Monday, February 28, 2011

My New Life Motto

I saw this mug in a catalog this weekend. I don't need the mug, but I sure do love the sentiment! "God Sends No Stress that Chocolate and Prayer Can't Handle!" I think I have a new life motto :)

If you would like to order the mug, it can be found here: Chocolate Prayer Mug Set

Fr. Corapi to Speak in Boston

“The gates of hell will not prevail!”Matthew 16:18

Father John Corapi will deliver this urgent message on August 6, 2011, at Boston’s TD Garden during his conference titled “The Church Persecuted.” Father Corapi calls himself a soldier on a mission to deliver a message of hope.

Sponsored by Boston’s own Catholic radio station WQOM 1060 AM, the conference lineup also includes Sean Cardinal O’Malley, who will celebrate Mass, and host Scot Landry, Secretary for Catholic Media for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Fr. John Corapi has prepared four original talks that he promises will be his best presentation ever on this topic! The Church is being persecuted, but Father Corapi says that from this persecution will come growth.

The Christian values that our country was founded upon are being eroded by the liberal media and many other forces. Father Corapi’s mission is to equip Catholics to respond to the attack on their values by educating them and inspiring them to fight back in truth and charity. “Do not despair. Remember the last chapter - WE WIN!”

Faithful Catholics from across the country are planning to attend this powerful day of prayer and preparation. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $45.00. Make your plans today to attend what will be a sold out event. And please spread the word to all of your family and friends.

Complete details and registration are available by phone at 877-888-6279 or online at .

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Get Out of Your Spiritual Comfort Zone

I am a creature of habit. I tend to exercise the same way, eat the same things, and engage in the same activities. When I go for a walk, I usually take the same route. My work, though varied, normally involves the same type of tasks. I get up and go to bed at the same time every day.

Every now and then, however, I do branch out of my tried and true routine and try something new. This week has found me learning how to play chess. No big deal, right? Well, it is to me because I swore that it was something I simply could not do. My children have played since they were small. I’ve tried before to learn and been totally lost. Over the years, they have begged and begged me to learn.

“We will teach you, Mom! You can do it.”

“But I can’t get it. My brain doesn’t understand how it works.”

“You can try. You always tell us we have to try.”

Umm. . . Good point. Don’t you hate when your children use your own words against you?

So, a children’s library book on chess later, I am proud to report that I can now actually play chess. There is no danger of my reaching Grand Master status, but I now know how the pieces move, and I can play the game with them. I even won once (I would love to say that was due to my skill, but pure luck gets all the credit). To my surprise, I even find I am enjoying the game!

Getting out of one’s comfort zone and trying something new can be good for both the mind and the spirit. With Lent right around the corner, it is a good time to think about getting out of your spiritual comfort zone. What is something that you could do this Lent that would stretch your spiritual muscles?

Perhaps you always meditate, but tend not to use any formal prayers. Perhaps this is the time you could commit to trying to pray a rosary every day, or say a novena for a special intention. Or, the reverse could be true. Perhaps you rely on formal prayer but you have never been able to meditate. Consider taking a few minutes a day to simply sit in God’s presence.

If you always give something up for Lent, perhaps this could be the year you try to do something extra. If you always do something extra, this could be the year you try fasting from a favorite food or activity.

There are many ways to engage in some new spiritual activity this Lent. You could attend daily Mass, or say the “Stations of the Cross” every day. You could make greater use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You could engage in greater charitable giving, or make a concerted effort to work on a particularly difficult personal relationship.

Lent is a time set aside to help us work on ourselves, to dedicate our lives to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Hopefully, by the time Easter morning greets us, we are a little bit better, a little bit stronger in our spiritual lives. Lent offers the invitation to get out of our spiritual comfort zone and try something new. May it be a holy season for all of you.

For Western Mass Catholics

Peggy Weber from the Diocesan Catholic Communications Office asked me to remind you that there are several places on-line where you can get news about our Diocese. The "Catholic Mirror" is on-line at There is also the Diocesan website at and the Catholic Communications Blog at You can also follow them on Facebook at

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quote from St. Teresa of Avila

As someone who falls regularly, I take some comfort in this quote. I have often found that my spiritual failures have served some purpose in the long run (made me more understanding, less judgmental, etc). I still wish the failures didn't have to happen, though.

