Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI: A Lifelong Pilgrim

It has been a while since The Catholic Man has posted on this blog. A blog-post was initially supposed to be released on December 31, 2022. However, out of respect for the passing of Pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI, this blog-post will be postponed until after his Funeral Mass on January 5, 2023. The blog-post, interestingly, was to mention of his works. In lieu of that, I share my tribute reflection to him, titled Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI: A Lifelong Pilgrim. An excerpt will be shared here, but the rest of it can be found on my personal blog.

Just hours before the See of Peter went into a state of “sede vacante” on Thursday February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI from the central loggia of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, said that, after a few hours he would no longer be Supreme Pontiff, but “simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.” In 2018, marking the fifth anniversary of his resignation, the Pope-emeritus in a letter to the senior correspondent of Corriere della Sera newspaper, Massimo Franco, reiterated similar sentiments, “I can only say that with the slow decline of my physical forces, interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards Home.”

This theme of being a pilgrim is one that seemed prominent in Benedict XVI’s Pope-emeritus years. Perhaps too simple of a concept for a world-renown theologian? I would argue not so. It is perhaps with his background as a theologian that he understood very well what it meant to be a pilgrim. To be a pilgrim requires one to first of all, be on a journey, and second, a realization of where the journey is headed. A pilgrim needs an end destination, and Benedict realized very well that that end destination was the Heavenly Jerusalem, the place where he would eventually meet God face-to-face.

As a theologian, he strived wholeheartedly to be a “cooperator of the truth,” hence his episcopal motto, “Cooperatores Veritatis,” and in that search and collaboration with truth, his own faith in God was strengthened for the pilgrim journey. It is in understanding, deciphering and sharing theology that he understood that, “faith is nothing less than being interiorly seized by God, something which guides us along the pathways of life. Faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world and his promise of justice, truth and love.” (Epiphany 2013 Homily) It is in God alone that one finds rest (cf. Ps 62:1), finds truth (cf. Jn 14:6), and love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). Pope Benedict affirmed this for himself in his Spiritual Testament he signed in 2006, in which he said, “I have seen, and see, how, out of the tangle of hypotheses, the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging anew. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life – and the Church, in all her shortcomings, is truly His Body.”

Continue reading…

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The Liturgy Series: Ars Celebrandi – Celebrating and Concelebrating Mass, by Fr. Paul Turner

Ars Celebrandi The Art of Celebrating and Concelebrating Mass“… that is the book title for this first post of The Liturgy Series of this year. Possibly one of the first questions for readers of this blog is, why is a lay-person who has no degree in Theology or Liturgical Studies reviewing a book on how to celebrate and concelebrate the Mass?

One of the main reasons why The Liturgy Series came to be, was because of my interest in the Sacred Liturgy. As exemplified in the series, I hopefully wanted to ensure to provide examples of what it means to have dignified books and articles for Liturgical Celebration, and now, the concern is: A parish has beautiful Sacred Vessels, brand new liturgical-worthy vestments, handsomely bound copy of the Roman Missal… but how about the Mass? How is it to be celebrated?

Many of the things I have spoken about in The Liturgy Series would be in vain if the Mass were to be celebrated hastily, irreverently, or worse… according to a particular priest’s/congregation’s desires on whim, and not in fidelity with the liturgical books. Now, the conversation on liturgical abuse is not just a topic for the clergy. While bishops and priests have much to do with how Mass is celebrated, those involved in Parish Ministry, especially in the ministries of Lector, Acolyte and Music ministry have tendencies to stray away from liturgical books as well. As someone involved in various liturgical ministries at my parish, especially as Liturgical Master of Ceremonies, I strive to ensure that the liturgical components from texts to music follow closely with the norms of liturgical books. While I have my own tastes and preferences, those must be set aside in liturgical planning and give precedence to what Mother Church desires. This does not mean a scrupulous, nit-picky approach with clergy and ministers – not at all. The bishop is the Chief Liturgist of his diocese and thus, it is his role to “elucidate the inherent meaning of the rites and the liturgical texts, and nourish the spirit of the Liturgy in the Priests, Deacons and lay faithful so that they are all led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist.” (RS 22) Thus, the ideal liturgical planner should be educated himself, but should not use his reading and education to spark any instance of “liturgical wars” with bishops, with priests or with other pairsh ministers. Anything expressed must be done in a spirit of charity and obedience to Mother Church.

