Monday, July 26, 2021

A Book I Wish I Didn't Need

 

St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer is a book I wish I didn’t need. St. Monica, whose feast day is August 27th, is best known as the mother of St. Augustine who faithfully prayed for her son who was living a wayward life. Her faith and prayers bore great fruit. Her son became one of the Church’s best-known saints, and St. Monica is now known the patron saint of mothers of children who have lost their way.

I had hoped of all the saints, I would never need to rely on St. Monica. Yet, I have unfortunately joined that group of mothers as one of my young-adult sons has left the Church and is making decisions that are breaking my heart. I know all I can do is pray and continue to offer a positive example, which brought me to this book that I found on the shelf of my parish library.

In the Foreword, CatholicMom.com founder Lisa Hendey shares her own devotion to St. Monica as she prayed many years for the conversion of her husband. She writes that “many of us turn to St. Augustine’s mom regularly for support and strength as we raise children in an increasingly secularized society.”

Authors Mike Aquilina and Mark W. Sullivan (who also happen to be uncle and nephew) then offer some background information on the lives of St. Monica and St. Augustine, saying that Monica “taught Christians how to parent their adult children.” St. Monica was born around 331 in Thagaste, North Africa. She learned the Christian faith from an elderly maidservant. Her parents chose Patricius for her husband. He was a government official, non-Christian, known for his womanizing and bad temper. Yet, in time, he came to appreciate the wife he had in Monica and converted before his death.

Their son Augustine was brought up Christian but not baptized (a common practice in those days as it was thought your chances of going to heaven were better if you were baptized close to death). When he went to Carthage for higher education, he spent his time partying and had an illegitimate son. He also was intrigued by the philosophy of the Manicheans. When he returned home with his mistress and son, Monica continued to pray and weep for Augustine. A local bishop told her that a child of so many tears would not be lost, which she took great comfort in. Monica taught Augustine’s mistress and son the faith, but when Augustine left his mother behind and went to Rome with his son, Monica was angry at God for ignoring her prayers. Not one to sit still, Monica got on a boat and followed them to Rome where she got to know Bishop Ambrose, who would play a big part in Augustine’s conversion. Monica’s endless prayers were finally answered and her son fully embraced Christianity shortly before his mother’s death.

In the pages of St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer, Aquilina and Sullivan discuss the lessons we can learn from St. Monica’s example. St. Monica knew what it was to feel like God was ignoring her, yet she kept praying. She was honest with God, not afraid to tell Him what she really thought. She was willing to forgive her son for how he treated her, even though we have no record that he ever asked for forgiveness. She never gossiped, instead serving as a peacemaker for those around her. She knew she couldn’t do everything on her own and sought help when she needed it. She also respected the freedom God gave her son, even when she wished he would make different decisions. Each short chapter includes a reflection, a meditation from the writings of St. Augustine, a brief practical resolution, and prayer.

St. Monica is a heavenly friend to those of us struggling with parenting wayward children. St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer offers hope for those with heavy hearts. 

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Called by Name: 365 Daily Devotions for Catholic Women


 I am a big fan of daily devotionals. Whether you use them every day as part of your prayer time or pick them up from time to time for a spiritual pick-me-up, it is great to have a message intended for that day. Called by Name: 365 Daily Devotions for Catholic Women is a wonderful new entry in the devotional genre. Compiled by WINE: Women in the New Evangelization, it was edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist, Allison Gingras, & Alyssa Bormes. 

The goal of this devotional is to invite you into an intimate relationship with Jesus. "To be called by name indicates that you are known in a personal way. . . That is what the Lord desires to have with you - a personal and intimate relationship." Each day's entry is one-page long and features a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer, and response to the Lord's call. The over 75 women who share their gifts in these pages are down-to-earth and relatable. Reading these devotions is like sitting down with a group of faith-filled friends and having a personal conversation. You can start using this book any day of the year.

Called by Name would be a great purchase for yourself as an investment in your spiritual life. It also would make a lovely gift for any Catholic woman in your life. 

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Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Powerful Act of Contrition



I was recently reading All Things New: Breaking the Cycle and Raising a Joyful Family by Erin McCole Cupp. In it, she shares this Act of Contrition that she had on a prayer card. It is a powerful prayer and one worth praying on a regular basis. 

Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins;
The sins of my youth, the sins of my age,
The sins of my soul, the sins of my body,
My idle sins, my serious voluntary sins,
The sins I know, the sins I do not know;
The sins I have concealed so long, and which are now hidden from my memory.
I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial, for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.
I know my sins have wounded thy tender Heart, O my Savior,
Let me be freed from the bonds of evil through the most bitter passion of my redeemer.
Amen.
O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.
Amen.

As an aside, this is my 3500th blog post on this blog that I started back in 2005. I hope that at least some of these posts have helped someone in some way. Thank you for reading!

