Monday, May 09, 2022

Joyful Encounters with Mary

 

Women who want to dig deeper into the meaning of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary will benefit from Maria V. Gallagher’s new book, Joyful Encounters with Mary: A Woman’s Guide to Living the Mysteries of the Rosary. Gallagher’s goal in writing it was to help us see Mary’s hand in our daily struggles and achievements so that we might “experience a powerful relationship with her.” Cultivating a deep relationship with Mary does not serve to take us away from Jesus but rather also deepens and enhances our relationship with him. Mary “can help us to become better servants of God.”

The five Joyful Mysteries are: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Jesus, The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, and The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Each mystery is covered in four chapters. The first offers a personal reflection by Gallagher which includes stories from her own life. The second is a reflection on the mystery itself, examining the Scripture and considering how Mary might have felt. The third chapter of each mystery encourages readers to grow in virtue based on the fruit of that particular mystery. The fourth chapter introduces readers to a saint who exemplified the virtue of that mystery. Each chapter concludes with reflection questions which are great for personal or group use.

In the conclusion, Gallagher emphasizes:

By contemplating the Joyful Mysteries and how they relate to our lives, we can grow in the joy of Jesus, who is the Bridge to our ultimate happiness. We reflect on the way God weaved a tapestry of hope in the lives of Mary and Jesus, through the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Finding of the Lord Jesus in the Temple. That hope can bear good fruit in our own lives.

Joyful Encounters with Mary: A Woman’s Guide to Living the Mysteries of the Rosary invites readers into a deeper relationship with Mary and provides the opportunity to reflect more deeply on these mysteries of the Rosary.

 

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Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Open Book - May 2022

 

I'm joining up with Carolyn Astfalk who hosts an #OpenBook Linkup on CatholicMom.com. Here's what I've been reading this past month. The dates indicate when I finished the book.


 

4/4/22 From the Writings of Edith Stein - Compiled by Dianne M. Traflet. This short work offers a brief bio of St. Edith Stein (Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) along with excerpts from her writings loosely gathered by subject topic, such as Spiritual Friendship, The Vocation of Women, Suffering and the Cross, and Spiritual Tools for Evangelization. This book made me want to learn more about this modern saint (she died in Auschwitz in WWII) and so I have requested more books about her from the library. (Read for Catholic Library World)


4/6/22 Love in the Library - Maggie Tokuda-Hall. I read this picture book on my own, and then shared it with my daughter. It is based on the lives of the author's grandparents, Tama and George, and tells how they met, fell in love, and married at the Japanese internment camp Manidoka. It is a beautiful story of finding hope and love in the midst of miserable circumstances. It is also a good way to introduce children to the historical fact of the Japanese internment camps, because it is only through knowing about such horrible events of our past that we can hope not to repeat them.  


4/10/22 Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic - Paul Conti, MD. I've read a great deal on trauma in the past decade, and this book provides a good overview of all the ways trauma can impact a person's life. In recent years, the medical / psychological community has realized how much trauma can influence both the mind and body. As I was reading this, though, I realized two things. One is that we all experience trauma in some way. Some experience more and some experience less and we should certainly do all we can to not cause other people trauma, but ultimately, traumatic things are going to happen. Second, the reason that there is trauma in the world is because of sin. Trauma is a socially acceptable way to talk about the damage caused by sin. We live in a fallen world. We make poor choices. Therefore, these bad things happen. Dr. Conti is not anti-faith at all and seems like he does truly try to help people. Medical and psychological professionals can certainly help with healing from trauma, but ultimately God is also needed for true healing to take place.


4/10/22 - Between Friends - Debbie Macomber - I don't recall where I saw this one mentioned, but it is an older novel by Debbie Macomber (2002). I've read several of her books over the years and thought I'd give it a try. It is the story of two baby boomers and follows their friendship from their childhood in the 50s through 2002. It is told in a series of letters and is a remarkable tribute to friendship that survives despite all of life's changes. The two young girls are Catholic and attend Catholic school, but they both ultimately leave the Church for various reasons. Still, the topic of faith and their reasons for leaving are handled well and no doubt portray the lived experience of many baby boomers. This was a very good story that kept me turning pages.  


 

4/14/22 - Flying Solo - Linda Holmes - Laurie Sassalyn, on the cusp of turning 40, returns to her hometown to clean out her much-loved single great-aunt's house after her death. While doing so, she finds a carved wood duck which may or may not have been made by a famous artist. Laurie also connects with a long-lost love while in town. Part mystery / part romance, this was a fun leisure read. It does feature some pre-marital sex but nothing explicit.  (Read for a book review publication)



4/17/22 - The Great Passion - James Runcie - The "Great Passion" referred to in the title of this book is Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" composed in 1727. The story is told from the perspective of Stefan Silbermann, a thirteen-year-old boy who is sent to school in Leipzig after the death of his much-loved mother. Stefan becomes a favored student of Bach and a close friend of his family. I don't know much about music, but I still enjoyed this work of historical fiction. Runcie's prose made the music and the world of the early 1700s come to life.  