Now back to the book… Ars Celebrandi is first and foremost, not step-by-step guide to celebrate Mass. It is, rather, as the title suggests, a book that provides pointers for (future) priests to celebrate and concelebrate the Mass well. Therefore, it implies that the reader already has an idea how to celebrate the Mass. The book is divided into nine-chapters, in which the headings alone give one a very good idea of what would be addressed (rather than one-word headings, like some philosophy University textbooks). I will give an overview of the content in three sections, grouping the headings as I see there are three overarching themes in the book.

Revisiting Foundations

After a comprehensive introduction, the first two chapters are titled: [1] Understanding the Calendar and [2] Presiding: Grounding Principles. I was a bit surprised why Fr. Turner would start this book with a first chapter on the calendar. However, upon reading the first chapter, one comes to the understanding that there is so much to the Liturgical Calendar than just the Liturgical seasons. There are rules on days of precedence, levels of Solemnities, Feasts and Memorials, which in turn dictates which Mass and Lectionary texts are to be used for a particular celebration. As someone in liturgical ministries, it helps give one a sense of the need to communicate with the presider well before the Mass to prepare Lectionary text and appropriate liturgical music arrangements. The first chapter is more than just a review of the Liturgical Calendar – it is quite eye opening for myself as a lay person. While I have read a fair bit on liturgical planning, it never hurts to have a refresher, or in this case, an in-depth look at the Calendar, which helps everyone on the liturgical planning team to be on the same page as Mother Church, not on our separate assumed liturgical calendars. With that in mind though, Fr. Turner spends a number of pages on choosing Eucharistic Prayers which can in itself reflect the nature of specific days in the Liturgical Calendar – that was a really interesting read. Even though lay-people do not recite the Eucharistic Prayers, it is good to know that there is a good variety available to the presider, besides Eucharistic Prayer II, “You are indeed holy O Lord, the fount of all holiness…)

The second chapter lays a foundation for the synthesis of words, action and liturgical spirit. Right off the bat, in the first paragraph of the chapter, it refers to what the Introduction stated, and I think these are words worth reflecting upon, “Less is more. Do what it says; don’t do what it doesn’t say. Offer sacriifice and share communion. Be intentional. Involve the people.” (Ars Celebrandi 25) This is the synthesis that chapter 2 really wants to bring about as Fr. Turner speaks of a wide array of topics from priest’s “personal style” of celebrating Mass, the question of Mass Ad Orientem and the principle of “progressive solemnity.” When the synthesis of these factors work well in accordance with fidelity to the Church, it leads to full, conscious, and active liturgical participation of the faithful that Vatican II envisioned (see Sacrosanctum Concilium 14).

Working the Synthesis

The following five chapters are: [3] Intentionality in Act, [4] Intentionality in Word, [5] Interactions, and [6] Overlooked Rubrics. Having set the foundations, Fr. Turner lays out the how in the next five chapters which makes up a bulk of the book. These chapters I think are at the heart of the book.

Chapter 3, Intentionality in Act gives an in-depth walk through some of the gestures of the presider at Mass. Interesting enough, there is reference to the preparation of the priest and wearing of vestments in the first pages of this chapter… something I would not think about in terms of “action.” I was even surprised to know a good piece of advice for presiders, that an “intentional presider removes his watch…” (AC 34) I am amazed at the little details that Fr. Turner brings up because the little things to make a big difference to the people and in turn, for the act of celebrating for the presider. Actions speak volumes, especially when looking at ars celebrandi with the lens that “less is more,” in many instances.

