Friday, July 30, 2010

Why it Matters to be Catholic

Does it matter if you are Catholic? It should. Angela C. Batie gives a wonderful reflection in the August 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic: It makes a difference whether you're Catholic

I especially liked this section:

Being Catholic means being connected. . . It means that the pope, my mom, the conscientious objector in jail, the person who offers the rosary outside of Planned Parenthood, and I are all praying the same prayers and hearing the same readings on Sunday. It means that not only is the church broad enough to contain us all, but it bonds us together just as the body is knit with sinew and skin.

It means that the Our Father that was prayed at my baptism uses the same words that will bring me comfort when death's shadow enters my life. . . Being Catholic means having something to offer those who suffer. It means that sadness and pain are not the only part of loss because God suffered a death on the cross and triumphed with life.

It means that grieving the loss of a loved one or nursing a broken heart can still point to new life on the horizon. It means having a source of solace, a deeper refuge when our earthly tents can't weather the storms. . . Being Catholic means always having a home.

Thought for the day

Each day is a gift from God. What we do with it is our gift back.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lay Discipleship

Harold Fickett, President of Catholic Exchange, offers an interesting reflection on the importance of lay discipleship (which, after all, started with Christ): 12 + 72 =1

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Go to Church?

A young adult tells why he's staying committed to the faith at Why Go to Church?"

Book Review: St. Gianna Beretta Molla - A Modern Day Hero of Divine Love

St. Gianna Molla A Modern Day Hero of Divine Love

by Thomas J. McKenna
San Diego: Catholic Action for Faith and Family, 2008

At the canonization of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Pope John Paul II stated “The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to find fulfillment.” St. Gianna, who lived from 1922 to 1962, was a woman of our own time. A physician, she was a working mother who lived a life of service to her family and her community. In the booklet “St. Gianna Beretta Molla: A Modern Day Hero of Divine Love,” Thomas J. McKenna provides a brief biography that will help introduce readers to the life of this modern day saint.

Raised in a devout Catholic family, she was devoted to Christ and the Church from her earliest days. As a teenager, she was deeply affected by attendance at a retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Soon after, she became active in the Catholic Action movement, “a lay spiritual movement that helps its members follow Christ by emphasizing prayer, service, and sacrifice.” She chose to study medicine because she felt it was the best way she could help people in both body and spirit. She would ultimately choose to specialize in pediatrics. She always felt that her role as a doctor was a calling from God.

She was an active woman with many interests, among them painting, music, and mountain trips. In 1955, she married Pietro Molla and devoted herself to Christian marriage and motherhood. She gave birth to three children in quick succession, and then suffered two miscarriages. In September 1961, she was expecting her fourth child when doctors found a large fibroid in her uterus. She was given three choices: remove the tumor, the unborn child, and her uterus (the only sure way to save her life); remove the tumor and the unborn child; or only remove the tumor. Even though she knew it was the riskiest course of action, she chose the last option and instructed her husband that if he was forced to choose between herself and the child, to choose the child. April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was delivered via Cesarean Section. After suffering for a week, St. Gianna died on April 28, 1962 at the age of thirty-nine.

This booklet also contains excerpts from St. Gianna’s own writings which allow readers to get real insight into her thoughts and observations, as well as a collection of prayers to ask for St. Gianna’s intercession.

Brief, easy to read, and full of information, “St. Gianna Beretta Molla: A Modern Day Hero of Divine Love” is a wonderful introduction to the life and spirituality of this saint.

To purchase, please visit: St. Gianna Booklet

Book Review: "Everyday Wisdom"

Everyday Wisdom (Spiritual Refreshment for Women)
by Joan C. Webb
Barbour Publishing, 2010

"Everyday Wisdom" is one of those delightful little devotional books that fits easily into a purse or briefcase. Featuring quotes from Proverbs and short reflections on those quotes, it provides quick bursts of wisdom. Well-organized by topic, it is easy to find exactly the words of guidance that you need at that moment. Beautifully designed, simply looking at the pages can help relax you and put you in a prayerful spirit. Joan C. Webb has truly compiled a treasure in this little book.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Conversation


Watch your words and hold your tongue: you'll save yourself a lot of grief
. Proverbs 21:23 Msg

Some of you tend to say almost anything that pops into your mind. This leads to laughter and rollicking conversation. You're the life of the party. Your quieter friends may envy your boldness. Yet sometimes you utter a comment and inadvertently hurt someone and cause yourself grief. God doesn't want to change your effervescent personality. He's the one who made you - and your more reserved friend. He only wants to temper your thoughts and words to grace others.