4/22/2022 A Saint in the Family - Corinna Turner - This book is part of the "I Am Margaret" series which is an excellent dystopian series by an incredible writer. This particular book is a collection of short stories and novellas that tie in with the other books in the series. It was interesting and well-written, but if you want to read this one, I suggest going back to the other books first and making the way through them in order.  


4/25/22 The Magnolia Palace - Fiona Davis - This dual-timeline story is set in both 1919 and 1966 at the Frick Mansion in New York which later became a museum. In the earlier story, Lilian Carter is a former model on the run who ends up taking a job as a personal assistant to Helen Frick and gets embroiled in family dynamics. In 1966, Veronica Weber is a wannabe model who gets locked in the Frick Museum with an intern, Joshua, during a snowstorm. They find a long-forgotten scavenger hunt and in the process help solve a 50-year old mystery. While the story is not based on any real historical facts (although Helen Frick was a real person), it was a fun read. 


 

4/26/22 Awaken My Heart Prayer Journal - Emily Wilson Hussem - Hussem offers journaling prompts on a variety of important topics. These are not superficial questions, but rather queries that will have you digging deep into your spiritual life. Some of your answers may surprise you. Some of them will no doubt make you feel a bit uncomfortable as you probe painful parts of your past or face the ways that you may be coming up short in your love of God and neighbor. Others may inspire you to keep going when you feel like giving up. At all times, readers are prompted to invite Jesus into their lives, into their reflections, and into their futures. 


 

4/30/22 Edith Stein: Her Life in Photos and Documents - Maria Amata Neyer, O.C.D., Trans. by Waltraut Stein, Ph.D. - My reading this month started with St. Edith Stein and it ended with her. This is one of the books I got from the library about her. It is a short biography and offers pictures of her, her family, and the places where she lived.

Since spring of 2019, I have been making my way through the Great Books Curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (I'm currently working on the readings for sophomore year). 

Conic Sections - Apollonius - I've been trudging through this math text which, as the same suggests, is about conic sections, parabolas, etc. Apollonius lived from 15 - 100 AD and was a wandering Greek philosopher. The math texts are the hardest part of these readings for me. There is hope, though. Once I finish this one, there is only one more math text for sophomore year before I get to move on to other, more interesting, reading. 

 

My eleven-year-old daughter and I read the following books this month:


 

4-17-22 The Emerald Atlas - John Stephens - This first book in a trilogy was a fun adventure / fantasy story about three siblings who must find the three "Books of Beginning". It was full of magical creatures and time travel. We are looking forward to reading the next book in the series. 

4/24/22 The Power of Poppy Pendle - Natasha Lowe - This was an interesting story about a witch who wants to be a baker. It does have some dark undertones, but all turns out well in the end.


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Monday, May 02, 2022

Dig Deep Into Your Spiritual Life

 

Has your spiritual life become stale? Do you feel like you are simply going through the motions of your prayer time or that your relationship with God has become distant? Does life seem to lack meaning? If the answers to any of those questions are “yes”, the Awaken My Heart Prayer Journal by Emily Wilson Hussem can help you.

The first thing one notices about this journal is that it is beautiful. It features soft, soothing colors and gentle watercolor designs. There are many pages with inspiring quotes rendered in a lovely font. But the design is just the beginning. The content of this journal is what truly matters, and the most important content will be written by you.

Hussem offers journaling prompts on a variety of important topics. These are not superficial questions, but rather queries that will have you digging deep into your spiritual life. Some of your answers may surprise you. Some of them will no doubt make you feel a bit uncomfortable as you probe painful parts of your past or face the ways that you may be coming up short in your love of God and neighbor. Others may inspire you to keep going when you feel like giving up. At all times, readers are prompted to invite Jesus into their lives, into their reflections, and into their futures.

The Awaken My Heart Prayer Journal is designed to help you live more abundantly. As Hussem states in her opening letter to the reader:

My prayer is that this journal will be a means by which God wakes you up to see his glory, as well as a way by which prayer can become an accessible and do-able practice for you.

When I really boil down my hopes for you in your journey through this journal, I come to two things: peace and awe. I hope that you find an unexplainable, holy sense of peace cultivated in your heart, as well as a deep, abiding sense of awe of who God is and his astonishing love for you.

This journal would be great to use as part of a morning or evening prayer routine. The questions need not be tackled in order. Instead, I would suggest readers ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and then turn to the topic that speaks most to their heart that day.

The Awaken My Heart Prayer Journal is a companion to the Awaken My Heart book, which is wonderful in itself, but the two can be used independently. The combined set would make a lovely gift for any Catholic woman in your life.

 

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Joyful Encounters with Mary

  Women who want to dig deeper into the meaning of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary will benefit from Maria V. Gallagher’s new book, Joy...