Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Birthday Prayer

This prayer was sent to me by the Priests of the Sacred Heart

Today is my birthday, Lord,
and I offer this day to You.
You breathed life into my soul,
and You chose me to live!
On this journey called life,
You are always there with me.
I feel Your presence in joy and laughter,
during difficult days, even sorrow.

Of all the gifts I've received
I hold the gift of Your Love
closest to my heart.
Of all the friends I've known,
I cherish, above all, Your companionship.
I ask only that you walk with me,
and guide me to follow your faithful way.
Forgive me when I fail You, Lord,
and help me to forgive others.

Grant me strength in mind, body, and spirit.
And when it's time, lead me home
to the everlasting life prepared by You.
Today is my birthday, Lord,
and I thank You for every blessing.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Children's Little Advent Book

Are you looking for a book to help your children prepare for Christmas? The Children’s Little Advent Book by T.J. Burdick is a great resource to use for family prayer time. Each day of Advent features a Scripture passage, reflection, prayer, and a coloring page. 

While the book is advertised as being for children ages 4 – 7, I would recommend it more for those age 6 – 10. Many of the reflections and prayers are great for teens and adults as well which makes it ideal for using in a family with children of varying ages. Younger children could color in the pictures during prayer time. It could be used for morning prayer during Advent or whenever the family might light an Advent wreath during their day. 

Regardless of when or how it is used, this book will help your family focus on the true meaning of the Advent season – getting ready to welcome Jesus into our world and our lives. 

At the Gracewatch Media website, you can view a preview of this book, download a .pdf version, or order .pdfs of the coloring pages (this last option is great if you have more than one child who would want to color the pictures). The book can also be purchased on Amazon:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?

Are you addicted to your smartphone? Are you willing to admit it? According to recent statistics, the average adult spends almost three hours a day on their cell phone (the equivalent of a 20 hr/week part-time job). T. J. Burdick realized he had a problem when he was using his cell phone while his wife was in active labor with their third child. He soon began to notice that everywhere he went he saw people with their heads buried in their phones. Burdick is quick to admit that technology in itself is not bad. It is the over-attachment to it that causes problems. 

In Detached: Put Your Phone in Its Place, Burdick offers a three week retreat to help smartphone addicts regain a right relationship with technology. He also offers additional resources at

In the course of these twenty-one days, Burdick invites readers to take an honest look at their smart phone usage. While he acknowledges that in our modern world, we can’t put it away entirely, he encourages us to use our phones productively, rather than use them to literally waste time and feed our particular vices.

The devil seeks to keep us from God and a phone is a “Pandora’s box of limitless temptations.” Our phones are often keeping us from what we are meant to be. Burdick suggests ways to keep our priorities in order, putting God (the source of all true happiness) at the top of our lists. We need to be mindful of how we spend our time. We need to pay attention to the triggers that encourage us to pick up our phones. We need to replace tech time with higher pursuits. We can even learn to embrace those moments of boredom that occur in our lives as a gift, rather than as an opportunity to mindlessly scroll through social media. 

Detached is an important book in our modern, tech-driven world. Burdick has much sound advice to offer. If you feel like your phone is taking up too much of your life (or if others are telling you that you spend too much time on your phone), I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and get yourself on the path to a more balanced, God-centered life.

Christmas Novena starts November 30th

It is time once again for the Christmas Novena which begins on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) and goes through Christmas Eve. Some say to pray the following prayer 15 times a day each day; others have it once a day. However you decide to pray, humbly ask God for whatever your heart desires most this Christmas.

The Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold.
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires.
Through Jesus Christ and his most Blessed Mother. Amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

An Inspirational Football Story about a Female Coach in WWII

This weekend’s leisure reading was When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis. Lately, there has been a great increase in the number of works about little-known women who changed history in both big and small ways. I enjoy reading about these historical figures and learning their stories. 

This tremendous story of courage and perseverance features Tylene Wilson who became a high school football coach during World War II. She learned the game of football from her father when she was a little girl and had a lifelong love of the sport. In 1944, she was Assistant Principal of a high school in Brownwood, Texas. When the coach leaves to fight in the war, there is no one left to lead the team. Tylene tries to find a male, any male, to coach but none are willing. 

The general feeling is that the season should be cancelled, but Tylene knows that football is the only thing standing between the seniors and signing up early for the fight. She knows that they will most likely need to go to war, but she wants to give them one last year before they have to face that battle. Desperate, she takes it upon herself to coach, facing a great deal of opposition in the process. 

The author, who was deeply inspired by Tylene’s story, has been a beat writer for the Dallas Cowboys as well as a member of the Texas Wesleyan University football coaching staff. 