The fourth chapter, Intentionality in Word, as the heading suggests, speaks to the words of the priest. What I am amazed at is the depth of explanation and analysis that Fr. Turner provides for various parts of the Mass, including the Eucharistic Prayer, and even more surprising, the Collect. The Collect specifically caught my attention because how often do we hear the Collect, but never intentional about analyzing the parts of a single paragraph. The chapter offers explanation and suggestions on how to pray the prayers of the Mass well with intentionality, specifically the presidential prayers and private prayers. Moreover, there is a section on the Homily which provides some interesting insights that I keep to myself as a lay person (I would never make recommendations to a deacon, priest or bishop on how to give a homily… I simply have no place to do so. It is best to keep thoughts in this area to myself!)

Chapter 5 and 6 are really interesting chapters. Chapter 5 is titled merely as Interactions. There is a lot of interactions between the priest and ministers, and the congregation throughout the Mass and as I mentioned, little things do make a difference. Fr. Turner covers many different aspects of interaction from eye-contact, how to give cues, and even addressed microphone usage – complete with the section on when a priest should turn on/off microphone during Mass to better establish the presidential parts of Mass, and the congregation’s parts at Mass. Chapter 6 covers Overlooked Rubrics which honestly, is my favourite of the chapters. While in lay men’s terms, it addresses “what do priests often forget and overlook at Mass?” the pointers in there are quite practical for liturgical ministers. For example, Fr. Turner spends a three addressing, “communion from the tabernacle.” (see AC 89-91) Sacristans would benefit from knowing about that so to prepare a suitable amount of bread for consecration at a specific Mass. There is also a section on “announcements,” and for Vietnamese parishes like mine, I think some lay people would benefit from the points raised by Fr. Turner.

Concelebration

The last couple chapters of the book are dedicated to this topic to “Concelebration.” While seemingly to have little relevance to lay people unlike the previous chapters, Fr. Turner strives to make it relevant for liturgical planners to take into consideration many factors of preparation for Masses of concelebration. From the chapters, I can extract the necessities to prepare not only seating, but also, the preparation of appropriate number of Sacred Vessels, logistical flow of communion for Concelebrants, establishing the role of Concelebrants in Masses with/without Deacon(s), with Lay Ministers… In brief, there is much to think about when preparing for Masses with concelebrants to avoid last minute questions and concerns that may in turn, detract from the essence of the Liturgical celebration.

Final Remarks

Ars Celebrandi by Fr. Paul Turner is just one of many of his great liturgical guides and commentary. I personally refer back every year to Glory in the Cross in preparation for Holy Week. While Ars Celebrandi was written for liturgical presiders in mind as the primary audience, lay ministers in the area of liturgical ministry like myself would benefit greatly from this title. Again, it is not to be nit-picky with priests, but rather, to be informed about what it means to partake and plan a liturgical celebration well. A good part of that falls on liturgical ministers, and that must come with an understanding of what we do at every Mass, at every liturgical celebration. Fr. Turner does this well with clear, concise language. I recommend this book in every sacristy library for future reference not only by clergy, but liturgical planners and ministers as well.

You can check out Ars Celebrandi: Celebrating and Concelebrating Mass here at Liturgical Press.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of Ars Celebrandi: Celebrating and Concelebrating 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.

Book Review: Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis

Who better to close of the year with, than with Blessed Carlo Acutis? This past year, we have reviewed a fair number of books about the young Carlo Acutis. Liguori Publications published an original English title on Carlo Acutis this past Fall, titled: Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis, written by Colleen and Matt Swaim. Out of the Carlo Acutis titles reviewed on this blog thus far, this book comes out to be the thinnest, with only 48 pages. However, the content contained within this short booklet is not lesser quality than any of the other titles featured here.

One of the things we mentioned previously is that even though we have reviewed, now, the fifth title on Carlo Acutis, each book comes with a different perspective and prompt that comes out of the life of Carlo Acutis. Dare to be More is written seemingly for a teen audience in mind. While Book Nicola Gori’s Carlo Acutis – The First Millennial Saint and Fr. Will Conquer’s Carlo Acutis – A Millennial in Paradise seem to have more of biographical emphasis, Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo’s Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint and both of the Swaim’s Dare to be More have an emphasis on the call to sainthood and how one can fit into the shoes of Carlo Acutis in original ways.

Dare to Be More: The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis

Why is the book titled, “Dare to be more”? The answer to this question can be found in the first page after the table of contents, as the authors chose to place a quote from Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation to Young People, Christus Vivit in 2019, where he says,

Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession. What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness. In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.

