The Catholic Man’s Carlo Acutis ‘Swag’ List

The Catholic Man Reviews will be back with new reviews in a couple weeks, but for now, as we celebrate the memorial of Blessed Carlo Acutis for the third time since his beatification. As many readers and my friends know, I have a devotion to the young Blessed. Over the past years, several have asked me about materials on Blessed Carlo Acutis. On this occasion of his memorial this year, I compile a list of some materials on Blessed Carlo Acutis for those interested. A number of items I have reviewed, of which the review I will link in this , a number of things, including books I have purchased a read. I hope these materials will help many, particularly young people like myself grow in devotion to Blessed Carlo Acutis.

English Books

  • Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint by Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo: This is, in my opinion the ultimate starter book on Blessed Carlo Acutis that anyone who has yet to read up on the young Blessed should pick up and read. It is not heavy on his biography, but really focuses on the spirituality of the Blessed, and how his spirituality is relevant for all peoples today in their universal call to holiness.
  • Carlo Acutis – The First Millennial Saint by Nicola Gori: Now that you understand Carlo’s spirituality, then there is no better biography in English than one from the Postulator, Nicola Gori himself. Reading this biography will help you realize how ‘down to earth’ Carlo’s life was, and how holiness can be attained by the person who truly strives and wants to follow Jesus.
  • Carlo Acutis – A Millennial in Paradise by Fr. Will Conquer: I would say that this book is a merger between the titles by Mgr. Figueiredo and Nicola Gori and is more ideal for a “book club” or devotional group setting. There are questions for discussion and reflection and Bible passages that might facilitate prayer, making it useful for small groups.

Younger audiences will benefit from the following:

  • Carlo Acutis – The Boy Who Knew by Corinna Turner: The storyline is fictional, but the retelling of Carlo Acutis’ life weaved throughout the story is real. It gives younger audiences a deeper outlook of hope of a model of holiness in Blessed Carlo Acutis, and also fosters devotion to him, particularly through the Novena to the young Blessed.
  • Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis by Colleen and Matt Swaim: This book is more ideal for a senior elementary school, or junior high school classroom setting. The language is really easy to read, and has challenges geared to give young people tool to help ground them in a deeper spiritual life based on the spirituality of Blessed Carlo.
  • Holy Heroes Carlo Acutis Series: I have personally not read or used any of the materials from Holy Heroes, but I do hope to review them one day on this blog alongside the many titles I have featured on this blog. I see there is a book on Carlo Acutis, as well as an audiobook and even a colouring book. The reviews I have seen on the web has been very positive. Let me know in the comments below if you have read or used any of Holy Heroes’ Carlo Acutis materials.

Other titles include:

  • Originals, not Photocopies: Carlo Acutis and Francis of Assisi by Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino: The Bishop of the Diocese of Assisi, Archbishop Sorrentino, the diocese which is now home to the remains of Carlo Acutis, wrote this little short book on the spirituality of Carlo Acutis contrasting it with the spirituality of Francis of Assisi. A beautiful short read which I recommend. You can purchase it from the bookshop of the Sanctuary of the Spoliation, Assisi, the ‘shrine’ to Blessed Carlo Acutis, as well as where his tomb is located. Profits go to support charitable works.
  • Highway to Heaven: A Spiritual Journey through the Life of Blessed Carlo Acutis by Ephrem Kunnappally: Quite an insightful read on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis, and verified by Nicola Gori, the Postulator of Carlo Acutis’ Cause as well as Ms. Antonia Salzano, Carlo Acutis’ mother. However, the English in this book is a little difficult to read – I hope it will be further edited in future editions.
  • Carlo Acutis, the Servant of God: Life beyond the Border by Francesco Orchetta: I would say that this is one of the first English books on Carlo Acutis. It is brief biography of him, but informative with many photographs.