Patience

Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses. Proverbs 25:15 Msg

Microwave dinners, e-mails and Twitter posts on your cell phone, 24/7 news channels, instant messaging. We're not used to waiting for much. But when it comes to relationships, we really need patience. You can't change someone else. You can only adjust your own attitudes and behavior. But positive change takes time, whether it is you or the other person who decides to change. Be encouraged, though. Patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Sistene Chapel

Chances are, I will never actually see the Sistene Chapel in person, but this is really cool: Virtual Tour of the Sistene Chapel. I really like the background music as well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: "The Lemonade War"

The Lemonade War
by Jacqueline Davies
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007

Looking for a fun, educational read for your children? "The Lemonade War" by Jacqueline Davies fits the bill. Evan is an upcoming fourth-grader with a problem. His younger sister Jessie is skipping 3rd grade and will be in his class the following year. Evan and Jessie have always been close but now Evan is angry and wants to be left alone and Jessie doesn't understand why. They have always enjoyed having a lemonade stand together, but when Evan sets one up with a different friend, Jessie decides to do the same. Soon, a lemonade war ensues with a competition to see who can win the most money. "The Lemonade War" features a wealth of information on how to run a business, emphasizes math, and tells an important and touching story about the nature of sibling relationships. My children loved this book and so did I.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Feast of St. Anne


Today (July 26th) is the feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Grandparents of Jesus. St. Anne is one of my patron saints as I took her name as my confirmation name. I pray to her daily for help in parenting and in teaching my children. When I was a little girl, there was a picture in my bedroom of her teaching Mary. It wasn't a traditional holy picture. There were no halos. It was a simple picture of a mother teaching her daughter sitting outside their home. Somehow, though, that image has always stayed with me.

Prayer to St. Anne

Glorious and holy St. Anne, whom the Heavens admire, whom the Saints honor, and the earth revers. The just, the penitent, and the sinner consider you as their powerful advocate before God, for by your intercession the just hope for an increase of grace, the penitent for their justification, the sinners for the remission of sins. Be then, kind and generous to me. Pray for me in Heaven. Use in my favor the great influence you have before God, particularly for (here make your request). Obtain my request and grant that I may live always close to God.

Good St. Anne, mother of her who is our life, our sweetness, and our hope, pray to her for me and obtain my request.

Follow with an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Honor of St. Martha

St. Martha, whose feast day falls on July 29th, has something of a poor reputation. The first thing people tend to think about when they hear her name is her being chastised by the Lord. Her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, hanging on his every word while Martha was busy doing housework and serving their guests. She asks Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me. But the Lord answered, ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.” (Luke 11:40-42) Indeed, there are whole books on how to be more like Mary and less like Martha. Yet, St. Martha is also held in high esteem by the Church. It is important to know all of her story and to appreciate her for who she was.

The Gospel of John shows a different side of her. Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus has died. Mary remains in the house, one can only presume she is paralyzed with grief. Martha, on the other hand, runs out to meet the Lord and holds him accountable for his delay. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now I know that God will grant whatever you ask of him.” (John 11:21-22) She is a take charge, practical-minded woman, but she also has complete faith in Jesus and His Father in heaven. Jesus then tells her that her brother will rise again, and Martha responds, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.” It is a statement of faith, but Jesus asks more of her. He asks her to affirm that he is, in fact the Son of God. “̔I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Sod of God, the one who was to come into this world.’” Her faith is rewarded and Lazarus is raised from the dead.

The last time we see Martha in the Gospels, she is once again serving. It is shortly before Jesus dies. “Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table.” This time, her sister brings in a pound of costly ointment and anoints Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair. This time, Martha offers no complaint. She allows Mary to serve and love Jesus in her way while she serves and loves in her own way.

