Thursday, April 20, 2017

Justice and Truth: To Kill a Mockingbird


by Harper Lee

This book is recommended for Level 4 (8th grade) by Mater Amabilis, which would be First Son's level next year. There's a note encouraging parents to read the text first to determine if it is appropriate. It is, of course, the story of the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. As with far too many "classics," this is a book I never read but it has been on my list, so I requested it from the library.

Written from the point of view of young Scout, the book explores overt and subtle racism. I've decided First Son will read it, but I'm going to make a reading journal for him where I'll ask him to record his thoughts in response to questions I'll pose (probably not for every chapter). Set in the 1930s, many of the characters who are less racist are actually still quite racist by today's standards. Among other things I want to be able to tease this out a little with my son.

My reading of this book prompted a little discussion on the Mater Amabilis facebook page. Thinking about this book myself, I was concerned about the possibility of First Son (and later my girls) internalizing the idea of a woman who falsely accuses someone of rape. This topic is sensitive and there are certainly false accusations, but I'd like my children to give accusers the benefit of the doubt and let those in authority make determinations of fault. In addition, I wanted my girls to feel safe talking with me or someone else if they felt like someone was taking advantage of them. One of the very wise moms in the group pointed out that Tom (the accused) is really the one who isn't believed despite the evidence. We can use this part of the novel to talk about how those who are generally powerless slash out at others and how whether we believe someone can initially depend more on context and prejudices than facts and truth.

This is yet another book I look forward to sharing with First Son next year.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Heeding God's Call: Cosmas or the Love of God


by Pierre de Calan
translated by Peter Hebblethwaite

This novel explores the vocation of a potential novice at a monastery. Through multiple crises, he and his spiritual advisors wonder, "Is the consecrated life at this monastery his vocation?" Through the conversations and challenges, the reader is led to explore the meaning of vocation and how it might be discovered.

James Martin, SJ, writes in the introduction of the thoughts that rise in his mind as he reads this book:
The questions upon which the novel turns are: What is a vocation? Is a vocation something that you feel God is calling you to do? And, if you feel drawn to a particular vocation but discover that you cannot do it, does it follow that God is now asking you not to do it?
Whole lives--single, married, vowed, ordained--have been spent pondering those difficult questions. Does unhappiness in a religious community mean that one should leave? Or is fidelity and perseverance the answer? Likewise, does unhappiness in a job, in a friendship, or in a marriage mean that one should switch careers, sever a relationship, or even end a marriage?
 The narrator of the novel was the novice master when Cosmas approached the monastery. He writes with compassion and ambivalence about Cosmas's vocation. The book is in the form of letters to a non-Catholic who had visited the monastery.
A vocation is not open to empirical investigation. The Lord is relentless when he wants to enlist someone in his service; but his is also incredibly self-effacing. One cannot possibly understand the signs of a vocation unless one remembers that God, because he is love, woos souls with all the delicacy and shyness of a lover. Even those who, like myself, can say that they have never had the slightest doubt about their vocation, still feel overwhelmed and at a loss to explain exactly what this means. For here contradictory truths, inaccessible to ordinary human logic, come together: there is a sense of being led by someone stronger than oneself, and yet of remaining free; the feeling that the voice that calls us will never fall silent, that it will pursue us in season and out of season, and yet that it is within our power at any given moment not to heed it; the understanding that God has need of our cooperation to lead us wherever he desires.
One of the problems Cosmas encountered was realizing the imperfections of the other men in the monastery. This startling revelation is just as common for newly married couples and priests. A vocation is still lived by a man or a woman, sinfully but hopefully.
They have to learn that they will not find in monastic life and its Rule a ready-made peace and perfection, but that monastic life and the Rule are rather a road toward peace and perfection that each one has to take at his own pace. They have to learn to accept and to love their neighbor as he is, knowing that the help and example of other people will inevitably and to some extent be flawed and disappointing; and that everyone has to find his own original way forward, which will depend on his personal relationship with God rather than the imitation of someone else. 
It's common within a vocation to experience times of stress and struggle, but sometimes people are just as disturbed by times of quiet dullness. Yet the narrator affirms the value in small ordinary sacrifices.
The life of the community reflected the weather: nothing very outstanding happened; there was no particular mood to record. I was sometimes reminded of the sense of grayness and routine that Cosmas had found so dispiriting. And yet every day prayer and praise, acts of renunciation, humble tasks accomplished in obedience, repugnances mastered, clashes of mood or superficial irritations overcome by charity--all these rose up to the Lord. And God, who had called us to this life, no doubt found them good.
In the end, and this is revealed within the first few pages of the novel, Cosmas dies before he can complete his novitiate. Near the end of the novel, the Father Abbot is talking with the novice master about Cosmas and the continued uncertainty about his vocation.
"The vocation of a Bach or a Mozart seems to be beyond all question because of the wonderful music they produced. But in the sight of God, have they any more value than that of any other musician, without their talent and grace, who has heard an inner call and tried to answer it until death? Those who suffer from this gap between their aspirations and their attainments--and whom we cruelly call failures--are perhaps less deceived about their talent than we imagine. But in their eyes the sense of inadequacy, of getting nowhere, and their failures, do not relieve them of the responsibility to keep on trying, unweariedly through in vain..."
In this novel, the reader can find real men struggling to live a difficult vocation within a monastery, but the examples within the pages can be applied to those of us attempting to live our vocation, wherever we are. It was a pleasure to read.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Latin Humor and Dedication: Good-bye Mr. Chips

