Showing posts from September, 2014

How I turned my daily commute into a mini vacation

Brandon Vogt's, 6 Ways to turn your daily commute into a retreat got me thinking about how I spend my time on my way to work and on my way home. I know so many people who have at least a two hour commute one way to work every day.  I can't even imagine that.  My daughter told me the other day that she never thought she'd tire of driving, but her daily drive to school, to home, to work and back has been an unexpected drain on her both mentally and physically.
You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

A biography of St. Therese (and a Kindle bargain)

Note: In celebration of the feast of St. Therese on Wednesday, October 1, the Kindle version of Trusting God with St. Therese is only $.99 until 8 AM Pacific Thursday. This may be the only time I run such a sale, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the most popular saints in history. Almost immediately after her death, her little way of spiritual childhood began to spread. She was canonized less than thirty later and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.
St. Therese’s childhood Marie-François-Therese Martin was born in Alençon, France in 1873. Her parents were Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin Martin. She was the youngest of their nine children, four of whom died before age six. Louis and Zelie were committed Catholics. They were standouts even in the Catholic subculture that had grown up in the larger, anti-Catholic culture of their place and time. Both had considered religious life before…

Announcing the "Praying with Children" Video Series!

The Apostleship of Prayer is happy to share our new video series: "Praying with Children." Check in here each week for a new prayer tip!

I've had conversations with countless parents and educators over the past few months. These gracious people have helped me enormously as I finalize the manuscript for my upcoming book, cleverly named Praying with Children. And while we look forward to the fall 2015 release of the book from Ave Maria Press, many parents and educators requested that the Apostleship of Prayer also make brief videos of the most practical, succinct prayer tips from the book. Ta Da!

Read on at Praying with Grace!

Back By Popular Demand

"Innovative, insightful, practical, and inspiring! A great gift for teens." +Ronald P. Herzog Diocesan Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana 

"If the first few moments of the day set the tone and mood for the rest of the day, then Catherine Brown's words will fill you with energy, optimism, and joy. This work will make you excited to be alive and inspire you to move through the day with greater confidence. A must for anyone who desires to make a difference and live each day to the fullest." B. David Brooks, Pastor Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria, Louisiana 

"Putting teens in touch with our God is a remarkable work today! I believe Daily Direction for Teenz is an opportunity for such moments to happen." Sr. Ann Lacour, MSC, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Diocese of Alexandria.

Daily Direction for Teenz is back by popular demand so if you are looking for a fun daily devotional for your teen or tween, you won't want to miss this one!

Spending Meaningful Time with Your Kids

One of the biggest gifts we can give our kids is the gift of our time, meaningfully spent with them. Everything else, including all the things we provide for them, could come from somewhere else, but our time and our love can only come from us.

I loved the text of an audience in which Pope Francis said that he often asks married couples - parents - if they waste time with their kids. "Wasting" time with our kids, in the sense of putting aside more "productive" or "urgent" or "important" things to just BE with our kids, is priceless, both for us and for them.

To read about three simple strategies that have helped me make the time I spend with our kids more meaningful, head over to Eyes On Heaven.

Feast of the Archangels: Angels are REAL

Angels are not wispy, sweet little things but rather powerful, spiritual entities of light who guard us, fight for us, bring us the word of God and heal us. Angels always point us towards heaven, to join in worship and praise of Christ .  Their deeds are more than simply the stuff of legends, children’s bedtime tales, wishful thinking or fantasies of illiterate, ancient minds.If you close your mind to these messengers of God, they sit like gold in a bank, useless unless we give them permission to act. An angel is a pure spirit created by God. The Old Testament theology included the belief in angels: the name applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence, employed by God as the ministers of His will.The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos which means‘messenger’.  Some may never see with earthly eyes these heavenly beings or know that they exist. Many are unaware of the many ways they have protected and guided us.  My family knows angels saved my s…

Things That Seem Insignificant

Do you think your job as a mom is insignificant? I have wondered if all the little tasks that can overwhelm me are actually worth much to God. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
God bless,

Could That Best-Seller Be Bad For Your Health?

