A 33 Day At-Home Retreat with Jesus & Mary

By Rhen

“33 Days to Morning Glory” by Michael Gaitley is a series of 33 short, two- or three-page reflections on how devotion to Mary can bring us closer to Jesus and help us become more like Him. It is the perfect selection for an “at-home” 33 day retreat.

The intention is for the book to culminate in what is called “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary,” which you may choose to do, or not do, after working through the book. Reading the reflections in the book will be beneficial and enlightening whether you choose to go through with the Consecration or not at the end.

What is Marian Consecration?

Marian Consecration is, very basically, an act of giving Mary full permission to complete her job of helping us to become more like Christ. As the author points out, it has been said that “going to her and giving her permission to do her job is the ‘surest, easiest, shortest, and most perfect means’ to becoming a saint.”

Marian Consecration has been highly endorsed by many saints, notably including St. Pope John Paul II. This book helps to prepare the reader for Consecration, and provides the prayers and instructions for making the consecration at the end of preparation.

Why Use This Book for Marian Consecration?

The original book on Marian Consecration was put together by St. Louis de Montfort about 300 years ago. It is lengthy and complicated, and it can be difficult to get through (I tried and failed a few years ago). ’33 Days to Morning Glory’ is a more approachable means of learning about, preparing for, and making Marian Consecration.

’33 Days’ explores the writings and lives of four saints who had a strong devotion to Mary: St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Pope John Paul II. The book uses the teachings and examples of these saints to help us apply Marian devotion to our own lives and to help us see how Marian devotion can, and does, bring us closer to Jesus.

The Structure of the Book

There are, not surprisingly, 33 days of reflections in this book, broken up into four weeks plus a few days at the end for review. Each week the book focuses on one of the four saints mentioned above.

Each day’s reflection is short and to the point. Almost all of them are about two pages long. My wife and I read these aloud together each night, and it was completely do-able (we have tried reading books aloud together before, and this is the first one we have actually completed).

When to Read This Book

Obviously, you can start reading this book any time you like. The book does, however, recommend a series of starting dates to line up your reading so that the Marian Consecration at the end of the retreat occurs on a Marian feast day.

A couple of notes on that.

First, if there is a long gap between when you want to start the book and when the next suggested starting date hits, go ahead and start it anyway. I have always found that if I put something off it will never happen, and this is probably true for most people.

When my wife and I started the book we were in one of these gaps in time. The next suggested starting date was more than two weeks away, but I had a hunch that there would be days when we, for one reason or another, would not get around to our reading. I was right. We ended up making our Consecration on the recommended feast day after we missed our reading on two weeks’ worth of days sprinkled in throughout the 33 days,

Second, I recommend starting at least a day ahead of the 33 day schedule to go through the introductory reading. It will teach you about Marian Consecration and its history and merits much more fully than we will approach here. There are about thirteen pages of introductory information.

Recommended Reading Dates

Below are the various reading dates that are suggested, with the final day of each period being the Consecration and Marian feast day.

January 9 – February 11 (Our Lady of Lourdes)

February 21 (20<sup>th</sup> on non-leap years) – March 25 (The Annunciation)

April 10 – May 13 (Our Lady of Fatima)

April 28 – May 31 (The Visitation)

Varies – Saturday after Corpus Christi (Immaculate Heart)

June 13 – July 16 (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel)

July 13 – August 15 (The Assumption)

July 20 – August 22 (Queenship of Mary)

August 6 – September 8 (Nativity of Mary)

August 10 – September 12 (Holy Name of Mary)

August 13 – September 15 (Our Lady of Sorrows)

September 4 – October 7 (Our Lady of the Rosary)

October 19 – November 21 (Presentation of Mary)

November 5 – December 8 (Immaculate Conception)

November 9 – December 12 (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

November 29 – January 1 (Mother of God)

December 31 – February 2 (Presentation of the Lord)

A Word of Warning

Beware: if you make Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, the mother of God might really start putting you to work for her son’s mission 🙂

Saint John Paul II called his Total Consecration a turning point in his life, and his papal motto (“Totus Tuus” – “Totally Yours”) even comes from the writings of St. Louis de Montfort.

