Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: My Sister, St. Therese



With St. Therese's Feast Day on October 1st, I thought it was a great time to read and review this book.

My mother always considered St. Therese to be one of my patron saints and so I have always had a great devotion to her. From my earliest years, I knew the story of her life and at age nine I first read her Story of a Soul. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, I wanted so much to be like her that I actually sat down to write my autobiography – at age nine! 

Over the years, I’ve reread her autobiography several times as well as several biographies about her. I always find something new to take with me. But, I had never heard of the book, MySister Saint Therese, written by her biological and spiritual sister Celine, until very recently. If you are seeking to know more about St. Therese, this is a book you will definitely want to read.

Celine Martin was only four years older than Therese and one of the people on this earth closest to her. She entered the Carmel of Lisieux several years after Therese and was given the name Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face. At that time St. Therese served as an assistant director of novices, entrusted with the spiritual care of those under her. Sr. Genevieve was one of the souls who derived much from both St. Therese’s spiritual advice and her example in life.

Sr. Genevieve relates how St. Therese had a great gift for spiritual discernment. She stated that “each soul . . . should be dealt with in a different way.” Sr. Genevieve and the other novices were sometimes convinced that she could read their souls. She directed them in the ways of humility, poverty of spirit, love of God, fraternal charity, mortification, and patience in suffering. 

Sometimes, in reading about saints, we become convinced that we could never, ever, in a million years, be like them. They are so far above us – so good, so holy. We, on the other hand, are well-intentioned but spend a lot of time traipsing through the muck of life. In her writing, Sr. Genevieve comes across as very human. She suffered from the same failings the rest of us do – she could be self-centered, quick to judge, lacking in charity, and overly attached to material goods. In sharing what St. Therese said to her by means of advice and gentle correction, we can also hear what St. Therese might be saying to us. 

Sr. Genevieve also served as an infirmarian and had care of her sister as she was suffering from her last illness. As such, she was able to offer wonderful witness of how this great saint endured and offered up her suffering for souls. She also had a window into St. Therese’s spiritual darkness. For seven years before her death , St. Therese experienced no consolation. “She was experiencing nothing but doubt, anguish, and darkness.” Yet, she chose to believe, to pray, and to have faith, and she always offered a cheerful countenance to those who were in her presence. Even as she was dying, the other sisters would seek her out, eager to spend time with her. 

Sr. Genevieve was in a unique position to offer an intimate portrait of St. Therese, who would later be named a Doctor of the Church. This memoir of her sister is one all fans of St. Therese will want to read. 


 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Bittersweet Beauty of Fall

Fall has come to New England. The mornings are chilly, the shadows are long, and the leaves are starting to change colors. It is a beautiful time of year, and yet, for me, it is tinged with a bit of sadness, for I know what is coming. This is the dying season. The days are growing shorter - the darkness of winter is coming. To keep going, I will hold onto the hope of spring. In the meantime, I came across this quote today in Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith

Sr. Thomasita, a Benedictine nun, kept a journal as her friend Sister Mary Noel died of bone cancer in 1978. She shared the following passage:

I know of no beauty compared with the painful beauty of this past week with Sister M. Noel. She shared with us an experience she had as a young college student, when what she called "the flaming magnificence of autumn" caught her and held her. "I looked," she said, "at one particularly beautiful leaf as it slowly drifted to the ground. I picked it up and questioned how it had become so uniquely glorious. I realized that the leaf became beauty in its ready acceptance of all of life - wind, rain, sunshine. It ripened, taking in fully what was its life. And then when it had to, it had let go. It had opened itself completely to the Creator. I knew then that in my life I must do the same. The time would come too, to let go . . .

Monday, September 23, 2013

40 Days for Life starts Wednesday, September 25th

The Fall session of 40 Days for Life starts this Wednesday, September 25th and goes through November 3rd. 40 Days for Life is a time for prayer, fasting, and peaceful protest to end abortion. Please consider what you can do to help support this great effort. Whether it is saying a special prayer each day or giving up your favorite treat or activity or signing up to take part in holding a sign outside an abortion clinic, we all can do something.

To find out more, please visit: http://www.40daysforlife.com/

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Living an Invisible Life

This is a great article for moms by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez on Catholic Mom: Don't Despair Mom: He Sees You


I’m writing this post in honor of all the moms out there who have ever wondered — especially on difficult, draining days — “is there a point to all this… this `mothering’? Can anyone see how hard it can be sometimes? Will all this sacrifice and hard work bear any fruit at all?”
To you, dear sweet fellow momma, let me say this (and I’m saying it to myself too, right now):
He sees you.

Please read the full article - especially if you are having a hard time in your role as mother.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Read the Pope's Full Interview

As in many things in life, it is important to go to the source text. With all the attention Pope Francis' recent interview is getting, please be sure to take the time to read the actual interview: America Magazine Interview with Pope Francis.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Small Steps for Catholic Moms





Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Your Daily Call to Think, Pray,and Act
by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2013



The hugely successful Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Your Daily Call to Think, Pray, and Act by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss was originally published in 2010, but fell victim to a publisher closure and went out of print. Ave Maria Press has re-released this popular book as part of the CatholicMom.com series of books. 

