Review: Doubleday’s The Jerusalem Bible, Reader’s Edition

Image result for the jerusalem bible reader's edition

If you are a frequent reader of The Catholic Man Reviews, you may know by now that I have reviewed a number of Bibles, and today is another review of a Bible: The Jerusalem Bible, Reader’s Edition published by Doubleday. 

You may have heard and read about the New Revised Standard Version (Catholic edition), the New American Bible Revised Edition, the Douay-Rheims Bible (that I reviewed last month)… but today, I am reviewing a Bible containing a beautiful Catholic translation, the Jerusalem translation. It is Bible translation published in in 1966. It uses the term “Yahweh”, rather than “the LORD”. I believe the translation that I think preserves the nature of the ancient languages of Scripture, and advertised on the back dust jacket as “an English translation that is as close as possible to the literal meaning of the ancient texts”. The Jerusalem Bible was once the official translation of the Lectionary in Canada (now it is the NRSV-CE). However, it is still used in countries such as English and Wales, and Australia. This review, however, is not about the Theological sense of the translations. I am reviewing the Bible itself, not going deep into the background of the translation. There are people who can critique this translation better than me. I am only giving the perspective on this specific Bible in comparison with Bibles I have already reviewed on The Catholic Man Reviews. 

Now, I think it is worth talking about the Bible itself: a hardcover book with a dust jacket. There are parchment endpapers, but unfortunately, no ribbon markers. Opening the Bible, I notice that there is something a little weird with the text. I spent some time comparing it with another Bible and found that this Jerusalem Bible seems to have been photocopied, scanned – something that I did not expect with a nice modern cover, so it is true when people say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Ironically, just last week, I found an older, paperback edition of The Jerusalem Bible while residing at Toronto’s Newman Centre residence. That copy was also published by Doubleday. The text seemed a little clearer than that one. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture or note the publishing year. Is that paperback copy the “original” print of this newer Reader’s Edition? It could be. However, I was a little disturbed when I saw that the text of some of the letters of St. Paul seemed a little darkened than the others (see image in gallery).

The verse referencing in this Bible is something worth discussing. Honestly, it took me sometime to navigate through this Bible. I am used to having the verse number start off the specified verse, with a large number marking the start of a chapter, or a clear chapter heading. This edition of The Jerusalem Bibleseemed to take another approach that I never encountered before: The verse number is located in the margin. Then, a (DOT) will mark the start the verse indicated in the margin. It took me some time to figure that system out, and I am sure new users of The Jerusalem Biblewill find the same.  There are pros and cons to this type of Bible verse referencing. It is truthfully, more aesthetically pleasing. The hand illuminated St. John’s Bibleused this verse referencing, probably because it is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, especially since the Bible is illuminated, and making superscript and subscript numbers may be a little of challenge, I assume. But in that case, I have no problem. But for a Reader’s Editionof The Jerusalem Bible, I was not too keen on this type of verse referencing. I find it is a less efficient when referencing a verse. But please note that, that is just me… other people may find this “verse number in margin” method more efficient. 

A let down I have to make clear here is the lack of notes. The third page of the Bible said that the Bible would come “with Abridged Introductions and Notes”. I thought that the notes of The Jerusalem would be similar in length to that of the New American Bible Revised Edition. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The notes for short like the ones in the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, similar in length to that of the Canadian Bible Society. However it was my fault for not reading the dust jacket before hand which mentioned, “limited footnotes where necessary to clarify only the literal meaning of the text.” The introductions to some books in the Bible are indeed brief, but very easy to understand. I like the introductions used. These “abridged introductions” are can range from 1/2 a page to a full page. However, for some books, there are no introductions, especially for the prophetic books. They are all introduced all together at once in the beginning of the section. 

Speaking about the dust jacket, I would like to note how the publishers mentioned that the Bible is “a portable 5 1/2” x 8 1/4” trim size”. While this edition of the Jerusalem Bible is more portable compared to Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible”, it is certainly not a   Bible I would want to carry around. It’s size and style (with dust jacket) makes a perfect Bible for a Catholic resource library, but not one for everyday use. The personal size gift edition of the New American Bible Revised Edition by Catholic Book Publishing is better to carry around than this edition of The Jerusalem Bible.

