Showing posts from February, 2016

Awesome Book! Stay with Me - Book Review

Awesome, simply awesome! That is it in a nutshell regarding the fantastic book, Stay with Me, by Carolyn Astfalk. This Christian fiction novel centers around two young people in their 20’s, named Chris Reynolds and Rebecca Rhodes. Chris is Catholic and Rebecca is not. This fact comes out early in the story. From that point on, we see two people of different backgrounds with different beliefs and baggage, who fall in love with each other. We see how they face the challenges of maintaining chastity in their relationship. We see how they grow in purity and love for one another. This book is packed with virtue, displayed, oh so brilliantly, by Carolyn Astfalk in the most positive manner.

For me, this book was a page turner.  I couldn’t put it down! I had to know... Read more...

All I Did was Go Down to the Kitchen to Ask a Question....

There was Shirley, Leo, and Linda busy chopping veggies for the soup supper tonight after the Stations of the Cross. I had doubts about going, but when I smelled the soup cooking, I’m almost ready to leave! Any, back track a bit, I went downstairs to ask Shirley a question. Shirley is our church secretary, Leo and Linda, a married couple, are two dedicated volunteers at church. Leo was making the stew for tonight. I walked into the kitchen, and they all looked at me with hungry eyes.
Read More at Prayerfully Yours



As the Morning Rising: Dublin in the Morning

As the Morning Rising: Dublin in the Morning: I'm off to Dublin tomorrow. Going in February and coming back in March. I'm fortunate in having a brother who...

In the Midst of a World


Names and THE Name

(From USCCB, used w/o permission.)

Depending on whether or not folks are going through RCIA, we could be hearing either Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; and Luke 13:1-9 — or Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; and John 4:5-42 during Mass today....

...Today's RCIA goes back to 1972, "as part of the liturgical renewal mandated by Vatican II."1 Before that we'd been using a Rite of Baptism introduced in 1614: which was just baptism.

I suppose some folks are upset that we changed something that'd been around since the year Pocahontas married John Rolfe and the Siege of Osaka began. Tokugawa Ieyasu became the next shogun, and yes: there areworse things than American presidential elections. My opinion.

By the way — if this post seems a bit more scattershot than usual, you're quite right....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

​Elisa Lardani Marchi: Body Given for Love

A special and touching story shared by guest blogger, Michelle Arnold Paine:

In the evening of February 27, 2015, I received a text message from my dear brother in Christ Alessandro: his sister Elisa had delivered her baby, was in surgery and they were not sure she would survive. He was asking me to spread the request for prayer to our network of American friends, those who have been students or faculty for the Gordon College in Orvieto program over nearly 20 years. Quickly I emailed and called several faculty and former Orvieto students to ask for their prayers. A few hours later another text – the hemorrhage that had begun during the birthing process was continuing and she was fighting for her life.

Through the night I was up several times nursing my own five-week-old baby, and that night checked my phone frequently. The next day, Saturday, we found out... read more 

'Let it alone for one more year . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C

At that very time there were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.If it bears fruit next year, well and good; b…

As the Morning Rising: Invitations

As the Morning Rising: Invitations: Mercy Prayer Centre Belfast I'm delighted to have received invitations to two events taking place in the coming weeks and, occ...

Where all virtues are to be found.

Even immediately after his election Cardinal Bergoglio still hadn’t thought what name to choose. Then, a good friend of his, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paolo whispered in his ear, “Don’t forget the poor!” It was whilst thinking about the poor that he immediately thought of St Francis, and how he would like to preside over a Church that was poor, and which worked for the poor. However you cannot suddenly acquire all the virtues that were embodied in St Francis, even if you are elected Pope, if you have never practised them before. Yes, he already was a shining example of the virtues of   simplicity, humility, poverty, and care and the compassion for the poorest of the poor, there is no doubt about it.  But let there be no misunderstanding, nobody can acquire these virtues merely by desiring them. If this were so then we would already have our heaven on earth. read on.............

Glyptodonts and Climate Change

Climate change is in the news: again. Scientists tracked where tiny critters called phytoplankton have been living: which may help us understand what's happening in Earth's ocean.

