Review: New Catholic Bible Giant-Type, Saint Joseph Edition

One of my most favourite Catholic publishing houses is Catholic Book Publishing Corporation (CBPC). The thing with CBPC is that with over 100 years in Catholic publishing, their publications have consistently remained dignified, high-quality and affordable for Catholics. Their publishing team have published a wide variety of publications ranging from ritual books, bibles, catechisms and other spiritual works, a number of which have been reviewed on this blog.

Their latest initiative was the publishing of the New Catholic Bible (NCB) – a new translation of the Bible under the direction of Fr. Jude Winkler, OFM. If you recall, in 2018, my sister reviewed a handsome copy of the New Testament and Psalms of the NCB as part of the first ever 12-Days of Catholic Christmas Gifts series in 2018 which also for me is a beautiful New Testament volume to have on hand, especially when travelling.

Now, the full Bible is out, currently in giant type editions with several different types of bindings. A look on their site gives one a comprehensive view of all of the bindings available at the moment:

Now for this review, I am not going to go into the bindings – all I can say is that publications from CBPC are dignified and beautiful. I have reviewed Bibles from CBPC in the past and you can go through this blog to see them, including other publications published CBPC. Also note, I will not be giving any critiques of the translations of the NCB – I am not a Biblical scholar, thus I am not able to speak much about the translation… there are other bloggers that do that.

In this review, what I will be speaking about is its content, its practicality for everyday Catholics like myself and the significance of a large-print Bible in the first ever published edition of the NCB by CBPC.

Is this edition a Catholic study Bible? Not exactly – if you really want a study Bible, I would recommend a copy of Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. What about for travelling? With the giant type size and overall size of the Bible, I would not recommend it for travelling. I would recommend CBPC’s New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition. But what if I just want to have a copy of the Bible on hand at home for… let’s say prayer and spiritual reading? Then I think this Bible is the one you would want to get! Now I like to have a copy of the Bible for study, one for note taking, one for travelling, one on my desk for reference… but I never really had one for prayer and spritual reading. Ok… it may seem like I am being too extra here – but I believe there is a Catholic Bible for every situation. Some are more suitable for different moments of life than others, either because of the size or binding itself, or the content. I have found the content of the NCB more suitable for praying with the Word of God – to be used in private or group prayer for several reasons.

First, this edition contains notes at the end of each book. There are “extensive notes” at the beginning of each book of the Bible and also at the end, in which an asterisk in the text indicates a note corresponding to the end of the respective book. While I have criticized this fact in some other Bibles reviewed on this blog, if I were to use this Bible in prayer, I personally would not want to have the notes below. The reason for this is sometimes, we need to read the text as it is when praying with Scripture. We want to see what the Word of God speaks to me at a certain moment of prayer. While certainly we don’t want to interpret the Bible on our own accord like some other Christian denominations, but in light of the official teachings and tradition of the Church, keep in mind that the act of praying of the Scriptures is not a time to create a Catechetical lesson or a seminar for a class or Bible group… those times must be separate from Scriptural prayer time. When praying with the Scriptures, I want to read the text as it is, meaning without footnotes, without commentary – just sinking into the moment of Biblical history. That allows one to go into an encounter with God in His Word. However, if one wants to get some clarification of a specific Scripture passage before or after praying with the text, there are great notes in here – the only exception is that for the notes within the Scriptural text, they are endnotes rather than footnotes so that may mean some flipping back and forth.

Second, the giant type is a big factor why this Bible is ideal for prayer. Some may think that giant type prints are for “older people”. While the giant type edition was published “with the needs of an aging population and those with limited vision,” I do like large type Bibles for prayer. This is the first giant type print I now have, but not the first one I’ve seen. I know the Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins uses a large print Ignatius Bible, and sometimes, you can see it during his Lectio Divina meditations. The words pop-out at you in this giant type Bible and for me, that emphasizes that the Word of God is made the protagonist without the distractions of commentary or notes. All you have to focus on is the Word of God in front of you.

However, that said, there are some wonderful resources that I find useful. Beside the family record pages which in this edition have been printed in matte paper for easy writing, I love the glossy colour inserts which is found in some of their editions of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). However, things seemed to have been “revamped” in this NCB. It is nice that the coloured pages no longer contain merely renderings of Biblical events (which are beautiful), but more practical, this edition contains not only maps, along with the Mysteries of the Rosary and Stations of the Cross, but pages with the following useful charts and tables, namely:

  • Fascinating Bible statistics
  • How the Bible is Organized
  • Bible means of writing
  • Old Testament and New Testament Timelines
  • Some coloured photographs, depictions and explanations of places of the Old Testament and New Testament
  • Parables of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Miracles of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Events of Jesus’ last week
  • Lists of the Gospels, including the Seven Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross, Appearances after the Resurrection and the I Ams of John’s Gospel
  • A list of people on the New Testament
  • Seven churches of Revelation
  • Key Ideas in the Bible
  • Fifty Very Important Passages

As you may sense, these resource pages are not only lively, but presents information in very simple means.

At the back of the Bible, there are some helpful resources, including: Books of the Bible by Religious Tradition, comparing the books included in the Jewish Old Testament, Protestant Old Testament and Catholic Old Testament – which I found to be fairly interesting. Included also is a List of Popes up to our current Pope, Pope Francis with the recently canonized Popes including Pope John Paul II, Paul VI and John XXIII with the title of “Saint” in front of their names. Closing off the NCB is a Doctrinal Bible Index – fairly useful if you want to search up a doctrinal concept in the Bible.

Something I am a bit disappointed is that unlike the NABRE editions, there are no Lectionary Readings tables – tables that indicate a specific passage of a Mass. I think that would make praying with this Bible a better experience – sometime you might want to pray with the Scripture passages of the upcoming Sunday. Another feature that I would like to see would be one to two pages of common Catholic prayers – a feature I have seen in some Bibles, particular those compact editions from Oxford University Press such as the NABRE Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition previously reviewed on this blog. I am surprised to find that the Prayer to the Holy Spirit before reading Scripture is not included alongside the copyright page in this edition – I did recall seeing that in the NABRE editions by CBPC and unfortunately I don’t see it in this NCB which is such a pity… a feature I would love to see in every Bible. I think these additions will make this Bible better suited for praying with the Scripture.

(Click on images to enlarge)

That said, another job well done by CBPC in bringing the Word of God to Catholics from all walks of life. I believe this New Catholic Bible Giant Type Edition will be of great aid to help one in reading and praying the Scriptures. Note, it will also make a great gift as well! It comes in a nice presentation box. Mine came with a small rip at the top of the box lid, likely during the shipping process – but not a big deal for me.

