Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Feast Day of St. Therese and the Upcoming Canonization of Her Parents

October 1st is the Feast Day of St. Therese, one of the most popular Catholic saints. This October 18th, Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin who had the honor of having 5 daughters enter religious life. They are the first spouses in the history of the Church to be canonized together.

The following biography is from The Society of the Little Flower which has a great deal of information about St. Therese. I encourage you to visit their site.

Louis and Zelie Martin

Louis Martin (1823 - 1894) was a watchmaker by trade, and quite a successful one. He also skillfully managed his wife's lace business. But, as with so many men, Louis' life had not turned out at all the way he had planned.

Born into a family of soldiers, Louis spent his early years at various French military posts. He absorbed the sense of order and discipline that army life engenders. His temperament, deeply influenced by the peculiar French connection between the mystical and the military, tended toward things of the spirit.

At twenty-two, young Louis sought to enter religious life at the monastery of the Augustinian Canons of the Great St. Bernard Hospice in the Alps. The blend of courage and charity the monks and their famous dogs manifested in rescuing travelers in Alpine snows appealed powerfully to Louis Martin. 

Unfortunately, the Abbot insisted the young candidate learn Latin. Louis, whose bravery would have carried him to the heights of the Alps in search of a lost pilgrim, got himself lost among the peaks and valleys of Latin syntax and grammar. His most determined efforts failed. He became ill and dispirited, and abandoned his hopes for the monastic life.

Eventually, Louis settled down in Alencon, a small city in France, and pursued his watchmaking trade. He loved Alencon. It was a quiet place and he was a quiet man. It even had a lovely trout stream nearby, offering him the opportunity to pursue his favorite recreation.

THE LACE MAKER -  Zelie Guerin
Most famous of Alencon's thirteen thousand inhabitants were its lace makers. French people greatly admired the skill and talent required to produce the exquisite lace known throughout the nation as Point d' Alencon.

Zelie Guerin (1831 - 1877) was one of Alencon's more talented lace makers. Born into a military family, Zelie described her childhood and youth as "dismal." Her mother and father showed her little affection. As a young lady, she sought unsuccessfully to enter the religious order of the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu. Zelie then learned the Alencon lace-making technique and soon mastered this painstaking craft. Richly talented, creative, eager, and endowed with common sense, she started her own business and became quite successful. Notable as these achievements were, Zelie was yet to reveal the depths of the strength, faith, and courage she possessed.

Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin eventually met in Alencon, and on July 13, 1858, Louis, 34, and Zelie, 26, married and began their remarkable voyage through life. Within the next fifteen years, Zelie bore nine children, seven girls and two boys. "We lived only for them," Zelie wrote; "they were all our happiness."

The Martins' delight in their children turned to shock and sorrow as tragedy relentlessly and mercilessly stalked their little ones. Within three years, Zelie's two baby boys, a five year old girl, and a six-and-a-half week old infant girl all died.

Zelie was left numb with sadness. "I haven't a penny's worth of courage," she lamented. But her faith sustained her through these terrible ordeals. In a letter to her sister-in-law who had lost an infant son, Zelie remembered: "When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I felt sorrow through and through....People said to me, 'It would have been better never to have had them.' I couldn't stand such language. My children were not lost forever; life is short and full of miseries, and we shall find our little ones again up above."

The Martins' last child was born January 2, 1873. She was weak and frail, and doctors feared for the infant's life. The family, so used to death, was preparing for yet another blow. Zelie wrote of her three month old girl: "I have no hope of saving her. The poor little thing suffers horribly....It breaks your heart to see her." But the baby girl proved to be much tougher than anyone realized. She survived the illness. A year later she was a "big baby, browned by the sun." "The baby," Zelie noted, "is full of life, giggles a lot, and is sheer joy to everyone." Death seemed to grant a reprieve to the Martin household. Although suffering had left its mark on mother and father, it was not the scar of bitterness. Louis and Zelie had already found relief and support in their faith.

The series of tragedies had intensified the love of Louis and Zelie Martin for each other. They poured out their affection on their five surviving daughters; Marie, 12, Pauline, 11, Leonie 9, Celine, 3, and their new-born. Louis and Zelie named their new-born; Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin. A century later people would know her as St. Therese, and call her the "Little Flower."

 Sadly, Zelie died of breast cancer when Therese was only 4 years old.

Louis Martin would live to see all his children grow up and encouraged Therese greatly in her vocation, even taking her to Rome to ask the Pope if she might enter the convent at age 15. The following is from EWTN:  

Louis Martin, St. Thérèse's father, was regarded as a saint in his lifetime. The last seven years of his life were marked by a severe trial, for him and for his daughters who loved him dearly. In 1887 he suffered several strokes which led to mental paralysis. Confined at first to a mental hospital, he was then cared by his daughter Céline until his death on 29 July 1894. 