Christus Vivit 107

While this quote seemingly comes out of the blue, or may seem like a space filler, it is actually not, when taken into the full context. I would invite one to read the whole book and get back to this quote. Section 107 of the Apostolic Exhortation comes after the section in which Pope Francis introduces to young people the witness of Carlo Acutis (see sections 104-106 of the Apostolic Exhortation). At the end of section 106, Pope Francis quotes one of Carlo’s most notable sayings, “Everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies.” The call to be original saints is what Pope Francis speaks of in the quotes section 107, and that is how it fits into the larger context of this book. How relevant of a message that this book strives to expand upon based on the life of Carlo Acutis! In a world where people want to fit into the secularization, Catholics in their call to sainthood are called to something more than being photocopies of secularizaiton, but the original person that God made them.

Dare to be More is divided in to six-chapters that touch upon various biographical and spiritualities of Carlo Acutis. These chapters are titled as follows:

  • Who is Carlo Acutis?
  • The Source and Summit: Carlo’s Devotion to our Lord in the Eucharist
  • Our Lady: Mary as Carlo’s Mother and Yours
  • Carlo’s Holy Humanity: Computers & Nutella
  • Care for Others: A Not-so-Me Generation
  • When life Involves Suffering: Pain and Death

These themes I think are alluded to in various ways in Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo’s Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint, but I think the language used in Dare to be More is more suited for a younger teenage audience, in my opinion.

There are photographs of Carlo Acutis scattered throughout the book. However, the interior of the book is produced in black-and-white… I personally think it would have been more effective to have the book printed in colour to bring these photographs to life. Many, if not all of these photographs can be downloaded and viewed at the Association of the Friends of Carlo Acutis website, at: www.carloacutis.com. Photographs serve two purposes: one, is to captivate young people; two, is to show the humanity of these saints in a very tangible way. While we hear of so many great young saints like Maria Goretti or Dominic Savio, there just aren’t many photographs out there that are relatable to young people. Carlo Acutis is a model of sanctity for millennials and therefore, I think the photographs should be reproduced in ways that make sainthood relatable.

One of the features I really like about this book are the questions scattered throughout that helps one put themselves in the shoes of a saint. For example, this first one in the first chapter :

Blessed Carlo Acutis is often called the unofficial patron saint of the internet. That includes gamers, computer programmers, social media users, and related cuber communications. If you ever become a canonized saint, what do you hope to be a patron of?

Dare to be More, page 7

Cheesy? Maybe so for some people, but I think it really gets young people thinking of their passions and talents, and how they can use those passions and talents for the greater glory of God, use them towards their vocation to sainthood.

I also enjoy the little info-boxes that helps shed light on some things that might be unfamiliar to some people, such as the Eucharistic Miracles website (Dare to be More, page 9) and even an explanation of what Nutella is (page 31).

What makes Dare to be More different than the other titles is that I think it can be effectively used in a group setting. Not only are the chapters short enough to process and reflect on, but each chapter comes with [1] a Bible quote to be memorized in a section called “Memory Verse,” [2] a list of proposed action items called “Saintly Challenges.” These two components remind me of what happens at the end of each lesson of the CCO Faith Studies, in which group members are to memorized a Bible verse and also do a challenge. The challenges propose in this book are very doable and are destined to help build good spiritual habits. For example, one is to consider attending weekday or Saturday Mass, with particular emphasis during the summer while on vacation, before or in the middle of school day (at lunch I assume) or work day. Such challenges considers the circumstances of students and to build good spiritual practices. Perhaps it does not need to be daily Mass, but start with an additional Mass outside of Sunday… sainthood starts with these small steps.

Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis is a beautiful short booklet that will introduce to young peopel the life and witness of the young Blessed Carlo Acutis. It is concise, while prompting young people to “Dare to be More,” that might mean stepping outside their comfort zone in order to respond to the call to be saints. In the context of a New Year, this book might be the ideal tool to start a realistic New Year’s Resolution.

Check out a sample of Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis here.
Purchase the title from Liguori Publications here.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Liguori Publications 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 product.