Saint Martha is the patron of housewives, servants, waiters and cooks. She is a role model for all of us who serve others (which should really be all of us.) Even with the limited information we are given about her in the Gospels, she grows as a person. She moves from a martyr-type attitude, to a position of complete faith, to a willingness to love and serve without complaint. She invites each of us to do the same. We should look up to St. Martha for her example of trust and service. While we should certainly strive to imitate her sister Mary as well, Martha stands on her own two feet as a spiritual role model. The beauty of having so many saints is that there is someone for each of us to look up to and identify with.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My True Purpose

I am blessed to have some truly amazing friends in my life. One of them just wrote this beautiful blog post: My True Purpose. It is beautiful and poetic and where I wish I was in my life. I'm trying. I'm a work in progress. It's far from easy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reasons to Pick up Pennies


Today at Bible Study, we somehow got onto the topic of picking up pennies. Obviously, a penny doesn't go very far in terms of spending value today (unless, of course, you manage to collect a whole bunch of them), but they can often have symbolic value.

Many people speak of "Pennies from Heaven," - finding pennies with a significant year marked on them after a person has passed away.

Kimberly Hahn in the video component of "Beloved and Blessed," commented that she tells her children whenever they find a penny to have it be a reminder that their mother loves them, God loves them, and their mother Mary up in heaven loves them.

One of my friends told the story of a very wealthy man who stopped and bent over to pick up a penny. His companion was puzzled by this action - obviously the man did not need the penny. Eventually, he asked about it. The man replied, "Each penny is marked with the words 'In God we Trust.' When I pick up a penny it reminds me to trust in God."

Those are some good reasons to make the effort to pick up pennies!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pray it Forward

You've no doubt heard the saying to "Pay it Forward." It is a principle that I try to adhere to in my own life - do what kindnesses you can for other people without counting the cost and trust that somewhere down the way, when you need it, kindness will be extended to you.

A piece of religious mail I received today said "Pray it Forward." I like that idea! We should all pray for whoever we know that needs prayer. Sometimes, the thought comes into our mind that we should pray for them. Do it! Right then - offer up a quick prayer. Pray for the souls in purgatory who cannot pray for themselves. And trust that others will pray for you (and truly, who among us can't use more prayer?).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

God is Willing to Meet Us Where we Are

In reading Win It All: The Way to Heaven for Catholic Teens, I came across this interesting passage. I've never heard the story told this way. It does provide an important insight (as well as illustrate difficulties in translation).

The Gospel of John (21:15-19) tells of a somewhat strange conversation between the risen Jesus and St. Peter along the shores of the Sea of Tiberius. Jesus and the disciples had just finished breakfast when the Lord began to question Peter: 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' The original Greek translation of the Bible reveals that Jesus used the most intimate form of the word love, agape.

Peter responds to Jesus clearly: 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' There was a difference in Peter's word choice for love however. The Greek New Testament records Peter using the word phile, not agape, for love. Phile describes a less committed form of love. It is the type of love two friends might have for one another.

Jesus asks Peter again: 'Simon, agape?' Peter answers the same way: 'Yes, Lord, phile?'

The conversation is not over. Jesus says: 'Simon, Son of John, do you love me?' This time, Jesus has restated the question and used the same word that Peter used, phile. Jesus loves Peter so much that he is willing to meet the level of love and commitment that Peter can provide at this time. . . [Jesus] wants you to offer all that you have. He wants your whole life. . . But, as with Peter, for now he will accept whatever level of love and commitment you can muster.


Book Review; Win it All

Win It All: The Way to Heaven for Catholic Teens
by Justin Fatica
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

Catholic Evangelist Justin Fatica has made it his life's mission to reach out to teens with an extremely counter-cultural message, that what matters in this life isn't money or fame or popularity, but rather living in order to get to heaven. He puts the focus where it belongs, on loving God and others and aiming for eternal life. What does it mean to "Win it All?" Fatica states "to win it all means to discover what God intends for our lives." He then goes on to set forth eight steps to living the life God wants you to live. Those eight steps are: recognize your importance, discover your mission in life, make your mess your message, keep your passion, remain fearless, commit to loving, never give up, and live every day as if it were your last. Fatica also includes a helpful appendix, "More Helps to Win it All" which features prayers and instructions on how to go to confession.

