In 2017, my friend Brother Mickey McGrath took Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’ and created a wonderful visual meditation using the Pope’s words and Brother Mickey’s art. It is just breathtaking. I would highly recommend reading and exploring it, especially if you can do it outdoors with the breeze ruffling your hair and the leaves on the trees.
Our Common Home is published by World Library Publications. From the back cover:
Our Common Home invites us to slow down, look areound us, and remember that all we see has been granted to us and is in our care.
2. David Plouffe‘s two new books, one for adults, and one for children: A Citizen’s Guide for Beating Donald Trump and Ripples of Hope: Your Guide to Electing a New President
3. David Plouffe’s Podcast: Campaign HQ with David Plouffe
Links go to publishers, but books can be bought at any indpendent bookseller or online book retailer. Podcasts links to Player.FM but can be found wherever you get your podcasts.
These are fun things I’ve found online from a variety of people, famous and not, offering their talents while we all stay at home and flatten the curve. Please enjoy.
Do What You Can – new song from Jon Bon Jovi. Write and sing the second verse and post on social media with the hashtag: #DoWhatYouCan
My Free Bingo Cards (Make your own Bingo Cards)
The Broadway Coronavirus Medley – from Zach Timson
Will Smith et al on The Graham Norton Show (2013) This never fails to make me grin from ear to ear. It is the definition of feel good.
Neil Patrick Harris – 2013 Tonys Opening Number
Your Moment of Zen – Hiking, Stream, Woods (Video)
Follow Patrick Stewart on Facebook and he will read a sonnet from Shakespeare daily.
Daniel Matarazzo on You Tube – he has two Coronavirus Parody songs
Radio Free Burrito: Wil Wheaton Reads Star Mother (Soundcloud)
From the NE Ohio Sewer Service: Is it Flushable? Ask them on Twitter and they will answer. As useful as it is fun.
Text the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and they will reply with an SMS message to your phone with a related picture. Text “Send me ____” to 57251. Fill in the blank, and see what they send!
Andy Slavitt’s Twitter Thread: The Best of Us
Just in time for the weekend! What follows is the list of all the books I’ve read in 2019, followed by two graphics describing President Obama’s 2019 reading list. Please add your own recommendations in the comments. I’m always looking for a new book to enjoy!
JanuaryVery Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (on the 1st)Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study – Ann Spangler and Jean E. SyswerdaThe President is Missing – A Novel by Bill Clinton and James PattersonThe Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of the Single Biggest Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast – Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne WorcesterThe View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil GaimanFebruaryThe Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero – Timothy EganMarchThe Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump – Andrew G. McCabeBelieve Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens – Eddie Izzard
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack ObamaAprilA Holy Mosaic: Love, Diversity, and the Family: Inspiration from a Pope Francis – Michael O’Neill Mcgrath OSFSDoing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law – Preet BhararaSeven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus – James Martin, SJNot by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019 – Mary DeTurris PoustLenten Reflections – Bishop Robert BarronThe Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain – Bill Bryson
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey – Kamala D. HarrisGaudete et Exsultate – Pope FrancisJuneIn Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines who Dared to Break the Rules – Karen KarboDaily Reflections for Easter: Rejoice and Be Glad 2019 – Various AuthorsEnemies: A History off the FBI – Tim Weiner
Cronkite – Douglas BrinkleyThe Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five-Hundred-Year Odyssey – Margaret Leslie DavisJuly
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry PratchettShortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for the Future – Pete ButtigeigNo Dream is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon – Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham
The Library Book – Susan OrleanAugust
Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy – Dan Abrams and David FisherThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl – Timothy EganSeptemberAccidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America – Jared CohenThe Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars – Paul Collins
Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream – Carson VaughnDutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II – Robert MatzenOctoberGirl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her – Melanie RehakYour Fourth Day – National Cursillo MovementCity of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York – Tyler AnbinderNovemberCatch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators – Ronan FarrowDecemberThe No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall SmithThe Education of an Idealist: A Memoir – Samantha PowerImpeach: The Case Against Donald Trump – Neal Katyal & Sam KoppelmanDreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style – Benjamin DreyerA Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals – Thomas MertonOur Father: Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer – Pope Francis
President Barack Obama’s 2019 Book Reads and Recommendations:
If you search through my tags or have read me for some time, you may notice that my mental health go-to’s will sometimes change. That. Is. Normal. What helps you, what soothes you, what centers you will change over time. And if there is no change…well, that’s normal too. Not any one thing will work for every one person. That is why it is so important for us to talk, to eliminate the mental health stigma, and to share what works for each of us so that the rest can pick what might work for them and give it a try.