Unlike other Catholic Bibles I have reviewed on The Catholic Man Reviews, there are not any “extra” features, such as an appendix, glossary or maps. The Bible simply stops at the end of the book of Revelation, with a couple of extra blank pages which I would use for notes. I have seen editions of the Jerusalem Bible with maps, but I  think those were found in study editions. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale: ★★★1/2     3.5/5

So it seems like I have mixed opinions on this Bible? Yes, certainly. I like the Jerusalem Bible translation, but this edition is honestly more of Bible for home study, for those who want to read and use a Catholic translation with a separate commentary. I do not think these notes suffice for a Catholic Study Bible. This Bible is suited more for Scripture scholars and those who really want to learn more about different Catholic Bible translation. This is certainly not a Bible for beginners (those who want to read the Bible with intention and learning). I hope to do a post on “Best Bibles for Beginners” in the near future. With that said however, The Jerusalem Bible, Reader’s Edition is a great addition to the library of anyone who wants to discover Scripture through a different lens. Though, I hope that Doubleday will publish a newly typeset edition of this Bible for the years to come. 

URL: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/88210/the-jerusalem-bible-by-alexander-jones/9780385499187

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Loreto Publications’ newly typeset Hardbound Douay-Rheims Bible

One Bible translation favoured by traditional Catholics is the Douay-Rheims Bible. It has been translated directly from the Vulgate Bible, translated from ancient sources into Latin by St. Jerome. While there are copies of it circulating in the public domain online, including archive.org, nothing beats a classic hardcover book that you can physically hold and flip in your hands. 

Loreto Publications, a publisher committed to delivering to Catholics beautiful reprints of traditional Catholic books, has just released copies a newly typeset edition of the Douay-Rheim’s  Bible. Previously, Loreto Publications did have in stock copies of the Douay-Rheim’s Bible but it was not clean typeset, but rather looked like photocopies based on earlier reviews I have seen surfing around the internet.

The book is hardcover, with black bonded leather, gold stamped with a bottony cross. Very simple and clean design, nothing too fancy. 

However, getting to the end pages, I saw there was just row after row of blue bottony crosses. I am personally not a fan of such design – it just looked a little too hard on the eyes. I would have preferred plain white or cream coloured end pages.  I think that would fit better with the simple black cover. 

Opening the book, I am greeted with nice clear typeface, and the size of the Scripture text is very easy on the eyes. I can imagine the hard work that was put in to typeset this edition. 

There are some critiques however, that I hope can be improved on in future editions. First of all, the table of contents was in a sense, unusual. Often times, when dotted lines are used to connect a header to its page number, a straight dotted line is used. For example: 

Genesis …………………………………………………………………………….21

However, this Bible, instead of a straight dotted line, uses a line of 3 dot intervals like this: 

Genesis …     …     …     …     …     …     …     …     …     …     …     … 21

(You can see the images for a better sense of what I’m talking about.) I don’t know if this was a word-processing error or that was the intention of the designers, but honestly, I found it to be odd, and my sister, upon flipping through this Bible remarked the same. 

I am also not too keen with the verse numbers being the same size font as the text itself. I am used to having Bibles that have large numbers to mark a chapter and superscripts that mark the verses. This is, however, not the only Bible that I will be talking about the format of verse numbers. In a review that will come out soon, Random House’s The Jerusalem Bible uses a verse number formatting system that I find inefficient. So this is not the worst I’ve seen. Yet, this is solely all personal preference. Some people may prefer verse numbers in this format or that used in The Jerusalem Bible that I will review. 

Another point worth mentioning is the Family Record used in this Bible. I am in favour with having a Family Record in the Bible, and almost all the Bibles I have at home from Catholic Book Publishing Corporation have them. They enhance the sentimental value of the Bible as a Bible is passed on from generation to generation. Many traditional Catholic Bibles had them too and it came as no surprise to me that this edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible has one. While the layout of the Family Record is amazing, what underwhelmed me was the paper used for the Family Record, which was printed on the same type of paper used throughout the Bible. Personally, I think the Family Record should be printed on a thicker paper than the rest of the Bible since it will be written on. Especially if a ballpoint pen is used and one uses too much force, there would be indentations on the following pages. Or, even worse, if an incorrect type of pen is used on Bible paper, it will bleed through. Therefore, I much prefer the Family Record be printed on a different, thicker type of paper than Bible paper. 

