Tag Archives: teaching

Question: Sexual Morality Questions from Seniors (ROUND ONE!)

This past fall, I had the privilege of teaching a new senior apologetics course at Bishop O’Connell High School, where I am chairman of the Religion Department.  The course, entitled “Sharing the Faith in the World,” taught students not just the answers to theological controversies, but more importantly how to have intelligent, reasonable arguments based in logic rather than impulse.  It was a very student-centered course, meaning that I let the students direct the topics of discussion, rather than I, as the teacher picking the topics and lecturing.  The majority of the class involved students selecting topics within Apologetics (be it natural, Christian, or Catholic), researching both sides of the issue, and debating both the orthodox and heterodox positions.  It was a lot of fun, and I hope to teach the course again next school year. 


In the course of our discussion of Christian apologetics, the students wanted to examine in detail the topic of Christian sexual ethics.  Due to the constraints of time, we were unable to examine EVERY aspect of this huge topic, instead focusing on what the Church teaches about sexuality and why.  As such, there were many questions the students had that were left unanswered.  I collected many of their questions together, and composed short answers for them. 


I have decided to post several of the questions here, not just because I need to post something (although that is true; I have not been very good at posting every month), but also to show off my creative, inquisitive, and intelligent high school seniors.  Having spent a semester with these students, I can assure readers that many of the students are mature and serious when it comes to matters of religion.  Their questions stemmed not from a desire to trap the teacher or somehow prove that the Church is stupid in her teaching on human sexuality; rather, these questions are questions for which the students honestly seek the answers.  


I have not included all of the questions here, both because of time and because their questions come out of already having learned the basics of Christian sexual ethics.  Also, the answers may seem incomplete not because everything that could be said about the topic is in the answer I posted, but rather because my answers were meant to be short responses, with the hope that the more interested student might dig deeper into the wealth of the Church’s teaching on this essential part of what it means to be a human being.   I will post the resources I sent them at the bottom of this post as well, for interested parties.  


So, without any more preambling, here are some student questions, with my humble answers, fixed up so that you, my beloved Quidquid readers, can follow along.  


What does the Church teach about sex?

(this isn’t a question they asked, but I’m including it to lay the groundwork)


The Church’s teaching on sexuality can be summed up in a short little phrase: Sex is beautiful.  Sex is an essential part of marriage, and it brings new life into the world and builds a bond between husband and wife.  Every aspect of Christian sexual ethics goes back to those main points.


The Church draws her vision of human sexuality from Genesis, where sexual intimacy appears in the context of married life.  The Creation stories portray sex as a command (“be fruitful and multiply”) and as a gift (see how Adam burst into song at the sight of Eve in Genesis 2: 23, and how that reaction is immediately followed by references to marriage and the original innocence of our first parents).  

Image result for fall of adam and eve

Adam: First brat to yell “I DIDN’T DO IT!”

The Fall in Genesis 3 led to the division between men and women, which manifests itself through sexual sin (Genesis 3: 7, 16). Thus is the damaged world we see around us, but it was not supposed to be that way. Jesus makes that clear in his teaching on marriage (Matthew 5: 27-32; 19:1-15).


So what should sex be like?  Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (par. 9, 12) expresses this clearly (that said, I’ll use the language more familiar to you).  All sexual acts should be Free (that is, not forced), Total (a complete gift of the two people to each other), Faithful (exclusive to the other), and Fruitful (open to new life coming from the marital act).  This can also be summed up in the two-pronged aspect of marital love: Life-Giving and Love-giving.


If one of these aspects is not present, then the act does not follow the Church’s teaching on sex.  Keep in mind, as well, the three parts of an act which you learned last year in Morality class: the Object (what the action itself is), the Intention (why the person is doing the action), and the Circumstance (the context of the action).  While some violations of Christian Sexual Ethics are in themselves evil, that is, the Object is evil, others are violations because of the Intention or the Circumstance. All three (Object, Intention, Circumstance) must be good for an act to be good.