"It constantly happens that the Lord permits a soul to fall so that it may grow humbler. When it is honest, and realizes what it has done, and returns, it makes ever-increasing progress in our Lord's service." - St. Teresa of Avila

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Divine Mercy App

The latest Marian Helper Magazine told of a new Divine Mercy app. The app consists of three main sections: The Message, The Devotion, and Divine Mercy Plus.

The Message has basic information about St. Faustina, excerpts from her Diary, and a list of resources. The Devotion includes the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina's Way of the Cross, and an abundance of prayers. Divine Mercy Plus tells about The Marian Fathers, Marian Helpers, and the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Learn more and download the app here:Divine Mercy App

Parenting Your Adult Child: Keeping the Faith (And Your Sanity)

I haven't read Parenting Your Adult Child: Keeping the Faith (And Your Sanity) by Susan Vogt, but it definitely looks like one of those books I might need a few years down the road.

"It is eighteen years after the birth of your child. He is now stronger than you. She is now taller than you. Either one of them can work a cell phone faster, text message, IM, or design a Web page while you're still reading the newspaper. How did your baby grow up so quickly? As a parent, do you have anything left to say to your son or daughter? Is there anything your child still needs to hear from you-or will tolerate you saying?"

Parenting Your Adult Child addresses such thorny issues as when to rescue and when to not; when to push and when to restrain yourself; how to keep your faith when your child seems to be abandoning it; how to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made in parenting along the way; and how to move into an adult/adult relationship with this amazing person you have raised.

Susan Vogt is an award-winning freelance writer and speaker on marriage, parenting, and spirituality. A professional Catholic family minister for over thirty years, she has served as an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is the History of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

As a child, I was introduced to Eucharistic Adoration at The Mother of God Monastery in West Springfield, MA. The monstrance was beautiful, part of the grille separating the chapel from the cloistered nuns on the other side (see the photo). My mother would tell me how there was always a nun on the other side praying in front of the Eucharist every hour of the day and night.

With the exception of Holy Thursday, however, that was the only time I ever experienced Eucharistic Adoration. In recent years, it has become much more common to have Eucharistic Adoration as part of a parish's liturgical life. My own parish has it every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. I love to stop by when I can for a few minutes of prayer. Perhaps someday, life will allow me to devote more time to the practice.

U.S. Catholic has an interesting explanation of the history of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:
What is the History of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Review: "The Power of the Sacraments"

The Power of the Sacraments
by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.
Cincinnati, OH: Servant Books, 2010

The first thing one notices about "The Power of the Sacraments" by Sr. Briege McKenna is its size. This is a small book - a mere 64 pages. Does it actually have something new and valuable to say about the sacraments? Absolutely.

Sr. McKenna emphasizes how the sacraments bring us "supernatural life, the life of grace." She discusses each of the seven sacraments - their purpose and how they can work in our lives. All of this one can read in other books, however.

It was only after reading through several of the chapters that I began to understand the meaning of the title: "The Power of the Sacraments." "Power" is the word to be emphasized. For each sacrament, Sr. McKenna shares the story of a miracle related to it. These are truly amazing, heart-wrenching stories that illustrate just what Jesus can accomplish when His sacraments pour out their grace.

"The Power of the Sacraments" is a reminder of the great gift we have been given in the sacraments. We should all open ourselves to their power in our lives.

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 The Power of the Sacraments. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Records of Our National Life

Records of Our National Life: American History from the National Archives
Edited by Anne-Catherine Fallen and Kevin Osborn Research & Design, Ltd.
Washington, DC: The Foundation for the National Archives, 2009

In the wrong hands, history can be a very boring subject. The names, dates, and lists of facts can seem very disconnected from real life. Published in honor of the National Archives' 75th anniversary, the coffee-table book "Records of Our National Life" presents history in living color.