Other scientists reconstructed glyptodont DNA: confirming that the Volkswagen-size mammals were armadillos: big armadillos....

...Being offended by our increasing knowledge of how this universe works is an option: but not a sensible one, I think. Neither is getting upset over what sort of creatures we are....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

A FAST Improvement

The last time I shared what I 'gave up' for Lent, I was severely chastised.  The person was horrified that I would seek glory for my Lenten sacrifice instead of doing it in secret where only God and I would know.  This made me sad - as it was not at all my intent.  Sharing our Lenten sacrifices, our fasts, instead allow us to do several things:
Encouragement for each other.  Fasting is hard work - and we can get discouraged.  It is good to know how others are celebrating this season - it is not so much misery loves company but for me anyway.  I think more of the scripture that states a chord of 3 is not easily broken. Accountability.  This is probably my greatest catalyst for blogging about and sharing with others my Lenten fasts.  If it is just between God and I, while that should surely be enough to keep me on track, often it is not.  I need those extra eyes on my behavior - to be sure I'm not sneaking TV apart from Sundays, or spending money (if you read Monday's blo…

As the Morning Rising: Companionship on Life's Journey

As the Morning Rising: Companionship on Life's Journey: Looking back I can count seven parish groups/ committees I have been a member of at different stages since my teens. Apart from being dr...

The Vacuum Cleaner Syndrome

Fallen man wants to run his own life and take control. Letting go of this control seems extremely difficult because it is hard to trust a God you cannot see and usually cannot feel or hear.  However, when we refuse to give up control and submit to the Father, we shut out the power of the Holy Spirit.
Once we shut out the movement of the Spirit in our lives, we are left with only our own energy as we deal with our daily issues.  We are bereft, feeling like we must  fix our own problems and those around us. However,  man was not created to function like God.
I think of it as acting like little vacuum cleaners sucking up everyone’s problems and pain when it is God’s job to purify us and our family in His power, mercy and grace. continue reading

How Lands End Just Lost My Loyalty

I've always been a loyal Lands End customer until now. Why?

Because the company has chosen to celebrate - of all people - Gloria Steinem, and donate money to her foundation.

Her foundation supports equal rights for women, but pro life organizations warn that it can be used to further the pro abortion agenda.

Here's my take on the story....Lands End Just Lost My Business

Love Endures All Things

Love endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). I have to admit that this well known passage on Love from 1 Corinthians is one of my favorites. At our wedding ceremony, my husband and I included this passage at our Wedding Mass some 36+ years ago. Little did I know then what this passage would mean over time. When you are young, you think you know everything as you enter the early years of adulthood. Yet, some 36+ years later, this passage continues to teach me what Love is all about.

I am married to a wonderful man. We have endured times of financial stress together,... Read more...

Into the Cloud...

Did you ever get the feeling you had a black cloud hanging over you, like nothing is going right? Maybe you've felt like you're in such a  deep hole, nothing ever will go right, that no matter what you do, you're trapped in the shadows, that storms were sent specifically to rock your boat, that every move you make brings you farther from safe shores and threatens to capsize you, pulling you down until you've sunk too far to rise again.
I know that feeling. It certainly seemed a black cloud followed us for several months after my husband left. There were the every-divorce-case stresses of dividing up our things, meeting with lawyers, bills I couldn't pay - "normal" stuff...if you follow modern culture's call to "normalize" divorce, but there were other things too.
To continue reading and discover how this Sunday's Gospel and your entering into a cloud like the Apostles did on the mountaintop changes life, please join me at SingleMomSmiling.…

Don't Procrastinate. Act! Take Charge of Your Life

A lesson plan called for the teacher to cut out cardboard circles and print “TUIT” on them. Then she was to pass them out to her students and state that they now had no excuse for saying “I didn’t get around to it.” Part of the human condition is that we sometimes put off what should be done. We share the trait of all physical entities: inertia, a thing at rest tends to stay at rest. The tasks we do not undertake can be mundane, such as sewing on a button or washing the windows. Or they can be more serious: making an appointment for a mammogram, apologizing to someone we’ve hurt, or going to confession. Procrastination is akin to sloth, which is one of the ten deadly sins! It has negative consequences. The chore we haven’t accomplished weighs on our mind and heart until we tackle it. It induces stress and anxiety. When we do “get around to it,” we may do the job poorly. Here are some ideas for combating procrastination and taking action. Click to continue