Again, thank you CBPC for offering me the chance to review another one of your publications. I look forward to reviewing and showcasing more on our blog!

You may purchase a copy of the reviewed NCB Red Imitation Leather here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.

Review: Encountering Jesus – A Holy Land Experience by Vincenzo Peroni

Well COVID-19 restrictions have loosened up a bit throughout the world but international travel, unless essential, is not on the radar for a lot of people now I would think – at least for me. I do not picture myself travelling anywhere internationally in the next year two and unfortunately, pilgrimages fall in the same category, being a Canadian and Rome or Jerusalem is not a couple walks away.

However, no fear! While you can do virtual pilgrimages, Msgr. Vincenzo Peroni, a Papal Master of Ceremonies since 2012 and leader of “numerous pilgrimages in the Holy Land seems to understand this very well. In his book, Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience, with its English translation by Marsha Daigle-Williamson, published by Franciscan Media, one can become a pilgrim, walking along the roads that Jesus once walked.

The book is fairly simple – only 150 pages but upon reading it, really leads you to the Holy Land. It is an ideal tool to use while in the Holy Land, but for those who like myself, never stepped foot their, the reflections in here will allow you to close your eyes and “teleport” you, giving you and new perspective on what may seem to be a common Gospel story that you may know by heart.

There are 18 chapters in the book that leads the pilgrim through Nazareth, Ein Karem, Bethelehem, Capernaum, Mount of the Beatitudes, the Lake of Tiberias, The Church of St. Anne, Mount Tabor, Jericho, Bethany, Dominus Flevit, the Cenacle, Gethsemane, the Grotto of the Arrest, St. Peter in Gallicantu, the Holy Sepulchre, Tabgah and finally Emmaus.

While Franciscan Media books often consisted of a coloured cover and black and white printed textblock, I was amazed to find beautiful watercolour art marking the beginning of each chapter. The watercolour sketches are those of Alessandro Alghisi. While I think photographs could have been used for this book, there is something about watercolour art thatr really brings the book together – probably the simplicity of the text and the art brings Encountering Jesus into harmony.

Each chapter bears the same outline: The Gospel story of the place in which the Biblical event occurred, a meditation, personal reflection questions and a prayer. Now don’t be tricked thinking that this book is a guide book – no it is not. It is rather, perhaps, a spiritual guide book. You will not be told any of the historical facts of the places, nor the histories of the churches which are located on these holy grounds. However, this book call one to be in the moment and disregard all of that and instead, encounter the person of Jesus.

I think the purpose of a pilgrimage is defeated if one merely sees it as a vacation opportunity, a historical research opportunity. I remember how since I was only a couple months old, our family, along with thousands of other Vietnamese people in the Archdiocese of Toronto made a pilgrimage to Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario and every year, our family made that pilgrimage (unfortunately not this year). There was something about making a pilgrimage which I loved. Maybe a part of it might be the beautiful scenery which people like to pull out their phones to take a picture of. However, for me, the moments that really stuck with me were the ones when I put my camera aside and be absorbed in the moment. I remember vividly a pilgrimage I made to the Shrine, the only time I’ve stepped foot there on a weekday without pilgrims. It was raining but I disregarded it and too a walk on the grounds where the Canadian Jesuit Martyrs once walked – this time, with nature all around and all the outdoor statuary and statues enveloping me as I walked in silence.

Another moment I remember was last March, when I went in St. Peter’s Basilica. I remember standing near the Papal High Altar, the Baldachino and made my Profession of Faith by the stairs leading to the Confessio – as close as I could to the tomb of St. Peter… again no camera but simply immersing myself in the moment and have an encounter with St. Peter and eventually, I realized, an encounter with Christ.

That is what Msgr. Peroni does so well with his book. Though I have never stepped foot to the Holy Land before, I can imagine grand and beautiful churches and we might find ourselves in awe of the beauty… but to dive deep into that moment from Biblical times from 2000 years ago, that is something we must strive to do. Msgr. Peroni presents this simple book to pilgrims and virtual pilgrims from the comfort of home with the goal that pilgrims will be “Encountering Jesus” who continues to journey with us as a pilgrimage companion every moment throughout history.

Review: MTF’s Roman Missal, Third Edition (Classic Edition) – Part 2

This is a continuation of a two-part review of Midwest Theological Forum’s (MTF) Third Edition of the Roman Missal, Classic Edition. Throughout the review, The Catholic Man compares this missal with the Roman Missal published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Before reading Part 2 of this review, I suggest you read Part 1 here.
*Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I do not have access to a new copy of the Canadian Roman Missal. Therefore, pictures included here in are those of my edition of the missal which has shown signs of wear and tear – it is not representative of a new condition Canadian missal.

The Tabs

A common feature in any Roman Missal are the tabs. The tabs are found in the Order of Mass to help the priest easily go to commonly used sections in the Roman Missal. Another practical feature is that the tabs should help facilitate the flipping of pages during the Eucharistic Prayer – the most important part of the celebration of Mass.

Midwest Theological Forum’s Roman Missal tabs (Click image to enlarge)

The MTF Classic Edition has 24 bonded-leather tabs which marks:

  • The Introductory Rites (1 large red tab)
  • The Penitential Act (1 large red tab)
  • The Gloria (1 large red tab)
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist (1 large red tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer I (1 small green tab, 4 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer II (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer III (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer IV (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs )
  • The Communion Rite (1 small green tab, 3 large red tabs )
  • The Concluding Rites (2 large tabs)

The way I determine the place the tab leads to is ultimately the page in which the section leads to. For example, to lead me to the Introductory Rites, which starts on a page on the right, the tab should be placed on the left. page so when I life the tab to lead me to the Introduction Rites, I would land on the Introductory Rites. If the tab were on the Introductory Rites page, I would pick up the tab, then turn it back a page… it’s hard to explain, but I hope the pictures will be helpful. Overall, a very practical selection of tabs.

Overall, I like the MTF tabs – very helpful for practical usage. However, I would forgo the tabs of the Communion Rite – it is the only missal so far that I’ve seen that has tabs for all pages of the Communion Rite. There is often one that marks the start of the Communion Rite… but maybe other publishers have it on all the Communion Rite pages but I simply have not encountered those missals (yet).

The Canadian missal used of tabs is fairly interesting. The tabs are made of the synthetic leather material as the cover, and therefore after constant use, experiencing disintegration. There are 11 tabs in total in the Canadian edition which marks (unlike MTF, the tabs on this one are all the same size in red):

CCCB’s Roman Missal tabs (Click image to enlarge)
  • The Introductory Rites (1 tab)
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer I (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer II (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer III (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer IV (1 tab)
  • The Communion Rite (1 tab)
  • The Concluding Rites (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs (1 tab)

Okay, let’s look on the good side: There is a tab for the Introductory Rites, The Liturgy of the Eucharist, something to mark the Eucharistic Prayers (even the less commonly used ones!) the Communion Rite and the Concluding Rites. Good. None for the Penitential Act? Fair enough, though one there would be useful.

