Thursday, April 3, 2014

Novenas, Padre Pio and Dental School

True Confession: 
I have never faithfully completed a novena in my life. 

Until today.

Big thanks goes out to the website Pray More Novenas ( ) who emailed out the novena prayers each day making it super easy (and hard to refuse) to say the pray each day.

In the past I've tried to do a novena on a piece of paper which I inevitably lost and dropped out of the novena before the end. I mean nine days is a long time, right?

So today, not only did I complete my first novena, a Novena to Padre Pio, but my heartfelt request was answered: our oldest son, Bobby was accepted in dental school!

Last fall he sent in numerous applications to dental schools and in December he got an interview at the one that is the closest to our home. Since then, we've been waiting and waiting and waiting.

My husband has lit a candle in every church we've visited and I've been praying too. But with college graduation approaching May 2, we all were really beginning to wonder what God's plan for Bobby would be.
Our son, Bobby with girlfriend Jen

And then .... the email for the novena.

Nine Days later my intention was answered. An amazing blessing --Bobby called just hours after I had prayed the ninth day's prayer, saying he was accepted! 

Thank you Jesus, Thank you Padre Pio!

CLICK HERE for the Novena to Padre Pio

And so I pray in thanksgiving:
O St. Pio, I come to you today knowing that you are truly a miracle worker. As one who is close to Jesus, I ask that you would pray for these my intentions:
(State your intentions here) Thanksgiving for acceptance into Dental School
I pray with the words of Pope John Paul II as I beg for your prayers on my behalf:
“Glorious, humble and beloved Padre Pio. Teach us, we pray, humility of heart, so that we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of His Kingdom. Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask Him.
“Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will help us recognize in the poor and suffering, the very face of Jesus.
“Sustain us in the hour of trouble and trial and, if we fall, let us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness. Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus and our Mother.
“Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed Homeland, where we too, hope to arrive to contemplate forever the Glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”Amen
In closing, St. Pio, we pray the prayer you composed for Confidence and Trust in God’s Mercy: “O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Your divine mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Your Church.
Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory.
May we receive You with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us as You desire for your greater glory.
O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father.”Amen.
All glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
St. Padre Pio, Pray for us! Amen.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Picking up a Pin

A rusty, old, dirty, bent pin.
Found it today in the parking lot. 
Didn't want it to hurt some one's foot or car tire.
Picked it up.
Did it convert a soul?
St. Therese of Lisieux wrote that it could.
"To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul."

Mothers pick up all day long
Sometimes boring
Sometimes backbreaking
Sometimes annoying
Sometimes the same thing over and over again
Lord, give me the love to pick up for souls


Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Real Maria Von Trapp and the Sound of Music

Much has been written about The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood that aired in December on national television. The Original Broadway Musical starring Mary Martin in the 1950s was one of my favorite albums as a young girl. The 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews has always been one of my favorites movies and so I very much enjoyed watching the live stage presentation with Ms. Underwood.

But all of that got me wondering about the real Maria Von Trapp and I am delighted to say that her book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, the Story which inspired The Sound of Music has been one of the best I have read.

I have really enjoyed reading the book via the Kindle app on my ipad and iphone. I have found I can pick it up any time and get a few pages in (car line, doctor's office etc.)


Of course, I got the book because I thought it would be interesting to see how the musical differs from real life
Right off the bat there are  differences:
  • There were seven children but they all had different names 
  • Maria was hired to be the tutor only to Captain Von Trapp's daughter Maria, who could not go to school due to illness
Throughout the book, as wonderfully revealed in the musical and movie, Maria has a great desire to know the will of God and to do it.

