Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

Has anyone read anything good this summer? Today I’ll highlight a few I’ve enjoyed.

The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome

by Joseph Pearce

I recently finished Joseph Pearce’s The Quest for Shakespeare from Ignatius Press. In this book, Pearce gives all the evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. I’ve always wanted to read this book, since it was published in 2008, but I never got around to it until last week. As it turns out, I was missing out!

Did you know that Shakespeare’s father was a registered recusant Catholic? Or that Shakespeare was taught by Catholics and married by a Catholic priest? Think about that and remember it was verboten to be a Catholic in England at this time under the Great Persecutor, Queen Elizabeth.

Remember the great martyrs? St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion…among hundreds of others? If one wasn’t downright tortured for being Catholic, one was heavily fined for failing to attend Anglican services in the least. And guess how many Anglican services Shakespeare attended? None that we know of. And we know this because copious records were kept by the government for the express purpose of collecting fines to financially ruin Catholics.

I could go on with more interesting details, but you should just read it.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Peter Kreeft’s endorsement, “In this book, he [Pearce] proves it [Shakespeare’s Catholicism] historically. I mean proves it.” Or, perhaps you’d like Anthony Esolen’s words? “Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing.”

The Quest for Shakespeare would be a great read for your high schoolers too.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

This is another one of those books that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never did, until two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music and loving it. (Naturally, as little girls, we shut the movie off after the wedding because the Nazi part was too scary.) I’m so glad I finally purchased the book and read about the real Trapp family.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a sheer delight. There was much that the movie got right, and then, there was much that was left out too. Did you know that Maria and the Captain actually dined at a restaurant in Salzburg, sitting at a table near Hitler? (They were disgusted.) Or that after they fled to the United States, the infamous Heinrich Himmler–the main architect of the Holocaust– confiscated their estate and ruined their chapel?

Above all, I was impressed with the faith of this family. You, too, might find it inspiring. In the very least, the way in which Maria and Georg became engaged was downright sweet and comical. (The movie gets it wrong.)

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I read this book a few years ago and had memories of laughing so hard, my sides ached. Naturally, I’d want to pick it up again, so I did.

Do you need a laugh? Do you come from a big family? Or have lots of children yourself? Then you’ll love this hilarious book.*

By the way, the book is way better than either the old movie or the new one. Both movies are a disgrace in comparison to the book.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

No, I did not read the whole catechism. Rather, my local book club, Rad Reads, read the section on marriage and then compared it to John Paul II’s catechism on marriage. It’s incredibly telling how different they are. We had lovely, heated discussions. We also read Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Cannubii, which is also on marriage.

Now, if you want something interesting to read with your husband, pick up the Catechism of the Council of Trent, flip to the fifteen or so pages written specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You won’t be disappointed.

What am I reading now?

I’m currently reading Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, an FSSP priest, for my next Rad Reads discussion. This book details the theological meaning behind different actions and prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m really enjoying it so far.

I also hope to peruse another Dorothy Sayers detective fiction soon.

How about you?

*Note: I’d only recommend this book to a mature audience, as the older daughters tend to be worldly, etc. Also, unfortunately, there are problems with the Second Commandment.

Motherhood & Parenting

More Questions: Fear of Childbirth & Age of Confirmandi

I received two more questions the other day, which I’ll post below, as they’re good questions and interesting, too.

Question 1: Age of Confirmandi?

Hi Kim! Thank you for blogging!

It looks like some of your new confirmandi are pretty young.  How did you determine their readiness, and did you experience any resistance from the church because of age?

Response:

Thank you for the question.

Yes, it would appear that my children are young according to many bishops’ later age requirements for Confirmation.  (My children were confirmed at ages 13, 11, 11, 9, and 7.)  The Roman Rite, however, clearly states in both the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see paragraph 1319) and the Catechism of the Council of Trent (look under heading “Confirmation” and flip to the paragraph on “Proper Age”) that one need only reach the age of reason, which is stated at 7, prior to receiving Confirmation.  And that’s it.

