Monday, April 27, 2020

Hope in a Time of Darkness

Hope allows us to enter into the darkness of an uncertain future to journey in the light. – Pope Francis

As I searched through my to-be-read pile of books to find one to read and review this month, I wanted to find something that would be relevant for the days we are living through. When my eyes fell on Beautiful Hope: Finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World, I knew I had found what I needed. 

Beautiful Hope is a collection of essays by both professional authors and everyday Catholics musing on the topic of hope. The essays are organized around four themes: Choosing Hope, Hope in the Church, Hope in Action: and Becoming Hope. There is much inspirational encouragement in these pages. 

In the Introduction, Pope Francis states:

Each one of us can say, ‘I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me.’ He walks and he holds my hand. God does not leave us to ourselves . . . Evil will not triumph forever; there is an end to suffering. Despair is defeated because God is among us.

Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ reflects on the two types of hope. “Proximate hopes are connected to our everyday thoughts and dreams. Ultimate hope is a theological virtue and is directly connected to the meaning of our life.” On the road of life, proximate hopes often get dashed which can be very painful. At those times, we need to root ourselves in ultimate hope. Fr. Sparough continues, 

Ultimate hope is accepting what is beyond our control and believing that God will use the circumstances of our lives to help us grow in holiness. When the words “Jesus, I trust in you” become more than a prayer, but instead a way of living, we are on our way to embracing the theological virtue of ultimate hope. The saints are those who walk the path of hope.

Within the pages of Beautiful Hope are several stories of God working in the midst of desperate situations. As Derek Gazal points out, “This hope is that God’s divine love is leading us through the unexpected twists and turns of life to a joy that is beyond our wildest, craziest imaginings.” Hope is trusting that God can take whatever muck we are going through and bring something good out of it. 

In these dark days when so many are hurting physically, emotionally, and economically we need to hold on to the theological virtue of hope. Beautiful Hope offers much to reflect on and take comfort in as we make our way through this difficult time.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling

I'm excited to introduce my newest book: The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling.

Maybe you have always wanted to homeschool or perhaps you have been thrown into it by life circumstances. Either way, I want to welcome you to this wonderful, challenging world. You may be wondering if you can actually do this. I am here to tell you that you can. The truth is that you have already been homeschooling since the time your children were born or the moment that they came into your life as an adopted child.

We teach our children all the time. They learn by watching us and through the environment that we create for them in our homes and families. From the time our children are babies, we talk to them, pray with them, sing songs, and read books. There is no reason to fear that because your child is now school age that you can no longer help them learn. The world is a homeschooler’s classroom and there are resources available to help your child learn any subject that interests him or her.

This book is designed to provide a crash course in Catholic homeschooling. Topics covered include educational philosophies, choosing curriculum, time management, teaching children with special needs, and homeschooling when life is hard. It will touch on the basics of what you need to know to feel confident as you embark on this new chapter of your parenting life.

Purchase The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Uplift Your Priest" Campaign begins April 20th

I was asked to share this following information and think that it is a great idea!

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, priests are being called into great heroic action by offering the sacraments to the sick and dying, finding creative ways to serve parishioners, and maintaining empty parishes with limited staff support. In response, Houston-based Vocation Ministry is set to launch the first-ever nationwide “Uplift Your Priest” campaign from April 20 through May 1. The campaign is designed to inspire the laity to support and encourage their priests who are now on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and to let clergy know that their people recognize their current sacrifices. 

“Our priests are in a vulnerable position like never before,” said Rhonda Gruenewald, founder of Vocation Ministry, an international organization whose mission is to equip dioceses and parishes to promote vocations. “They need to know that we are behind them.  They need to be 'uplifted!'”

The “Uplift Your Priest” campaign will use social media and resources available in both English and Spanish on to promote a variety of ways the laity can “uplift” priests over the next two weeks. Ideas include offering a spiritual bouquet, drop off or have lunch/dinner delivered, text/email/write a note of encouragement, challenge three families/individuals to pray a Rosary for their priest (think ice bucket challenge on social media), or deliver protective gear or cleaning supplies to the rectory. 