View from the Volunteer's Desk

Once a month, I sit in the chair behind the desk. Once a month, I answer phones and help the church secretary with whatever odds and ends she needs to get done, but doesn’t have the time to complete. This is my desk and my view for the morning. 
Read more at Prayerfully Yours

Original Sin and Original Mercy

This is the second in my series of Meditations on Mercy from the Old Testament. Read this post prayerfully and use it as the basis for a conversation with God.

We often hear nonbelievers say that the God of the Old Testament was a tyrant. On the completely opposite side, some speak of the “Original Blessing,” instead of Original Sin. Today I’d like to examine what I call Original Mercy.

Sometimes we focus too pointedly on sin. Original Sin and personal sin are not the whole story. There is also redemption. God’s mercy is so great that He does not allow sin to get the better of those of good will, ever. He gently leads us back to Himself. He uses all things, even our sin, for our good.

We can see this all-encompassing mercy in the story of the Fall.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

In The News: “New Study Finds Clear Differences Between Organic and Non-organic Milk and Meat”

Organic vs. non-organic is not only an issue of: antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, or GMOs... but nutrition as well!
Important differences really do exist within their nutrient profiles, as shown by an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, in the largest systematic reviews of their kind. >>Click HERE to Read More About Key Findings at: The Way To Nourish For Life>>
Do you have a body? There's a theology for that!

Today I review TOBET's (Theology of the Body Evangelization Team) Theology of the Body Marriage Preparation book. Author Monica Ashour created this book with her TOBET team. (You may remember other books by Monica Ashour I've reviewed before: her Theology of the Bodyboard books for toddlers and paperbacks for children.)
The book focuses on couples preparing for marriage, of course, but anyone wanting to learn more about the Theology of the Body could benefit from its clear, innovative format. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is a series of pages on personal health (16-18). This section proposes an integrated view of the human person, providing checklists for assessing physical, emotional, and spiritual health. How providential that I picked this book back up during Lent! The health checklists help me identify areas of personal growth I can cultivate intentionally during these 40 days before Easter.
Join me at Praying wit…

The Curmudgeon of all Saints: Saint Polycarp

I wrote this four years ago on St. Polycarp's feast day.  Learning about the saints is learning the history of our faith and church.  When you're feeling a bit cranky, you can tell people you're just following in the footsteps of this early saint. Polycarp (155? or 166?) is the curmudgeon of all the saints.  I say this with great confidence after reading this story and quote from him: Once on a visit to Rome, he had snubbed the heretic Marcion. "Don't you know who I am Polycarp?" he asked.  "Oh yes," said the saint, "I know the firstborn of Satan when I see him." OUCH!

To read the article go to Being Catholic ... Really.

Illusion or Reality? Pride or Humility?

During Lent, God presents us with a fundamental choice. Will we choose to continue to live in our human illusions or will we allow God to reveal His reality to us? Will we cling to false pride or embrace true humility? All too often we think we are more humble than we really are, especially if we have been striving to grow spiritually for a long time. The Pharisees were also earnest about their religious practices. As Christians, it is easy to denigrate the Jewish Pharisees, thinking we have risen above such behaviour because we live in New Testament times, no longer under the burden of the Old Testament Laws. However, before we judge these men too harshly, we should remember they were simply striving to be good, observant Jews. In their zeal, they inadvertently ended up seeking respect for themselves rather than inspiring love for God. continue reading

Praying at the Home of the Beast

40 Days for Life was expanded this year. There are two times that we are invited to pray near the facilities of Planned Parenthood. (There used to be only one time of year.) I’m glad to see the expansion of prayer for Planned Parenthood.
Read more at Prayerfully Yours

As the Morning Rising: Rest And Be Thankful

As the Morning Rising: Rest And Be Thankful: '' 'A special helping grace from God.'' I came across two references recently to special helping grac...

