27 Mar 2017
The Virtue Driven Life, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., offers insightful information about the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, along with scriptural passages, simple prayers, and citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This gem of a book offers the basic information on these virtues in part I. He saves the best for last, though, when in part II, we learn some in-depth information on the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Part II also provides scriptural passages, prayers and citations from the Catechism, in relation to the Theological virtues.
I was most impressed with Fr. Groeschel’s insight into the... Read more...
14 Mar 2017
...The Gift of Receptivity...
...Personally, my receptivity feelers do not fire on all cylinders. Sure, I’m open to whatever God has for me as long as it is good, healthy, and includes very little discomfort. Unlike Jesus entering into Jerusalem ready to fulfill God’s Will, I spend far too much time avoiding God and his Will. Perhaps I am hoping that if I am really quiet and well-behaved, I will avoid whatever cross is lurking in my day. Ironically, my cross has become my fear of the cross. My focus is far too much on this false fear of the possible tragedy lurking around the corner, and in turn I lose sight the good things God has in store for me—in any situation....
...Holy Thursday Blessings...
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017Reflection part of the WINE Lenten Book Club #LentenWalk
27 Feb 2017
I cannot thank my brother Ed, enough, for gifting me with Resisting Happiness, by Matthew Kelly. This book was a real eye-opener for me! As human beings, we naturally resist happiness, and when we do so, we resist God, the source of all happiness. “Why do we resist God? Because deep down we don’t trust Him…deep down we think that God is trying to limit our freedom” (p. 214). Kelly tells us throughout the book that we need to become “the best version of ourselves.” How do we do that: by stopping the resistance.
Throughout the book, Matthew Kelly shows us how we can find happiness by tackling our urge to be resistant. Let me share with you just two golden nuggets, gleaned from reading this wonderful book, that I believe will make me happier – just a couple of things I can do to fight the resistance to be happy.
Idea #1: Prioritize Your Life in Accordance with God’s Plan
Matthew Kelly comments in the book that when he conducts his various speaking engagements, he comes across people he has met in the past. Since Mr. Kelly always brings up the concept of setting aside 10 minutes a day in prayer with the Lord, he always asks “How many days last week did you spend ten minutes in quiet conversation with God” (p. 53)? Read more...
20 Feb 2017
Cristina Trinidad visits A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras on BreadboxMedia.com.
We discuss a fabulous new book that I was sent to review
and fell in love with How to Read Your Way to Heaven
by Vicki Burbach (Sophia Institute Press)
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
30 Jan 2017
Hold onto your knickers, because you are about to be taken on one heck of a ride with Hijacked, by Leslie Lynch. Ben Martin, undercover DEA agent, finds himself between a rock and a hard place after a drug bust goes bad, leaving him with a bullet wound in his shoulder and a need to escape – quickly! He sees no other outlet than a small plane going through pre-flight checks at a small airfield. The lone pilot should be easy to overtake, thought Ben – and away we go!
As Ben hijacks the plane, he learns the pilot is a woman, one Lannis Parker. As Lannis is forced to fly Ben out of harm’s way (by the barrel of Ben’s gun), the adventure begins; so too, a relationship, of sorts, between captive and captor. You see, the actual hijacking is only one-half of the story. Once the plane lands, Ben must keep Lannis captive for several days, so that she will be safe from the people after Ben. What follows is an examination of the human soul in relationship, one to another.
This story is filled with pain, as Lannis deals with her past, present and future, both during and after the hijack escapade. Yet, this story is also filled with... Read more...
18 Jan 2017
If you are looking for a way to bring virtue to the workplace, without coming across as a “Holy Roller,” then Virtuous Leadership, by Alexandre Havard is the book for you! Right from the book’s introduction you learn that “leadership is character” (Introduction xi). Havard tells us that people obtain good character as a the result of perseverance toward personal excellence. So, how do we achieve personal excellence? We do so through the practice of virtue. Havard is a man after my own heart! He speaks my language; the language of virtue.
We perceive and interpret things through the lens of character. By strengthening our character – i.e., by growing in virtue – we improve our ability to deliberate in the light of reason (p. 70).
19 Dec 2016
Most Highly Favored Daughter, by Janice Lane Palko is salacious, intriguing and an all-around winner! If you are looking for a good book to read on a cold winter’s day, look no further than Most Highly Favored Daughter, set in Pittsburgh, PA during Super Bowl weekend.
Janice Lane Palko creates compelling, deeply fraught characters who lure you in from page one. Cara Hawthorne Wells, the socialite elite of the Pittsburgh area, finds herself in a real pickle early on in the book. Yet, Janice Lane Palko shows us that Cara is much more than a former debutante. Cara, a seeker of truth, demonstrates courage and integrity when faced with a sordid adversity. Cara’s sister, Sophia, originally comes across as the flighty, irresponsible sister. Yet, when adversity strikes, Sophia... Read more...
