Tag Archives: Catholic book club

March and April Meetings

I’m happy to say that we have found a friendly coffee shop with a private room for our meetings, and it seems to meet our needs very nicely.  We’ve met there two times and are now feeling quite at home.

Also working out well for us is the suggestion of having members volunteer to lead the discussion of the monthly book.  It has given us an improved structure which is a real help.

Our two books, Left to Tell and Father Brown: Essential Tales provoked interesting discussion of the authors as well as their works. We also devoted some time to putting together a list of possible books for our longer-term future reading, as well as choosing our books for May and June.

May’s book will be Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel,  with Fr. Lawrence leading, and for June we will read Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson. (Any volunteers for that one?)





Our December meeting came unglued for us due to illness and people being out of town for the holidays.  But January saw us gathered at a nearby McDonald’s, eating cookies and discussing The Edge of Sadness, under the leadership of Randy. We had a lively discussion, with most people liking the book and some finding it a little disappointing and lacking in detail, particularly with regard to the struggles the lead character had in recovering from alcoholism.  We made comparisons with the way parishes are run today, talked about the responsibilities of a bishop and how he might make choices in the assignment of priests, and discussed various characters and how they were depicted.  It was a very satisfactory meeting.

In February we got together for a potluck supper in celebration of our fifth anniversary, and the combination of delicious dishes and interesting talk kept us at the table for quite a while.  The collapse of a chair, though, left one member laughing on the floor and got us moving to the study, where we were to watch a movie.  Sadly, the setup for the movie didn’t work out.  The good feelings left from the dinner, kept us contented as we waited, and cheery conversation continued until we had to give up on the movie and say our goodbyes.

March will bring us together to talk about Left to Tell, and we’ll be searching out a new spot for our meeting.  So many books, so little time!

November Meeting Brings Some Changes

Our October meeting didn’t come off, due to a misunderstanding about the changed date.  In November, though, after finding that several people had not read The Edge of Sadness, we had a searching discussion of what we wanted for the future, and how we wanted to proceed. We decided to revise our schedule a bit and institute a new format for our book discussions.  The suggestion was made and approved that for each book, a member would volunteer to lead, preparing a brief summary and a few possible discussion questions.  We’ll give this a try in the new year and see how we like it.

Our schedule for the next few months is as follows: December, a reading of another Dorothy Sayers radio play; January, a discussion of The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor; February, our anniversary celebration will be the viewing of a movie and follow-up discussion (movie not yet chosen); March, discussion of Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

June Meeting: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Our numbers were diminished for the June meeting because of some on holiday, traveling, etc.  I found the meeting rather difficult, since I was the only one who had finished the book, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ. Another member had read half, so at least a little discussion was possible.  I found the book inspiring, practical, and a good read, and was a little disappointed not to be able to give it the more thorough discussion I felt it deserved.

Father Lawrence had a suggestion for our next book, and passed around a copy of it for us to examine.  We decided to read it over two months, so our book for August and September will be Ways of Imperfection by Simon Tugwell, OP.

Remember, for our July meeting we will be discussing  The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux.  See you then.

May Meeting: The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest (2)

We were glad to welcome Father Lawrence back from his travels and to hear a bit about his experiences.  Such a joy to have him back!

Discussion of the book began by touching on some difficulties with its frequent mention of persons met, visited, and/or helped by Gerard, and those who were of help to him.  Some members found this initially confusing, and one found it quite off-putting.  We went on to consider who were the people Gerard was calling “schismatics”,  and why he found them “much more difficult to move”. Talking about the dangers people faced, both personal and social, we could understand, to some extent, why people would change their religion based on the command of the king or queen.  We also talked about the differences between that society, where religion was very important and indeed a way in which an individual might find his identity, and today’s society.

From members talking about Gerard’s insistence on an exact and well-considered examination of conscience for those wanting to convert, Father Lawrence went on to talk about making a general confession, and in answer to some questions gave details about the circumstances in which a person might make a general confession.

In choosing a book for July, we considered that perhaps we have had enough history for a while, and chose the autobiography “The Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Margaret Clitherow

For those who have access to EWTN,  that network will air an hour-long program on the life and death of St. Margaret Clitherow, who was executed in a particularly terrible way for hiding hunted Catholic priests during the reign of Elizabeth I.  This should be very interesting as it relates to our reading of The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.  The program will be on May 23 at 11 a.m. and May 25 at 3 a.m. Pacific times.

Click on the above link to see what Wikipedia has on this remarkable woman.  This drawing of the saint is taken from Wikipedia.

English: Margaret Clitherow old depiction. Sou...