10 Things Happy People Wish You Knew...

I have been listening to a podcast on and off for about a year.  In it, there is one host and three co-hosts. Of the co-hosts, I have noticed that there is one who is particularly happy. She is always willing to say, “Yes, absolutely, I love that idea!!!” She is positive and she brings something- a spunky sense of humor, perhaps?- to the podcast that, frankly, the other co-hosts do not.  The difference between her and the other co-hosts is simple. She is happy.  She also happens to have an incredibly blessed life, and she isn’t constantly on the defensive like many unhappy people I have known or heard on TV or other podcasts.

I try to be a happy person... *whatever that means.* If I could write a post dedicated to the way she inspires me (and other people), here is what I would say:

10 things happy people wish you knew

1. Don’t make excuses for your mistakes. Own them.  When you make a mistake, you can stew and brew, or you can shake it off, with full knowledge that - ha! - everyone …

I found God in Van Gogh's bedrooms

I made a trip to The Art Institute of Chicago to see the Van Gogh's Bedrooms exhibit.  The exhibit runs through May 10, 2016.  I know the phrase "must see" is overused, but this really is a one of a kind exhibit that is being done only in Chicago, so it really is a "must see."

To view the photo gallery, go to Being Catholic ... Really.

Pope Francis: The Church of Mercy - Book Review

The Church of Mercy, by Pope Francis: Book Review

For the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I decided to learn more about the virtue of Mercy. What better book to read than Pope Francis’ The Church of Mercy?

I found this book very insightful. In this book, Pope Francis provides a selection of his 2013 speeches and homilies. Taking into consideration his election as Pope occurred in March 2013, these speeches and homilies were some of his first. Mercy, a hallmark of Pope Francis’ papacy, remains a priority for moving the church forward, as evidenced by his declaration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Throughout the book, Pope Francis...

This Man


As the Morning Rising: The Bigger Picture

As the Morning Rising: The Bigger Picture: When we walk with eyes wide open we take in the bigger picture – the panorama that nature paints, the artistry of trees, the...

Without me you have no power to do anything.

When I was a student I spent some time working with ‘down and outs’ through the Simon Community, and later through the Saint Mungo Community. The work was so difficult, so harrowing, both physically and mentally, that nobody was allowed to work for more than six months. After that you were told to leave, rest, and then get on with the rest of your life, leaving the work to newcomers. The acts of charity performed by St Martin, St Francis, and Pope Francis continued long after they had first discovered  Christ in the neighbour in need.  This was possible not because they were endowed with a superhuman strength of will power denied the rest of us, but because they repeatedly turned to God to have their weak human strength continually surcharged with the divine.  read on.....

Lunar New Year 2016 at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church

Lunar New Year 2016 at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church was celebrated on Sunday, February 21.  This is the Year of the Monkey. This year the celebration was special.  Archbishop Cupich was one of the celebrants.  He has a great sense of humor and seemed to enjoy himself throughout the celebration. You can view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

As the Morning Rising: The Great Ones

As the Morning Rising: The Great Ones: The Great Ones We are the great ones Feeding the hungry Clothing the naked Showering them with the Leftovers of our bounty! But wai...

To Set the World on Fire


A Messy and Foolish Book Review

As usual .. I don't offer your typical review:
IT is a small book.  I like small books. Get to the point and do it in the shortest amount of time - life is busy.  Check!Build the idea of your book on the words of Pope Francis.  I like Pope Francis. Talk about getting to the point! I was on Copacabana Beach at World Youth Day, 2013, when Papa Francisco said, "Go!...the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community.  I want a mess. I want people to go out!"  Check!Remind people they have been commissioned by their Baptism to share the good news, to be heralds of the Gospel - that it is not just for their benefit.  In fact, if we are not willing to take bold risks -to be MESSY & FOOLISH,For much much more... read here!
All rights reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Taking the Bible Seriously

I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, very seriously. As a Catholic I have to, and I'll get back to that.