Best surprises to me about the true story was that the Von Trapps were a beautiful Catholic Family. Maria shared many of their family's Catholic traditions including:
  • Feast days and birthdays celebrated
  • Advent Wreathe created by Maria and Children- songs and prayers each night of Advent
  • Christmas with tree with candles, decorated on Christmas eve
  • December 24 Holy Eve -the entire family and town would go to confession, even though there was no heat in church!
After reading this book, I immediately started reading another book by Maria Von Trapp, Yesterday, Today and Forever. Particularly loved reading this over the Christmas break as Marian takes the beautiful bible stories of Our Lord and gives insight on how her family and all families not only can learn from them, but live them.

There is so much great information out there about this most beloved story. I hope you enjoy all the resources and the true meaning of the Sound of Music! CLICK HERE for the Sound of Music website and more details about the real life of Maria Von Trapp

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two books about the Iranian Revolution of 1979

click here to get a copy of the book

In the last few months I have read two books about Iran and the impact of the 1979 revolution.

Together Tea is a fantastic book in so many ways. It is the beautiful story of a mother and daughter. It shares the immigrant's view of America and the grandeur of the home country. It is the story of growing up and growing old and although I have never been outside the United States, it somehow is my story too. 

Marjan Kamali's work of historical fiction begins in America in 1996 when 25 year old Mina is pursuing Business School at Columbia. Her mother, Darya is intent on finding her a Persian husband. Mina's family came to America in the early1980s from Iran. The revolution made her parents seek freedom for their family in the US.  I was born just a couple years before the Mina. So I lived as a twenty something during the 1990s. But now I am forty something, or approximately the age of the mother, Darya. And so each page I read as a young woman Mina, and now as a mother, like Darya with two daughters of my own. 

I totally identified with Mina's youth and dreams for her life. I understood how her mother could make her crazy, but then in the very next chapter, I felt myself as Darya wanting so much for my daughters and going to any length to help them achieve, or receive what I think they should be/have.

Throughout the entire book is the memory of Darya's mother Mamani. Mamani was killed by a bomb in Iran in 1979  when she was probably in her 60s. I too lost my mother in her 60s and her hopes and dreams, her labors and sacrifices have greatly formed all the that I am. Just as Darya and Mina both consistently felt the loss of their mother and grandmother, I too have missed my own mother and never stop thinking of her.

It was eye opening to learn more about Iran, a country I only know as a  land of terrorists and Saddam Hussein. The book is perfect for an arm-chair traveler to take in Tehran, the parks, the street vendors, the Persepolis, the food and so much of the history and beauty of a far away country. I really learned how much their people have suffered and saw the hope that lives in every heart of man.

I particularly enjoyed Together Tea since I had recently read Persepolis. I got interested in Persepolis, when my son brought it home as his high school assignment. Persepolis also is about a girl just a little younger than me. As in Together Tea, Persepolis is the autobiographical work of Marjean Satrapi who was also born in Iran. She did not get to leave Iran with her family as Mina did. In Persepolis, Marji's parents sent her away alone to boarding school shortly after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Persepolis is a graphic novel (comic book style) and the images really made the story come alive.

Both of these books tell of coming of age in the midst of war and revolution. Marji, unfortunately fell into many of the pitfalls of youth away from her parents. My heart broke for her as she learned so many growing up lessons the hard way.

Most interesting to me was how the characters in both books live in a world without faith. Mamani was a devout Muslim, who prayed regularly, but Darya and Mina never practiced their faith. Marji has a section about praying to God in Persepolis but he is as grandfather in the sky, who can't or won't impact her life.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Preparing for the Sunday Mass and keeping the Gospel in mind through the week

Our family has been very blessed this year by the new middle school religion teacher at St Raphael Catholic School. Mrs. Tarcza has given our middleschoolers the weekly homework of reading the upcoming Sunday mass readings and doing some kind of response on them. 

One week the kids were assigned to write their own "homilies." Another week they created a cartoon to express the message. A third week she asked them to make up text messages of the gospel verse or meaning. 

