Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review: "God is Love"

God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est
by Pope Benedict XVI
San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006

"God is Love," also known by its Latin title "Deus Caritas Est," was Pope Benedict XVI's first papal encyclical given on Christmas Day 2005. As the title suggests, it focuses on the nature and importance of love. The title comes from 1 John 4:16 which the Pope uses to open this letter. "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." He states that he wishes to use this encyclical to "speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others." The Pope's writings are always well-thought out and rationally argued. He is a consummate theologian.

However, even he acknowledges (in an introduction he later added) that "at the beginning, in fact, the text may seem a bit difficult and theoretical. As you continue to read, however, it will become clear that I have only wanted to respond to a couple of very concrete questions about Christian life." Those questions are "Is it truly possible to love God? And again, can love be imposed from the outside?" The second question is "Can we really love our 'neighbor' who is unfamiliar to us or whom we may even dislike?" The final question is "With her commandments and her prohibitions, does not the Church turn to bitterness the joy of eros, of being loved, which urges us toward the other person and wants to be realized in union?"

The Pope succeeds well in his task of answering these questions. He explores the true nature of love in all its forms and how it should impact all of our lives.

Here are two important quotes from "God is Love" about how our love should extend to our neighbors:

"We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity . . . The Christian's program - the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus - is 'a heart which sees'. This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly."

"Those who practice charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak."

The Liturgical Changes

Here is a list of some of the new changes that will be coming to the Catholic liturgy in Advent of next year. (Sigh) This is going to take some getting used to.

Changes coming to a parish near you

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes"

I haven't read this one, but it looks like a great book. It is also a recipient of the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval.

Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

By Ann Margaret Lewis
Illustrations by Rikki Niehaus

Follow the great detective as he investigates three baffling cases at the "express desire of his Holiness, the Pope." Stories include "The Death of Cardinal Tosca," "The Vatican Cameos," and "The Second Coptic Patriarch." You'll encounter baffling crimes, rich, historical settings, and a fateful encounter with Father Brown! These thrilling tales of murder and intrigue vividly bring to life three of Watson's "untold tales!"

When the famous Father Brown is imprisoned for the murder of a Coptic clerk, Brown's ex-criminal friend Flambeau seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes to set him free. The case is a tangled problem that spans from the hearth of a simple family to the upper-echelons of the Church of Rome.

Sherlock Holmes helps Pope Leo XIII recover a rare collection of ancient Roman cameos that has vanished en route to Queen Victoria. A gift with political implications, their loss could cost English Catholics their much-needed cathedral in London. Holmes travels to Rome to locate the stolen baubles, but when this theft quickly turns to murder, Holmes and the Holy Father realize this case is more treacherous than they imagined. Introduced and concluded by Dr. Watson, the bulk of the tale is told in the fatherly voice of the erudite and prolific Pope Leo XIII.

Pope Leo requests the aid of Sherlock Holmes to investigate the sudden and mysterious death of a member of his curia. Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson discover that the pen is definitely mightier than the sword in the hands of a murderous artisan whose intended victim is the Pope himself.

To order, visit http://www.wessexpress.com/html/vatican.html

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Importance of Parents as Teachers

I was recently reading the September 2010 issue of “Living” magazine. Not surprisingly, inside of it was an ad featuring Martha Stewart. What was surprising was the subject matter. Martha was not touting the latest home beautification item or her paint or furniture line. Rather, the headline read “Behind every famous person is a fabulous teacher.” The small print then went on to explain that for Martha, that fabulous teacher was her mother. She states, “Mom was a great teacher. People ask me all the time how and when and where I learned how to do all those things. It really was my mother who taught me so much.”

Most of us have been blessed with a few good teachers in our academic careers. Perhaps there was one who had a particular influence on you, who brought something out in you that you hadn’t known existed, or took the time to offer some extra help which made all the difference in understanding a subject. Teachers in schools have one of the hardest jobs on earth and are not valued nearly as much as they should be.

But it is important to remember that no matter how incredible the teachers are in school, parents are their children’s first and primary teachers. I look back on my own life and know that to be the case. I was blessed with an excellent Catholic school education with many great and memorable teachers. Yet, it is my parents who shaped me into who I am. From my mother, I learned my faith. Prayer and her relationship with God was and is her priority. I am eternally grateful that she passed that gift along to me. From my father, I learned the value of hard work and persistence. He was also always happy to play a game with me. Those are lessons I have always held on to – work hard and play hard and do all you do with purpose.

Now that I am on the other side of the parenting fence, I realize what a huge and awesome blessing and responsibility it is to teach one’s children. Our children look to us for so much in life, and what we do matters more than what we say. They watch how we spend our time, how we use our money, how we treat others, and how we care for them. In my own life, I have taken the role of parent as teacher one step further in that I homeschool my children. It wasn’t a role I had planned on, but one that God called me to. We start our third year tomorrow. It has been, and will no doubt continue to be, a challenging and rewarding journey.

People have varying reactions when they hear I homeschool: Are you crazy? I could never do that! I would love to do that, but I would never have the patience. You must be a saint! Truly, it isn’t as hard as people think, and I would encourage anyone who wants to do it to try it. But every parent, regardless of whether they take on full responsibility for their children’s academic careers, is a homeschooling parent. Every parent who sings the ABC’s, or helps her child with her homework, or teaches them to ride a bike or tie their shoes or to cook or do laundry is educating them. Especially in matters of faith, a parent’s example is of the utmost importance. Every parent who takes his child to Church or says prayers with them or shows them the value of charity is educating his child.