15 Dec 2016
7 Dec 2016
8 Notes to a Nobody, by Cynthia T. Toney, is a heartwarming, yet truthful, depiction of what it is like to be a teenage girl, coming of age. In Cynthia Toney’s tale, Wendy Robichaud, an eighth grader, comes face-to-face with some of the struggles that teens unfortunately face: eating disorders and teen suicide; feelings of inferiority and loneliness.
30 Nov 2016
What a joy it was to read Gary Zimak’s new book, Find a Real Friend in Jesus. I had the opportunity to hear Gary speak at this past summer’s Catholic Writers Guild conference in Chicago. IL. He spoke of his journey and his decision to give his life to Christ. He did not make that decision lightly; it came through much prayer and conversation with Jesus. You may wonder, “How do you have a conversation with Jesus?” Well, in Gary Zimak’s book, Find a Real Friend in Jesus, you learn just how easy it can be to see Jesus become your best friend through conversation!
Gary Zimak tackles all of the potential obstacles that stand between you and your ability to develop a strong relationship with Jesus. He breaks down the walls and walks you through ten steps to building a better relationship with Jesus; a relationship better than the one you have today. Read more...
14 Nov 2016
Ornamental Graces, by Carolyn Astfalk, is a wonderful story, with interesting, compelling and authentic characters that you immediately come to love. Dan Malone, a tortured soul with a troubled past, meets Emily Kowalski, a young woman with dreams unfulfilled. Throughout this story, we see God at work bringing these two souls together time after time, until one day their relationship blossoms. From there, we see these two characters traverse through the journey we call life, with all of its ups and downs. Will Dan ever come to grips with the mistakes he made? Will Emily ever fulfill her dreams? And, will obstacles deprive them of developing the relationship they seemed destined to live?
Carolyn Astfalk takes you on a roller-coaster ride, with a story that you will not put down until you obtain the answers to these questions. This is truly a page-turner! While reading this book, I couldn’t wait... Read more...
24 Oct 2016
Divine Mercy MessageI especially enjoyed Father’s Kirby chapter devoted to the life of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, and her Divine Mercy Message and Devotion. In addition to the dedicated chapter on Saint Maria Faustina, Father Kirby provides... Read more...
22 Sep 2016
I have to admit that while I enjoy watching science fiction films, I am not an avid reader of science fiction books, but I definitely enjoyed reading Discovery by Karina Fabian. In fact, I loved it! It is authentically Catholic – complete with saint quotes and filled with Catholic themes. Some of these themes include: mercy and redemption, evangelization, respect for human life, and surrender to God’s will.
Discovery is a gripping, suspense-filled science fiction tale that takes you on a journey into the unknown and the unexpected. It is an irresistible page turner! It grabs you by both arms and doesn't let go until the last page. Discovery is an exhilarating, fun-filled read that contains all the makings of a great book. It has a titillating plot, complex characters, humor, mystery, and romance.
The plot of Discovery is intriguing. The Rescue Sisters, Sister Ann St. Joseph de Cupertino (Ann), Sister Thomas Aquinas Krueger (Tommie), and Sister Rita Aguilar (Rita) are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth.
Read more at Catholic Fire.
14 Sep 2016
I read The Fulfillment of All Desire, by Ralph Martin, in preparation to give a prayer and spirituality retreat. This book offered much advice on how to live a more spiritual life with examples set by such greats as Augustine, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Frances de Sales and God’s little flower, Theresé of Lisieux. I learned that the fulfillment of all desire comes from a life of prayer and modeling our behavior to that of Christ. For when we become more Christ-like we unite with the pinnacle of our desire – that of Christ himself.
The book is lengthy, with numerous quotes from the works of the saints. Ralph Martin lets the saints tell the story of how one might develop the fulfillment of all desire. If I had one complaint, it is that the quotes were too numerous. I say that because I am familiar with Ralph Martin having watched him on EWTN. The man is a brilliant and esteemed professor of Theology. With that said, I hoped that... Read more...
7 Sep 2016
I recently attended the National Marketing Network Trade Show / Catholic Writers Guild Conference in Chicago this summer. At the tradeshow/conference, we Guild members got to meet many authors and receive free autographed books! I had a great time. Yet, the most memorable moment for me occurred as I traversed through the Trade Show booths. I came across a table with a certain children’s book on it: Journey to the Cross. I said to myself, “Hey, that’s the book that won in my category at the National Indie Excellence Awards contest this year!” Okay, now I must see what’s so special about this book that it beat out my own book in the contest (mine was named a finalist). What occurred next was beyond awesome.