Each striking full-color glossy page offers a new treasure to discover. From a map of Boston in 1775 and the agreement of secrecy taken by all members of the Continental Congress to the handwritten copy of Washington's first inaugural address, the beginnings of the United States are well-represented. Move forward in time and view documents from the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the abolitionist movement, and a map of Sutter's Mill where gold was discovered in 1848. See a collection of Civil War era photographs by Matthew Brady and items related to the Confederate government. Read the testimony of Dr. Robert Stone regarding the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

Are you more interested in the modern era? See part of President Franklin Roosevelt's Inaugural Address and photos of the Civilian Conservation Corps at work. There is a page of World War II posters and photos of the women who worked hard in the factories while the men were off fighting. There is the Supreme Court Judgment from Brown v. Board of Education and documents related to the Cuban Missile Crisis. There are photographs from the Vietnam War and President Nixon in China as well as items related to Watergate. Mount St. Helens is shown erupting. One can also read one of the sheet cards from President Reagan's famous speech at Brandenburg Gate asking Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear Down This Wall!" The most recent items are related to 9/11, the Patriot Act and the election of President Obama.

Social historians will love this book the most. From the birth certificates (literally, pages out of family Bibles) of Revolutionary War Veterans, to the Homestead Application of Almonzo Wilder, and citizen applications of such notables as Greta Garbo, Albert Einstein, and Maria von Trapp, there is much to explore and pore over.

While not a history text, "Records of Our National Life" is a wonderful addition to any study of American history and could be the starting point for many interesting projects and further study. It is a tremendous resource and one well-worth spending time with.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Register Now for the New England Catholic Homeschool Conference

The New England Catholic Homeschool Conference will be held Saturday, June 25th at St. Stanislaus School in Chicopee, MA. To learn more about the conference, please visit: New England Catholic Homeschool Conference 2011. To Register, please visit New England Catholic Homeschool Registration

I am excited to be a speaker at this year's conference and it would be great to see you there!

Are You Thinking About Homeschooling?

Even though September seems a long ways away, this is the time of year when academic decisions for next school year are often made. Are you considering homeschooling next year? Perhaps it is an idea you have been considering for a long time, or maybe you recently met someone who homeschools and you want to know more. How do you know if homeschooling is right for you?

Why Decide to Homeschool?

People decide to homeschool for many different reasons. According to a study put out by the National Center for Education Statistics, “the reason for homeschooling that was most frequently cited as being applicable was concern about the environment of other schools including safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure. Eighty-five percent of homeschooled students were being homeschooled, in part, because of their parents’ concern about the environment of other schools. The next two reasons for homeschooling most frequently cited as applicable were to provide religious or moral instruction (72 percent) and dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (68 percent).”

Think about the reasons you are considering homeschooling.

When Should The Decision to Homeschool Be Made?

Some people make the decision to homeschool when their child is still safely in the womb. Others make the decision when their child is three years old and expected to attend preschool. They decide they can teach them themselves and then, when faced with the decision of attending school for kindergarten, simply decide to keep going. Others decide at some point in their child’s academic career that traditional school is simply not the best option and pull the child out of school.

There is no one right or wrong time to homeschool. It can be done from birth through high school, or for part of one year. Each year the decision can be reevaluated depending on life and family circumstances.

How Can I Possibly Spend 30 Hours a Week Teaching Each Child?

Homeschooling is like having a private tutor. Much of the time spent in school is not spent on direct instruction, but rather waiting for others or doing “filler” work. Homeschooling is much more efficient. It will not take you thirty hours a week to cover the material. It will take far less. Also, children of different grades can often be taught much of the same material. Homeschooling provides a great deal of flexibility.

What About Socialization?

This always seems to be the question well-meaning people ask most. Family and friends and even random strangers will ask: “How will your children learn to get along with different people if they don’t go to school?” There are many articles and books on this topic, including Home-Schooling: Socialization not a problem from the Washington Times.

Children who are homeschooled have many opportunities to interact with people of all ages, thereby helping them be more comfortable talking to adults, not just their peers. They are also able to develop friendships and take part in activities with other children. Homeschooled children take part in many of the same extra-curricular activities other children do, such as sports, dance classes, scouting programs, and Church programs. In addition, there are many homeschool groups that meet on a regular basis.

How Can I Possibly Teach Algebra?