The lessons learned at home, for good or bad, are the ones that stick. Make them matter. Your children will appreciate it someday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Review: God Moments

God Moments: Stories that Inspire, Moments to Remember
by Michele Elena Bondi
Rochester: Joseph Karl Publishing, 2010

Have you ever experienced a “God Moment?” – a time in your life when God worked behind the scenes to move things in a certain direction. Some people refer to these as coincidences, mere situations of chance. For those who believe, Someone much more powerful is pulling the strings. “God moments are very special and significant events that have great meaning and purpose. They may involve angels, saints, people, animals, or anything in God’s great creation. Always they involve an encounter with the Divine. Perhaps they are meant to challenge or change us, encourage and inspire us, motivate us, sooth us, or prepare us. Sometimes they occur over time for reasons that we do not immediately understand. . . Our challenge is to recognize, believe, take action, trust, or sometimes wait, always loving in greater measure.”

In “God Moments: Stories that Inspire, Moments to Remember,” Michelle Elena Bondi has compiled a collection of personal stories that reveal God acting in our lives. Organized into the categories of Love, Discernment, Faith, Healing, Suffering, Miracles, and Reconciliation, the essays share both intimate and public moments of contact with God.

For example, one mother tells of her eighth-grade son expressing his need for space. She had put her hands on his shoulders in front of his friends, and he removed them and said “Bye, Mom.” She understood the developmental stage, but was still hurt by it. Yet, it was a God moment because it caused her to reflect on her own relationship with God. “How does God feel when he desires to be with us and we respond, sometimes in front of others, ‘Bye, God.’ Perhaps we think to ourselves, ‘Not now’ or ‘Not in front of my friends’ or ‘I do not want to be out of my comfort zone’ or ‘What will people think?’ Does God feel rejected, slighted, or hurt like I did when I was so glad to see my son and he wanted me to go away? Perhaps we reject God without even realizing it.”

Another person tells of how a random phone call to a hotel led to an opportunity to talk about her faith with a man who desperately needed to hear it. She writes, “I was totally moved by this experience. God can use us at any time if we just make ourselves available. I’m sure that man’s wife has been praying for him for years. With God all things are possible. So I’m praying for that man and asked me to contact me at any time.”

“God Moments” is a testament to the many ways God works in our lives. God loves each of us so much. “Share in the delight God has for every person He created. His works are constantly on display and there is a show going on every moment. Admission is always free.” “God Moments” will encourage you to be more open to His plan for your own life and to see Him at work in your daily life. It is a beautiful book that will do much good.

God Moments will be available October 2010 from Joseph Karl Publishing, www.godisatworkinyou.com, and also on Amazon.

Smartphone apps for the faithful

I am certainly not the most technologically advanced person around. I own a cell phone which is only capable of making phonecalls, which I use maybe once or twice a month. Yes, sometimes I fear the poor thing must suffer from neglect. However, I know many people today live and die by their smartphones. For you, there are a whole list of apps that can help you in your spiritual life. U.S. Catholic did a good article on some of these: iPray - smartphone apps for the faithful

Is Social Justice the Same as Socialism?

Sometimes, when people hear the Church speaking about Social Justice, they start getting nervous. After all, we don't want a socialist society. This article from US Catholic goes a long way toward explaining the difference between the two concepts:

Is Social Justice the Same as Socialism?

God Picks Us Up

Today's Living Faith reflection by Claire J. King resonated with me:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. - 1 Corinthians 1:25

Maybe you have to be creeping up on your 50th birthday to "get" today's Scripture. Well, OK, maybe you just turned 30. The point is, there's a bones to aging that the old folks don't tell you about when you're in your teens and 20s, a marvelous, transforming epiphany: God really is in control.

Just pause a moment to conjure up some of life's major screw-ups, humiliating miscalculations, wrecked plans, shameful failings, unspeakable sins. And look! You're still standing! Somewhere along the way, more times than you can count, God picked you up with mercy, dusted you off with kindness and gracefully got you on your feet again.

Our broken, sorry selves. Our wise, foolish, forgiving God. What a pair!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I cut off all my hair today . . .


And was happy to do it. I had grown my hair long enough once before to donate a couple years ago. It was one of those things I had always had on my "things I wanted to do" list. I figured I would do it once and that would be it - I could cross it off the list. After I attempted to give blood in January, however (another thing on the "to-do" list), and found out I will never be able to due to a permanent health condition, I decided to do it one more time. I figured if I couldn't help someone with my blood, at least I could help someone feel more beautiful during a difficult time with a wig made out of my hair. My hair has been growing since March of 2009 (even when I don't donate it, I still tend to only cut it once a year) and I finally had enough to donate the 9 inches to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program. I now have a little stubby ponytail on the back of my head - highly attractive LOL. It doesn't matter - it is hair and it grows back. I really wasn't planning on entering any beauty contests anytime soon.

I'm sad that this will most likely be the last time I can do this. My hair is getting too gray (the maximum amount of grey one can have is 5%). I was worried I wouldn't make it this time, but as I inspected the ponytail, I think it is OK. It is yet another sign of growing older, and while I am OK with it (what other option is there, really?), I do miss being young.

Happy 100th Birthday, Mother Teresa


August 26th marks 100 years since Mother Teresa's birth. In honor of her birthday, the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, CT is featuring a special exhibit about her life. To find out more, please visit Knights of Columbus Museum

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: "Where do Priests Come From?"

Where Do Priests Come From?

by Elizabeth Ficocelli
Waterford, MI: Bezalel Books, 2010

From a child's perspective, priests can sometimes seem very mysterious. After all, they dress differently and live differently and do different things than all of the other people in their lives. It can be hard to imagine that they were once little boys. Elizabeth Ficocelli has written a charming, informative book "Where do Priests Come From" which attempts to answer many of the questions children might have about priests and the lives they lead.

Ficocelli talks about how priests are called by God to the priesthood, how they may have dreamed of being an astronaut or a doctor or a fire-fighter, but one day they heard a quiet voice in the hearts inviting them to become a priest and they said "Yes." She discusses the discernment process and the time in seminary. She mentions the different types of priests and the vows they take. She mentions the long list of ways that they minister to other people, but also emphasizes that they are still people who also have a need to relax and enjoy hobbies. They also sometimes make mistakes and need to go to confession (this was the fact that my own two sons were most surprised by!)