Devotional Items

  • Artesanato Costa’s Carlo Acutis Statue: This is by far my favourite and high quality statue of Carlo Acutis, made in Brazil, the country that produced the first miracle that paved the way for Carlo Acutis’ beatificaiton. Statues come in 30cm and 60cm sizes. Please note, that as of the time the review was written, shipping was not yet offered internationally. For confirmation, do contact them via their WhatsApp – they are very responsive to their communications.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Statues: Editrice Shalom has produced a wide variety of Carlo Acutis statues, made in Italy. I have never seen them for myself, but if you do own one, feel free to let us know in the comments.
    • Search results here.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Portraits: I did a Carlo Acutis shopping spree last year, and bought a variety of holy cards and prints of Carlo Acutis’ official Beatification portraits for low prices. All of them are printed with lamination so they can last for years to come.
    • Search results here.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Medals: By this point, you can see how much of a shopping spree I did at Editrice Shalom, simply because they have the widest array of Carlo Acutis related items, directly from Italy. I bought a silver-plated medal of Carlo Acutis, as well as a keychain – both of high quality. The medal I attached on my Rugged Rosary I bought some time later.
    • Search results for medals here.
    • Rugged Rosary with Carlo Acutis medal review here.
    • Keychain here.
  • Catholic Prayer Cards’ Carlo Acutis Medal: This is a high quality but most economical Carlo Acutis on the market, made in italy. I have one attached to my Breviary cover’s zipper. The family who owns Catholic Prayer Cards are amazing people – it is a pleasure to purchase Catholic prayer cards and medals from them.

The Liturgy Series: Word on Fire’s The Liturgy of the Hours monthly prayer resource

Note: For consistency, the term breviary is used in this post to refer to the hardcopy four-volume Liturgy of the Hours.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the Prayer of the Church – prayed around the clock by members of the Church all around the world. Some may think it is a prayer reserved for the clergy and religious, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church has affirmed that, “The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God.” (1175, emphasis added) However, the hard-copy breviaries that you sometimes see priests and religious carry around in leather cases with several ribbon markers may seem daunting to the lay-person. Where do you start? Perhaps the lay-person just wants to pray without the stresses of ribbons, of Commons and of page-flipping… sometimes 3-4 page flips at some hours on some days. It is with these sentiments in mind that Word on Fire Ministries (WOF) has recently started publishing a monthly subscription simply titled The Liturgy of the Hours.

I think many readers of our blog is familiar with WOF – a Catholic evangelization ministry founded by Bishop Robert Barron. The ministry has published numerous books written by Bishop Barron, by also a variety of books in theology, evangelization and apologetics by world-renown theologians and scholars. Most notably, the WOF Bible volume I (which has been reviewed on our blog) and subsequently volume II has been very well received by people all around the world, not only for its commentary, but its quality and beauty. Producing beautiful books and publications has always been something WOF has strived to do because beauty is a way of evangelization. Moreover, The Liturgy Series on our blog has always mentioned that beauty reminds one of the author of beauty, which is God.

Therefore, WOF’s The Liturgy of the Hours instilled in me high expectations for a booklet that was simple, practical, but also beautiful – and it does not matter if this was a mere monthly subscription booklet. Evangelization & Culture, the journal of the WOF Institute serves as testament to high-quality of subscription pieces published by WOF.


Opening the plastic, you find yourself holding in your hands a simple, handsome, orange-red cover book, embossed/debossed gold foil depicting the symbol of the Holy Name of Jesus (IHS) and a monogram, and white calligraphic text. The symbols are embossed/debossed without gold foil on the back. Personally, I am not a big fan of the red-orange – simply because when I think of a design of a liturgical publication, even if it were a monthly missalette or devotional, orange is not a colour that comes to mind. My mind often turns to a dark red, or a dark green, as seen with many classic liturgical book bindings. But maybe, the orange was chosen because WOF wanted to allow the book to stand out on your night stand, allowing it to remind you to “Pray it!” morning and evening.

The booklet’s paper is not newsprint like the Canadian Living with Christ monthly missalette. The paper is thin cream-coloured bible paper, which resembles closer to the Magnificat monthly missalette and devotional. I never liked newsprint missalettes or annual missals found in the pews of some parishes. Even if a resource were to be replaced monthly or annually, I think it should in no way resemble a copy of the daily newspaper like the Toronto Star, where you read through it once, and tossed into the trash. The Liturgy of the Hours‘ paper provides this sense of dignity to the content of texts that will be prayed – ultimately these are Liturgical Prayers, drawn from Scriptural passages, and thus I think it is rightful that a paper besides newsprint is used.

There is just a sense of reverence when you hold and pray using a printed copy of The Liturgy of the Hours that a movile device app just can’t achieve. Not only does the cover and paper merit attention, but the use of fonts, calligraphy and optimization of two-colour printing elevates the contents of the booklet. WOF seems to stick to two colours for the booklet: black and an orange-red font, which complements the elements of the cover, and gives a sense of cohesiveness to the booklet as a whole. Scattered throughout the book are full pages of calligraphic text of Bible verses in the orange-red ink – simply beautiful. These one-pagers of Bible verses, though seems rather trivial, or like ‘space-filler’, provokes further thought and reflection at times.