I have to give some positive remarks to the ribbons of the Bible. They are large (width is about 0.5 inches) compared to that of most Bibles I’ve seen. It is of the size I’ve seen in some Chapel editions of Roman Missals. But the thing I like about them is that there is not only one ribbon, but two of different colours. I have not seen many Bibles with two ribbons. The only other one I’ve seen have two ribbons is a Catholic edition of the Holy Bible in Vietnamese, but they were both of the same colour. I prefer two ribbons or more inside Bibles since the reader might want to have one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. The Bible I often use (Catholic Book Publishing Corp. New American Bible Personal Edition) had only one ribbon, but I wanted more for ease in marking pages as I use it for The Catholic Bible in 365 Days Challenge. Fortunately, I had a set of Breviary Ribbons from an old Breviary which I had the ribbons replaced. I took the old ribbons and placed them in the spine and they have been serving me well. Therefore, checkout Breviary ribbons if you need more ribbons for your Bibles, or even Altar Missal ribbons if you need one for a larger Bible.

I also like the table of epistles and gospels  and chronological list of events of the Old Testament available in this Bible, which is a useful feature. Also included is the encyclical Providentissimus Deus of Leo XIII on the reading of Scripture. In more modern Catholic Bibles, Dei Verbum , the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation from the Second Vatican Council often appears now it place of this encyclical.

There are also pictures depicting Biblical scenes throughout the Bible, something I did not expect in this Bible. They were reproduced in greyscale. They would have looked nicer in colour, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I love having art in Bibles – they bring the text to life. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale

★★★★           4/5

Overall, I am not at all displeased with this newly typeset Douay-Rheims BIbleby Loreto Publications. I like its simplicity and easy to read typeface and its sewn binding. It is a Bible that fits well in the hand when reading.

Is it good for a family Bible? I personally prefer this as a personal edition. However, it seems that Loreto’s Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible which is double the price of this one, is a better Family Bible, considering its more elaborate cover, commentary and larger font size as advertised on the site.

You can purchase a copy of this Harbound Douay-Rheim’s Bible for $44.95 USD from Loreto Publications (click hyperlink).

P.S. Loreto Publications also included some of their seasonal catalogues which are beautiful! Thank you Loreto Publications!

An Easter Message from The Catholic Man

Happy Easter! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

May the grace and peace of the risen Lord come upon you and your family during this Easter Season.

Let us, however, not forget to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who have been martyred or injured as a result of the bombings that took place as they celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord.

It has been close to two months since The Catholic Man has posted a review. A new review will be posted soon! Over the past Lenten season, The Catholic Man has been all over the place, from Spain, France and Italy and back to Canada for the remainder of the Lenten Season, catching up with preparations for the Paschal Triduum. But no fear, The Catholic Man has been reading and using products sent and they will be reviewed over the course of this year!

Many thanks to our partner who have sent us their products to be reviewed on The Catholic Man Reviews. Your partnership has helped keep The Catholic Man Reviews moving along.

Gratitude is also extended to followers of The Catholic Man Reviews Facebook and Instagram. While our Instagram page is new, with close to 150 followers, our Facebook audience has increased rapidly, with over 400 followers (likes) to date. Thank you!

Again, happy Easter!

Resurrection – Raul Berzosa

Book Review: The 21-A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs

This is the first review of The Catholic Man Review’s 2019 season and for some, upon reading the title of the review with the term martyrs, already, some may think that this is an irrelevant topic to our times. The term martyrs may seem like an outdated term, a term used by people of the early Church. Twenty-centuries have come and gone and still, in the beginning of this 21st century, there are many martyrs, especially in the middle east where there is harsh persecution of Christians.

In a new book published by Plough Publishing, The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs by Martin Mosebach gives one an inside look into the background of the 21 Coptic Martyrs of Egypt who were beheaded by men dressed in black, belonging to ISIS. On a personal level, I was on a news site that reported this gruesome martyrdom of the 21 men. They, along with many, many others around the world in this 21st century are being martyred. Another notable martyr of the 21st century was Father Jacques Hamel of France, who on a day in July 2016, like these coptic martyrs, his throat was slit for the faith.

The names of the 21 martyrs and their images are listed, and are found in between every chapter of the book.

Mosebach offers the outsider an inside look, a background to the lives of these 21 martyrs. I have seen many pictures online of these men of faith walking and kneeling down in calm faces, prayerful mood, ready to receive the crown of martyrdom. However, I never found the courage to watch the actual gruesome footage of the martyrdom. The book dedicates a whole chapter to describing the events of the choreographed martyrdom. Yet, having not watched the video, the Mosebach describes the scene in much detail that I can picture out every move made.