This book is intended for young boys to encourage them to think about becoming a priest. As such, it is a great vocation tool. Ficocelli has done a wonderful job with this book. One can only hope that there will be a companion volume for girls: "Where Do Sisters Come From?"

Compartmentalizing Motherhood

Here is a good article from Cheryl Dickow on how to make it through the day as a mom:

Compartmentalizing

Thought for the Day

"Procrastination is the thief of dreams" - from Alan Christoffersen's diary in The Walk

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: The Walk

The Walk: A Novel (Walk Series)
by Richard Paul Evans
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010

As a long-time fan of Richard Paul Evans, author of "The Christmas Box" and several other best-selling books, I was so excited to pick up his latest offering, "The Walk." Alan Christofferson had it all - a beautiful wife who loved him, a hugely successful business, and all the things that money could by. Truly, he led a charmed life. Yet, in the matter of six short weeks, he loses it all. He wants to end it all, but his wife had made him promise he would continue to live. Heartbroken and homeless, he decides that he he is going to take a walk - a long walk. His plan is to journey all the way from Seattle to Key West, Florida. This first book of a five-book series takes him across Washington state. It is a journey of discovery and faith and healing. This book truly did not disappoint and I am already looking forward to the next in the series.

Angel in the Waters

Long-time readers of my blog will know that Angel in the Waters is one of my all-time favorite children's books. In fact, I love this book so much I think every family with young children should own a copy of it. (I don't make that recommendation lightly as I am generally a firm believer in the idea that books can be borrowed and don't need to make a permanent home in my house). My children have read and re-read this book countless times and every time they have read it or I have read it to them, it fills all of us with tremendous faith and peace. We read it last night and I knew I had to post about it again for any of you who might not be aware of it.

It is a beautiful book showing a child developing in the womb with his guardian angel by his side, an guardian angel who will always be with him until he takes him safely into the next world. It is one, truly, not to be missed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: "Angels and Wonders"

Angels and Wonders: True Stories of Heaven on Earth
by Joan Wester Anderson
Chicago: Loyola Press, 2008

"Angels and Wonders" is actually a reprint of a 1996 book "Where Wonders Prevail" so if you own that one, you don't need to buy or read this one. It also means that the stories and references in this book all refer to things from the 1980s and early 90s. That doesn't make the stories any less miraculous, however. In the preface, Joan Wester Anderson writes of a crocus that bloomed one day eighteen years after it had planted by her father, on her father's birthday 4 years after he had died. It was a simple miracle but it forever built her faith. Anderson states "Although faith should never depend on such things, we are mystical as well as physical beings, and we need a touch of the sacred now and then to remind us of our eternal home." There are plenty of stories in this book to help build anyone's faith. From the story of baby Logan who came back to life after an hour and eighteen minutes of being dead, to children who saw ghosts of loved ones who had just died even before they were informed that the person had passed on, to the photograph of four women (including one stranger who had been of great help) which when developed showed only three people, to the woman running from a dangerous boyfriend who was able to travel four hundred miles on a near-empty tank of gas. If you need a little help to believe in miracles or that God really cares for people, you need to read this book. It will warm your heart and encourage your faith.

Free E-Book on Rosary of the Hours


Our Sunday Visitor is offering a free e-book on "The Rosary of the Hours"

Whether for Eucharistic Adoration in your parish, or for private devotion in your home -- or wherever or whatever your circumstances -- the Rosary of the Hours provides a simple and inspirational method of sanctifying every hour. Specially chosen prayers from the Psalms, beautiful meditations gleaned from the Popes, and suggested Scripture passages for further meditation are yours, to inspire and comfort, whatever the time, day or night.

Download it here: The Rosary of the Hours

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Discipline as Love

This week's second reading from the Book of Hebrews can be a hard one to swallow.

"Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
‘My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.’
Endure your trials as 'discipline';
God treats you as sons.
For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12:5-7)

We don’t like to think of God as disciplining us. The image of God that is most popular today is one of love, but not a parental love. Rather, it is more of a friendship sort of love. God will stick with you no matter what. God will walk with you and have your back and make sure that nothing bad happens to you. God will look the other way when you sin. In the long run, it won’t matter. God will always be there.

It is definitely true that God is always with us. He doesn’t abandon us. We are the ones that turn away from him when we sin. However, as this passage tells us, God’s love is not merely that of friend. It is parental, and as all parents can attest to, this involves not always being your child’s favorite person. It means that sometimes (most of the time) you have to be the one who lays down the law and makes sure it is followed. It means caring more about how your children are developing as moral, socially-responsible people than whether or not they like you at the moment. It means taking away privileges and enforcing time-outs (later known as groundings.) It means taking away car keys and making curfews, and saying “No, you cannot do that” and holding your ground even when you are told repeatedly, “But Mom, everyone else is doing it.” It means teaching hard lessons and sometimes inflicting punishments that hurt you every bit as much (if not more) than they hurt your child. It means watching your child cry and knowing it is for his own good even as it breaks your heart. And we are only human parents with human parental love! Imagine what this must be like for God.

God doesn’t want to punish us any more than we want to punish our children. He doesn’t do it to be mean or to exert His incredible power. But, sometimes, we force His hand. We make some bad choices and He lets us suffer the consequences of our actions. He wants us to learn a lesson and correct our lives for the benefit of our eternal souls. Sometimes, we can be quite stubborn and it takes a great deal of correction for us to get the message. But, it is always for our eternal good.

God does love us with an everlasting love. He doesn’t want us to suffer. Our suffering is a result of sin, both the general sin in the world, and our own personal sin. Like the parent who must discipline as part of bringing up a child, God has our best interests at heart. He wants us to learn and make progress on our spiritual journey. When we are being disciplined by God, it is a sign of His love. It means He hasn’t given up on us. For that, we should be incredibly thankful.