Day 12: St. Joseph New Catholic Bible, Gift Edition – Large Type

Catholic Book Publishing Corporation‘s (CBPC) beautiful Bibles and devotional titles have been featured on our blog on several occasions. The quality and design of these publications are, in my opinion, one of the finest (and affordable). The thing with CBPC’s publications is that there is a sense of simplicity, yet a nobility that speaks to the importance of the texts that they publish. Last June, I (The Catholic Man) reviewed CBPC’s New Catholic Bible (NCB) Giant-Print Edition. Well throughout the latter half of 2020, and throughout this year, the review for this Bible have been one of the most read Bible-reviews on our blog.

This year for the 12 Days of Christmas series, my sister and I are joining forces together to bring to you this last review for season 4 of this series, a review of one of the CBPC’s newer NCB Editions,the St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type. It contains the same translation as the NCB Giant-Type Edition, reviewed last year, but there are also many special features in this Gift Edition – Large Type, not only in terms of type size as the title suggests, but well beyond.

Please note, just like other reviews of Bibles on this blog, I will not be taking a critical look at the translation, for several reasons. First of all, I am not Scripture scholar. I do not have any authority in the Church or in academia to publically speak about this translation. Rest assured though, as with any other Bible translation published by CBPC, care is taken to include the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, all of which could be found in the Bible. The NCB translation though, unlike the New American Bible (in the USA) and the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (in Canada) is not a Liturgical translation. Even then, the translations listed have been adapted for liturgical use (more on that in a future posted). The NCB, as CBPC clearly states in the Frequently Asked Questions is that,

The NCB OT, NT and Psalms are not intended for liturgical purposes, as is the case for several other Catholic Bible translations, but it can be enjoyed for private use and study.

(emphasis added)

And indeed so, the NCB as I remarked in the review for the Giant Type edition last year, is ideal for prayer and study, especially since this particular translation, is “classified as a formal or verbal equivalence Bible translation, which emphasizes a literal translation (word for word) of the Scripture text to make sure to preserve the original word order and capture the nuances found in the ancient biblical text.” (NCB, FAQs) If you would like to know more about the translation, I suggest you take a look at their helpful Frequently Asked Questions. The goal of bible reviews on this blog is to provide a viewpoint of a day-to-day Catholic on using these bibles. Thus, we take a look at readability of the texts and their user-friendliness for “common folks.”

NCB Giant Type on left; NCB Large Type on right

As mentioned, the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type contains many features similar to the NCB Giant-Type edition. This review will speak of several features that I think merit attention. By the end of the review, I will have spoken about the ideal audience of the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type in comparison with the NCB Giant-Type Red Imitation Leather. (Note, from now on, the terms ‘Large Type’ will refer to the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type while ‘Giant Type’ will refer to the NCB Red Imitation Leather – Giant Type.

Fonts, Font Size and Notes

When I first opened the box to see the Large Type Bible, I honestly did not know what to expect with the font size. I thought the terms “Giant Type” and “Large Type” were interchangeable, but upon comparing the font size of both version, it became apparent to me that that is not the case with CBPC’s NCB Bibles. The Giant Type is larger than the Large Type… I honestly cannot count by how many points, but approximately, I would say the font size of the Large Type version is about 12pt, while the Giant Type is about 13-14pt.

There is a difference I have found reading with the Large Type than the Giant Type. The benefit of having the 12pt font is that there seems to be more room to include more on a page. I notice that the notes of the each book of the Bible, unlike the Giant Type edition, are put as footnotes rather than endnotes. That creates for a much more pleasurable experience if you were using this edition for studying the Bible. This was one of the critiques I had with the Giant Type edition.

However, that does not mean that one should dismiss the benefits of having the notes as endnotes. I would personally prefer the Giant Type for prayer, since the notes would not get in the way, causing a distraction. From top to bottom of that edition is just Scriptural Text. I think both the Large Type and Giant Type’s placement of notes have their own pros and cons that would better be suited to the needs of an individual. If you are purchasing an NCB Bible for study, the Large Type would be more ideal, while the Giant Type would be suited for those who want strictly a Bible for prayer.