by James Hilton

This book is recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 4, as a classic of twentieth-century literature. It's a rather brief book, describing a beloved teacher at a boys' boarding school in England. His tenure extends through multiple heads of the school, including his own service in that role after his retirement during World War I. The war itself is far away, but touches the school and its students in the deaths of its instructors and former students as well as bombings by German planes. Mr. Chips endures it all with his steady fortitude and good humor. In my favorite scene, he continues to lead his Latin class during a bombing, making quiet jokes and assigning lines from Caesar about the fighting style of Germans.

I'm looking forward to First Son reading this book next year in Level 4, eighth grade.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Prince Edward Island Perfection: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

My ten-year-old daughter is reading the Anne books right now. Inspired by her interest, I picked up the first book of the series to read it again myself. I probably haven't read any Anne books in decades but I was delighted at how perfectly it stood the test of time and maturity. I loved it as much or more than when I was a girl.

So if you've never read it or haven't in years, pick it up again!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

2017 February and March Bird Lists

American Dipper in Wyoming, not Kansas
We have recently acquired a stand for more bird feeders and have been enjoying the increased traffic outside our kitchen windows. We added a little finch feeder (like these) and a suet feeder. (The bird bath, however, blew away within a day or two in the our breezy Kansas country.) Second Daughter has also been delightedly choosing recipes from Cooking for the Birds.

Here are some of the bird sightings we've had:

February

  • the ubiquitous red-tailed hawk
  • red-bellied woodpecker
  • blue jay
  • cardinal
  • house finch
  • house sparrow
  • song sparrow
  • white-crowned sparrow (These are usually seen in brushy areas adjacent to open country rather than a backyard bird feeder, but you can apparently attract them if you keep the areas near your house brushy and wild, as we have done.)
  • Harris's sparrow
  • ruby-crowned kinglet
  • Eastern meadowlark (only heard near home; but spotted along the roadside)

March - much of the same and also...

  • horned lark (wandering the yard, not at our feeder)
  • red-winged blackbirds
  • robins (usually in our backyard rather than the feeder)
  • Northern mockingbird
  • Eastern bluebird
  • downy woodpecker (at Grammy's house)
  • purple finch (along the roadside)
  • goldfinch (within a day of putting up our finch feeder)
  • golden eagle (a regular though unusual sight in March along a bit of road we traveled regularly)
  • common grackle
We always see a few bluebirds in the spring but they haven't stuck around. I'm contemplating installing a bluebird house or two over the winter so we might be able to attract some to nest next year.


Don't go bird watching in Kansas without The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hotspots, one of my favorite books! (Our library has lots of copies for local folks.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

First Son's Birthday Post: Thirteen Years Old

First Son turned thirteen last December so I'm only three months late getting this post written.

All First Son wanted for his birthday was an afternoon of video games with his friends, so he invited a handful of boys and developed a method for scheduling the limited Wii remotes. We served pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, chocolate chip cookie bars, and various candies. Amazingly we still had some food left; I don't think the rest of the boys eat quite as much as First Son.