WOF’s website states, “The booklets include special artwork to mark and celebrate solemnities throughout the year, helping you to better enter the Church’s liturgical life.” Unfortunately, I did not get to see that – I asked for a review copy in May for the June issue, which never came. I received a review copy for July, and sadly July had no Solemnities… guess just bad luck, because June had many Solemnities and August at least has the upcoming Solemnity of the Assumption. I would have loved to see the art for June’s Solemnities, especially that of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, simply because WOF has always had great artwork in so many of their publications.

The size of the booklet is of a good, user-friendly, and portable size, measuring about 5″x7″x0.75″ – that is less than half the size of a classic breviary. I set aside my copy of the breviary for the month of July to fully immerse myself into the experience of the booklet, and was quite happy with the ability to bring this copy of The Liturgy of the Hours along with ease during my pilgrimage to Québec at the end of the month.

“Bare Bones”, Easy to Pray

The content is “bare bones”. Whether this is the first time praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or you are very familiar with the breviary, WOF’s The Liturgy of the Hours makes praying the Prayer of the Church with ease. I think the first thing that needs to be clear is that The Liturgy of the Hours booklet unlike the full-breviary, only contains Morning, Evening and Night Prayer. I often pray the Office of Readings as well and I had to supplement that segment with a copy of a now, out-of-print The Office of Readings published by St. Paul’s Editions.

The Liturgy of the Hours provides the “bare bones” to facilitate the most straight-forward praying experience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours. For every hour, the Introductory is printed, the Psalms and Canticles are provided with the antiphons in bold at the start and end of each Psalm/Canticle (without the Psalm-Prayers found in the breviary), and proper formulae of dismissal for either layperson or clergy.

For every hour, there is only one instance of page-flipping, and that is ironically the hymn. Why do I say “ironic”? Because in the breviary, at least for the Ordinary Time season, the hymn is already printed after the introductory – that is unless you want to choose a different hymn. I often use the hymn provided for that hour. Therefore, having to flip for that portion of the hour seemed a little unusual for me, but totally understandable. Unlike the breviary, WOF provides notation for the hymns which really allows the Liturgy of the Hours to be prayed in its fullest sense possible. I know a number of people who have difficulty singing with breviary because of lack of notation. Unless you are familiar with the tune, it is difficult to follow along. WOF eliminates this questioning of, “how does this tune go?” and provides the notation which makes singing the hymn a lot easier.

In keeping with the “bare bones” user-friendly structure, I like how the headings are not printed in the text block itself, but rather, in the left margin. This is helpful for new users to know what is to be recited and what not, because I think “say the black, do the red” is unfamiliar among lay-people. I know the breviary even has some quotes from the saints or another source before some of the Psalms and Canticles, and those are printed in black and italicized, which might make things even more confusing for someone new to the breviary.

Some Critiques

An American Liturgical Calendar: While the Liturgy of the Hours is the Prayer of the Church, like the Mass and Lectionary texts, there are some adaptations in terms of the liturgical calendar in each country. While it was not surprise to me, it might be to some Canadian subscribers, and those outside of the United States, that The Liturgy of the Hours is reflective of the United States’ Liturgical Calendar. This was evident in July in two instances for me. The first was on Thursday July 14, 2022, which had the memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Canada does not celebrate St. Kateri’s memorial on this day, but rather on April 17. Another instance was on Tuesday July 26, 2022 in which in the United States the memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne was observed, while in Canada, this day is observed as a feast. Therefore, not only would one of the Commons was to be utilized for most of Morning and Evening Prayer, but Morning Prayer was supposed to utilize Sunday Week 1’s Psalms and Canticles, as is the case with Morning Prayer of Feasts and Solemnities.

This is understandable on the part of WOF, because WOF is based in the United States, and it seems that Americans are their largest recipients of their materials, compared to Canada. Even the current breviary fails to acknowledge Canadian saints and the Canadian Liturgical Calendar, which makes praying the breviary on days like the memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha or the feast of Sts. Jean de Brébeuf and Companions even more difficult with the extra work to locate prayers, inserts and commons. On these days, I find praying with the Universalis app all the better, because the app has reflected these Canadian adaptations. The only bummer with that is the use of a mobile device, rather than a printed book.

I think WOF should address the use of the American Liturgical adaptations in their FAQs. They have an FAQ on their site that states:

On saint/feast days, will you give people options or just pick one set of prayers?

The booklet includes one set of prayers for each day, choosing the highest ranking feast or celebration. Our goal is simplicity. We want to reduce the number of choices so that people can just read and pray without worrying about extra decisions.