But the biggest issue for me would be the lack of tabs throughout the Eucharistic Prayers. The tabs are there to mark the places of the Eucharistic Prayer, but besides, none are there to facilitate the page turning which is such a pity.

It is interesting how there are tabs to mark the less used Eucharistic Prayers: the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs. Something which I still ponder on is why there is one to mark the place of each of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation but only one to generally mark the four Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs? Some inconsistency there in my opinion. Though these Eucharistic Prayers are not used as often as the four “main” ones, I do have to say, MTF should consider adding tabs for these less commonly used ones. I have been to Masses were the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation are used, especially during Lent. I have never seen the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs used in my life yet, but hopefully I will encounter a priest who uses them.

The Art

Art has always been important in the life of the Church and art in the Liturgical Books elevate the content of what is contained in these books. Scrolling through online, I have seen magnificent examples of art used in Liturgical Books. For me, I much prefer classic Christian art to be used in missals and MTF suits my tastes for that.

The MTF edition does not use one source of art, but a variety of classic Christian art to adorn their missal, reproducing these pieces in full colour. Unlike some missals I have seen, the art is printed on the same paper as the rest of the missal. Nevertheless, the art printed is beautiful. A feature I like is the Index of Illustrations featured at the end of their missal because it shows how much art is embedded within their missal – approximately 50 pieces of art in here.

Midwest Theological Forum’s Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer I page with art (Click image to enlarge)

While most pre-Vatican II Missale Romanum may not contain coloured art, most often, the Canon Missae page is coloured with a depiction of the crucifixion. A commonly used depiction is the Christ on the Cross by Velaquez. MTF brings one back to missals of that era by using that depiction of the crucifixion. The MTF uses various colour plates to introduce various feast days and seasons… very beautiful and impressive. I also like how there is a gold colour border which accents each art piece. I just love the selection of art in this missal.

Faith of the Fathers: Some Good Friday Art By James Tissot ...
The Crucifixion by James Tissot (original colour)

The Canadian missal has some interesting tastes in terms of art. Their art comes from a singular source of French painter James Tissot (1836-1902) “adapted for use in The Roman Missal” the copyright page says. Honestly, I am not a big fan of the art used in the Canadian missal. While James Tissot has produced magnificent pieces, the Canadian missal in my opinion have reduced the beauty of his art. Take for example The Crucifxion as used in the Roman Canon. The original coloured image has a sense of depth to it, meaningful indeed. Unfortunately, the images reproduced in the Canadian Missal have reduced it to red and black toned prints. All the images are printed in two-colour which to me is a let down. Images such as this rendition of The Crucifixion is beautiful in colour but loses something when reproduced merely in red and black ink and even cropped. I believe the Canadian missal’s art, if they really wanted to use Tissot’s art, should have reproduced it in full colour like the MTF missal. It would be more striking and more beautiful. Another critique in terms of the Canadian art is the use of embellishing text scattered throughout. In fact, the advertisement states, “Beautiful artwork and calligraphy throughout…” First of all, why do I need a bible verse in fancy text below an image? I think the image speaks for itself… no need for a bible verse beneath it… no need for any biblical commentary throughout the missal. Second, I dislike seeing the “calligraphic” blurbs of text throughout – I think they are unnecessary. A missal is not a newspaper where you will see excerpts of people’s quotes throughout. The art should serve the text and elevate the content of the text. The art of a missal should not be wordy, or have additional commentary added to them. Unfortunately, the Canadian missal has not been able to to achieve this as well as some American missals.

CCCB’s Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer I page with art (Click image to enlarge)

The Price

It is not a surprise that printed copies of the Roman Missal are not cheap, but they are a necessity for the celebration of Mass – iPads and tablets are not dignified for the celebration of Mass. Let’s take a look at the price tag of the MTF Missal (both are altar-sizes – MTF does not seem to have a Chapel edition of the English missal):

Now take a look at the Canadian missal

I can let you draw your own conclusion on these prices. But for your insight, with the money used to purchase a Canadian edition, I can purchase and invest on other beautiful editions from other American publishers and even the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) in the UK.

Closing Remarks

Tired of listening to me moan and groan about the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal and instead praising an American edition of the Roman Missal by MTF? Some may say that I am showing disobedience to the bishops of Canada. Well no. As I affirmed in the beginning, I have complete respect and submit my obedience to the bishops of Canada. I am in no way promoting Canadians to use an American missal – that seems to be forbidden by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as it states in the Decree of Publication embedded within the Canadian missal:

This present edition, published by the authority of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is the sole English translation and version of the Roman Missal that is approved for us in the Dioceses of Canada, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2011.

Decree of Publication of the Roman Missal, emphasis added

I wanted to feature MTF’s missal here to showcase something that I believe is a beautiful and dignified example of a missal that publishers should strive to have. I will feature more as part of The Liturgy Series.

The truth is, I agree with Fr. Raymond De Souza’s opinion on the Canadian Roman Missal and an Shawn Tribe’s view of the Canadian missal in comparison with other editions out there. The Canadian missal is honestly underwhelming. Editions like that of MTF are beautiful and its external features truly elevate you in the sacred mysteries, whether it be with colours used in the art plates, the colour of ribbons, or the aesthetics of the book itself. While some may argue that the texts of the missal are the “stars”, not the aesthetics of the missal. While true, but the aesthetics must serve the text the missal holds. Beauty elevates one’s mind to the Creator of beauty – God himself. Therefore, beautiful art serves the people of God well. I end with Fr. De Souza’s words, “Parishes should not buy American. Or British. Or Canadian. They should buy beautiful.”

Thank you again to Midwest Theological Forum for allowing me the opportunity to review their Classic Edition of the Roman Missal. Their publications are superior and are great investments. I hope to review other publications of theirs in the future and perhaps even feature more of their publications on this blog including their Latin Missale Romanum, Chapel Edition, The Didache Bible or the Rituale Parvum… that is another chapter to write on The Catholic Man Reviews.

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by Antonin Scalia

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer: Scalia, Antonin ...

While there are many cons that comes with this time in history, being stuck inside, going through Lent and Easter without the celebration of Mass and Holy Week, one of the pros is that now that my University exams are completed, I am able to dedicate a lot of more time to reading. There is a title that I have been reading on and off for over a year now – that is On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

I did not know much about Justice Scalia prior to reading this book. The only instance I learned of Justice Scalia was a coincidence: I was surfing the web one day in early 2016 and bumped into a livestream of the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia. What lingered with me the most from the funeral Mass was Fr. Paul Scalia’s (the late Justice’s son) homily for his father’s Mass.

