Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hunger for the Eucharist

For as long as I have had the honor of receiving communion, the rule has been to fast for one hour before reception. The days of fasting from midnight are real to me only in light of my parents’ memories. I am thankful that the rule was changed. It was a necessity in light of the many times of day that Masses are offered today. Yet, I do find that on the days when I go to early morning Mass and have not eaten breakfast beforehand, my appreciation of the Sacrament is different. At that moment in time, the Eucharist satisfies both my spiritual and physical hunger.

In The Sacraments We Celebrate: A Catholic Guide to the Seven Mysteries of Faith, Msgr. Peter Vaghi discusses how the Eucharist was designed to feed both our bodies and our souls. He points out how the only miracle that is told in all four Gospel accounts is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It is “surely an image of the Eucharistic bread. ‘for the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.’ Even the language in John 6:11 recalls the institution of the Eucharist – ‘Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks [eucharistein] and passed them around.’” Jesus fed the multitude in body and in spirit.

He continues to do so today. The Eucharist is the gift of Jesus himself. It is both physical and spiritual food. While the appreciation of physical satisfaction may only occur when we go to Mass hungry, we are always in need of spiritual food.

What does it mean to be spiritually hungry? How does the Eucharist satisfy that desire? Msgr. Vaghi states that Jesus addresses “the same kind of hunger in us that he did in the crowds of people assembled in John 6, a hunger for belonging, a hunger for healing and reconciliation, a hunger for growth in holiness. . . Yes, Jesus nourishes us, that deep hunger for God, a deep hunger satisfied by the Eucharist, the bread of life, the source of our life, this sacrament of love.”

I know in my own life that if I only go to Mass and receive the Eucharist once a week, I find it much harder to get through the week than if I am able to go at least one extra time. The Eucharist gives me a strength and a peace that I cannot get through any other means. Yes, I can pray (and I do!) and it helps tremendously. I can go to adoration and sit in the presence of Jesus and that offers much grace as well. Still, nothing is like receiving the Eucharist itself.

I know I don’t fully understand the mystery of the Eucharist, but I believe that Jesus is truly there, that He comes into each of our hearts and our bodies. He does this because He loves us and wants to offer the very gift of Himself to us. He knew that life is hard. He knew we would be hungry – that we would need food for the journey. The Eucharist is our food. It strengthens us, body and soul.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free Catholic Fiction E-Books

Idylls Press is offering these Catholic Fiction classics as free e-books on their site:
Chesterton, G.K.

* The Innocence of Fr. Brown (Kindle) (epub)
* The Napoleon of Notting Hill (Kindle) (epub)

Ford, Ford Madox

* The Good Soldier (Kindle) (epub)

Harland, Henry

* Grey Roses (Kindle) (epub)
* My Friend Prospero (Kindle) (epub)
* The Cardinal’s Snuff-Box (Kindle) (epub)
* The Lady Paramount (Kindle) (epub)

Newman, Bl. Cardinal John Henry

* Callista: A Tale of the Third Century (Kindle) (epub)
* Loss and Gain: The Story of a Convert (Kindle) (epub)

Wallace, Gen. Lew

* Ben Hur; A Tale of the Christ (Kindle) (epub)

Ward, Mary Josephine (Mrs. Wilfrid)

* Great Possessions (Kindle) (epub)

To download them, please visit:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Called to serve

Today is the feast of St. Jude. My parish held its annual St. Jude Novena of Masses. It is always a wonderful time of blessing for my parish and a time to join with others in prayer for all of our needs. Priests that have had a connection to our parish in the past are invited back to say Mass and preach. The priest who said Mass Monday night served at our parish as a curate in the early 1980s. He now teaches at the college level as well as teaching candidates for the permanent diaconate. We have two deacons at our parish. The priest joked a bit with him. He also pointed out that the word "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" which means "servant." He told the congregation that by virtue of our baptism we are all called to the diaconate - not the ordained variety, obviously, but we all are called to serve - every day - every one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prayer Request

Please pray for a friend of mine who asked for prayers regarding her husband's employment situation.

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Searching for a Catholic College?

If you have a high school student starting his or her college search, you might want to purchase The National Catholic Register 2010 College Guide.

Here is the official description:

THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER'S 2010 COLLEGE GUIDE expands on the popular guide published in the newspaper and on its website,, each year. Along with schools' answers to 10 Yes or No questions related to basic Catholic identity, the book provides hard data on costs and financing, degrees and curricula, and religious and extracurricular activities. Road-ready, compact and sturdy enough to stand up to repeated page-throughs, it's the one guide no college-bound Catholic student should leave high school without.

To access the scaled down free guide on the National Catholic Register website, please visit: Catholic Identity College List 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms

This article by Misty Krasawski was reprinted in the MassHope Newsletter and I loved it.

Here is just a brief excerpt:

Love bears all things even while running on no sleep; believes all things, especially God's promise to indwell and empower her; hopes all things, such as that she'll actually complete the English curriculum this year and the kids will eventually graduate; endures all things, even questioning from strangers, worried relatives, and most of all, herself.

Love never fails. And neither will she. As long as she never, never, never gives up.

