Showing posts from July, 2014

Soul Matter

HOW AND WHY I STARTED WRITING  I am a story-teller who regaled family and friends for decades with the exploits of my nine kids and  the large menagerie of farm animals, pets and wild creatures which surrounded our small hobby farm. My kids, friends and even strangers came up to me for years and asked, ” When are you going to start writing?” AND “God is calling you to write.” Yet, two years ago, when I closeted myself in a room to sit down and write, I froze. I considered writing to be a solitary craft but looking at a blank screen or talking into thin air was a sterile exercise in futility for me. I could not translate the same creative energy that I experienced telling a story verbally to the keyboard. My intuitive, imaginative side stayed buried and my logical intellect wrote boring drivel. Then I discovered blogs, blogging sites and blogging directories. I snapped to attention. Suddenly, I was thinking up a username, a title for a blog, looking at templates and design and layout. …

"You Would Never Cease..."

One day while driving home, I was sitting at a red light and I saw a young woman in the lane next to me in an older car smoking a cigarette and listening to music.  It was summer so I could see and hear her clearly. My heart went out for her and I prayed to God, "Lord, please be merciful to her for her sins."

The answer was,"They are many." 

My heart broke at that moment and I didn't want this woman to be lost.  I asked God, "Father, let me know peoples sins so that I can pray better for them."

The answer was, "You would never cease praying."

My heart sank at the realization of state of souls in the world.

There's Still Time for a Great Summer Read!

For me, nothing says "summer" like a great book read by the lake or just while lounging in the back yard. Summer isn't all about rushing here and there as much as it is about some "down" time, some time that sets it apart from the rest of the year.

I'm always a bit bummed when the stores start putting in school supplies and clearing out sandals. "Hey, wait!" I want to tell anyone who will listen (but no one will). "Stop rushing summer!"

If you are like me and love a good summer read and still haven't found the time--don't abandon your summer reading dream just yet! Find a great book and make time stand still while you enjoy it. You'll be so glad you did!

(Image used is from one of our favorites: The Story of Peace by Miriam Ezeh)

In Praise of Backyard Puttering

The weather here the last two days has been overcast and in the low 70’s with no humidity.  It was the perfect comfortable day for meandering around the backyard doing the simpler but more pleasant summer time tasks.

It’s funny for me to use the old-fashioned term “puttering” but when you read the definition, that’s exactly what I was doing.   To putter means “to occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant manner, doing a number of small tasks or not concentrating on anything particular.”  Want to come along?

To read more, go to The Sincere Gift

Speaking Up for Jesus' Sake

The oft-quoted advice of St. Francis is “Preach and if necessary use words.”  Sometimes words are very necessary, but we are reluctant to use them. The first time I was invited to speak to catechists at a national convention, I didn’t think I could do it. As an extreme introvert, I needed time to ponder this. Besides, according to a newspaper article, public speaking is the number one human fear. A friend counseled, “If you can teach, you can talk.” I said yes to the invitation. I managed to speak without fainting on the stage, and I continue to speak to audiences. Admittedly, for the first few times before a talk, I was awake all night, filled with dread.  I still have nightmares that I’m facing an audience and my prepared talk is missing! Once when Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere was addressing a large audience, his microphone fell to the floor. He remained as cool as a cucumber. Afterwards I commented to him on how comfortable he appeared speaking compared to my stage fright. H…

You're invited to my book launch party

Wednesday, August 6, marks the official launch of Trusting God with St. Therese. So far, I have mostly marketed it to my friends and followers on social media, giving you the first look at this important project. Everyone who has bought the book in either format by noon on August 5, or who has helped me with an endorsement or review, is invited to my exclusive launch party. Family members who received a free copy are also welcome.

I’d love to celebrate with you in person, but since we are scattered all over the country, I’ve chosen to host a virtual party. I will be hosting a Google Hangout from 8-9 PM Central Time. What’s a Google+ Hangout, you ask? It’s Google’s video chat service. I will be talking with you live via my computer. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on camera! You can even attend in your pj’s.

