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Walking with Mary: A Geeky Review

If you consider faith a journey, then I really recommend Edward Sri’s Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross. It provides you with a path that will allow you to explore the sights that many people (myself included) typically pass by without a notice. In this book, we see the path of Mary, the mother of God. The subject of Mary is one that is typically avoided by most Christian denominations. We may see her in the nativity set during Christmas, but she typically disappears for the rest of the year. She is certainly more present in Catholicism, but even Catholics tend to overlook many of the details of Mary’s life that are present in the Bible. As a result, we lose a very valuable series of lessons that we could learn if we were to walk the path that Mary walked from the annunciation to her queenship in heaven.

In this book Sri offers a richer understanding of the moments in Mary’s life that played such a central role in the history of salvation. He incorporates the writings of saints like Pope Saint John Paul II to draw us deeper into the life of Mary so that we can use her as an example of how Christians are to embrace God’s will and live our lives with humility and steadfast faith. Sri takes these writings and weaves them together with tradition and history to give us a personal introduction to Mary, an introduction that allows us to familiarize ourselves with Mary, putting us in her shoes and allowing us to view her as a role model that we can relate to. 

Sure, the world was a lot different two thousand years ago, when most of the events in the New Testament took place…but there are feelings, experiences, and lessons that transcend time and culture. In essence, you can read this book and get to know Mary and learn how you can follow her footsteps toward holiness. Each chapter introduces you to a moment in scripture in which Mary serves as an example for all Christians, it draws you deeper into life as Mary saw it, as she experienced it. You find yourself relating to moments in her life, moments of sorrow as well as moments of grace. By helping you identify with Mary in these moments, Sri makes it easier for you to look to Mary as an example of how to confront difficult trials as well as joyful things like motherhood.


All in all, this book was a very delightful and inspirational read that is sure to help you on your path to holiness. I would highly recommend this book to all women, especially those who have come across difficult, trying times and those who are at a stage in their life where they feel they are at some kind of crossroads. The structure of this book makes it a wonderful book to read prayerfully as each chapter provides excellent material for meditation on Mary’s life.

Disclaimer: I was offered a free copy of this book for review by Blogging for Books. All words and views expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Pax Vobiscum

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen Knows What's Up

I put on "Day After Tomorrow" last night because it happens to be hilariously awful. Whenever there's a storm outside, snow delays on NJ Transit, or a weather-related closing of school....you can count on me to reference the movie or break out with a quote from the movie. I start watching it last night and it hit me...the crazy that I laughed at is all too real in the present times when too many fools have podiums and too many fools have their own TV shows. Everything from sports to weather to health to entertainment is chock-full of information that is questionable but still shoved down out throats whenever we want to do something as simple as read a newspaper or catch up on weather. I mean, we've all seen how good the media is at fanning the beginnings of mass hysteria by beating the dead horse-of-the-week with panels of experts, tell-all interviews, recreated events, details at 10, more details at 11, speculation at 12, and irrelevant factoids at 12:30. 

I don't know what it is about the world today, but people seem to have lost the ability to simply THINK for themselves before jumping to the same conclusions that are constantly transmitted to them by celebrities, politicians, and media outlets....you name it.

STILL...not all hope is lost.

If you have ever gotten tired about the back and forth of "butter/gluten/soy/eggs/etc are good/bad for you" debates...you are catching on to something. If you have ever found yourself researching the study that is allegedly behind the latest "eat __________ each day to ensure long life" fad...you are catching on to something as well. If you've blocked status updates from that friend that keeps posting those "all you need is (insert unrealistic daily allotment of vegetable X here) to cure cancer," you are on to something too. We are all up to something. We are coming to the realization that the world is out of its mind and that science as well as reason have been hijacked by special interests, fools, or the dangerous combination of fools with special interests. 

What can we do to remedy this? We can THINK. We can use our power of reasoning to make the right conclusions...even if they may not match up with the flavor-of-the-week conclusions that seem to have infiltrated the brains of the masses, colleagues, friends, family, those "panels of experts," etc.