A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, 1864-1885 is a book of letters shared by Louis and Zelie Martin.

Monday, September 28, 2015

10 Years of Blogging

I started this blog on September 28, 2005. A blog was something I had been thinking about for a while, but I was encouraged to do it by an older gentleman that I went to graduate school with who I encountered at an alumni gathering. I owe him a cosmic debt of gratitude for pushing me to begin.

My life has gone in directions I couldn't even have imagined 10 years ago. At age 30, my older two boys were 4 and almost 3. I was homeschooling preschool but had pretty much made the decision to send my oldest to traditional school for Kindergarten. I'm now in my 8th year of homeschooling and even that journey has turned out much different than I pictured it would. 10 years ago, I knew nothing about Aspergers or working with the Department of Children and Families, or being a foster parent, or adoption. There is a reason why God lets you only see one day at a time!

Yet, as my life has unfolded in ways both wonderful and challenging, I've been thankful for this outlet.  A quarter of my life has gone by while I've been sharing my thoughts and book reviews with those of you who have stopped by these pages.

Thank you to those of you who have shared the journey with me, whether you have read many posts or just one. I hope that you have found something of value in these posts and I hope you'll keep traveling the journey with me in the future.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review: Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer

Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer
by the Apostleship of Prayer
Douglas Leonard, Executive Director
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2015

Liturgical Year 2016, which begins November 29th, is right around the corner. Why not make it a year filled with prayer and a greater devotion to the Word of God in Scripture. "Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer" by the Apostleship of Prayer is designed to help you do just that.

The Introduction offers a brief guide to lectio divina, "an ancient form of prayer known as sacred reading." Such a deep, prayerful reading of Scripture invites the Lord to speak directly to us and our current situations. "As we open our hearts to Jesus, he opens his heart to us."

Each day offers a brief opening prayer, the Gospel reading for the day, and a guide for prayer. One might also wish to keep a spiritual journal of reflections.

This is a wonderful devotional guide, designed to be used daily. While one can certainly read the Gospel passage and accompanying questions and gain some benefit, this book is most-suited for those who have the opportunity to spend at least 10 - 15 minutes in quiet, reflective prayer a day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review: 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Each Child's Learning Style
by Cathy Duffy
Westminster, CA: Grove Publishing, 2015

Cathy Duffy began homeschooling in 1982. In addition to being a homeschooling mom, she is an author, curriculum consultant, and international conference speaker. In short, she knows a great deal about homeschooling and this book shows it. "102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" devotes the first five chapters to helping homeschoolers figure out how their children learn, what their philosophy of education is, and providing a guideline for who should learn what and when. Duffy respects the individuality of homeschoolers and encourages each family to determine what works for them.

Duffy writes from a Christian perspective, but includes Christian, Catholic, and secular resources in her 102 top picks, which are presented by general subject area. She offers very thorough reviews of each of these products in order to help consumers make an informed decision.

"102 Top Picks" is a delight for anyone who loves to read about the various curricular options. The book is very text-heavy, however, and while certainly not Duffy's intent, might be rather intimidating to a new homeschooler venturing into unfamiliar waters for the first time. While Duffy has been selective in her choices, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of products and approaches available.

Overall, however, this is a high-quality resource for those eager to discover what many well-known homeschool materials actually provide in terms of approach and education.

To purchase this resource, please visit:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

40 Days for Life Starts 9/23/15

The Fall version of 40 Days for Life begins September 23rd and goes to November 1st. Please mark your calendar and plan to join in the effort however you can!

From the 40 Days for Life Website:

Want to end abortion? If you do, the first thing you must do is pray. Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. During each campaign, we are calling on people of faith across the nation … and around the world … to fall on their knees before the Lord, asking Him to hear our plea and heal our land. Pray outside an abortion facility. Pray at church. Pray at work. Pray in the car. Pray at home with your family.

Christ told us some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. The two go hand in hand. Prayer keeps us rooted in the fact that it is our desire to carry out God’s will. Fasting is a sacrifice that helps us reach beyond our own limitations with God’s help.

Each day during 40 Days for Life, individuals, churches, families and groups will be asked to join together in prayer for a specific request so the entire Body of Christ can unite around a common focus. These specific prayer requests will seek God’s help for:

Women who are at risk of having an abortion
Innocent children who are at risk of perishing
Men and women who carry the pain of a past abortion experience
Workers at Planned Parenthood facilities and abortion centers
Local, regional, and national leaders
Revival and renewal in our churches
Repentance and healing throughout our nation

People of faith are also invited to fast throughout 40 Days for Life. Christ said there are demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. A fast is not a Christian diet; it is a powerful means of drawing closer to God by blocking out distractions. Fast from certain foods. Fast from television. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.