Bleeding Hands, Weeping Stone

Bleeding Hands, Weeping Stone: True Stories of Divine Wonders, Miracles and Messages
by Elizabeth Ficocelli looks like a great book. You can check out Lisa Hendey's enthusiastic review of it on Catholic Mom: Review of Bleeding Hands, Weeping Stone

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Good Reminder

This was posted by one of my FB friends tonight. It is a good reminder and what I needed to hear tonight:

A failure is not a rejection, but a delay. Keep the faith! Just wait! Don't be discouraged. God knows the perfect time.

Love continues after death

I'm currently reading Angels and Wonders: True Stories of Heaven on Earth, the last of the three angel books by Joan Wester Anderson that I had taken out of the library. I'm still not sure why God wanted me to read these books right now. Perhaps I needed the reminder that there are angels watching over me and my children, or that God does care (even on days when I am not sure that He does). Maybe my children needed to hear the stories in the Angel to Watch Over Me I'm now reading to them, or maybe one of you reading this needs to read one of these books. I'm sure God has his reasons. I don't need to know. I just need to trust.

One of the things about the current book I'm reading is that it has several stories of people seeing family members that had died (even in cases where they never knew the person when he/she was alive). While I know that people who have died continue to care about us and pray for us, it is nice to have evidence that that connection truly does exist. Love continues after death. It's not only the saints that can help us. We can also ask those in our own families who have crossed to the other side for their assistance. While they are not angels in the true sense of the word (Angels are created as such. Humans are human.), they can still be of great help to us in our times of need.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: Christmas is About Jesus

Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional
by Mukkove Johnson
Tate Publishing, 2009

It might seem a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but Advent will be here before we know it, along with all the hustle and bustle that goes along with that time of year. “Christmas is About Jesus” is a lovely little book that will help children (and their parents) focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Each day from December 1st through the 24th features a Scripture verse and a reflection on a symbol of Christmas and how that symbol reminds us of Jesus. Some of the symbols covered include snowflakes, candy canes, ornaments, St. Nicholas, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, cookies, songs, and stars. As the days get closer to Christmas, the devotions focus on those who were at the first Christmas – the wise men, shepherds, Mary, and the most important one of all, Jesus.

The book is attractively designed and easy to use. It could be used at home or as part of a religious education class. The reflections could be used alone or combined with a craft for a longer lesson. “Christmas is About Jesus” will help keep minds focused on Jesus during the Advent season.

Book Review: "Saint Francis"

Saint Francis (Christian Encounters Series)
by Robert West
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010

St. Francis, who lived and preached in the 13th century, is one of Christianity’s most beloved saints. Like many saints, however, time has served to separate him from the actual life he lived. In many minds, he is known only as the lover of animals. He is usually seen with birds, often as a statue in a garden. While St. Francis certainly had that side to him, he was much more than that. “Saint Francis” by Robert West, a book in the Christian Encounters series by Thomas Nelson, sets out to show Francis in all his complexity. He was a saint, yes, but like all saints, he was also very human.

This is a no-holds-barred biography of Francis. West does not gloss over Francis’ wild youth. In fact, he makes much of it in order to contrast it with the man he later became. Yet, the charisma that would make Francis such a compelling preacher and leader was already at root in the boy and young man. Francis was meant to be a leader.

West discusses Francis’s conversion and does his utmost to make his love of “Lady Poverty” understandable to the modern mind. He shows the battles Francis had with his own bodily desires and the lengths he would go to in order to overcome them. He wanted nothing to come between him and God. West also examines his relationship with the men that would come to join him as well as his relationship with St. Clare, who also gave up everything to follow him.

Francis’ life was certainly not without its challenges. His way of life was so austere that many begged him to relax his rules for those who followed him, but he would not relent. As a result, there was infighting among the brothers, especially when Francis was not physically present. It took considerable effort for his order to be recognized by the Pope. His dream of converting the Muslim Sultan during the crusades did not go the way he had hoped.

Yet, Francis is most known for his miracles, his communing with nature, and the stigmata he bore on his body. West examines some of the legends that grew up around the life of Francis, and despite a healthy skepticism, is willing to admit that at least some of them were possible.

West’s “Saint Francis” is a highly readable well-researched biography. It serves as a valuable introduction to the life of the man behind the statues.

It's Not Too Late!

You can still enter the Catholic Fiction Summer Giveaway at Catholic Mom:

Dog Days of Summer Catholic Fiction Giveaway

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Be an Amazing Catechist

While I am incredibly thankful that God hasn't called me to be a CCD teacher this year (It is important to know where one's gifts do not lie), "Be an Amazing Catechist" by Lisa Mladinich looks like a great book for those of you who will be either returning to the CCD classroom or entering it for the first time. Lisa is a well-respected writer and columnist on CatholicMom.com. She also manages the Amazing Catechists website.

The official blurb is as follows:
Be an Amazing Catechist is a highly effective training program for the Catholic catechist. It is simple, engaging, and useful to catechists at every level of experience using any curriculum. You might not need every idea in this book, but you will find within it valuable tools for making your catechetical ministry more vibrant, more exciting, and more effective.

Order it here: Our Sunday Visitor link for "Be an Amazing Catechist"

Prayer to St. Faustina

2010 is the 10th Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who was chosen by God to help promote the importance of Divine Mercy. Her feast day is October 5th.







Prayer to St. Faustina

Saint Faustina,

You told us that you mission
would continue after your death
and that you would not forget us.

Our Lord also granted you a great privilege
telling you to "distribute graces as you will,
to whom you will, and when you will."

"Relying on this, we ask your
intercession for our graces we need,
especially for our particular intentions.

Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus
as you did and thus glorify His mercy
every moment of our lives.

Amen.