 

Image from Pixabay

 

 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Diary of a Country Carmelite


 

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Cynthia Montanaro’s beautiful first book, Diary of a Country Mother. Her latest work, Diary of a Country Carmelite: A Year in the Garden of Carmel, is as much of a gift.

Montanaro began life as a secular Carmelite in 2007 with a “desire to live in the world and to walk in the light of the Gospel in the spirit of the Teresian Carmel and under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” This diary takes place in 2015 when she was making her final profession, taking the name Ana Thérèse of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. In this year, she talks about her family of elderly parents, husband, grown children, and grandchildren, and ponders questions of vocation, purpose, and faithfulness, but her primary focus is on introducing readers to the vast variety of Carmelite saints on the liturgical calendar.

While many people are familiar with the famous Carmelites such as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. John of the Cross, Montanaro provides short biographies of lesser-known saints and blesseds. In these pages, you will make the acquaintance of such notables as St. Kuriakos Elias of 1800s India who founded two Carmelite orders, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation who lived in France in the 16th century and helped bring the Carmelite order to France, Blessed Elia of St. Clement of 20th century Italy who was known for her needlework and for offering her suffering to God, Blessed Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit Mazurek who was a Polish martyr in the second world war, St. Teresa Margaret Redi who was an 18th century Italian known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who lived a short life but who had a great devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more.

Diary of a Country Carmelite is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the Carmelite way of life.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Making the Most of Menopause Moments

 


When I unexpectedly got in a review copy of Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife, I must admit that I snickered a bit. Sadly, I am precisely the target market for this book. This book more accurately is aimed at women going through perimenopause, that unpleasant stage of life before menopause in which your body and hormones seem to stage a revolt. I've been going through it for the past 14 years (which I'm beginning to feel like should be some sort of record). My mother went through menopause early (back then it was referred to as "the change"), so I thought I was following in her footsteps when I started having symptoms in my early 30s. While I know it is better in the long term for my body that I didn't have early menopause, this has been a long haul. At some point, I will make it to the other side. At least that's what I keep telling myself. While there are certainly some perks to being in my forties, this messed-up body is not one of them. 

Anyway, I clearly needed this book. Melanie Rigney offers Scripture passages,  a reflection, suggested action, and journal prompts on a variety of topics facing women at this stage of life. She does so with both understanding and humor (because at times laughing can be a much better response than crying). These prayers, reflections, and journal prompts are designed to help women keep their eyes on God in the midst of all this personal upheaval.

Rigney discusses the many physical changes women go through, such as weight increase, acne, sagging breasts, wrinkles, grey hairs, hot flashes, insomnia, and reduced bone density. She also includes topics on the social challenges such as helping elderly parents, having teen or adult children, changing friendships, and mourning dreams that will never come true. Some of the emotional challenges included in these pages include being irritable and breaking into tears at the slightest provocation. 

Monopause Moments is highly recommended for my fellow women of a certain age who are suffering in the trenches of perimenopause. With God's help, we can both survive and thrive during these challenging years.   

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Learn about the Secrets of the Sacred Heart

 

June is the month in the Church year dedicated to the Sacred Heart. As such, it is the perfect time to read Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Twelve Ways to Claim Jesus' Promises in Your Life by Emily Jaminet. 

Jaminet is executive director of the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network and her family has had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for generations. She also runs the website: https://welcomehisheart.com/

In Secrets of the Sacred Heart, Jaminet states "the Lord invites us to come to know him and to love him through a powerful devotion to his heart." She explores the twelve promises that Jesus gave to St. Margaret Mary from 1673-1675. Those twelve promises to those who foster devotion to the Sacred Heart are:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their states of life.

2. I will establish peace in their homes.

3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.

4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.

5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

6. Sinners will find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent

8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.

12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.   

Each chapter focuses on one of the promises and includes reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter. The first appendix explains a brief history of the Sacred Heart devotion in the Church. Appendix 2 includes the Litany of the Sacred Heart. 

I highly recommend reading Secrets of the Sacred Heart one chapter a day as part of your prayer time. It is a lovely exploration of this devotion and will encourage you to increase your love and honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

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Monday, June 07, 2021

The Lacemaker: A Novel of St. Zelie Martin


 The Lacemaker by Anne Faye

St. Zélie Martin (1831-1877) is best known as the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most-loved saints of modern times, but she is also a saint in her own right. In this work of historical fiction based largely on St. Zélie’s letters, a compelling portrait of a working mother who always put God first comes to life.

St. Zélie is a saint many women can relate to. She suffered from anxiety, struggled with work-life balance, grieved the loss of children, cared for aging parents, had a child with special needs, and dealt with personal illness. Above all, she loved God and her family and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In this intimate portrayal, you will come to know a complex woman who achieved holiness while living in the world and dealing with the stress of modern life.  

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A Book I Wish I Didn't Need

  St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer is a book I wish I didn’t need. St. Monica, whose feast day is August 27 th , is best kno...