Monthly Archives: January 2010

book review: The Mass: A Guided Tour, by Thomas Richstatter O.F.M., S.T.D.

It took me the better part of 2 months to get through this book because of a busy schedule, but it was worth it.

It wasn’t what I expected- I was really thinking it would be a how-to guide for the mass, similar to Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper, which I also enjoyed.  As a new Catholic, I am always looking for more information about *why* we do what we do, even though I had a great RCIA class, and of course if I had not felt that I understood the Mass on a basic level, I would not have joined the church…Anyway, the structure of this book focused on the Eucharist- as it should, since that is at the center of the Mass.  It was more of a “behind the scenes” history of why we celebrate the Eucharist and how it relates to the major celebrations of the church liturgical year- Christmas and Easter.

The book was very informative and well-written, particularly for lay people like myself.  One caution is that, I think you need a pretty good familiarity with the order of the Mass to follow this book- if I had read it during my RCIA days I don’t think it would have had the same impact that it did today.

Speaking of impact, this book did what I imagine all authors want their works to do- it made me think, and it actually made me change something about my life.  Before reading this book, I always hesitated to take the Precious Blood in addition to the Host during communion.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I did- two. Once at my confirmation, and another at my wedding. I kept rationalizing, “I don’t want to share germs with people, it’s gross, and I don’t need it anyway because the church says I can get all the same benefits in one species.”  While the latter part is true, the author makes a simple point that really changed my outlook.  Since we should look at the Eucharist as not only a sacrifice but a meal, would you go to someone’s house for dinner and only eat, not drink?

This simple question changed my outlook and now I regularly receive both species if they are offered, with no qualms on my part.  A neat experience for me, and it really meshes with the theme of another favorite ministry of mine, Grace Before Meals, the brainchild of a local priest in my former diocese, Fr. Leo Patalinghug.

So, the upshot of all this rambling is that a) I liked the book, and hope you check it out if you’re interested, but b) don’t expect it to be a step-by-step Mass guidebook.

*Note: This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Mass: A Guided Tour.  The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.


“bizzare” science roundup and 5 other quick takes

I found 2 interesting science-related news bits yesterday and they both happened to start with the word “bizarre.”  One really fits the bill, and I think the other is a bit of an exaggeration.  And I thought, while I’m at it, I haven’t done 7 quick takes in a while, and it’s Friday, so courtesy of Jen at Conversion Diary, here goes!

1 – First, the truly strange: Octopuses were seen carrying coconuts to use as shelters. I actually found out about this a few weeks ago, because I volunteer at the local aquarium and someone posted a newspaper article about this very thing.  I don’t know what’s stranger, though: that the octopuses seen actually found and transported 2 coconut halves and then constructed a hidey-hole, or that the newspaper reported it before the internet.

2 – Second, not as strange but more of a “cool science” news item: a complex compound found only in a certain sea sponge has finally been synthesized by scientists.  I appreciate the work that went into this, especially as someone who barely passed organic chemistry.

3 – The weather here is finally what they tell me is seasonal for this area and this time of year.  After a week of being in the 30’s, it’s back to the 50’s and sunny and mild, so I finally got to go out and take a walk.  Hooray!

4 – I am addicted to yet another talk radio show- this time it’s a local one, which I only heard because 99% of the time my radio is tuned to the NPR station here.  It’s Hear Say with Cathy Lewis, and it’s a great source of local news in my area.  In fact, after listening to today’s show, I may go out and learn myself to knit!

5 – Allergies really stink. I have been a victim for the past week or so, and it’s no fun.  I usually get them in the fall, so this bout took me by suprise.  Plus everyone thinks I have a cold, but I don’t.

6 – Happy news, my psych Season 3 DVD arrived recently!  Yay!  Just in time to catch up for the upcoming season.

7 – I totally stole this one from Jen, and it’s my favorite (so far) legitimate way of raising money for Haiti, and all it takes is missing one meal! It’s called Fast for Haiti.

weird science, again…

The Story of Mike the Headless Chicken.  No lie.

If you like this sort of thing, I highly recommend the How Stuff Works: Stuff You Should Know podcast.  Irreverent and fun.  I don’t have much time to listen to podcasts anymore (anyone have any tips for when is a good time to listen when you don’t drive much anymore?), but I always enjoyed theirs.

end of the year science wackiness

Well, I know that now it’s the beginning of the new year already, but I saw this on Discover‘s blog yesterday: “The stupidest things celebrities said about science in 2009.”  I can’t resist stupid celebrity quotes, and neither should you.

A short synopsis is here.  And a little more detail over here at New Scientist.  My favorite thing that I learned from this is that meat stays in your gut for 40 years and eventually leads to your death.  I’m so glad that celebrities are smarter than me.