I think this is a perfect place to mention the American Liturgical Calendar adaptations. It is just unfortunate that the Canadian market is just too small to justify the making of a Canadian version of The Liturgy the Hours subscription program. Even the popular Magnificat has a version with American Lectionary translations and no Canadian version. But overall, you will only find these adaptations on a handful number of days of the liturgical calendar.

Recordings for the Hymns: I am glad that WOF chose to include musical notations for the hymns. For someone who can read musical notation, I can find my way through the hymns easily, but I do not think that is the case for many users. To facilitate the learning of some of the hymns, I recommend adding a page with recordings for the hymns on the WOF website. Perhaps there are permissions that must be sought, but even if these recordings are made available to subscribers only, it might be of great help to many who wish to learn these hymns.

Reconsidering Gospel Canticles and Night Prayer: I know WOF wants to have the prayers in proper sequence laid out for every day, even duplicating prayers every day as necessary, but is there too much dupication? I questioned this while praying using the booklet, especially for Gospel Canticles – I wonder if it is better to have the Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis or at least just the Benedictus and Magnificat on the inside front covers, epsecially since as of now, the two inside front covers are blank.

I do not think it is difficult, or of inconvenience to have to turn to the front or back cover for these Canticles. That means that only the antiphon would need to be printed once at the point these Canticles are to be recited. Moreover, I have found the Gospel Canticles easy to learn by heart after frequent praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Some consideration might also be given to Night Prayer which is less complicated than Morning and Evening Prayer, and I think, better suited to have just a section dedicated to Night Prayer in the back with the Night Prayer from Sunday to Saturday. This is a better alternative, I think, than printing four-weeks worth of the same prayers. The only extra effort required is turning to the back section each night, but that is very simple, given that you know which day of the week it is. For the day’s prayer after Evening Prayer, some note to turn to page # for Night Prayer might be an option.

Adding the Invitatory Psalm: I was a bit disappointed to not see the Invitatory Psalm included in The Liturgy of the Hours, especially since the Introductory for the Invitatory is so meaningful, “Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise.” The Invitatory Psalm, often Psalm 95, but Psalm 100, 67 or 24 can serve as alternatives, is said at the first hour of the day. I often pray it at the Office of Readings, but for users of The Liturgy of the Hours, it is most appropriate to include it at Morning Prayer. I hope some consideration will be given to including the Invitatory Psalm in future editions of The Liturgy of the Hours booklet.

For WOF’s Future Consideration

WOF has provided a wide range of resources in theology and apologetics, and it seems with The Liturgy of the Hours, WOF is entering a different field – of liturgy. Seeing the quality that WOF puts into their publications, I have questions as to what other types of publications may publish, especially in the area of Liturgy. Coming out in a couple of years, is the second edition of The Liturgy of the Hours, and I wonder if WOF will consider a more permanent resource, of publishing a user-friendly breviary for use by the lay-faithful that is not subscription based.

Moreover, the artistic beauty makes me wonder if WOF has any plans to publish high-quality liturgical books. I would love to see one-day the possibility of an edition of the Roman Missal printed with the highest standards, similar to the WOF Bible. Since the promulgation of the third english edition of the Roman Missal in 2011, there has been no new editions (i.e. new bindings, printings) of the Roman Missal in the english market, and I hope that WOF can introduce something new, worthy for use at the altar. These are just some possible liturgical projects, that I hope WOF might consider down the road.


The Liturgy of the Hours is a wonderful subscription that will help one be introduced to the hours. For a mere $7USD/month (at Special Founder’s Discount), one can have the chance to immerse one’s prayer life with the Prayer of the Church. I recommend it for individuals, families or prayer groups and chaplaincies in educational institutions so that many more people will be introduced to this wonderful prayer of the Church.

To learn more about WOF’s The Liturgy of the Hours subscription and subscribe, click here.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of The Liturgy of the Hours – July 2022 to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Word on Fire for the opportunity for us to review this subscription on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

The Liturgy Series: Sanny de Zoete’s Altar Linens

On this day, the Catholic Church in Canada (where I reside), and in many other dioceses of the world celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, more commonly known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. I thought it would be best to speak about beauty in the liturgy, and specifically, on the altar.

Since the beginning of The Liturgy Series, The Catholic Man has strived to feature exceptional liturgical objects for use in the liturgy. Some might be tempted to think that being nit-picky about having beautiful objects at the liturgy is going too far – as long as the item serves its purpose, then it is suitable, because it is the liturgy itself that is important, not the externals. There was an era where functionalism was adopted widely. However, in recent decades, the Church has taken a different approach, an apporach that was amplified, seemingly, under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

In the context of the liturgy, in Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict said:

Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is veritatis splendor. The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion. As Saint Bonaventure would say, in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendour at their source.