"Win it All" is definitely geared for teenagers, yet Fatica's message is an important one for people of all ages. As he states, "everyone needs to hear how important, unique and special they are. You need to hear it too: God has made you as a one and only you." We each have a God-given purpose in this world. Fatica also speaks of God's great love. "You all see people with tattoos. You may have one yourself. Well, you have been 'tattoed' with the life of God. It is a permanent mark that will never go away. . . There is nothing you can do or not do that would keep God from loving you." Our job is then to share that love with others.

Fatica offers practical advice. He pulls no punches. He knows that life is hard and that there are challenges and temptations at every turn. Yet, he encourages all of us to keep our eyes on the final destination. We need to make that our priority and live life accordingly.

Single-Minded

This is an interesting article by Patti Armstrong on some of the changes that have taken place in the past fifty years in male/female relationships. As a mother of boys I can testify that much of this is true. Little boys are wired differently. They think and act differently, and guess what! Little boys grow into men who think and act differently. We have to accept men for the different creatures they are and vice versa. Men and women will never completely peacefully co-exist - our differences are what makes those relationships both rewarding and complicated, but we do need to respect those differences and embrace them.

Single-Minded

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Programs for Catholics interested in "Coming Home"

Catholics leave the Church or drift away for a variety of reasons, some due to unhappiness about Church teachings or anger with a member or members of the clergy. Others never really intended to break with the Church, but simply got into the habit of not going and wake up one day to discover it has been years. Those of us who are active in our faith need to make a concerted personal effort to welcome these people back when they show an interest in resuming full participation in the Catholic Church.

In addition, there are formal programs especially designed for parishes to use with returning Catholics. I have provided the links below:

Awakening Faith

Catholics Come Home

Catholics Returning Home

Landings

U.S. Catholic has a very interesting article on this topic in their July 2010 issue.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review: The Math Book

The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics
by Clifford A. Pickover
New York: Sterling, 2009

I am not a math person, but I have a son who is. So, when I saw The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics mentioned in a homeschooling magazine, I knew it was one I needed to request from my local library. It is truly a fascinating book, and this is from someone who understands relatively little of it. The full page illustrations are beautiful and the text is interesting. Pickover has truly tried to make complex ideas understandable to the lay person. Organized chronologically, it is amazing to read how one discovery has led to another throughout the years. From a Christian perspective, I feel that it is yet more evidence for a God-created world because the mathematical laws that underscore it are so complex that they could never be random. An incredible intelligence created our world. For example, the first entry is on ants. Apparently, Saharan desert ants have built-in pedometers that allow them to count their steps in order to measure exact distances and find their way back home. That is amazing, and that is only the first page of this book. If you love math, you will love this book. If you don't understand complex math, you will still find it fascinating. I don't think anyone can come away from looking at this book without a deeper appreciation for the number systems that regulate our world.

When you have caused someone hurt

Intentionally or unintentionally, we all cause others pain. It is a sad fact of human existence. Cheryl Dickow has written a thought-provoking article called You Can't Handle the Truth. The message is that we should want to know when we have wronged people so that we can attempt to make amends. I agree 100%.

Sometimes, though, there is simply no way to fix a wrong. What is one to do when one has tried with all their might to make things right and failed? When the hurts simply compound instead of lessen? I think that the only thing that can be done then is to turn it all over to God and trust. It doesn't necessarily take away the hurt, but sometimes it is the only course of action that remains. There is nothing so bad that God can't bring some good out of it. I firmly believe that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Paradox of Prayer and Time

Say the rosary? I can barely squeeze in a “Hail Mary.” Read scripture? I’d like to, but I never get to sit down. Go to daily Mass? It would be nice, but you have got to be kidding. People give many reasons for not praying more. Close to the top of the list is the complaint that “I simply don’t have time.” There are so many other important things vying for our attention. There are children and spouses and parents who need us to help them. There are household chores to complete and work to be done. The to-do list is long and the hours are short. The first thing women do when the demands of the world become too much is cut out time for themselves. Unfortunately, this often includes time for God. We know we should spend more time in prayer, but it is often the first thing to go.