You can submit questions to me ahead of time or during the Hangout itself. I will answer as many as I can. Do you have questions about any part of my book? Do you n…

Touring Chicago's beautiful churches: St. Mary of the Angels

Our next stop in touring Chicago's beautiful churches is St. Mary of the Angels.  My husband and I had never been here before.  We have passed it many times and saw it from the Kennedy expressway, so we were excited to attend their Saturday, 5 PM Mass.
St. Mary of the Angels is another church that was near the wrecking ball.  The famous dome was literally crumbling and leaking.  After years of struggling to raise the money for the needed repairs, there was a happy ending to that story.

You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

Get Out of the Way

When we give up striving and trying to save ourselves with our own efforts,
when we finally  get out of His way,
God has a chance to save us from ourselves.
Sometimes God waits till we are almost drowning,
exhausted by our own efforts to save ourselves 
because He knows that this is the only time
we will accept salvation on HIS terms.

read more>

Iggy Fever! Gearing Up for the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Indifference is great for parents. As I read through the latest issue of The Economist over the weekend, I plunged into an article about helicopter parents that made me remember the Ignatian principle of indifference. The article, titled Cancel that violin class, invites modern parents to relax. I imagined Ignatius reading the article, a secret smile on his lips, shaking his head slowly, as he learned about the savage preferences parents have for their children and the exhausting effort they put forth to make sure their children are playing the right instrument, volunteering the established number of service hours, and getting the necessary grades to enter an Ivy League school. The article cites the advice of Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University: "if parents fretted less about each child, they might find it less daunting to have three instead of two. And that might make them happier in the long run. No 60-year-old ever wished for fewer grandchildren."

But wa…

How Parents Approach Mass With Little Ones Can Begin to Plant the Seeds of Faith

All pictures in this post are from the book Little Acts of Grace by Rosemarie Gortler and Donna Piscitelli. Illustrations are drawn by Mimi Sternhagen. I highly recommend this book for Catholic parents who want to teach their children about many aspects of the faith and their meaning.
Let's face it, it's not always easy to attend Mass with children.  Sometimes you leave feeling more like you were engaged in battle than having spent an hour in the highest form of prayer in which we Catholics can participate.  In a way, you are engaged in the battle for your child's soul.  When we go to Mass, we are asked to leave the world behind for awhile and focus on the spiritual.  Even children can begin to sense these eternal truths long before they can fully understand them. As parents and the first educators of our children, we are called to teach them the Catholic faith.  How do we go about this with unreasonable toddlers, unruly preschoolers, and bored elementary st…

Tears During Mass

I often find myself in tears during Mass.  Not always, but sometimes.  And these tears come out of the blue, when I least expect them.  If I don't remember to tuck some tissues into my purse before I head out the door, chances are I'm going to be in trouble.  I'm going to be wiping my nose on my sleeve like a five-year-old.

Sometimes it's the lyrics of a particularly moving hymn that make me cry, or the stirring music combined with the unequaled beauty of a Catholic church's interior.  Sometimes it's just that in those particular surroundings, I feel closer to God, and that nearness hits me just so and goes right to my core--to my very soul.  And I am left feeling vulnerable and unworthy of His love, and yet profoundly loved by Him.

I've talked before about how seeing my sons dressed in tuxes, standing on the altar in the role of groomsmen at one another's weddings, reduces me to tears.  But even when there isn't something particularly noteworthy go…

I'd Like To Introduce Myself....

As a happy new member of ACWB, I wanted to introduce myself and my blog The Sincere Gift where I go by the name of Mrs. C.

I am a Catholic wife, married to my husband for 15 years and mother of three daughters ages 14, 12 and 5.  I am a cradle Catholic who at one point in my late teens wanted to leave the Church.  I made a deal with myself to study up on the Catholic faith and read books by others like Scott Hahn who actually wanted to join the Church that I was thinking of leaving . I wanted to find out what they thought was so great about it.  In doing so, I fell in love with our faith and have never considered leaving again.  

I decided to start The Sincere Gift as a way to share what I've learned along the way in this vocation as a wife and mother and, hopefully, to learn from other women as well. I named my blog The Sincere Gift based on Saint Pope John Paul II's writings on the dignity of women.  