If you are a homeschooler, you definitely need to read the full article which I found here:

Medicine and End of Life Issues

The November 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic focuses on many issues surrounding the end of life and funerals. One particularly good article is Internal Medicine which focuses on end of life ethics. A couple points resonated with me. One was how spirituality and medicine were so connected for so long. The earliest healers were both priests and doctors. Jesus healed both body and soul. It is only in recent years that the two have been separated. It is important for the two to inform each other and work together for the good of the whole person. A second point is the one the article ends with:

Catholics also need to remember it's OK to let go. . . We're pro-life, but we're also pro-eternal life, and we have been for centuries, from the beginning.

The Blessings of Christmas

Advent is right around the corner. Are you looking for a spiritual resource to help you prepare for Christmas? The Blessing of Christmas: Meditations for the Season by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) will help you do just that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Does it Mean to Have a Spiritual Friend?

Our concept of “friend” has changed in recent years. With the advent of social networking, we tend to use the term much more loosely. We can count hundreds of people among our “friends.” We “friend” people we may never have had even one interaction with, and if it goes wrong, we can “defriend” them with a click of a button. Ironically, in these days of transient relationships, true friends have become even more valuable. As the book of Sirach tells us, “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.” (Sirach 6:14)

I recently had the great pleasure of reading Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship,
a new book by Mary DeTurris Poust. Spiritual friendship is the deepest type of friendship. As Poust states, “these are the friends with whom you can be completely yourself, the friends who may disagree with you from time to time but never consider walking away. They are the friends who bring you dinner when you are sick, pray for you when you you’re struggling, and remind you that you are never alone.” Jesus himself had spiritual friends. He had many followers and several friends, but there were those whom he held especially close. These included Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, Mary Magdalene, and among the Apostles, Peter and John. When he sent his followers out, he always sent them in pairs. “Just like those first disciples, we are clearly not meant to walk this spiritual journey alone. Spiritual friends are not exotic or rare, but necessary.”

What sets spiritual friendships apart from other close friendships is that God is at the center. The friendship exists for the benefit of both parties. Both seek to serve the other and help them on their journey to heaven. St. Francis de Sales held up the Trinity as the role model for unconditional love and perfect friendship. While we humans can never achieve that level of perfection, spiritual friendship aims for that level of self-giving and focus on God. It is as close to unconditional love as we can come in this world. “Spiritual friends do not judge one another on worldly terms, but on God’s terms. They do not fret over the little things that annoy or frustrate, but focus instead on the big picture. They offer each other guidance and support, maybe even a firm challenge if one or the other is going off in an unhealthy direction. But always the actions are based in love, not in anger or jealousy or manipulation.”

Spiritual friendships are based on trust. Unlike some other friendships in which people may be willing to share part of themselves, spiritual friendships embrace the whole person. They are based on listening, talking, and prayer. Both parties must feel safe to reveal their innermost selves. They may not stay in constant communication with each other, but even time and distance do not sever the bond. “Spiritual friends are always connected, always in a kind of mental and spiritual communication, even when they are not talking or writing. . . This kind of deep bond is not something that develops overnight, but grows slowly as trust builds. That kind of communication between friends can develop only with open communication that truly allows friends to enter into each other’s hearts.”

It is important to note that spiritual friendships can exist between any two people. They can exist between a husband and wife, siblings, parent and child, a man and a woman, two women or two men. They do not need to be of the same background or faith. What matters is that God is at the center of the friendship. Spiritual friendships are very important and beneficial. Those who have them are extremely blessed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Learn More about Blessed John Henry Newman

Interested in learning more about Blessed John Henry Newman?
These books would be a good place to start:

Blessed John Henry Newman: Theologian and Spiritual Guide for Our Times
by Keith Beaumont

his official biography is written by an Australian priest of the Oratoire de France and destined to be read by those from the world over due to the beatification of Newman in September by Pope Benedict XVI. They will find in this book an extraordinary grasp of Newman's significance and a genius for making it known.

It is illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs and images that bring to life Newman and his world.

John Henry Newman is a figure of immense significance for the Universal Church. His prophetic voice continues to speak far beyond the confines of 19th-century England. Almost every issue of significance for the Church today is enlightened by reference to his spirit, life and thought.

The relationship of these three elements, the spiritual, the moral and the intellectual, is at the heart of Fr. Keith Beaumont's book, the official biography commissioned for the Beatification.

Fr. Beaumont's biography gives a clear account of all the major themes of Newman's life and work, with judicious use of citations from this work so that Newman's thought is in almost every case conveyed in his own words. Fr Beaumont also directs us to some lesser known sources to give us a balanced and complete view of the subtlety of Newman's thought. Lavishly illustrated with photos and art on every page.

The Heart of Newman
by Erich Przywara, S.J.

