Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Fruitful and Responsible Love

​Wojtyla, Karol. Fruitful and Responsible Love. St Paul’s Publications. ISBN 085439 159  2

Summary of the Book: Address given by Karol Woltyla, then Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow at the international Congress on family problems held at Milan in June 1978 to mark the tenth anniversary of Humanae Vitae.

My Views: The book approaches the key theme of the encyclical Humanae Vitae ‘fruitful and responsible love’ from a very pastoral point of view. I must say the book encourages the couples to take responsibility for themselves and their actions basing on the Love for each other. Love being the guiding principle one is led to do the right thing resecting each other. 

Though never stress on contraceptive means as something the wrong, the importance given to the explanation of Love makes one understand the right way of shaping ones life. 

Its quite am easy reading book. 

Book Review: പ്രലോഭനങ്ങളേ വിട

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പുന്നത്തറ, ബെന്നി. പ്രലോഭനങ്ങളേ വിട. ISBN.  978-93-81796-97-9

Book Summary: വിശ്വാസ ജീവിതത്തിലെ പ്രലോഭനങ്ങളേ തിരിച്ചറിയാനും വരുതൽ നേടുവാനും സഹായിക്കുന്ന തികച്ചും വ്യത്യസ്തമായ ഒരു ഗ്രന്ഥം. ശാലോമിന്റെ ചരിത്രവുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട നിരവധി സംഭവങ്ങളുടെ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ വിശ്വാസ ജിവിതത്തെ ഉണർത്തുന്ന ദൈവപരിപലനയുടെ കഥകൾ.

ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ആദ്യത്തെ  ക്രിസ്തീയ ചാനലായ ശാലോം ടി.വി. മലബാറിലെ ഒരു കുഗ്രാമത്തിൽനിന്നും  സാധാരണക്കാരായ മനുഷ്യരുടെ വിശ്വാസത്തിലൂടെ രൂപം കൊണ്ട കഥ.

ശാലോം ടൈംസ്, സൺഡേ ശാലോം പത്രം എന്നിവയുടെ ആരംഭ ചരിത്രം.

ക്രൈസ്തവ മാധ്യമ ശുശ്രൂ ഷാരംഗത്ത് നൂതനപാതകൾ വെട്ടിത്തുറന്ന ബെന്നി  പുന്നത്തറയുടെ ആത്മകഥയും ശാലോo  ശുശ്രൂഷയുടെ ചരിത്രവും.

My Views: It is with quite a reservation that I took the book to read because of its title. However, it was a wonderful and growing experience I should say after the reading, especially in my spiritual life.

The book reveals the trust Mr. Benny had in the inspirations of the Christ. Even when the life seemed difficult, how an ordinary man trusted in the Lord.

The book also spells out the importance of a Spiritual Director who can guide you through. One can also notice that all good inspiration need not come from God always, so we need to always discern the will of God.

From me, its a must read….

Book Review:  കാറ്റിനോടൊപ്പം

മിച്ചൽ, മാർഗരറ്റ്. കാറ്റിനോടൊപ്പം. ഡി സി ബുക്സ്. ISBN. 978- 81-264-5 116-6

Book’s Summary: അമേരിക്കൻ ആഭ്യന്തര യുദ്ധത്തിന്റെ  പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ എഴുതപ്പെട്ട സൃഷ്ടി. ഇതൊരു ചരിത്ര നേ വലല്ല, മറിച്ച് സ്കാർലറ്റ്    ഒ ഹാര എന്ന പെൺകുട്ടിയുടെ വൈകാരിക ജീവിത കഥയാണ്.

My Views: Margaret Mitchell in the famous book ‘Gone with the Wind’ explores the struggles that Scarlett had to go through to keep her family alive during the American Civil War. The higher value of life is stresses all through the story. The author has succeeded in keeping the value of life rather than anything in situations such as war internal struggles in the country. Books communicates to the readers about life and  its daily struggles.

I am Malala

Book Review: Yousafzai, Malala with Christina Lamb. I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban.

Yousafzai, Malala with Christina Lamb. I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. ISBN 0316322407.

Source: From a Friend

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The book I am Malala, describes the life and undertakings of Malala, the girl who was shot by the Taliban. Though an ordinary girl deep love for knowledge and for her nation has led her to take courageous stands for the educations of herself and numerous girls along with her from the Talibanised Swat. The book comes forth as an autobiography, though it is clear that she has been helped to write it. Continue reading I am Malala

The Message of Awareness

Book Review: The Awareness: A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words

De Mello, Anthony. Awareness: A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1990. ISBN: 0 00 627519-2

Source: Library

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It was quite delicious time that I spent with The Awareness: A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words in self-reflection and mediation. The book presents the reflections of Fr. Anthony De Mello SJ in his own live words sustaining the spontaneity of the author. In editing J Francis Stroud SJ has done an excellent job not to lose the real sense of Anthony.