Maybe you are familiar with Greg and Jennifer Willits, who are known for their Catholic podcasts and radio projects, as well as the organization Rosary Army. Their ministry came as a result of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

The same week that my wife and I made our consecration we were unexpectedly started on a path that led to us moving hundreds of miles away to take a new job working for the Church. Was this as a result of the Consecration? It certainly feels like it.

Where to Find the Book

This book has really taken off over the last couple of years and is not difficult to find. Amazon carries it (Here) and it should be available in most local Catholic book stores as well.

Discussion

Have you read “33 Days to Morning Glory,” or do you plan to? Share your thoughts, your journey, or the fruits of your Consecration in the comments section below!

The Best Book on Scripture for Retreats

By Rhen

We get asked all the time for recommendations of books to read while on a retreat.

We also get asked frequently about great books about understanding Scripture.

There is one book that stands above all the rest which fulfills both of these needs. It is called “Walking With God” by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray.

“Walking With God” shows how to read the Bible – it focuses on the books of the Bible that tell the narrative story of Scripture and explains how the rest of the supplemental books fit in. It then walks through the narrative of scripture and explains what is happening at each point in the story.

This book describes the story of Scripture in a condensed manner, focusing only on what is really important to know right away, and explains the less-obvious aspects about what is going on: how the people of the time would have read the story, how the politics of the time affected the story, and how the language can be correctly interpreted to the get the correct meaning.

Why It Is Great

Here are a few reasons this book is great:

It Is Approachable

There were some big words and themes in the book, but for the most part it was one of the most approachable commentaries on Scripture that we have ever seen for the everyday Catholic.

Many books about Scripture are extremely long and almost require you to have an advanced degree in Theology (and several languages) in order to understand the writing. This book’s biggest strength is that it is approachable and can be read in a reasonable amount of time – it is less than 300 pages long.

This book is not too difficult for somebody who is new to studying Scripture, yet it will still provide exceptional insight for the experienced Scripture student.

It Guides the Reader Through Scripture

Even with years of Catechism classes most of us still did not understand the arrangement of books in Scripture, the purpose of various books, and the proper sequence to read the books.

Walking With God will clear all of this up.

This book makes clear the “narrative” books of the Bible versus the “supplemental” books, and that makes a big difference when you are trying to understand the full story.

And another thing – following the narrative opens up to the reader just how incredible the story of the Bible is. You will find several “can’t put this book down” reading sessions where the story is so intriguing that you cannot stop reading. The story told in the narrative of Scripture is actually a fascinating and exciting when you know how to follow it!

It Helps the Reader to Understand What is Going On

There is so much underlying the story of Scripture – culture, language, politics, etc. – it is hard to get a full grasp of the story without an explanation of how each of these elements is playing into it at the time.

Simply learning a couple of the key concepts explained in Walking With God with change the way that you read and understand Scripture (especially the Old Testament).

How This Book Can Be Used

Walking With God is one of the most informative and useful books on Scripture that we have ever found. Honestly, we could call it life-changing.

This book is worth reading through multiple times, maybe even on a regular basis every year or two.

There are several ways that this book could be used for spiritual enrichment.

On Its Own

Obviously, just reading it is a great start.

Read Simultaneously with the Scripture

Reading it concurrently with the Scripture passages that are being discussed would be especially enriching, but it would be a major undertaking. Even though “Walking With God” only focuses on a handful of the books of the Bible in detail, there is still a whole lot of reading involved to get through those few books.

With the Book Club

This book was a selection for the Catholic Retreats Book Club, so you can follow along with the chapter-by-chapter commentary and discussion from the Book Club that went along with reading the book starting here.