This can also be considered, the “How can I teach high school?” question. Many parents feel that they can adequately teach the basics of reading and writing and math, but things like algebra and high school biology or chemistry inspire fear in many. The good news is that there are many on-line classes high school students can take. Older teens can also often enroll in basic classes at a community college. Finding a tutor can also help the process. If parents want to homeschool for high school, there are many ways to accomplish that goal.

What Will I Have to Report to my City?

Each state has its own rules regarding homeschooling. Within states, different cities may interpret those rules differently. Talking with other homeschoolers in your area can help clarify what you need to do. The Home School Legal Defense Association can also be a very good resource if you have specific questions about what is required in your state.

Where Do I Learn More?

Your local library may have books on homeschooling or information on a homeschool group in your area. There are also several magazines and websites dedicated to the subject. If you have a specific question, you may want to do an internet search for that particular topic. Any situation you are facing has no doubt been contended with by someone else. As a general rule, homeschoolers are happy to share information and advice.

If you are considering homeschooling, I would recommend that you pray to make the right decision for your family. It can be scary to step off the well-traveled road of traditional schooling to embrace something new, but if it is the right choice for your family, it can be a beautiful way to live.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The First Sign of Spring

Like many other places, we in Western Massachusetts have had more than our share of snow this winter. The snowbanks were higher than I have ever seen them. But, the past couple days have been a touch of Spring and we have been rejoicing in it. And, the snow is actually melting!

There is now actually a strip of earth between the house and the snow pile. As I looked over today, I did a double take. My daffodils are starting to sprout! Those little green shoots are pushing their way through the earth. I was so excited. Each September, I plant them and tulips - my act of faith that Spring will come. And there they were! I was so excited.

Thank you, God, for the beautiful day, and the promise of Spring to come.

Visit Catholic Lane

Catholic Lane is a new Catholic site (just opened today) which I will be contributing to. It looks like it will be a great spot for Catholic news and information. Please stop by, bookmark the site, and "like' it on Facebook. Thanks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Review: "A Billion Reasons Why"

A Billion Reasons Why
by Kristin Billerback
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011

Reading "A Billion Reasons Why" by Kristin Billerbeck is like enjoying a sweet piece of milk chocolate. It is a big helping of literary comfort food.

Katie McKenna thought she left her life as a singer and dancer in New Orleans behind her, along with the love of multimillionaire Luc Deforges. She is now a special needs teacher in California whose only singing is done in the Church choir. Dexter is the man in her life - a dull, but reliable man who serves the Lord. She plans to marry him and live a nice, quiet God-centered life raising a family.

It would seem, however, that God has other plans for her. When Luc walks back into her life to escort her back home for his brother's wedding, her life gets complicated in a hurry. Luc had publicly humiliated her eight years before and she is determined not to let it happen again. She is determined to fight her feelings for him if it is the last thing she does.

This is Christian chick lit perfect for curling up with when you just want to relax and enjoy a light romance.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"The Little Way of Lent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese"

This is a Lenten Book for all of you who enjoy the writings and outlook of St. Therese. Father Gary Caster was inspired to write The Little Way of Lent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux after reading her autobiography.

St. Therese transformed his experience of Lent from one of narrow concern over what to give up to one of joyful freedom to enter into the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. "What struck me," he says, "was her insistence on the way we do things for God and not the things we do for him. It wasn't about what I was offering; it was about why."

The meditations in this book all colored by St. Therese's Little Way of Spiritual Childhood will transform you, too, helping you focus not so much on what you have done to offend God , but on what he has done to redeem you.

Fr. Gary Caster, Ph. L., a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, is the Catholic Chaplain at Williams College. He leads retreats and parish missions, has written and produced shows for EWTN and been a contributor to Magnificat magazine. He is the author of Mary, in Her Own Words: The Mother of God in Scripture and a contributor to "Praying with St. Paul: Daily Reflections on the Letters of the Apostle Paul." His thesis for a Master of Arts in Church History from Mt. St. Mary s University was on St. Therese of Lisieux.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do You Value Your Dreams?

