Bergers Book Reviews

You Are the Beloved


Author: Henri J.M. Nouwen
Publisher: Convergent Books
Genre: Christian Inspiration
ISBN: 978-1-101-90637-8
Pages: 416
Price: $26.00

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Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, and pastor, who gained international renown as the author of over 30 books on the spiritual life, including such classics as The Wounded Healer, The Inner Voice of Love, and The Return of the Prodigal Son. In You Are the Beloved, editor Gabrielle Earnshaw has compiled some of his most inspirational passages into a daily meditation book.

Each day’s reading is one page or less, making it easy to squeeze into a busy day. These beautiful meditations focus on God’s deep and eternal love for us, and encourage us to see that God is more intimate, more loving, and more longing to be in a relationship with each of us than we have ever imagined. Reading these inspiring and uplifting messages would be a perfect way to begin or end each day. I highly recommend You Are the Beloved.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian, inspiration, meditation | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homilitic Biography (Cycle B Homilies)


Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1544933160
Pages: 344
Price: $12.95

Video series
St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
Buy it at Amazon

Cycle B Homilies picks up in the second year of Catholic Church readings, and follows the Cycle A Homilies published last year. Following in the same pattern, each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle B. Father Pete expands on the Gospel readings each week, sharing stories of his own experiences as priest, as well as his interactions with parishioners. These homilies are warmly written and encouraging in style, sometimes challenging his listeners to respond to the words of Jesus and what He demands of us. But they’re also down-to-earth and meant for the average reader who doesn’t have a theology degree.

Father Pete has no interest in portraying himself as perfect, and willingly shares his faults and foibles with the reader. I found myself chuckling at some of these stories, as I learned a bit about his service to his Parish and the surrounding community, and I will enjoy reading them during each Cycle B year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles A, B & C, as well as special homilies. Proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey will benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching


Author: Lin Wilder
Publisher: Wilder Books
Genre: Catholic / Memoir
ISBN: 978-1-942545-54-5
Pages: 151
Price: $13.50

Author’s website
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Lin Wilder grew up in a family where mother and children went to church on Sundays, and all the standards of morality were practiced. So when she suddenly realizes she doesn’t believe anything she’s ever learned and rejects the Bible as a myth, she feels lost and bereft. Throwing herself into her work, with ever increasing responsibilities, she determines to make a good life for herself.

Adrift without a strong moral compass, Wilder attempts to navigate through several troubled relationships, hoping to find happiness with a man. At a crucial turning point in her life, she receives good advice to clarify her intentions about what she’s really searching for. This finally opens the door for Wilder to discover the Catholic Church – to finally come home.

Finding the Narrow Path is a love story, but not in the traditional sense. Jesus Christ allows Wilder to drift along aimlessly, never staying far from her, finally inviting her back to Him and into his Church. And when she does return, she finds a love she couldn’t imagine existed, that thrills her more than anything she has ever experienced.

As a Catholic convert myself, I had to smile as I read of Wilder’s overflowing joy at becoming Catholic. Those who have converted and those who are maybe only thinking about converting will really enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, memoir | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homiletic Biography (Cycle A Homilies)


Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: Lighthouse Christian Publishing
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1532765834
Pages: 292
Price: $11.95

Video series
St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
Buy it at Amazon

During his 20 years as a parish priest, Father Pete Jankowski has faced his share of joys and struggles. Sharing these stories in the form of homilies, he encourages and educates his parishioners on a weekly basis. Now these Cycle A homilies have been compiled into Stories on the Journey.

Each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle A. Father Pete expands on the Gospel readings each week, sharing stories of his own experiences as priest, as well as his interactions with parishioners. These homilies are warmly written and encouraging in style, sometimes challenging his listeners to respond to the words of Jesus and what He demands of us. But they’re also down-to-earth and meant for the average reader who doesn’t have a theology degree.