His most amusing birthday gift was from a friend who found a ceramic sweet potato candy dish at a thrift store. (First Son and his friend have a weird "potato" thing.) He filled it with candy, wrapped it in aluminum foil and told him it was a baked potato. Without unwrapping the foil, First Son cheered and started to put it in the kitchen for later. His friend had to laughingly tell him he should actually open it.


First Son must love this t-shirt. He wore it for his birthday party (also his actual birthday) and his baptismal anniversary.


For his baptismal anniversary, First Son really wanted a dinner of the 8 Polish Foods of Christmas. Kansas Dad took on the challenge and received a round of applause from all the children for his efforts!

First Son likes to eat everything. One day a week, our parish hosts dinner for the middle school and high school kids. We feed him before he goes, he eats his meal, and then he usually finishes someone else's meal or has seconds (or both!). He especially likes potatoes (of course), ham and potato chowder, pierogi, and chicken enchiladas. He likes raw celery, too. We have friends who bring celery just for him and their younger daughter laughs and jumps up and down because she's so excited to share it with him.


We have a lot of pictures of First Son making funny faces.

His favorite movies - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the only two Harry Potter movies he's seen), The Return of the Jedi  (the original VHS version), The Force Awakens, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the only Narnia movie we've seen).

His favorite books - Far Side comics, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Harry Potter books, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

favorite games - Munchkin (some language may be offensive), Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, chess, Star Wars Trivial PursuitKing of Tokyo (the new version seems to be just as good and less expensive)

He also received a Kindle Fire for Christmas that he loves.

Recently, First Son began collecting Pokemon cards and building his own decks to play with friends. Kansas Dad was hoping to avoid the Pokemon craze, but it is fun to watch him and his friends poring over cards and battling each other with their decks. It seems like one of the less dangerous ways teenagers could spend their time.


He doesn't really like lessons in general, but he often enjoyed his science experiment days. This picture is from one of his favorites. He set alcohol on fire.

favorite lessons -  math, independent reading, logic (Mind Benders puzzle books)


I let the kids try out for the homeschool play this year and First Son earned the role of the Mayor in The Pied Piper, the role with the most lines. He's done very well memorizing the lines and making them funny when they are supposed to be funny. He's still working on his stage presence, but we have a little more time before the play.

He's still taking taekwondo classes. He's a blue belt red strip. (He probably could have tested for his red belt before now but we've been busy the past few belt testing weekends.) He went to his first tournament last fall and earned two first place trophies - one for his form and one in sparring.


Every Sunday, First Son volunteers in the parish nursery so parents of little ones can attend our adult education class (taught by Kansas Dad and a few other men of the parish). He loves his time in the nursery and delights the children with his silly antics.


Sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year's, First Son grew taller than me.

Sometime between New Year's and the first week of February (when we were in Illinois for my grandmother's 90th birthday party), he grew taller than Kansas Dad.

We recently bought him new shoes. Size 11.


First Son isn't afraid to follow Kansas Dad on any trail. He doesn't complain, doesn't waver, just puts one foot in front of the other all the way to the top.


First Son is growing into a fine young man. We know he's a teenager, but we're glad he still likes to be with us.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

January and February 2017 Book Reports

Between the Forest and the Hills by Ann Lawrence is set in a Roman British town at the time of the Empire's collapse. We listened to this in the van along with Kansas Dad and it was a particularly good choice for the whole family to enjoy: witty dialogue, easy humor from the squawking raven, brave and wise characters, all set in an interesting historical period. This book is one of the many wonderful books of historical fiction available from Bethlehem Books. (purchased audio book at Audible)

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff is another novel of historical fiction set near the end of the Roman Empire's presence in Britain. This is one of First Son's books for volume 2 of Connecting with History (seventh grade). It's a tale of daring and mystery when the son of a missing Roman soldier ventures north of the wall to discover the fate of the missing Legion and recover (if possible) their Eagle. It's a good book for a middle school boy to read and contemplate the meaning of loyalty, friendship, slavery, and civilization. I haven't seen the movie, but according to the review at Common Sense Media, it's not as good as the book. (library copy)