There’s growing evidence to support the idea that fiction books can be good or bad for you. It’s a drum I’ve been beating on for a very long time.
I begin supporting my own belief about this by going directly to Scripture: Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
Books, after all, cause us to think of things. Whatever fills the pages ultimately fills our mind.
read more here

The Way Through the Walls

To look at a few
of the "walls"
we sometimes find
between ourselves and God,
please join me here....

Reforming the World — We Must Try

'Kids these days! Nobody takes responsibility! Back in my day, nobody tried blaming the other guy!'

I've been hearing variations on that complaint for more than a half-century now. I started wondering if it was true in my teens. By now, I'm pretty sure that it's not: partly because now I remember the 'good old days:' and like I've said before, they weren't.

One of 'Those Crazy Kids:' Five Decades Later
I was one of "those kids" in the late '60s and early '70s.

Some of us were lazy bums, and others were only too eager to blame our parents, the government, or anyone else, for our problems.

But others were "irresponsible" only in the sense that we wouldn't accept the status quo.

That attitude didn't appeal to folks who believed in buying stuff they didn't need, with money they didn't have, to impress people they didn't like.

We thought we could reform the world: and certain that we had to try.


The Annulment - Opening the Envelope

I am sitting here with my annulment letter in my hand. I have yet to open the envelope which arrived two days ago. I had more important things to do - like be a mom to my 5 boys.

But now I am sitting here in a house that I know for the next few hours will be quiet, if not exactly peaceful as I look around at the clutter five active boys have left for me while they are at their father's this weekend. This is what I was waiting for. Time alone to cry if I feel like it, to jump up and dance and sing if I feel like it, to do whatever feels right in the moment.
I am not sure how I will feel when the verdict is read, but by having a few moments alone to digest whatever the outcome is, I am giving myself freedom to just Be in God and let Him handle my future. I don't have to worry about the boys seeing my tears or pretend all is okay - when I feel like dying inside.
I really am not sure what I will feel when I open this envelope, and I study the outside of it for one more moment, holdin…

Let God

Let go and let God is a simple, catchy phrase but utterly profound, deep and true.

It has taken decades to relax my grasp on control, to let go, but as I do, the joy I experience is a delightful surprise.
The stumbling block to surrender was not as much pride for me as fear. 

continue reading>

Happy Birthday, Louilla 'Lala' Vicente!

I first wrote the post below for the short-lived Negros Times in October 2008. I have re-posted it a number of times because Lala's story is one that should be told over and over again. Today she has been celebrating her 35th birthday on a pilgrimage to Lipa City, Batangas, south-east of Manila, with members of Faith and Light, which holds a pilgrimage every year on or near the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. 

No doubt, there will be something to mark the occasion at Punla, Ang Arko, where Lala lives, the only L'Arche community in the Philippines, in Cainta, Rizal, part of the metropolitan sprawl of Manila.L'Arche, which might be called the 'older sister' of Faith and Light, is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year.

The Pope's Universal Prayer Intention for September is: That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life. The truth is that persons with mental or learning disabilities can teach the rest of us about the dignit…

"He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went." Sunday Reflections, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Matthew, El Greco,1610-14 Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelMatthew 21:28-32 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada

Jesus said to the chief priest and the elders of the people: “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.The fatherwent to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.Which of the two did the will of his father?” continue> The above scene, at the Coliseum in Rome, comes shortly before the end of the 1983 made-for-TV move, The Scarlet and the Black, which tells the true World War II story of Vatican-based Irish priest Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, known as 'The Vatican Pimpernel' and played here by Gregory Peck, and Colonel Herbert …

Spiritual growth right where you are now

I remember reading long ago in The Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, that we deceive ourselves if we think we would be holier if only our exterior circumstances were different. That made a great impression on me.