Let’s explain using a violation that everyone (I hope) agrees is bad: rape.  The Catechism defines rape as “the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person” (CCC 2356).  If the Object in rape (sexual intercourse) is morally neutral, the Intention and Circumstances are clearly morally evil (due to the violation of consent, the violence against justice and charity, etc).  Rape also fails the Christian Sexual Ethics test. It is not Free, as someone is being coerced into the act. It is not Total, as there is not a gift of self; rather, one party is taking what should be freely given.  It is Faithful, as it does not come from a context of exclusivity. It is not Fruitful, as rarely is the rapist open to new life. Likewise, it does not build up the relationship between the two people (Love-Giving) nor does it have as its goal the righteous act of bringing life into the world (Life-Giving).


See how that works?


If a sexual act fails to be Free, Total, Faithful, or Fruitful and/or is not Life-Giving or Love-Giving, then it is not justifiable.  You should not do it, nor should anyone else.


Q1: Is it impossible for sex outside of marriage to be holy and involve God?


Sex has a purpose, a reason for its existence.  God created it with that purpose. As with anything else in life, it is never a good idea to decide we know better than God.  About anything. Ever. God, in laying out the foundation of the universe, created the laws that govern the universe. Like gravity.  Gravity pulls and pushes planets and stars into their orbits, shaping worlds out of clouds of dust. It also drags you to your death if you swan dive off of the Grand Canyon.  Don’t mess with God’s laws.

As I mentioned earlier, sexual acts should follow the laws God laid out for them, just as we should follow laws of nature (airplanes and jetpacks aside).  When we don’t follow the laws, bad things happen. When we make, say, an airplane fly, we don’t defy the laws of gravity; rather, we use gravity and other laws of nature, such as wind dynamics and other things I do not have any sort of authority to discuss, to create lift, which leads to the craft flying.  Or falling, with style.



Back to extramarital sex.  What’s wrong with it? Well, God created sex to work within marriage.  Of course, people can, and do, have sex outside of marriage, but there is always something lacking in these extramarital sexual encounters.  Perhaps the openness to life is curtailed, either through contraception or non-intercourse sexual acts which make it impossible for life to come from the actions.  Or, perhaps the union of the two partners is not a factor, as is often the case with casual sexual encounters. Or perhaps the sexual union is open to life (or at least non-contraceptive) and is between two people who, honestly, usually really care about each other.  They genuinely want what is best for each other, and want to spend their lives together.


Except in this case, of course.  See, if you and I genuinely care about another person, we would avoid doing anything that would harm them, especially in a permanent way.  Few honest lovers seek, for example, to chop the arms and legs off of their beloved. We want what is best for them. And yet, in a moment of selfishness, the lover and beloved seek their own wants over what is best for the other.  Rather than a selfless giving of oneself, as a married couple does on their wedding night, there is a twinge of selfishness.


The couple, in engaging in sexual activity prior to marriage, sets themselves against God and His will for marriage.  They are saying, if they are properly informed of the Church’s teachings on sexuality, that they do not care what God has planned for them.  They do not want to wait; they are calling the shots. They are like the Prodigal Son, who told his father to his face that the father was more good to him dead than alive, who was only concerned for his own wants and desires.  


But let’s assume it isn’t that bad.  Let’s assume the person doesn’t know better, that they were never taught God’s plan for sexuality, and that they act out of ignorance because, as far as they know, sex before marriage is the norm in society, and if you don’t have sex before marriage, then there is something wrong with your relationship.  What then? Do they get sent to Hell?


That’s a matter for the next set of questions.  


For now, the short answer to your question.  I would say that, for the Catholic/Christian, not only is extramarital sex not holy, it is mortally sinful, and should be avoided at all costs.  


Don’t jump off the Grand Canyon.  Don’t dismember your significant others.  


And don’t have sex outside of marriage.  



WHEW!  That is enough for right now.  Below are the promised resources that might be of interest to readers of this post.  


Also, if you are interested in seeing more questions like these or other questions connected to theology, Church history, or anything in apologetics, feel free to email them to mrose811@gmail.com or Tweet @quidquidestest using #quidquidquestion.  



Free.  Total.  Faithful.  Fruitful.


General Chastity Resources

The Chastity Project: https://chastity.com/

Evert, Jason.  Theology of the Body in One Hour (Totus Tuus Press, 2017)

Evert, Jason.  If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity (Catholic Answers, 2009).

Evert, Jason.  Pure Love.

Evert, Jason.  Pure Manhood

Evert, Crystalina.  Pure Womanhood

Evert, Jason and Crystalina Evert.  How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: 21 Secrets for Women (Totus Tuus, 2011).   