There are several typos in the text, and a good proofreading would have helped prior to publishing. But if the reader can overlook this small flaw, the messages in each homily are really enjoyable to read. I will adding be adding this book to my reading list during each Cycle A year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles B & C, as well as special homilies. Father Pete will be donating proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey to benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | 1 Comment

Pray for Justice


Author: Lou A. Bordisso, O.C.
Publisher: The Apocryphile Press
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-944769-40-6
Pages: 150
Price: $16.00

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Every day the world’s neediest go hungry, searching for a place to lay their weary heads. The rest of us simply go about our business, hardly noticing them. But what if we actively prayed for them and for a change in our own mindset?

Pray for Justice is a thirty day book that encourages us in caring for those who most need it. Each day’s section provides morning and evening prayers with a quote to guide our intentions. These prayers follow a simplified form of the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours that will take only a few minutes to complete. The reader is also encouraged to keep a spiritual journal while following this prayer regimen, and questions are provided to deepen our commitment to the less fortunate.

Those who already pray the Liturgy of the Hours will find this format somewhat redundant, so they may need to vary it slightly to incorporate parts into their normal prayer ritual. But all those who really ponder the quotes provided and ask themselves the hard questions will find themselves changed by their experience. This is a great prayer guide for Catholics and other peaceful people.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment

Martyrdom: The Coloring Book

Martyrdom - The Coloring Book
Author: Hallie Fryd
Illustrator: Julia Gfrörer
Publisher: Zest Books
Genre: Catholic / Art
ISBN: 978-1942186069
Pages: 112
Price: $16.99

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The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. As such, the martyrs for the faith have always been revered by the Catholic Church, and their legends have grown through the ages. In this unique coloring book, these martyrs are shown in scenes depicting their untimely deaths.

Beginning with biblical martyrs St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen, this book tells the stories of the many people who died professing the Catholic faith, and in many cases, attempting to preserve their virginity. Each person is featured in a two page spread, with one page dedicated to the martyr’s legend, and the other a blank coloring book page. While many of the scenes are horrible, none are so gruesome that the sensitive reader can’t bear to view them. But these tragic stories and images remind us of the religious freedom we’ve been granted in this day and age, and of those who died attempting to find that freedom.

Whether you choose to color these pictures or not, Martyrdom: The Coloring Book is a fascinating read, and will greatly enhance your knowledge of these faithful martyrs. And let us pray that no more are added to their ranks, as the war against Christianity continues to rage in the Middle East.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 1, 2016 Posted by | art, Catholic, history | Leave a comment

The Sign of the Carved Cross (Chime Travelers #2)

The Sign of the Carved Cross
Author: Lisa M. Hendey
Publisher: Servant
Genre: Children / Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-61636-848-7
Pages: 128
Price: $5.99

Author’s website
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Katie still doesn’t know what really happened when her twin brother, Patrick, went into the confessional in The Secret of the Shamrock. But now that she’s just gone back in time to meet St. Kateri Tekakwitha, she’s convinced that the bells of St. Anne’s are magical.

Katie has been having trouble with the new girl, Lily. Although Katie is usually friendly, she is being mean to Lily, mostly out of jealousy. Katie feels like she’s not as pretty as the other girls. But after spending time with St. Kateri as she is baptized and joins the Church, she comes to realize that beauty on the inside matters much more than what’s on the outside.

After returning home, Katie finds out that Lily is new to the Church, and now she gets to share her own faith with Lily, just as she did with St. Kateri. Thinking about baptism and her own First Communion, she comes to realize just how important the Church is to her.