The 21 is not only about a story of the martyrdom, but it recounts the state of Christian persecution in the Middle East in general. Even in the midst of persecution, Christians are still boldly living the faith. Mosebach brings Tertullians’ quote, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of faith,” in 21st century definition. Indeed, it is through the bold witness of faith of the martyrs that there are people who are compelled to follow Jesus Christ. Yes, the Christians of the Middle East suffer much, but their suffering have bore fruit hundredfold.

The 21 gives the reader an inside look into the sanctity of these martyrs in their ordinary lives. Mosebach goes through Egypt, wanting to meet the families of the martyrs to learn about their everyday life. These martyrs were ordinary men who lived simple lives, being witness to the faith in their everyday words and deeds. All of them seemed to have lived a life of prayer up to the end of their lives. Now, venerated as saints among Coptic Christians, their faces on icons, their heads depicted with the crown of martyrdom, surrounded by halos, the martyrs are role model for all who look to them. Mosebach also mentions miracles that have been granted through their intercession.

Looking at The 21 through the lens of history and geography, this serves as a great resource for those wanting to learn more about the geography of Egypt, the history of Egypt and Coptic Christians. It has been an eye-opening read for me in that sense. Mosebach does a good job in describing the physical landscape and surroundings of the different areas in Egypt. He has provided a very good context to the topics that he talks about, even if the reader (like myself) is not familiar with Egypt or the Coptic Church.

★★★★1/2     4/5

Overall, The 21 was perhaps not the most pleasant read due to the nature of the topic of gruesome 21st century martyrdom, but it is, in my opinion, an important read for Christians to understand the state of persecution and devotion to the martyrs in this day and age.

The book is out for publication today, February 15, 2019.

Purchase a copy of it here from Plough Publishing or here from Amazon.com.

Review: Tiny Saints

Note: Christmas is just around the corner! This review will be the last one for this 2018 season of The Catholic Man ReviewsAs Christmas is around the corner, hopefully this review will serve as another idea for stocking stuffers. Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Vincent Pham (The Catholic Man’s Review)

Have you ever been to a Catholic Youth rally or conference and taken a walk through the different vendors, shops filled with all-things-Catholic for youth? Well I have been to several conferences and rallies and one thing the sells out quick are these small PVC characters called Tiny Saints. 

I had to find out what these charms were and finally, my sister Ivy and I are

reviewing them here just before the Christmas season. 

At first, I thought Tiny Saints were literally just Tiny Saints, a store selling Saint charms. But I have been proven wrong. They have rosaries, featuring the same artistic style as seen on the charms on the centerpiece, and on some, even the crucifix. These would make great gifts for the younger children whom you might want to encourage praying the rosary. A perfect gift not only for Christmas but also First Communions. 

You want something with more than one saint? Well besides their Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin charm, they also have a lanyard depicting many different Saints on the ribbon with the Tiny Saints logo on the reverse. It is a multi-functional lanyard with a lobster clip, detachable lower portion, and even a Velcro closure. 

New to Tiny Saints are Sidekicks. They are stuffed animals, but each one has a connection to a Saint. For example, the cat is associated with Saint Roch. The lamb (my favourite) is associated with St. Agnes. My mom questioned why Tiny Saints would provide stuffed animals in their store, but it made sense to her once I explained that many animals are associated with the Saints. Something I am questioning is if these are toys, collectables or devotional items? I guess this is subjective but nevertheless, these will be great reminders of the Saints. I hope to see many more animals released in the near future. 

How about the charms? How would I forget! They are more than just tiny harms to put on your keys, your backpack, your water bottle… Tiny Saints are honestly the cutest Catholic Saint “medals” available on the market right now. I am sure that you have those classic “Made in Italy” Saint medals lying around somewhere. I have a keyring just devoted to them. But honestly from what I have noticed, youth are not as attracted to them or want to carry them around like Tiny Saints. Tiny Saints serve as Saintly reminders for Catholic youth. They are simple, colourful and attractive representations of the Saints. Not only so, looking at the Saints, one is reminded of their baptismal vocations to become Saints. 

Tiny Saint has hundreds of different Saints to choose from, male saints, female saints, and most notably, a wide selection of Marian charms, depicting Mary from different apparitions. Also included are Blesseds and other candidates for sainthood, and even Pope Francis! 