This new edition of a classic anthology of the writings and sermons of the great John Henry Newman is a rare treasure house of Newman’s thought and inspiration. Released to coincide with the Beatification of Newman by Pope Benedict XVI in Newman’s homeland, England, where Newman’s spiritual influence on his own contemporaries was immense, this collection shows the timeless wisdom of Newman and how strong an appeal his writings have for the modern Christian. In his sermons, often praised for their freshness and originality, Newman had a style of relating the plain truths of the Gospel in a realistic and empathic way. He saw the great importance of the individual differences in human souls, and a unique feature of his approach was always to speak to people as individuals. In this outstanding anthology, Fr. Erich Przywara, S.J., organizes Newman’s thought systematically and in its completeness. He divides the writings and sermons into twenty-one categories by such themes as God, Miracles, Faith, Scripture, the Church, Body of Christ, Eternal Life, etc., drawn from 25 works by or about Newman. Unlike some spiritual books, which were written in foreign languages, Newman's works were originally written in modern English. His style is very familiar and readable. This volume is an excellent combination of Newman’s insights on spirituality, prayer, doctrine, philosophy, and it probes into the nature of God and his Church.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking for the King - An Inklings Novel

I saw this book advertised in the Ignatius Catalog and it looked very interesting.

Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel
by David Downing

It is 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets perky and intuitive Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.

Aided by the Inklings-that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien-Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.

Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a thrilling treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.

Weaving his fast-paced narrative with actual quotes from the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a vivid portrait of Oxford and draws a welcome glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis and Tolkien, while never losing sight of his action-packed adventure story and its two very appealing main characters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Few Quotes from Blessed John Henry Newman

Here are a few good quotes from Take Five: Meditations With John Henry Newman

"Let us pray God to teach us: we need His teaching; we are very blind. The Apostles on once occasion said to Christ, when His words tried them, 'Increase our faith.' Let us come to Him honestly: we cannot help ourselves; we do not know ourselves; we need His grace."

"Though temptations present themselves to you in society, you would soon find temptations in solitude, were you to indulge your love of it. We cannot escape from ourselves, wherever we are - and we are the sinners, not the places in which we find ourselves."

"Man is not sufficient for his own happiness; he is not happy except the Presence of God be with him. When he was created, God breathed into him the supernatural life of the Spirit which is his true happiness: and when he fell, he lost the divine gift, and with it his happiness also. Ever since he has been unhappy; ever since he has a void within him which needs filling, and he knows not how to fill it."

"The religious history of each individual is as solitary and complete as the history of the world. Each man will, of course, gain more knowledge as he studies Scripture more, and prays and meditates more; but he cannot make another man wise or holy by his own advance in wisdom or holiness."

"I would not abstain from food in a way to attract attention - but there are ways of denying oneself, where no one would suspect it."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Take Five - Meditations with John Henry Newman

Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman
by Mike Aquilina & Fr. Juan R. Velez
Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2010

I approached "Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman" knowing very little about this recently beatified Cardinal. I finished it wanting to know much more. Cardinal Newman was a "teacher, editor, administrator, and clergyman - and he still found time enough to write books that have been profoundly influential in the fields of theology, philosophy, history, and fiction." "Take Five" begins with a short biography of Newman's life, from his education and life as an Anglican to the reasons for his very public conversion to Catholicism. It then offers 76 short reflections. Each one features a short excerpt from Newman's work that focuses on a given theme. A few key points are highlighted in "Think About It" which is followed by a quote or two from scripture and a take-away statement to remember.

Newman's wisdom focuses on how to incorporate faith into everyday life. His words ring true and are very relevant over a hundred years after his death. This little book provides much food for reflection and offers a wonderful introduction to Newman's thought.

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 Take Five - Meditations with John Henry Newman.

Also be sure to check out their great selection of baptism gifts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Novena Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Say the following prayer for nine consecutive days, nine Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays or every hour for nine hours.

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls and the souls for whom we pray.

(Here mention your needs or intentions. Then continue.)

You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word, and deed may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the queen of angels and of men. Amen.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review: Rachel's Contrition

Rachel's Contrition

by Michelle Buckman
Sophia Institute Press, 2010

Every now and then, a novel comes along that is so powerful and so well-written that it will stay with you forever. “Rachel’s Contrition” by Michelle Buckman is that kind of novel. Part of the Chisel and Cross imprint from Sophia Institute Press, it is Catholic fiction at its finest. If you are looking for light-hearted escapism, this is not the story for you. Rather, this is a story that delves into the deepest and darkest parts of humanity. Throughout the course of this book, the reader must face the evils of jealousy, murder, rape, and the inner workings of a mentally ill mind.

Rachel is a mother whose small daughter has died tragically. She is buried in her grief, unable to see any light at all. She has lost everything. Her husband has sent her away and her surviving son, whom she sees only sporadically, seems to hate her. She lives in a drug-induced haze where memories from both past and present come to haunt her. Into that haze walks Lilly, a young teen suffering from her own secrets and pain. With Lilly’s help and some divine intervention in the form of St. Therese’s autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” Rachel begins the long road back.

One interesting feature of this novel is that Buckman focuses on the dark side of St. Therese. Her little way is there and Rachel does learn from that and attempts to put it into practice. But that is not what comforts her. Rather, in St. Therese, she finds someone who understands the darkness. St. Therese wrote, “But it was night, the dark night of the soul. Like Jesus during his agony in the garden, I felt myself abandoned and there was no help for me on earth or in heaven. God had abandoned me. . . I wish I could express what I feel, but it is beyond me. One must have passed through this dark tunnel to understand its blackness.”