Dionna Sanchez wrote this beautiful post today: To Go Forward, Sometimes You Have to Go Back. I think the hardest part of being middle-aged is that realization that many of your dreams will never come true. Life is hard. God puts you on alternate paths (no doubt better for your eternal development). Sometimes, it hardly seems worth it to dream at all because it only leads to disappointment. Yet, even with that reality, I do feel it is still beneficial to dream and work for things (at least on my good days), even if they don't turn out quite the way one hopes.

Dionna offers a good reminder of the value of dreams:

Sometimes we sit on the turf God has given us, and we wonder why we can’t move forward. Why we can’t seem to catch a break. We get frustrated over our lack of progress, blessings, or adventures in life. Maybe it’s because we need to go backwards in our past a little bit and reclaim what we set aside along the way? Maybe it’s because we forgot that we already knew how to dream, take risks, believe in the impossible, and love the unloveable? Maybe we need to remember how it felt to pursue life with abandon?

If we want to go forward, we might just need to go backwards a little bit. It might be scary at first – but I think we will find the freedom we’ve been searching for all along as we rediscover how it feels to have the pure and genuine heart of a child.

Help Pick the Cover of Lisa Hendey's New Book

This is a fun way to have input in a publishing decision. Ave Maria Press is asking for input on the cover of Lisa Hendey's forthcoming book on saints for Catholic moms. Visit the survey here: Survey Monkey for Lisa Hendey and cast your vote.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Day Letter to Men

I don't know how many men read this blog, but I wish more did, if only so they could see the link to this letter: A Valentine's Day Letter to Men on the Catholic Pheonix blog. Perhaps some of you women can pass it along. This about sums it up, Gentlemen!

Movie Review: "Charlie St. Cloud"

Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Effron as the title character, is a moving story about a young man discovering his purpose in life, even as he struggles to deal with death. After his younger brother dies in a car crash, Charlie puts his life on hold. His heart may still be beating but he has given up all his dreams and works instead as a cemetery caretaker. His sole joy in life? He meets his (deceased) younger brother every day for a game of catch. He promised he would and he does not want to break his promise for fear that he will truly lose his brother forever. When a beautiful woman comes into his life, he is forced to make a choice between living or holding on to the past.

This is an incredibly moving, surprising, life-affirming story. I was riveted by it. It has some very Catholic themes, including a belief in the power of St. Jude and the knowledge that when we die, it is far from the end. It is rated PG-13 and there is the suggestion of an inappropriate sexual act (although nothing is shown). Overall, however, it is incredibly well-done. It will both entertain you and make you think.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why is St. Anthony’s Help Sought in Finding Lost Things?

Have you ever prayed to St. Anthony to help you find a lost item? This is a practice I learned from my mother when I was a little girl. Whenever something was missing, she encouraged me to seek his intercession. Over the years, St. Anthony has helped me find many, many things.

He hears from me on a nearly daily basis, not only to help me find things I’ve misplaced, but the toys, books, and mittens that my children have lost somewhere in the house and must be found and found quickly. He always helps me. If the item is there to be found, I usually find it pretty quickly, sometimes in some very unexpected places.

How did this tradition start? First, let us learn some basics about the life of St. Anthony. He was born in 1195 in Lisbon and given the name of Fernando. At the age of 15 he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. He would then spend nine years studying Augustinian theology.

The life of the young priest took a radical turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco and carried in solemn procession to his monastery. He was so moved by the experience, Fernando decided that he wanted to be a Franciscan, go to Morocco and become a martyr himself. As a Franciscan, he took the name Anthony.

Despite his desire, he never made it to Morocco. He became sick and needed to return home. His ship ran into storms and high winds and was blown to the east coast of Sicily, where he was cared for by the friars in Messina.

Anthony might have lived a quiet life as an unknown friar if he hadn’t gone to an ordination of Dominicans and Franciscans in 1222. While he was there, Anthony was asked to give a “simple” sermon. When Anthony began to speak, his holiness and knowledge impressed everyone. St. Francis heard of Anthony’s previously hidden gifts, and assigned Anthony to preach in northern Italy. Eventually, he was asked to also teach other friars.

