider what is important and our approach to material goods. This was simply one of the most challenging books I have read and presented book studies on. I continue to think of it often.

The last of my ten books, the other five will come later, is The Bible. I list it last not because I was just recently introduced to it but rather because I just recently learned to read it well. The Great Adventure program presented by Jeff Cavins helped me to understand the story of salvation and how I fit into that story. The Bible has been in my life since the beginning, during my conversion and so on, but never like it is now after learning how to really read it as a Catholic. So, I guess I am saying that both the Bible and the program together are the 10th book that helped straighten out my life.

10 Books That Straightened Out My Life - Part 3 of 3

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