Sri, Edward.  Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility (Servent Press, 2015)

Bonacci, Mary Beth.  Real Love: Answers to Your Questions on Dating, Marriage and the Real Meaning of Sex (Ignatius Press, 2012)




Integrity Restored: https://integrityrestored.com/


Fradd, Matt.  The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography (Ignatius Press, 2017)

Fradd, Matt, ed.  Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women who Turned from Porn to Purity (Catholic Answers Press, 2013)

Fradd, Matt and Cameron, ed.  Restored: True Stories of Love and Trust after Porn (Catholic Answers Press, 2015).

Loverde, Paul.  Bought with a Price




USCCB on Contraception: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/index.cfm

Couple to Couple League: https://ccli.org/


Coffin, Patrick.  The Contraception Deception: Catholic Teaching on Birth Control (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2018).

Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (1968).  

Smith, Janet E., ed.  Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader (Ignatius Press, 1993)

Smith, Janet E., ed.  Why Humanae Vitae Is Still Right (Ignatius Press, 2018)


Same-Sex Attraction


Courage International: https://couragerc.org/


Harvey, John F.  Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions (Ascension Press, 2007)

Mattson, Daniel.  Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace (Ignatius Press, 2017).

Schmitz, Mike.  Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press, 2017).

Check, Paul and Janet E. Smith.  Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Attraction (Ignatius Press, 2015)


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Review: Books I Read in 2017 (“The Others”)

Books Read 2017 (part 2)

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

This is me reading.  It is not me reading one of the books on this list.  Actually, its not even from this past year.  Make of it what you will.  


My last post was the list of books I challenged myself to read (and succeeded, I might add) in 2017.  Check out the post to see just how crazy I am. 


This essay lists all of the books that were not from “The Big Ten,” but that I read anyway.  I’ll call them “The Others.”  


“The Others” (also in no particular order)


  1. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien – I assign my freshmen a book report assignment in the second and third quarter.  In solidarity with them (because a teacher should not assign an assignment that he isn’t willing to do himself) I did the report on a book of my choosing from the list.  I chose this posthumously published collection of sagas from the Middle-Earth before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Tolkien spent the majority of his life working on these stories, rewriting, adjusting, simplifying and expanding them.  Some are better than others (the creation account is amazing, but you would have to read my wife’s essay from the 2016 Tolkien Seminar for more on that), and it isn’t as much of a continual story, more a collection of stories from the time before the events of The Hobbit.  Overall, I enjoyed it immensely.  


  1. Charmed Life by Diane Wynn Jones – My wife and I read this together.  I had not read any Diane Wynn Jones books prior to this one (I just didn’t read a lot of fiction as a child).  It was great, featuring an interesting fantasy world of real life Britain mixed with magic.  I look forward to reading more Jones books. 


  1. The Church & the New Media by Brandon Vogt – Another book I read in solidarity with my freshmen. This one featured several essays by a variety of notable Catholics involved in the New Media.  Some looked at more spiritual or theological aspects of discussing the Faith on the Internet, while others were more advice driven, explaining how Catholics and Catholic organizations can use the New Media to reach more people and expand their ministries. 


  1. Real Love by Mary Beth Bonacci – Another book I read in solidarity with my freshmen. Bonacci answers real questions from real teens who have real relationship problems.  The answers aren’t mere “Here’s the Church’s teaching” type answers; the majority of the answers invoke statistical evidence, making the book approachable for those outside the Church.  The book was a great help for me as a high school teacher, as I often get similar questions inside and outside of class.  


  1. Scripture Matters by Scott Hahn – Scott Hahn is one of the most recognizable Catholic Scripture scholars.  This collection of essays, covering a wide range of Scriptural topics, looks less at particular interpretations of specific passages, but rather at Scriptural exegesis as a whole.  Overall, the book is a good introduction to the Church’s study of Sacred Scripture. 


  1. On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists by Thomas a’Kempis – This was my spiritual reading during Lent.  Drawing from the Passion accounts in the Gospels, the mediation, which was a portion of a larger work on the life of Christ, walks with Jesus along his path to the cross.  Even though it was clearly written for those in religious communities (there are explicit references to life as a religious brother, to your religious superior, and to regularly praying the Divine Office), anyone can read it and draw deeply from a’Kempis’ spiritual well.