There is a line from the poem that says “I had so much to do, I had to take time to pray.” I have definitely found this to be true in my own life. Days in which I don’t make that time first thing in the morning to connect with God do not go well. I have long known that my relationships with others suffer when I don’t put my relationship with God first. I am much more easily aggravated and lack the patience I should have.

Recently, I have come to the understanding that my ability to be productive depends on my taking that time to pray as well. I honestly do wish that I could attend Mass every day. I look back at the times in my life when I was able to do that and I truly treasure them. Attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist always give me strength and peace. As it is, I try to attend Mass on Saturday mornings. Sometimes, I’m busy with a long list of chores around the house and I have a mental debate with myself over whether I should go or not. I have found, without fail, that those are the days I need to attend Mass most. Once I have turned over that one hour out of my day (including travel time) over to God, I find that he allows me to make the most out of the time I have left. I usually accomplish all I need to and more. On the rare occasions that my to-do list doesn’t get done, I am left with a feeling of acceptance that I accomplished what I needed to. The other things can wait.

The past week, my children were at day camp at a local church. I love my children dearly and I treasure my time with them, but one of the realities of being a homeschooling mom is that time for oneself is severely limited. This week, I was given the gift of twenty-five hours of alone time, and was determined to make the most of them. I had a number of projects I wanted to complete. I also had the opportunity to attend Mass at the church after I dropped them off each morning. It was a little bit of a sacrifice to give up that precious time, but it was a sacrifice well-rewarded. Not only did I get the spiritual benefit of attending Mass, but the time I had left was hugely productive. I got so much done. I know God was helping my projects along.

This is the paradox of prayer. The more time we spend with God, the more he allows us to make use of the time left in our day. It works every time. I invite you to give it a try.

Waiting on Jesus


Waiting on Jesus by Ellen Prozeller looks like a great new children's book. With its beautiful writing and unique illustrations, it tells Jesus' story through the eyes of a child, Daniel, a young Galilean who serves Jesus at the Last Supper. After this meeting, Daniel's life is changed, and he follows Jesus as his friend and servant, to the cross and beyond, to the Resurrection and Ascension. With a burning love, Daniel learns to try to live the way the Lord taught him, and in doing so, teaches us the way also.

Check out Lisa Hendey's interview with the author here: Book Spotlight: Waiting on Jesus

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wisdom for Life

This past week found me reading Unexpected Treasures by Dr. Mikel Brown. For me, it was sort of like reading the transcript of a success seminar that might be held at a local hotel. However, I was reading through some of the customer reviews on Amazon and some people really got a great deal out of it, so I will take them at their word. This may very well be a situation where it was me and not the book. I tend to like more concrete steps rather than vague platitudes. But sometimes, we all need to hear "You can do it!" If this is one of those times for you then this book might be worthwhile.

In any event, Dr. Brown did provide a good list of seven things that he does "to turbocharge his life every single day:

1. I pray every day and ask God to show me the things I should do that would allow me to complete the big picture.

2. I make a constant decision to remain relevant and enthusiastic about the future.

3. I keep in mind the fact that God will not place more on me than I can bear.

4. I make a concerted effort every day to walk by faith and not by sight.

5. Each day I locate the joy of the Lord, for it is my strength.

6. I speak words filled with purpose, those intended only to teach, exhort, or create.

7. I read fervently to stretch my mind, so that I can envision the future I want to live."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another reminder that life is short

Calls that come at three in the morning tend to bring bad news. The one we received this morning was no exception. My husband got a call that one of his long-time friends had been found dead in his apartment at the age of 41. The simple fact remains that we just never know the day or the hour we will be called from this life.

Today I ask for prayers for his soul and for the little girl he leaves behind. I also ask for prayers for my husband who will deeply miss his friend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"It was then that I carried you."



This week I have the great pleasure of being able to attend daily morning Mass at St. Catherine of Siena's in Springfield, MA. This Church has one corner in the back dedicated to "The Footprints" poem with this amazing sculpture. I wish I knew who the artist was. It is truly breathtaking and so comforting to think of Jesus carrying us like this.
