It would be a great idea to spend time with this book on a retreat, probably a week-long retreat, reading this book slowly. Then, immediately after the retreat, start reading through the narrative books of Scripture. This would be a great way to continue the retreat experience after returning home and “coming off the mountain” of a spiritual retreat, and it would enrich one’s understanding of Scripture.

What do you think? Have you read “Walking With God?” Let us know your experience with it in the comments below!

You can find “Walking With God” by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray at Amazon.com

 

Downloadable Lenten Meditation Books

By Rhen

Did Lent sneak up on you again this year? Don’t worry, you are not alone 🙂

We put together a list of Lenten meditation books available as ebooks, so you can take advantage of your Ash Wednesday motivation and get started on your Lenten reading goals before the ashes cool. Even when Ash Wednesday has come and gone, remember, it is never to late to start a routine to improve your spiritual life. God has a soft spot for procrastinators 😉

The links will take you to Amazon.com where you can check out a few pages of each book to get a better idea of which one is right for your journey.

If you are interested in some more extensive Lenten reading and discussion, check out our book club!

All of these books can be read using a Kindle device, or the free Kindle Reading “app” which can be downloaded here for your smartphone, tablet, or even your home computer.

For Families

Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families

EWTN host Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle uses the life of St. Therese of Lisieux to guide families through a prayerful Lenten season. The book includes practical projects for families with children-preteens. It is not year specific, so you can use it for years to come!

Bring Lent to Life: Activities and Reflections for Your Family

This book takes the family week by week through Lent with an “Easter Tree.” It’s a great idea for kids who may still be miffed at you for taking down the Christmas tree, and it will give you a tool to help them connect the spiritual similarities between Advent and Lent.

Lenten Classics 

These are booklets that many parishes provide. They are also offered in a convenient $0.99 Kindle version that you can keep with you on your phone.

2015 Magnificat Lenten Companion

Living Faith: Lenten Devotions for Catholics: Lent 2015

Journey through Lent with a Friend

Meditations for Lent

A beautiful collection of short meditations taken from the writing of Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704). If you love the beauty of the Lenten season, pick this one!

Pope Francis: Living Lent with Passion: Encouragement and Daily Prayers

Quoting our beloved Pope Francis, the little Lenten collection reflects on the challenges and guidance our Pope has given us in the last couple years.

Lenten Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen

This book walks through Lent with selected writings from a pretty cool guy. If you have always wanted to read something written by Fulton Sheen but are a little intimidated, maybe this would be a good place to start.

Lent With the Saints: Daily Meditations

Get inspiration for your Lenten journey with stories of some great saints. Check out this book and you just might make a new friend!

Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families

EWTN host Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle uses the life of St. Therese of Lisieux to guide families through a prayerful Lenten season. The book includes practical projects for families with children-preteens. It is not year specific, so you can use it for years to come!

 

Your Amazon.com purchases through any of the links on CatholicRetreats.net help to keep us online. The links are all “affiliate links” and Amazon.com pays us a small commission when you make purchases through them (at no extra cost to you, of course).

What is your favorite Lent-related book? Make your recommendations in the comments below!

Fasting Retreats

By Rhen

Fasting is a practice that many Catholics reserve only for Lent, but it can (and should) be practiced year-round. One style of retreat that can be great for spiritual discipline and growth is a fasting retreat.

If you look at the schedule for your local retreat center you will probably not see a fasting retreat listed. In recent times fasting retreats have not been widely practiced as such, but throughout Christendom there has always been an emphasis placed on times of dedicated fasting and prayer.

rprata CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

rprata CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

What is Fasting

“Fasting” is the practice of refraining from food or drink to some degree, according to the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. You may also hear the term “abstinence” thrown around when speaking of fasting. Abstinence refers to refraining from specific food or drink (a common example is refraining from meat).

What is Considered a Fast?

