Friday, June 25, 2021

Diary of a Country Carmelite


Several years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Cynthia Montanaro’s beautiful first book, Diary of a Country Mother. Her latest work, Diary of a Country Carmelite: A Year in the Garden of Carmel, is as much of a gift.

Montanaro began life as a secular Carmelite in 2007 with a “desire to live in the world and to walk in the light of the Gospel in the spirit of the Teresian Carmel and under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” This diary takes place in 2015 when she was making her final profession, taking the name Ana Thérèse of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. In this year, she talks about her family of elderly parents, husband, grown children, and grandchildren, and ponders questions of vocation, purpose, and faithfulness, but her primary focus is on introducing readers to the vast variety of Carmelite saints on the liturgical calendar.

While many people are familiar with the famous Carmelites such as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. John of the Cross, Montanaro provides short biographies of lesser-known saints and blesseds. In these pages, you will make the acquaintance of such notables as St. Kuriakos Elias of 1800s India who founded two Carmelite orders, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation who lived in France in the 16th century and helped bring the Carmelite order to France, Blessed Elia of St. Clement of 20th century Italy who was known for her needlework and for offering her suffering to God, Blessed Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit Mazurek who was a Polish martyr in the second world war, St. Teresa Margaret Redi who was an 18th century Italian known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who lived a short life but who had a great devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more.

Diary of a Country Carmelite is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the Carmelite way of life.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Making the Most of Menopause Moments


When I unexpectedly got in a review copy of Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife, I must admit that I snickered a bit. Sadly, I am precisely the target market for this book. This book more accurately is aimed at women going through perimenopause, that unpleasant stage of life before menopause in which your body and hormones seem to stage a revolt. I've been going through it for the past 14 years (which I'm beginning to feel like should be some sort of record). My mother went through menopause early (back then it was referred to as "the change"), so I thought I was following in her footsteps when I started having symptoms in my early 30s. While I know it is better in the long term for my body that I didn't have early menopause, this has been a long haul. At some point, I will make it to the other side. At least that's what I keep telling myself. While there are certainly some perks to being in my forties, this messed-up body is not one of them. 

Anyway, I clearly needed this book. Melanie Rigney offers Scripture passages,  a reflection, suggested action, and journal prompts on a variety of topics facing women at this stage of life. She does so with both understanding and humor (because at times laughing can be a much better response than crying). These prayers, reflections, and journal prompts are designed to help women keep their eyes on God in the midst of all this personal upheaval.

Rigney discusses the many physical changes women go through, such as weight increase, acne, sagging breasts, wrinkles, grey hairs, hot flashes, insomnia, and reduced bone density. She also includes topics on the social challenges such as helping elderly parents, having teen or adult children, changing friendships, and mourning dreams that will never come true. Some of the emotional challenges included in these pages include being irritable and breaking into tears at the slightest provocation. 

Monopause Moments is highly recommended for my fellow women of a certain age who are suffering in the trenches of perimenopause. With God's help, we can both survive and thrive during these challenging years.   

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Learn about the Secrets of the Sacred Heart


June is the month in the Church year dedicated to the Sacred Heart. As such, it is the perfect time to read Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Twelve Ways to Claim Jesus' Promises in Your Life by Emily Jaminet. 

Jaminet is executive director of the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network and her family has had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for generations. She also runs the website:

In Secrets of the Sacred Heart, Jaminet states "the Lord invites us to come to know him and to love him through a powerful devotion to his heart." She explores the twelve promises that Jesus gave to St. Margaret Mary from 1673-1675. Those twelve promises to those who foster devotion to the Sacred Heart are:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their states of life.

2. I will establish peace in their homes.

3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.

4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.

5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

6. Sinners will find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent

8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.

12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.   

Each chapter focuses on one of the promises and includes reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter. The first appendix explains a brief history of the Sacred Heart devotion in the Church. Appendix 2 includes the Litany of the Sacred Heart. 

I highly recommend reading Secrets of the Sacred Heart one chapter a day as part of your prayer time. It is a lovely exploration of this devotion and will encourage you to increase your love and honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

This post includes Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking a link help support this site. Thank you!

Monday, June 07, 2021

The Lacemaker: A Novel of St. Zelie Martin

 The Lacemaker by Anne Faye

St. Zélie Martin (1831-1877) is best known as the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most-loved saints of modern times, but she is also a saint in her own right. In this work of historical fiction based largely on St. Zélie’s letters, a compelling portrait of a working mother who always put God first comes to life.

St. Zélie is a saint many women can relate to. She suffered from anxiety, struggled with work-life balance, grieved the loss of children, cared for aging parents, had a child with special needs, and dealt with personal illness. Above all, she loved God and her family and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In this intimate portrayal, you will come to know a complex woman who achieved holiness while living in the world and dealing with the stress of modern life.  

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A Book I Wish I Didn't Need

  St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer is a book I wish I didn’t need. St. Monica, whose feast day is August 27 th , is best kno...