Buckman writes of that darkness with such realism. One can only presume that she herself has walked through it. “Rachel’s Contrition” is a novel for all who have been deeply wounded by life. It is a painful story with no easy answers, but it offers the promise of healing. It is a glimmer of light in the midst of the dark. It is a novel that will twist your heart and leave you breathless. You will not want to put it down until you reach the final word at which point you will once again be able to exhale.

Being Persistent in Prayer

If we are told “No” or ignored repeatedly, most of us will eventually give up. If we are tenacious, we might try a different route to obtain what we are looking for. Otherwise, we might simply curl up in a corner and cry. The second reading and the Gospel this week both emphasize the importance of persistence, especially in prayer. The second letter of Timothy, chapter four, verse two states “Be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.” In the Gospel (Luke 18:1-8), Jesus tells a parable about a judge and a widow. This is a judge that just doesn’t care. He is simply putting in his time; he answers to no one. Yet, he has a problem. There is a widow that won’t leave him alone. She is always in his face, repeatedly asking him to render the judgment that she wants. Finally, he gives in, if only to get rid of her and get some peace. Jesus then goes on to state “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?”

The obvious answer to that question should be “no.” God will not be slow to answer them. However, anyone who has spent some time in prayer knows that slow in God’s world is not the same as slow in ours. While swift miracles sometimes happen, God frequently does not answer our prayers in the way we would like or on the time table we would prefer. We think we know best. God has a different idea. If He is making us wait, or taking us on a different path than the one we would like to be walking, there is a reason for it. In time, perhaps in the next life if not in this one, it will all make sense. The only prayer that is always truly answered is the one from the Lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done.”

Yet, we are still called to be persistent in prayer, especially in those times when the answers are not clear or forthcoming. This is a time of waiting on God. Those are the times when we still need to pray. We cannot become frustrated and stop praying, believing that God doesn’t care or that He isn’t paying attention. God always cares about what troubles us, even when we don’t feel that way. These are the times when our faith is tested, and paradoxically, strengthened.

Waiting is hard. Being persistent in prayer is difficult. It can definitely make you want to curl up and cry. It is perfectly normal to do so. However, even in those times of darkness and uncertainty, we need to be like that widow and keep asking for help. The prayers help, even when it seems nothing is happening. They help give us acceptance and courage and the will to keep going. Be persistent in prayer and trust that God is right there with you in the waiting. When the time is right, He will answer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity

Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity
by Martin Blake
Nottingham, England: Theotokos Books, 2010

“Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity” was written to help introduce more of the English-speaking world to the French Servant of God Marthe Robin, a suffering soul who lived solely for God. Robin lived from 1902-1981 and neither ate nor drank for many years of her life. Her only nourishment came from her weekly Eucharist. At age 26, she was paralyzed. She would spent most of her life on a divan bed in a darkened room. Yet, she met with over a hundred thousand people who sought her spiritual advice, left behind a great deal of writings, and began a lay movement known as the “Foyers of Charity.”

Relatively healthy as a child, her health began to decline when she was sixteen. She began to understand that her life was to be one of suffering. The early 1920s saw a rapid progression of her physical difficulties. During this period, she experienced some spiritual hardships as well. As biographer Martin Blake states, “Marthe was still torn between giving all to God and hoping for a normal life. It was the priest of Saint-Uze who recalled her saying: ‘I struggled with God!’ The years 1923 to 1925 were filled with anguish.” By 1930, she would totally dedicate herself to Jesus. She wrote, “I dared to choose Jesus Christ. One day, having consecrated myself to Him and received clear proof that my humble act of Abandonment had been accepted, He revealed himself to me and gave himself spiritually to me as the spouse of my soul, living and active.” She would receive the stigmata (the physical wounds of Jesus on the cross) and from 1931 she began to have a weekly experience of the Lord’s Passion.

In 1936, Fr. Georges Finet first met Marthe Robin. Together they would begin “Foyers of Light, Charity, and Love.” These Foyers would consist of consecrated lay people under the direction of a priest. Five day silent retreats would be offered. There are currently “more than seventy Foyers spread over five continents.” Foyers are only formed with the permission of the local Bishop.

In “Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity,” Blake introduces readers to this amazing woman who suffered so much for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He discusses her life, her mysticism, and her mission. He includes the perspectives of those who knew her and wrote about her. He also explores her connection with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Faustina Kowalska. While her official designation as “Blessed” is still under consideration, there can be little doubt that she was a holy woman dedicated to God and the Church who can serve as a role model in our spiritual journeys. Hers is an incredible story, well-worth learning about.

Is Pre-Marital Sex Always a Sin?

I would venture to say that almost everyone struggles with this at some point in their lives. I know that I did. This is an extremely good article about a difficult topic and the reasons behind the teaching.

Is Pre-Marital Sex Always a Sin

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ignatius - Angelicum Liberal Studies Great Books Program

Looking for an on-line Great Books Program for your homeschooling high school student or college student? Ignatius Press and the Angelicum Great Books Program have launched an on-line course of studies.

