Sunday, December 26, 2010

How Great Our Joy!

How great our joy! Great our joy! Joy, joy, joy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography, Review

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An AutobiographyMemories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography by Agathe Von Trapp, pbk, 2010.

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography is the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, made famous through the movie/musical The Sound of Music. Told  from the point of view of Agathe, the oldest girl and 2nd oldest child, she shares her experiences of what it was like to grow up in the Von Trapp family.

As stated in the title, the story begins long before "Maria" enters the picture. In fact, it begins with how Agatha's first mother met her father, fell in love, married him and together raised their growing family--a child approximately every 2 years.

She talks about her happy childhood when they were living with her Grandmother during WWI in the Austrian Alps on a lake, while her father served as a submarine captain.

Especially interesting was to learn how little remarks can have a profound effect on a child, like her governess talking to her about God, as they were out taking a nature walk.

Sometime after the War, the children and then her mother came down with Scarlett fever. Sadly, her mother died, leaving behind 7 children who loved and missed her dearly.

At a later date, "Maria" entered the picture. Agatha's father eventually married her, even though she was much younger. The story continues up to 2002 with Agatha sharing her happy memories of her family sailing with their father, touring around the world as a singing group, the development of the lodge and summer music camps and the need to breakup the musical group, so they could develop their own talents. The book includes many private family photos.

In seeking to correct the many inaccuracies of the movie/musical, Agatha brings to light a moving portrait of a wonderful childhood from another era. Even though there was great strife in the world throughout her childhood and young adult life--World War I, World War II, starvation, economic insecurites, her mother losing all her inheritance through a bank failure, political instabiliy, etc.--, we see a family that values the beauty and joy of children, willing to sacrfice through hard work and ingenuity to give their children a warm and loving family life.

The story is a stark contrast to the empty values of modern society. Agatha's story is a refreshing reminder that life is never easy, but it does have purpose. The sacrifices and loving attention of the parents are returned a hundred fold to the parents through their children's love and devotion. From the opening pages its hard not to miss Agatha's loving adoration of her parents--not because of things, but because they loved their children, they inspired their devotion. May we as parents inspire such devotion and love. Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography is a heartwarming story that you will find inspiring as well as hard to put down.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Memory for Wonders: A True Story: Review

A Memory for Wonders: A True StoryA Memory for Wonders: A True Story by Veronica Namoyo Le Goulard, Ignatius Press, pbk, 1993. I don't know where I picked up this inspiring, true story. But when I did I added it to my vast collection. Since I was bedridden, I scanned my shelves and found this unbelievable story. What is so unbelievable? This is the story of a French girl whose communist parents fled their Catholic, French roots to bring up their daughter in the ideal world, where they alone could influence her and bring her up without the trappings of her Catholic faith, especially her grandparent's ideas. Although they sought to stamp out God in her impressionable young mind, they could not stop God from seeking her out on his own terms. This gripping story will keep you wanting to read more.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Books for Teen Boys

As a mom, I am often looking for good books that I can hand on to my children. When they become teens, I hope to find books that offer them inspiration and guidance, especially through heroic "characters." Most, but not all, of the books listed here are biographies. I chose these books because the main "character" is always striving to do the right thing and often against incredible odds. Since many of these books are about interesting, real people, it gives us a starting point to discuss the issues presented in them.

Dominic Savio: Teenage Saint (The Life of Dominic Savio: Teenage Saint) by Peter Lappin, many editions, hc, or pbk, OP
Dominic faces many trials after he begins school with Don Bosco.

Grunt Padre by Fr. Daniel Mode, CMJ Marian Publishers, 2000, hc or pbk, 212 pp.
The fascinating story of Fr. Capodanno's heroic life during the war in Vietnam.

With God in Russia by Walter J. Ciszek, Ignatius Press, 1997, pb, or e-book, 433 pp.
Fr. Ciszek survived 23 years of the horrific conditions of the Russian prison camps after World War II. This is his incredible story of hope.

Parish Priest: Father McGivney and American Catholicism by Douglas Brinkley, Harper Perennial, 2007, hc, CD audio book, e-book, 272 pp.
While he is noted as the founder of the Knights of Columbus, this inspiring story of Father McGivney focuses on his tireless devotion of helping those in need.

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy, Tyndale House Publishers, hc, pbk, Audio CD, DVD, 352 pp.
Known as the Superbowl winning coach of Indianapolis Colts, this is much more than a success story; it is the story of how his Christian faith influenced the decisions in his life.

Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau by Jean Bernard, Zaccheus Press, 2007, 197 pp.
In this gripping story, we learn of Fr. Jean Bernard's courageous struggle to stay alive in the Dachau concentration camp.

The Catholic Book of Character and Success or How to Live Nobly and Well by Edward F. Garesche, Sophia Institute Pres, 2008, pbk, 153 pp.
Sophia Institute changed the title of the book, so it is the same book.This is not a biography.
In a world filled with temptations seeking to destroy young people, Fr. Garesche shows them how to gain lasting happiness through a concrete plan for success.

A Man of the Beatitudes: Pier Giorgio FrassatiA Man of the Beatitudes: Pier Giorgio Frassati by Luciana Frassati, Ignatius Press, 2001, 179 pp.
His sister offers us some wonderful insights into his Christian character. Because of his parents, he hid his dynamic faith. Like many university students, he was actively involved in politics. Unlike many students, he showed compassion for the poor by helping them through his good works. Always joyful, he was liked by many. More importantly, he strived to imitate Christ in everything.

The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldman OFM Gereon Karl Goldman, Ignatius Press, 2000, pbk, Audio CD, E-book, 345 pp.
After Gereon, a young seminarian, is drafted into the SS, he is persecuted for his faith. This is his amazing story of how he lived his faith.

Updated: 6/9/2010. Added another book.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low ExpectationsDo Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris, Multnomah, 2008, hc, 242 pp. Audio CD, Kindle. Teens, Alex and Brett Harris, challenge other teens to live beyond the cultural norm of low expectations and little responsibilities. Inspiring! A book that everyone should read and ask, "What are the hard things God is asking me to do?"

Updated: 12/3/2010

Be a Man!: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be Be a Man!: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Fr. Larry Richards, Ignatius, 2009, pbk, 196 pp. Fr. Larry Richards challenges men of all ages to be the men God called them to be. Encouraging! Reminds them to focus on what is most important in their lives, beginning with their end goal in life. For a more in depth review, I posted one on amazon.