Yet one more reason to love Facebook and YouTube

A friend on Facebook recommended using the old schoolhouse rocks multiplication videos on YouTube to teach multiplication facts. Can't hurt to try :) It's wonderful to have all of these free resources right at the tips of our fingers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

I will probably get to see the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" when it comes out on DVD. I definitely do want to see it. After all, I value all three of those actions. I pray. I love. And, well, as those who know me can attest to, I've never met an ice cream I didn't like. I can also appreciate the need for self-discovery. I've been trying to suck more marrow out of life lately. After all, the clock is ticking.

Admittedly, it sometimes seems like a very losing battle, but I am trying. That is also where the praying comes in - to accept where I am in life and the blessings and limitations that it offers. Yet, this review of the book by Peggy Weber: Eat, Pray, Love brings up some very good points about why this book/movie should not be celebrated as much as it is.

Will I still see the movie? Yes. I like Julia Roberts and I do think it will be an interesting story to watch. I had dreams Friday night of going to the movies on my own to watch it. But, none of the times were really convenient, and as it turned out, my husband had to work late so it couldn't have happened anyway. Yet, reading that review has made me appreciate more that the fact that I will not get to see it for probably 4 or 5 months is an OK thing. My life doesn't allow for that right now. But I can still eat, pray, and love and be happy about it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review: Guardian Angels - True Stories of Answered Prayers

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself. As I was reading this book, I felt that the stories were very familiar and I had the sneaking suspicion that I had, in fact, read the book before. Sure enough, after searching my own blog, I found that I had reviewed it way back in January 2007. You can read that review here: http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/01/guardian-angels.html. But three and a half years is a long time, and this is a book well worth a second look.

Guardian Angels: True Stories of Answered Prayers is a testament to the power of prayer and the existence of miracles. The true-life stories contained within its pages tell of angels and people acting as angels. They tell of being repaid for kindnesses rendered in ways people couldn't even imagine. There is a special section on Christmas miracles. These stories demonstrate that God does care about us and sometimes intervenes in our lives in amazing ways.

Perhaps because of my name and the fact that I am a writer, the story that touched me most was "Patricia's Valentine." Judy Kimball was falling apart. Her husband had recently asked her for a divorce. She hadn't yet told anyone and was doing all she could just to function and to continue in her role as a mom. She had started taking a Wednesday night class in creative writing, but she figured that she would now need to leave that behind as well. On a trip to the drugstore to buy Valentines for her children, a woman called out her name. She turned and saw a woman named Patricia from her writing class. She had never really talked to her before, but soon she found herself pouring out her heart to this relative stranger. When she was done talking, Patricia handed Judy an angel pin and told her "God hasn't forgotten you, Judy. He just has other plans for you. You will survive this. Trust me."

Judy found the courage to attend the writing class the following week and hoped to see Patricia. But, she was not there. Nor was she there in the coming weeks. Finally, Judy asked the teacher about her, but the teacher had no memory of her and no "Patricia" was listed on her class roster.

For this story, and many more beautiful stories such as this, please read Guardian Angels: True Stories of Answered Prayers. It will warm your heart and encourage your faith.

"In-Sight"

In-Sight by Gerard Webster is one of this month's recommended books from The Catholic Writer's Guild.

Awards: 2nd Place, Creative Arts Council 2009 Book Awards
Silver Award, Fiction/Suspense, 2009 Readers' Favorite
2009 Southeast Regional Award, Reviewers Choice, Readers Views
Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval

Ward McNulty had it all: a successful career as a political columnist, a beautiful girlfriend, and rich and powerful friends. But he gained it at the cost of losing his Catholic faith. This is the story of fall, forgiveness and redemption...of deeply instilled family values triumphing over a culture gone awry...and of a lost son coming home. It's for anyone who believes that God has a hand in destiny and is not completely surprised when He draws back the curtain for a brief instant and allows a glimpse at another reality.

"...how the characters deal with their consciences -- whether they listen to them or smother them -- makes this story...a thoroughly enjoyable read...a page-turner with a purpose."
Therese Heckenkamp, Traditional Catholic Novels

"Fast paced with never a dull moment...fiction that, while highly entertaining, provokes reflections about life and death and about those mysteries of heaven and earth which surround us unseen."
Elena Maria Vidal, Tea At Trianon

"...stands out among other Catholic books in this genre...a Catholic action drama fiction story with a cutting edge..."
Tannia Ortiz-Lopes, Catholic Fiction

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mass in a Mall?

I had heard of a couple of chapels located in the midst of malls, but I had never experienced one. Never, that is, until this weekend, when life unexpectedly took me to the heart of Boston, Massachusetts. My family and I were exploring the Shops at Prudential Center, looking for a place to eat lunch, when I came across St. Francis Chapel. I absolutely had to stop and visit.

When I had imagined chapels located in malls, I had pictured a basic storefront type space with an altar and some chairs and a corner set off for confessions. My imagination certainly did not do St. Francis Chapel justice. This is a beautiful chapel. One moment you are standing in the midst of modern-day commerce. Then you enter the doors, and you are in a church. It is quiet and peaceful. It is called “An Oasis of Silence, An Oasis of Prayer” in the center of the city. I certainly found that to be the case.

Adoration was going on when I visited (it is held for several hours every day); it was so meaningful to be able to stop and pray. There were several other people inside who had also taken a break from the chaos outside to bring themselves before God. There was a wall of lit candles, each representing a prayer being sent up to heaven. Confessions were going on (a penitent was taking advantage of that sacrament), and someone was browsing the small Catholic bookstore adjacent to the chapel.

When I got home and researched the chapel further, I was surprised to learn that it has been in existence for over forty years! During that time, it has ministered to people from all over the world. I was incredibly impressed by the number of services this small chapel offers.