Temperamentally, some people feel they are in control of everything. Others feel like they are controlled by forces outside themselves. Melancholics can especially fall into this second attitude, feeling sorry for themselves and powerless to change their circumstances. St. Paul encourages such people:
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7) Even when we are powerless to overcome our circumstances, God is not. Indeed, as both Paul and St. Therese tell us, our weakness can actually be an asset.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Schrodinger's Cat(s); and Gravitational Waves, Revisited

Quantum mechanics makes more sense if the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is right, and we're still not sure whether BICEP 2 detected gravitational waves: or polarized dust.

If you've been here before, and know why I don't see a conflict between science and faith, feel free to skip straight to "Who Killed Schrodinger's Cat?" (No animals were harmed in the writing of this post)...

...Since I'm a Catholic, I believe that God created, and is creating everything. Since I also believe that God isn't a liar, and that truth cannot contradict truth: honest research cannot hurt faith. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 144, 159)...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Three Prayers God Always Says "Yes!" To...

You prayed for a job promotion and didn’t get it; then you found a leak in the roof of your home.
You prayed for a cure for your toothache and instead found out that your hours at work were cut.
You prayed for a way to pay for new tires on your car yet nothing materialized; but you did find out your sister is getting divorced.
It seems as though God wasn’t just saying “no” to your prayers but was kicking it up a notch as well.
Confused, you go back to Scripture with all its rich promises and try to find answers to your frustrating prayer life.
read more here

How Would We Act If We Really Believed?

When I visited the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, I stood outside taking pictures before Mass on Saturday evening. I heard runners approaching from my right and looked up to make sure I wasn’t in their way. I saw a crowd of shiny green uniforms running towards me. I had heard that the US Women’s soccer team was playing the Mexico Women’s soccer team, and I smiled as I realized that I was catching a glimpse of the celebrities. I humbly watched as trainers, coaches, and players stopped and genuflected in front of the Cathedral. Read more here...

Reflections on a Mother's Love: Milk, Cookies and a Carelessly Tossed Gym Bag

I snapped this photo this afternoon, shortly before leaving my parents' house after a brief overnight visit. The scene is a vivid reminder to me of what being a mother is all about.
Keep Reading...

A Miscarriage: A Soul Acknowledged then Released

I have always considered myself blessed with ten pregnancies which resulted in nine healthy babies and only one miscarriage. I thought that I knew how to handle a miscarriage, emotionally and spiritually. I thought I had done everything right by this little one who died before birth. I was mistaken. Twenty-five years ago I was in a panic when I discovered that I was pregnant with my seventh.  I had just reconciled with God and embraced this baby when I started to spot. An ultrasound revealed that although I was 12 weeks pregnant, my womb was only at 9 weeks in size and was empty. Apparently the body reabsorbs a fetus in spontaneous, natural ‘abortions’. This news shook me. I felt a sense of betrayal because I had experienced real, spiritual joy when I finally accepted that I was expecting again. My womb was empty, yet  I KNEW, we had created a soul. I had learned that it is important to name a miscarried baby. During prayer, we sensed that this baby was a girl. I choseRuth because I love t…

"They Will Never Repent."

I have never met them, but I know of them.  I don't know their names.  But I know what they did, and what they continue to do.   They abuse children which is a great evil before the Lord.  

I don't want anyone to go to hell, so I prayed and asked God that if it was possible, if they could know a little of what they would suffer for all eternity HERE so that they would repent of their evil and turn back to God.  Basically, put the fear of Hell in them.  

The answer made my heart drop....TO READ MORE CLICK HERE. 

God Speaks Through Nature, His Creation

Now that the trees are about to burst in autumn glory, I thought the introduction to the first book I ever had published (Voices) would be appropriate. (It’s out of print now.) Here it is: Creators are mirrored in their creations, A song reflects the composer; a painter, the artist; a book the author. In the same way the universe, the masterpiece of the supreme Creator, reveals God. Its variety, its intricacy, and its magnitude attest to God’s wisdom and power. Every created thing is an epiphany, echoing some aspect of the divine to continue