This is a short book, perfect for enjoying in a weekend (I love those kinds of books!). If you enjoy football or inspirational stories of courageous women, you’ll enjoy When the Men Were Gone.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Laboure Society - Helping Those Called to Religious Life

I recently posted a prayer for vocations. Our Church is in such desperate need for young men and women to answer the call to religious life.

But, in today's world, even after a young person answers God's call, there is often another impediment to entering the seminary or novitiate: student loan debt. The Laboure Society helps these young people raise the funds to pay off their debts so that they can be free to enter religious life.

The society's vision is "a world where Catholic priests, sisters, and brothers exist in adequate numbers to fill the world's needs, where young people everywhere who feel they are called to the priesthood or religious life have the opportunity to pursue that calling."

Find out more at: The Laboure Society

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Ghosts of Faithful - A Catholic Ghost Story

Just in time for November (the month the Church remembers in a special way those who have died) comes a ghost story by Catholic fiction writer Kaye Park Hinckley.

Carroll O’Murphy founded the town of Faithful during the Great Depression. The Ghosts of Faithful takes place 75 years later with his daughter and granddaughter suffering under the weight of secrets. Carroll’s daughter Kathryn just kicked out her husband for a decades-old indiscretion. Kathryn’s older daughter Cornelia is trying desperately to keep up appearance despite her world crashing around her, while younger daughter Izzy has never recovered from the trauma of something that happened to her when she was fourteen.

To make matters more complicated, Carroll’s widow Rose still talks to Carroll as if he is in the room with her. She also claims to be taking care of an invisible seven-year-old girl.

The Ghosts of Faithful is an interesting story about the veil between life and death, the burden and consequences of sin, and the power that our secrets can hold over us.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Prayer for Vocations

Liturgical Year 2019 is the Year of Vocations. My Diocese of Springfield, MA will be praying the following prayer at all Masses beginning in Advent.

Lord Jesus, please provide our diocese with many vocations to the priesthood and religious life, especially from our own parishes. 

May the men and women you call respond with joy and courage, and may their families and friends support them wholeheartedly as they seek your Father's will.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Vocations. Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Charlotte's Honor - Blog Tour

Today I am honored to be hosting the blog tour for Charlotte's Honor, the newest book by Catholic writer Ellen Gable.

Ellen Gable pens an engaging Catholic historical romance in her follow-up to Julia’s Gifts. Charlotte’s Honor, the second book in the Great Love, Great War series, begins in Soissons, France where Charlotte Zielinski is prepping soldiers for surgery during World War I. 

When the hospital is bombed, she gets a shrapnel wound in her head which is treated by Dr. Paul Kilgallen. Paul is attracted to the young nurse, but as a classically trained violinist, he is tortured by her attempts at violin playing. He plans to confront her to tell her to stop playing, but then realizes she is mourning the death of one of her patients. Instead of chastising her, Paul ends up consoling Charlotte. 

During an evacuation, Paul and Charlotte are thrown together again. The two refuse to leave the hospital, instead staying behind to care for the wounded me. In a tense moment, Paul kisses Charlotte, but after the danger has passed, he regrets that moment of weakness. Still grieving for a lost love, he strives to put emotional distance between himself and Charlotte. When Paul gets sent to the front, he has the opportunity to put physical distance between them as well. Charlotte decides that she’s going to love him anyway. 

While Charlotte’s Honor is connected to Julia’s Gifts, both books work well as a stand-alone. Gable is skilled at creating the historical backdrop for the story: the world of a war that that took place a century ago comes live in these pages. Charlotte’s Honor is highly recommended for teens and adults who enjoy historical romance. 

About the Author

Ellen Gable is an award-winning author of nine books, editor, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. Her books have been downloaded nearly 700,000 times on Kindle and some of her books have been translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and French. The mother of five adult sons, Ellen (originally from New Jersey) now lives with her husband of 36 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario, Canada.