Virginia's General by Albert Marrin is a biography of Robert E. Lee and an examination of the Civil War from the Confederate standpoint, though not always favorable to the Confederacy. First Son read this book for his American History. The chapters are well-written, but long, so First Son struggled a bit to read them. Originally he was assigned two chapters a day, but I decreased it to one a day. I appreciated greater insight into the Confederate side of the war and a favorable presentation of Lee, a distinguished man worthy of respect. (library copy)

The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton - link to my post. (free Kindle version)

Oh, Ranger! True Stories from our National Parks edited by Mark J. Saferstein is a collection of short essays by National Park Service rangers covering just about every aspect of life as a ranger. It's a great peek at life in national parks from historical sites to the wilderness of Alaska, but I found the writing varied in quality. The photography, however, is amazing throughout. (purchased used on Amazon)

The Chronicles of Prydain (5 volumes) by Lloyd Alexander - link to my post. (library copies, though I have since acquired three from other members at PaperBackSwap.com)

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse is, I think, recommended in our Connecting with History curriculum even thought it's not available at their store. It's a series of letters written by a young Russian Jew who barely escapes with her family on a daring attempt to join her older brothers in the United States in 1919. It's a good historical fiction book to read alongside a study of immigration through Ellis Island. (library copy)

Transforming Your Life through the Eucharist by John A. Kane - link to my post. (purchased from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press)

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough  - link to my post. (borrowed from my dad)

The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian is a fictionalized memoir of a young girl's experience of the genocide of Armenian Christians by the Turkish government and military during World War I. Mostly, the girl experiences the genocide in disease-ridden camps but there are scenes of terrible deaths and great fear, so it's not a book for young readers. I hadn't read of these events before and I think the book could be a good addition to a study of World War I to show that genocides are not the product only of Nazi Germany. It's a good book, too, to begin or continue discussions of harboring refugees from war-torn and unsafe lands. I hesitate, however, to recommend it whole-heartedly and share it with my children because I worry they will conflate the actions of Turkey in 1915 with Muslims in today's world. There's no doubt there are Muslim terrorists, but there are also Muslims in our own city who seem to be kind and generous people. With the news what it is today, I would probably wait a bit longer to share this book. (library copy)

Saint Herman of Alaska is a booklet published to celebrate the canonization of St. Herman by the Orthodox Church in America. It shows a glimpse of life for the brave missionaries of Russia who journeyed to Alaska to spread the Orthodox faith. You can read the first half of the book at the OCA website. The second half is the liturgical services, some of which you can hear on the site. There is an incident reported in the book of a martyr for the faith, someone who traveled down to California and was allegedly tortured and murdered by Jesuits. I can't say it's not true, but it's certainly not how the Jesuits behave today. (copy picked up at used book sale)

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis is a short clear evangelical response to the problem of pain - that there is pain and evil in a world created by an omniscient omnipotent God. There's nothing I can say about the book that hasn't already been better written by another. I was glad to read it because it is so often referenced by others. (Kansas Dad's copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)
The italic print: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). I like to use the little I earn on the blog to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts (usually books). Thanks!

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks - another affiliate link.

Any links to RC History and PaperBackSwap.com are affiliate links.

Other links (like those to Bethlehem Books) are not affiliate links.

These reports are my honest opinions.

Monday, March 6, 2017

First Daughter's Birthday Post: Ten (and a Half)

First Daughter turned ten last September, which makes this birthday post more of a half-birthday post; she's nearly ten and a half!

For her birthday, she wanted to go ice skating. So she and seven of her friends went ice skating for two hours. Then, because the weather was fantastic, we went to a park for some chocolate angel food cake (soy free, nut free, dairy free, for her friends). High winds kept blowing out her candles, but the girls enjoyed the cake and then (shockingly) run up and down the hill for a while before we headed home.

We celebrated her baptismal anniversary a few days late because we were in Illinois for my cousin's wedding. Sadly, we dropped a bowl that night. I later stepped on a piece of the glass and while hobbling around on my sore foot injured it. Eventually I needed physical therapy, but I'm better now.

Rocky Mountain National Park
First Daughter is intrepid. She loves to hike and climb along with First Son and Kansas Dad, never to be outdone. For her birthday, we gave her a pogo stick. For Christmas, she received taekwondo sparring gear from her grandparents (she's a green belt) and stilts from us and her other grandparents. She's currently saving for in-line skates because she's outgrown her roller skates (the source of her broken arm the summer she was nine, but let's not talk about that).