But That's Not Fair! - Workers in the Vineyard Gospel

As a busy single mom of five (wonderful) boys, you can bet I hear the phrase, "That's not fair," several times each week. 
Sometimes, no matter what I do or how I try to explain, one of my boys will feel slighted and march off in a huff. "Sometimes," I tell them, "fair isn't always equal, and often times fair isn't right."
Equal is giving all 5 boys the same amount of dinner, but fair is giving my 17 year old more than my 5 year old. Fair seems to be giving them all the same bedtime; right is allowing my older boys to stay up and watch football Sunday nights (It's also simple self-preservation since they'd riot if I didn't! ;) 
One of my favorite sayings is "A Mother's Love is multiplied not divided." Followed closely by,"I Love You 100%" My boys have a hard time getting those concepts, but any Good Mother or Father will tell you it is possible to Love each child 100%. How many children you have or when they arriv…

Remembering Our Holy Father in Prayer

I've heard it said that there are many priests in purgatory simply because they have no one to pray for them.  We so often forget that our shepards need prayer and support as well, they are human and face the same challenges as we do. Whenever our choir sings hymns that remind me of my parish priest from college, I offer up prayers for the peaceful repose of Father Joe's gentle soul.

As attacks rage throughout the world against clergy, Christian faithful, and ancient churches, the militants have turned their sights to the Chair of St Peter.  The children of Fatima reported seeing a vision of the Holy Father kneeling at the foot of a cross praying in tears.  Could this be what they saw? Could Pope Francis be who they saw in great turmoil?  Surely many popes have prayed through tears as they pleaded with God on behalf of their flock. Pope Francis himself spent three hours praying the Rosary for peaceful resolution to the escalating conflict in Syria. As he has prayed for us, le…

In Death, St. Padre Pio Looks …. Alive

Forty years after his death, Padre Pio looks amazing. I love this image because it is a wonderful example of the power of being transformed  by the Holy Spirit. It is such a sign of hope for all of us. A visible sign of what it actually means to live in, with and through the Holy Spirit. It is not just words or theology but an in the flesh experience, sharing in the life of Christ. continue reading>

A Family Fast

In these last days of September, we continue to pray for Pope Francis' Evangelization Intention this month: Service to the Poor. Pope Francis knows serving the poor is a divine mandate: "Whatever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me" (Matthew 25:40). We must serve the poor as Jesus did, as he continues to call us to do as the Body of Christ on earth. But the Pope calls this month's prayer request an evangelization intention, because he knows serving the poor also attracts others to Jesus and his Church. We share the Good News of Jesus in our deeds--if not also in our words--when we care for the poor and disenfranchised.

As a mother and as the director of children's ministry at the Apostleship of Prayer, I love to consider how to help children encounter poverty in a prayerful way. Many, many children know poverty from the inside, of course. Even in this prosperous country of ours, too many children experience hunger, poor nutrition, homeles…

Happy New Year!

It seems to makes perfect sense, especially to me—a person who loves autumn!—to find the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, during autumn. Rosh Hashana is the New Year which begins with a ten day period of prayer, self-examination, and desire to repent and return to God. These ten days end with Yom Kippur (this year it is at sundown on October 3rd) which is the holiest day for Jews; it is the day in which requests are made to be written in the Book of Life.
Part of the Rosh Hashana celebrations will include sounding the shofar and eating foods that are rich in symbolism as well as flavor! The significance of the shofar is found throughout Scripture but the specific reason for the sound of it during Rosh Hashana is found in Leviticus 23:23-25: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month you shall keep a Sabbath rest, with a sacred assembly and with the trumpet blasts as a reminder; you shall then do no sort of work, and you shall offer an oblations to…

When Your Child Contradicts You…

It’s normal for kids, especially toddlers, to go through phases when they are contrary and contradictory toward just about everything. I know this. I’ve known this since before having kids, so I knew to expect it. But KNOWING that all kids go through a phase like this is very different than handling it when it comes.
To be honest, I know that I have it pretty easy. Both of our kids are willing and eager to learn, and the “terrible twos” haven’t been that terrible for either of them. They’re both very verbal kids (I know where that’s coming from!), which also makes things easier, because they works hard to express themselves in words, so we’re able to talk a lot of things through and avoid potential explosions. But, there are still days when it seems like one (or both!) of our kids is contradicting us ALL DAY LONG. And today was one of those days. BOTH of our little ones have been absolutely determined to make sure we thoroughly understand that they have strong minds and wills of their…