  1. One Heart Full of Love by Mother Teresa – This collection of speeches and interviews by St. Teresa of Calcutta is, shockingly, my first real introduction to the saint’s public addresses. I grew up knowing the greatness of this woman (I was 11 when she died), but I hadn’t read or heard any of her talks.  This collection shows the depth of Mother Teresa’s love for the poor and the neglected, as well as for Christ.  You feel her heart in every line, every word, in the collection. 


  1. Angels (and Demons) by Peter Kreeft – Written in question & answer format, this book (an easy read, I might add) delves into the theological and philosophical tradition about angels (and demons). Humor infuses Kreeft’s reflections, as do references to literature (Kreeft posits that the best depiction of angels in literature lies in the opening section of The Silmarillion, which I had read just prior to this book) and the writings of various saints. 


  1. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander – My wife and I read this together. This is the first of the Prydain Chronicles, a fantasy-adventure series that I, in my majority non-fiction reading youth, hadn’t encountered before my marriage (I had seen Disney’s The Black Cauldron, which is sort of based on the series).  Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper under the care of the enchanter Dallben, goes on an adventure against an evil lord Arawn.  Along the way, he meets an increasingly interesting cast of characters, the kind he will want by his side in his other adventures.  [Side note: My favorite memory of reading this book wasn’t as much the plot or characters, but my wife’s reading it.  Her version of Gurgi, the man-beast that befriends Taran, is adorable!]


  1. Reflections on the Psalms by C. S. Lewis – I read this book during Adoration over the span of a couple months. Rather than reflecting on each individual Psalm, Lewis examines themes and doctrines found in the Psalms, connecting them to literature, history, and philosophy, as well as the rest of the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition. 


  1. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton – I’m a big Michael Crichton fan.  I had read almost everything of his except this book.  Now I have.  Corporate corruption abounds in this murder mystery/crime drama, with Japanese businesses essentially controlling the economy of the United States.  The novel follows our hero as he tries to follow conflicting leads and questions less than helpful suspects, all the while trying to make it through the night alive.  Enjoyable, but I still stand by my view that Crichton was at his best when writing sci-fi novels.  


  1. Surprised by Truth, edited by Patrick Madrid – A collection of conversion stories from a variety of converts with an equally wide range of backgrounds. Some big names are in here, as well as more obscure ones.  Quite the emotional roller coaster; more than once the convert would be so close to the Church, then take a sharp left, and I, way too invested in stories to which I already know the conclusion, would scream in my head “You’re so close!  COME IN!  The Tiber’s great!”  Anyway, I liked it.  


  1. Ablaze! by Colleen Swaim – This is the first of TWO books by someone I know personally on this list (the other is directly below). I teach with Colleen (she’s one of the greatest teachers I know) at Bishop O’Connell, and when I became chairman of the religion department, with her joining the department at the same time, I decided I needed to get to know her a little better.  So I read one of her books.  She wrote this book and it’s companion, Radiate, years before she came to O’Connell.  Both of the books contain short biographies of saintly teens written for teens.  I must admit, I learned a lot from the book. 


  1. The Demon Maelstrom by Nicholas Mason – My wife and I read this together. I’m friends with the author from our time at Christendom College.  This is the second book in his Subversion Trilogy, which is set in a dystopian future Washington DC area.  Filled with crisp action scenes and thought-provoking dialogue, the story rushes towards a dramatic conclusion that sets the stage for the final installment.  Central to the drama of this series is the dignity of the human person; outside of our heroine and the rebels she fights with against the corrupt central government, the whole society, in true “theology of the body” fashion, disregards human dignity on a societal and personal level.  It is a dark precognition, one that feels more likely each day.    


So, that’s what kept me so busy during 2017.  Altogether, I began and finished 24 new-to-me books. 


This year, I plan to do something different.  In my living room, my wife and I have a bookshelf; friends and professors of ours wrote the books that inhabit the first two shelves.  Many of them I’ve read at some point, but a substantial number remain unread at the dawn of 2018.  Therefore, my reading goal this year is to read ALL of the books by people I know that I have not yet read by the start of the year.  As of now, there are a little more than a dozen books on the list.