May 1918
Vauxbuin Field Hospital
Near Soissons, France
The air was thick with the mineral stench of blood. Inside the canvas tent that served as Barrack Number 48, Charlotte searched for a place in the unconscious soldier’s body to insert the hypodermic.  The poor gentleman had burns and wounds everywhere, but she managed to find a one-inch diameter spot on his thigh in which to plunge the needle.  The man didn’t flinch, and Charlotte suspected that his injuries were too grave for him to survive.  She recited a silent prayer for this man’s soul, then moved onto the next soldier.
The large canvas tents that were part of the field hospital covered the lawn in front of the chateau. Most volunteers referred to it as a chateau because it looked the part with its high ceilings, plentiful rooms and marble floors. However, it wasn’t a castle. It was a 19th century country manor.
A tendril of dark brown hair slipped from her headscarf, and she tucked it back in. Charlotte Patricia Zielinski didn’t care much whether her unruly hair was tame, but she did care about keeping healthy. She wasn’t a large girl, nor was she small.  However, roughhousing with her brother Ian for so many years made her strong.
After preparing another soldier for the operating theater, she took a short break and sat on a bench near the tent.
She glanced up at the dark sky, enjoying the quiet. After the sunrise, she’d hear the distant booming that came with being ten miles from the front.
After her bout with influenza last month, she’d felt fatigued for weeks.  In the past few days, she had enough energy to move a mountain.
Sister Betty, the medical volunteers’ middle-aged supervisor, called to her from the barrack beside her, Number 49.  She was a big-boned woman who seemed taller because she always stood so straight.  Charlotte wasn’t sure whether it was because she was British or because she was a big woman, but she also had a booming personality and a loud voice.
Charlotte stood up to speak with Sister.
“How many more men have to be prepared for the O.R., Miss Zielinski?”
“Four, Sister.”
“Maybe you’d be of more use in this barrack.” She pointed toward Number 49.
“Certainly.”  She turned to alert her co-worker in 48, when Sister yelled, “Wait.”
Charlotte stopped. “Yes?”
“Perhaps you’d better stay where you are. If there are only four left to prepare, finish that duty, then report to this barrack.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
It took a bit of getting used to, but here in Europe, nurses were referred to as sisters.  And all sisters – and most medical volunteers – wore headscarves that looked like habits.
She approached a soldier on a cot, noticing the maple leaf on his collar. Canadians tended to be an agreeable bunch.  He pursed his lips as she stripped his clothes, wincing as bits of skin came off with his pants.  The poor fellow tensed, but Charlotte could only offer, “I’m so sorry.  I am doing my best not to hurt you.”
The dark-haired man attempted a smile. 
An ear-piercing explosion caused the world around Charlotte to vanish, and she reflexively collapsed on the cot, falling across the soldier lying in front of her. Ears ringing, she remained still for what seemed like an hour but was likely a few minutes. Blinking, she opened her eyes and stared at the metal side of the cot in front of her and felt the soldier moving underneath her.
As she lifted herself up, not one but three large drops of blood splattered the white sheet below her. Her head seared in a flash of pain. 
When the Canadian soldier took hold of her hand, he said something she couldn’t hear. 
His warbling soon became words. “Are you all right, Miss?”
Her mouth was open, but she couldn’t speak.  Nodding, she raised her hand to her headscarf.  When she pulled her hand to her face, it was covered in blood.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
“Are…you all right, sir?”  Charlotte asked the man.
“Yes, no worse than I was.  Thanks to you, Miss.  You shielded my body with yours.” He paused. “You have a bad shrapnel wound on your head.”
“Y…yes.”  Charlotte winced but forced a smile. She turned and picked up a bandage from the side of the overturned cart. She pressed it to her head.
By this time, the entire ward was awake and bustling with moaning soldiers. 
Standing up, her surroundings seemed to shift and sway, so she reached for the soldier’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”
“Think nothing of it.  I’m happy to reciprocate.”
Glancing just above the soldier’s head, she spotted five or six holes the size of watermelons blown through the side of the barrack’s canvas wall and hundreds dotting the rest of the walls. Following the holes from the side wall to the ceiling, she stared upwards at the roof of the tent, now shredded in many places.
A few soldiers near the wall had sustained minor injuries, but no one appeared to be mortally wounded.
Panicked and fearing the worst, Charlotte rushed outside, the bandage still to her head. As she turned toward the adjacent barrack, she stopped and gasped. The influenza ward was no longer there.  Body parts, blood, torn-apart furniture, and bits and pieces of the barrack were all that remained.  The realization that she had escaped death made her knees buckle.
She blessed herself and lowered her head. “Requiescants in pace.”  Her hearing had not yet fully returned, but she could hear someone call her name.  

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links
October 22      Plot Line and Sinker
October 23       A.K. Frailey
October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur
October 25      Amanda Lauer
October 26     Franciscan Mom
October 29     Carolyn Astfalk
October 30     Catholic Mom
November 1    Plot Line and Sinker
November 2    Michael Seagriff
November 5   Virginia Lieto
November 6  Leslea Wahl
November 7   Theresa Linden
November 8   Sarah Reinhard
November 9   Erin McCole Cupp
November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post
November 12  Mary Lou Rosien
November 13  Therese Heckenkamp
November 14  E.M. Vidal
November 15 Leticia Velasquez


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