My top five go-to’s:
- Writing. I am currently in a memoir workshop but it will come to an end. My plan for the next two weeks is setting up a writing schedule and a list of topics so I always have something to go to with pen and paper or keyboard and kindle.
- Supernatural. As I’ve mentioned this is the last season for the long-running series, and it is my heart. It is comfort for me.
- Prayer. I’ve been studying labyrinths and having that focus is a positive thing for my mental health. I read a daily Thomas Merton devotional that starts my day. I’m searching for prayers, I’m writing prayers, and I’m praying in new ways. For me that means the labyrinth, the rosary, and upcoming retreats.
- Podcasts. Two in particular. Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara. Lovett or Leave It. I have several other podcasts (Pod Save America, Pod Save the World, Ann Kroeker – Writing Coach), but they aren’t mental health go-to’s for me.
- Reading. I have my public library on my kindle, and I am constantly borrowing e-books from my library. I have three on my kindle at the moment of all variety of genre.
Please comment with your go-to’s and I’ll put together a future post with your responses.
Crisis Intervention Resources Page has been Updated.
Have a good week!
I don’t know Michelle Francl-Donnay personally, she is the friend and a writing colleague of a friend, but I have had the pleasure of reading some of her writings especially around Lenten and Easter times.
I learned of her writing about a year ago from my aforementioned (and linked to) friend when I read Not by Bread Alone for Lent 2018, the daily reflection book published by Liturgical Press. My parish has been giving out these little books at each Lent and Advent (and this year for Easter) for a couple of years now, and they are by far my favorite seasonal devotional, and Michelle Francl-Donnay is by far my favorite writer of these little books (no offense to the other wonderful writers in other years). I’m excited that she will be writing the next Lent book for 2020!
I’m currently reading the multi-author book form the same publisher for the Easter season where she is the writer for the first section.
I love her writing, the way she conveys not only the spirituality but the humanity, the day to day humanness that is similar to what and how I’m inspired to write about my faith journey. She is also a scientist, a professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College and co-hosts a series of conversations with Director of the Vatican Observatory, Guy Consolmagno, SJ about Catholic scientists, and with that scientific background brings something of the vastness of the universe to G-d’s world and really expresses both the faraway-ness of G-d as well as the intimacy. I am always left wanting more as I continue to ruminate on her reflections.
You will not be disappointed when you check her out.
Writing on Spirituality and Contemplative Life
World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration of books and the written word organized and proclaimed by the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). On their page can be found information and resources on their programs and the reasoning behind the beginning of this observance and its choice of date.
Books I’ve Read So Far This Year:
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (on the 1st)
Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study – Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda
The President is Missing – A Novel by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
The Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of the Single Biggest Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast – Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne Worcester
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero – Timothy Egan
The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump – Andrew G. McCabe
Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens – Eddie Izzard
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack Obama
A Holy Mosaic: Love, Diversity, and the Family: Inspiration from a Pope Francis – Michael O’Neill Mcgrath OSFS
Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law – Preet Bharara
Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus – James Martin, SJ
Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019 – Mary DeTurris Poust
Lenten Reflections – Bishop Robert Barron
I’m currently reading these three books:
Rejoice and Be Glad: Daily Reflections for Easter 2019 by Michelle Francl-Donnay, Jerome Kodell, Rachelle Linner, Ronald Witherup, Catherine Upchurch, Jay Cormier, Genevieve Glen
A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals – Selected and edited by Jonathan Montaldo
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
I use my library’s ebook library extensively and I take advantage of deep discounts or sales through Book Bub on Facebook and through Email. My Kindle is never without one or two books that I read simultaneously.
