The Screwtape Letters

Enveloped in white and gold wrapping paper, it was laying at the bottom of the Christmas bag my best friend gave me. Ripping it open I didn’t expect to see C.S. Lewis but I picked up her copy the week before and asked if she was reading him. We had a rather short conversation on C.S. Lewis and I exclaimed that I had been wanting to read him (especially Mere Christianity) for ages. She proceeded to give me a short synopsis on The Screwtape Letters and from her description and reaction it seemed like a tempting read. And of course with my memory, I forgot all about that conversation and forgot to ask her if I could borrow it for the Christmas break.

Fast forward to Christmas day when I was ripping open my Christmas presents, I was reminded of our convincing conversation when my eyes met the cover of a fresh copy of The Screwtape Letters. Of course she got me this for Christmas, what a genius! With all interesting books that I’ve been wanting to read, I began reading right away.

Yes, I devoured the book as always.

It was everything that she had described. One particular thing I noticed was C.S. Lewis’s ability to strike up emotion by placing me (the reader) exactly in the ‘Patient’s’ shoes. Boy, this book made for a really good reality check.

The Screwtape Letters is essentially a book on temptation written in a satirical, epistolary style. It follows the letters of Uncle Screwtape, an expert demon tempter, who is writing to his inexperienced nephew, Wormwood, in regards to Wormwood’s patient. This ‘patient’ is under the ‘care‘ of Wormwood (emphasising care because at the start it seems like Screwtape and Wormwood want the best of this patient) however we come to realise that Wormwood is asking for advice in regards to how to tempt his patient.

Screwtape’s objective for his nephew is to plant tiny seeds of hate in the heart of the patient, in order to get him to their desired location, which is ultimately hell. However the patient becomes a test for Wormwood, as time after time he struggles to convince his patient of the short-lived and dangerous attractions of the dark side. Wormwood is then subject to the impatience and scrupulous demands of Screwtape.

What struck me the most was the crafty and cunning measures that Screwtape suggested and Wormwood performed on the patient. For example, the patient attends Holy Mass and Screwtape suggests that Wormwood should tempt and distract the patient by making him concentrate on minuscule factors like the woman singing out of tune, the double chin of the person standing in the opposite pew or the odd clothes that some of the church-goers wear to mass. By concentrating on these irrelevant matters, Wormwood cleverly distracts the patient from the good that is present before him.

But I mean… come on… isn’t that scary? And truthfully… haven’t we all done that before?

This chillingly relatable book makes you second-guess and re-evaluate the thoughts we have, as we are directly placed in the position of the patient. However, with that being said, we immediately think of the spiritual battle that takes place in the hearts of all people; the voice of God and the voice of evil reverberating through our minds. With this book, we are given hope but a valuable life lesson is also served.

Pray as though everything depended on God.” – St Augustine

God bless and happy reading, Irene.

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HAPPY EASTER!!

Christus Resurrexit Legit, just experienced the best liturgy in my life! I have been reading tons since February but unfortunately I haven’t been updating you guys but expect a ton of posts about the amazing books I’ve read in the last couple of months.

God bless and happy reading, Irene.

Reading hiatus is over.

Barely had the time in the last few months to update my reading adventures but I will be back here soon to tell you all the wonderful things I have read. My bestfriend and I made a deal to read a Catholic/Christian book every month to learn more about our faith. February draws to a close and I am almost finished with a book on personal prayer.

I will be back soon! I promise!

Happy reading and God bless,

Irene

Hinds’ Feet in High Places

She handed me a blue book with a picture of a deer and said it was her favourite. My insides rejoiced. I needed something to read because I was on a super long reading hiatus (life got in the way) and I didn’t know what to read next. I could have sworn God was up to something. I began reading it that very same night with a clear and determined goal to finish it however…

Life happened (lol not really, I fell asleep).

A month and a bit passed after that night and I didn’t pick up the book again. woops. It was now stuck in a pile of books next to my bed. That month and a bit passed and whilst I was cleaning my room I came across it again. I thought to myself I should really give this book a go again, the poor thing has been forgotten. There’s a really special reason why its Sr. Rita’s favourite book.