Want to find a Saint for that athlete you have in mind and don’t know where to start? Tiny Saints also sorts their Saints out by patronages. 

I would like to make some remarks on Tiny Saints’ customer service. Tiny Saints have a small staff of only 4 people, but the work that they do is simply amazing. They are on time, customer-friendly and have great concern for their customers. They respond to their customers promptly and care for the people they serve.  

Ivy’s Review

I have loved Tiny Saints for a while now.  I would go to Catholic conferences and I would see them for sale and it would be impossible for me to not stop and take a look at them, and if you haven’t already you’ll see why. 

Tiny Saints’ main product is well – their many tiny saints.  They have an extensive selection of saints to choose from – around 130 if I am not mistaken.  You will probably find the saint you want if he/she isn’t too obscure.  Each one is made from the basic template but has identifying features added to them.  That may include their well-known symbols, like St. Joseph’s saw, prominent body features, such as St. Francis of Assisi’s hair, or clothing articles.  If you happen to forget, the saint’s name is on the back of the charm as well as the words, “Pray for us.” 

The charm comes in a small plastic “envelope” on a small piece of cardstock.  The cardstock has the Tiny Saints logo, and well as the saints’ name and a bit of background info.  I found this particularly useful when I bought my own Tiny Saint.  I wanted to buy one of Mother Mary, but those ones were sold out, so I just picked a random saint.  I ended up buying St. Agatha and it was the information on the packaging really helped me connect with her more.  The charm itself is a rubbery-plastic (can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly).  The charm is a single mass, so nothing was glued or painted on.  You won’t have scraped paint or missing eyeballs.  The words at the back do fade after a year or two of hanging out with your keys every day though. 

Tiny Saints also sell Sidekicks, which are stuffed animals that have a connection to a particular saint.  They are absolutely adorable.  They are made from a fine fleece.  They could easily be one of the softest plushies I’ve ever touched.  There is some background info on the significance of the animals on the back of the box (more like those typical shelf things that companies tie the toy’s legs and back to) it comes in.   You could seriously learn a thing or two.  The lanyard it comes also sold is pretty standard.  It’d be a nice addition if you wanted to get someone a gift basket of sorts, or if you were building a Tiny Saints collection. 

I really enjoy Tiny Saints’ products; I can’t wait to see what else they put out in the future. 

***

On The Catholic Man’s Scale 
Charms    ★★★★★     5/5
Rosary     
★★★★1/2     4.5/5
Lanyard   
★★★★1/2     4.5/5
Sidekicks   
★★★★★     5/5
Customer Service
★★★★★     5/5

What else can we say about Tiny Saints? Amazing products, amazing people! They even offer discount rate for fundraisers. Celebrating a parish or youth group milestone? Tiny Saints also offer custom services!
So? What are you waiting for?
Take a walk with the Saints on
www.tinysaints.com

Also, take time to read this article from Catholic Herald, about Tiny Saints

Day 12: Open to God, Open to the World – Pope Francis

Open to God: Open to the World

A simple book, titled, Open to God, Open to the World, featuring conversations between Pope Francis and Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro was published in 2017 in Italian and finally translated this year (2018) into English by Bloomsbury Press. 

Often, when you see the name Pope Francis as the author of a book (I am not talking about an Encyclical or Apostolic Exhortation), such as this one, or The Name of God is Mercy, I’ve come to learn that most of the time, the Pope does not write the book himself but rather, it is consisted of a series of conversations with someone. In this case, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ,  editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica had a series of conversations with Pope Francis and has compiled those conversations in this book.

The preface has been written by Pope Francis himself in a very fraternal, friendly language. The preface, when read in comparison to other letters written to brother bishops, or in comparison to the preface mentioned in that of Stephen Walford’s book, Pope Francis, the Family, and Divorce: In Defence of Truth and Mercy . The preface in Walford’s book seemed more structured. That is probably because of the nature of this book, which is based upon conversations about a wide array of topics. 

“…sometimes I feel I have to say what I say to myself, and that’s important for me too.” 