IMG_2915.jpg
Consider owning both Catechisms–Trent and JPII’s.  Well, the Baltimore Catechism is great too.

Any bishop worth his salt will not deny anyone Confirmation, so long as he or she has reached the aforesaid age of reason.

Think of the Eastern Church, which does Confirmation immediately after Baptism because they wish to emphasize these Sacraments of Initiation and not to delay in distributing sanctifying grace.  Remember, Baptism gives one sanctifying grace and opens the doors to Salvation, while Confirmation pours out more sanctifying grace with the additional 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And both leave an indelible mark on the soul.

The question is then, why would anyone want to wait on this?  Either you have that grace and that beautiful mark on your soul or not.  And does it matter?  Yes.

The problem is that many Catholics in the Church see Confirmation as some sort of “graduation,” and so we have Catholics wrongly asking, “How do you know if your child is ready for Confirmation?”  Are we ever “ready” for any Sacrament?  Look, we do not ask our babies if they are ready for Baptism, and we do not ask them if they’re ready for Confirmation.  Naturally we prepare them as best as we can, but this is not some test.  Rather, we desire an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and we’ll do everything we can to continue their education then and afterwards, forever and ever.  Amen.

Shoot, I’m still learning about Confirmation now at the ripe old age of 38.

Secondly, dear reader, you asked if our family received any opposition to receiving this Sacrament because of age?  Not in this diocese–the diocese of La Crosse, WI.  (May it please God to preserve our bishop for a long time.)  But I’m fairly certain I would have met with a silent storm of opposition in my prior diocese.  In the latter case, one can only politely ask and pray.  Or seek the Sacraments elsewhere.

In the end, either these things matter, or they don’t, though.  If it were me–and it does pertain to our family too–I’d get these things done.  Now.  I’d ask myself, What did our bishop and priests do during all this Corona Madness Shutdown?  Did they close your Churches and quit administering Sacraments?  If so, what makes you think they won’t do it again, come Corona Version 2.0 this Fall or Winter?

As my father, an eminently sensible farmer, says,  “Make hay while the sun shines, Honey.”

Question 2: Advice for a Fearful Mother About to Give Birth?

Kim, do you have any advice for fear of childbirth? As a bit of background, I’m due any day with Baby #6. I’ve had 5 amazing natural births, and yet I’m here and TERRIFIED to give birth again myself. (Needless to say, I feel rather silly…) I’m trying to approach it from a spiritual standpoint, and yet a terrible anxiety remains. Have you ever experienced this, and do you have any advice?

Response:

First of all, congratulations on Baby #6!

Now to the question and a full disclosure: I personally have not experienced fear or anxiety for an impending labor and delivery.  This is likely because I emphatically dislike being pregnant, and so when labor and delivery come around, I couldn’t be happier.  In fact, I love it.

But you are not silly for struggling with these thoughts.  There are mothers–good mothers too–who do fear childbirth and for all kinds of reasons.  I think it’s natural to anxious about the whole thing.   I mean, it is rather a painful experience after all.

The question I’d ask myself is, what is the cause of my anxiety?  Am I afraid of death?  Am I afraid of the baby dying?  Am I afraid of the pain?  Or is it something else?  If you can pinpoint where the anxiety is coming from, then it might be possible to come up with a few ideas.

If it’s death, perhaps one could find a few pertinent scripture verses on the fleetingness of life or on the glory of heaven?  Or, if it’s pain, consider an epidural or some medication to take the edge off.  You mentioned that you’ve done all natural births, but perhaps this time God wishes otherwise?  (I had a dose of Nubain during the last labor and delivery.  See HERE for those details.)

In any case, the Divine Mercy Chaplet might be a good option for you to pray daily.  Or if you enjoy reading, check out St. Faustina’s Diary, which is all about trusting in Jesus and doing His will amidst pain and suffering.

Lastly, I’ll ask a question to the readers.  Are there any mothers out there who have experience with anxiety in childbirth?  If so, please consider sharing any ideas in the Comments Box below.