Ever since I heard of them, I have been a strong supporter of a Catholic presence within shopping malls. Now that I have seen one in action, I am an even bigger believer that this is an important ministry. Jesus always went to where the people were. This is a modern-day way to minister to people where they are. At St. Francis Chapel, masses and confession are offered at convenient times throughout the day. Unlike so many freestanding churches today which are locked due to security concerns, the doors are always open and welcome to everyone. The sacraments are readily available. How many times have I wanted to attend Mass only to find that my schedule doesn’t mesh with the daily Mass at the local church? As much as I may want to go to confession, Saturday afternoon is not always convenient. Priests lament that fewer people take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation today. Why not make it easier for them to go?

A chapel in a mall is welcoming. It calls to people, inviting them to take a moment for prayer. Even if they don’t enter, people of all faiths can be reminded that God is everywhere, even in the midst of a shopping center. It can reach out to Catholics who have, for whatever reason, found themselves away from the Church. It can be the first step to a return home. For someone who has no spiritual home to start with, it can be the first step in a relationship with God. Yes, there is a cost involved, and the dedication of priests to staff it, but I definitely feel that the souls that could be served and saved outweigh any monetary outlay. In a time when so many of our churches are being forced to close due to reduced membership and income, this is an opportunity that should be taken full advantage of. At a time when more and more youth are moving away from the Church, this is a chance to reach them where they are. Mass in a Mall? Absolutely.

To find out more about St. Francis Chapel, please visit http://www.stfrancischapel.org.

The Feast of the Assumption

Here is seminarian Tucker Cordani's reflection on the Feast of the Assumption and what it means:

The Assumption

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Through Shakespeare's Eyes

I haven't read this one, but Through Shakespeare's Eyes by Joseph Pearce looks very interesting for anyone who is fond of the Bard. The official description states:

Fulfilling the promise he made in The Quest for Shakespeare, bestselling literary writer Joseph Pearce analyzes three of Shakespeare's immortal plays-The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and King Lear-in order to uncover the Bard's Catholic beliefs.


In The Quest for Shakespeare, Pearce delved into known biographical evidence for Shakespeare's Catholicism. Here the popular, provocative author digs into the plays, which were written and first performed during the English crown's persecution of Catholics. English history and literature were once taught through the lens of English Protestantism and are now dominated by modern scholars with prescriptions of their own. In this book, Pearce, who has helped bring Shakespeare's Catholicism back into public discourse, seeks to bring us closer to the texts as they would have been seen through the Bard's own eyes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: An Angel to Watch Over Me

Angel to Watch Over Me
by Joan Wester Anderson
New York: Ballantine Books, 1994

This past Saturday, Joan Wester Anderson contacted me by mistake on Facebook and recommended that I read her series on miracles. I had read and reviewed one in the series several years ago and enjoyed it greatly. Honestly, I wasn't even aware that there were several others. However, I firmly believed that this was no mere coincidence. I told her that I would look for the books and I did. My library system had three available. I requested all of them. They came in today - three books from three different libraries in record time. Yes, God apparently wants me reading these books now.

"An Angel to Watch Over Me" is subtitled "True Stories of Children's Encounters with Angels." As Anderson states, "Litte ones do appear to have a special bond with heaven. Perhaps it's because they haven't yet experienced a clear division between the two worlds and, for a little while, can be part of each." In this book, she shares several stories of angelic intervention. One young girl's angel came to visit her two nights in a row in a "dress rehearsal" so that on the third night she wouldn't be scared and would know to follow when he came to lead her out of her burning home. Others were miraculously saved from accidents. One came to comfort a child when he was convinced his father was dead (in reality, he was away on a military trip). Another came to comfort a young girl whose grandmother had just died. Others cleaned up a Church. One was saved from drowning. Two children actually witnessed a battle between angels and demons in the room where they were staying. All of the stories are amazing and will help increase one's faith in angels. Now that I have read the book, I've decided to read one story a night to my children. We pray to their guardian angels morning and night but I hope that this will give them a greater appreciation of them and help them to realize that they can always count on them.

On a personal note, in the back of the book are songs and prayers to angels. Among them was a song called "All Night, All Day." I sang that song on Christmas Eve at Mass the Christmas I was turning four years old. My mother and sister worked and worked with me until I had it down perfect. All these years later I can still remember it, but this was the first time I've ever seen it since. It is a very simple song and it was perfect for a small child, but the words hold true for all of us whether we are one day or one hundred years old. I'll share the words with you here:

All Night, All Day

All night, all day, angels watchin' over me, my Lord.
All night, all day, angels watchin' over me.

1. Now I lay me down to sleep
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Angels watchin' over me.

2. If I die before I wake
Angels watchin' over me my Lord
Pray the Lord my soul to take
Angels watchin' over me.


Prayer to End Abortion

Prayer To End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forgiveness

One can never be reminded too often of the importance of forgiveness, and even though it is late in the day, I'm going to reflect on today's Gospel which was Mt 18:21–19:1.

St. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times."

Jesus then goes on to tell of a King who is generous in forgiving debts, but then the person whose debt is forgiven goes out and holds someone else accountable for their debt to him. The forgiveness is not extended.

This is another way of reminding us of those words in the "Our Father": "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

God is generous with his forgiveness toward us. Do we offer the same forgiveness to others or do we hold things against them, even years after the fact? Forgiveness is hard, no doubt about it. It sometimes seems so much easier to hold on to the pain and anger, to hold on to the sense that we were right and we were wronged and the other person should pay for that, forever if need be. Yet, it is only through true forgiveness that we will ever be free.

In my house, I have a framed print of some of the verses of 1 Corinthians 13. One of the lines is "Love keeps no record of wrongs."

Who do you need to forgive? Forgiveness is a process, but maybe today you can take the first steps in letting go of some hurt that someone inflicted on you. Maybe today you can pray for God's help to forgive. I will, too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: The Notre Dame Book of Prayer

The Notre Dame Book of Prayer
Edited by Heidi Schlumpf
Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2010

For over one hundred years, the Campus Ministry Office at Notre Dame has offered prayer books to incoming first-year students. "The Notre Dame Book of Prayer" is an attempt to share that gift with the larger Notre Dame community and the world in general. The ties to Notre Dame are quickly relevant with references to places on campus abounding. However, if one can get beyond that, there is truly a treasuretrove of prayers in this book.