Open to God Open to the World (2018), Preface, Pope Francis

Reading  Open to God, Open to the World, I have to note two important things that I find makes this book unique:

  • Scattered throughout each chapter, Fr. Spadaro makes his own commentary, giving the reader some context to the setting of the interview. As I read the commentaries provided by Spadaro, I could actually picture the setting very well. Spadaro makes mention of the art. In one interview, he describes the setting of the interview having a mosaic by Fr. Marko Rupnik. Being familiar with Rupnik’s art, I was able to imagine how the room looked like. Spadaro also makes mention of the date, the time, and the nature of the audience. Many of these conversations were done with audiences such as Jesuit communities during Papal visits and various religious groups. 
  • Pope Francis talks from the heart within these conversations. Like the tone of the preface, Pope Francis used a very fraternal tone, bearing very casual terms, easy to understand. The conversation tone here is different than that used in official Papal documents. There is that sense of fraternity I find when he talks to Jesuits because remember, Pope Francis himself is a Jesuit. He cracks a joke here and there when the time is appropriate. 

I don’t want to give too much away, in Open to God, Open to the World , but Pope Francis has been asked a wide span of various topics including Christian persecution, war, his vocation influences, refugees, references to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, effects of Vatican II… we can be here all night if I listed out every one of the topics. There are some themes that I see repeated so often throughout the Pontificate of Pope Francis, and once again, repeated in these conversations, for example, mercy, the length of a homily and a topic that I like, gossip as a form of terrorism. These are some of the many signature themes of the Pontificate of Pope Francis and  

Open to God, Open to the World gives one an inside look into the person of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his young days, his novice years as a Jesuit, priesthood, episcopate, cardinalate, and now as Pope. Really inspiring and insightful and a very easy read. Reading 
Open to God, Open to the World just deepened my love for this great and humble Argentinian, Jesuit Pope. 

Purchase the book from Bloomsbury Press here

***

Thank you for following The Catholic Man’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign! But that is not the end of our reviews this year. There were some products that were to be featured here for this series. Unfortunately, due to the Canada Post strikes, these items are on delay. However, The Catholic Man will schedule such reviews before Christmas or for review in 2019.  

Day 11: National Geographic’s The Story of Christianity

christianity

It is now day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas Gifts with National Geographic’s The Story of Christianity.  This is a joint review, and I will be commenting on more or less the look and feel of the book.

The dust jacket is a nice thickness which is fairly standard and is glossy on both sides.  Underneath is the actual hardcover which is identical to the dust jacket on both sides of the book as well as the spine.  There is a general mustard yellow theme throughout the book, being most prevalent in the borders and end pages.  The end pages are well adhered without any bumps or wrinkles.  If you read my review for Who’s Who in the Bible (you can check that out here), you may remember that I mentioned a lone dove on the first page.  In this book, it is a painting of the early life of Jesus.  Like the dove, it seems randomly tossed into the mix.

The print out quality is excellent, as always with National Geographic; there aren’t any pixelated letters or pictures (but some fuzziness; I’ll get into that in just a bit).  The pages themselves are about as thick as regular printer paper but the have a glossy finish.  There is a table of contents and index which make this book much more user friendly, especially since such a thick book can be overwhelming.

This book has a mix of photos and paintings with a handful of maps, most of high quality. There were a few that looked like they had been zoomed in too much.  The visual aids are relevant to the provided information.  The division between chapters are clear as they are marked with a picture that takes up two full pages with the chapter number on the top of the right page (as opposed to the left).  The title of the chapter is on the next page along with the introduction, which has a bigger text size than the rest of the main text.  The font chosen fits the theme and feel of the book, and the main text isn’t too small for most people to read.  The chapter title is also at the top of every right page with the book title on the left page, but both are both are off centre, leaning more toward the centre, and frankly, I wish it was centred.

And I hereby pass on this review to The Catholic Man.

National Geographic once again gets a spotlight here as their book, The Story of Christianity, is reviewed here. Being a very good, reputable history and geography publishing corporation, this was not a surprise for me at all. Having read their magazines and some of their non-Christian titles, I was not at all disappointed with The Story of Christianity.

About the size of a standard coffee table book, this book is packed with beautiful high quality images in full colour on glossy paper and everything seems to come alive.

The content itself is worth mentioning. Indeed, the book has been laid out in chronological order starting with the time of Christ to the present day. I have found that it is more of an informative book. It is not a textbook, but it simply scratches the surface of the history of the 2000+ year old faith. It offers a tip of the iceberg of Christianity’s deep and rich history. Jean-Pierre Isbouts have published Christian history books that are easy for any mature reader to understand.

The layout is clean, and appealing to the eye. I like how throughout the book, there are images and explanations of artifacts of that particular time period. That brings the story alive seeing artifacts of a particular time period.