The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth. The memorial of Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice contains something of that beauty which Peter, James and John beheld when the Master, making his way to Jerusalem, was transfigured before their eyes (cf. Mk 9:2). Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.

Sacramentum Caritatis 35

Yet, why a path of beauty? Why should Catholics ensdorse beauty, not just in the liturgy, but within Catholicism in general? To this, Pope Benedict XVI would respond:

[…]the via pulchritudinis, the way of beauty, is a privileged and fascinating path on which to approach the Mystery of God.

General Audience Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Ultimately, we use beautiful things in the liturgy, because beauty itself is reflective of the unexplainable beauty that takes place at every liturgical celebration: Jesus Christ, our salvation, present in the form of bread and wine among His people. It is also on this way of beauty that we may encounter God Himself, who is the author of all beauty.

Considering what has been mentioned thus far, it is such a pity that not few parishes resort to less than ideal altar linens, some made with polyester, and some with a cotton-poly blend. One rationale behind this is that purchasing and having altar cloths made from such material is cheaper. I don’t know if this is something more for myself who has been a sacristan and have seen the differences between polyester and authentic linen, but the difference is quite noticable. However, for the purposes of this review, I have also learned and felt the difference between cheap and expensive linen and trust me… there is a difference when you touch the two linens. That aside, this review will not be about comparing cheap and expensive linen, but rather, to speak specifically about a line of linens that I think deserves more attention among churches in North America.

Sanny de Zoete, based in Delft, Netherlands, is a linen damask lover, an art historian, speaker, author, cultural entrepreneur and guest curator. Her website makes evident the level of expertise and passion she has for linen damask. For the purposes of this review, and to get a feel for the background she has, I had a light-hearted Zoom conversation with Sanny and it is amazing how much she knows about an art that is unfortunately dying in many parts of the world.

Yes, you can get plain linen, but linen damask is turning linen up a notch – designs actually woven into the fabric itself to form a design. For the purposes of this review, Sanny graciously sent me two samples which I will speak about.

The Last Supper Linen Damask

Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of the Last Supper is likely one of the most famous, and recognizable works of art in the world. It has been reproduced on a variety of mediums, including mosaics, prints, tapestry… by how about as linen damask? It is surprising to know that according to Sanny, “[l]inen weavers have been incorporating this design [of the Last Supper] into their communion damask in the Netherlands since 1850.” Coming from a Protestant Christian background, the Last Supper as damask linen has been of interest for her. She managed to acquire a 19th century engraving by Willem van‘t Riet which reproduced da Vinci’s depiction of the Last Supper. The print served as Sanny’s inspiration for the recreation of the Last Supper on linen damask.

Upon hearing of the Last Supper linen damask, there is perhaps some fear that it is not detailed enough. In fact, Sanny’s Last Supper linen damask is not the first – during my time working at the Catholic Cathedral in Toronto, I have already seen something of smaller sized, called the Last Supper super-corporal (a corporal, meant for larger altars) by Slabbinck. The product page for that super-coproral seems to have been taken down from the page, but in all honesty, everytime I looked at the damask, there was something off about the design – it just lack so much detail. This is understandable since many of these linens are mass-manufactured for sale, and on many occasions, with the aim of low prices while still making profits. Yet, it is true, you get what you pay for.

The detail on Sanny’s linen is awe-inspiring. It seems to me that Sanny’s linen is like a mosaic embedded on linen, but it is more complicated than mosaic in the aspect that: mosaics are often made up of titles that have a wide variety of colours. That is how you can achieve various shades on mosaic. But that is not achievable on damask – the colour of the threads of the fabric including the damask are all the same. It is the direction of the weaving that creates the image that you see. Is that not amazing?

The sample Sanny sent me was used at my parish for the first time this past Good Friday. At the liturgy of Good Friday, the liturgy begins with a bare altar. It is only before the Communion Rite that the altar is prepared with an altar linen. The altar linen used at that liturgy this year at my parish was Sanny’s Last Supper linens damask and the juxtaposition of the Crucifix and the Last Supper damask spoke to the interconnectedness of these two distinct, but mystical events, which eventually culminates with the Lord’s Resurrection. My pastor was amazed at the quality and detail of Sanny’s linen, not only because it came all the way from the Netherlands, but it was, I dare say, the first time he was able to feel, and use high-quality linens. And indeed so, Sanny produced here a beautiful linen for service at the altar.