Bring Back the 99:: 5 Ways to Help You Go Out Into the World

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
St. Francis of Assisi

Today, Pope Francis tells us::

"In the Gospel there's the beautiful passage about the shepherd who realizes that one of his sheep is missing, and he leaves the 99 to go out and find the one," Pope Francis told the parish leaders. "But, brothers and sisters, we have only one. We're missing 99! We must go out and find them."
 National Catholic Reporter

Preach the Gospel!


Is standing on the corner not your forte?   Most likely, that's not an option.  Many are home bound.

Read More at:: His Unending Love

Down Right Good by Karen Kelly Boyce Reviewed by Nancy Ward

The award-winning “Down Right Good” tells the poignant adventures of ten-year-old Angie who was born with Down syndrome, a limited vocabulary and the ability to see angels. She bikes around her town, delivering the weekly community tabloid, seeing the pain in the people who live at each stop. Their stories of abuse and bitterness, unforgiveness and self-hatred, loneliness and grief, bullying and sacrifice, are woven into the events of one Saturday. Whatever hurt she finds, she names it, and she speaks simple truths with almost heavenly insight. Not everyone can accept her frank evaluation. Author Karen Kelly Boycebased the protagonist on a childhood acquaintance. Her character, Moma, who is raising Angie and her older brother, embodies all those grandmothers faithfully caring for a second generation. The theme of the book centers on the third joyful mystery, the birth of Christ, as Karen presents the joy of the good news of salvation. She weaves the truth of the Catholic Church into ma…

Bishop Blase Cupich is the Next Archbishop of Chicago

Bishop Blase Cupich is the next Archbishop of Chicago.  Bishop Cupich (pronounced sue-pitch or SOUP-ich) expressed his surprise when he received the call about a week ago.  With Cardinal George's health in decline (and his official retirement already offered), I'm happy that his replacement has been named.

You can read the read of the article at Being Catholic ... Really.

Where is My Sanctuary?

'Jane's car became a monastery on wheels.  It was as if grillwork had been stretched across her windshield. Through the noise and the bustle and the rush and the traffic, her gaze was set firmly on God....' (continue)

Evangelizing in Caves

When I speak with someone who is curious about the faith but unfamiliar with Christianity, I realize my revelations about the spiritual life in the Mystical Body of Christ are completely foreign. I might as well be a fantasy character explaining life in an alternate reality. Psychologically speaking, people need to hear a completely new concept at least three times before it even begins to register in their minds. Sharing about spiritual reality is like helping God make new neurological connections, and this transformation takes time. Seekers who have existed on the surface, experiencing only physical reality are wearing God-filtered glasses; the life in Christ that I share with them is completely alien.  How would you communicate the message of salvation and the subsequent new life in Christ with the unchurched, with people who have no Christian frame of reference or Christian vocabulary?read the whole article>

Scientific Discoveries: an Invitation to "Even Greater Admiration"

This universe has been around for about 13,798,000,000 years, give or take 37,000,000. That's the current best estimate, from 2013.

It's big, too. The photo shows part of the Hercules Cluster of galaxies. Light from that bunch of galaxies traveled for about 500,000,000 years before reaching us.

What we see is the Hercules Cluster as it was around the middle of the Cambrian here, roughly when the first trilobite showed up.

Taking the universe 'as is' makes sense: for me, anyway. I would much rather learn more about this wonder-filled creation, than insist that the Almighty is limited to what folks knew a few centuries back.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.



Pick a Day:: Any Day:: Thoughts on Adversity


“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Read More at:: 

His Unending Love

'Are you envious because I am generous?' Sunday Reflections, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Johann Christian Brand, 1769 Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna [Web Gallery of Art] Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

GospelMatthew 20:1-16a (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) 
Jesus said to his disciples: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage,he sent them into his vineyard.When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here id…