Returning to the talk on fonts and font sizes, CBPC clearly put a lot of thought into the use of them. I thought the Large Type would be like the Giant Type, simply having the Gian Type’s fonts shrunken down a couple points, but it seems to me that both editions utilize different fonts. I think this is rightly so. Different fonts have different “looks” when readjusted in size, and for some fonts, it is not a matter of “one font fits all.” Same with printing liturgical texts… as a Liturgical MC at my parish, I strive to use fonts that are readable for the celebrant, that would suit the small 10pt font for red rubrics, and 14pt font for spoken text. I am glad that the same consideration is being considered here for Scriptural texts.

Another factor for choice of font might be the use of red for the words of Christ in the New Testament of the Large Type edition. Fonts, their sizes and the colours are factors that go hand-in-hand when producing any liturgical and Scriptural text for ease of reading. More on the “words of Christ in red,” some may think that CBPC is going too far, or ‘Protestantizing’ a Catholic Bible. I do not think so. I think it is a feature that should appear more in Catholic Bibles. Even though the whole Bible is the Word of God, with God as the principle author of the these texts, the Gospels receive special reverence at Mass, as all stand to listen to it because the Gospel texts contain the words of Christ, the Words from the ‘Word made flesh.’ When we want to emphasize the words of somebody, even in academia, would you not give some external emphasis in bold or italicization? I am sure one would… and so why not do so with the words of Christ? Red text also has helped me with finding verses in Gospel passages a lot quicker too… I just wish more Catholic Bibles had it. Yet, I would not be surprised why Catholic Bibles do not include them perhaps out of cost factor too. Two-colour printing might prove to be more expensive than grayscale printing.

Illustrations and Supplementary Features

One of the things that immediately captured my attention with the Large Type edition was how richly illustrated that specific edition is in comparison with the Giant Type edition. The boxes of both editions say, “Beautifully Illustrated,” but I suggest the Large Type edition to say, “Richly Illustrated.” CBPC always does a great job with illustrations, especially with the illustrations in the coloured inerts. However, the Large Type edition goes beyond the usual. Before each book, there is a nice width-wise illustration depicting a key even in the book. This is amazing… it really gives the reader a break from page after page of text, and to show that a new book has come, instilling a sense that we are starting to walk into another door as we read this book.

Compared with the Giant Type edition, the Large Type edition features not 20, but 40 full-colour photographs, not counting the many grayscale photographs scattered throughout. Like the Giant Type version, there are 8 full-colour maps, but also grayscale maps interspersed throughout.

CBPC also always have great inserts- those have only been amplified in the NCB editions. I remarked about this extensively in the review for the Giant Type edition, which you find here. Here’s the truth: many people will use the Bible for study, for prayer, but certainly some who are gifted with a Bible, but might not open it frequently. Yet, perhaps one of the colour-panels might catch their attention. Who knows what curiosity might be sparked by such charts, such inserts? That in turn, may prompt them to open their Bibles and read more in-depth. These are small details for a Bible, but can change the way one may approach the Scriptures in general, in a very positive way.

The last feature I will speak about is one that I critiqued for a lack of in the Giant Type edition – a table of Sunday Lectionary readings. I am so glad to that feature at the end of this Large Type edition. I always enjoy having such features of a Bible, because no matter if it is a study bible, prayer bible, personal travel bible… it is so good to have something to reference the Scripture readings of the upcoming Sunday. It serves as an aid to pray not only individual but with the Church in its lectionary readings.

Exterior Qualities

I have been gifted several Bibles from CBPC over the years from loved ones and received some for review here, but I honestly have to say, I think that this Large Type edition is one of the most magnificent yet. The Dura-lux burgundy cover is elegant. It is not real leather, but nevertheless, very handsome and has a sense of quality to the material. My sister will say more about the aesthetic qualities:

This Bible has a soft cover with a faux leather texture but seems that it will last for generation to come. There is a cross debossed onto the the front. While I think it looks nice, we have found it can collect dust which isn’t very easy to remove with all the ridges. The book feels well bound.