The Sign of the Carved Cross is a nice adventure story featuring St. Kateri. These Chime Travelers books not only provide a fun time traveling tale, but also a glimpse into the lives of the saints. Kids will really enjoy this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Catholic, children, Christian, Saints | Leave a comment

The Secret of the Shamrock (Chime Travelers #1)

The Secret of the Shamrock
Author: Lisa M. Hendey
Illustrator: Jenn Bower
Publisher: Servant
Genre: Children / Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-61636-847-0
Pages: 128
Price: $5.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Patrick and Katie are working on their church’s cleaning team one Saturday morning when Patrick steps into the confessional. He discovers a copy of Butler’s Lives of the Saints and opens it to March 17th, the date of his patron saint. After closing his eyes for a short nap, he hears the church bells chime and the floor begins to rumble.

Patrick awakens in Ireland to find himself among some sheep being herded by a shepherd. He quickly realizes he’s hopelessly lost, and he’s even more surprised to find out that the shepherd is St. Patrick himself. But how will he ever get back home? Will he have to pray like St. Patrick does, so that God will provide the way?

When The Secret of the Shamrock opens, Patrick expresses some concerns about his Catholic faith to his sister, Katie. His experience time traveling forces him to look at his doubts and actions and decide what he needs to do about them. When he finally arrives back in the present, he has a much better outlook on his faith.

Kids will find Patrick refreshingly honest and likeable, and will be cheering for him to make it back home. Although this book has a great Catholic message about prayer, the Holy Trinity, and the sacrament of reconciliation, they have been presented in a non-preachy manner that children will relate to. I look forward to seeing more of the Chime Travelers series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Catholic, children, Christian, Saints | 1 Comment

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues
Author: Jean M. Heimann
Publisher: Servant Books
Genre: Christian / Catholic
ISBN: 978-1-61636-845-6
Pages: 144
Price: $13.99

Author’s website
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Most of us are familiar with the seven deadly sins, but are we also aware of the seven virtues? These are charity, chastity, diligence, humility, kindness, patience and temperance. The fastest way to defeat the deadly sins in our own lives is to work on developing these virtues in their place.

Seven saints provide wonderful examples of these virtues in action. In Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, these saints are presented for us to emulate. Their lives and struggles may have been difficult, but each overcame weakness and developed strong character. In addition to the saints, modern-day people who embody these virtues are introduced, so we can learn how to model them in today’s world. Prayers, suggested Bible reading, and action steps are also provided for developing each virtue.

We are all called to be saints. The lives of the virtuous men and women in this book will guide us as we attempt to follow that calling. All those who try to live holy lives will benefit from reading Seven Saints for Seven Virtues.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Catholic, Christian, Saints | Leave a comment

Heaven is Real But So is Hell

Heaven is Real But So is Hell
Author: Vassula Rydén
Publisher: Alexian
Genre: Christian / Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9830093-0-6
Pages: 224
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
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Vassula Rydén was not living a particularly religious life when her guardian angel first appeared to her. And when God spoke to her, soon after, she was completely unprepared to face her many sins and atone for them. Once she was cleansed, she willingly took on her new role in communicating God’s Messages to the people, as He commanded.

Heaven is Real But So is Hell is Rydén’s story of her ministry. It shares some of the visions God has allowed her to see, as well as many of the Messages she received. Organized loosely by topic, this book touches on all the important ideas God has commanded her to tell us.

Originally, the Vatican disapproved of Rydén’s Messages, issuing a warning against them. However, over time, these Messages have gotten support from priests, bishops, and even Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope. Rydén also claims that many who have seen her speak or have read the Messages have come back to the Church as a result.

I admit, I approached this book with healthy skepticism. But as I’ve also read the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, I realized there are interesting similarities. Both women issued dire warnings that come with potential blessings if we turn from our sinful ways, and both have been ridiculed and scorned by an unbelieving public. I have not read True Life in God, which is Rydén’s official publication of these Messages, but from what I’ve read in Heaven is Real But So is Hell, I see nothing that would be contradictory to my Catholic faith.

Prophets are often misunderstood in the era they’re living in, and their messages are only understood much later. If these Messages are truly from God, they will stand up to the test of time.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Catholic, Christian, spirituality | Leave a comment