What puts me in amazement while reading the book was the long a rich history of Christianity. It made me reflect on the many events of the faith, some good while some, we have to admit were bad. I don’t think Isbouts tried to hide any bad within The Story of Christianity. We need to admit, yes, Christians have made mistakes, but we need to learn from those wrongdoings, amend, and move forward.

The Story of Christianity would make a great Christmas gift for anyone seeking an introduction to the deep history of Christianity.

That’s all for today’s review! If you would like to purchase your own copy of this book, it is available here.

Day 10: Daily Companion for Men

Want to start the new year on a good note? Do you need a book that has a short meditation and a prayer everyday? Well Catholic Book Publishing (CBP) Corp. got your back on this one. 

Published in 2017, the Daily Companion for men is a great resource for men to enrich their spiritual lives everyday either in the morning, evening or anytime during the day with a short meditation/reflection and a prayer. The way you use this resource is up to you. You may choose to use it as part of Morning Prayer, before a work shift, on the way home on public transit… The possibilities are endless. 

Daily Companion for Men will stop you from making excuses, “Oh, I don’t have time to pray or do spiritual reading”. Praying with this companion takes only about 3-5 minutes everyday. 

Have complaints about the size of prayer books? The Daily Companion for Men was published in a thin and masculine design, easy to carry around with you everywhere, in a purse, backpack, or bag. It is a good devotional tool to have beside your breviary. It is a very thin book, probably 1/5 of the thickness of the breviary, so weight is not a problem at all. The dimensions are 
4″ X 6 1/4″, a very good size for any man. . 

The cover is made of an imitation leather material. I like how the words have been embossed, and there is a textured embossing along the left of the cover (you can see it clearly in the picture), and it feels really good to feel with your hand. The textured part also runs along to the back side. The book also has a bookmark ribbon. 

A sample page

I scanned the page above for demonstration purposes (I apologize for the distortions as a result of scanning), but as you can see, the page layout is quite appealing and simple. The date is in the top right corner, a quote is given everyday with a drop-cap, a feature I love. That is all followed by a short reflection and a short prayer. That is it! Very simple but deepening prayer and reflection everyday. 

I like how the back has some prayers for men including: To you, O Blessed Joseph, Prayer to Discern God’s Plan Made Known in Everyday Life, Prayer of Father and Prayer for Friends… prayers that are helpful to have on hand. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale     
★★★★★     5/5

A great companion to have on hand and follow through the year with. The price tag is not steep, only $8.95 USD! 

You think CBP left out women? No way! Check out the two products here:

Daily Companion for Men

Daily Companion for Women

Day 9: Lino Rulli’s Saint

Servant Books, an imprint of Franciscan Media, is the publisher of not only Lino Rulli’s book, Sinner: The Catholic Guy’s Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic, reviewed at the beginning of this year on this blog, but also the publisher of its sequel, Saint: Why I Should Be Canonized Right Away. Now, don’t let the title fool you. Was Lino trying to elevate himself to canonization while still living? No, not at all. 

Saint was another funny, truthful and encouraging read by The Catholic Guy, Lino Rulli. Interestingly, I thought that as opposed to Sinner, which describes the many instances Lino tries to achieve Sainthood, Saint would describe the more “triumphant” times. However, I was wrong. As a sequel to Sinner, Lino continues on his path to achieve sanctity in Saint. However, he does so with the help of the saints.

Like Sinner, Lino can tell stories in such a way that every Catholic can connect with. He does not display himself as a perfect human being. He is simply a radio show host of The Catholic Guy Show on Sirius XM and strives to achieve sanctity like any sincere Catholic would do. 

***Spoiler alert*** Lino has a special devotion to St. John Paul II, having met him, and now he can say he has shaken hands with a Saint (the book was published in 2013, a year before the Canonization of John Paul II) and he expresses so within the book. I am a little jealous! 

I like how the book has been divided up into 4 sections based on the stages of Canonization: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, Saint. 