How can we start thinking for ourselves? Well, let me to introduce you to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen....a man who is certainly worth listening to you. In the brief 23 minute clip below, he breaks down just how much we need to think about when we come across that latest statistic that either has everyone locking themselves in a fallout shelter, convincing themselves its the end of the world. He talks about the types of reasoning, the ins and outs of statistics, and different strategies for interpreting statistics in an applicable manner. 
Best of all, he brings up the questions you need to ask whenever you interpret a statistic. How many people were sampled? Who funded the study? Who conducted the study? How relevant are these findings? Let me just say from experience that the material in this video is right on target with some of the material discussed in any epidemiology or statistics course that is worth taking.
Sheen is brilliant...absolutely brilliant. With that said, check out the video

Pax Vobiscum

Spontaneously Loving One Another

I hate the subway. I hate the mob mentality at Penn Station. I hate the pushing, personal space violations, the rushing, the shoving, the obnoxious rolling bags that threaten your ankles whenever a careless tourist decides to take a mad dash to their "ALL ABOARD" train. Forget the Galapagos Island finches, I am sure Darwin came up with his theory of natural selection at the ship port while he was still waiting to board the HMS Beagle. I am sure he was able to fine tune his theory as he watched other passengers survive their sea voyage by creating hierarchies amongst themselves and picking on whoever it was that never quite fit in.

I've never been at sea for a very long time, but having worked in a lab for most of my adult life...I can assure you that seeing the same people in the same space every day can bring out the worst in some. Pecking orders arise, people are thrown under the bus, and all kinds of tensions pop up almost out of nowhere sometimes. People can be awful and, as I am a very flawed individual, I can be awful too. As such, I can understand that it doesn't take much for the worst to be brought out of someone when they are in crowded places...as the Fool and a few of my friends and they will tell you how awful I can be at a concert when someone is trying to shove me to the side as they fight for a place in the front. I don't take kindly to people doing this after I have spent most of my day in line, hoping for a spot that a vertically-challenge hobbit like myself can see the band from.

I've been reflecting on how awful New York has made me over the years I've spent commuting. Seeing people living in poverty everyday is hard on people like me. If I had $100 in singles in my pocket, I could not even come close to helping everyone I see on a day-to-day basis. I can't bear to look at all the poor I see, especially when I know that I am not very well-off myself. I can't help everyone and this thought, strange as it sounds, is crippling. It makes me less charitable, knowing that I cannot help everyone.

But I can still love them. I can still give them a smile instead of turning my eyes down and briskly walking past them. I can still envision them as people.

I can still pray for them and hope the best for them even when I am too afraid to say anything. I can still offer them what I do have with me, even if it isn't much...instead of pretending I don't see them just because I don't have money in my wallet. As one of the monks I know continually says, it is not about the sin. God knows our sins. What He wants is for us to change so that we may prove that we are actually sorry for our sins when we go to confession. It is about the intention we hold in our hearts and what we do with this intention. If my own charity has become a victim to the every-man-for-himself mentality of the big city...this is what needs to change.

Even if I cannot help every person....and even if I do not happen to have money in my pocket....

...I can share my lunch with a woman holding a sign up that is asking for money. I may not have money, but I have my credit card-purchased lunch. I had a cup of water from the cooler in front of my doctor's office...so I can give this woman my iced tea and just because I happen to have it, I can ask her if she likes chocolate. If she happens to like chocolate or just make a comment that she is hungry...I give her my credit card-purchased fine extra dark Ritter chocolate.

...I can still help an older couple carry their luggage down a flight of steps even if it means getting to work a bit later. Even if it means having to overcome this fear of just talking to or interacting with strangers on any given day. God knows the sacrifices introverts go through to simply wish someone a good day...

...I can still smile. Pope Francis tells us we should look people in the eye when we are charitable. As useful as money can be to people living in poverty....sometimes there is a yearning in their hearts to simply be treated as human beings. I can give someone a smile that radiates love if I have just given my last $3 to a sleeping homeless person. And I can do it again at some point in the future when I catch another homeless person on the street with nothing in hand to offer. God knows the sacrifices introverts go through to simply smile at strangers...

Spontaneously loving people gets a bit easier with practice. The more you do it, the harder it is for you to walk away from strangers in need. I know I don't do it perfectly just yet and there are still times when I look down, ignore, or simply pretend that there is nothing wrong with the world. There are times when my introverted nature gets the best of me. However, I have gotten to the point where I will at least offer a prayer up for each person-in-need that I encounter...regardless of how drunk, dirty, scary, etc. they may seem on the outside. I'm getting better at it and even if I still have my failures when it comes to spontaneously loving other people....God knows my intentions and He knows what I am up against every time I try to reach out to someone in need of a bit of charity.

Pax Vobiscum