The prayers are divided into sections. Among these are: "In the Beginning," "Bless Us, O Lord," "Work of Human Hands," "To Everything There is a Season," and "It is Finished." While there are many prayers one might expect, there are many unexpected prayers such as a "Runner's Prayer before Beginning a Race," "Prayer for Parenting a Special-Needs Child," "Prayer for Conflict with a Coworker or Friend," "Blessing for Women in Transition," "Menopause Prayer," and a "Prayer after Suicide."

One prayer that spoke to me was "Give Me Someone;"

Lord,
when I am famished,
give me someone who needs food;
when I am thirsty,
give me someone who needs water;
when I am cold,
give me someone to warm;
when I am hurting,
give me someone to console;
when my cross becomes heavy,
give me another's cross to share;
when I am poor,
lead someone needy to me;
when I have no time,
give me someone to help for a moment;
when I am humiliated,
give me someone to praise;
when I am discouraged,
send someone to encourage;
when I need another's understanding,
give me someone who needs mine;
when I need somebody to take care of me,
send me someone to care for;
when I think of myself,
turn my thoughts toward another.


"The Notre Dame Book of Prayer" would make a great addition to any Catholic's prayer collection.

Tree from Arlington

I finished this painting on Saturday night. It will probably be my last painting for a while. I have enjoyed getting back into painting, however, and am leaving the door open for future efforts. I'm always happy to paint if I have a reason to. This one is a tree that I found interesting in Arlington Cemetery when I was on vacation earlier this summer.

If you are interested in purchasing it, please visit the ebay listing here:
Tree in Arlington

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Things to All People

A friend of mine just posted this on her blog about how Traditionalist Catholics and New Order Catholics need to get along and focus on what is important. Couldn't agree more! And just as an added aside, the shortbread cookies she was "stuffing" her face with were mine! LOL

All Things to All People

Monday, August 09, 2010

I'm happy to be writing for this project

"CNA launches 'Catholic Womanhood' site for reflections on faith and living.

Catholic News Agency is officially launching a new resource, focusing on the experiences and spiritual lives of Catholic women. “Catholic Womanhood” is a place for women of faith to consider and discuss issues of today's culture and society, everyday life and work, and the pursuit of holiness within the universal Church.

Nearly 30 columnists, commentators and bloggers are slated to contribute their thoughts and reflections to the site. Topics to be covered, from a faithful Catholic perspective, include motherhood and child care, mature womanhood, adolescence, personal and spiritual growth, family and friendships, methods of renewing Catholic culture in the modern world, advice on finding time to pray and living the Church's liturgical year, as well as tips on traveling, fashion and maintaining good health.

Catholic Womanhood is the successor to the website operated by Phases of Womanhood, a nonprofit organization of Catholic laywomen. Many of the columns and commentaries which readers enjoyed at the Phases of Womanhood site can still be found through the new site at www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw.

CNA will be posting new contributions to Catholic Womanhood on a daily basis, alongside its daily coverage of all news pertaining to the Church around the world. Catholic Womanhood will also feature writings by, and about, some of the Church's greatest and wisest women saints and spiritual writers, such as St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Julian of Norwich."

Prayer to St. Gianna

Saint Gianna, heroically Christlike wife, mother and physician, I ask the help of your prayers, as I strive to follow your holy example in my physical and spiritual trials.

Help me, by your prayers, to recognize the suffering of the Cross as the way to pure and selfless love of God and my neighbor. May your practice of medicine with priestly care of both body and soul inspire physicians to see the Face of the suffering Christ in their patients.

May your loving acceptance of illness and death help patients to know and do God's will in all things, uniting their sufferings to the Passion and Death of Christ for the salvation of the world.

Saint Gianna, pray for us always that we may have a heart, meek and courageous, like the Heart of Jesus in Whom we find our healing and strength.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


by Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke

To purchase prayer cards with this prayer, please visit: St. Gianna Prayer Cards

Sunday, August 08, 2010

God cares about your love life!

One last quote from The Bible's Best Love Stories

God knows what he is doing. He may not always fill us in on the details, but God knows. We may intellectually assent to the idea that God first set things into motion and that ultimately there is a master plan to this life of ours. Often however, a little interior voice beckons us and whispers, "God has larger issues at hand than your happiness, let alone your love life!" Perhaps the years of waiting and hoping for the one to come along and sweep us off our feet frustrates us and we end up settling for less than what God had in store for us. The waiting can be the most difficult part.

The beautiful story of Tobiah and Sarah gives us an angel's eye view of faithfulness and love from God's perspective. In fact, this story reveals that our love life and happiness are in fact very important to God because he ordains them. The book of Tobit reveals a God who loves us and who has a vision much larger than our own.

Thought for the Day

"Our faith in God shouldn't prevent us from weeping at the losses and hardships we experience in life, for that's what God intended. Why else would we have tear ducts?"
from The Bible's Best Love Stories by Allan F. Wright

Book Review: "The Bible's Best Love Stories"

"The Bible's Best Love Stories"
by Allan F. Wright
Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press

When one mentions love stories, I’d be willing to bet that the first thing that comes to mind is not the Bible. One tends to think of romantic movies or novels. Perhaps one might think of couples one knows whose love stands out in the crowd. Yet, God is the author of love and the Bible, as the word of God, is a wonderful place to look for examples of love and role models for our own relationships. In “The Bible’s Best Love Stories,” Allan F. Wright examines some of the very human love stories contained in the pages of scripture. These stories do not show an idealistic portrayal of love. Rather they show the full range of deep emotions and all the challenges along the way. Wright does not only study the portrayal of romantic relationships, but also the love of good friends and familial relationships.

