Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie Review: Jack Reacher - PG13

A gunman kills 5 people, and all evidence points to him as having done it.  But when he requests Jack Reacher to investigate, Jack questions who is guilty.

 Lots of action, and violence.  Tom Cruise is excellent as Reacher. Rosamund Pike is also very good as the suspect's attorney.  

There was more plot than I expected.  There was a good blend of plot and action.  Just enough action to fit the story.  

A very good movie that is very entertaining.  

The movie is based on a book by Lee Child. Lee Child wrote 17 Jack Reacher Books. This movie is based on #9- One Shot.  You can find out more about them at his website

Friday, December 21, 2012

App Review: Eight Days: Catholic Meditations by Venerable John Henry Newman

Eight Days: Catholic Meditations by Venerable John Henry Newman By Valent Richie  

The meditations are based on the meditations composed by Venerable John Henry Newman in his book titled Meditations and Devotions.  

This app will help you to meditate every day with certain theme for each day of the week:  

Sunday: Our Lord  
Monday: Guardian Angel  
Tuesday: St. Joseph  
Wednesday: All Saints  
Thursday: The Paraclete (Holy Spirit)  
Friday: Jesus  
Saturday: Mary  

Cardinal Newman's meditations  will bring you closer to the Lord not only through prayer, but also by preparing you, in steps,  for speaking to and listening to the Lord.  

There is an easy setting to adjust the text to your desired size.  
There is an alert you can set to remind yourself daily at your preferred time.  

Here are a couple of screen shots from the App: 

The Eight Days App is available in iTunes HERE.
It is FREE App.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

App Review: Catholic Meditations on Purgatory By Valent Richie

App Review:  Catholic Meditations on Purgatory By Valent Richie  

Most of us know how important it is to pray for the souls in purgatory.  This app helps you to do just that;  it contains 31 days of meditations on purgatory.  It also includes some indulgenced prayers.  (indulgences reduce your time in purgatory). A few of the topics covered are:   
  • The Saints in Heaven 
  • The Justice of Purgatory
  • The Sorrows of Purgatory
  • How to Avoid Purgatory
There is an alert you can set to remind you each day at your preferred time. Here are a couple of screen-shots from the App:



This is a very useful App for a very important devotion.  

You can get the Catholic Meditations on Purgatory App on iTunes HERE. It is a FREE App.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Nativity - THE BIBLE

The Nativity -- From producers Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank, Celebrity Apprentice) and Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel), a first glimpse at the epic minseries THE BIBLE. 3-3-13: The Bible Comes to Life. Like us on Facebook at 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Navigating the Interior Life

     The spiritual battle rages, day by day. In the bigger picture it’s obvious--heaven vs. hell; God, his angels, and saints vs. the devil.  In the mundane however, it often escapes us. There’s no question we want to one day be with God in heaven for all eternity, but getting there is a moment-by-moment journey, and as they say, the devil is in the details.

     For Catholics seeking holiness, some tools are obvious—Mass, prayer and the sacraments. But it is the little things that can trip us up and leave us wondering: How can I do better to live a holier life?

New apps aimed to help parents to choose the name of their children

Three new apps aim to make it easier for expect parents to choose between Christian names for their children, and to help youth choose a saint for their confirmation.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New picture books by Jane Yolen feature friendly dragons

Review of Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen, Paintings by Derek Anderson, 2012, Simon and Schuster.

“Don’t forget to wake the dragons before school,” says a note from Mom.  A little boy, dressed as a knight, enters a room/cave with his dog.  They climb a ladder to a giant bed, and proceed to wake the dragons.  The dragons are both friendly and sleepy, gradually becoming lively; they appropriately tumble the boy and his dog as they rise from their slumber. 

Derek Anderson’s colorful paintings will appeal to youngsters and parents alike.  With humorous illustrations, the boy is shown brushing a dragon’s teeth, feeding them breakfast, and getting them dressed.  The dragons kiss their mom goodbye and fly, carrying the boy to “Knight School”, where he says goodbye and they fly away.  The paintings are accompanied by Jane Yolen’s short, rhyming lines that use active words to keep children engaged.

This is a clever and creative book from a master storyteller who never ceases to amaze us, well matched by beautiful paintings that will keep children absorbed and encourage them to use their imagination.  The intended reading audience is children 4 to 8.  I read this picture book with my six year old and we agreed it will make a nice gift for her three-year-old cousin. For more information visit Simon and Schuster.