In a Lenten message to the Brazilian Church in 1990, he writes.....a person …

7 Quick Takes - Interesting People, My New Purse, and My Favorite Mug Broke!

What a wonderful gift from God!  I took Pixie out to go potty, and I happened to glance at the window, and I saw it!  This dragonfly was about 6 inches long.  I saw the pattern on it's back.  The wings were brown with a tinge of black.  The body was black and accented with blue.  What a beautiful insect!!!

--- 2 --- I was visiting my daughter in her home.  I went to Mass at a church named St. Pasqual Baylon.  The church is shaped like an amphitheater.  I usually sit to the right and one or two from the back.  Shortly after I arrived, I saw a family sitting to my right and down another step or two.  The daughter of the family, who was about 10 or 11.  It turned out later that she was the altar server.  She was simply leaving to get ready for Mass.  As she started down the aisle, she stopped and looked at me.  She gave me a big wink and whispered in my ear, "I REALLY like your hair."  She winked again, and with a big smile, left to dress for Mass!

Read More At…

New on the Blogroll: Four Blogs and a Vlog

I've added four blogs and a vlog to the blogroll:
Adoro Ergo Sum" 'STRIVE to enter by the Narrow Gate...' Luke 13:24"Can We Cana? A Community to Support Catholic Marriages"Marriage needs at least three different kinds of support: preparation, prayer, and practical advice. Through this blog, I'm trying to offer all three. Please join in the community and add to the conversation, so that we can all support each other."Filling my Prayer Closet"A life of conversion. One prayer at a time."Kate -N- Mike - Catholic Crusade (YouTube)"Bringing Forth the Geed News of Christ in Our Own Crazy Way!"My Blog at"Finding God's Grace in Every Day Life" A tip of the hat to Tony Agnesi, on Google Plus, who indirectly introduced me to these blogs.

I also updated the blogroll's other links.
That's the whole post. If you want to be sure I didn't miss something, Check out the original at A Catholic Citizen in Ame…


'Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again,  Rejoice!' Philippians 4:4 from The Cloistered Heart

Predestination — Free Will from God's Point of View

Samuel Clemens may have taken God seriously: but not his era's version of Christianity.

His "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" include Huck's reactions to well-intentioned religious instruction by the Widow Douglas — and "pretty ornery preaching."
"It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet."
("Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Chapter XVIII, Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens (1885))Called by God
If I thought predestination meant that God had decided ahead of time whether I was heading for Heaven or Hell, I might feel hopeless or self-righteous. Robert Burns' Holy Willie dramatizes what can happen when someone think…

"When Life Seems Barren..." (A Prayer)

Dear Saints Anne & Joachim:

The Effect of Blessing an Unborn Infant

I call on all parents to bless and nurture their unborn children and then their infants and children by praying scripture, Catholic blessings, or by speaking words of life right to their into spirits.  Fact: An unborn child hears and reacts emotionally not only to his mother but also to the people and activity around him. Prenatal babies have personalities before they are born. As any mother can tell you some babies move around energetically both in and out of the womb, while other infants are physically passive. Some infants are night owls both in and out of the womb and others actually sleep well at night.

Nurses will point out to new parents that their newborn quickly turns towards the voices of their mother, father, siblings and even grandparents. So that means that an unborn child hears what is happening and remembers what he has heard while he was still in the womb. These memories are conscious for the first couple of years of a young child's life but later they lay deep wit…

Rt. 66 Travel Update: By Way of St. James

Saint James the Apostle, patron saint of laborers, pray for us as we labor, that we may have strength as we fight this good fight each & every day! — — — — — — — This day—the feast day of Saint James the Greater (brother of Saint John the Evangelist)—has come to have added meaning for me & The Way to Nourish for Life [see related post: "The Way Matters!"] so I didn’t want to let this day leave me without saying a special prayer. >> Click Here for Prayer to St. James for strength & perseverance >>

NFP: Hope (@ Melody's Harmonies)

I had two posts sitting in my drafts folder as my personal account for my little mini-series on  NFP for NFP Awareness Week. It is coming at the end of the week because I had to wait to see which one I would be sharing. 
This is the post I'd hoped I would get to delete. 