I would argue that such a linen as delicate and fine as this Last Supper linen damask, should be brought out for use on the most solemn of occasions of the Liturgical Year, especially during the Paschal Triduum. For a linen as large as this, it must be cared for well. I keep this linen rolled up, and tied with white grosgrain ribbons so to minimize wrinkles. It can be folded, but I think doing so will not be able to bring the damask design to its best visual state.

Click below to view the History of the Last Supper design, as recounted by Sanny de Zoete.

You can take a closer look at the prices and dimensions of the Last Supper linen damask here:

Grapevines and Ears of Wheat Corporal

Perhaps another investment that would best accompany the Last Supper linen is the Grapevines and Ears of Wheat Corporal (Sanny calls it a napkin on her website). Why do I say it is best suited as a corporal? It is square shaped – the corporal is folded into ninths, so that when folded, it could hold the fragments of the consecrated host which may fall onto the corporal. The corporal is carefully and reverently cleaned. Unlike the large Last Supper linen damask which covers the mensa of the altar, the corporal is placed on top at the liturgy of the Eucharist at the Catholic Mass to collect the fragments of the consecrated species, and therefore, may come in direct contact to the Eucharist, hence its significance.

The ears of wheat and grapevine are symbols of the Eucharist: the wheat used to make the bread, and the grapes used to make the wine, which in the Catholic Mass are consecrated so that they may become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – in which through transubstantiation, the consecrated species contain the body, soul and divinity of Jesus.

Sanny de Zoete’s corporal contains these two seemingly simple symbols, but so eloquently woven all around the perimeter of the border. While this design might be able to be embroidered, for a corporal in Catholic liturgy, it may prove to be “too much.” Yet, when woven in damask on linen, there is just something so delicate and special about it. At various angles, you can see the design “glistening” under the light in a unique way.

I have not mentioned, but both the Last Supper and this linen corporal are made up of 42 threads per centimetre – the density of the fabric allows the deep level of detail, that I have not been able to see in a lot of Ecclesiastical linens and fabrics today.

The only exception with the corporal, is that for Catholic usage, it only lacks a simple cross in the centre. I hope this can be incorporated in future designs. There is a version indicated on the website: “One has a shield in the centre with the text Deze drinkbeker is het nieuwe testament in Mijn bloed, hetwelk voor U vergoten wordt (This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you).”

This design is, in fact, also available as a fair linen for the altar and for Catholic usage with crosses all along the middle as well.

I hope Sanny considers making a matching chalice pall, purificator and lavabo towel to go with this corporal. How complete of a set and amazing would that be, especially considering Sanny’s quality of work?

More details on the Grapevine and Wheat design can be found here:

You can purchase the corporal in a variety of sizes here:

Compared to other types of fabrics, linen damask is very strong, and has a longer life compared to some of the more contemporary types of fabrics. Moreover linen damasks keep their shape nicely during years of use.

Need a specific size to fit your parish’s altar? Sanny can weave according to your custom measurements! Just let her know, and contact her with your needs, and Sanny will happily answer your questions.

Closing Remarks

At the celebration of the Mass, the most important function of the Catholic Faith, Jesus Christ truly comes to His People in the Eucharist. If a king, or even a VIP (very important person) were to come dine at our table, we would offer them the best preparations: the best napkins, tablecloth, bowls, cutlery, etc. Why do parishes not do the same each week as Jesus comes among the Christian community?

The Liturgical Arts are important because they speak to the reality of what occurs at the liturgy: a true encounter with none other but the Lord in the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. A parish that has continued to do this well since their establishment, is St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago. Throughout the pandemic, possibly many people, including myself were exposed to them via their livestreams of the their beautiful and reverent liturgies. The St. Martha’s Guild at their Parish which fosters beautiful and traditional Liturgical Arts wrote an interesting piece, The Mission to Restore Ecclesiastical Damask, which merits the time of our blog readers, especially those who follow The Liturgy Series to read. In this blog post, they feature Sanny de Zoete’s altar linens, and in particular, the long fair linen on the main altar, with the Grapevines and Ears of Wheat design, which also matches the corporal – simply beautiful! The post also features an application of the Last Supper linen damask on one of their side altars.