Footprints

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson, 1936

NFP Goes High-Tech

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Ovulation CalendarOvulation Calendar

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thank you and Goodbye to "The Catholic Observer"

My Diocesan newspaper "The Catholic Observer" just published its last issue. It will be replaced by a new magazine, "The Catholic Mirror." I'm sure that the magazine will be great and I look forward to reading it, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge how much I have appreciated "The Catholic Observer" over the years and to say a public "Thank you" to all who made it great. I have enjoyed reading it since I was a teenager and had the privilege of being included in it a couple times. I know the reality is fewer and fewer people read newspapers, but I for one enjoy sitting down with something tangible and reading it while I eat or while curled up in a comfy chair. I like to be able to fold down corners on things I want to refer to or blog about. As I said, I'm sure the magazine will be great and I am very glad that Peggy Weber will be continuing her column. It just won't come as often :(

Monday, July 12, 2010

Intent to Homeschool Done!

I just finished my paperwork for the city (formally titled, my "Intent to Homeschool.")
It always looks so good on paper! And then . . . the reality hits. LOL

But, I am confident we will cover most of it and that my children will know more next spring than they do right now. I'm starting my third year of homeschooling. It is certainly not always easy, but it was probably the best parenting decision I ever made.

On DVD: "Lost Road of the Popes"

The story of how six Popes saved the Catholic Church after Rome was destroyed in 1527.

“Lost Road of The Popes: Via Papale” narrated by actor Brian Dennehy, photographed entirely in HD by renowned Italian cinematographer Manuel DeTeffe and finished with an original musical score based on the works of Vivaldi, this film is certain to be remembered.

Starting with Rome in ruin and the Catholic Church under siege, "Lost Road of The Popes: Via Papale" follows the works of six powerful Popes and explores how they took on the task of first rebuilding, then glorifying the new Rome. "Lost Road of the Popes" unfolds the miracle of this remarkable renaissance. It describes how Rome and its Papal rulers not only survived, but were inspired to create the magnificent monuments, churches, art and architecture on a single road called the Via Papale. And why that once powerful road that helped to exalt and save the Catholic Church has been…forgotten.

To find out more or to order, please visit http://www.lostroadofthepopes.com

Catholic Writers Conference Coming Soon!

The second annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will be held August 4-6, 2010, at the Scanticon Hotel Valley Forge in King of Prussia, PA. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe.

This year's conference will feature presentations on such topics as market tips and time management for busy writers, poetry, creating evil characters, working with an editor, creating winning proposals, journaling and much more. Speakers include Catholic publishing representatives Claudia Volkman - General Manager of Circle Press, Regina Doman - acquisitions editor for Sophia Institute Press, and Tom Wehner - Managing Editor of the National Catholic Register, all of whom will also hear pitches from writers.

Among the other speakers are Mark Shea (Mary, Mother of the Son), Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (Mother Teresa and Me), Susie Lloyd (Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water), and Publicist Lisa Wheeler from the Maximus Group. Tom Wehner (National Catholic Register), and Long Island Catholic diocesan newspaper editor Rick Hinshaw will share a panel discussing “Journalists as Evangelists.” They will focus on Pope Benedict’s call for a “new evangelization,” which includes writing for online and hard-copy local and national media outlets. Michelle Buckman, author of the young adult novels Maggie Come Lately and My Beautiful Disaster will present the keynote address on “The Wonder of Expressing Catholicism in Fiction.”

“Attending this conference has been the best thing I have done for myself professionally,” Carol Bannon, author of the children’s book Handshake from Heaven, said of the 2009 conference. Her fellow writer Melanie Cameron agreed, saying she left the last conference re-energized. “I recommend [this] conference as a resource for any author (or wannabe) at any stage. You will walk away empowered!”
The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”
Registration costs $85 for CWG members, $95 for non-members and $42 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Eternal Question

What would you do if you knew that you were dying soon? In recent times, there have been several songs and movies dedicated to that question. Would you create a bucket list and set out to do all those things you always wanted to do but never had the time. Would you give your money away? Reconcile with someone you had hurt or forgive someone who had hurt you? Tell someone you love them? Spend more time with your spouse and your children? The point of that question is to encourage us to take our limited time here seriously and focus on what really matters. It is a good reality check to determine if we are choosing to use our time well and embracing life fully. Yet, those songs and movies don’t fully grasp the issue at hand.