When you try to figure out what a day of fasting looks like you will find many different descriptions. Some would contend that a day of fasting is to be a day without any food or drink whatsoever, and some would say that water is allowed but not food. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) defines days of fasting as the following: “When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.”  See more Here.

When Do We Have to Fast and Abstain?

Catholics are required to both fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In the Roman Catholic rite fasting is obligatory from ages 18 through 59, and abstinence is obligatory from age 14 and on (as is described Here). Eastern Catholic Rites may have different requirements. Every Friday throughout the year is actually recommended as a day of abstinence from meat, although Catholics (at least in the United States) may follow some other act of penance if abstinence from meat is not followed (except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), as is explained in this pastoral statement. Outside of the United States you will have to check with your local bishops’ conference in regards to this requirement.

Fasting and Prayer

There are numerous examples in the Bible of fasting and prayer. Some instances were times of repentance and others were a process of growing closer to God. The latter is what we will focus on here.

Why use fasting to improve our spiritual life? One of the intentions with fasting is that we will replace time that would have been spent preparing food and eating with time spent in prayer. Fasting helps us to both put our bodily desires at bay and focus more intensely on our spiritual well-being. Some say that having a satiated stomach can make us “drowsy” or “lethargic” spiritually. The hunger pangs of an empty stomach serve as a reminder for us to pray throughout the day.

Some Examples of Fasting and Prayer in the Bible

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
-Matthew 6: 16-18

“Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
-Mark 2: 18-20

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ”
-Acts 13: 2-3

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed. ”
-Acts 14: 23

What Is a Fasting Retreat?

A fasting retreat is simply a dedicated time of fasting and prayer. A retreat like this can take many different forms.

Preached Retreats

You might join in on a regular preached retreat weekend at a local retreat center, even if it is not intended as a fasting retreat, and simply practice some form of fasting. You will still get the spiritual nourishment intended from the scheduled talks and times of prayer during the retreat, and on top of that you will get the added benefits of the practice of fasting.

You might also find a retreat that is specifically focused on fasting and prayer. Sometimes it is easier to hold to a fast when you know that the others around you are also doing so. This is not an exceptionally common retreat theme, but if you watch the schedules of nearby retreat centers you may find one.

Sometimes there are no good options in your area for a preached retreat, fasting-themed or not. You might put on your own fasting retreat of sorts. It is not uncommon to hear of day-long fasts put on by local youth groups and the like. Catholic Relief Services even provides the resources for planning a day-long fasting retreat Here. Their intention is raise awareness of hunger issues around the world but their framework could also be used for a prayer and fasting retreat, both for youth or as a parish-mission style of retreat.

Private Retreats

A private retreat of prayer and fasting is a very spiritually-enriching option. You may recall Jesus fasting  in the desert for forty days in preparation for His ministry (Matthew 4:2). In the early centuries of Christianity there were many who lived lives of fasting and prayer as hermits in the desert. They are often referred to as the “Desert Fathers” and provide us with a great example of the practices of fasting and prayer.

A day or weekend (or longer) spent fasting at a retreat center or hermitage is a great way to mimic this exercise in today’s world, and it is always a fruitful time for prayer and spiritual growth. If you are unfamiliar with the practice of private retreats it may be beneficial to revisit our post about them Here for an overview of what a private retreat might look like for you. Re recommend dedicated times of prayer and journaling, but of course you may have your own method of making a private retreat.

Choosing a Theme for a Private Retreat

There are many ways you could go with the theme for a fasting retreat. Perhaps you will choose to reflect on instances of fasting in the Bible. Or maybe reflections on the Desert Fathers would be appropriate. Another option would be to reflect on writings or homilies about the most important of foods, the Eucharist, or the Mass. You could instead choose to focus on the life of Jesus through the writings of Pope Benedict XVI or through the Rosary. You might even choose not to have a specific theme. You may just read scripture as you feel compelled throughout the retreat, or use the Liturgy of the Hours.