It is an understatement to say that Danielle Bean, editor of Catholic Digest and host of The Gist as well as mother of eight children, and Elizabeth Foss, award-winning writer and mother of nine, know what it means to be busy moms. The duo has put together a devotional to help mothers easily work prayer into a hectic life. 

Small Steps for Catholic Moms offers an entry for each day, but Bean and Foss are adamant that there is no one “right way” to use this book. One may follow along day by day or pick it up when the need for inspiration arises and study a few pages. Each month is dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, such as joy, simplicity, courage, humility, and peace. Each day features something to think about, pray about, and act on. Quotes from scripture and the saints offer the day’s food for thought. The prayers are simple, yet profound, and the actions are practical ways to live out one’s faith. 

Any Catholic mother searching for a quick spiritual pick-me-up will find great value in the pages of Small Steps for Catholic Moms


 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Moment of Beauty - Tree Edition

Long-time readers of my blog will know that I have a certain fondness for trees. Here are a couple of trees I came across in my travels this summer.




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Support the Life Runners

Some dear friends of mine have started a Life Runners Chapter here in Western Massachusetts. Karen Ford shares her story today on CatholicLane: Rosary Runner: Running for Life

Please consider supporting their efforts as they run for pro-life causes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Celebrate International Dot Day - September 15th

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.

The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

Educators can register to participate at http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/register  and download a free educator's handbook. But even if you don't formally register, you can still take advantage of the day to express your creative spirit. In the book, young Vashti feels she can't create art and her teacher tells her to make a dot on paper and sign it. Vashti then goes on to create several works of art based on dots and to inspire another child to do the same.


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Book Review: Little Saint Therese



by Margaret Mary Myers

St. Therese is one of the Catholic Church’s most loved saints. In Little Saint Therese, Margaret Mary Myers seeks to introduce children to this wonderful role model. Aimed at a second to third grade reading level, it features short chapters followed by multiple choice comprehension questions. It aims to emphasize that St. Therese is someone children can relate to and imitate. 

St. Therese once said that “from the age of three, I never refused the good God anything.” Myers offers examples from St. Therese’s life showing her making simple sacrifices, visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, making her First Holy Communion and First Confession, praying the rosary with her family, and thinking about heaven. These are all things that even young children can imitate. 

The book closes with a novena prayer to St. Therese and a prayer for a child to little St. Therese. There are also suggestions for further reading.

Little Saint Therese is a lovely little book, perfect for helping inspire young children to live a life of holiness. 


 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

God Bless Teachers

I was trying to put one more thing on the refrigerator when a prayer card fell off. (Like much of my house, my refrigerator suffers from having too much stuff!) I received this particular prayer card nearly 10 years ago from our parish Director of Religious Ed when I made my 2nd stint at being a religious education teacher. I haven't thought about this card which features the words "God Bless Teachers" on the front very much over the years, even though I spend my days teaching my children, but I guess I must have needed to read it today. This is the prayer on the back:

Dear Lord,
Help me to be the best teacher that I can be.
Bless me with the words to impart knowledge with gentility, patience, and fun.
Give me the vision to see those who are struggling with their work and the ability to help them understand.
Show me how to reward those who excel without hurting the feelings of those who don't.
Let me value all my students in some way for each one is important to the whole.
Lord, fill me with the strength to open each day with a smile regardless of how tired I am.
May I be a true sign of Your love to these kids who have been given to me to instruct and guide.
Amen.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Different Type of Sunflower

When I went to the garden store this past spring, the only sunflower seeds I could find were a variety pack. So, while I did get a couple of my favorite traditional happy smiling yellow sunflowers, most of my sunflowers this year are this darker variety which I have never seen before. I'm not quite sure what I think of them, but they definitely have their own richness and beauty.


The Value of Silence

One of Pope Francis' prayer intentions for September:

**Value of Silence. That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Book Review; Sisterhood of Saints



Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration
by Melanie Rigney
Cincinatti, OH: Franciscan Media, 2013

Are you in need of some daily inspiration? Do you love to learn about the saints? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then Sisterhood of Saints by Melanie Rigney (Franciscan Media, 2013) is a book you will want to keep close by. 

Rigney writes that researching all these women changed her life. She marvels at the similarities and differences in this select group of holy women. “They weren’t perfect. . . Sometimes they hurt people, badly. They were outcasts sometimes as well. . . They helped people who had given up on themselves, people who had never heard of God or had little use for him if they had. . . Some of them were really ordinary. . . [Others] crossed battle lines or offered up their lives in wartime. . . Others died safely in their beds. In short, they are women just like you and me.”

For each day of the year, Rigney offers a short biography of the featured saint, a quote of inspiration from either the Scriptures or the saint, and a challenge to help you live your spiritual life more deeply.
Rigney has highlighted the big-name women saints. Those looking for Mary, Therese, Elizabeth, Brigid, Catherine, Kateri, etcetera will not be disappointed, but one is especially impressed by the number of lesser-known saints who are featured in these pages. The reader will have the opportunity to make many new heavenly friends, such as Rita Amada de Jesus, Anna Wang, Giuseppina Gabriella Bonino, and Celine Borzecka. There is a saint in heaven for every woman to relate to and seek help from.

The Sisterhood of Saints would make a wonderful gift for the Catholic women in your life. It is also a wonderful resource for oneself, to deepen one’s faith and learn more about the communion of saints. 

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 Sisterhood of Saints. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith

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