In Padua, Anthony preached his last and most famous Lenten sermons. As many as 30,000 people would crowd to hear him. He would sometimes hear confessions all day. He was exhausted and knew that he would die soon. He died in 1231 at age 36. The following year, his friend, Pope Gregory IX, moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony’s tomb, declared him a saint.

How did St. Anthony, most known for his skill at preaching, become associated with finding lost things? When he was teaching friars, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. This was before the advent of the printing press, so the book itself was extremely valuable, but more importantly, it also had his notes for teaching which were irreplaceable.

A disgruntled novice decided to leave the community and took Anthony’s psalter with him! Upon realizing it was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. The novice saw a vision which compelled him to return the psalter to Anthony and return to the Order which accepted him back. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna. Shortly after his death people began asking St. Anthony’s help to find or recover lost and stolen articles.

The following is a traditional prayer to St. Anthony:

Dear St. Anthony,
You are the patron of the poor and the helper of all who seek lost articles. Help me to find the object I have lost so that I will be able to make better use of the time I will gain for God’s greater honor and glory. Grant your gracious aid to all people who seek what they have lost – especially those who seek to regain God’s grace.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Time to Vote in the Catholicism Awards

The finalists have been selected and it is time to vote: Catholic awards Finalists

I didn't make the cut, but I do appreciate the people who nominated my blog, and there are some great choices to pick from!

Book Review: "Pausing to Pray: Lenten Meditations for Busy People"

Pausing To Pray Lenten Meditations for Busy People
With Excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina and Meditations by Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
Compiled and arranged by Sarah M. Chichester
Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2010

Lent is right around the corner. "Pausing to Pray: Lenten Meditations for Busy People" offers short reflections for each day from Ash Wednesday through Divine Mercy Sunday. Each day features an excerpt from St. Faustina's Diary which focuses on Divine Mercy and then a short meditation from one of the Marian Fathers. The contributing Fathers include such notables as Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, author of "No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy," Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers and author of the "Consoling the Heart of Jesus," and Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, world-renowned authority on the Divine Mercy Message and the life of St. Faustina.

The reflections are short and thought-provoking and will aid in devotion during the spiritual season of Lent. The booklet can be used year after year. It also features an examination of conscience, St. Faustina's Way of the Cross, the Novena to Divine Mercy, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

This is the reflection for the First Saturday of Lent:

Jesus, I accept everything that You wish to send me; I trust in your goodness. (Diary, 190)


Dear Jesus, I am afraid of what I would have to give up if I gave You my unconditional 'Yes.' I guess I don't trust you enough. How did St. Faustina come to a complete surrender to You? She knew You better than I do. Help me to come to know You more deeply, Lord. I don't want to be afraid of the path that You have picked out for me. Help me to believe that You will be with me every step of the way and that my surrender to You won't lead to misery, but is the key to my happiness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the New Translation of the Mass

Here is one of the best articles I have seen on the reasons behind the new English translation of the Catholic Mass.

Understanding the Reasons for the Changes

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

For Valentine's Day - Christian Love and Valentines

Valentine's Day can celebrate all sorts of Christian love, not just the romantic variety. Our Sunday Visitor has a great craft for small children that focuses on that fact. With a little adaptation, it could work just as well for bigger kids also:

Christian Love and Valentines

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Book Review: Exposed

 Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him

by Shannon M. Dietz
Hopeful Hearts Ministry, 2012

At World Youth Day 2005 in Kolin, Germany, Shannon Dietz was approached by a stranger with a startling message. "God is using you and wants you to be bold. He wants you to tell your story - all of it. Some people may not believe you, and some will come against you, telling you not to share what you have always kept secret. But he knows they need to hear you and witness what he's done for you." A priest in the confessional told her that she has a gift of the Spirit - the ability to discern what is evil and what is of God.

"Exposed" is Shannon's story of that good and evil in her own life. It is a pain-filled tale. She has experienced far more than any one person should ever have to - including two rapes, emotional abuse, and seeing physical manifestations of evil. She made her share of poor decisions and struggled with her Catholic faith for many years. Through it all, even when she thought He had, God never abandoned her. It wasn't until she was a mother struggling with the challenges of parenting that she fully turned her life over to God and experienced a life-changing conversion.