Under the leadership of Ignatius Press founder and editor Father Joseph Fessio as Chancellor, the Liberal Studies Program provides unrivaled educational opportunities for homeschoolers, students enrolled in traditional high schools, and other students aged fourteen (9th grade) and up, to earn college credit while acquiring the foundations for a Catholic liberal education and lifelong learning.

LSP offers something unique among the many ways high school students can earn college credit — an online program specifically for Catholic students who want to embark on acquiring a liberal education using the Great Books approach pioneered by the great philosopher, educator, and Catholic convert Dr. Mortimer J. Adler.

Fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church is fundamental to the LSP program. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, guides the LSP's Catholic mission.

LSP is accepted for college credit at Benedictine College (Atchinson, Kansas, USA); Campion College (Australia); St. Bede's Hall (Oxford, UK); Catholic Distance University, (online); and other colleges and universities. The growing list of collaborating colleges — the Universities of Western Civilization.

The costs of the LSP are a small fraction of the expense of traditional college education. Tuition and fees at a private, four-year college average $26,273 per year — over $100,000 for a four-year degree. With a coordinated course of study through LSP and its affiliates in the Universities of Western Civilization network of cooperating colleges, students can obtain a bachelor's degree with an accredited college for as little as $26,600 — about a fourth of the cost of four years on campus.

Find out more at

Brother Andre to be Canonized October 17th

Brother André Bessette, C.S.C, a doorkeeper whose ministry to the sick led him to be called the “Miracle Man of Montreal” will become the first saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross when Pope Benedict XVI canonizes him in St. Peter’s Square on October 17, 2010.

Born Alfred Bessette to Isaac and Clothilde Besette on August 9, 1845, in Montreal, Brother André entered Holy Cross in 1870. He worked as a porter at a Montreal school run by the Congregation and soon began to earn a reputation as a healer and miracle worker. Bessette’s biographers recount tales of crippled rheumatics healed and fever-stricken schoolboys made suddenly well, often aided by “Saint Joseph’s oil,” which Bessette rubbed on wounds and sick limbs after burning it before statue of the patron saint of his religious order.

Compassion for the suffering and devotion to Saint Joseph led Brother André to a life comforting those in greatest need. Pope John Paul II said of him, “We venerate in Blessed Brother André Bessette a man of prayer and a friend of the poor, a truly astonishing man…. In each age the Holy Spirit raises up such humble witnesses of the Gospel, who turn things topsy-turvy.”

More than seventy years after Brother André’s death in 1937, millions of pilgrims travel each year to Saint Joseph’s Oratory, which he founded in Montreal in 1904. Brother André was declared Venerable by the Catholic Church in 1978 (the first of three steps toward sainthood), and Blessed in 1982 (the second step).

“We are honored and moved beyond words at Brother André’s formal recognition as a saint,” said Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross on learning that Bessette would be canonized. “Not only because this immensely humble man is the Congregation’s first recognized saint, but because he is such an extraordinary example for every Catholic of every age. Not for him the trappings of power and status, of money and prestige; he was famous first as a ferociously hard worker at the high school where he served his whole life; he simply did everything and anything that was needed, from cleaning the floors to fixing shoes, from doing students’ laundry to cutting hair. What an example of prayer in action, of active service to others as the most eloquent and powerful prayer of all! And that is the essence of the Congregation – we serve the Christ in every being, with our hands and hearts and souls, with all our might.”

A delegation of Holy Cross brothers, sisters, priests, and supporters from around the world will make the pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization. Praying in joyful thanksgiving for the holy example of Brother André’s life and asking him to intercede for them, these pilgrims will reflect on this saint raised up in their midst and attend events associated with the canonization.

“The canonization celebration is a signal of the vitality of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross,” said Rev. Edwin H. Obermiller, C.S.C., Assistant Provincial. “The Indiana Province of Holy Cross is currently working with more than 600 men a year who are considering a vocation. And there are 50 men in the United States currently studying to become Holy Cross priests. They and their brothers in Holy Cross will continue the work of our founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., in the spirit of Brother André.”

To learn more about Brother Andre, read Brother Andre: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph

Also to be canonized on Oct. 17 are five other saints, representing the vibrancy of the Church around the world and across the centuries:

· Blessed Mary MacKillop, 1842-1909, Australia’s first saint and founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

· Blessed Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk, a Polish-born member of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, who lived 1433-1489. He was famous as a preacher and confessor.

· Blessed Juana Josefa Cipitria Barriola of Spain. She died in 1912 and was the founder of the Daughters of Jesus.

· Blessed Giulia Salzano, the Italian founder of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; she died in 1929.

· Blessed Camilla Battista Varano, an Italian Poor Clare who lived 1458-1524.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Senior's Prayer

I came across this prayer in a little book of prayers that came in the mail today from the The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia, PA.