“The possibilities are endless,” stated Gruenewald. “We hope by offering concrete and practical ideas that we can mobilize Catholics everywhere to uplift their priests and be a source of encouragement during this stressful time.”

Since its founding in 2015, Vocation Ministry has become a driving force for promoting vocations in North America. Through their hands-on Hundredfold Workshops, Vocation Ministry focuses on establishing and sustaining parish-based vocation ministries to create a vocation-friendly environment that inspires adults and children to consider a supernatural call to the priesthood, consecrated life, or to sacramental marriage.

“It’s an honor to more fully live my vocation to the priesthood during this unprecedented time,” remarked Fr. Jon Schnobrich, a priest from the Diocese of Burlington, VT. “To know that my parishioners are behind me, praying for me, and offering their support does a great deal to lift my spirits and keep me focused on the work at hand. I’m very grateful for Vocation Ministry’s efforts to launch this campaign. I know many of my brother priests will feel the same.”

“Uplift Your Priest” begins Monday, April 20 and will continue through Friday, May 1. Vocation Ministry will be circulating ideas and resources through Facebook, Instagram, and through the resource page found on their website

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Series on Catholic Art and Architecture

Ave Marks First Anniversary of Notre Dame Cathedral Fire with Educational Series on Catholic Art, Architecture

NOTRE DAME, Ind.—On April 15, 2019, millions of people from around the world watched in horror as the grand spire of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned to the ground. The Gothic masterpiece, which dates to the twelfth century, became a rallying point for people of all faiths. Millions of dollars were raised for the cathedral’s restoration in the weeks following the fire. 
Beginning on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the fire, join Ave Explores: Art and Architecture as Katie Prejean McGrady and a team of experts in the fields of art, architecture, and iconography reflect on the importance of art and beauty to the Catholic faith. 

As a preview to this multimedia series, Andrew Petiprin, a fellow of popular culture at Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute, appeared on the Ave Explores podcast with host Katie Prejean McGrady to discuss how Catholic art and architecture can lead us to a deeper faith and understanding of the truth. The Ave Explores podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play Music.

Here’s some of the content—podcasts, videos, and articles—you’ll find during the four-week art and architecture series:

Week 1 considers the importance of beauty in Catholicism with Katie Prejean McGrady, J.D. Childs, Fr. James Phalan, C.S.C., and Mike Aquilina.

Week 2 looks at architecture and art with experts Deacon Andrew DeRouen, Duncan Stroik, Prejean McGrady, Elizabeth Lev, and Christine Valters Paintner.

Week 3 offers a diverse look at Catholic creativity with artists Jen Norton and Daniel Mitsui, Rob Kaczmark of Spirit Juice Studios, Fabiola Garza, an illustrator with Disney, and Anthony D’Ambrosio.

 Week 4 will wrap up the series with Emily Jaminet, Ali Hoffman, and Fr. Michael White.
You’ll also find a variety of resources from virtual museum and cathedral tours, as well as virtual art exhibits on the Ave Maria Press website.

Sign up for limited-time, weekly emails with this series of Ave Explores content at

What to Do on Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) is my favorite liturgical feast. I've always loved the opportunity to have my soul wiped clean and all eternal punishment (purgatory) taken away. In usual years, obtaining this generous grace from God involves going to Confession and receiving Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday with the intent of receiving God's mercy and forgiveness.

This year, those conditions obviously present a problem. How can we fulfill the requirements with no hope of receiving either of those sacraments?

Fr. Chris Alar of the Marian Fathers has the answer. He says we can receive those graces by making an Act of Contrition (with the intent to go to Confession once we are able) and a Spiritual Communion. You can find out more by watching the video below. I'm also including the prayers for your convenience.

Act of Contrition

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.

I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

Spiritual Communion

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

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...