For the 3 and under set, just in time for the Holiday season are Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? And How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?, new titles in Jane Yolen’s bestselling How Do Dinosaurs series illustrated by Mark Teague and published by Blue Sky Press/Scholastic.

Friday, December 7, 2012

App Review: Catholic Novena to Fourteen Holy Helpers

Catholic Novena to Fourteen Holy Helpers By Valent Richie  

This Novena has an Imprimatur.  

These are the 14 Saints referred to as the Holy Helpers, because they have proved themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties.  There is a story behind that, which is also included in the App.  

St. Agathius (Acacius): Against headache
St. Barbara: Against fever and sudden death
St. Blaise (Blase, Blasius): Against illness of the throat and for protection of domestic animals
St. Catherine of Alexandria: Against sudden death
St. Christopher (Christophorus): Against bubonic plague and dangers while traveling
St. Cyriacus: Against temptation on the death-bed
St. Denis (Dionysius): Against headache
St. Erasmus (Elmo): Against intestinal ailments
St. Eustace (Eustachius, Eustathius): Against family discord
St. George (Georgius): For the health of domestic animals
St. Giles (Aegidius): Against plague, for a good confession, and for cripples, beggars and blacksmiths
St. Margaret of Antioch: During childbirth, and escape from devils
St. Pantaleon (Panteleimon): For physicians, and against cancer & tuberculosis
St. Vitus: Against epilepsy, lightning and for protection of domestic animals

There is a novena prayer for each of them, and a 9 day novena to all of them.  
There are also specific prayers for the sick, for children and for parents.  

This novena is an excellent way to request the intercession of these great Saints.  Here are a couple of screen shots from the App:

You can get the Holy Helpers App in iTunes HERE.  

There is also a FREE Lite version available HERE.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Movie Review: The Greatest Miracle - PG

 The Greatest Miracle focuses on three people in need.  Each of them is drawn to Mass and at Mass, they gain a better understanding of what truly happens at Mass.   They also learn how important Mass is, and how to better participate in it.  

They also learn a lot about Guardian Angels, and how they help us, even during Mass.  

Needless to say, they are greatly impacted by their new understanding of, and appreciation for, the Mass.  But it wasn't as much about their stories as it was informing the viewer about the Mass.  

This movie is a little over an hour, and I was surprised at how much information about  Catholic beliefs, specifically the Mass and our Guardian Angels, was included in it.

  I find myself with a greater appreciation for the Mass.  If you only go to Mass at Christmas and Easter, or if you find weekly Mass "boring",  PLEASE WATCH THIS MOVIE!

Pediatrician publishes board books for young children to encourage active exploration

Are you searching for the perfect board book to give to an infant or toddler? Beach, by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Andrea Kang, might fit the bill.  Winner of  Mom's Choice Gold Medal and Creative Child Book of the Year, Beach is the latest addition to the Baby Unplugged series published by Blue Manatee Press.  The purpose of the series is to encourage hands-on early learning and play through books.  The series titles to date include BallBeachBlanketBookBox, Pets, and Yard.

Beach features Kang’s happy, brightly colored pictures that show children and animals playing, sharing, laughing, making music, and sleeping.  The objects they play with include sand, shells, balls, animals, snorkels, buckets, water, and a wagon.  They explore the sand and water.  They examine and observe shells, lobsters, fish, dolphins, and turtles. Scenic backgrounds include the boardwalk, sand, and water at the beach, with a happy sun in the sky.  The simple, rhyming text describes the dry and wet sand, shells of many shapes and sizes, salty ocean, swaying palm trees, and hatching turtles.

Beach and the other books in the Baby Unplugged series use happy images and simple, rhyming text to encourage children to explore the real world using all of their senses.  The concept is rooted in research on how children’s brains develop.  “It’s incredible that we have to remind people to reconnect with the real world . . . real-world experiences are critical during sensitive developmental stages.” says Hutton, who is opposed to the overuse of television and technological games for children.

On Dr. Hutton’s blog, Baby Unplugged (, he makes the points that the best gifts are those that follow the Photo Principle – they inspire the taking of photographs – and the Memory Principle – they build memories.  The giving of books with real pages that youngsters can handle and look at, and share with their loved ones, is a great tradition for Christmas, birthdays, and other gift giving occasions.

I read this book with my six-year-old.  We live on Long Island and love to frequent the ocean beaches here.  We enjoyed the book, and we agreed it will make the perfect gift for her baby cousin, who lives in the center of the continental United States and does not get to see the beach often.