As a Canadian, why read a book by an “American Believer”? I honestly don’t know why… but I was attracted this title. “On Faith” – such a bold statement in today’s society. The reason why this book took some time to read for me – more than a year – is that I did not spend time reading it in one sitting. Rather, I read it in segments and pondered upon what Justice Scalia said in his speeches. His speeches in my opinion is a mouthful to take in but it really gives you some food for thought.

It was interesting to read such bold Catholic speeches from not a bishop, priest, deacon, not even a religious brother or sister, but from a regular lay Catholic who happens to be a Justice working at the Supreme Court. However, as a lawyer and a Justice working with the law, it is evident throughout the book (and Fr. Scalia also affirmed this) that Justice Scalia always distinguished his identity as a Catholic and as a Justice. He did not let his religious beliefs affect the way he interpreted the law. But outside of his day-to-day job with the law, he was a devout Catholic and when he had the opportunity to give witness to his faith, he did so – and his speeches contained this book is a testament to that.

However, this book has also showed me a Catholic who was a sinner, but strived his best to seek “the best”. He loved traditional Catholic liturgy, and upon reading, that picture Justice Scalia clutching that missal that was mentioned in this text really captivated me – he treasured the Catholic liturgy. While Justice Scalia had his own ways, there was something about the role of faith in Justice Scalia that made a positive impression on people and the testimonies located at the end of each section of the book were really helpful in doing that.

The book consisted of mainly Justice Scalia’s speeches and testimonies from people who knew him well is crowned with his son, Fr. Scalia’s homily from the Funeral Mass on February 20, 2016 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. No eulogy – the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia was summed up well in the homily his son gave, as everything pointed to Jesus Christ, the one whom Justice Scalia longed to imitate. However, like everyone of us, the late Justice is a sinner as he recognized indirectly in his speeches, “We are here, then, as he would want, to pray for God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner; to this sinner, Antonin Scalia. Let us not show him a false love and allow our admiration to deprive him of our prayers.”

I found reading the homily and this interview on EWTN between Fr. Scalia and Raymond Arroyo really gave me a better understanding of Justice Scalia’s life and legacy.

Overall, this was a very interesting read. It comes to show how even lay Catholics holding high positions in an American society understand and live their faith, especially those in the legal field where yes – there are major challenges and obstacles to leap over. At the end of the day though, like Justice Scalia recognized, we are all sinners but knowing that, how are we striving to live our faith in Jesus Christ?

You can purchase a hard copy of this title here.
Or, you can also order an e-copy here.


Review: MTF’s Roman Missal, Third Edition (Classic Edition) – Part 1

As part of The Catholic Man Reviews’ The Liturgy Series, besides reviewing books about the liturgy, or providing articles about the liturgy, why not review some products used in the Sacred Liturgy? Well to tell you the truth, in Canada, we only have one publisher of the Roman Missal from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. While I do have deep respect for the Bishops of Canada, I do have to say that the edition of the Canadian Roman Missal is honestly underwhelming compared to American editions of the Roman Missal. (I will be making frequent comparisons with the Canadian edition.) I have been into the DiCarlo showroom in Toronto that have an American editions from Catholic Book Publishing Corporation which are less expensive than the Canadian edition and honestly much more aesthetically and dignified in a sense. However, today I want to review an edition of the Roman Missal that I think is a model that Canada should have.

The Canadian Roman Missal (Credit: CCCB Publications)

Before I dive in, let me be clear… I am not the only one to be criticizing the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal. Fr. Raymond De Souza, a well known Catholic Columnist on various publications, notably the Canadian National Post and The Catholic Register, wrote about the Canadian Roman Missal aesthetics and expressed his expectations and his disappointment in two columns in 2011, when the new Missal was implemented. I remember I read a follow up column of his about the Missal in 2017, but I cannot seem to locate it now. However, the Canadian Roman Missal was also featured in the New Liturgical Movement blog which again mentioned its lack of aestheticism.

I am grateful to Midwest Theological Forum (MTF) for allowing me the opportunity to review their Classic Edition of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. Some things to note is that first of all, I will not be reviewing the longevity of the Missal in comparison with the Canadian one because it is simply not fair to review a missal that has endured some use and one that has undergone not as vigorous use. (The Canadian edition I have at home is an altar-size edition that was once used at a church but was put out of use due to its cover slowly disintegrating after a year or two of use.) Second, I will not be reviewing the translations of these two missals because as Fr. De Souza said in his column, the main differences are the changes in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, some rubrics, Lectionary translation for the Palm Sunday readings and the Common of Saints in which the Canadian edition has some of their own saints and the American edition has their own saints included. What is will be reviewing are mainly the aesthetics and practicality, namely (1) the external features, (2) the paper and layout, (3) the ribbons, (4) the tabs, (5) the art, (6) the price and I will wrap up all of this in a Conclusion. All of this will be done in comparison with the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal.
*Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I do not have access to a new copy of the Canadian Roman Missal. Therefore, pictures included here in are those of my edition of the missal which has shown signs of wear and tear – it is not representative of a new condition Canadian missal.

A bit about MTF and The Catholic Man Reviews

The Catholic Man Reviews have reviewed three publications from MTF and all have been positive reviews. The second ever review done on The Catholic Man Reviews was the Manual of Prayers published in conjunction with the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The second MTF reviewed on this blog was the Daily Roman Missal, 7th Edition published with Our Sunday Visitor which to this day, is one of our most read reviews. The latest MTF publication reviewed was the Student edition of the Manual of Prayer which is my most used prayer book since I purchased it some years ago. All three publications have some superior quality as opposed to some other publications I have reviewed on this blog. The time and quality put into MTF’s publications really dignify what is contained within the books. Not to say, recently, I published a copy of The Didache Bible at a used book sale at the University of Toronto – I don’t know yet if I will review it on here, but again, the quality is superior.

The External Features

When I took out MTF’s Roman Missal out of the box, I was attracted by the cover depicting Christ the Pantocrator in all his majesty, surrounded by a simple, elegant border on this seemingly high-quality synthetic leather. The spine is simply stamped with the words “Roman Missal” with a Chi-Rho beneath it. Notably, the spine is ribbed – bringing me back to some pre-Vatican II missals. The back contains the same border as the front with an enlarged Chi-Rho like the one on the spine. I have found that MTF likes to reuse their art for various publications. The Christ the Pantocrator image is the same rendition used in their The Didache Bible hardcover edition, and their Chi-Rho is the same style as the one used on the cover of the Daily Roman Missal, 7th Edition. However, their noble simplicity of the art used cannot evoke complaints in my opinion.