Wright begins his examination, as one might expect, with the relationship between Adam and Eve, “the world’s first lovers.” Before the first sin, they had the beauty of the ideal relationship; it was a union of the whole person – body and soul. They loved each other as God loved them. But then, they thought they knew better than God and sin came into the world. Their relationship, which had been so perfect, now was one of shame and blame. Things would never be the same for them, or us, again. We will come up short, yet we are all called to still strive for that original self-giving love that existed before sin.

Wright then turns his attention to other famous pairs of the Old Testament: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Abigail and David, Tobiah and Sarah, and the unnamed lovers in the “Song of Solomon.” He also explores the familial love of Joseph and his brothers and Ruth and Naomi and the bonds of friendship that existed between David and Jonathan. The New Testament features fewer romantic relationships, but Wright looks at Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and Priscilla and Aquila. Some of Jesus’ friendships are highlighted, such as those with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as his bond with Peter. His relationship with the “sinful woman’ is also examined. The relationship between Saint Paul and Barnabas, and that which existed among Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John are also looked at. While some of these stories are relatively familiar, Wright looks at them with fresh eyes, pointing out things we may have missed in the relationships and holding up certain aspects for special attention.

The Bible illustrates all the different types of love. It shows that loving anyone will require commitment and sacrifice. There is no such thing as an easy love, although some days will certainly be easier than others. Love will sometimes need to be waited for, but trust in God is paramount. Wright has done a beautiful job portraying these stories with understanding and wisdom. For each story, he offers a prayer, a relevant quote, reflection questions, and an idea for putting love into action in one’s own life. These additions help make this book ideal for a bible study or for private reflection.

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 Bible's Best Love Stories

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Quilt Holes

I got this in a forwarded email today. It's one I haven't seen before and thought it was beautiful.

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth.. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.

An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.

Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.'

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your life...it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay and who you refuse to let go.'

Friday, August 06, 2010

Catholics on the Net

Obviously, those of you reading this already know that Catholics are on the net! But, this is a good article about the many ways Catholics, many of them lay people like myself, use the net to help spread the word about Catholicism and help each other in our spiritual journeys. It also features some information about CatholiCon which will be held in Houston, TX.

Catholics take to the net

Some quotes from St. Gianna Beretta Molla

These are excerpts from some of St. Gianna's writings:

"Prayer is the search for God who is in heaven and everywhere, since He is infinite . . . The person who does not pray cannot live in God's grace."

"The stillness of prayer is the most essential condition for fruitful action. Before all else, the disciple kneels down."

"Love the Virgin Mary. She is our tender confidant in difficulty. Mary is the mother who cannot ignore our requests."

"Love your children. In them you can see Baby Jesus. Pray for them a lot and every day put them under Holy Mary's protection."

"What is a vocation? It is a gift from God, so it comes from God. If it is a gift from God, our concern must be to know God's will. We must enter that path: if God wants, when God wants, how God wants. Never force the door."

"The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness."

"Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love."

"Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything."


Quotes taken from St. Gianna Beretta Molla: A Modern Day Hero of Divine Love

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Feast of St. John Vianney

Today (August 4th) is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests. In today's Living Faith reflection, Mary Marrocco offers the following definition of vocation: "a need in the world meets a deep joy in me."

Today is a good day to ponder your vocation. Are you where you are supposed to be? Are you doing what you should be doing?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Shopping for Back to School?

It hurts me to say it, but it is that time of year again - back to school time. If you are buying books or other supplies through Amazon, please consider clicking through from this site. Every purchase helps support this site. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Amazon.com

Looking to Find Out More about your Family History?

Have you always wanted to know more about your family history, but never had the time to do the research? My husband is now offering reasonably priced genealogy services. He has done the family histories for us and several of our friends and all have been fascinating. Family histories also make great gifts for Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Please check out his website at: http://www.macarthurgenealogy.com/

Beautiful Art by Lori Barker

I saw the art of Lori Barker at a craft show this past weekend. I was so impressed with her mixed media pieces, I wanted to share them with you. Please visit her site at www.spiritcollage.com

Monday, August 02, 2010

For WMass Residents - Divorced and Beyond

St. Catherine of Siena Parish is offering a ten-week program for people who are already divorced or have filed for divorce. It examines what happens to most husbands and wives going through the breakup of their marriage. It helps participants understand what they are going through and that others have gone through the same things. Finally, it suggests activities for making divorce a growth experience. The program asks that you commit yourself to all the sessions. You and other participants will share insights you gain from reflecting on your experiences and the reading material and exercises. All the sessions for this program will be on Monday and will begin on Monday, September 13, 2010, and continue for 10 weeks, ending on Monday, November 29, 2010 (there will be no sessions on October 11th or November 1st.) The sessions will be held in the Fr. Griffin Room from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. The fee is $10 (for the cost of the book). This program is limited to 12 persons only. Topics for the sessions are:

The Process of Divorce
Self-Image
Stress
Anger
More on Anger
Blame and Guilt
Loneliness
Forgiveness
Happiness
Pathways to Growth

To register, call Sr. Mary Petisce, SSJ, at 413-783-8619

The Importance of Listening

I've been reading We Really Need to Talk: Steps to Better Communication by Paul j. Donoghue, Ph.D. and Mary E. Siegel, Ph.D.

They remind us of the importance of truly listening to others:

So why don't you share yourself? Why don't you voice what you are feeling and needing and make yourself truly visible to the persons in your life with whom you would like to be close? When we ask this question at our communication workshops, the answer most frequently given, whether by spouses, professionals, business people, or students, is "I don't share because I don't think he/she/they would listen." It seems that people would reveal themselves if they trusted that they would be understood. But, fearing that by being transparent they would open themselves to rejection, advice, or misunderstanding, they keep what is within them hidden, sometimes even from themselves. . . So if you want others to be open with you, don't nag them; learn to listen.