We believe that when God’s people fast with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, our heavenly Father will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Book Review: The End of College

The End of College
by Kevin Carey
New York: Riverhead Books, 2015

Contrary to the title of this book, Kevin Carey isn't actually predicting that colleges are going to disappear. Instead the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation offers a historical overview of how colleges have developed over the centuries and how they need to change to face the new economic and global realities of our present age.

Starting with the days of the Greeks and Romans, Carey reviews how our modern college and university system came into being. He traces the development in Europe and then in America and discusses how various purposes of education came to be embodied in various institutions. American universities ultimately tried to do three things at the same time: offer practical training, provide scholars opportunities for research, and educate the whole person via the liberal arts.

The primary purpose of Carey's book is to describe how modern education is changing, especially with the EdX program begun by MIT and Harvard and now including several other colleges and universities offering classes for free (or a very small amount for a certificate of completion). Carey argues that employers need to start looking at different ways of verifying someone's knowledge other than simply looking for a degree, which may in fact tell relatively little about a person.

Carey gets bogged down a bit in the section describing how distance learning came to be. Other than that, this is a highly readable book with some interesting suggestions on how to reform higher education. It will definitely add to the conversation about what the future of college will be in this country and around the world.

As an aside, I am taking an EdX course offered by Harvard starting 9/21 on "Book Sleuthing in the 19th Century." I'm doing it to do something for me. I've wanted to go back to school for a long time, but the budget simply won't allow for that; this is a way to do it at little cost. It looks like a fun class on old books (how could I not love that?) and I'm also interested to see how these courses work to see if they would be a good fit for my children as they continue on their educational journey. I'll let you know how the experience goes. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Blog Tour: At Home in Persimmon Hollow

Today I have a pleasure of being a stop on the blog tour of Gerri Bauer's new book, published through Franciscan Media, At Home in Persimmon Hollow.

Below, Bauer, a fellow member of The Catholic Writer's Guild, shares her thoughts on the differences between Catholic and Christian fiction, and what makes a work of fiction "Catholic." It is a difficult question that continues to be up for debate. With some works, the answer is obvious; other times, not so much. In any event, Bauer's work clearly falls into the Catholic Fiction category.

I spent an enjoyable weekend reading At Home in Persimmon Hollow. Set in 1886 in Florida, it follows the adventures of Agnes Foster, who has come to be the new schoolmistress of Persimmon Hollow. On the journey there, she offers to chaperone young Billy, who is traveling to the area on his own. Doing so means she must contend with his Uncle Seth, who at first glance, comes off as an unfriendly brute of a man.

Agnes has come from a Catholic orphanage in New York. Forced to leave due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, she is eager to do whatever she can to help the financial situation of the orphanage. She also left behind her soon-to-be-adopted daughter Polly who she misses very much. In her new situation, Agnes must adjust to life on the frontier with its new people, new circumstances, and communal religious meeting hall.

The first book in a series, At Home in Persimmon Hollow is a light romance, perfect for those days when you simply want to relax and enjoy some reading.

Gerri Bauer on Catholic Fiction 

Distinguishing between Catholic and Christian romance novels is fairly easy for me. Differentiating between general Catholic and Christian fiction is more challenging.

The Christian romances I’ve read have a Protestant worldview. With the exception of Amish novels, characters tend to be nondenominational. In a Catholic romance, the faith tradition comes to the forefront. The heroine’s faith governs her life and guides her actions. Readers learn about Catholic rituals and practices.

Beyond romance, the lines aren’t always as obvious to me. I’m thankful for guideposts, such as a novel being an imprint of a Catholic publisher like Franciscan Media (disclosure: that’s my publisher). A book can be expressly noted as Catholic by carrying a seal of approval by the Catholic Writers Guild, of which I’m a member. Yet a novel that doesn’t carry the seal, or doesn’t roll off a Catholic press, can still be authentically Catholic.

From a religious perspective, all Catholic fiction is Christian. The reverse isn’t always true. Priests, nuns, the Eucharist, or Confession may never grace the pages of a novel otherwise considered Christian.

Sometimes, an author’s faith casts a halo over his or her works. Flannery O’Connor is considered a “Catholic author.” I return to her works periodically with an eye out for the Catholic influence. Yet she resisted describing her fiction as Catholic or Christian. On page 290 in the Vintage Books’ 1980 edition of The Habit of Being, a collection of her letters, she makes two important points about Catholic fiction:

·         Instead of using a specific Catholic setting or story, O’Connor says, “What must be unquestionable is what is implicitly implied as the author’s attitude.” 
·         Also, she writes that good Catholic fiction “is a matter of getting across the reality of grace.”

O’Connor is a literary author, not a genre writer. My opinion is that faith-inspired story elements and character actions matter in genre fiction. For example, characters in a Catholic or Christian romance won’t have sex outside of marriage. Graphic violence won’t show up on the pages. Literary writing allows for more ambiguity.