Our life here on earth is a great gift from God, but it comes with great responsibility. We have a duty to use it well, not only because to fritter it away is an insult to the gift-giver, but more importantly because it has eternal ramifications. This isn’t all there is. It is certainly good to go out and experience life and visit new places and appreciate the beauty of this world that God created. We are also called to use our gifts and talents to help make the world a better place. But, the true purpose of this life is to lead us to life with God in heaven.

How do we get there? Generations of Catholics can recite the answer to the question: “Why did God make you?” The answer is “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” That is it – our purpose in a simple nutshell. Of course, the actual living out of that statement is much more difficult. It is readily apparent that none of us can “earn” heaven. It is a gift freely given by God. Christ’s death and resurrection opened the doors of heaven that had been closed due to sin. We do not merit heaven in any way. However, we can certainly lose that gift.

The scholar in this week’s gospel (Luke 10:25-37) has his eyes on the prize. He asks Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus turns the question back on him “What is written in the law.” The scholar recites the highest commandment, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He then questions Jesus further, asking “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus shares the parable of The Good Samaritan. Our neighbor is everyone we come in contact with.

So, then, this is the litmus test with which we should judge our lives. If today was our last day, if we knew we were going to meet our God and have to answer for our lives, how would we fare? What are our priorities? How did we spend our time? What are the areas of our lives we need to work on? None of us is perfect, but we can keep working on our areas of weakness. We can strive for that ideal of perfect love for God and neighbor. Perhaps we can truly live as if we were dying and have the amount of time we do have left (whether that be one day or a hundred years) be better for it.

Friday, July 09, 2010

For All Book Lovers

Kathleen Parker is one of my favorite columnists. While I don't always agree with her opinions, I always find her intelligent and thought-provoking. Her latest post is one all book-lovers will want to read. I especially loved this line:
I belong to that subgroup of individuals who smell a book before reading. (If you are not a book-smeller, we have nothing further to discuss.)

Yes, this is a woman after my own heart!

Read the article here: What's behind the human touch

A Place of Peace



One of my favorite places ever is the Dominican Mother of God Monastery located on Route 5 (Riverdale Street) in West Springfield, MA. My mother is a member of the Dominican Laity and I spent a great deal of time here as a child. I dreamed of becoming a nun and living my life there. Obviously, God had other plans. For me, however, this will always be a place of peace and tranquility. I don't make it there nearly as often as I like, but I brought my children a couple of weeks ago and we prayed and lit candles. I thought I'd share some photos with you so that you could share my place of peace. And if you ever find yourself in Western Massachusetts, be sure to stop by.










Thursday, July 08, 2010

Examination of Conscience

I've been reading Win It All: The Way to Heaven for Catholic Teens. In it, Justin Fatica offers this link for an Examination of Conscience: Examination of Conscience. It is a good list. Sometimes it can be hard to think of all the things that you have done and a check-off list can be useful. It would be especially helpful for someone who has been away from the sacrament for a while.

For those who have lost a child

The Shrine of the Holy Innocents at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is designed to be a place of healing for anyone who has lost a child whether through death, miscarriage, or abortion. To find out more, please visit Shrine of the Holy Innocents

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy

I've only read an excerpt from this book, but No Turning Back A Witness to Mercy by Fr. Donald Calloway looks like a great read and a compelling story. It tells of his conversion from run-away teen to Marian priest. With 127 reviews on Amazon, it has 5 stars - no small feat. It is a modern day St. Augustine type of story.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Prayer of Surrender

This prayer was written by Charles de Foucald.

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands: do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Worldwide Consecration to Jesus through Mary

Looking for a proven and incredible boost to your prayer life?

Join in the Second Annual "Worldwide Consecration to Jesus Through Mary"


You are invited to participate in the

33-Day Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary

According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort



The first Worldwide Consecration brought together over 13,000 faithful from 24 countries in Consecration to Jesus through Mary

including Catholic speaker FR. JOHN CORAPI


This year 13 monastaries (and counting) have agreed to pray for the consecration and it's participants including

The Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist (as seen on Oprah)

who will be joining in the consecration!