A Senior's Prayer

Come, Virgin Mary, come and stay with me, for my day is far spent. Come when I am lonely and my spirit cries out for sympathy as a child cries out in the dark. Come, when my soul is troubled and dismayed, and the sins of my past rise up against me. But most of all, in my dying hour, ask the Lord Jesus to come and forgive me before I am called to my final home. Amen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Jesus in Our Work

Here is a great post on CatholicMom on Finding Jesus in Our Work. It is written by Tami Kiser, author of Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms. The description of the book sounds great:

Motherhood is so demanding, it s easy to become a Martha always worried about the next thing we have to do and rarely choosing the better part, as Martha's sister Mary did.

Tami Kiser understands. She's a busy mom of nine who juggles teaching at her children's parish school, volunteering at her parish, running a household, and many other responsibilities. Her Smart Martha seminars have helped thousands of women learn to set their priorities so that they still have ample time for Jesus throughout the day.

This is the book that can help any frazzled Martha become more spiritually focused, more holistically fulfilled, and more mentally prepared than ever before. Discover practical tips that will help save time and your sanity. Learn how to:

--Approach every Martha task with a Mary attitude.

--De-clutter your children's toys for faster cleanup and more meaningful play.

--Manage technology to enhance your family's spiritual health.

--Create mealtimes that nourish both body and soul.

--Tackle household chores as a family.

--Foster spiritual beauty in your children. And much more!

Your maternal instinct as well as constant demands from family members may call for a Martha mom, but trust in the Lord that they need a Mary mom, too. Be a Smart Martha, with one eye on the task at hand and the other on the Lord.

I'm glad that I live today

The past few days I've been reading Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity (Review to come soon). I had never heard of Marthe Robin before reading this book. She was a French woman who lived from 1902-1981. A mystic, stigmatic, and suffering soul, she founded a Catholic lay movement in France. Her cause for beatification is currently being worked on.

One of her major contributions was encouraging the role of the laity in the Church. She predicted a "New Pentecost" long before Vatican II came into being. Living my whole life in the years after this council, I have no personal experience of what it was like to be a lay person before, but I do know that in most circumstances, the laity were considered second-class citizens to the ordained and religious. Vatican II stressed that all are equally called to holiness, that we all have a role to play.

I am a lay woman with a Masters Degree in Theology. Had I been born 40 years earlier, that would have been very unlikely. I am blessed and humbled to be able to speak about God and (hopefully) help others live a life focused on what matters. I am extremely thankful for all the wonderful lay men and women who have received and embraced a similar calling. I am thankful for the gift of modern technology that allows us to share our collective wisdom. I know I do not have all the answers and that I personally have many failings. I am but a fellow traveler on the journey. Still, I have been called to do this and I pray that God uses me in the way He sees fit.

Only God knows why I was put on this earth at this moment in time. Only He knows the lives I will touch and the lives that will touch mine. But, I am extremely thankful that I do live today. It certainly has its challenges, but it is an amazing time to be a lay woman in the Church.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle

October 15th is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. A Carmelite nun living in the 1500s, one of her most famous works is "Interior Castle" (known as "The Mansions" in her native Spain) which she wrote at the request of her confessor. A mystic who communed intimately with God, she had experienced a vision of "a most beautiful crystal globe, made in the shape of a castle, and containing seven mansions, in the seventh and innermost of which was the King of Glory, in the greatest splendour, illuming and beautifying them all. . . outside the palace limits everything was foul, dark, and infested with toads, vipers and other venomous creatures." This castle became Teresa's metaphor for the soul. Teresa truly believed that anyone who knew what treasures lay in the center of this castle would never want to sin because sin mires the soul in “misery and filth.” "Interior Castle" explores each of the seven mansions in great detail. Her intended audience was the sisters who made up her cloistered religious community, however her insights offer much to the world at large.

Teresa wrote reluctantly and felt that she had little to offer that had not already been said. She also emphasized that her description and her path to the center of this castle was not the only one. She believed that "Our Lord will be granting me a great favour if a single one of these nuns should find that my words help her to praise Him a little better." She focuses on the beauty of the soul and laments that we spend so much attention on our physical body and so little on the divine spark that is within.

Teresa focuses on gaining self-knowledge, but not in the way we in the 21st century interpret that term. For her, self-knowledge means coming to know the soul within. It means understanding our dependence on God and gaining humility by acknowledging that we are nothing without Him. The route to self-knowledge and entry into the interior castle comes through prayer and meditation. As one progresses through the mansions, one comes to know and long for God more and more and to reject the world and its attractions. Teresa encourages the beginner in prayer "to labour and be resolute and prepare himself with all possible diligence to bring his will into conforming with the will of God." She also offers encouragement: "If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart or cease striving to make progress, for even out of your fall God will bring good." Teresa also makes the point that prayer leads to action rooted in love. “True perfection consists in the love of God and of our neighbor, and the more nearly perfect is our observance of these two commandments, the nearer to perfection we shall be.”

As one makes her way ever deeper into the heart of the castle, increased spiritual consolations and trials become par for the course. Many (perhaps even most) do not reach the most inner mansions in this lifetime. Teresa is quick to point out, however, that "the Lord gives when He wills and as He wills and to whom He wills, and as the gifts are His own, this is doing no injustice to anyone." Indeed she cautions her readers to never believe that they deserve any gift that the Lord bestows upon them, nor should we set out to obtain any consolations or mystical experiences because "the most essential thing is that we should love God without any motive of self-interest."