The distinction between Catholic and Christian fiction may come down to the worldview of the author, as with O’Connor. Or multiple labels may apply, as with C.S. Lewis. Wikipedia assigns his works to the genres of fantasy, science fiction, children’s literature and Christian apologetics.

But I don’t see a clear-cut answer, and I look forward to hearing reader’s opinions.

Gerri Bauer is the author of the Catholic historical romance At Home in Persimmon Hollow. Find her on Facebook at Gerri Bauer – Author, on Twitter @GerriBauer and on Pinterest at Gerri Bauer.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Museum of Divine Statues

I read about the Museum of Divine Statues in the August 2015 issue of St. Anthony Messenger.


The Museum of Divine Statues is the creation of artist/restorer Lou McClung. Lou restores statuary in his workshop located in the museum. For more information about statue restoration please visit He always had an interest in religious statuary and began to save and restore pieces of religious art as churches in the area began to close. In 2012, he opened The Museum of Divine Statues in the former St. Hedwig church in the Birdtown area of Lakewood, OH. 

McClung has acquired many of these beautiful statues from Church buildings that have been closed. Restoring and maintaining these statues is a religious, historic, and artistic act. Patrons can even sponsor the restoration of a statue. Find out more at

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: Your School of Love

In “Your School of Love,” veteran homeschooler and mother of nine Agnes Penny hopes “to encourage homeschoolers to try a more relaxed, more natural, less stressful style of learning.” While maintaining that homeschooling is a natural outgrowth of our parenting, “another way to spend time and share experiences with our children,” she emphasizes that the motivation behind our homeschooling is important. “We have to make love the motivation in our homeschool, rather than fear or worry.”

Penny offers much encouraging advice for homeschooling mothers. Each chapter begins with a quote from a saint or well-known Catholic. She offers helpful suggestions for coping with the winter blues which all homeschoolers seem to suffer from to some degree. As one homeschooling veteran I know always maintains, “Never make a major decision about your child’s education in February.” The chapter on humility and patience is also a must-read. What homeschooling mom can’t use more work in those areas?

She has a realistic view of homeschooling and acknowledges that homeschool mothers can’t do everything. No one can. “If we manage to pass on the basics to our children, as well as a deep love of learning and the tools they need to find out whatever we’ve omitted, then we have successfully homeschooled our children. If, in addition, we’ve brought up our children in a loving, affirming atmosphere and taught them to live their faith in their everyday lives, then we’ve achieved our ultimate goal as Catholic parents.” 

And, for those days when we feel we cannot possibly educate our children, that the task is simply too big, Penny reminds us of an important fact. “Every homeschooling mother has a particular set of talents, interests, and assets that she can share with her children . . . With God’s help, we can provide what they need.”

While “Your School of Love” has much to offer any Catholic homeschooling mom, it will appeal most to those of a conservative bent. She advocates no T.V., internet, or modern music, is against evolution, and does not feel women should wear pants or make-up. She also offers alternatives to modern medicine. 

As with any homeschooling book, one should take what good advice and encouragement one can from “Your School of Love.” As Penny instructs us, “homeschooling is what we make it.” That is both the beauty and challenge of educating one’s children. “Our homeschool does not need to look like the photos in a homeschooling magazine, or even like our friend’s homeschool. All we need to homeschool our children, we already have: love.”

Monday, September 07, 2015

Happy Birthday to Our Blessed Mother

September 8th is the day the Church celebrates the birthday of Our Blessed Mother. I couldn't find any images of St. Anne with Mary as a baby, but I've always liked this one when Mary is a little girl and St. Anne is teaching her (I have a print of this hanging in my daughter's room).

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. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Offer 9 Holy Communions for our Country

A person from my parish is trying to get this movement going.

In St. Faustina's Diary is the following passage: "This morning St. Barbara, Virgin, visited me and recommended that I offer Holy Communions for 9 Days on behalf of my country and thus appease God's anger." (1251)

He wants Catholics in this country to do the same. Our country could certainly use the prayers! Those who attend Mass daily could do 9 days in a row. Others could offer 9 Sunday communions. Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Who Can You Encourage Today?

One of the readings for September 1st stated, "Encourage one another and build one another up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Encouragement is so important. We all feel better when someone notices our hard work or our struggles and offers a kind word. It helps us keep going and to fight the good fight. We need that in our faith lives and in our work and parenting. Our children need it as they grow and continue to face new challenges every day. There isn't a person alive who can't use at least a little bit of encouragement - those we live with, those we work with, the cashier at the store, the nurse or medical assistant at the busy doctor's office, a tired teacher, or the person panhandling for food or money by the side of the road.

Who can you encourage today? See how many kind words you can offer. I bet by the end of the day, you'll feel encouraged as well.

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...