Choose a theme based on what would seem to be the most appropriate for where you are spiritually, and based on what you are interested in right now. If the topic does not interest you it will not hold your attention and be as edifying over several days of focusing on it. Do not stress about about the theme too much, though. God will work in your time of retreat, and you will be better off for just having made the retreat – guaranteed.

Structuring a Private Retreat

If you rent out a room at a retreat center or a hermitage you will have a dedicated time to fast and pray in a quiet and prayerful atmosphere. Some may find it difficult to structure a weekend or longer of unscheduled, uninterrupted time. Some people will be able to approach a time of retreat without a plan – just going with the flow and the movings of the Holy Spirit. Others prefer to have some structure and at least the outline of a schedule to fall back on. If you prefer more structure, below is an example of how you might plan out a weekend-long retreat with a focus on the life of Jesus through the Rosary.

Friday Evening
-Opening Prayer
-Reflection #1
-Journaling Session #1
-Down Time
-Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries
-Reflection #2
-Journaling Session #2

Saturday
-Reflection #3
-Journaling Session #3
-Down Time
-Reflection #4
-Journaling Session #4
-Down Time
-Rosary: Luminous Mysteries
-Reflection #5
-Journaling Session #5
-Down Time
-Reflection #6
-Journaling Session #6
-Down Time
-Rosary: Sorrowful Mysteries
-Reflection #7
-Journaling Session #7

Sunday
-Reflection #8
-Journaling Session #8
-Down Time
-Rosary: Glorious Mysteries
-Reflection #9
-Journaling Session #9
-Down Time
-Reflection #10
-Journaling Session #10
-Closing Prayer

The length of each session is variable depending on your hopes for the retreat. Prayer, journaling and examing your spiritual life (and meeting with a spiritual director if possible), and down time are all important aspects to the private retreat.

Have you ever made a retreat that incorporated fasting? What was your experience like?

“The Cana Mystery” – Good Catholic Fiction

By Rhen

I almost never read fiction books. Ever. There is just too much to do, and so little time. Once in a while, though, I need to refresh my mind and clear it from more serious matters with a good fiction book. I did so recently with “The Cana Mystery” by David Beckett. Once I started reading this book I couldn’t help but make the time to finish it, which doesn’t happen too often for me with fiction books!

Here’s the book description from the author’s website:

“Ava (a brilliant grad student) receives a call from Paul, her old flame. Will she fly to Yemen to help solve an ancient mystery? Curious, she goes—but Paul fails to show at the airport. Worse, fearsome men are following her! With help and support from her hacker pals, Ava tracks Paul to a remote Egyptian monastery where he’s hiding from his unscrupulous billionaire boss (Simon DeMaj) and a murderous drug lord (Sheik Ahmed). While Ava was in transit, Paul discovered that Simon and Ahmed are in cahoots with corrupt cops to smuggle priceless antiquities out of Egypt. Refusing to participate, Paul absconded with the relics.

Before long, armed thugs penetrate the desert sanctuary. Ava and Paul must rely on their wits and their friends to stay alive. Meanwhile, Ava applies her unique code-breaking skills to solve the underlying mystery: do the artifacts contain a hidden prophecy? Can Paul and Ava prevent Armageddon?”

Is The Book Overtly Catholic?

I found “The Cana Mystery” through the recommendation of the Facebook page Catholic Fiction. I will start by saying, though, that this is not an overtly Catholic book. It doesn’t beat you over the head with Catholicism, it doesn’t assume you are very familiar with Catholic teachings, and it does not lay immediate judgement on the actions of the characters and it doesn’t present them as clearly good or evil in many cases. It is tough to tell whether some of the characters would be characterized as good, bad, or somewhere in between.

This book is more of a fiction book that follows a story line including archaeological relics important to Catholic/Christian history, and the book is more not-anti-Catholic than overtly Catholic. It’s like a Dan Brown book that isn’t trying to cast suspicion upon the Church. Even so, there are some over-arching Catholic messages in the book and there are some moments in the story where you will see the hand of God at play.