The book can be summarized as ‘the message of awareness’ where one seeing the light realizes what we are to ourselves and to others. The author leads one to look into the self to see the  person as he is, form a psychological point of view, accepting what we are (really), one is guided and helped to reach the real “I”. The egoistic ‘me’ becomes the real challenge to the process of self-awareness. It also helps one to discover that the problems in the world are not outside of the self rather it is the self. The unresolved psychological wounds become unanswerable behaviors in past. It exhorts us to be healed healer.

However, exaggerating independence of the self can lead to a negative reaction. At times the author even go to the extent to say that all what I am depends on me (not on the person with whom I live, and the situations), my happiness and joy are just my creation. May be true in the ideal situations but facing the realities of life the situations seems to be different. It is also true to say awareness is the most difficult goal that one has to achieve in his life.

But a wonderful reading and self-transforming book.

Book Review: Communist Manifesto

Marx, Karl & Frederick Engels. Manifesto of The Communist Party, 3rd ed.  Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1970

Source: Library

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Communist manifest one of the important books which did make major changes in the world in very many ways quite dramatically. Karl Marx propose the basic principle of communism in this book, a work which has influenced millions of people, rich and poor , literate and illiterate, owners and works alike.

Analyzing the world and all in it from the point of view of class struggle (the varied forms of oppression) that were existing in the society Marx speaks of a free and socialist society where the proletarians are in control of things and situations in Communists Manifesto.

He sees the ruling class as the cause of problems and negativity in the society for they are not concerned about the working class. In their desire for money and famine they even look at the works as machineries, which in turn loses every individual characteristic of the working class. However, he did analyze the class struggle as a political struggle.

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>It is true the book is captivating and needs to be discussed. However, I feel the need to raise a question; can the exchange of people alone solve the issue inequality and exploitation in the society?  What do I mean? Marx, proposed a formula in which the proletarians are in power, but what about the ruling class which is going to be in oppressed then. Will it not be a mere reoccurrence of history? This seems to be a major question to be addressed in the book and in the history of Communism.

Book Review: Zatti: A Biography

Lappin, Peter. Zatti: A Biography. Mumbai: Tejprasarii Don Bosco Communications

Source: Libary

It is a life that inspired many and a life that will inspire many. We can sum up our lives as a collection of choices that we make. If the choice is good the result will be also so. The life of Bl. Artemis Zatti was one filled with the good choice, and for the once so close to God, namely the poor.

He was born in Botetto, Italy in 12 October 1880. Later he decided to become a Salesian and to dedicate his life for the young youth. Deep was this desire he entered the Salesian seminary in Bernal on 12 April 1990 with a strong desire to become a Priest. But God had different plans for him. However he could not go ahead with his studies due to his sickness and he was sent to Viedma there he becomes a Salesian Brother and started to take care of the new hospital that was started.

The love for the poor and he desire to serve who are sick becomes his sole aim in life. He was not worried about the payments and the money needs to be spent for the poor rather he really saw Christ in every person who sought his help. The doctors testify that Zatti had a special grace to heal the sick most often the patients abandoned by all the other doctors would be healed by the care of Zatti.

All his life he dedicated for the service of the poor. After 40 years of work when Government decided to pull down his hospital building he stood calm taking all the pain by himself, obedient to the will of his superiors.

His life is a model to the young generation and a great model for every Salesian bother.

Some Quotes…

“It is your duty to call me and it is my duty to go” (33)

If only the people with the money would let some of it go! As long as I life I’ll never understand the rich. Many of them hold on so tightly to their money they won’t spend it even on themselves! But why? Money of itself is useless. It has to be put to good use; otherwise, it’s as it didn’t exist. (36)

Without the Blessed Sacrament what’s left? (44)

Book Review: A New Paradigm for Youth Ministry Today

Arokiaswami Alphonse. A New Paradigm for Youth Ministry Today. Bangalore: SFS, 2011. Xvi+200pp. Price 195.00 ISBN: 978-81-85376-81-3.

Source: Library

             Arockiaswami Alphonse, MSFS holds a Licentiate in Pastoral Theology and specialization in Youth Ministry and Catechetics. He is known for his retreats and seminars for youth and the seminarians. The work under review is ‘A New Paradigm for Youth Ministry Today’. It is an attempt to draw out some of the unique qualities, attitudes and approaches of St. Francis De sales, as presented in his life and work, and to set them as a model for youth ministry in the Church today.