For more information or to order visit the Blue Manatee Books website at

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

App Review: Catholic Meditations on St. Joseph By Valent Richie

Since St. Joseph is my favorite Saint, I was happy to review this App :)  

This App includes 31 days of meditation on, and prayers to, St. Joseph.  
Each day is a different event relating to St. Joseph's life (including his 7 sorrows and 7 joys).
I especially liked the discussion of his importance in the lives of Mary and Jesus.  

Each day has preparatory meditations and suggestions for intercessions.  

You can set a daily alert to remind you at the time that is best for you.

Here are a couple of screen shots from the App:

This is a great way to get close to the man to whom God entrusted his own Son and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  You can get the St. Joseph App on iTunes HERE.
It is a FREE App.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Movie Review: Life of Pi - PG

16 year-old Pi is on a ship with his family on the way to a better life in America.   After their shipwreck, Pi is left alone in a rescue boat with a bengal tiger.  

Pi must figure out how to survive, as well as how to co-exist with the tiger, whom he names Richard Parker.  

One thing that struck me: Earlier  in his life, Pi is reading about different religions and practices three of them.  During this, his father said to him "Believing in three religions is the same as not believing in any".  I really agree with this.  He ended up Catholic :)    Pi not only asks God for help, but remembers when to thank him.

The two main themes are mutual trust, and mutual dependency.    Also the lesson of "do unto others as you'd have done to you".   The story is captivating, and well-told.   I found myself wondering not only what would happen next,  but also how their relationship would evolve.  

A very good movie that you'll enjoy...I particularly recommend the 3D version, if it's at your theater.  The special effects are also excellent.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage
Cheryl Dickow, Author
 Bezalel Books, Publisher
Reviewed by Christine Capolino

            A gem in the crown of quality Christian  offerings from Bezalel Books, Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage, will inform you,  captivate you,  inspire you.  If only it didn’t have to end. 

            Mrs. Dickow’s  colorful, yet realistic characters  will grip and endear you. Their flaws are our flaws. Their strengths, our strengths. They struggle to relate to each other and to live fully Christian lives, honoring the Lord and each other as much as possible. Feeling, at times, as if they have failed the ones they love and feeling failed, themselves. Yet recognizing the blessing of being the Lord’s servant at all times.

            Page after page, you will ask yourself how the author could possibly know you so well. Your innermost thoughts,  your soul. Being immersed in the lives of Beth and Luke as well as Beth’s newfound friends in Jerusalem, The Goldfarbs and a few other caring souls,  will serve to enrich and enlighten us all.

             So too, the author draw us into her protagonist’s journey of the soul through her descriptions. The vividness descriptions of the historical settings as well as attention to details, as in  the layout of Beth’s Jerusalem apartment, create a novel which rivals any on the bestseller list. Plot surprises, also, will keep you riveted to Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage far into the night.

            Our story begins as Beth, feeling unappreciated by her husband and four kids for far too long,  plans an adventure, a pilgrimage, in Israel, a place whose history has appealed to her as her “fascination with the Jewish roots of their faith was unquenchable.”

            Beth’s midlife, solo quest does offer peace of mind and relaxation. Equally important though, as she walks in the footsteps of Christ to Golgotha and as she humbly relives and relearns her Faith, are the friends she meets along the way.  Friends who have  known each other but a short time, yet display true compassion  in the face of adversity and an honest comfort level as well. You too, may close the book wishing that you had friends as loyal (and fun) as our heroine Beth, and her new but lifelong friends, Miriam and Rachel.

            “Resources and Reflections” at  the end of Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage will equip the reader with further information around our Jewish beginnings,  such as  the many names of God,  Sabbath traditions and recipes for traditional Jewish dishes such as falafel and Tabouli.   Incredibly practical and located within this section,  Mrs. Dickow  furnishes Biblical references and a handful of prayer suggestions to coordinate with various chapters.

            Looking for a beautiful Christmas or advent gift? A gift to honor the Year of Faith? Celebrate the gift of true friendship and the gift of our Faith with Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage.
            Once you have  enjoyed Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage, you will want to delve into Mrs. Dickow’s other titles. Among them: Our Jewish Roots and    Reclaiming Your Christian Self in a Secular World: A Women’s Bible Study .

            Please visit the beautiful for more information, to peruse all of Bezalel's lovely offerings,  or to request Cheryl Dickow as a speaker at your upcoming event.          

Friday, November 30, 2012

App Review: Catholic Meditations on the Life of Mary

This App contains 31 daily meditations on the life of Mary.  

The short meditations are intended especially for the Month of May or October, though they may be used at any time.