My Thoughts

Overall, this book was really enjoyable. There was a whole lot of action and it kept me wanting to read another chapter every time I planned on stopping. There are some things I did not like about the book, and some things that I really did like.

A Couple of Things I Didn’t Like As Much:

-There are quite a few characters right from the beginning and the character development at first is thin. For the first couple of chapters it was difficult for me to keep track of who was who, but eventually I came to enjoy seeing the events unfold from multiple perspectives. The action in the story takes off almost right away and characters come and go sporadically through all of the events, so I had to reference back to the beginning to figure out who the story was talking about on a few occasions.

-Some of the plot twists are accepted by the characters a little too easily. At one point the intentions of a character appear to be completely different than what we expected and you aren’t sure if you should trust it, but the main characters seem to accept the switch with just a couple sentences of explanation and then carry on with hardly a second thought. It felt a little rushed to me, or maybe the exposition of the flip just didn’t work. There should have been a  little more time spent exploring dramatic moments like this.

What I Did Like

-The story takes place as Pope Benedict XVI was resigning and Pope Francis was just about to be elected-this was not that long ago! When the characters heard news stories about the Pope and the conclave on TV I remembered exactly where I was and what I was doing when that event was actually occurring. It makes the story more real – I feel like the story is taking place in the same world I am living in.

-The bad guys in this book were BAD people. They do some bad things to others, and it makes you realize just how urgent it is for the main characters to succeed. These aren’t the ridiculous bad guys like the albino monks of other archaeological and historical thrillers.

-I learned a whole lot about history and Biblical artifacts. It was pretty interesting.

-As I said before, the story is action-packed and intriguing.

Overall

I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. There were a few things that made me suspend my disbelief a little bit, but overall it was a well thought-out and entertaining book.

You can find “The Cana Mystery” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Have you read “The Cana Mystery?” What were your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let us know!

The Top 5 Catholic Podcasts To Get You Through Everyday Life

By Rhen

When I first got an MP3 player it was 2006. I was working as a maintenance guy at my parish, which left me with a lot of time to listen to music and podcasts. Podcasts were brand new at the time and there weren’t many shows out there. Only a handful of podcasts existed, but these shows changed my faith life dramatically.

What Are Podcasts?

Podcasts are essentially radio shows that aren’t usually on the radio – anybody can buy some basic equipment, record a show, and put it up online. Podcasts are a great way to learn or be entertained (or both!) while on a walk, on a run, driving, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. I almost never do any of these things without a podcast on – if I’m performing a monotonous task I may as well be entertained and/or growing my faith life at the same time!

What Podcasts Are We Looking At?

Below is a list of our top five Catholic podcastsThere are many others out there, some that we’ve listened to and some that we haven’t yet, but these five have stood the test of time.

We occassionally listen to shows that are meant to explain and defend the Catholic faith, and these are really important for spiritual development, but we most regularly come back to (and look forward to) the shows that have a more Catholicism-in-daily-life type of focus. If you are looking for a show that explains the Faith we suggest Catholic Answers or EWTN.

Here we go!

The Top 5 Catholic Podcasts

Number 5: Vatican Radio – Clips-ENG

 


Every day Vatican Radio puts out about half a dozen clips from their radio programming that cover the day’s news. Most of these clips are only one or two minutes long, though some are longer. These podcasts cover news and events from all around the world, but we really like the daily updates on the pope. You will get the translations of the pope’s Wednesday audience and Sunday Angelus and any other speeches or homilies he gives, and also the full update on what is going on around the Vatican.