Who are your favorite authors?
What are your favorite books?
Answer in comments.
Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite writers, nay people. I don’t agree with everything he espouses, I don’t think anyone can agree with everything anyone espouses, but we’re on the same wavelength more often than not.
He is a writer’s writer. When he finds something that works, he doesn’t hoard or hide it; he shares it with the masses and he believes you can be a good writer too.
In this blog post, he shares the three books that have made him a better writer. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, and have highly recommended it. I now have the two other books on my to-read list because Wil’s advice is usually spot on.
And while you’re taking his writing advice, read his work as well!
Giving up something is hard to choose, and giving up something for Lent can be a daunting task. Sometimes what I choose feels arbitrary and superficial. Some are good ideas, but not meaningful enough. Will giving it up bring me closer to G-d? Or just make me miserable for forty days? My feeling on giving something up is that it should be sacrificial – you should definitely notice that it’s absent. I won’t be giving up brussel sprouts or beets. I don’t eat them anyway. That would lack sincerity and significance. However, it should also not be something that is impossible to give up like driving or any number of things that you find indispensible.
I asked for help from my friends on Facebook, and I received some very good suggestions. In spite of their excellent responses, some of those very valid suggestions don’t (or won’t) work for me:
- TV? Then I’d miss family time. We watch most things all together and enjoy that time. I’d be abandoning them for forty days.
- Cable news? I don’t watch it 24/7 anymore, but I do need to keep informed, especially in this era of misinformation.
- Internet? Besides keeping in touch with my family, it is essentially my livelihood.
- Chocolate? Soda? Bread? Been there, done that. I’m not sure it holds the same meaning as the first time; at least not yet.
- Caffeine? And go through withdrawal? Too physically taxing.
- Ice cream? Maybe. My doctor would certainly like that.
- Bacon? Hmm. Possible. Very possible.
I do always add a spiritual component to my forty days in the desert:
- Prayer time.
I already read two devotional books throughout the year on a daily basis: Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2019 by The Irish Jesuits and A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His journals. I’ll be adding two more: My parish gives out a small book, Not by Bread Alone 2019: Daily Reflections for Lent by Mary DeTurris Poust. This takes about five minutes to read each day and provides a reflection and a suggested meditation to reflect on. We’ve used this book for a number of years and it really is a good way to meet G-d everyday. The second book is Lenten Gospel Reflections by Bishop Robert Barron, which was given to my by the person who will be sponsoring me on my Cursillo journey (more on that in a later post). This one looks to be short readings also and it has space for notes or journaling.
i’ve also decided to set aside $1 every time my family eats out or buys a non-grocery food item like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, etc and on Easter money donate all those dollars to my parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.
I’m currently getting ready to attend Ash Wednesday Mass followed by a parish soup lunch. It is a really lovely way to begin Lent with other like-minded people, all on different paths but the same journey. It reinforces the community of the church.
In addition to my own commitments during Lent, Lent has three pillars of prayer, fasting (and abstinence), and almsgiving. Fasting and abstinence sound similar, but are very different in practice, and for me, Catholic fasting is much different than my decades of Yom Kippur fasting (which I still observe). Fasting during Lent is only required of those 18 through 59, and may include one regular meal as well as two smaller meals. Fast days in Lent are today, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Additionally, Fridays in Lent require abstinence from meat as well as other enjoyable sources, freeing us to grow closer to G-d.
My church also included a forty day calendar offering suggestions on ways to make Lent moe meaningful. It is provided from Take Five for Faith and I sill share it with you this weekend.
I will keep you updated on my progress and I hope you will comment with your own reflections and suggestions this Lenten season.