One Catholic Life Blog

Mark Link, SJ

One Heck of a Story – Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

There were many newsworthy events this past week and there are many more going on this weekend; but there’s one event that happened this past Wednesday that you probably didn’t hear about: one of the world’s best-selling authors passed away at the age of 92. They say that if a book sells more than 20,000 copies in a year, then it’s in the top one percent of all book sales. This author sold over 10 million copies of his books. And yet, despite being so successful, you probably...

Pope Francis Pursued: Pilgrimage by Mark Shriver

The subtitle of Mark Shriver’s book Pilgrimage is My Search for the Real Pope Francis. The implication is that there is some confusion, disagreement, or misunderstanding about who Pope Francis is. It’s almost as if Pope Francis is too good to be true. Or perhaps there’s a suspicion that the public persona of Pope Francis is a mask that conceals his real agenda. As Shriver himself writes in the prologue, I kept warning myself not to believe unconditionally in a guy who, I kept reminding myself, headed a...

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it. Black Beauty, page 74 I knew next to nothing about Black Beauty before I started reading it, and it was very different than I expected. My previous experience with equine stories has been through movies like Secretariat, The Black Stallion, and Hidalgo,  so I was expecting a story about a colt who beats all odds to become a great racehorse. If my Kindle edition would have included the original title,...

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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

There is a mythical element to our childhood, it seems, that stays with us always. When we are young, we consume the world in great gulps, and it consumes us, and everything is mysterious and alive and fills us with desire and wonder, fear, and guilt. With the passing of the years, however, those memories become distant and malleable, and we shape them into the stories of who we are. We are brave, or we are cowardly. We are loving, or we are cruel. To the Bright Edge...

Deal Me In Reading Challenge

Deal Me in Challenge Stories #1 and #2

I love the concept of the The Deal Me In Challenge, hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. For this challenge you choose 52 short stories for the year, reading one each week. What makes this challenge more fun is that you assign each story a different card from a deck of standard playing cards. Then each week you draw a card at random and read the story assigned to it. This is my first year participating, and I decided that my theme for the year would be “The Macabre.”...

Classics Club Book #6: Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell

Because I graduated from high school in 1984, I’ve always had a connection with both the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell and the rock album 1984 by Van Halen. Over the years, the former has grown in my estimation and the latter has declined. The album by Van Halen is something you outgrow. The novel by Orwell is something that grows with you. I put Nineteen Eighty-four on my Classics Club list because I knew my daughter would be reading it in her senior high school literature class,...

The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux

I have no ambition to be an author. An author is always something of a romancer, and God knows, the mystery of The Yellow Room is quite full enough of real tragic horror to require no aid from literary effects. Gaston Leroux, The Mystery of the Yellow Room 2017 is here, and I’ve kicked off a new year of reading with The Mystery of the Yellow Room. This early twentieth century novel is a classic locked-room mystery by Gaston Leroux. Leroux is probably best known as the author of The Phantom...

Ready Player One

My Favorite Reads of 2016

2016 was a very good year for reading. After a down year in 2015, this past year I surpassed my goal of 36 books, finishing number 38 on Christmas Eve. Here is what Goodreads tells me about my year in reading: I read 11,553 pages. The average length of the books I read was 304 pages. The most popular book I read was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The least popular book I read was No One Cries the Wrong Way by Joe Kempf. Not only did I discover...

Young Man Reading

Reading Challenges for 2017

With 2017 on the horizon, I’m entering new reading territory by committing to several reading challenges. I’ve never done a reading challenge before, but I’ve enjoyed seeing other bloggers write about their challenges, so I’m jumping into the fray. Here are the challenges I’m signing up for this year: Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge – The challenge here is to read 26 books, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Back to the Classics – This challenge has readers choose classics in twelve different categories. British Books Challenge – Books...

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

Think of the ‘Star Wars’ sagas and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ mix in the triumph of ‘Rocky I,’ ‘Rocky II,’ and ‘Rocky III,’ and you have captured the exuberance, style and glory of ‘BATTLEFIELD EARTH.’ It was the above blurb from The Evening Sun in 1984 that convinced me to take a chance on a 1,000-page science fiction novel, and I have never regretted it. It’s been over twenty years since I last read Battlefield Earth, and it’s still as much fun as I remembered. It remains one...

Here There Be Dragons

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

Geared for young adult readers, Here, There Be Dragons is an excellent read for anyone who is a fan of Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. Literary allusions abound, and part of my enjoyment came from the way Owen connected various classic works with his plot. Here, There Be Dragons is for a more literate teen reader, someone who prefers authors like Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Alcott rather than series like the Twilight saga or The Hunger Games. Not that readers of those books won’t like it, but it moves at...

Gonzaga Prep's Sound of Music

An Overture for Christmas – Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent

Back in November, Brenda and I got to see our daughter Teresa perform in Gonzaga Prep’s production of The Sound of Music. I know some of you here are theater moms or dads, and your kids have been in shows too, shows like Ferris’ The Addams Family, Fiddler on the Roof, or Shrek. Or maybe some of you are theater kids and have seen your parents perform in Ham on Regal. So you know how it is that you end up seeing the same show multiple times. You...

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The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr is one of those books you come back to time and again. Like most of Rohr’s books, it challenges the reader to stretch and grow in faith and maturity. In The Divine Dance, Rohr takes on the topic of the Trinity, drawing on theologians (Augustine, Aquinas, Rahner), mystics (Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart), philosophers (Aristotle, Boethius, Duns Scotus) scientists (Kuhn, Oppenheimer), and poets (Hopkins, Eliot, Roethke) to help make his point that the idea...

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Classics Club Book #5: Conan – The Definitive Collection by Robert E. Howard

I first read the stories of Conan the Barbarian over thirty years ago, in the Lancer/Ace paperback versions that included stories by his creator Robert E. Howard as well as new tales by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. The Lancer/Ace editions presented the Conan stories in the order of the fictional barbarian’s life, and traced his progress from thief to king. For my Classics Challenge, I wanted to read only the original stories by Howard, and in the order they were first published, so I chose...

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

The performer is of course not a sorcerer at all, but an actor who plays the part of a sorcerer and who wishes the audience to believe, if only temporarily, that he is in contact with darker powers. The audience, meantime, knows that what they are seeing is not true sorcery, but they suppress the knowledge and acquiesce to the selfsame wish as the performer’s. The greater the performer’s skill at maintaining the illusion, the better at this deceptive sorcery he is judged to be. — The Prestige,...