Monday, December 15, 2014

The December Issue of The Catholic Mirror

I always enjoy getting in my copy of The Catholic Mirror and finding out about the great things happening in our Diocese of Springfield, MA. The December 2014 was no exception. It features wonderful stories on an older woman who has knitted more than 2,800 hats for newborns at Boston Medical Center's NICU, a local family that chose life and welcomed triplets, a celebration of priesthood, and a man who found new meaning in his faith when he started creating creches for Nativity scenes.

Read all these stories and more in the online edition of The Catholic Mirror.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: A Dream of Home

A Dream of Home
by Amy Clipston
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014

"A Dream of Home" is the third novel in the Amish fiction Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series, but one need not to have read the first two to enjoy this book about finding where one belongs in the world.

Madeleine Miller was a military nurse who lost her fiance. In search of healing, she returns to her late grandmother's home in the heart of Amish country in Pennsylvania. While her mother left before being baptized, Madeleine still spent many childhood summers here and remembers it as a place of peace, something she desperately needs.

Saul Beiler's wife left him, his daughter, and the community for life with another man. He's determined to keep his distance from the young woman who just moved in next door, but his daughter wants nothing more than to become friends with her. In spite of himself, he finds himself falling for a woman who is clearly off limits.

This is a quick read about healing and second chances which fans of Amish fiction will enjoy.

A Dream of Home (Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Prayer for Purpose and Healing

This prayer is by Sr. Miriam James Heidland and is included in her new book, Loved as I Am: An Invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom through Jesus

Father, thank you for creating me as a unique person. Thank you for creating me in love and for love. Please help me to live the purpose of my life, to live in true love, and to truly love others. Thank you for creating my body and soul. May I allow your healing grace to flow into the areas of my soul that are wounded, and may the grace of the Resurrection of Jesus become living and active in my life. Amen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

As Morning Breaks: Gospel Reflections from

Looking for joy in 2015?  Begin each day of the year with As Morning BreaksDaily Gospel Reflections, a new ebook just released by Lisa M. Hendey and  This book was written in collaboration by over thirty authors, all of whom freely volunteered their work. The writing team includes men and women, parents, singles, a married Deacon and his wife, a religious sister and writers of all ages.
Priced at only $2.99, the 685 page book was launched to raise needed funds to support the work of, an international apostolate that provides services to families, parishes and individuals worldwide free of charge.
Let this prayer community guide and support you with daily reflections on the Gospels and the Liturgy of the Word.  As Morning Breaks invites you to make morning prayer a fruitful part of your day, and ponder the joy of the Gospels in your heart. 
“A terrific resource to include in your daily prayer routine…an ideal way to either springboard your morning prayer or supplement it.  Highly recommend!” notes Ellen Gable Hrkach, president of the Catholic Writers Guild and award-winning author. 
As Morning Breaks contains 365 daily reflections from various vocational perspectives; with each, the reader is invited into a further examination of the Gospel passage. A "ponder" question is provided for contemplation, discussion or journaling. Each meditation ends with a brief prayer to help you transition to your own quiet meditation.  With links to each day's Gospel passage, and following the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, this book is designed to offer you a beautiful, prayerful and joyful start to your day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Buon Natale Creches of Italy Exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum

The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 10th annual Christmas crèche exhibition, Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy, features two dozen Italian inspired Nativity scenes on display. The highlight of the show is a 120-square-foot Neapolitan diorama.

Crèches have been a popular part of Western Christianity for more than 800 years. Introduced in Italy by St. Francis of Assisi, they served as a way for everyday people to reflect on Jesus’ modest birth. Through the centuries, crèches have developed into large and ornate displays in communities as well as humble presentations for homes.

Perhaps the most recognizable and popular style is the Neapolitan crèche. These Nativity scenes placed the Holy Family not in the stable setting of Bethlehem but in the heart of 16th-century Naples. These elegant and elaborate scenes feature the Child Jesus in the midst not only of adoring cherubs and shepherds, but also among ladies and gentlemen of nobility, merchants, musicians and various commoners; literally among the active daily life of the community.

Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy is on view from Dec. 1, 2014 until Feb. 1, 2015. To find out more, please visit the Knights of Columbus Museum website at

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Book Review: Loved as I Am

by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, S.O.L.T.
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2014

“Loved as I Am: An Invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom through Jesus” is written by a religious sister who has experienced conversion in a very dramatic fashion, but this book is for anyone who is wounded, suffers from addiction, or feels unloved and/or unlovable.

Sr. Miriam James Heidland, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, has experienced a great deal in her nearly forty years of life. Adopted as an infant, she felt abandoned by her birth parents. A victim of sexual abuse, she kept silent and felt shamed, turning to alcohol to ease the pain. In college, she lived a life of drinking, parties, and men, until a kind priest reached out to her. As Sr. Miriam writes, “He saw beauty in me where I saw only ugliness, and he continually encouraged me to seek an authentic life with God, rather than waste my life in sin.”

Sr. Miriam understands the desire to be loved and the ways that desire can lead us to find comfort in created things rather than God, especially because that is the prescription that the world at large offers us. The “voices of the world . . . tell us that happiness lies in acquiring possessions, wealth, and popularity, and these same voices often try to push God out of the picture. In “Loved as I Am,” Sr. Miriam offers a different way, rooting one’s identity in God, and discovering our value as his children. It is only in “choosing true and authentic love of God, ourselves, and others” that we will find true happiness and peace. The other road only leads to pain.

Making that choice is an on-going process, and Sr. Miriam acknowledges that the road can be long and hard. She, like the rest of humanity, is a work in progress, but her conversion story is truly remarkable. “Loved as I Am” is a quick read that you won’t want to put down. It is an amazing story of God at work in Sr. Miriam’s life, the lessons she has learned, and the powerful message of healing that she wants to share with others.

Loved as I Am: An Invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom through Jesus

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Story Behind It's a Wonderful Life

Did you know that the iconic Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" was based off of a short story by historian Philip Van Doren Stern? I didn't until I saw this book, The Greatest Gift: The Original Story That Inspired the Christmas Classic It's a Wonderful Life, recently at a local book store. I had to read it!

Admittedly it is hard to judge the story on its own merits, in light of the fact that the movie version starring Jimmy Stewart is so well-known. Suffice it to say that this version is different, but the main components are there. It is very interesting to read and compare.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this 1996 edition is the afterword by Van Doren Stern's daughter Marguerite Stern Robinson. She shares how the idea for the story came to him on February 12, 1938, when he was shaving. It wasn't until 1943 that he showed the finished story to his agent. It never found a buyer. The author had become fond of the story, however, and decided to pay to have 200 copies printed in pamphlet form which he sent out for Christmas in 1943. The rest, as they say, is history (but definitely worth reading about!).