            The book is divided into 4 chapters. Chapter one studies the youth situation, it analyses the connection of the youth with religion, mass media, authority, values and politics. The hedonistic tendencies are noted among the teenagers and young people of every major city. The mass media and politics have such an influence that “the kids are big business today and big business needs youngsters to be vulnerable for their fashions and addictions”. Education has become a product in the commercial market. The call is to realize the internal self worth to experience the true human dignity. It is very true that no one can ignore the fact that the religions have a role in the life of people. The youth in a special way look for ideals and models in the Church and in the leaders of the Church, which at time not finding upto their expectation, develops in them a negative attitude. So, the tendencies are more in them to move towards hero worship and lose their worth in themselves.

            Chapter two is a short study of the life of St. Francis De Sales. It analyses his life sketch to show the impact of loving kindness and patience that he practised in his life. His spirituality of love expresses to us that “he was in love, he was born in love, he was made to love and lived for human love”. He was a model for optimism   (a very important quality to work with youth) which flows form the Christian humanism (the original sin has weakened the human race but the grace of Christ restores it). He celebrated the human person as the marvel of the redeemed nature and strongly believed in the goodness of human being. The genuine relationship that he made with the other and his ability to guide the young through spiritual guidance, his growing intimacy with God, his unforgettable personal presence and his gentle, humble , friendly, encouraging, and inspiring presence made him an authentic human, a model for all spiritual guides for the ages to come.

            Chapter three flashes light into the terms youth and ministry. Since 1985 after the declaration of international youth year there was a deeper understanding of the importance of youth. Church has also placed it as one of her important missions; late Pope John Paul II was very outgoing in his dealing with youth. The book understands the term ministry from the Biblical, post-apostolic and from the Second Vatican point of view. The scope of the youth ministry is broadened by the understanding of the Youth Ministry as “With Youth, By Youth, To youth and For youth”. The goal of youth ministry is to enhance the life of the young and to form them to be responsible participants in life, mission and work of the faith community. Church achieves this goal through various components such as word of God, Prayer and Worship, Community Life, Guidance and Healing, etc. Basic humanness, sound theological knowledge and the social political awareness are must for the effective functioning of the youth ministers.

            Chapter four can be recognized as the core of the book. It presents St. Francis De Sales as the model for youth ministry par excellence. The chapter discusses and puts together the concepts recognised in the first and in the second chapters. The qualities of St. Francis De Sales are considered as remedies for today’s youth problems. The optimism of St. Francis De Sales helps to have a positive outlook on Youth. The Gentleness of St. Francis De Sales helps to the sensitive task of empowering the young. Acquiring the friendly nature of St. Francis De Sales helps Youth Ministers to walk with the young with a pastoral heart. St. Francis De Sales as spiritual director could be a very good model for the Youth ministers today. The author knowing the need of a model for youth presents St. Francis De Sales to all the youth as a model worthy imitation.

            The book has a flow of thought and has a detailed table of contents. It also contains a very elaborate bibliography on youth ministry. The author has done a remarkable job in presenting St. Francis De Sales as a model for youth ministry. I think this work is a need of the time. I recommend this book to all youth ministers for forming themselves after the heart of St. Francis De Sales and for all youth to find a beautiful model in St. Francis De Sales to face the challenges of the time.

Book Review: The Pope and The CEO

Andreas Widmer. The Pope & the CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard. Emmaus Road Publishing, 2011. Xiii+155 pp. ISBN: 978-19-31018-76-0

Source: Library

It was a The Pope and the CEOwonderful experience to read The Pope and the CEO. The book is one of easy reading and it has logical and gradual development.
The book says the story of a Swiss Guard (Andreas Widmer) who had the fortune of protecting St. John Paul II in his early 20s. Being a guard he had numerous opportunities to deal personally with the Holy Father, however, the Holy Father also could not miss his tallest guard (as St. JP II calls him). Later, leaving the Vatican, Widmer, moved on to US to study international business. Here, worked several companies, after a long time he finds the meaninglessness of the life that he is living. The feeling of being lost leads to question the path he was on. The book is a reflection that he makes. His stories of John Paul II’s impact on his life were fascinating and inspiring.
“Go and bring Chris into the world” was the advice of St. JP II when left the guards. His self-questioning eventually led to a radical life change, back to serving Christ first. Today Widmer radically does so, having now founded SEVEN (Social Equity Venture Fund) which is a virtual non-profit entity run by entrepreneurs whose strategy is to markedly increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty.