I stepped up to the table... Read more...
17 Aug 2016
Our Moral Life in Christ – College Edition, by Father Peter V. Armenio, is an excellent book for anyone wanting to learn more about moral theology. We live in troubling times, asking ourselves what our world has come to these days. Where have our moral values gone as a society, with all of the terrorist attacks, mass shootings and lack of charity? If you are looking for ways to make this world a better place, then start by reading this book. Change comes from within. We need to look at ourselves first, before pointing the finger at others.
I use Our Moral Life in Christ – College Edition in teaching my Fundamentals of Catholic Moral Theology course at the undergraduate level. I find the text offers the sound basics of moral theology in ways that everyone can identify with... Read more...
3 Aug 2016
As I read about Blessed Mother Teresa, St Maria Karlowska, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and others, in this chapter about mercy, it brought one important question to mind. How do I approach that responsibility in my own life to show mercy to others – and not just the “even though you hurt me (again) and this is all your fault, and you are being a toad -- I will still forgive you” kind. The words into action kind of mercy. The works of mercy encourages us beyond ourselves, like Blessed Mother Teresa beyond ourselves. Though we may not all be called to the streets of India, we are responsible to care for the poorest of the poor – spiritually and physically.
Take for instance, praying for the living (*and the dead – but we are going to focus on the living for this reflection). There is an easy way to accomplish this – I can include prayer intentions for others in my daily prayers. One of my favorite ways to include praying for others – that definitely falls into the 'free and easy' category is to post on Facebook when I am going to Eucharistic Adoration. In my post I include an image of my parish's chapel along with a simple, “Can I pray for you?”. It humbles and amazes me the response this garners; typically I receive a 100 or more likes and/or comments. Sitting in the chapel before Jesus in the Eucharist, praying for each by name – there is a sense of peace and hope; though the requests often break my heart – this is still very much an easy act of mercy.
Late last year, after completing a novena to St. Ann for help with a serious financial matter; I felt this spiritual nudge to give back for our blessings by asking in prayer for an idea on how else I may serve the church. In my heart came this inspiration to rejoin the ministry of bringing Communion to the home-bound. My pastor was happy to have my help but it would require me to attend the 8 am Mass; and to make the tough decision to run an encore in place of my usually live radio show once a week. Ooh, wow – didn't see that coming! Hard and challenging. It wouldn't stop being so even after I made those sacrifices to participate in this work of mercy.
First, you have to know I am extremely germophobic .. and my trust was about to be tested!!
How did the grace of God help me to overcome this fear to complete my mission of mercy?
Find out over on ....Reconciled To You
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
13 Jul 2016
Let me introduce you to Lexie Goodwin from Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya – Love is Patient, written by Susan G. Mathis, and illustrated by April Stark. Love is Patient is the first installment in a series of children’s books that Mathis and Stark plan to produce based upon 1 Corinthians 13.
This intended series uses a very interesting approach in teaching children, not only about the facets of love, but also about interacting with others, as well as about living in another part of the world. Lexie’s parents visit missionaries and assist them in their efforts. They bring their children, Lexie and Cori along for the adventure.
In Love is Patient, Mathis and Stark address bullying,... Read more...
22 Jun 2016
Return to Paradise, by Tim Speer, makes for an interesting read. David Martin, a Catholic investment banker from Dallas, Texas, is in the process of driving to his hometown in Missouri. OOPS! His car suffers a little mishap near Spring River Missouri, requiring that he stay in town for a few days.
While in Spring River, David learns of some unsavory financial happenings in town. Such dealings promise to make life miserable for many of the local citizens. David suspects that the action is illegal. His moral values of truth and righteousness urge his conscience to investigate the unsavory business dealings. Might there be anything he could do about it?
8 Jun 2016
Wow! Oh, wow! Dying for Revenge, the debut novel by Barbara Golder is fantastic! Talk about page-turners! Barbara Golder had me hooked from page one. The characters are deep and riveting, to the point where you won’t truly understand the depth of each character until you read the last page of the book. And don’t skip a word! Everything within the storyline is important – very well laid out.
The lead character, Dr. Jane Wallace, is the Forensic Pathologist for western Colorado, unable to forgive, let alone have any mercy for the murderer of her own husband. To handle the pain, she steels herself from human interaction by engrossing herself with autopsies on the dead in the little resort town of Telluride, Colorado. To Jane’s surprise, murder follows her to Telluride, and she finds herself in... Read more (and enter to win your copy)
So, how is doing the dishes well, or any other mundane task for that matter, virtuous? Well, let’s answer that question by first defining...