Check Out Vatican Radio Podcast Online

Number 4: “The Break” with Fr. Roderick Vonhogen

 


Fr. Roderick is a priest from the Netherlands who speaks impeccable English and has been producing podcasts since the very beginning of podcasting – he even got the Vatican started on podcasting! Fr. Roderick produces multiple podcasts, but our favorite is “The Break” which he produces weekly. This show covers the intersection of Catholicism with the world – topics such as current news, movies, video games, books, travel, and Catholicism are regularly touched on. It is Catholic without being overly Catholic, and it is in-touch with the world without being overly worldly, making the show enjoyable even for those who aren’t Catholic. It is important to note that Fr. Roderick is quite the science fiction geek (he even wrote a book called Geekpriest), which makes this show even more approachable to your average pop-culture listener who may not expect such entertaining discussion to come from a Catholic priest!

Check Out “The Break” on iTunes and Online
Click Here to Learn More About Father Roderick Vonhogen

 

Number 3: “Adventures in Imperfect Living” with Greg and Jennifer Willits

Greg and Jennifer Willits


In the early days of podcasts one of the most popular Catholic shows was the Rosary Army podcast with Greg and Jennifer Willits. That podcast came to an end when Greg and Jennifer started a daily show for the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM, but now that gig is over and they are back to podcasting with their show “Adventures in Imperfect Living.” Listening to this podcast feels like you are just catching up with your Catholic neighbors. It is honest and funny and can sometimes be emotional. We don’t know of anybody who is more sincere in their search for deeper faith than Greg and Jennifer, and they inspire us to work harder on our faith every day.

Greg and Jennifer wrote a book together called The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living which we highly recommend to those looking to get in touch with their faith, and Greg has also written a book on his own called The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid that will equip and motivate you to live out the New Evangelization (our review of this book can be found Here).

Check Out “Adventures in Imperfect Living” on iTunes and Online
Click Here to Learn More About Greg and Jennifer Willits

 

Number 2: “Catholic In a Smalltown” with Mac and Katherine Barron

Mac and Katherine Barron


If there is a show that feels like you are sitting on the porch enjoying a beer or cup of coffee with your hilarious, slightly-irreverent-but-still-very-Catholic neighbors, it is “Catholic in a Smalltown.” They talk about happenings in the world, entertainment such as movies and TV shows, and Catholic stuff from the perspective of a family in a small, middle-of-nowhere town in Georgia that doesn’t have many Catholics. And we promise they will have you laughing uncontrollably throughout each episode.

Check Out “Catholic In a Smalltown” on iTunes and Online
Click Here to Learn More About Mac and Katherine Barron

 

Number 1: “The Catholic Guy Show” with Lino Rulli


We refresh iTunes every day hoping there is a new podcast episode of “The Catholic Guy Show.” This is actually a radio show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio that releases an hour or so a week for free via podcast. And the show is hilarious! If you want a funny, slightly irreverent but always sincere show that talks about the Catholic faith and life as a Catholic you will certainly enjoy this show.
Everything that Lino Rulli does comes with a high recommendation from us, including his books “Sinner” and “Saint.”

Check Out “The Catholic Guy Show” on iTunes and Online
Click Here to Learn More About Lino Rulli

Honorable Mention

Catholic Insider

Father Roderick, host of “The Break” mentioned above, also puts out a show called the Catholic Insider. This isn’t a regularly scheduled podcast, which is why it isn’t on the list above, but it captures some incredible moments via podcast – from the death of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, through many other events of the Church including the resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis – all recorded live and in person at the events with a mobile recorder. If you listen to only one episode of this podcast, check out This One which is a live recording from St. Peter’s square from the white smoke announcing the selection of a pope through the announcement of Pope Francis. Feel the joy of the Church at such an event. You will be hooked and you will find it well worth your time to revisit older episodes of this show.

Check Out “Catholic Insider” on iTunes and Online

Lino at Large

A show that no longer airs, Lino At Large is a half-hour show by Lino Rulli (host of “The Catholic Guy Show”) which teaches the faith with a whole lot of humor mixed in. The show is very informative – I only know there are 27 books in the New Testament and 73 total in the Bible because of this show. The show is also very engaging and will make you laugh – I like to listen to Lino at Large on long drives to help me stay awake. Even though the show is no longer produced, there are dozens and dozens of episodes available on iTunes for you to enjoy.