The Canadian edition is in my opinion too much – Eucharistic depiction with a stylized cross, debossed with some vines around the cross. The spine contains the words “Roman Missal” with some debossing with some more vines. The back of the Canadian edition is in my opinion more dignified, with a stylized cross with IHS. If that were used on the front, with gold stamping, it would have made more sense… but some may say otherwise.

Both editions of the Roman Missal have sewn binding. I have to say that the good thing with the Canadian edition is that even though the cover is slowly disintegrating, the binding – the text block itself is still very good, well sewn. My home parish has a copy in which the spine which is part of the cover almost ripped apart, but the pages themselves have remained in fair condition – none of them have fallen out.

It is disappointing that with only one edition of the Roman Missal in Canada, published by the Bishop’s conference, that edition contains no gilding at all. I think gilding adds solemnity to a liturgical book. In MTF’s not only are the page edges gilded, but according to their website, the “gilded edges are struck with red and then gold to preserve their beauty even when the book is laid open.” In other words, you know when a book is gilded, the gilding does not shine at a certain angle. By striking the edges in red and then gold, the gold can still shine at various angles.

MTF’s endpages are of much higher quality than the Canadian edition. While the Canadian edition uses a thicker paper something like thin cardstock, MTF’s edition used a very thick paper. It is paper texture on the back, but the red part feels like a synthetic leather texture. Also to note, with the MTF edition, the endpages are reinforced at the spine with some cloth while the Canadian edition has none of that reinforcement. MTF’s endpages are plain red, while the Canadian edition are printed endpages with the front cover Eucharistic Cross reproduced… I would have much preferred them plain.

The Paper, Layout and Fonts

Now let’s take a look at the paper. The MTF chose interesting paper combinations. Unlike the Canadian edition which is consisted of one type of paper throughout, MTF has a 60gsm paper for a majority of the missal with the exception of the Order of Mass which is used much more frequently, with 100gsm paper. I found the 60gsm paper lighter, but maybe too thin and rapid page turning can result in accidental The MTF has a cream colour paper which is aesthetically pleasing.

The Canadian edition, as mentioned, uses the same type of paper throughout the missal, but feels thicker than the 60gsm paper in the MTF but not as thick as 100gsm. This is good for most of the missal… except for the Order of Mas pages which after a year’s use of the same missal would see some rips and even much staining from grubby fingers of many priests (if a missal is shared among different priests), especially for the Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The paper is not white, but a lighter cream shade than that used by MTF. One thing to note though is the opacity of the pages. I can see through the other side more with the the MTF pages on the 60gsm pages. While I can still see through a bit with the 100gsm paper, it is not as bad. However, the darker cream of the MTF missal allows the texts to be more easily read even with the opacity. While the Canadian missal does have see through, it is not as bad as the 60gsm pages with the MTF missal. However, the trade off are the fonts used in the MTF. While lighter paper is used, allowing one to see more on the other side, the fonts of the black text is darker and bolder than that of the Canadian missal which “pops” out at the reader more.

I do appreciate the consistency of fonts used in the MTF edition – the same font is used in the text, and notation. I do have to note though, the font used in the notation is smaller than that used in the regular text. The Canadian edition has one type of font for the regular text, but uses Palatino Linotype for the notation, and even a calligraphic font with the versicle and responsory symbols… all of which I dislike. I much prefer consistent use of fonts throughout. One or two fonts are fine. I know the Liturgical Press edition uses Palatino Linotype for their regular black and red texts, and uses some sans-serif for the headings which is a simple and pleasing combination.

Now to the layout there are certainly pros and cons to each of the edition. It is worth noting the dimensions, that the MTF missal is 8.5″ x 11″, while the Canadian missal is 8.6″ x 12.4″… slightly larger (these are both altar missal editions, not chapel editions).

The thing that really stands out between the layout is the use of drop-capitals in the missals. For one thing, I applaud the Canadian edition for using drop caps for the Collect, Prayer Over the Offerings, the Prefaces, and the Prayer after Communion which I think are convenient for the priest to easily locate the prayer they need. The MTF edition only uses drop-capitals for their prefaces and at the start of the each Eucharistic Prayer (including the Sanctus). The Canadian edition uses it sparingly throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, but not for the Sanctus interestingly. I think the use of drop-capitals is important for the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with concelebrants. Not every parish uses those small Eucharistic Prayers for Concelebrants (which in my opinion, the Canadian edition is cheaply made like a student’s spiral-bound school exercise book… I don’t know about the updated edition which is said to be saddle-stitched) so the concelebrant would approach the missal and read from there.

I applause the Canadian edition again for indenting the Collect, Prayer Over the Offerings, the Prefaces, and the Prayer after Communion, again, easier to locate the prayers. However, I think if the identations of the prayer are done, then there is not need for drop-capitals. With the MTF, without the use of drop-capitals, I wish they indented the prayer after their respective subheadings for easy location.

The next thing about the layout that I think is important is the use of white space – the MTF uses the space sparingly. I like how for certain feast days, the feast day title is put on a separate page with accompanying art. Even when one page is not enough to fit a prayer, it is put on a separate page leaving the white space… that I think is good. I hate seeing text squished onto a page. That is something that the Canadian edition does for some Masses which is aesthetically unpleasant to the eye. If there is no space, go to a new page.

A final thing about the layout I wish to speak about is the placement of page numbers. The MTF missal placed their page numbers at the top of the page with headings, while the Canadian placed their page numbers at the bottom of the page with headings. With my personal taste, I prefer page numbers at the bottom of the page rather than the top because when I flip the pages, I tend to flip from the bottom corners rather than the top… but that is merely personal preference.

The Ribbons

A Roman Missal without ribbons? Never seen that before (except for Liturgical Press’ The Roman Missal Study Edition… but that’s a different story). Ribbons are used to mark various places in the missal. The worst though is when you use the ribbons and it starts damaging the pages of your missal. Both the MTF and Canadian missals have six ribbons that start with a narrow ribbon at the top with a larger “body”. That’s what I see with a lot of Missals. The Canadian edition has butterfly ends to prevent fraying. However, I have seen some parishes with their “wings” having become undone. This Classic Edition of the MTF missal does not have butterfly wings but are burnt at the end very cleanly – I assume they were cut with a hot knife. This could be a let down – but the Regal Edition by MTF do have butterfly ends.

