Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Reading Lots of Books on FORMED

Our Catholic home library is growing, growing, growing and it's an embarrassment of riches, especially with the nonfiction. Our bookshelves are overflowing and we have piles of books everywhere and we just can't seem to stop. There's so much. Last Christmas Michael got a subscription to FORMED, a website that gives access to books, CDs, DVDs with great Catholic content. For $10/mo we can access all this. We easily spend twice as much so we're very happy. And they have audiobooks as well. I'm not the greatest fan of audiobooks because I often have to stop and ponder and there's something about being read to that prevents me from hitting the pause button, but Michael, with his cloudy eyes, enjoys them and has managed to listen to more books in the past six months than he could read. He's even listened to books that he's already read because they are that good.  

His favorites: He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Czisek; Be a Man by Fr. Larry Richards; Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed, and so many more.

These are some of the books I enjoyed and I'm cross-posting these reviews to Amazon:

As soon as I saw Awakening by Claudia Cangilla McAdam I knew I had to have it. Many years ago, when I was judging the Magazine Merit Awards, I read an article set in Australia of an underground town and she brought it to life. Similarly, she brings Jerusalem during the Triduum to life through the eyes of Ronni, a typical Catholic-lite young girl who is transported back in time. I loved how cleverly the author inserts Ronni and the people she knows in the familiar stories of the Gospel. The book moves quickly through Ronni's healing (she's the girl Jesus heals when he says, "Talitha koum"), the Last Supper, and Crucifixion. She tries to stop it because she doesn't think Jesus should die but her plans are always thwarted. Not only that, she's in peril as well. And there's a nice bit of romance too. Although the message is a bit heavy-handed I didn't mind. This is a great book for any kid who is wondering whether there's anything worth dying for (our Lord and Savior certainly did). 

The Devil Hates Latin by Katherine Galgano was an action-packed book about an American family whose Catholic faith increases as they are unfairly attacked. The action begins in the US, moves to Rome and Scotland, and ends in the beautiful Italian countryside with an exorcism. There's also a good car chase. The author has a lot to say about the current times about the breakdown of the family to the point that young people don't even want to marry. I loved that the Chair of Peter was occupied by an African (why yes, I had hoped Cardinal Sarah or Cardinal Arinze would be elected last time). He invites an American Dominican exorcist to train priests in this ancient rite given the need for battling evil. And the bad guys, some of them priests, are really bad but the good ones exemplary. There was a fair bit of church bureaucracy that my eyes glazed over but all in all, I enjoyed the story of both the American family and the Italian family (with a nice romance). It was well plotted and would make a good movie, but I had a difficult time empathizing with many of the characters because the author head hops too much. And of course the devil hates Latin. It's the official language of the Church. 

I'm looking forward to reading a few more books that I've downloaded by Fr. Thomas Dubay, Scott Hahn, and Michael O'Brien. And this July I'll go to the Catholic Writing Conference held in Schaumburg, IL. The registration is ridiculously cheap, though not the hotel. The schedule is being finalized; take a look. If you're in the area and would like to meet, please contact me. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Totus Tuus

Tomorrow is Consecration Day!!! We've been doing Nineveh 90 and what a blessing it has been. Many are preparing to make their total consecration to Jesus through Mary on May 13, the anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima to the little shepherd children. I have the great privilege of walking with the new consecrators, praying for them, and reconsecrating myself (I made mine on the Feast of the Annunciation 5 years ago). I often go through my little book by St. Louis de Monfort but this time I picked up Fr. Michael Gaitley's 33 Days of Morning Glory. I love it as a companion book because it has some of the reflections of 20th century saints who had consecrated themselves: St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Mother Teresa, Pope St. John Paul II. He beings with St. Louis de Monfort and I will forever be pondering Mary's relationship with each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity: Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit. I was completely blown away by the richness of St. Kolbe's reflections, especially on the Incarnation (O Jesus, living in Mary!) and what it means to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.  And Mother Teresa, in her simple way asks us to exchange our hearts with that of Mary's. And the great St. JPII, whose motto was "totus tuus."

Michael and I are so thankful to Fr. Heilman for starting this extended period for physical and spiritual exercises. I didn't do very well on the physical part but I have gained some strength doing ballet exercises. We've also gotten better at fasting. Prayer life has improved somewhat. But, I must admit that there was much resistance too. So not an easy time, but not impossible either, and now we have some good tools at our disposal.   

I highly recommend this devotion and to take the full 33 days the first time. But if you've fallen away or behind, or just feel like being in a hurry, there is also a novena based on St. Maximilian Kolbe's writings. The next Marian feast day is the Feast of the Visitation (May 31st) so what are you waiting for?  

I'm copying these daily prayers from the novena:

St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.

Sub Tuum Praesidium Prayer

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Miraculous Medal Prayer

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for all who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and all those recommended to thee.

Prayer that the angel taught the three children at Fatima one year prior to Mary's appearance.

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.

Mary herself gave the children this prayer to be recited at the end of each decade of the rosary.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

May Moments

I love May. It's full of joys: Mary's month, singing Salve Regina at the conclusion of every Mass, Dagny's birthday month and our current pets' too -- Sunny St. Helen, Benny and Jules. School is coming to an end and with it, the end of school books, with time for personal reading and playing. Dagny is named after the main character in Atlas Shrugged so she's already begun reading it. There is no saint of that name so I tell her she can be the first :)

My little girl is sixteen! It's unbelievable how quickly the children grow up. Now she's driving *us* to church! I will always be grateful for being able to stay home with them and enjoy the many phases they went through, never to be repeated. And they taught me to look at everything with joy and wonder, essential attributes for a children's writer. 