I’m off to a good start too!  As of this posting, I’ve finished SIX new-to-me books, including three from this list of books by people that I know. 


Want to know what I thought of them? 


You’ll have to read my post on them next year. 


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Review: BOOKS READ IN 2016

I love to read. 

You know how people ask you about your hobbies?  Mine is reading (and writing, like for this blog!).  Pretty much always has been. 

In 2015, I tried to read as many books as I could during the year (including books read with my wife Sarah, of course).  I kept track of the books, which had to be books which I had never read before. 

I read thirty-eight, almost thirty-nine (so close).

This year, I tried again to read as many books as I could.  I also kept track of each book’s length, so I could see how many pages I read by the end of the year.  The list of books is below, with a little review for each.   

This past year was an adventurous one, what with my wife and I both delivering talks in Leeds, England about J. R. R. Tolkien in July, and with me delivering a talk about Pope Francis at Franciscan University of Steubenville in November.  My Tolkien talk was entitled “Tolkien and the Battle of the Somme” and the Pope Francis talk was called “Memory and the Family: Pope Francis’ View of History.”  I’ve indicated which books were read in the process of researching for these talks, in case people would like to read more about the topics. 

  1. Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church by Raymond E. Brown – 121 p – Fr. Brown’s take on several of the big “issues” in the Church today. Made me frustrated a few times. 
  1. Unless Some Man Show Me by Alexander Jones – 155 p – Collections of columns written about Scripture interpretation for a Catholic newspaper in England. Very useful. 
  1. The American Catholic Almanac by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson – 408 p – Read for a review for Homiletic and Pastoral Review. A story from American Catholic history and culture for every day of the year.  I learned a lot!  I only wish there was a Bibliography so I could dig deeper. 
  1. Christ in His Fullness by Bruce Sullivan – 222 p – Conversion story and refutation of the major arguments that had held this former Church of Christ minister from entering the Church.  A very quick read. 
  1. Why Johnny Doesn’t Behave: Twenty Tips and Measurable BIPs by Annemieke Golly and Barbara D. Bateman– 122 p – A book on teaching for a change. It focused on how to deal with misbehaving children and implementing Behavioral Implementation Plans (BIPs)   . 
  1. The Ten Commandments by Charles Pope – 80 p – Short but sweet overview of the Decalogue and the Church’s teaching on the commandments.
  1. The Crown of Sorrow by Alban Goodier – 156 p – My Lenten spiritual reading this year. Slowly moves you through the passion account, beginning and ending with the Scriptures, to draw you into Christ’s Passion.  It worked well as a daily Lenten meditation. 
  1. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling – 870 p – Read this with my wife. Harry is a whiny teenager, people start gathering to fight the evil guy and someone dies (da da DA!)
  1. J. R.R. Tolkien: His Life, Work, and Faith by Raymond Edwards – 88 p – Little Bio about Tolkien. Read to help prepare for the Tolkien talk in England. 
  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 374 p – Part dystopian novel, part love letter to the 1980s. Had a predictable ending and parts that I really didn’t like (the full page apologia for touching yourself was not appreciated). 
  1. The Broker by John Grisham – 422 p – The only John Grisham novel I’ve read. Guy from Washington DC gets a pardon set up by the CIA and lives on the run in Italy. 
  1. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling – 652 p – Read this with my wife. Harry’s less whiny.  Good mystery in this one. 
  1. Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth – 313 p – Read to help prepare for the Tolkien talk in England. About Tolkien’s early life and his time in World War I.  Very interesting. 
  1. Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury – 364 p – Collection of stories by the master of science fiction short stories. Included the story that inspired the film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
  1. Prove It: You by Amy Welborn – 125 p – Book on morality written for teens.
  1. Why Be Catholic by Patrick Madrid – 230 p – Read for a review for Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Good reflection on why it’s great to be Catholic.  The book weaves in personal stories about each topic. 
  1. Francis: Pope of the New World by Andrea Torinelli – 180 p – Short biography about Pope Francis written soon after his election. Read to help prepare for the Pope Francis talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  1. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling – 759 p – The last Harry Potter book. It is the climax.  Anyone else feel like Rowling was inspired by C. S. Lewis while writing this one, especially by The Great Divorce?
  1. 2201 Fascinating Facts by David Louis – 376 p – Fun trivia facts on basically everything. A little dated (it was published in the late ‘80s).