God led her to become a youth minister in her local parish and to share her story about God's presence in our lives. As Shannon states, her story "exposes the truth that, no matter how deeply our wounds may run, we will always be worthy of God's healing grace."

It took great courage for Shannon to share her story. It is an important one for young people who are struggling with addiction or abuse and those who question whether God still cares for them in spite of their sin.

You can learn more about Shannon and her ministry at

You can purchase the book at

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Biblical Quote on Work

Each week, I put up a Bible quote in our kitchen for us all to reflect on. This is the quote for this week:

"In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work like you are working for the Lord, not for people." Colossians 3:23

That's a good reminder to always put good effort into our work, even if it seems unimportant or uninspiring. Do all we do for the glory of God. That automatically infuses it with meaning and purpose.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

There is More than One Way to be a Good Mom

The word vocation means a “call.” In Catholic circles, it refers to a call from God. Many women receive a call from God to motherhood. It is a noble call, a challenging call, a call that will frequently bring a woman to her personal limits and to her knees in prayer. Yet, it has immense rewards. Those of us who have been called to this life should be both thankful for and humbled by it.

Given that it is such a hard job, motherhood should be supported by all of us, in all its forms. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While the outside world may be very supportive of working mothers, in Catholic circles, it is often seen as a “lesser” choice.

If a mother “needs” to work, then it is acceptable, but even then I’ve heard other mothers say that they feel sorry for these mothers. The woman who chooses to work? She is frequently portrayed as selfish and not putting her family first. It is as if there is one version of motherhood that is held up as the ideal – the stay-at-home totally dedicated mother (if you managed to nurse exclusively for at least a year, homeschool your children, and have four or more children, you get extra points) – and all the others fall a little short.

As a homeschooling stay-at-home mother, I am begging people to reconsider that position. I believe that I have been called to my current way of life for this season of my life. It certainly wasn’t in the life plan that I had for myself. Rather, God led me here. I am very fortunate to be able to work part-time from home. My situation was different in my past, and it may be different in my future. I hope to always do what God wants from me.

Is it then possible to believe that others are called to different forms of motherhood? I would argue that it is. Learning about St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) expanded my own understanding of the vocation of motherhood. She is a patron saint of working mothers. She was an accomplished physician who loved her work. She truly felt called by God to be a doctor. She continued to maintain her own practice while having three small children.

St. Gianna would ultimately give up her own life so that her 4th child might live. That child followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a doctor herself. On the subject of vocation, St. Gianna wrote “What is a vocation? It is a gift from God, so it comes from God. If it is a gift from God, our concern must be to know God’s will. We must enter that path: If God wants, when God wants, how God wants.” God called St. Gianna to be both doctor and mother. She served God completely in both roles.

On a related note, Pope Benedict XVI recently stated that “it is necessary to concretely support motherhood, including guaranteeing professional women the possibility of balancing family and work. Too often, in fact, women are put in the position of having to choose between the two.” He encouraged governments to support maternity rights, including child-care centers.

God calls mothers to different forms of motherhood. Women should always pray to do God’s will in their lives. At the same time, all mothers should be supported and encouraged in their vocation, whether that vocation involves being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, working full-time outside the home or any of the variations in-between. There is no one right way to be a mother. The only right way is what God is calling a mother to do at a given moment of her life.

Friday, February 04, 2011

What Faith Can Do to Ease Depression

As I have mentioned before, depression and I have a long history. Therefore, I am always interested in articles regarding ways to cope, especially ones that incorporate faith. Here is one by Kathleen Hockey that is currently on the Liguorian website:

What Faith Can do to Ease Depression

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Our Lady's Latest Message at Medjugorje

Message from February 2, 2011

Dear children, you are gathering around me, you are seeking your way, you are seeking, you are seeking the truth but are forgetting what is the most important, you are forgetting to pray properly. Your lips pronounce countless words, but your spirit does not feel anything. Wandering in darkness, you even imagine God Himself according to yourselves, and not such as He really is in His love. Dear children, proper prayer comes from the depth of your heart, from your suffering, from your joy, from your seeking the forgiveness of sins. This is the way to come to know the right God, and by that also yourselves, because you are created according to Him. Prayer will bring you to the fulfillment of my desire, of my mission here with you, to the unity of God’s family. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Book Review: "The Window to my Soul"