The biggest difference between the ribbons of these two editions is ultimately the colours. The MTF missal has six distinct colour ribbons while the Canadian edition only has six ribbons of either red or gold. Honestly, if there were only two colours – might as well make all of them one colour like the travel Missale Romanum (apparently a new reprint has ribbons of different colours… but I will review an edition sent to me in the very near future). However, the strange thing is, other Canadian ritual books including the Roman Missal were printed and bound in Canada by the same printer: St. Joseph’s Communications, contain ribbons of other colours including blue, silver and green. Why were those colour ribbons not used in this edition of the Roman Missal?

Stay tuned next Thursday for Part 2 of the MTF Roman Missal review.

Book Review: Let Go – Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M.

I began Lent reading Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship written by Catholic YouTuber Evangelist, Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M. and published by Franciscan Media. (If you are not yet familiar with Fr. Casey’s work, I suggest you visit Breaking in the Habit YouTube Channel.)

Fr. Casey previously wrote a book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God published in 2018. With Let Go and Called, Fr. Casey wants to convey to people the steps it takes to truly become a follower of Jesus.

Let Go was personally for me a book that I needed. As someone involved in youth ministry at my parish, and other parish ministries, it is easy for me to get caught up with things but fail to spend time to receive spiritual nourishment. This book was one that came to me at the right place, at the right time and I just simply could not put it down since I began reading.

There was something about Let Go that spoke to me that I kept wanting to read on and on and on, even late into the night. While I have read interesting novels or biographical Catholic titles, this book was different. The book spoke to me because honestly, I have a lot of flaws. Sometimes, I fail to “let go” of the things that Fr. Casey laid out in his book. I felt a personal connection with every chapter… it was sort of like an Examination of Conscience or rather, an “Examination of my Ministry Life”.

While reading Let Go, one may be tempted to think of others within the parish or even in your own family who fail to “let go” and stumble upon the seven blocks explained in the book. However, the point of Let Go is not for you to (mentally) point fingers at people. It is a call for each Christian to look at oneself, and determine, “What do I need to ‘let go’ of in order to live up to my vocation as a follower of Jesus?” That is what Let Go was effective at – it prompted me to think about my spiritual life, my relationship with Jesus. Sometimes one may think, “I am pious and have a strong relationship with Jesus.” But when we think that, that is when we fail to grow in our relationship and strengthen our vocation as Jesus’ followers.

Let Go was a nudge for me, or rather a “wake-up” call for my spiritual life. Sometimes, especially those in ministry are constantly on the go, go, go, and busy serving others but fail to reassess ourselves. For some, this can go to the point where we are completely depleted of spiritual resources, or worse, we abandon our vocation to follow Jesus. That is why I find it important to read books like Let Go that allows us for a reassessment of our spiritual lives so to better serve the People of God.

On a personal level, as a Youth-Leader candidate in the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement, Let Go was and still continues to be a helpful tool in my discernment as I asked myself questions, “Am I serving because I want X, Y, Z,? Do I want to serve to please a friend? Or do I serve for the greater glory of God?” The reflection questions Fr. Casey poses at the end of each chapter are very helpful in any process of vocational discernment. It would even be more effective if you were to reflect on the questions and record your answers in your Spiritual Journal.

Are you a youth minister? Are you discerning a vocation? Are you someone the Church and need some time of retreat? Are you a Christian who wants to reassess your spiritual life? Then Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship is the book for you.

Purchase a paperback hard copy here from Franciscan Media.

During this COVID-19 Pandemic, and need a spiritual read to end off this Lent on a strong note, but worried your book will take forever to arrive? Franciscan Media got your back with e-copies and even audiobook copies of Fr. Casey Cole’s Let Go.

Note: Disclaimer here.

Day 4: Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Notetaking Bible

Welcome back to The Catholic Man Reviews! It is Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas and his sister brings you Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Notetaking Bible.  

In all honesty, it’s a pretty standard Bible.  I don’t think there’s a crazy amount of things you could do to spice up a Bible anyway, but that is my opinion; feel free to disagree.  The size and type of paper used is also pretty standard for a Bible. It stays true to the note taking aspect as it contains two columns of lines per two page spread.  They’re around 1.5 inches in width and I think that is a good size so that it doesn’t compromise the space for the Biblical text too much. I enjoy having the annotations; it could aid you in your note taking, or whatever you choose to do with the lines.  

This Bible is set up kind of like a reference book in the sense where the chapter is written at the top out corner by the page number.  This, along with the table of contents makes it easy to follow. I don’t find the main text to be too small, but they are not large by any means.  This makes the superscripts very small, and I feel like that may present problems for some people.  

The font used for the main text is like that of many other Bibles (essentially any font that resembles Times New Roman), but the headings and annotations are done in a more modern font.  The names of the books are in another font. I think this gives it a nice balance between the old and new. The cover picks up on the more modern vibe with the black soft-touch cover (I’m sorry; I don’t really know how to explain it).  While I think it is really nice, the shade of black leans more charcoal. I wish it was a true, deep black, but I understand that doing so would obscure the words “Holy Bible” and their cross that is imprinted on the cover, so I respect the publisher’s decision.  As much as I love the feel of the cover, it picks up a lot of dirt. I have gotten oil from my skin and dust on it, even shimmer particles from my face highlight ended up on it. While the nature of the material allows it to be wiped down, not everything comes off.  For example, those shimmer flecks I mentioned – those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  

If you wanted a notetaking Bible, I think this is a nice option.  I think it is a good price (it’s around $50 USD) and it would be a really good gift for someone who writes in their Bibles.  It is also a great “free-range” Bible for those who like to do Bible journaling from scratch, without any templates. You can check it out here.  

That is all for today; come back tomorrow if you want to see what The Catholic Man has for Day 5 of 12 Days of Christmas!

Review: University of Toronto’s Bibliomania

For this month, The Catholic Man is reviewing something rather unusual compared to other reviews done on this blog. Most of the time on this blog, I have reviewed mostly books, products and services. This review today really doesn’t fall into any of those categories specifically. However, I think it is worth talking about here on The Catholic Man Reviews because my Catholic library has grown because of it, and I hope many Catholic bibliophiles in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will benefit from it – I am speaking about the University of Toronto Used Book Sales.

One of the perks of being student of the University of Toronto at St. George Campus is that you are in the middle of a whirlwind of activity all the time. Outside of the lecture hall and the tutorial classroom, there are activities that will engage students. No matter what your likes and hobbies are, there should be at least something that suit your preferences. The University of Toronto Used Book Sales are one of my most anticipated events in this first year in University. You will likely know why, especially if you are reading these blog posts, but these Used Book Sales are unlike any other you would find, whether it be at a Bazaar, or marketplace in Toronto. If you are bibliophile, you are bound to take a couple books home.

There is something about Book Sales that is different than shopping at a new books store like Chapters or Indigo. Besides the fact that most of the books are obviously used, there are some finds that will simply surprise you, some out of print, some with little notes or prayer cards tucked into them, and some with sentimental value – perhaps a book contains a name of an owner you know.

