Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Catholic Working Mom's Guide to Life

Are you a Catholic working mom? Do you struggle to fit in with groups of Catholic moms, most of whom are staying at home? Do you have a hard time hanging out with secular groups of working moms who may not share your values? JoAnna Wahlund wants you to know that you are not alone.
Wahlund is a married working Catholic mom of six children. In 2014 she started the Catholic Working Mothers Facebook group which has since grown to 5000 members. In The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life, she offers solid advice on how to manage your faith, your family, and your work.

She begins by offering role models of biblical figures and saints who were working mothers. These women include such notables as the Proverbs 31 woman, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Zelie Martin, and St. Gianna Molla. Wahlund also emphasizes the importance of discerning what is right for you and your family. She offers practical advice on finding childcare, negotiating for flexibility at work, managing a household, and caring for yourself while caring for everyone else.

The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life is so needed in our world. Whether you work out of necessity or because you feel called by God to have “a secondary vocation in addition to [your] vocation as a wife and mother,” you will find support and understanding in these pages. This book would also make a lovely gift for a pregnant woman who plans to return to work after giving birth.

P.S. I don’t know JoAnna Wahlund at all. Our paths have never crossed even in Catholic writing circles and reading this book was the first time I heard of her Facebook group. Anyway, I was sitting reading my review copy of this book, feeling pretty bad about myself (as I am prone to doing) because I’ve always struggled with the whole motherhood/work scenario. I got to page 75 and was surprised to find my own name! In fact, I did a double-take. 

Wahlund quoted from an article I wrote years ago for CatholicMom.com on how housework is an opportunity to encounter God! Now, those who know me in real life will be laughing at the irony of that given my lack of aptitude in that area. If you go back and read the article, you’ll see that I was honest back then. Unfortunately, my relationship with housework has not improved in the intervening years. I guess God was trying to give me a reminder that housework is an act of love, in addition to giving me a bit of hope that maybe my writing has mattered to someone over the years.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ave Explores takes a look at Mary

Following a successful pilot project last fall, Ave Maria Press is pleased to announce the next edition of Ave Explores—an initiative aimed at helping everyday Catholics better live their faith.
Catholic author and speaker Katie Prejean McGrady is the project manager for Ave Explores. The next month-long installment launching this fall will focus on the role of the Virgin Mary in the life of the Catholic Church. Prejean McGrady, award-winning author of Follow and Room 24, spearheaded a similar project surrounding the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment in 2018 that was geared toward youth ministry leaders.

Ave Explores: Mary will include articles, videos, podcasts, social media exclusives, surprising facts, and resources for classrooms and parishes. Signup is free at avemariapress.com.

“So many people feel faith is something you do only on Sunday when you attend Mass. Ave Explores will help you see your faith as something you can live every day,” Prejean McGrady said.

Experts will provide insight, ideas, and practical resources to help Catholics better understand the continued importance of Christ’s mother not only in the Church but also in their own lives. “We’re going to look at how Mary is a model of discipleship and an example of how to be in intimate relationship with the Lord. We will examine how Mary is our companion, our supporter, and a guide for families in how to live a faithful life,” Prejean McGrady said.

Other issues include:
·         how Mary can influence our prayer practice;
·         Mary as a model for our families;
·         celebrating Marian feast days; and
·         ways to teach non-Catholics about why Mary is important for all of us.
Karey Circosta, associate publisher and vice president of sales and marketing at Ave Maria Press, emphasized that Ave Explores is free to anyone who wants to receive the material via email and on Ave Maria Press’s website and social media. “Ave’s commitment to the Church goes beyond publishing high school textbooks, ministry resources, and books on prayer and spirituality,” she said. “We also want to provide online content on important issues in the Church that offers spiritual enrichment and practical resources to help all Catholics grow in their faith.”

Circosta said that Mary is a perfect topic for the new Ave Explores because Our Lady of Sorrows is the patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross, of which Ave Maria Press is an apostolate.

“We are pleased to be working with Katie Prejean McGrady on this initiative. She brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and contacts within the Church that will make this project beneficial to all,” Circosta said.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

An Organizational Guide for the Rest of Us

Do you look at your friends’ organized homes with a little bit of envy? Do you wonder how they manage to keep their living spaces clean and organized? Some people are born with the natural ability to organize. Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff by Lisa Lawmaster Hess is not the organizational book for them. No, this book is for the rest of us. 