I also pay attention to what some of the best minds of the last few thousand years thought about this sort of thing:
"12 I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,

"those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning,

"those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away."
(1 Corinthians 7:29-31) - - - which is why I still think my youthful decision to stay out of the rat race was right. (December 13, 2015; May 3, 2015)

I don't, however, take what folks like Harold Camping say seriously.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

As the Morning Rising: God and Us

As the Morning Rising: God and Us: Relationship is everything when it comes to God and us. In the prayers of morning and in the prayers of night and in silent listening s...

God Loves Me Like No Other. He Loves You Like No Other.

Today, I am stepping aside and letting God love me. I’ve stood in His way so many times because I always had a reason that would make it impossible for Him to love me. I’m not worthy.
I’m a terrible sinner.
I have nothing to give Him in return.
I cannot love Him in the same way He loves me.
I’m not perfect.
Continue Reading at Prayerfully Yours.

I Gave God a Little ... and He Outdid Me (again)

Lent is a time to focus on our discipline of prayer. Here is a prayer story from November, 2015:

After completing my 54 Day Rosary Novena jaunt around the house - I felt compelled to begin another when given a small tattered copy of Rosary Novenas to Our Lady (see image below) by a stranger when I attended a friend's Ultreya to hear her give her testimony.  As one who believes in GODCIDENCES (if you ask me there are no coincidences in life especially in spiritual matters), there was no way I was going to ignore this invitation from Our Blessed Mother to spend another month and half in prayer with her! The grace and blessings as I closed on the first 54 days was truly remarkable!!

One of the most miraculous moments came when I went to my bank on November 30 - prepared to beg for leniency with overdrafts I was sure had been incurred after paying an unexpected HUGE house bill and then a creditor unwilling to hold off on their payment for just a few days, withdraw another large amount. …

5 Points to Embracing Your Children as a Single Mom

I’m a Mother, who believes in the Holy Spirit, works hard, and thrives off the magical moments of faith, but I still find myself dealing with revolving challenges from this noisy world, full of distractions. When these feelings strike, a few good antidotes help me get through.
As a single Mother, I’ve blocked out what society expects from me in terms of dating and the chase for a “complete” family consisting of a man and woman in the same house raising children. So many times I’ve seen my single mother friends dating different men and getting them involved too soon, only for a short relationship ride — and poof they’re gone.
5 points that shed light & help on my journey as a single parent.To read the rest of this post, please join me on
*This post is a guest post by Donna Morgese

'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C

Gospel Luke 9:28B-36 (NRSV, Catholic Edition, Can.)

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And …

Space Archaeologist, 55 Cancri e

A headline, "TED 2016: Space archaeologist wins $1m to find hidden sites" caught my eye this week, and so did news about a very hot Super-Earth's atmosphere....

...Science? In a 'religious' blog?? During Lent??!

I don't see a problem with that. But as I keep saying — I think this universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; Earth isn't flat; Adam and aren't German; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Kids + Pets= Joyful Spirituality

Money might have been tight in our large family and life a bit messy but our lives were filled with activity and fun because God’s creatures were part of our lives. Animals helped transform us into a playful and joyful family who sensed the Love of God in, with and through our pets.
continue reading

"Soup-of-the-Day" Recipe Feature (II) ‒ Nourishment for Body, Mind, & Spirit

More soup [recipes] now being served...
to be savored & shared…
Today featuring both White Bean and Black Bean, via 5 different soups, that are meatless as well... And perfect for this time of year! >>Click HERE to Read More at: The Way To Nourish For Life>>

Public Speaking/Book Signings

In early January of this year, I had the privilege of speaking to four different classrooms of students (5th through 8th grade), at two different schools, about my two Catholic YA novels, Finding Grace and Erin's Ring.  I traveled down to Tampa to be a Confirmation sponsor for two of my nieces, and while there, my sister-in-law arranged for me to visit the Catholic school that her 8th grade triplets attend and also the one where she is a 5th grade teacher.

This was the second time I've been given the opportunity to speak to students in a classroom setting.  In May of 2015, I visited my niece's 4th grade class in Chicago, to talk to her students about Erin's Ring after they'd read the book together.  (I blogged about the experience here and here, if you'd like to read those posts.)
I can't believe I'm about to say this (gulp!)...but if you would be interested in having me come to speak and/or do a book signing at your school or parish, please leave me a …