Teresa was truly granted amazing gifts of insight and experience from God. While we may not fully share in her experience, "Interior Castle" offers a unique portrait of our souls and invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Importance of both Martha and Mary

In reading Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions, I came across this wonderful quote by Aelrod of Rievaulx, a Cistercian monk. He speaks about the importance of both Mary and Martha in that famous Gospel story where Jesus visits their home in Bethany.

You see if Mary had been alone in the house, no one would have fed the Lord; if Martha had been alone, no one would have tasted his presence and his words. Martha thus represents the action, the labor accomplished for Christ, Mary the repose that frees from bodily labor, in order to taste the sweetness of the Lord in reading, prayer, and contemplation. . . .

Do not neglect Mary for Martha, nor Martha for Mary. If you neglect Martha, who will serve Jesus? And if you neglect Mary, what will be the use of the visit of Jesus, since you will not taste his sweetness? Know, my brothers, that in this life, it is necessary never to separate these two women.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Book Review: Paths to Prayer

Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions

by Pat Fosarelli
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

Have you ever heard someone speak of “Augustian spirituality” or “Ignatian Spirituality” or “Dominican spirituality” and not been sure exactly what he was talking about? What does it mean to speak about different schools of spiritual thought? If these are questions you would like to know the answer to, then “Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions” is the perfect book for you. Dr. Pat Fosarelli, a teacher at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, has written a concise, informative guide to ten major Catholic spiritual traditions.

Augustinian, Benedictine, Cistercian, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Ignatian, Salesian, Lay, and Mystical spirituality are all explored. Fosarelli offers a historical background to each movement and the saints that inspired it. She then goes on to explain its key features. Lastly, she offers well-known examples of persons who have made this spirituality their own, and references for learning more. Her section on “Lay Spirituality” is particularly interesting. Rooted in the teachings of Vatican II, it emphasizes the role lay persons are called to play in the spiritual life of the Church.

While certainly not meant to be an exhaustive study of any of these traditions, “Paths to Prayer” does provide a wealth of information. As Fosarelli states, “This is a book that is meant to get readers started, so that, having a better understanding of some of the major Catholic spiritual traditions, readers can then move on to traditions they might like to explore.” She has succeeded admirably in that aim.

“Paths to Prayer” is for anyone seeking a general overview of different traditions of Catholic spiritual thought. It would also be incredibly useful in a college course on spirituality or for use by a Catholic book club.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rachel's Contrition

Congratulations to Michelle Buckman, fellow Catholic Writer's Guild Member, who was #1 on Amazon's Women's Fiction list today with her novel Rachel's Contrition

Rachel Winter had nothing, won it all, and then lost everything

After the death of her daughter, grief-spawned delusions cause Rachel to lose her husband, her home, and custody of her son.

Help arrives from two unlikely sources: a young teen, Lilly, battling her own demons, and a tattered holy card depicting Saint Therese of Lisieux.

As Rachel grows closer to Lilly and comes to know Saint Therese, unbidden memories from her edgy past reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder . . . and a truth that will haunt her forever.

Published by Sophia Institute Press

How to Pray the Rosary

In honor of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), I am posting how to pray the rosary. I'm sure many of you are already very familiar with this prayer, but if not, I invite you to try it and discover its beauty and power for yourself.

The Rosary is a beautiful meditative prayer which invites us to meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary.

These are the prayers used in saying the Rosary:

Sign of the Cross:

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles Creed
believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.

Our Father
Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory Be
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the
beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Hail Holy Queen
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to you do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Virgin Mary,
thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed
fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary!
Pray for Us, O holy mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

1. Make the Sign of the Cross and pray the Apostles' Creed on the crucifix
2. Pray the Our Father on the first large bead.
3. Pray the Hail Mary on each of the three small beads.
4. Pray the Glory Be to the Father and announce the first Mystery
5. Pray the Our Father on the next large bead.
6. Pray one Hail Mary on each of the next ten small beads while meditating on the first Mystery.
7. Pray the Glory Be and announce the second Mystery.
8. Pray the Our Father.
9. Repeat steps 6,7, and 8, continuing with the third, fourth, and fifth Mysteries.
10. conclude with the Hail Holy Queen.

The Mysteries of the Rosary

Generally speaking, each day, one set of five Mysteries is meditated upon.
Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation (the angel appears to Mary)
2. The Visitation (Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth)
3. The Nativity (Jesus is born)
4. The Presentation (Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple)
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

Luminous Mysteries

1. Jesus is Baptized
2. The Miracle at Cana
3. Jesus tells us of God's Kingdom
4. Jesus shows us His Glory
5. Jesus gives us the Eucharist

Sorrowful Mysteries

1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. Jesus carries his Cross
5. The Crucifixion (Jesus dies on the cross)

Glorious Mysteries

1. The Resurrection (Jesus rises from the dead)
2. The Ascension (Jesus returns to his Father in heaven)
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
5. The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Another Good Quote

I came across this one on the back of the September issue of the Knights of Columbus magazine. Each issue features a priest, religious brother or sister talking about their vocation. This one is from Sister Colleen Smith of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, Missouri.