In addition to taekwondo, First Daughter played soccer last fall and this spring. She and Second Daughter can be on the same team. They travel a bit, but not too far. First Daughter likes to play goalie. She's quick and cheerful on the field.

She's been a bit disappointed that both taekwondo tournaments were at the same time as soccer games. However, she probably won't play soccer this coming fall and we'll get her to that tournament.



Her cooking skills are improving greatly. Kansas Dad is teaching her "breakfast." So far, she's mastered bacon, fried eggs, and scrambled eggs. (She can also make coffee for her dad and tea for her mom.) She's still working on sausage (which we have less often) and pancakes. She's still great at making a batch of muffins, various breads, and cakes. She often makes quick things for lunch and loves to help make dinner (when she's not off at taekwondo or soccer). She makes popcorn, too.

Really, First Daughter is by far the most helpful of our children. She's at a helpful age, but her personality is also one of generosity and cheerfulness that make asking her for assistance almost too easy. Sometimes I remind myself to ask the older brother instead, but even then she may stop what she's doing and bounce into the kitchen demanding the honor of the extra chore.

sneaky girl added her initial to the bread she baked for us
Many of her favorite foods are the same as last year: Kansas Dad's chocolate peanut butter layer cake, chicken enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, yogurt, fruit, and dumplings.

Her favorite games are Agricola, Settlers of Catan, Star Wars Monopoly, Taboo, and Labyrinth. She bought a Kindle Fire with her birthday money and loves it, too.

More than anything, she loves to read. If you can't find her, she's snuggled up somewhere with a pile of books. She still reads the Little House on the Prairie books and the Harry Potter books over and over again. She's just started reading the Anne of Green Gables series and Little Women. She reads anything and everything, though. I have a whole shelf of books from Bethlehem Books and Hillside Education which she'll peruse and read multiple times. She recently read the Mitchells series in a single day, when she was feeling too sick to do her lessons. Unlike some other children, she's as excited or more excited to read a book after I've read it aloud.

First Daughter has become quite the accomplished sewer. She is the house seamstress, repairing all seams and reattaching buttons, even on Kansas Dad's work clothes. She made some lovely sewn ornaments at Christmas, too.
First Daughter as Rey (Second Daughter as Hedwig)
She's also ingenious in gathering random pieces from around the house and the dress-up bin. She cobbled together a bunch of things for her Rey costume at Halloween including an old broomstick covered in black masking tape (one roll has lasted through years of costume uses), toy motorcycle goggles (Second Son's), an old work bag of mine covered in a brown pillowcase (black and brown pillowcases from the thrift store are versatile costume items), a baby doll wrap, and a ragged brown tunic we received at a Jedi birthday party about five years ago that still gets regular use for all sorts of imaginary adventures.

heart dissection
Her favorite school subjects are math (specifically geometry), history, and geography. She loves coloring in the maps for the Holling books. Of all the children, she's the most likely to start her lessons promptly, work her way through them diligently, and finish them every single day. She does get frustrated when things aren't easy for her, but I do think she's getting better about asking for help. Her "worst" school fault is failing to stop at the assigned page. I've lost count of the number of times she's admitted to finishing a book in a single day that was going to be assigned over weeks and weeks.


Her favorite saints are St. Therese of Liseux, St. Bernadette, St. Maria Goretti, and St. Joan of Arc. She dressed as St. Maria Goretti for All Saints last year. Again, she pulled together all she needed from our costume bin except for the lilies and the palms. We picked those up at a floral sale at Hobby Lobby.

Her favorite songs are The Lord of the Dance, Whatsoever You Do to the Least of My People, and Matchmaker, Matchmaker. She loves to sing at Children's Adoration, especially in the Easter and Christmas seasons when they sing all those joyous songs. She often chooses to sing the Hail Mary in Latin for her evening prayer.

Recently, First Daughter volunteered as a mother's helper at a neighbor's house. She goes about once a week for a few hours to do whatever is most helpful. She loves her time there (with five children from 7 down to 2 months) and is learning a lot about babies and toddlers and preschoolers and cleaning and cooking.

This time has been a blessing for First Daughter and (I hope) for the family she visits each week. I wish someone had done something like this for me and I highly recommend sharing your preteens (girls, especially) with mothers of young children.