When I finished it I knew why it was her favourite.

It was an addicting read. On the way to uni (if I didn’t have any law or arts readings to do) I would be glued to the pages trying to find out the next part. In between every 30 minutes of my study sessions I would read it in my break. I swapped it for TV time. Before I went to bed, I’d read a little. Anywhere I could find time to read it, I would read it. This book reminded me of what it was like to be addicted to reading again. Kinda nerdy but hey this is my kinda fun.

Anyways, Hinds’ Feet in High Places is an allegorical Christian novel about a protagonist named ‘Much Afraid’ and her strenuous journey to the ‘High Places’ whilst accompanied by her two guardians ‘Sorrow and Suffering’. Her drive comes from her love of the ‘Shepherd’ and at times this is rigorously tested by particular trials and tribulations (especially from her family). This book reminded me a lot about my own personal spiritual journey with our Lord. I guess that’s why it was such an addicting read because it related a lot to my life. At first glance it seems like a children’s novel but looking back there is a deeper meaning. I remember reading the first couple of pages, looking back and thinking… this is way too childish for me. Although when you get past the initial pages the characters develop and you begin to realise the deeper meaning of such a simple story. I think part of the appeal of this book is its readability (is that even a word?!). The situations that ‘Much Afraid’ encounters are applicable to all ages as they are situations that we all go through.

It truly is a beautiful book and if you like cute stories that make you go ‘awwww’ or ‘that’s nice’, then this is definitely a book for you.

Happy reading and God bless,
Irene

Happy Feast Day!

Happy Feast day to St Jerome who’s quote I have used as part of my blog’s title 🙂 St Jerome is the patron saint of bible scholars, librarians, libraries, school children, students and translators which is perfect because all these things require books.
Lord, help me to have the same curiosity as St Jerome to keep reading and knowing more about you, so I can deepen my love for you. Also please help my eyes as I read these books (I really don’t want glasses haha). Amen!
When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.” – St. Jerome

Rome Sweet Home

Funny story how I actually came across this book. For almost the last two years I have been attending a Catholic university. I was looking for books at the university library for an essay I needed to write about the Bosnian genocide… I was walking and scanning the bookshelves for a book I needed to use for the essay. While I was scanning the titles on the bindings of the books, the words John Paul caught my eye.

I had a sudden epiphany.

The week before I asked my friend Mitzi if I could borrow whatever books she had that were written by Scott Hahn. We had a friend who was raving on about what a great guy he was, how great his books were etc. Plus I had been swamped in law readings and I wanted to give my heart and mind a change of scenery. At this point I was thirsting for anything I could learn about the faith and why not start with an awesome Catholic apologist?

So fast forward to my sudden epiphany in the library, I excitedly ran for my laptop, forgot about the book I needed to look for and searched for Scott Hahn on the library’s database. SUCCESS! There were so many of his works to choose from. What a blessing! It took me so long before I realised that I should be taking advantage of the fact that I’m at a Catholic university. I have the privilege of accessing so many books about my faith. Silly girl!

Anyways back to the book! Rome Sweet Home is written by Scott and Kimberly Hahn and oh boy..  let me tell you I DEVOURED this book. Their personal stories of conversion are amazing. The way that this husband/wife duo write is so engaging and even though I have never experienced their exact situation their style of writing made it applicable to my own faith. Not to mention the faith that they have in God in amazing, I commend Scott especially for seeking the will of God even if it meant having to give up his family.

The duo are really learned in their faith especially in sacred scripture. Their ability to recite the words from memory is amazing. It really made me question the time that I spend reading the bible (which is barely – I know I’m working on this lol!!) but rather than making me feel condemned because I do not know bible passages word for word, they show me how rich and blossoming the Catholic church is through the beauty of the sacraments and traditions we have. Rather, this book inspired me to keep using the sacraments frequently and really make an effort to pick up my bible and reflect on God’s word.

I’m soooo extremely excited to read more of their books! I’m so blessed to have come across it!

Happy reading and God bless,
Irene.

p.s. If me staying up till 3am trying to finish this book is not convincing enough, I don’t know what is!

