Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Children's Little Advent Book


Are you looking for a book to help your children prepare for Christmas? The Children’s Little Advent Book by T.J. Burdick is a great resource to use for family prayer time. Each day of Advent features a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer, and a coloring page. 

While the book is advertised as being for children ages 4 – 7, I would recommend it more for those age 6 – 10. Many of the reflections and prayers are great for teens and adults as well which makes it ideal for using in a family with children of varying ages. Younger children could color in the pictures during prayer time. It could be used for morning prayer during Advent or whenever the family might light an Advent wreath during their day. 

Regardless of when or how it is used, this book will help your family focus on the true meaning of the Advent season – getting ready to welcome Jesus into our world and our lives. 

At the Gracewatch Media website, you can view a preview of this book, download a .pdf version, or order .pdfs of the coloring pages (this last option is great if you have more than one child who would want to color the pictures). The book can also be purchased on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QtjoaQ

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?


Are you addicted to your smartphone? Are you willing to admit it? According to recent statistics, the average adult spends almost three hours a day on their cell phone (the equivalent of a 20 hr/week part-time job). T. J. Burdick realized he had a problem when he was using his cell phone while his wife was in active labor with their third child. He soon began to notice that everywhere he went he saw people with their heads buried in their phones. Burdick is quick to admit that technology in itself is not bad. It is the over-attachment to it that causes problems. 

In Detached: Put Your Phone in Its Place, Burdick offers a three week retreat to help smartphone addicts regain a right relationship with technology. He also offers additional resources at detachedlife.com

In the course of these twenty-one days, Burdick invites readers to take an honest look at their smart phone usage. While he acknowledges that in our modern world, we can’t put it away entirely, he encourages us to use our phones productively, rather than use them to literally waste time and feed our particular vices.

The devil seeks to keep us from God and a phone is a “Pandora’s box of limitless temptations.” Our phones are often keeping us from what we are meant to be. Burdick suggests ways to keep our priorities in order, putting God (the source of all true happiness) at the top of our lists. We need to be mindful of how we spend our time. We need to pay attention to the triggers that encourage us to pick up our phones. We need to replace tech time with higher pursuits. We can even learn to embrace those moments of boredom that occur in our lives as a gift, rather than as an opportunity to mindlessly scroll through social media. 

Detached is an important book in our modern, tech-driven world. Burdick has much sound advice to offer. If you feel like your phone is taking up too much of your life (or if others are telling you that you spend too much time on your phone), I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and get yourself on the path to a more balanced, God-centered life.

Christmas Novena starts November 30th

It is time once again for the Christmas Novena which begins on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) and goes through Christmas Eve. Some say to pray the following prayer 15 times a day each day; others have it once a day. However you decide to pray, humbly ask God for whatever your heart desires most this Christmas.


The Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold.
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires.
Through Jesus Christ and his most Blessed Mother. Amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

An Inspirational Football Story about a Female Coach in WWII


This weekend’s leisure reading was When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis. Lately, there has been a great increase in the number of works about little-known women who changed history in both big and small ways. I enjoy reading about these historical figures and learning their stories. 

This tremendous story of courage and perseverance features Tylene Wilson who became a high school football coach during World War II. She learned the game of football from her father when she was a little girl and had a lifelong love of the sport. In 1944, she was Assistant Principal of a high school in Brownwood, Texas. When the coach leaves to fight in the war, there is no one left to lead the team. Tylene tries to find a male, any male, to coach but none are willing. 

The general feeling is that the season should be cancelled, but Tylene knows that football is the only thing standing between the seniors and signing up early for the fight. She knows that they will most likely need to go to war, but she wants to give them one last year before they have to face that battle. Desperate, she takes it upon herself to coach, facing a great deal of opposition in the process. 

The author, who was deeply inspired by Tylene’s story, has been a beat writer for the Dallas Cowboys as well as a member of the Texas Wesleyan University football coaching staff. 

This is a short book, perfect for enjoying in a weekend (I love those kinds of books!). If you enjoy football or inspirational stories of courageous women, you’ll enjoy When the Men Were Gone.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Laboure Society - Helping Those Called to Religious Life

I recently posted a prayer for vocations. Our Church is in such desperate need for young men and women to answer the call to religious life.

But, in today's world, even after a young person answers God's call, there is often another impediment to entering the seminary or novitiate: student loan debt. The Laboure Society helps these young people raise the funds to pay off their debts so that they can be free to enter religious life.

The society's vision is "a world where Catholic priests, sisters, and brothers exist in adequate numbers to fill the world's needs, where young people everywhere who feel they are called to the priesthood or religious life have the opportunity to pursue that calling."

Find out more at: The Laboure Society

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Ghosts of Faithful - A Catholic Ghost Story


Just in time for November (the month the Church remembers in a special way those who have died) comes a ghost story by Catholic fiction writer Kaye Park Hinckley.

Carroll O’Murphy founded the town of Faithful during the Great Depression. The Ghosts of Faithful takes place 75 years later with his daughter and granddaughter suffering under the weight of secrets. Carroll’s daughter Kathryn just kicked out her husband for a decades-old indiscretion. Kathryn’s older daughter Cornelia is trying desperately to keep up appearance despite her world crashing around her, while younger daughter Izzy has never recovered from the trauma of something that happened to her when she was fourteen.

To make matters more complicated, Carroll’s widow Rose still talks to Carroll as if he is in the room with her. She also claims to be taking care of an invisible seven-year-old girl.

The Ghosts of Faithful is an interesting story about the veil between life and death, the burden and consequences of sin, and the power that our secrets can hold over us.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Prayer for Vocations

Liturgical Year 2019 is the Year of Vocations. My Diocese of Springfield, MA will be praying the following prayer at all Masses beginning in Advent.

Lord Jesus, please provide our diocese with many vocations to the priesthood and religious life, especially from our own parishes. 

May the men and women you call respond with joy and courage, and may their families and friends support them wholeheartedly as they seek your Father's will.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Vocations. Amen.

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