Check Out “Lino at Large” Online

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Is there another podcast that you think should be on this list? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Books: “The New Evangelization and You” by Greg Willits

By Rhen

You have heard of the New Evangelization but do you know what the New Evangelization really is? I didn’t, until I read “The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid” by Greg Willits.

The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid

“The New Evangelization and You” (TNE) builds a framework from the ground up by which to understand the concept of the New Evangelization. Once this foundation is established the book offers plenty of practical, often simple ways to implement the New Evangelization into your faith and into your everyday life.

The book offers plenty of quotations from other sources that will enlighten you on the Church’s understanding of the New Evangelization. I came away from this book with a list of Church Documents and Papal Encyclicals that I am really excited to go read – something I don’t usually do. Greg makes the topic come alive and presents it in an exciting way that will leave you encouraged to study further.

TNE encourages us to take part in the New Evangelization by knowing, living, and sharing our faith. Greg encourages us to take “small sips” from the fire hose that is the wisdom and history of the Catholic faith instead of trying to take it all in at once. He reminds us that though it would be nice to bring that hardened, militant atheist co-worker into the Church there are others who are practically ready to “jump in the boat” but just need a little bit of encouragement, and that should be our primary focus.

The best part of this book is Chapter 10, which lists out 52 practical ways to know your faith, live your faith, and share your faith. This isn’t just a throw-away list used to fill space in the book. It is well thought-out, creative, and thought provoking. My favorites from each category:

Know Your Faith
-“Look up the Holy Father’s Wednesday audience online (at www.vatican.va), and read his statement for the week.”

Live Your Faith
-“Move into the middle of the pew at Mass, so that when people show up at the last minute they can find seats.”

Share Your Faith
-“Invite some friends over for a beer and serve them Trappist beer, made by monks.”

None of these suggestions sound too tough or time-consuming to implement into your life, do they?

I encourage you to pick this book up and give it a read. It would make for a fantastic reflection piece during a retreat, or as great free-time reading at home. It is only 160 pages in paperback (118 pages on my iPad) so it will not overwhelm you.

Click Here to Learn More About “The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afriad.”

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Check out Greg Willits’ other work, too. He and his wife wrote a book together called “The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living” and they currently produce one of my favorite podcasts, called “The Catholics Next Door.” Also check out the archives of their old podcast, the “Rosary Army Podcast” and go to their website, www.NewEvangelizers.com.
You can connect with Greg on twitter @GregWillits.

Retreat Books: “Light of the World”

By Rhen

If you are looking for a fascinating, approachable book about the Catholic faith to take with you on retreat think about picking up “Light of the World,” a conversation between Peter Seewald and Pope Benedict XVI.

Light of the World” is an in-depth, multi-day interview of Pope Benedict XVI with his biographer, Peter Seewald. The book provides you with glimpses into the life of the Pope, the reasoning behind decisions made for the Church, and a deeper understanding of the key tenets of the Catholic faith and how the apply to the world.

Seewald asks the Pope many of the hard questions about the Faith and about noteworthy events and scandals in the Church that will help you get a better grasp and grow in a deeper respect for the Catholic faith. Some of the topics discussed include life as the Pope, relativism in the world, Marian apparitions, the proclaiming of the Gospels, how the Church and faith relate to society, the abuse scandal, ecumenism, reforms in the Church, and more.

Benedict XVI unpacks the theology and relates the events in the Church in a thorough, scholarly manner that is still easily digestible. The question-and-answer format of the book makes it readable and keeps it from becoming overwhelming, but it is so interesting that you may want to read it straight through.

If you want a book to take with on a retreat that will help you to better understand the Catholic faith and how it relates to the world, pick up “Light of the World” by Peter Seewald and Pope Benedict XVI.