 In addition to these meditations there are Introductory prayers, and there is an indulgence attached to this devotion  
There is a daily alert you can set to remind yourself at your preferred time.  

Here are a couple of screen-shots from the App:


This App will help bring you closer to Mary by developing a better understanding of her life.
Catholic Meditations on the Life of Mary is designed for both iPhone and iPad.

 You can get the App on iTunes in the App store HERE.  
There is also a FREE lite version available HERE.

Book Review: "Dogs of War" by Kathleen Kinsolving

This entertaining collection of dog stories features the following three dogs:

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt - Fala (Scottish Terrier)  
FDR taught him to stand on his hind legs whenever "The Star Spangled Banner" was played.  Fala traveled everywhere with FDR.  For the most part, FDR was the only one allowed to feed Fala by hand after Fala had gotten ill from eating too much rich food.  Fala even dis every trick he 
 knew to impress Winston Churchill.  

General George S. Patton - Willie (Bull Terrier)    
General Patton found Willie in England during World War II.  He the was the General's constant companion, but Willie was not fond of other dogs.  He even had a brief skirmish with the next featured dog, Telek when Eisenhower visited Patton.  

General Dwight D. Eisenhower = Telek (Scottie)  
Telek was named after Telegraph Cottage, a vacation spot, and  and Kay, his driver, with whom he became good friends.  The extent of their relationship is not detailed, but he did say to her  "I don't know what I'd do without you".  As with the other two dogs,  Telek was Ike's constant companion, and he was known to leave "puddles" in inconvenient places.   Telek was also interviewed for a newspaper. :)

 I grew up owning dogs, but you do NOT have to be a dog lover to appreciate these heartwarming, entertaining stories of three well-known dogs and the companionship they provided to their owners. A very endearing book that also includes photos of the three, which makes it easier to relate to their stories.


App Review: Catholic Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Catholic Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary By Valent Richie  

I had not heard of this particular devotion, but it is prescribed by St. Louis de Montford.

 It consists of 3 crowns of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Excellence, Power and Goodness).  

There is an introductory prayer, one Our Father and four Hail Mary's for each crown, and a 1-sentence prayer after each Hail Mary.  
  • All prayers are written out for those who may not know them by heart.
  • You can set a daily alert to remind you at your preferred time.
  • Navigation is easy, and it directs you through the whole devotion.
Here are a couple of screen-shots from the App:



A very useful tool for an important devotion.  

The Little Crown App app is designed for both iPhone and iPad.  

You can get it on iTunes, in the App store HERE.

It is a FREE App.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

App Review: Adventus: Daily Catholic Meditations for Advent and 12 Days of Christmas

Adventus: Daily Catholic Meditations for Advent and 12 Days of Christmas  by Valent Richie  

I can hardly believe that it's almost Advent again :) If you feel the same, this App will help you prepare  during Advent for the birth of our Lord.  

There is a preparatory prayer and meditation for each day.  
I was a bit surprised that the first few days' meditation discussed the last judgement, but I especially liked the focus on repentance.  There is also some reference to the teachings of St. John the Baptist.  The daily meditations focus on how we can best prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas.  

You can set up a daily reminder for the time that is best for you.  

The daily  meditations continue beyond Advent and include the 12 days of Christmas, up to and including January 5.  

Here are a couple screen-shots from the App:


A very appropriate and useful tool to use during Advent to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. 

Adventus is designed for both iPhone and iPad.    

You can get the App on iTunes in the App store HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

App Review: Scriptural Rosary By Valent Richie

One of the best ways to stay close to God is to pray the Rosary regularly.  
This App helps you do that with the following features:
  • You can set an alert to remind you at your preferred time.
  • Each set of mysteries is identified with the day(s) on which it should be prayed.
  • All prayers are written out (Apostles' Creed,  Our Father, Hail Mary, etc.) for those who may not know them by heart.
  • Each mystery and each Hail Mary are preceded by the relevant  scripture verse.
  • Navigation is easy, and you can progress at the pace with which you are most comfortable.
Here are a couple of screen-shots from the App:

The Scriptual Rosary App is a valuable spiritual tool.
It is designed for both iPhone and iPad.  
You can get the App on iTunes. HERE.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Music Review: Advent at Ephesus

I can hardly believe it is almost Advent again :), but this CD really helps prepare you for Advent and the birth of our Lord.  

The sisters' voices are crystal-like and they combine to produce a beautiful,  inspiring, uplifting blend of chant and Christmas hymns.  