Since two the our kids have Mrs. Tarcza and have been getting into the Mass readings each week, I have joined them. My own project has been to make a one verse sign that is displayed in our kitchen. My hope is that the whole family can memorize a verse from the gospel, as well as be prepared for mass on Sunday.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C Luke 17:11-19 "And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned glorifying God in a loud voice and fell to the feet of Jesus and thanked Him."

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C Luke 18:1-8 "Pray always without becoming weary."
It is really simple to find the mass readings. Just go to  On the right side is a calendar and when you click on the upcoming Sunday, it takes you right to the Lectionary readings for that day. Bonus: the colors on the calendar reflect the liturgical year: green is ordinary time, red symbolizes a martyr's feast, white for feasts of angels and saints who are not martyrs.

«October 2013»
 29  30  1  2  3  4  5 
 6  7  8  9  10  11  12 
 13  14  15  16  17  18  19 
 20  21  22  23  24  25  26 
 27  28  29  30  31  1  2 

After you find the readings, read through them a couple of times and ask the Lord what He would like your weekly verse to be.Then use any artistic talents you have to hand write, draw, color or print out from the computer that verse. I like to use 1/4 of a poster board about 14" x 11". I am planning to do this for all 52 Sundays of the three year cycle and then use them over and over again.

To really be prepared for Sunday mass, I recommend two great Apps to help you prepare:

 Laudate has all the readings for mass for every day of the year, in both written and podcast form. And they have a daily homily podcast too.

Word on Fire is the website ( and app by Fr. Robert Barron, the rector of Mundelein Seminary in Chicago and the creator of the Catholicism project. Fr. Barron is a particularly gifted homilist. Each Thursday he posts his homily for the upcoming Sunday.

Additional podcasts for Sunday readings include Food for the Journey by Sr. Ann Shields (look up her Friday podcast which comments on the upcoming Sunday readings) and Newman Catholic Campus Ministry by Fr. Michael Schmitz, see . Fr. Schmitz is the chaplain of the Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Walking and Praying

Always on the look out for ways to increase and improve my prayer life, I am delighted to find the free Laudate App. At last something I really want to listen to early in the morning when its dark and I am out walking before the days begins.

I've had an iphone for a while, but didn't really want to listen to music on it and didn't know how the apps could work. So I am happy to share my new routine.

Laudate App
I start with "readings podcast from USCCB" and listen to the first reading, responsorial psalm and gospel for that day's mass.

Then I go to the "pray as you go podcast." This starts with bells ringing calling us to prayer, followed by a hymn. Then a meditation is lead that concerns the mass readings and leaves periods of silence to think over the point made or the question asked.

This app allows you to select the date you'd like to hear, so if it is a Saturday, I will often select the Sunday readings to prepare for the next day. 

Laudate main page
I have also enjoyed the "Pope Benedict reflections" by Leonardo Defilippis, of St. Luke Productions. I have to say that Pope Benedict's writings are advanced. But listening to them dramatically read by Defilippis helps me understand the important writings of our Holy Father Emeritus.

Then, if I have more than 30 minutes, I LOVE to turn on my Ignatius Press/Lighthouse Catholic Media bible App. The app is free so that you can read the entire bible, but I must say, the $20 I paid to "hear" all of the new testament dramatically read (Truth and Life Bible project) was well worth it.

The app also is a portal to all the great talks by Lighthouse. There are several  for free and then all the others can be purchased for a small charge. To get the free talk, click on the icon that looks like a lock at the bottom right of the home screen. Enter promo code 1380 and it will let you choose a free talk from Fr. Michael Schmitz or Dr. Scott Hahn.

I know there are many more apps out there just waiting to be discovered. If you've found a good one to help walk and pray, let me know!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Great Pro-Life Novels for Summer Reading

I am so excited to share with you these fictional novels with pro-life messages. I think there is a real power to a story with real life characters to help better understand all the aspects of being pro-life. These books specifically cover the issues of contraception, natural family planning (NFP), abortion, sterilization, divorce, unplanned pregnancy, infertility and invitro fertilization (IVF) all from a Catholic world view. What makes them so powerful is the characters are people just like us--people who live in our culture and are constantly bombarded with the message of the secular world. 

