Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Spy Club (Foxtrot Games)

No matter how old you are and no matter if you are a boy or a girl, you probably grew up reading mystery literature. There was The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Boxcar Children just to name a few. Didn't like to read growing up? Well, surely you watched Scooby Doo and helped those meddling teenagers crack cases in their psychedelic van. Foxtrot Games is taking that love of the mystery genre that seems ingrained in our DNA and turning it into a board game called Spy ClubSpy Club is a game for 2 to 4 players, ages 10+. It is currently on Kickstarter for a pledge of $39. Randy Hoyt (Relic Expedition) and Jason Kingsley (Lanterns: The Emperors Gifts) are the designers and BartÅ‚omiej Kordowski (Dream Home) and Keith Pishnery (The Fox in the Forest) are the illustrators.
Unlike other mystery solving games (let's use the old standby of CLUE), you aren't playing against other players, but instead you are working together to solve the case! With double-sided clue cards in front of each player, you are taking turns manipulating the cards (flipping, drawing, or trading them) to uncover part of the solution. In order to completely crack the case, you must solve all five parts before your suspect escapes or you run out of clues! And now for the really cool part...
You can play this game in campaign mode! There is a campaign deck with 40+ modules and 150+ cards in it that ties five games together. With each game you complete, more of the story is revealed. But before you go thinking that this game is a five time only game and then you're done, you can reset the campaign upon completion. With all the different modules available and only using five each game play, you will get a ton of play out of this game. It's only the first day, but the game is currently 2/3 funded on Kickstarter and needs your help to get published. So head on over to their page and give them some love. This looks like a great family game that your kids will ask to play many times over.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Power of Daily Mass (Ave Maria Press)

Going to daily Mass is something I aspire to achieving. I know it is something I should just do, and not just hope to do, but at the moment I am unable to do so. I will say that the people I know who do attend, seem much closer to saints than I am/every hope to be, and I attribute it to their devotion to daily Eucharist. Recently, Dr. Bert Ghezzi wrote a book explaining the benefits of Daily Mass attendance called The Power of Daily Mass.

The book begins by walking us through the different seasons of the Liturgical Year. With each season, Dr. Ghezzi provides us with a brief summary of when they occur and what we can learn from each one. By going through the seasons of the Church, he demonstrates that the Church wants us to attend daily Mass and in doing so, we will be grow closer to Jesus. The second chapter follows the first, but instead of focusing on seasons, it switches to Saints. In addition to there being specific seasons celebrated at certain times throughout the year, there are certain days we celebrate the Feasts of saints. The remaining chapters focus on the benefits of Mass. It serves as a repentance for our minor/venial sins, allows us to frequently seek God's intercession, gives us our daily bread, and prepares us to go out into the world each day and serve God in words and actions.

The book makes a simple, but compelling case for why you should attend daily mass. It has a nice mix of Scripture, saintly writings, and personal experience. At the end of this book are several helpful appendices, including prayers before and after mass, the Church Calendar, Holy Days of Obligation, and Marian Feast Days. This is a book that you can read in a day, but take a lifetime to put into practice. I recommend it and hope to one day accomplish the goal of daily mass.

This book was provided to me for free by Ave Maria Press in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Words for Our Lives: The Spiritual Words of Matthew the Poor (Ancient Faith Publishing)

Abba Matta of Egypt (or Matthew the Poor) was an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox monk and a pivotal player in the revival of Egyptian monasticism. When he was appointed to the Monastery of St. Macarius in 1969, the number of monks was a mere six. Upon his death in 2006, the community had grown to 130. He was also a very brilliant theologian who wrote nearly 200 books. Ancient Faith Publishing has printed two books by Matthew the Poor - Words for Our Time and Words for Our Lives. Back in 2013, I reviewed the former, and today I would like to tell you about the latter. Words for Our Lives is an approximately 200 page book divided into the following twelve sections:

1. Faith in the Impossible
2. How the Bible Changed My Life
3. The New Man
4. Walk in the Light
5. The Tough Road of Spirituality
6. The Meaning of the Psalms
7. The Power of the Psalms
8. The Value of the Psalms
9. The Sinful Woman
10. Holy Week
11. Feast of the Ascension
12. The Holy Spirit and Pentecost

The works were primarily composed in the 1970s with the first one being written in 1981. Topics covered include the Bible (primarily Psalms) and important Feasts throughout the Church Year. In the chapters on Psalms, Abba Matta explains that "The Psalms are given as a light to illuminate man's way to God and reveal the salvation that binds him to God." It is not to be thought of as an exercise, but instead a gift. He explains that the power of the Psalms are that you can hear God's voice in them, and by meditating on them, they can become "our personal worship, the liturgy of our lives." I particularly enjoyed the chapter on how the Bible changed his life. In this chapter, we receive a very personal account of how he struggled in the monastery initially, and that it was his discovery of the Bible that changed his life. He came to view the Bible as a personal book that was written specifically for him. This is an attitude we should all adopt before reading Sacred Scripture.

Another eye-opening chapter was "The Tough Road of Spirituality." In this chapter, he reveals that saintly people are going to have a tough life no matter where they are. Yes, you come to expect it in the secular world, because they do not understand, but he said that it happened in the monastery as well. This was shocking to me, and I'm not really sure why. We read examples of Catholic and Orthodox saints who lived a monastic life, and they were mocked by their peers, the same people who should be encouraging them, because they were "too holy." Reading these words from him was a slap in the face, and made me question if I do that in my day-to-day life.

Even though the works in this book are almost 40 years old, the words of Abba Matta still ring true today. Overall, I found this to be a very profound book and one that I would recommend all Christians read.

This book was provided to me for free by Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for an honest review.