There were four annual Book Sales this year, each hosted by 4 different Colleges in the University’s Faculty of Arts and Science: Victoria College, St. Michael’s College, University College and Trinity College. I have learned that each book sale has its own “strength” in its category of books. I want to rank the four categories according to my preferences, which as you can imply, are the number and selections of good Catholic/Christian books… after all, this is The Catholic Man Reviews.

Am I biased to say that Trinity College has the best book sale because it is the college I am affiliated with? Well, no. As well-versed book buyers may know, Trinity College is one of the best Book Sales in general due to the wide variety and well categorized in over 70 different categories, with this year’s inventory of approximately 60,000 books. With that many books, you are bound to leave at least with something. However, I’d say Trinity Sale’s forte is the Christian section which was categorized into sub-categories, including Biblical studies, Liturgy and Prayer, Christian Life, Church History, Theology, Christian Ethics, etc. The strongest of these was the Biblical studies which makes sense, since Trinity College has an Anglican affiliation, so it seems that Anglican donors donate their books there. I also saw a lot of Common Prayer and Anglican history. However, I saw also a fair amount of Catholic books there including Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) , and good Biblical Resources that can be used by Catholics, including a very good condition copy of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. I bought from there a copy of the St. Andrew Sunday Missal (1953), The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ratzinger) and a two-volume set of The Death of the Messiah (Brown). However, the section that brought me the most surprises was the “Rare book and collectable” section. I was strolling across the book and found a 2-volume set of black leather bound books, titled Breviarium Monasticum (1953). I knew what Breviarium meant, in the context, Breviarium Romanum, but never heard of Breviarium Monasticum. I bought it anyways for $20 CAD. Upon research, it turned out to be a Breviary of the Benedictine Order.
Overall, Trinity’ sale is good for any book lover, but I loved the Christian section and the surprising find in the rare book section for very reasonable prices. I got privileged access the day before the sale opened, since students who helped set up the book sale got a pass to purchase up to 20 books the day before the sale opened and it was honestly worth my time coming to help setup the sale.

Total Spent: $36


  • ⁃ Very good Christian section, and sub categorized
  • ⁃ Great find in the “Rare books and collectable” section for very reasonable prices
  • ⁃ Wide variety of genre of books, very well categorized and clearly marked
  • ⁃ Great volunteers from the Friends of the Trinity Library, always there to answer questions


  • ⁃ Long lines the first official day of the book sale. The book sale took place in a large hall on the second floor, and I saw that lines reached all the way to the dining hall on the first floor.
  • ⁃ $5.00 admission fee for everyone on first day, even U of T students
  • ⁃ Best selections are gone by the end of the first day. I came back Friday, the second official day of the sale, and a number of titles I had on mind to consider buying were gone. By Monday, the last day of the sale, the boxes of overflow books were all gone, and shelves much more bare
  • ⁃ $25 a box sale on the last day (not including rare books), but no 50% off all books sale
Finds at Trinity College’s Book Sale

I was told by upper years students that if you want Catholic books, the best bet out of the four used book sales was St. Michael’s College and they were right. This sale had the most Catholic books I have seen out of all the book sales. However, I only placed this second after Trinity’s because while they had the largest selection of Catholic books, the inventory they had this year was quite common of what you would find, nothing really special. They had a lot of Catholic Bibles, I have to remark, but I had almost every Catholic translation on hand. What I did get was a book I’ve wanted for a long time, the New Jerome Biblical Commentary . They did not have just one copy what approximately five, both the older edition and the newer edition. I realized after I bought it that there was supposed to be a dust jacket with it, but nevertheless, the content mattered. I was looking for copies of pre-Vatican II missals, but surprisingly did not locate any. I mostly saw post-Vatican II missals, which were useless, since they predate the updates of 2011. I bought a copy of The Church Visible (first edition) by Charles J. Noonan, also another book I was trying to locate. Despite it is an older edition, I bought it since I wanted to have on hand a handbook with the ceremonial life and protocol of the Catholic Church. The last book I bought was Volume II of Vatican II Documents by Costello Publishing. I had Volume I at home, and was considering buying Volume II online, but it the prices on Amazon were ridiculous.
The prices throughout the sale were flat rate: $1.00 for mass paperback, $3.00 for softcover books, $5.00 for hardcovers.
I left with those books in hand, but I came back the second last day of the sale when they had 50% off all books. I picked up a copy fo the Diary of St. Faustina (2018 printing), as well as a copy of the Grail Psalms for singing use.. I also found a poster with the Popes up to John Paul II. I was given the poster for free (it was not priced), and the two books combines were only 50 cents. I don’t know if the cashier miscalculated, but yeah… 50 cents for those two books.
A part of the St. Michael’s College Book Sale that I did not mention yet was the “Special Books” room where all the art books, collectable books and rare books are kept. I went there the first day, and was underwhelmed by the amount of books in the Religion section of that room. There was a very old Summa Theologica set, but the binding was in very bad condition. There was not as many Catholic books in this section as I imagined. I even saw a copy of the “Sacramentary”, the edition used before the revisions of the Roman Missal in 2011, sold for a ridiculous price of $125 (hint: I will be doing a blog series on edition of the Roman Missal and other liturgical books in 2020). However, what I did keep my eyes out on was the Harper-Collins Catholic Encyclopedia with the price of $15. I waited until Friday to see if it were still there to get it for 50% off and yes, it was still there. Is there something about that Catholic Encyclopedia that no one likes? I saw an exact edition at Trinity College and by the end of the book sale, still no one fetched it.

Total Spent: $19


  • Flat rate prices for mass paperback, softcover and hardcover books, except for book in the “Special room”
  • ⁃ Wide selection of Catholic Bibles
  • ⁃ A lot of Catholic-specific books
  • ⁃ Free admission for U of T students on the first day; everyone else $5.00 admission on first day
  • ⁃ 50% off all books (including books in the “Special room”) second last day of the sale
  • ⁃ Box sale the last day (I believe it was $10/box)


  • Even though there were a lot of Catholic books, underwhelming selection and variety in my opinion
  • “Special room” did not have many “special” books compared to Trinity College
  • Expected there to be some pre-Vatican II publications and Missals, but rather, saw some post-Vatican II missals that are honestly useless. Pre-Vatican II missals can at least be used for Masses in the Tridentine Rite
  • Other sections (outside Catholic books) poorly categorized. Fiction books were just “all over the place”, with no organization by author’s last name
Finds at St. Michael’s College’s Book Sale