  1. The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui by Affleck Gray – 178 p – The only book on Scotland’s hairy biped (like Bigfoot). Purchased in Scotland.
  1. Black Priest/White Church by Lawrence E. Lucas – 270 p – About overcoming racism in the Catholic Church during the 1960s and 1970 (when the book was written). I didn’t agree with all of the priest’s points, but it did make me think about what I can do to help race relations in my own experiences.  
  1. Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer – 227 p – Historical fiction for middle schoolers. Actually a pretty fun read. 
  1. On the Family by Pope Francis – 120 p – Pope Francis’ Wednesday Audience reflections on the family from 2015. Read to help prepare for the Pope Francis talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  1. A Song for Mary by Dennis Smith – 374 p – Memoir of growing up as a Catholic poor kid in New York.
  1. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie – 247 p – My first Agatha Christie novel. I won’t tell you how it ends.
  1. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide by the Writers of the Series – 207 p – The title pretty much says it all. The only problem is that it was over too soon!
  1. Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation by Gary Russell – 238 p – An adventure based on the TV show characters. Lots of fun when you hear the actors’ voices in your head while reading the story. 
  1. Pope Francis Speaks to the US and Cuba by Pope Francis – 175 p – All of the homilies, talks, and interviews Pope Francis gave during his visit to America in 2015. Read to help prepare for the Pope Francis talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  1. Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis – 225 p – The controversial Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis on the Family. Lots of good stuff, but the confusing parts are legitimately confusing.  Read to help prepare for the Pope Francis talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  1. Creation, Evolution, and Catholicism by Thomas L. McFadden Sr. – 138 p – Independently published. Argued that you cannot be a Catholic and hold that evolution, even theistic evolution, is true.  Lots of insults against Jesuits in this one.  Not too fun of a read. 
  1. Liturgical Question Box by Peter J. Elliott – 189 p – Adapted from the author’s column in an Australian Catholic newspaper
  1. Poor Richard’s Almanac, etc by Benjamin Franklin – 130 p – Little book of “advice” from Poor Richard. . . I mean Benjamin Franklin
  1. The Enchanted World: Dragons by the editors at Time-Life – 130 p – Part of a series of books published by Time-Life. Lots of fun stories and pretty pictures. 
  1. Irish Saints Robert T. Reilly – 169 p – Lots of short lives of great Irish saints (and some saints to be?).
  1. A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn – 293 p – Dr. Hahn presents the story of Salvation in an interesting, entertaining, and spiritually enlightening way. I’ve already begun incorporating material from this book into my lesson plans. 
  1. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter – 277 p – The official biography of the great author. Very interesting read.  I read parts of this for the Tolkien talk, and I read the rest of it later in the year. 
  1. Catholics in America by Russell Shaw – 149 p – Short bios of key figures in American Catholicism. Really made me want to read more about these people. 
  1. Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating – 340 p – This work of apologetics helped launch a revival of Catholic apologetics (which this blog is hopefully a small part). Very informative, looking at Fundamentalist arguments and answering them with the Church’s teaching. 
  1. Narrative Poems by C.S. Lewis – 186 p – Of the four poems in this book, only the first one, Dymer, was published in Lewis’ life. Good, quick read. 

And for those that weren’t keeping track, that’s 10,279 pages read in 2016. 

For 2017, I’m doing something different (again).  First, again I’m trying to read as many books as I can (my goal is forty).  Secondly, and different for this year, I have picked ten books that I have been meaning to read for a while (in some cases, over a decade).  The goal is to read all ten of them before the end of the year.  I own them all, so getting my hands on the book is the easy part.  The order of me reading them doesn’t matter, which hopefully will make things easier. 

Anyway, here’s that list (in no particular order):

  • Witness to Hope by George Weigel
  • The End and the Beginning by George Weigel
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • The Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology by Michael Newton
  • Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  • The History of the Catholic Church by James Hitchcock
  • The Life You Save May be Your Own by Paul Elie
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • The Poem of the Cid by Anonymous
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

In other words, it’s looking like 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for reading!  Expect a short review of each of the ten, and every other new book I read this year, in January 2018.

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