Read the rest here

Best Posts for NFP Awareness Week 2014

Last year's guest post for NFP Awareness Week by James of continues to be one of the most popular posts on the blog. This year, we'll give you a roundup of the best NFP Awareness Week posts from all over the web, including James', of course. Thanks to readers Tara, Scott, Ellen, Susan, Cat, and Mary Lou for their suggestions. If you know of other great posts that should be added to the list, please share the link in the comments!

1. What is Natural Family Planning, by James of RealCatholicLoveandSex. James emphasizes that Natural Family Planning is actually a misnomer. Charting the signs of a woman's fertility is more of an education in her own body. We endanger our own happiness by making idols of our plans, as many couples learn when they use artificial birth control to prevent pregnancy for many years only to face infertility problems when they finally "plan" to conceive.

2. The WINNER'S Guide to NFP, by Simcha Fisher. To mu…

Big-Hearted Families, Inspiring Stories from everyday families by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas (Reviewed by Nancy HC Ward)

“I joined with (cancer survivor) and mother of nine, Theresa Thomas to write Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families,” Patti told me. “This collection of 22 stories is a recipe for happiness and love for families of any size.  We've included some of our own stories including how my family came to include 2 AIDS orphans from Kenya.  Big Hearted is a glimpse inside the struggles and joys of ordinary families with generous hearts.” Big hearts that welcome life are not just in large families. Sometimes big-heartedness comes as the family deals with a tragedy such as miscarriage, infertility, alcoholism or financial devastation regardless of family size. “When a family opens its collective heart to love one another fully, there is no end to the gifts that God will bestow,” Patti said. Big-heartedness develops in us when pressed into service by a calling. The prayer of an orphan from Kenya to go to school in America. The decision to reverse a vasectomy. The passion for ado…

In the spirit of Elijah

In the past week we’ve celebrated two major Carmelite feasts: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16) and the prophet Elijah (July 20). These two great saints in different ways exemplify what Carmelite spirituality is about.
Elijah demonstrates the prophetic aspect of Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite seal bears these words of his as a motto:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts (1 Kings 19:10).
Consumed with zeal for holiness Elijah was not afraid to confront the rulers of his day. He risked death to preach repentance to King Ahab, while Queen Jezebel launched an anti-crusade to wipe out God’s prophets. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel to see whose god would consume a sacrifice with fire from Heaven. After winning that contest (surprise!), Elijah had all the false prophets killed. He led the people to re-commit themselves to the true God.
Then he went and prayed that, seeing their repentance, God would send rain. Elijah’s prayer…

Volcanoes and Fossilized Brains: Studying Earth's Past

We're learning that there's much more to learn about this universe. My response to our expanding horizons of knowledge is delight. Others react differently.

A Christian worldview and shameless interest in God's creation may seem like an odd combination, so before sharing what I've read about volcanoes, the Grand Canyon, and fossilized brains, I'll discuss why I accept reality "as is."...

...Like the psalmist, the works of God make me jubilant.

That's why I share what scientists are learning about the vast, ancient, and astounding universe....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

'One pearl of great value.' Sunday Reflections, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Chaldean Catholic Church ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ Ecclesia Chaldaeorum Catholica Emblem of the  Chaldean Catholic Church Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelMatthew 13:44-52 [or 13:44-46] (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. [“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out an…

The Many Faces of NFP (@ Melody's Harmonies)

As part of NFP Awareness Week, I'm featuring some posts on NFP.  So far there's been the Best of the Best: NFP (a great resource list, seriously - pin it!) and NFP for the Win (five reasons to use NFP, religious reasons aside). Today, I'm featuring some lovely ladies from the blogging world. They'll be sharing their experience with NFP, what they love about it, what they don't love so much and how it's affected their lives and relationships.

Read the rest here.

Let God Teach You Through Your Children

Our children come from the heart of God; He knew them in the womb and they knew God. Then at baptism, these little people become one with Christ.