Preparatory prayers recited daily from July 13th - August 15th:

Total Consecration Preparation Prayers and Consecration Prayer

Consecration Day - August 15th

The Solemnity of the Feast of the Assumption

Find out more at http://www.icatholicradio.com/station-events/consecrate-yourself

Trusting in God when it is hard

I finished my 54 day rosary novena this morning, and then went to morning Mass. I was praying for a friend, but the outcome of those prayers impacts me as well. I have peace, but am also hurting. Sometimes, answers to prayers come in ways that cause us pain temporarily, but God sees the big picture in ways that we can't.

I came across this reflection by Melanie Rigney in Living Faith today. It seemed very relevant.

It's easy to go to God with problems when we already know the answers: Please show me how to be more patient. Help me to resist chocolate. Remind me how good I feel when I go to Mass.

But relying on heavenly guidance is harder in some other situations: I don't understand why my friend had to die. I'm scared of growing old alone. I don't know what I'll do if I don't find a job soon.

At such times, being told to 'turn it over to God' can sound pat and meaningless. But if we have the courage to acknowledge that, truly, God alone can help, that courage in the form of faith will save us. His help may not come in the form we expect or want, but it will come.


I am choosing to trust that God knows what He is doing, even when it is very hard.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Taking a Break

It's Sunday night and I should be writing an article. I had fully intended to do this. However, it is the Fourth of July and I have no burning ideas for a topic, so I think I'm just going to take a break and curl up with a book.

Maybe that will be my message for this week - Give yourself a break and relax a bit. We moms rarely get to do that.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Book Review: Walking Together

Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship
by Mary DeTurris Poust
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

Our world does not seem to allow for deep friendships today. Family and friends are often separated by physical distance. Our lives are so busy that even keeping up with people via electronic means can be a challenge. One is lucky to have one or two close friends. A spiritual friend is an even rarer gift. In "Walking Toegther: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship," Mary DeTurris Poust emphasizes the value of such friendships while acknowledging the difficulty in forming them.

What makes a spiritual friend different from a "regular" friend? They are "two people bound together by a love of God." They walk side by side, with God always in between. "Spiritual friends magnify our virtuous qualities. More casual friends might bring out the worst in us through competitiveness, idle gossip, jealousy. Spiritual friends, however, bring out the best - in inspiring us to live in humility, honesty, charity. Spiritual friends inspire us to move beyond pettiness to a place where our hearts and minds are focused on doing what is right." The goal that both parties are reaching for is life with God in heaven.

Poust profiles some famous spiritual friendships, holding them up as a model for our own lives. The bonds between St. Frances de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, and St. Francis and St. Clare are all discussed. Poust, who seems to have been extraordinarily blessed in this area, also shares her own experiences of spiritual friendship.

Poust offers some practical advice on how to find and nurture spiritual friends. She also examines spiritual direction, which can sometimes develop into a spiritual friendship. Some time is devoted to spiritual friendships between men and women, both within marriage and outside of it. She acknowledges that there can be challenges in celibate opposite-sex friendships and cautions that the temptations toward infatuation and romantic interest must be overcome in order for a healthy, loving friendship to develop and flourish. If one or both of the parties are married, great care must be taken to make sure that the friendship does not threaten the marriage in any way. Despite these concerns, Poust does feel that male-female spiritual friendships can be a great blessing and she has benefited from them in her own life.

Spiritual friendship is a rare and good gift. It is to be greatly treasured. Hopefully, "Walking Together" will encourage many to pursue them in their own lives.

Inadequate

This is a beautiful post by Dionna Sanchez: Inadequate

New Book by Regina Doman

Regina Doman's fairy-tale novels are always a treat. I'm please to annouce that she has just released the latest volume: Alex O'Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves. You can read the first chapter here: Chapter One and purchase it here: Order Form

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Books Ordered for School

I just placed the order for our homeschool books for next year. I really do a hodgepodge of different resources from different places, and then adjust as necessary. This has been on my to-do list for a month now. It feels good to cross that one off. I'm later than usual doing this. Usually by now, I'd already have my end-of-year report and plan for next year into the city. That definitely needs to get done by the end of the month. Honestly, though, I'm in no rush for the end of August to get here and a new school year to begin. I'm enjoying the break.