Someday we will look back and remember our chattering giggling bouncing ten-year-old First Daughter with nostalgia. May she remain as joyful as she is now!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gentlemen of the Air: The Wright Brothers



by David McCullough

This is an enjoyable biography of the Wright brothers filled with quotes from letters, diaries, and articles. If you ever wanted to study the lives of men who humbly but diligently changed the world through dedication, perseverance, careful experimentation and documentation, and courage to face physical danger, read about the Wright brothers!
Their nephew Milton, who as a boy was often hanging about the brothers, would one day write, "History was being made in their bicycle shop and in their home, but the making was so obscured by the commonplace that I did not recognize it until many years later."
I enjoyed reading about the first published report on the Wright brothers and their success in aeronautics. Amos Root visited them and, with their permission, wrote a lovely account he published in his journal, Gleanings in Bee Culture. Isn't that wonderful? Apparently, he sent a copy to Scientific American and gave permission for it to be freely reprinted, but they declined.
On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in southwestern Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer.
And now it's back at the Smithsonian.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Title Says it All: Transforming your Life through the Eucharist



by John A. Kane

I purchased this book directly from the publisher years ago, probably when it was one of their $5 books. Languishing on my bookshelf, I finally noticed it when considering Second Daughter's First Communion year. I like the idea of reading a book on the Eucharist myself during the preparation year, though I think I have only succeeded once in three attempts. Either it was worth the wait to find this particular book, or I missed out on a tremendous opportunity for a growth in faith (probably the latter).
How much, therefore, depends on our preparation! For although we receive Christ fully, He unfolds His life according to the measure of our cooperation. Unlimited are the possibilities of the eucharistic indwelling, but our resultant spiritual development is slow, because the reception of the fullness of grace in Holy Communion demands our full accord with the Savior's eternal yearning to be one with us.
Kane's book was like a revelation, guiding me through a deeper understanding of the Eucharist in adoration, at Mass, and in reception.
Thus restraining His communication, thus concealing His unimaginable beauty, He makes our reception of Him silent, peaceful, gentle, and restful. Advance as we may in holiness, however, we shall never unravel the mystery of this amazing union.
The author contends we will continue to contemplate with wonder the miracle of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist.
Inseparable union with man was the goal of the Incarnation and is the reason for Christ's life in the tabernacle. On the altar, He watches over us with love unquenchable.
It's all too easy to take communion at Mass as a matter of course, distracted by our children, who's missing from Mass, or an itchy sweater. The statements in this book helped me focus, not just by berating myself to pay attention but by pointing my thoughts to particular ideas and showing me how to beg Christ to ready my soul for the great miracle of taking communion.
Although Christ dwells in us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in order that His life may develop, may permeate our souls, and may direct our thoughts, words, and actions, the sacramental life must have circumstances favorable for its development, just as the plant needs sun and rain to grow to maturity. Without such circumstances and conditions suited to its growth, that life will never enrich us with its heavenly store; it will abide in us with the mere possibility of its infinite power, and we will be unconscious, not only of its greatness, but of its very existence.
We are not to despair, however, when we do not discern progress in our spiritual life, when we feel the Eucharist is not effecting change within us, or developing our relationship with Christ.
Holiness is most beautiful in the midst of the most uneventful. Few are called to do the extraordinary for God. All are called to be faithful in that which is least...
The minute care by which we restrain our looks, words, and actions; the vigilant supervision that compels us to check the effusions of our nature; the unobtrusive acts of self-suppression--these apparent trifles perfect the soul by completing in it the likeness of God. 
This would be a perfect book to read during time of Adoration with frequent breaks to pray and sit quietly in the presence of the Lord. For those who are recent converts to the Catholic faith, it can elucidate the theology of the Eucharist.
As He transfigures us with His grace, we, too, must elevate and ennoble all who come within the sphere of our influence.
It may also be an excellent book for someone who is not Catholic but wants to better understand what Catholics really believe about the Eucharist and how the theology of transubstantiation supports a rich faith, with the understanding that it is directed to Catholics.

I wish I had read this book years ago and I hope to make time to read it again in future years. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in learning more about the Eucharist, how to approach the Eucharist at Mass, and how to purposefully devote the reception of the Eucharist to growth in the life of Christ.