Reading the book prompted me to think of my vocation to be a Saint. At every Canonization, we are reminded of that vocation, but many times, within my human frailty, I tend to go on the wrong path sometimes. But reading Saint assured me once again there are people in the shoes as me. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale★★★★★     5/5

A very connectable read for me, a worthy book on your Catholic bookshelf as an inspirational and encouraging read. A perfect gift this Christmas. Why not pair it with Saint

Purchase Paperback, Audiobook of Saint from Franciscan Media


“Sometimes you chase me, Lord. Sometimes I chase you. But the only time I’ll quit running, the only time I will finally feel at peace, will be when I’m at home with you: there in heaven. That’s when I’ll truly be called a saint.” -Lino Rulli

Day 8: MTF Handbook of Prayers Student Edition

The Catholic Man’s Review

The copy of Handbook of Prayers Student Edition, published by Midwest Theological Forum that I am reviewing today was bought at Steubenville Toronto Conference in 2017. I have never seen this edition of the Handbook of Prayers sold in Toronto. I have only seen the full, unabridged version of the book. Therefore, I bought immediately bought this edition when I saw it.

Handbook of Prayers Student Edition, even though it is an abridged version of the popular Handbook of Prayers, is a very handy prayerbook to slip into a backpack, briefcase or purse. I don’t think it is a necessarily a prayer book not only for students, but convenient for students to bring around with them with the many heavy textbooks.

I have reviewed two titles from Midwest Theological Forum, including the Manual of Prayer and the Daily Roman Missal. Midwest Theological Forum in my opinion, provides the best quality devotional tools for Catholics. Like those two books I have reviewed on here, the text have been printed in both black and red ink, a feature that I love (being a Liturgy fanatic).

The contents seem to be very similar to that of the Prayers and Devotions section of the Daily Roman Missal, containing the How to be a Better Catholic, Basic Prayers, Preparation for Mas, Prayers After Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Guide for a Good Confession, Devotions to the blessed Trinity, Devotions to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Devotions to the Holy Spirit, Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Devotions to St. Joseph, Various Prayers, Prayers for the Dead, and even a section for Baptism of a Person in Danger of Death. The main difference between the Student Edition and the unabridged edition is probably the absence of the Order of Mass. Personally, I wish the Student Edition would have the people’s responses in there, without all the rubrics as in the Daily Roman Missal and the unabridged edition.

Another critique I have is the Stations of the Cross meditation used, not only in this edition, but also in the unabridged edition and also the Daily Roman Missal. I question who was the author of these specific reflections. I would prefer if they used the meditations of St. Alphonsus Liguori because that is well known. Besides, I like how the images of the stations are depicted, as well as in the Mysteries of the Rosary.

There are a couple blank pages at the back which I like, so I can perhaps jot down my own prayers and attach other prayer cards.

The cover seems to be made of a vinyl material with gold ink, I assume. Unfortunately, the first day I bought it, I used it during the Adoration session that night. My hands were sweaty. When I went back to my room, I saw that the spine where the text, “Handbook of Prayers” were stamped on were faded, which was disappointing. I didn’t ask for an exchange, knowing that this prayer book would be worn out, and it sure did, after so many conferences, retreats and camps since then. It has been my prayer companion along with my breviary. For that reason, to not misrepresent Midwest Theological Forum’s Handbook of Prayers, I did not take pictures.

Ivy Pham Review

I am a person who does not like structure when saying prayers.  I like a bit spontaneity when praying which is the complete opposite of my brother.  I think this will bring a different perspective to this review.

I’m sure many people would appreciate the size of it.  It’s about the size of my hand, and I have small hands.  It is also less than a centimetre thick. This would be perfect for those who like praying on their commute.

Don’t let its small size deceive you though.  It is jam packed with prayers of all kinds. It has the common ones most Catholics know, as well as various devotions some people may not have even heard of.  For that reason, I think it is incredibly versatile. It can also let people try something new if they find they can’t connect with God through their current prayer routine.

There is both a table of contents and index, so navigation of the book is pretty easy.  The text is easy to read, but I find it varies a bit too much. The division between different sections and devotions are clear though.  The printing of the text is high quality. I can’t say the same about printing quality if the few pictures in the book though. It looks like it was printed by a dot matrix printer (basically pictures look like they were stippled on).  Then again, the purpose of this book is not to look at the pictures.

I think the Handbook of Prayers for Students is a good option for anyone who want to discover more prayers and for various purposes.  It provides versatility and convenience and is a great starter for anyone who wants to strengthen their connection to God.

On The Catholic Man’s Scale

★★★★1/2           4.5/5

A beautiful, pocket sized prayer book for anywhere on the go, a perfect companion for one’s breviary and pilgrimage!  

You may purchase the Handbook of Prayer Student Edition here.