True Devotion to Mary

I have been blessed enough to be introduced to St Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Last year my wonderful friend Sam linked me to an audio segment on Cradio entitled Our Queen, Our Mother – Mary’s Powerful Intercession (http://cradio.org.au/shows-and-audio/ourlady/marys-powerful-intercession/). It was the first time I had ever heard about any type of consecration to Our Lady. Like all things that take effort (being a lazy human being) I was really hesitant to take part so I delayed myself until I could get my hands on the book.

So essentially, True Devotion to Mary is a book written by St Louis de Montfort which is centred around the theme of devoting ourselves to Jesus through Mary. It is an invitation to surrender and abandon oneself in order to discover Jesus through her. The book leads to an open invitation to enter into a 33 day preparation and to consecrate oneself on the 34th day to Mary. One thing that I found really cool was selecting what day you wanted to be consecrated on. The 34th day (the day of consecration) should be one of the Marian feast days that is meaningful to you. You then select that day and prepare yourself 33 days prior.. So for example, I chose the feast day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (October 7) so I started my preparation on the 4th of September. Here’s a list of feast days plus the days that preparation starts (this came in handy when I was trying to decide on a feast day) (http://totalconsecration.ageofmary.com/marian-feasts.html). In addition to selecting a feast day, the 33 day preparation involves internalising prayers and readings that correspond to a certain theme during those weeks (http://totalconsecration.ageofmary.com/preparation-01.html).

It sounds like a really long process but I had so much fun trying to figure out what feast day I wanted to consecrate myself to. I chose the feast day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary because prior to my participation in the True Devotion to Mary I was really trying to dedicate and devote myself to praying the Rosary everyday. yes kids. E V E R Y D A Y. I was praying the Rosary on and off and I fell into a habit of only praying it when I wasn’t busy. I really noticed myself fall astray in those busy periods when I didn’t pray the Rosary. Luckily God has a way of showing us these things – I noticed the key ‘triggers’ as to why I didn’t want to pray the Rosary and key ‘triggers’ of sin. Being too busy because of studies, too tired, needing to get sleep were just a few lame reasons. When I fell out of the habit of praying the Rosary I REALLY noticed the ramifications. I felt really unworthy of consecrating myself to Mary when I could not even dedicate myself to the Rosary.

I eventually picked myself back up and really made an effort to dedicate myself… even if it meant staying up before a school (uni) night. Eventually months passed and I gradually developed a habit of praying the Rosary again… but I kept putting off the devotion. I had even bought the book… so all I had to do was read it but instead it was collecting dust with the stack of books next to my bed. I kept reasoning with myself… Irene you’re too busy… Irene you don’t have enough time for this… Irene you don’t have time to read (yeah right you love to read)… Irene you have to wait for the perfect feast day to consecrate yourself on… Irene this, Irene that. My original plan was to consecrate myself on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe but it was really far far away. I just decided to be assertive and read the book. Picking a feast day was just never going to happen if I was being too fickle. I left that in God’s hands and began to read…

One question I had throughout reading the book was ‘WHY DIDN’T I START EARLIER?’. It is so eloquently written and really opened the eyes of my heart. There were moments when St Louis’s words reduced me to tears because they were so beautiful. I would be on the train trying not to look like a crazy crying lady or alone in St Benedicts just weeping with joy because the words would hit my core. I was half way through the book when I decided to re-consider what feast day to choose. I researched and flicked through many Marian feast days.. until I came across the preparation date for Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (Sept 4). It was 3 weeks before September 4 and I was half way through the book. Thanks be to God, I challenged myself to finish it before September 4 because I deep down I knew this was the feast day God wanted me to choose.

October 7. Feast day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. 

As of today, I’m almost half way through my preparation and it’s been challenging but it has also been extremely humbling. It’s pretty indescribable until you partake in it yourself. So any fellow readers out there – give it a go! Fall in love with Our Lady so she can teach you how to love her Son like she did. Trust me, you are in great hands! I ask that you pray for me as I will be praying for you too!

Happy reading and God bless,
Irene.