I believe God calls me to give a human face to the heart of God.

In reality, God calls each of us to do that. What an incredible responsibility!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Quote from "God Moments"

"God Moments" by Michele Elena Bondi is now available for purchase at Joseph Karl Publishing (Scroll down the page to find the link).

As I was flipping through my review copy today, I came across this message:

The event led me to think about how we delight in creating, problem solving, designing, and experimenting. We appreciate the creation of something wonderful and a job well done. Now imagine God at the moment when He decided to create something that He loves very much: us! God, Master of Creation and Teacher, gave Himself the task of creating people. One by one He thought us up, and none of us came out the same!

Think about the time God spent on you. Perhaps He started out dreaming of your many talents and the role your apostolate would play in His plan of salvation. Imagine the anticipation God felt and how excited He was through all time for your moment to be born! How much He loved you as He waited. God must have rejoiced in the waiting, knowing that it was perfect timing for your life.

Imagine how happy He was to share the world He created for you to live in. Sunrises and sunsets, flowers, animals, plants, streams, breezes. Do you think every time a new person is created there is a celebration in heaven? I bet that God celebrates on your birthday. He rejoices with the angels, saints, and all in heaven, and there is singing and music playing, because what God creates is good. 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.

Quote for the Day

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to change often. - Blessed John Henry Newman

Monday, October 04, 2010

Good Article on Obedience has up a good article on obedience by Cassandra Poppe: Agony in the Garden - Obedience. It is all true and yet, so hard to do. I've been trying and failing my own life (and will no doubt continue to fail until the day I leave this earth). Thank God for confession. I don't know what I would do without it.

Feast of St. Francis

I came across this quote yesterday when I was doing some research for my weekly article. It makes a good point about St. Francis that I hadn't considered before.

This Sunday [Oct. 3] is also Right to Life Sunday, and Monday, October 4th is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I know that I am more than a little biased, but I find Francis to be the most passionate “right to life” saint that there ever was. He saw the world and all of its creatures as completely connected; we are all brothers and sisters-- every tree, every plant, every cat, every rat, every man and woman and child! What a great description of “right relationships!” If we could live Francis’ vision-- with Francis’ passion-- the world would be a much better place. - Father Ed. -

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Moving Mulberry Trees

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied,
"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
Luke 17:5-6

Have you moved any mulberry trees lately? If you have, I’d be willing to bet that it involved a great deal of back-breaking labor and some heavy machinery. As I heard this Gospel, I thought, “Wow! If I had enough faith, I could clean my house with a lot less effort.” Obviously, that isn’t the case.

What, then, is Jesus trying to tell his Apostles and us in this Gospel? Jesus liked to use exaggeration to get his listeners attention. This is definitely one of those cases. So, despite the fact that we are unlikely to move any trees or clean our houses simply by believing that it can be so, the message is that our faith can still do amazing things.

Faith is what leads us to prayer. We believe that a higher power is in control. We know that we don’t have to do it all on our own. Honestly, I can’t even imagine trying to get through life that way. We have a God who loves us and is looking out for our best interests. We can talk to Him and ask for help. We can let Him lead us where He wants us to go.

Having that faith does not mean that life will be easy, however. I cringe whenever I hear someone preaching the (false) Gospel of prosperity with its message, “Believe in God and you will have success in this world.” Jesus never promised us success in this world. He never said that we wouldn’t suffer and would never get sick. In fact, he promised the exact opposite. He told us that following him meant picking up our cross, but he guaranteed that it would all be worth it in the end.

We all have metaphorical mulberry trees in our lives, the problems that have deep roots and simply won’t go away. Our faith allows us to believe that those problems will somehow be resolved and the tree will move. Maybe that tree is even there for a reason we can’t fully understand. Sure, it blocks our view and seems insurmountable. We wish it wasn’t there, but our faith is what keeps us going, despite the big obstacle in the way. Plus, we do know and trust that miracles do happen. Prayers do get answered (sometimes even in the way we hoped for!). Sometimes, those trees do get moved in amazing ways. Other times, they move slowly with lots of heavy labor. Jesus didn’t give a timetable for those trees moving into the sea. But, with faith and trust, they do eventually move.

What are the trees that need moving in your life? Do you have enough faith to turn them over to God? Are you able to trust that He knows what He is doing?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program

National Novel Writing Month is only a month away. I've done this project before - the goal being to write 50,000 words in one month. It is a great deal of fun for those inclined to writing (if a bit insane!). The National Novel Writing Month site features plenty of resources for younger people wishing to take the challenge. There are creative writing lesson plans for K-12 educators, noveling workbooks geared for different ages, free writing advice and much more. Find out more at: NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

22 Quotes from St. Therese - Day 22

Happy Feast Day, St. Therese!

For me, prayer is an upward rising of the heart, it's a simple glance toward heaven, it's a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trials as much as in the midst of joys. In short, it's something big, something great, something supernatural, that expands my heart and unites me to Jesus.
- St. Therese

From The Story of a Soul: A New Translation (Living Library)

Making the Most of <i>Menopause Moments</i>

  When I unexpectedly got in a review copy of Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife , I must adm...