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We have the best friends!!! Just look at this beautiful card, one of a kind for Dagny!!!

Happy birthday Dagny!!! May God bless you and make you a saint! May you always be blessed with good friends on your journey to heaven. Love and prayers, always. Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Hum of Angels

This title appealed to me because I have always believed in the guiding hand of angels and wanted to learn more. In THE HUM OF ANGELS: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us, Scot McKnight gives a Biblical basis for belief in angels and their role.

His main question is that if angels exist, and most of us believe in them, then why are we not more aware of it? He compares them to hummingbirds. Once we learn to pay attention, we are able to tune into them. I'm not sure I believe that reasoning. I believe that God decides if and when we experience them.

The book really shines in compiling many of the Biblical references that show what angels do. For example, the good angels come to console, instruct, guide, announce, fight, intercede and worship. I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in angels. However, the McKnight is repetitious and often confusing, in that he plays the devil's advocate and then comes to the proper conclusion. A better book is Angels of God by Mike Aquilina.

As a Catholic, I am used to asking my guardian angel to guide, protect, and pray for me. I thought it funny that Scot McKnight includes many Catholic ideas about angels from the Church Fathers, like what goes in Mass, but doesn't like the idea that there's a personal angel for each of us, even though it's Biblical.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a review copy. This is cross-posted to Amazon.

And in related stuff, check out Distracted Angels, Max's ad for safe driving. He didn't make the final cut he was hoping for (thinking outside the box for scholarship $$$) but I thought it both creative and funny and better than some of the other ads. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easter Holidays and Prom 2017

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We've had a lovely Easter holiday. I think it's the first time we stayed home since we moved to SC and it was wonderful to catch up on household things. We'll have a garden this summer! Michael has built a fence to keep the critters out. We spent our days out in the yard or reading on the porch and our evenings watching movies. Prom was scheduled for Easter Friday.

Since neither Michael or I ever went to any high school dances, we've been pleased to see how much more socially adept our children are :) I like that Max, Dagny, and Alejandra have been friends since we began carpooling to go to Divine Redeemer Catholic School. It is a wonderful little school in Hanahan and I am surprised more people don't know about it. The faculty and staff sacrifice much of their time and energy to give the children a safe place to grow and learn. It always felt like an extension of home.

Here they are after a year of carpooling. They enjoyed trick-or-treating together. What's funny is how often we'd have just the girls and people assumed they were sisters. They very well could be ... only time will tell.

Here are the lovely prom pictures, taken by Dagny and Juanita Bustamante, Alejandra's very talented cousin. We had a such a lovely evening with her and Marcela (Ale's mother) and the kids were very patient with us as we took pictures. I know the mosquitoes were busy biting.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Anniversary, Book Reading, Massacres, and Music

Today we celebrate our 8th anniversary of reception into the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder when the honeymoon will end but like our marriage, it hasn't yet. We keep falling deeper and deeper in love with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And I have so many friends up high. A dear friend introduced me to St. Gemma Galgani. Isn't she a beauty? Today is her feast day. And given that Easter is a moveable feast, it's even more special that she died on Easter Vigil. I always ask her to pray for our family. What a perfect saint for our teenagers!

This past Saturday I had a great time at Barnes & Noble. The children were so attentive and we had a good time together after hunting for eggs and coloring traditional pysanky designs. Parents appreciated that the eggs were sealed. I just loved the baby in purple! She was the first to find the eggs. The little boy who's running off is besotted with my friend Sharon Chriscoe's Racecar Dreams. He wanted nothing at all to do with silly eggs. If only eggs hatched trucks :)  


Alas, Palm Sunday brought the terrible news from Egypt, the massacre of Coptic Christians during liturgy. Please take a couple of minutes to listen to Bishop Makar. It is heroic to practice your faith in a place where people want to kill you. Yet, as Tertullian said nearly 2,000 years ago, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Christians are being exterminated in the Middle East but their sacrifice is not for naught. Christianity may be declining in the West but the Church is growing in Africa and Asia. Pray for us, O new martyrs, even as we pray for you and your families. And please pray for Pope Francis as he travels to Egypt in a couple of weeks.

We are busy learning music for the Sacred Triduum. These are not Holy Days of obligation but our priest wonders how people transition from Passiontide to Easter without these extra days of devotion. In essence it is one liturgy beginning Maundy Thursday until the Easter Vigil. There is no dismissal when we go to Mass. We leave in silence and return in silence.  I could never miss it. When our children were in public school, I'd pull them out for Good Friday. And I just love Maundy Thursday because that is when our Lord instituted the priesthood and without our priests, we wouldn't have our Lord in the Eucharist, and without the Incarnation, we wouldn't have anything at all. We'd still all remain in our sins. And so I leave you with O Magnum Mysterium by Victoria.

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

A blessed Holy Week to all reading.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ten Easter Egg Giveaway

I can't believe I'm only now posting this here* because the giveaway ends this weekend, but if you'd like a chance to win a copy of TEE, hop on over to a dream** writer's blog and leave a comment there because Ten Easter Eggs is April's Picture Book of the Month. Many thanks to Sharon Chriscoe for hosting.

*I don't even have a good excuse besides being ill off and on :(

**You'll see why when you check out Sharon's books :)