To be honest,  I only recognized a couple of the titles as 'Christmas' hymns, but the others are instantly recognizable as being about our Lord's birth, and a couple are about the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

My favorite hymns are "Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth" and "O Come Divine Messiah".

 I highly recommend this CD to prepare you for Christmas! You can get it at the sites below, or on Amazon.  Below is a sample from the CD.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Movie Review: Lincoln - PG13

President Lincoln is trying to pass the 13th amendment, end slavery, end the Civil War and re-unite the country.

  Most of the story takes place in the House of Representatives, where Lincoln and his allies believe that passing the 13th amendment (the Senate has already passed it) abolishing slavery will help accomplish his goals.  The political maneuverings of the time are much like we'd see today.

  A very well-told story. The prejudice  of the time is so strong it is almost a caricature of the racist stereotype.  

Daniel Day-Lewis is EXCELLENT in his role as Lincoln. I especially enjoyed his interaction with his family, his wife (Sally Field was very good as Mary Todd Lincoln) and two sons.

 Content warnings include language (use of the 'n' word), and and a couple of gory scenes from the war. A very good quality movie.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage

Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage
by Cheryl Dickow
Waterford, MI: Bezalel Books, 2012

In honor of the Year of Faith, Bezalel Books has rereleased Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. This inspiring novel by Cheryl Dickow focuses on Beth, a woman in the midst of a mid-life crisis. She is the mother of teenagers, her marriage is struggling, and being a middle-school teacher is no longer offering any inspiration. “Her ache for what life hadn’t yet held was becoming almost unbearable at times.” What middle-age woman can’t relate to that pain? 

Beth goes on a journey to Israel to help her sort out what she wants out of life. Sitting on the plane to begin her journey, “she was already getting deliciously lost in the silence that surrounded her and felt as if she could, for the first time in ages, hear her own thoughts. There were no televisions on in the background, no kids arguing with each other, no one calling her name. If there was a still, small voice wanting to speak to her, she would finally be able to listen.”

Upon arriving in Israel, she meets the Goldfarbs, her hosts for the duration. During her two-week stay, they welcome her as family, introduce her to the culture, and she will suffer with them as they experience unspeakable pain. By the time she returns home, her life is forever changed, and she does indeed find what she needs. 

Elizabeth: A Holy Land Journey offers an education in the sights, sounds, and holy places of the Holy Land as well as Jewish traditions. It also speaks to the universal restlessness in a woman’s heart. It is a novel well-worth spending some quality time with.

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, November 12, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall - PG13

James Bond is back, and so is an agent from M's past, who threatens not only her, but all of MI6, the British Secret Service.  Bond must  protect M,  track him down and stop him before he completes his mission.

A good storyline, and plenty of action.  I'm not a big fan of  Daniel Craig, but he is especially good in Skyfall.

Content warnings include some violence and a shower scene (no nudity).  

One of the best Bond films to-date.  Definitely see it!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: O Radiant Dawn

O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath
by Lisa Hendey
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2012
It’s hard to believe but Advent is right around the corner. Are you searching for a meaningful Advent practice to bring more faith and spiritual growth into this busiest of seasons? “O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath” may be just what you are looking for.
Hendey, founder of and best-selling writer of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, offers a series of twenty-eight short reflections, one for each day of Advent. The title of the booklet comes from one of the “O Antiphons” of Advent: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, son of justice; come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” It is a reminder to reflect on the glory of God’s majesty, a majesty we often miss when we are preoccupied with ever-growing to-do lists.
She has designed the prayers to be used around the Advent wreath. As she writes, “The wreath’s simple circle of evergreens represents the never-ending promise of eternal life. Upon the wreath or in its middle we arrange four candles – three purple and one rose. The purple candles mark the solemn tone of the season and call us to wait patiently, eyes set on Christ. The rose candle marks our great joy as Christmas approaches.” While an Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol (with small children, my family uses a paper version), the prayers contained within this book can certainly be used without one.
The prayers and reflections can be used by individuals or by families. Each day offers a short gathering prayer, a relevant Scripture passage, a reflection and closing prayer. An added bonus is that Hendey offers a separate reflection for those with younger children. For those able and wishing to spend more than five minutes, the questions for reflection can offer much to ponder and perhaps journal about.
“O Radiant Dawn” is truly a great gift in a small package. It would be a perfect devotional to make available in large numbers to parish communities. Those who use it will find their Advent season to be greatly enhanced, with the emphasis placed first where it rightly belongs – on the coming of Christ.