The interesting point is this, that I have read somewhere: The Canons of St. John Cantius revived the life of the church and parish, through their commitment to beautiful liturgy. Their parish has now fluorished. The little things for Our Lord matter. Beautiful articles for use at the liturgy matter, because humans have a tendency to gravitate toward beauty, and that beauty ultimately leads us to its Creator – God. Let us strive to use beautiful linens for use at the altar, like that of Sanny de Zoete, so to foster beautiful and traditional liturgical arts for generations to come. Through that, future generations will recognize the importance not only of the beautiful, but more importantly, the gravity of the Mass, the Eucharist in their Catholic lives.

I close with a point Sanny made at the end of our conversation together: The Last Supper damask, is a fine example of the embodiment of Jesus. On one side, Jesus is depicted seemingly as a white man. If you flip the linen on the reverse, Jesus is still the same Jesus, but depicted inverse, seemingly like a black man. Yet, no matter which image you see, it is still the same white thread used throughout – it is just a matter of the threads are woven that form the image.

The question is this: How do we see Jesus, going forth from the Eucharistic table? Do we recognize the beauty of all peoples and cultures, and therefore, unite together to move towards the Kingdom of Heaven? Do we see Jesus in all peoples, no matter their race, their skin colour, their ethnicity? Do we see Jesus in the prisoner, the beggar, the labourer, in our own brothers and sisters, classmates and co-workers?

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided some samples of Sanny de Zoete’s altar linens, by Sanny, to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews sincerely thanks Sanny for the opportunity for us to review and feature these linens on our blog and look forward to future reviews and features. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about these altar linens.

Book Review: The Catholic Faith – An Introduction to the Creeds

At the Easter Vigil Mass Catholics renew their Baptismal Promises and make the Profession of Faith in a question-and-answer form. Moreover, Catholics profess their faith at the Mass every week on Sundays through the recitation of the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. Yet what is it, really, that we say and profess in the Creed? Do we take the Profession of Faith seriously? Or do we go through the motions each time we recite the Creed or Renew our Profession of Faith?

I think it is easy for us to fall into the trap of routine, not only with our prayer, but also with our own profession of faith. It seems that Catholic authors, Steve Ray and Deacon Dennis Walters understands the need for some sort of “review” of the Creed and Faith that we profess in writing, The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds. This book is one that I recommend, not only to those new to the Catholic faith, but a great resource to have beside your copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perhaps a question we rarely ponder when reciting the Creed is: Where did it come from? In what context was it written in? Some may say that it came from a specific ecumenical Council, but rather, these statements of the faith derive from the time of Jesus and His earliest followers… just read the New Testament and we will see how many Credal statements there are scattered throughout. The first two chapters are dedicated to speaking about the roots, developments and needs addressed at a certain point in Christian history which gave way to a formation of various Creeds and formulae of the Profession of Faith. 

Chapters three through to seven are what makes up the meat of the book, as both authors dedicate these chapters to a thorough break-down of the Creed, specifically the forms of the Apostles and Nicene-Constnatinople (commonly abbreviated in layman’s terms as the “Nicene Creed”). Both authors draw on Scripture as their foundation, but speaks to our beliefs in light of the Tradition of the Church. This is so important in speaking of the Deposit of Faith within Catholicism, because what we believe in is not solely based on the Scriptures, but through the Tradition of the Church too – the two are so essential to understand the derivation of the truths of the faith.

And no fear, I found the language to be simple to understand, and also, fascinating to read. I was amazed at how much I took my faith for granted, and how there are things in the Creed in relation to Scripture that I just failed to connect-the-dots. I say: consider this a review of what you learned in Catechism class, but in a different way, as Ray and Walters gives you new insight to what you thought you knew well, but in reading, realize still have gaps here and there in understanding what the Church believes in. 

The last chapter is apologetical in its nature as it discusses some common objections to the Creed. Who knows, you might come across some of these points in passing on an online forum or conversation and so, it is good to have some of these answers in mind. But moreso, it is important Again, very easy to read and follow. I recommend you take notes as you read, especially notes in bullet form for your own reference and knowledge.  

To supplement the contents, the Appendix contains a Short list of Creeds and Glossary. I was amazed to see how many Creeds the Catholic Church has, and it has come in a variety of forms throughout various points in history. How beautiful is a our Catholic Faith!

I certainly recommend this book, or at least give it a read after exams. I hope it will help you when you recite the Creed at Mass or within any prayerful context, because it is just so important to understand what we say and do. 

To learn more and purchase The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds, click here.

