I recently finished Treasures Holy and Mystical: A Devotional Journey for Today’s Catholics by Father Philip Powell which I read as nightly meditations over a period of time. Reviewing a prayer book is not the simplest of tasks and doing so for a collection of prayers can be even more difficult. This is not the case with this prayer book which both bows to tradition and yet does so in a fresh way. This recent book by popular Catholic blogger Fr. Powell exceeded my expectations. I expected a solid collection of prayers, just not the cool Dominican outlook that shows itself within. This prayer book contains Novenas, Litanies, and a Rosary meditation.
Fr. Powell has combined prayers and meditations from scripture, the treasury of the Church, the Church Fathers, and his own writing. He has created various Novenas which include ones based on Pope Benedict XVI encyclicals Spe Salvi and Sacramentum Caritatus, Vatican II document Dei Verbum, along with three intriguing Mystical Novenas. I really loved the Mystical Novenas with a Dominican bent that provided much intellectual food for thought. For example the Novena via Negativa explores what we know of God by exploring what God is not (apophatic theology); or the Novena via Positiva which takes the opposite approach (cataphatic theology).
Even the introduction was well worth reading on what mysticism means and how it applies to everyone of us. For example he says “By denying your call to the mystical life, you deny the very vocation you took at baptism.”
This book will not get lost among my stack of books, but will be a reference to me and is a book of Novenas I will actually use.
Another book I recently read is by another Catholic blogger Taylor Marshall. The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity is I believe his first book with another book coming out later this year. I started reading his blog back before he came into the Catholic Church. At one time he was an Episcopal priest and the book starts off with a chapter on his conversion. The subject of Judaism in relation to the Church was one of the things that got him to think more deeply on the Catholic Church and how it effected his conversion was an interesting story in and of itself.
The brunt of the book though is about Jesus, the Church and its relationship to Judaism. I really enjoyed the writing style and the series of short chapters that build upon themselves and presents the information in a coherent manner. While I was aware of some of the information contained within, I learned a lot more on the subject about all the parallels between Catholicism and Judaism. Topics such as Old Testament Jewish Vestments and Catholic Vestments, Temple/Cathedral, Synagogue/Parish, Jewish/Catholic feast days, were all very interesting and along the way there is solid theology and apologetics on Jesus along with a detailed list of the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled. It really is amazing all of the parallels and more than just a introduction to the subject.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to his next one.