The first of four book sales that I went to this year was Victoria College’s. They advertised “large Religion section” and I was honestly quite excited about that. The book sale spanned two floors, and the Religion section was located in the “Chapel” (that I think is out of use). It took me some time to find it due to lack of maps that were not posted or distributed (at least I did not see any). However, the part that I disliked was the books were put on chairs in the Chapel, that were fixed to the ground. So only one person can pass through a row at a time, or else you will “bump” into the other person, meaning you would have to go all around to get to the other side. That was an inefficient system. There were certainly a lot of boxes in the Religion section, with even a Catholic subsections. I was there the first day, and already, I saw people just digging through the Religion section with overflowing boxes! So by the time I looked into the boxes, some were only half full. However, what was in stock were not the best, but fairly interesting. I managed to buy two books by Fr. Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament and The Birth of the Messiah (now that answers why I just had to get The Death of the Messiah at the Trinity Book Sale!). I honestly never paid much attention to Fr. Raymond E. Brown, until his name came up in a show, I think it was a Witness episode from Salt and Light Television, in which Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the host of the show brought Fr. Brown’s name up.
But that was it – for me at that book sale. I was going to get a Concordance of the New American Bible, but it had a dedication written on the inside, so that turned me down. I came back on the last day of the book sale for the 50% off sale, but found no Catholic books really worth buying. What I did get for my sister though, was a two-volume set of The Complete Sherlock Holmes for only $5 with the discount.
The “Rare books” room was quite small in selection to be honest. It seemed to have a lot of poetry books and some posters. My friend, however, got a copy of The Life of Pope John Paul II comic book by Marvel. It was the only comic Marvel ever did of a pope and he got it for $8… a steal if you would ask me.

Total spent: $10


  • Fair religion section
  • Religion section was sub-categorized
  • Fair prices. About $5 for hardcovers, and $2-$3 for paperbacks
  • Free admission to U of T students, others pay $5.00 admission first day
  • ⁃ Wide selection, and well categorized fiction section. Also a lot of local, national and world history


  • Disliked the fact that books in Religion category and several other categories were put on top of chairs in the Chapel, making it very difficult to navigate
  • Not many rare books, mostly poetry, I noticed
  • Religion section was said to be “large”, had some interesting titles, but must be quick… the good titles are grabbed up right away with people filling boxes, upon boxes from the Religion section to purchase
  • Need to look at signs posted to find the category you which to search for. No maps to help with navigation
Finds at Victoria College’s Book Sale

This was honestly, out of the four, the one where I was most disappointed with. While the books were nicely categorized, and well compared to most of the Books Sales, I saw the selection from here not suiting my likes. It is the only Book Sale that I left empty handed, and the only Sale that I did not return for the discounted day(s). First, of all, while very well organized by category, like Victoria College, I was unable to locate a map of the area where the categories were located, so it took me a fair bit of time to find the Religion section. When I finally found the Religion section, I was disappointed. I thought that there would be a lot of Christian books, but instead, I saw a lot of Judaism themed books, which was surprising. The selection of Christian stuff that were there were mostly Protestant. There were very few Catholic books but the ones that were there were modern, no classics. By that, you can deduce that the approximate 20 Bibles were there were all Protestant translations… so the Christian section was just useless to me. The “Rare and Collectable” section contained quite a few classics with beautiful bindings. Some sold at very reasonable prices, but none really appealed to me. I was looking for some old Breviaries, Catechisms or Missals, and I found none. I saw some Bibles but they were all Protestant. I was looking at the Fiction section for my sister, but found none of which she requested (and the ones on the list were said to be common finds). Overall, University College’s Book Sale was not one suited to my interests.

Total spent: $0


  • Books very well organized and spacious compared to the other Book Sales
  • A lot of Judaic books for those interested in Judaism and Jewish history
  • Free admission to U of T students, others pay $5.00 admission first day


  • Very poor Christian section, mainly Protestant materials
  • “Rare and Collectable” section had nothing really appealing in my opinion
  • Some books were not consistently priced
  • Bag check inconveniently placed and clearer signs needs to be posted for directions

Overall total I spent on my books: $65

My Overall Remarks

I really liked the experience of being in a room just full of books of a whole lot of different categories for people of different interests. There are two things about the people at the book sale that fascinate me.

The Volunteers: there are many, many volunteers who may or may not be alumni of the respective College. Yet, I have heard that some volunteers come year after year to help out. You may think that these Book Sales are easy – you set up, sell and clean up. However, I learned that these Book Sales take almost up to a whole year to prepare. Throughout the year, the volunteers would come in to sort through donations, categorize them, price them, etc. Then days leading up to the Book Sale would involve set up, placing the books, keeping track of inventory, paying student workers (at some of the Book Sales), etc. But in the end, it is all worth it for them and for the College hosting the Book Sale. I was one of the student workers from Trinity College who came to assist the volunteers in bringing the boxes of books to their respective sections. I really like the volunteers – they were cheerful and enthusiastic about their books. While I was paid, it was generous of them to allow the student workers access to the Book Sale before it officially opened. Even if I were not paid, that alone would be worth a lot for me. I will for sure write a thank you e-mail to the Trinity volunteers. But next year, if you do see the volunteers, smile and thank them for their service

The Customers: I was surprised at dedication of some of the customers. While crossing campus to get to my next class, two hours before the opening of the Victoria College Book Sale, I already saw people lining up in a long line from the entrance to the Victoria College stone gate with boxes in their hand – and that was $5 admission day! I saw similar scenes with other Book Sales, with people bringing boxes and even suitcases to these Book Sales. The number of books that I bought was nothing compared to these buyers. These scenes were the most vivid at Trinity College’s Book Sale. People lined up first day from the first floor stairs of the bag check, all the way to Strachan Hall (the dining hall) for $5.00 admission day. I have been told that people at Strachan Hall would be waiting about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to get into the Sale, and again $5 admission was charged on the first day. The doors of Trinity College were open earliest at 6:00am so people can line up and they said that was the earliest they can let people in, even to their most loyal customers. I imply that past years, people would line up earlier than 6:00am. As I approached Trinity however, I saw people, husband and wife with boxes full of books. I was surprised that people were willing to spend hours waiting just to get their hands on some bargains. On the last day of the Trinity College Book Sale, I saw two or three people will barcode scanners, some with a physical device, while some used their phones.

I found some bargain deals at these Book Sales, and some I never expected. For bibliophiles, these Book Sales are not to be missed. Please know that this review was based on my own experience and interests at these Book Sales. You may have different interests such as in History books, Photography, Travel, etc… The categories are endless. For any interest, there are books waiting to be picked up by customers at these Book Sales on the University of Toronto St. George campus every Fall. Find me at any of these Book Sales next year!

Day 11: National Geographic’s The Story of 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 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.