English: Margaret Clitherow old depiction. Source is here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blog is Back!

This blog hasn’t kept up, but the book club has enthusiastically continued to read, meet, and enjoy discussing books. We are adding new members and expanding our horizons as we have moved into some serious reading in church history.  We’re not getting bogged down, though, as we have included related historical fiction!

At our August meeting we had a wonderful time at our first-ever summer potluck dinner (thank you, M.R.), and sketched out some plans for our reading over the next few months.  Check out the Our Next Book link above to see the details.  At our September 10th meeting, we will need to set a different date for the October meeting, since our usual second Monday will fall on the Thanksgiving holiday, so please give some thought to what date would work with your calendar.

So, for September 10, be prepared to discuss Count Belisarius.  We’ll be meeting at Father Lawrence’s, 7:30 as usual.  See you there!

Jan. and Feb Meetings; Anniversary Play Reading!

 A variety of health issues have kept me from being faithful to this blog, but I am determined to update before our March meeting, so here goes:

At our January meeting we discussed The Song at the Scaffold, talking about conditions in the Church in France at the time of the Revolution.  We also looked briefly at the differences between the novel and the opera that was based on it, Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc.  The horrors of the Reign of Terror are certainly brought out forcefully by the novel, slight though it is.

We were pleased to welcome a new member!  No doubt she will keep us on our toes in the coming months.

It is customary for us in January to vote on our favourite book of the past year, and we had some difficulty with that because there had been several books not read by all the members.  We narrowed our choices down to two–In This House of Brede and Becoming Human.  Each book was argued for strongly, and after debate we decided to make them dual favourites for 2011.

Our February meeting followed our custom of getting together on a Saturday night for dinner and a reading of a play.  The catering of the dinner, which was Italian-themed, was coordinated by Father Lawrence and was deemed a great success.  We all enjoyed the chance to spend much more time than we  have at our regular meetings, getting to know one another better and to catch up on our latest news.

Then it was time to pull out our scripts and set to business.  The play chosen, “A Certain Nobleman”,  is from a series of radio plays based on the Gospels, so we had the fun of providing our own sound effects when necessary, such as crowd noises and trotting horses.  But the subject was a serious one, taking Jesus and the Apostles from the wedding at Cana to the cleansing of the Temple, and then on to the healing of the nobleman’s son.  The effect on us was powerful, as though we were ourselves immersed in the scenes.  We thought it possible that we may want to perform other of the short plays in the series in the future.

For a variety of reasons, we decided to break our reading of our next book, Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina, into two parts for our March and April meetings.  First we will concentrate on Chapters 1 – 3.

December Meeting 2011

Our December meeting was a joyful event.  We had had to miss November, since most people were unable to attend, so we were glad to be together again and had much to share with one another.

Becoming Human sparked quite a lot of conversation and discussion of personal experiences with some of the topics on which Vanier focused in this series of talks.  His insights were judged to be of considerable value, especially as we grow in maturity and begin to think about the aging process.  Since there were some who had not yet finished the book, we thought we might revisit it later.

We looked at some recommendations and handouts, and decided on the following reads: 

For January, The Song at the Scaffold by Gertrude von le Fort (an Ignatius Press reprint).

For February, our third anniversary, one of the plays from Dorothy Sayers‘ play cycle on the life of Christ, The Man Born to be King.  These were radio plays produced on the BBC during World War II.  Scripts will be provided at the January club meeting.  We would like to have another potluck dinner, since last year’s dinner and playreading made for such a great evening.

For March, Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey.

Stay tuned for our report on our meeting in January, when we will vote on our favourite book of 2011!

June Meeting, 2011

(We’ve been meeting regularly this year, except for May, but for various reasons I have not kept up with reporting.  I plan to resume regular posting.  JF)

At our June meeting, we discussed the novel In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden.  We were enthusiastic about the book,  feeling that Godden had very capably told a tale that pulls the reader right into the midst of the story.  We particularly liked the way she gives a strong sense of the changing seasons, and of the liturgical year.  Our discussion involved favourite characters and plotlines, and then “bookgetaway” provided some background information on Rumer Godden, mostly gathered from Wikipedia.

We talked about books for the near future, and decided that since the book for July, Catholics by Brian Moore, was a short one, we could take on something more lengthy for August, and chose Dear and Glorious Physician, a novel centered on St. Luke, by Taylor Caldwell.   Father Lawrence mentioned that at the time of the August meeting he will be in Spain for World Youth Day, so “bookgetaway” proposed that we meet at her condo for August.  We talked about the possibility of reading Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, for September, but deferred a decision until later.