The Window To My Soul : My Walk With Jesus
by Tannia Ortiz-Lopes
Tate Publishing, 2004

"The Window to My Soul" by Tannia Ortiz-Lopes grew out of her experience of turning forty and reevaluating life. She went to a weekend silent retreat to "find herself" and in the process discovered a whole new relationship with God. She learned many valuable lessons. In this small volume, she reflects on this "New Beginning" in beautiful poetry and prose and offers valuable inspiration to others in the process.

The book is divided into four sections: A New Beginning, Walking a Mile with Job, Reflections while Walking with God and Jesus, and Through the Darkness. Ortiz-Lopes' poetry and reflections will resonate with all those who have struggled in their spiritual journey. She reaches out and trusts in God even when it is hard. She finds her comfort and strength in the Word of God.

One especially good reminder comes in her poem "To Deny Oneself Means . . .!"

To deny myself means - total surrender
to Jesus and His will
To deny myself means - total trust
in the Lord's will and His promises
of loyalty and redemption
through His only beloved Son, Jesus
To deny myself means - putting God
first in my life and then considering others
and myself in every daily situation.

To take up my cross and follow Jesus
means - to accept all the challenges and
temptations of every day and
confront them with the serenity
and assurance that Jesus is beside me
comforting me and strengthening me
all the way.

Beautiful Art by Julie Chen

Julie Chen is a fellow contributor to the Catholic Mom site. She also creates some incredibly beautiful artwork, like this Biblical reflection on what true love is all about. Please visit her shop for this piece and others: Lifeverse

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Book Review: "Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man"

Flight Plan
by Lee Burns & Braxton Brady
PDS Publishing, 2010

Obviously, I have little first-hand knowledge of the challenges that come with growing from a boy to a man, yet I am in charge of raising two boys who will all too soon be facing this transition. It is through those eyes that I eagerly read "Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man."

Written by Braxton Brady, the chaplain of Presbyterian Day School, and Lee Burns, headmaster of the same school, "Flight Plan" grew out of the curriculum of that school. The book is designed for boys age 12 and up. It offers Bible based instruction and reflection questions on many of the challenges facing teen boys.

What does it mean to be a man? "Every male becomes an adult, but not every adult male becomes, truly, a man. Growing into that man takes careful thought and planning. . . Man's purpose in life is to glorify God in all he says and does."

How does one do that? By making good decisions when it comes to friendships, dating, sex, family, and school and keeping one's eyes and focus on God. Brady and Burns explore what it means to be a true friend, to actually love a girl (there is a wonderful list on what Christian girls wish guys knew!), to make discerning choices regarding music, books, and movies, and to maintain a good relationship with one's family. They also cover the changes and challenges of puberty. They offer a wealth of good advice.

The only negative was in the handling of self-stimulation. They certainly condemn it, but acknowledge that it is likely to happen, and urge boys not to fear that this will cause God not to love them. While this is all true, in the Catholic tradition, these acts are sins and must be said in confession.

"Flight Plan" maintains that God has great adventures planned for men who follow Him. It encourages boys to trust in God and turn their lives over to them. I plan to have my boys read this book in a couple of years. Honestly, there are some men I know who I wish would read it as well. If all men lived by the principles in this book, the world would be a far better place.

A Good Thing about Homeschooling

There are many good things about homeschooling. One of them, though, is that while the neighborhood kids have had a huge number of snow days due to the extreme weather this winter has brought, school goes on as usual here at home.

They get one snow day per year on the first big snowstorm. They do get to go out to play in the snow when their neighborhood friend wants to play and they do get to shovel, so they aren't missing out on any of the snow fun. But, homeschooling is flexible - we work around it, and still count it as a day of school.

Admittedly, my children feel that a great injustice is being wrought upon them. "But, Mom, every other kid has a snow day. It is so not fair!" I assure them, however, that all of their homeschool friends, are, in fact, having school, and that they will be very happy when they are done with school at the beginning of June and the other kids are in school until the end of that month.

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...