As I mothered nine children, I discovered that this sacrament is not simply a meaningless ritual but a real life, powerful encounter which actually transformed my children into spiritual people, albeit little people who could teach me about the nature of God and life in the Spirit. When I first started to mother, I was determined to raise committed Catholic Christians and so I tried too hard. I had the mistaken notion that my kids were blank slates and I personally had to teach them everything. I assumed the role of teacher; I was the resident expert. However God had to shake me out of this arrogant stance by humbling me in the face of my children’s unique, innate spirituality and their pure, open relationship with their heavenly Father and their Mother Mary
read more>

Singing at Mass - Make a Joyful Noise? What do I hear? Silence!

It doesn’t seem to matter which Catholic Church I attend on Sundays, the one thing I hear most often during the liturgy is the organist playing the organ or the pianist playing the piano and the cantor singing——alone.  Once in a while, I do hear other voices joining in song, but most of the time, what I hear in the congregation is silence.  There might be a rustling of pages as someone tries to find the song, but when I look out at the congregation, I see mouths closed and books put away.

The most common reasons given are::

I can’t sing.
I don’t know the songs.
The songs are too high for me to sing.
I sing off key.
I can’t carry a tune.

Psalm 100 says::  “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”

Read More at:: His Unending Love

NFP for the Win (@ Melody's Harmonies)

This post continues our celebration of NFP Awareness week, if you haven’t checked out Monday’s post: Best of the Best of NFP then you definitely should. I’ve even added a couple more resources that have just been posted in the last couple days cause there are just so many good ones!

A lot of what you’re reading this week is based from a Catholic viewpoint and while that’s part of the reason I certainly practice, it’s not the only one. NFP isn’t just for the Catholic woman or couple and the reasons to use it instead of artificial methods of contraception are abundant. So I’ve put together a top five reasons why NFP wins.
Read the reasons here.

Jesus rejoiced

Jesus rejoiced is one of those phrases we don't often dwell upon.  More than likely, it would be Jesus suffered or Jesus' suffering. In Fr. James Martin's Book, Jesus:  A Pilgrimage, he lists from the Bible some of the many times that Jesus, his disciples and those around him rejoiced. To read the rest of the article, go to Being Catholic ... Really.

The Catholic Vaccination Dilemma

The debate rears its ugly head even in the safest of places.

A mom posts in my local homeschool group that her family is going through pertussis - all of them - including her vaccinated husband and vaccinated public school child. First there are posts back showing support and advice on how to soldier through with a household of sick children. Then the accusation, "Weren't your children vaccinated?"

My finger hovers over my mouse, strategically positioned between the delete and the moderation button.  This is the type of discussion that can get heated quickly, and the relationships and camaraderie of this group of woman could be broken with one harsh word or a misinterpretation of intentions.

What breaks the camels back and causes me to hit delete and then quickly put us into moderation mode was a comment like this. "The Pope says that everyone should vaccinate their kids for the common good and it's a sin not to vaccinate."

Nothing is going to kill off a Ca…

Angels, Guardian Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, and Other Holy Spirits

This week my new book, The Catholic Companion to Angels, will be out. In honor of the occasion, for my blog I posted the introduction to the book:
A Catholic women’s group once invited me to give a talk on angels. My first reaction was, Why angels when there are far weightier topics the Church should be concerned about today? The women’s request reflected our culture’s fascination with those mysterious creatures, a fascination that some would say borders on angelmania.
We are surrounded by angels in more ways than one. Their representations, ranging from muscular warriors to plump, rosy cherubs, are found just about everywhere. Statues of angels stand in mute adoration in churches, watch over our loved ones’ graves in cemeteries, and entice us in gift shops. Angels appear in paintings and on Christmas cards, posters, lapel pins, t-shirts, and magnets. A baseball team is named after them, and a long-playing television show was about people who were “touched by an angel.”

St. Mary Magdalen in Art: She Loved Much

 Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalen Luke 7:47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little  Mary Magdalen was so called either from Magdala near Tiberias, on thewest shore of Galilee, or from a Talmudic expression meaning “curling women’s hair,”  which refers to an adulteress.
In the New Testament she is mentioned among the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to Him (Luke 8:2-3), where it is also said that seven devils had been cast out of her (Mark 16:9). She is next named as standing at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40;Matthew 27:56; John 19:25; Luke 23:49). She saw Christ laid in the tomb, and she was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. Most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same.see more> b