The power and depth of the Widmer’s book can be captured in a few key excerpts:

Life is vocational – vocare, “to call,” vocation is a calling not a career, and we have to listen to the promptings of God to discern the unique thing God has in mind for my life. Each life is a drama playing within the larger Cosmic drama of God’s creative, redemptive, and sanctifying purposes.
Things have a purpose, even things that seem random or accidental. Nothing in our lives is a coincidence but rather an aspect of divine providence that we do not understand yet. If we look at life this way, we will not succumb to the most deadening of temptations – boredom.
Expectations – “Don’t ever settle for anything less than the spiritual and moral greatness the grace of God makes possible in your life. You will fail, we all do. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep trying. But do not settle for being less than the noble human being – leader and exemplar – you can be. Christians call this nobility sanctity.”
John Paul II said poverty was not so much dollars a day, but the exclusion from networks of productivity and exchange. Networks of productivity and exchange can take many forms: internet access, internet marketplaces, cell phones, schools, health networks, infrastructure.
The human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Love, not the desire to maximize pleasure, should be the source of all actions, the good of the person is primary focus and “Measuring Stick.”
Real freedom isn’t freedom from restrictions from the outside. Real freedom is the freedom to love and give ourselves fully. We are most free when we give ourselves most fully, fulfill ourselves most effectively.
Model it yourself—You cannot create a corporate culture of responsibility and innovation unless you have modeled those behaviors for your employees. You cannot allow yourself to become distracted, unfocused, or lazy as the person ultimately responsible for your business’ future. You have to be willing to do the hard work and make hard choices, and you actually have to do both. If you don’t, nobody else will.
A company exists for two reasons: to satisfy the needs of its customers and to enable its employees and investors to earn a living while using their God-given gifts and talents in service to others. It must serve both not at the expense of the other.
A business is life-giving when people participate in God’s creative power; it provides mutual support when it legitimately fulfills a legitimate customer’s needs. (the points are originally taken from https://catholicbusinessjournal.biz/content/book-review-pope-and-ceo-written-former-swiss-guard)

The inspiring life of St. John Paul II lead Widmer from the slumber of life to the newness of grace may this book lead many to be real leaders of the world.

Saint Thomas Aquinas –The Dumb Ox

Chesterton, G. K. St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox.  ISBN13: 9781450516358

Source: Library

The Dumb Ox is a biographical sketch of the 13th century Dominican Friar St. Thomas Aquinas. A large focus of the book is to interest modern readers in St. Thomas; it is rather a simple work on the philosopher. 

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G.K. Chesterton begins little book by comparing St. Thomas with St. Francis. He argues that, in spite of the differences between the two, they were both doing the same thing. They were both part of the “great medieval movement”. However Thomas “loved books and lived on books” (21), and he thanked God, and said “I understood every page that I ever read” (21). What St. Thomas did for the life of the mind, St. Francis did for the life of the world. St. Thomas saved us from being Platonists by baptizing Aristotle (87). “Thomas did not reconcile Christ to Aristotle rather he reconciled Aristotle to Christ” (28). “He was not bringing something new into Christianity, so to say something heathen or heretical; rather he was bridging Christianity into Christendom” (29). Appealing to Aristotle, he “… appeals to reason and the Authority of the senses” (31), he was one of the “… great liberators of the human intellect” (32). It was the core of Thomist teaching “…that reason can be trusted” (33). It was the unique contribution of St. Thomas to say that “…man is to be studied in his whole manhood; that a man is not a man without his body, just as he is not a man without his soul” (37). However it was not his idea to “divide man from God” (39) as any one reading him will dare to claim. Rather he did want to “…distinguish man from God” (39). A strong sense of human dignity and liberty, where there is much that needs to be appreciated for its noble humanistic liberty. However the upshot of this was that “very Free will or moral responsibility of man,” (39) which so many modern liberals would tend to deny. However for him “it is distinction and not division; but a man can divide himself from God, which, in a certain aspect, is the greatest distinction of all” (39). However both St. Thomas and St. Francis affirmed the Incarnation by bringing God back to earth.  Continue reading Saint Thomas Aquinas –The Dumb Ox

The Levinasian Subject: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas

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The book  entitled the ‘The Levinasian Subject: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas ’ is an attempt to encounter the concepts of Subject proposed by Emmanuel Levinas. The book has four distinct chapters with a general introduction and conclusion. The first chapter of this study presents the life and works of Levinas from the historical point of view, with mention of some of his major works and major influences. The second chapter discusses the Levinasian understanding of the Other as infinity. Infinity refers to the radical otherness, which is far from the Same. It is explored under two headings, i.e., the Same and the Other with a reference to the metaphysical tradition of the West, which tried to reduce the Other to the Same. The major part of the work is dealt with in the third chapter under the heading ‘The Levinasian Subject’. It treats the understanding of subject according to Levinas. The key concepts of Levinasian philosophy such as the Face, Responsibility, Substitution, and Relationship to the Other, etc. are discussed here. The relevance of the Levinasian subject in the present day world is explored in the fourth chapter. Considering the implications of the present day philosophies the chapter proceeds to propose the Levinasian Subject as the new subject that must be taken seriously. The dissertation concludes by pointing out the rich implication of the Levinasian philosophy especially from the point of view of the subject.

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