Hess argues that “if we can tap into the skills and talents [God] has given us, not only can we organize in  a way that’s sustainable, but we can also be the best version of ourselves.” She divides people who struggle with organization into three personal styles and three organizational styles.

The personal styles are: I love stuff, I love to be busy, and I need to see it. I love stuff people have a strong attachment to things. They frequently collect items and have a hard time parting with stuff. Those who love to be busy thrive on a hectic schedule. They have difficulty managing both things and time. Those who need to see it (this is my personal style) leave things where they can see them to remember to do them. They have “to-get-to” piles.

The organizational styles are: I know I put it somewhere, cram and jam, and drop and run. Those who know that they put it somewhere struggle to find what they need when they want it. They put things in the most convenient place at the moment rather than the logical place. Those who cram and jam put things into spaces that are already full to the brim. People who drop and run tend to put things down instead of away. They can usually find things where they last used them. 

Know Thyself offers helpful quizzes so that you can determine which style(s) you fall into. Based on your answers, Hess suggests various containers and systems to help you get organized.

Hess also discusses her STYLE system for getting and keeping organized. Start with success; Take small steps; Yes, it has a home; Let it go, and Easy upkeep. She also acknowledges the challenges of living in a house with people of various organizational styles.

Know Thyself is useful and realistic for those who have a hard time with organization. It won’t make you perfectly organized overnight, but it will help you make solid, incremental steps in the right direction.

Friday, July 05, 2019

The Catholic Guide to Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses and Catholics area far from immune. The Catholic Guide to Depression: How the Saints, the Sacraments, and Psychiatry Can Help You Break Its Grip and Find Happiness Again by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty with Fr. John Cihak, STD offers a much needed guide to navigating this painful illness from a Catholic perspective.
Symptoms of depression include an inability to focus, seeing the world through a negative lens, changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleep), low energy, inappropriate feelings of guilt, an inability to find joy in activities, anxiety, and/or frequent thoughts of death. All ages are at risk.
Some Catholics may feel that all depression has a spiritual cause; that if one simply prayed enough, believed enough, etc. the symptoms would go away. Dr. Kheriaty assures that is not the case. Many cases of depression have physical causes. Included in this category are those with brain chemical imbalances, those who suffer from seasonal depression, and those in the midst of post-partum depression. By the same token, not all depression is caused by physical ailments, and may indeed have a spiritual dimension. Very often, depression is caused by a combination of factors and a fruitful course of treatment will treat both body and soul.
Dr. Kheriaty offers a historical overview of depression and how it has been treated. He acknowledges the reasons many Catholics have felt suspicious of psychiatry due to Freud and Jung being very anti-religious. By the same token, he emphasizes the positive role that a competent psychiatrist or psychologist can play in treatment. He also states that it is not necessary to find a Catholic psychiatrist or psychologist. Rather, the important factor is whether he or she is skilled and respectful of their patients’ religious beliefs.
Dr. Kheriaty also approaches depression from a Catholic standpoint. He acknowledges the role of suffering in the Christian life, that “it is something used by God to bring the disciple into closer union with him.” He compares and contrasts depression with the dark night of the soul. He also explores the importance of the virtue of hope.
No discussion of depression is complete without a conversation about suicide. Those suffering from depression often contemplate suicide. Dr. Kheriaty has a compassionate view of those who have lost the will to live. “This view of suicide as a ‘solution’ to suffering is of course a life, a trick of the diseased mind, but one that is easier to believe when in the throes of serious depression.” He encourages people to take any talk of suicide seriously and offers suggestions of what to do if someone is threatening suicide. From a Catholic standpoint, he emphasizes that mental health issues “can diminish one’s responsibility or culpability for suicide” and that we must pray for those who have committed suicide and entrust their souls to God’s care and mercy.
While any treatment plan should be undertaken under professional care, Dr. Kheriaty does discuss various types of medical intervention. He also recommends physical exercise, regular routines, and social interaction (which are good suggestions for everyone’s mental health). Appendices include resources for further reading, prayers in time of distress, and an address of Pope St. John Paul II on the theme of depression.
The Catholic Guide to Depression is a valuable guide for those suffering from depression, as well as for those who love someone who is suffering. The most important take-away is that both spiritual and physical help is available and that patients need not suffer without treatment.
If you or someone you love are contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact a crisis counselor by texting HOME to 741741.

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