We continue our weekly "Behind the Counter" staff reviews series with picks selected by one of our dedicated Customer Service Representatives, Donna Hoefer.
"As modern Americans, we sometimes forget that God's Word isn't quite as complicated as we make it out to be. In a culture that is accustomed to sound-bites and an information overload, we find it hard to sit down and really reflect on what it is that God is telling us in the scriptures. In this collection put together by her biographer, Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica shares in her simply stated and earthy wisdom, lessons from scripture in short one or two page vignettes. Her presentation in the parlor of the convent was simple and intimate. Her lessons, sometimes hard but always to the point. This collection is one that I find comforting, an oasis in the midst of my hectic life. I can sit down with this book in the quiet after I have sent the kids to bed, and I find refreshment and humor along with a clearer understanding of not only the verses, but also the people that were present at the time they were written. She has a gift for having you walk in the sandals of Peter when he steps out of the boat to go to Jesus on the water. She puts you behind Mary Magdalen's tear stained cheeks when she washes the feet of our Savior. I come away from her lessons with a better understanding not only of what was going on in these events but also how they are relevant to me in the life I live now."
The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation
Presented by Jeff Cavins
"How many times have we been asked, “Where in the bible....?” when approached by other Christians who don't understand why Catholics do certain things, or pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother? How many of us find ourselves mystified by the Old testament, how many of us skim the genealogies so we can get to some less difficult reading? Jeff Cavins presents the most in depth and amazing bible study I have ever attended. Years of travel and research have come together in this 24 week course. It combines the historical with the spiritual, explaining the Sacred Scriptures from the context in which they were written and shedding light, not only on the culture of the times and the nuances of Hebrew and Greek, but also setting down the biblical proofs and foundations for the traditions we still practice as Catholics today. As a speaker, Jeff Cavins is knowledgeable and engaging, speaking from a wealth of experience in traveling the Holy Land and years of biblical education. I found this course mind blowing in it's scope but also deeply personal, as it helped me to more fully embrace my faith and deepened my understanding of how God really loves me, enough to see through history, the eventual salvation of man kind through the crucifixion and then glorious Resurrection of His beloved Son. The Great Adventure has several course options, individual books are offered as well as the full Journey. The DVD presentation is wonderful, making you feel like you are in the classroom with Jeff Cavins. Check with your local parish to see if they are offering this bible study. This is the program I would recommend everyone attend, from those attending RCIA classes, to the “cradle catholic”, this bible study has something for everyone to learn."
Bad Catholic's Guide to the 7 Deadly Sins
"This little gem is the most recent one of three “Bad Catholic's Guides” that he has written. I found this one a little more serious in tone than the first two but very much a pleasure. I have a taste for wry wit and a little sarcasm in my humor so John Zmirak is one who delivers a one two punch, serious catechesis and enough humor to help it stick. In this book, Zmirak reviews each of the seven Cardinal sins, and contrasts them with the seven Virtues that counter them. He chooses examples from history to illustrate each one. It's like getting your history and catechism lesson in one go. At the end of each chapter he has a “Trademark busting Cosmo style Quiz.” to assist you in finding out whether or not you have found what he refers to as the “Golden Mean” along with suggestions for ways you can improve on the points of weakness you may have. This book is ideal for older teens and adults who are looking for fresh take on our faith, it is great for parents of dis-interested teens. I recommend leaving it on the coffee table and hide around the corner, or better yet, read it, start laughing but don't tell them why, leave it where they can get to it and wait for the questions. "
Donna Hoefer has been with Aquinas and More for three and a half years as a customer service representative. She is also a thirty something mother of five whose tastes in books tend to be more practical in nature of late. She finds that raising her family, working full time and dealing with the usual roller coaster of life's ups and downs tends to lend itself to a more earthy spirituality.