Presence of My EnemiesPresence of My Enemies by Christopher Gladu

I really, really enjoyed this short novel about a young college girl, Rachel, facing an unplanned pregnancy. The author successfully uses story telling to convey so many truths about a woman's "choice" and the influences surrounding her in America today.

Written from a Catholic world view, Gladu incorporates the powers and principalities, not seen, that are very real and present when life and death decisions are being made. These angles and devils take form as humans and interact with Rachel in the story. His portrayal of the abortion industry is very eye opening. Challenged with incompetent staff, whack doctors and owners who's only goal is to make money, he paints a picture of the reality of these centers who are not truly interesting in helping women in crisis.

A very striking part of the novel to me is part that the communion of saints plays in our lives. Gladu beautiful describes the soul of Rachel's grandmother being forgiven of her past sins and then interceding for her family members from heaven. I could hardly see the words on the page as tears of joy filled my eyes.

I think this book will motivate many to see the battle for Life as a very important struggle that we all need to be involved in. It will encourage those already working at pregnancy centers and walking the picket lines outside abortion clinics. It will, please God, transform the hearts of the those women in troubled or unexpected pregnancies  to see the bigger vision of the amazing plan God has for their life and the life of their unborn child.

This is a book everyone needs to read and share!


The Life I Dreamed by Kari Burke

Just a year ago, Kari Burke published her first novel, The Life I Dreamed. At that time I wrote "I really enjoyed Kari Burke's novel of a 30 something married couple with 4 young children. Burke's descriptions are so realistic and poignant. She shares the daily struggle  but is able to let the reader see the joy that comes from being faithful to one's call to marriage and family life. This is a super pro-life story. In our culture with all the noise of which side is right and wrong, this story shows how one family's actions quietly done speaks loudly." CLICK HERE for complete review.


Fatherless, Motherless, Childless 
A Trilogy of Books by Brian Gail

This past winter and spring, my husband Bob and I both tore through all three of these thick novels by Brian Gail. They were all three books that I literally shirked all my household duties to read. 

Gail uses wonderful real-to-life characters whose stories cover the end of the twentieth century into the present time and then into the future. As these real people struggle with "making it" in America, family relationships, friendships, and faith questions, the reader feels like Maggie, Joe, Fr. Sweeney, and Michael are actual people we know and love.

About Fatherless: An intensely human tour of the great spiritual battles in the US Catholic church during the late 20th century. Brian Gail takes us out into the “trenches” and shows what life was like for Catholics during this critical time. Meticulously researched, brilliantly crafted, Fatherless takes the reader on an unforgettable journey inside Fortune 500 boardrooms and Madison Avenue screening rooms, behind one-way mirrors in America’s heartland and two-way screens in church confessionals, to the very peak of Ireland’s highest mountain and inside the papal dining room of John Paul II in Rome.
Motherless takes the reader on a riveting behind-the-scenes journey around the globe to the boardrooms and laboratories where the architects of The Life Sciences Revolution are preparing Mankind’s Final Solution… and into the confessionals and chanceries where the Church’s response is being challenged.

About Childless: The reader is propelled from Manhattan boardrooms to European capitals to Middle East laboratories to Church chanceries and confessionals. Step into these pages and follow Fr. John Sweeney and the families he serves as they struggle to live their Catholic faith in a world that grows more hostile with every turn of the page. Gail throws back the veil on the architecture of the Life Sciences Revolution and its carefully planned milestones—from the abortifacients pill to in-vitro fertilization to embryonic stem cell testing, and ultimately, to the very door of the Transhumanist project itself.

Rather listen than read?

Great talk by one of the foremost abortionists in the USA and how did a 180 degree turn, became a Catholic and did all he could to help the prolife movement. 
Click HERE to hear the amazing talk by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, available on CD or MP3.