The gilding is also very even. I find that the gilding here comes off on your hands a little but no where near as much as I usually see so I found this quality impressive. The gilding does stick some of the pages together though, so I recommending being extra careful when flipping the pages for the first time since the pages are super thin; about as thin as what you usually see in Bibles and dictionaries.

There are two bookmarking ribbons. There seem to be nice quality – rich colour, very smooth, the ends well cut with no fraying. The printing for both colour and black and white are well done. the edges are all very defined with consistent pigmentation throughout. I also think the text is a good size.

Overall, I think the visual aspect of this Bible is all great save for one thing. I think because the gilding sticks the edges of a lot of the pages together, I noticed a small amount of rippling and buckling on some of the pages. I assume this is from opening and closing the Bible with pages stuck together and thus pulled weird angles, only to be closed, the pages still at a weird angle. It’s a very minor flaw, and if my theory is correct, the person you gift the Bible to likely won’t even notice this until they’ve used it a couple times. I just thought I would bring it up nonetheless.

CBPC’s NCB Gift Edition Large Type is a beautiful Bible. As the name suggests, it is suited as a gift not only for Christmas, but for Weddings and Graduations. Sacramental events like First Communions and Confirmations are applicable too (but such occasions may merit also looking at CBPC’s special Sacramental editions of their Bibles.) This is a Bible that can be passed on from generation to generation, especially because of the inclusion of the Family Record… however, more importantly, it is a Bible to be opened, read, and prayed upon. I would rather pass down to my family a Bible that has been well read than one that looks new, as if never opened since the time I received it.

You can purchase a copy of the reviewed St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of NCB Gift Edition – Large Type to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks CBPC 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 product.

Day 11: Watts & Co. Mantilla

We are approaching the last couple days of the 12 Days of Christmas series! Today we a have a review for something we have never reviewed before: a mantilla. This is a gift catered to all the ladies in your life.

Packaging for the Watts & Co. mantilla is A+. It comes in a nice black gift box with the company logo on the lid. Inside, the mantilla sits on a black velvety sponge cushion. A little card accompanies the mantilla with a thank you and a bit of info on the mantilla. It all looks very sleek; very much my aesthetic.

The mantilla is triangular, and is folded in triangles (I don’t know what it is but I find it so satisfying that they chose to fold it the way they did instead of trying to make it into a rectangle). I think perhaps the box is a little bigger than it needs to be, but it doesn’t take away from anything. The card in the box as well as the website say that the mantilla is made of ‘Leavers’ lace. I’m no lace expert, so I did a bit or research. ‘Leavers’ lace is among the most sought after types of lace, as it is very feminine and delicate. These qualities hold true for the mantilla. I’ve included some pictures of my mom (thanks mom!) with the mantilla on so you can get a feel for how it drapes.

I think the lace design is beautiful, and very soft to the touch. There are 3 colours offered on the website, each with a different lace design which I find interesting. While the designs are different, I find them all equally beautiful and very cohesive together. I suspect the pattern was made specifically for the production of these mantillas as the pattern follows the edge of the mantilla. One thing that I think can be improved is I couldn’t find information on what the material the fibers are; that would have been especially helpful in making a purchase decision and deciding on how to best care for it.

This is an item to be babied. The edges of the mantilla are raw, so the lace will fray if not handled with care. The lace itself is also very thin which adds to the delicate aspect, but it would likely tear or the pattern would be ruined if the mantilla snagged on something. The card also recommends that the mantilla be dry cleaned. In the very least, this is definitely not something I would put in a laundry machine.

Because this mantilla requires so much care and is more on the pricier end, I would recommend purchasing this for someone who is truly serious about using mantillas and is willing to go the extra mile to care for a particularly nice one. This is perhaps a good fit for someone who had been using a mantilla for some time and is looking for a beautiful, delicate one.

Watts and Co. has had a tradition of producing beautiful liturgical items, both the Paschal Stylus and this mantilla are fine examples of their elevation of beauty in the liturgical context. We hope to feature more of their work on our blog in the future.

You can check out the mantilla on their website here.

And that concludes day 10! I hope you’re looking forward to seeing us for the last day!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a sample of this mantilla for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Watts & Co. for the opportunity for us to review model on our blog and looks forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.