The following is a video version of the review, produced by the Newman Catholic Students’ Club – University of Toronto.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks TAN Books for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

The Liturgy Series: Sacred Oils, by Fr. Paul Turner

In the last installment of The Liturgy Series, The Catholic Man featured a title by liturgist Fr. Paul Turner, Ars Celebrandi – Celebrating and Concelebrating Mass. Shortly thereafter, he wrote a book of a less complex title, Sacred Oils. I think by the title, you can already tell what the book is already about. But honestly, how many Catholics really understand the significance of the oils that are used in the sacraments? I think one can reduce the Sacred Oils merely as an association of a liturgical action and boom, done. However, Fr. Turner wants to point out in this book that there is so much more than a liturgical-action aspect to the oil, more than just rubrics and anointing.

How many of us readers have ever attended the Chrism Mass? Honestly, I think very few. At least where I reside, in the Archdiocese of Toronto, it is celebrated the morning of Holy Tuesday. As the Chrism Mass is celebrated in my Archdiocese, elementary and high school students are in classes and majority of people are at work. I question why not a lot of dioceses if they were to celebrate the Chrism Mass on a day outside of Holy Thursday, why they would not celebrate it in the evening so that many of the lay faithful can attend as well. This past Chrism Mass was my first one, and reading Fr. Turner’s Sacred Oils helped inform me of the significance of the Chrism Mass in connection with the oils used in the Sacred Liturgy.

Oil bears biblical, theological and liturgical significance in the Catholic Church. Yet, the use of oil in the Church: Sacred Chrism, Oil of the Sick and Oil of the Catechumens are often taken for granted by the lay faithful. Combining the biblical, theological and most prominently the liturgical significance of the Sacred Oils, Fr. Turner offers a thorough, yet easy to understand Catechesis for those who would like to further their understanding on Sacred Oils and the sacraments in which they are used in.

For all Catholics, at infant baptism and confirmation – these ‘one-time’ sacraments, in which one can only receive once in their lifetime, the effects of the sacrament, and the significance put in place by Sacred Chrism is a lifetime. These outwards signs though seemingly miniscule, speak volumes to the very lives that we live. At a time of sickness, understanding the significance of the Oil of the Sick helps grounds one in what they are to be anointed with from a sacramental view, and dismiss a rather perhaps superstitious conception of Catholicism.

Reading Sacred Oils it becomes clear that Catholicism is not faith that remains enclosed in the heart. We are a sacramental people which uses sacraments, defined by St. Augustine as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” In understanding the use of the oils, to the origins of them at the Chrism Mass, and its theological and biblical roots, we come to understand these outward signs better and therefore, also what we receive in the reception of the sacraments. That is our faith – a faith in which outward signs reflect the interior essence.

Fr. Turner divides the book into five sections:

  • Introduction: The Chrism Mass
  • Chapter One: The Oil of the Sick
  • Chapter Two: The Oil of the Catechumens
  • Chapter Three: Sacred Chrism
  • Conclusion: The Care of Oils

All chapters consists of a very thorough analysis, and answers the questions I lay out here:

  • What is the biblical and theological significance of the oil?
  • When is that type of oil used?
  • Who and what things are the ‘recipient’ of the specific oil?
  • Why are specific references made in both the formula of blessing/consecration of a specific oil, and in the formula of anointing someone/something with that oil?
  • How is that type of oil used in biblical times, throughout Church history and today in the liturgy?

As I mentioned before, Sacred Oils is a catechesis on the use of the oils, and the sacraments and liturgy in of itself. The sub-headings seemingly reference the W5H of Oils. It is important to know the origins and use of these oils because through that, we are able to see how oils connect an individual with the life of the local Church, the diocese, and ultimately with the Universal Church both past, present and future.

What is one thing missing from the book? I honestly think the big thing missing from the book is an appendix containing the formulae of Blessing the Oil of the Sick and Oil of the Catechumens, and the fomula of Consecration of the Sacred Chrism. The reasoning for this is: Fr. Turner references these texts so often in all three chapters. While he has the citation for the text in the actual ritual book, the ritual book is quite inaccessible by the lay faith. Unless one is a liturgist, I think not many Catholics would be willing to chip out $30USD or $142.95CAD (yes, you read that right) to spend on a 32-paged ritual book. Therefore, having the prayers in their entirety, in some appendix like this handout from the Liturgy Office England and Wales would be immensely helpful.

Overall, once again, Fr. Turner does it again, this time with an engaging, comprehensive catechesis on Sacred Oils. I look forward to possibly stocking my liturgy library with liturgical commentaries by Fr. Turner. This, however, will not be the last of Fr. Turner on The Liturgy Series this year. To know which book that is, you will jsut have to wait and see!

You can check out Sacred Oils here at Liturgical Press.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of Sacred Oils to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Liturgical Press for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.