Saturday, December 31, 2011

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

 Madonna del Buon Consiglio-detta Madonna delle " Mele "
Happy New Year!

Sunday January 1st is the special feast day honoring Mary as Mother of God.

My prayer for January 1st and for the year of 2012 is that God might incline my heart to do His will. When we follow the example of Mary who gave her total and complete "yes" we will have a great year, come what may.

January 1st is also the World Day of Peace. So let's all get to mass and pray a family rosary together for peace on earth and peace in our towns and families.

One way to live our faith more deeply this year is to be prepared when we come to mass. To read the readings before hand, to arrive early and be ready when mass begins, instead of walking in 10 minutes late and being unsettled. One thing I have really enjoying doing this year is listening to Fr. Robert Barron's homily before I go to mass. Every Thursday,  www.WordOnFire.orgposts his homily for the coming weekend. You can download the ap to your smart phone or listen on your computer.

Click here to listen to his homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Florida State vs Notre Dame, the House Divided

Today began at 10:45 am with the Notre Dame fight song blaring into the teenagers' rooms. Bob got out the old "Wake up the Echos" VHS tape that he and his roommates watched a million times back in the 80s while students at ND. The kids couldn't understand why we had to wait for it to "rewind."

Bobby, home for the holidays from FSU was happy to get up and get ready to leave for the game. His girlfriend, Jen, got a bunch of tickets to the bowl game and so Bobby and Jen, in FSU garb were in high spirits to drive to Orlando for the game.

John chose a Notre Dame jersey to side with Bob and thus~ the house divided.

Excellent game watching food, homemade soft preztels to compliment the chicken wings!
During the game, with Bob at home in St. Pete and the kids in Orlando, there were plenty of smack talk texts back and forth (can't reprint those.)

ND had the lead, but FSU pulled it out to win. Can't image the smack talk once the kids get home....

Friday, December 16, 2011

O Antiphons begin December 17

If you have ever sung the advent song "O Come O Come Emmanuel" then you are familiar with the "O Antiphons." 

The seven "O Antiphons"  are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights."

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." 

Those titles for Christ are:  
Sapientia - Wisdom
Adonai - Lord of Israel
Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse
Clavis David - Key of David
Oriens - Radiant Dawn, Dayspring
Rex Gentium -King of all Nations/Gentiles
Emmanuel - God With Us

The O Antiphons are the source of the lyrics of the Advent song "Veni, veni Emmanuel" ("Come, O come Emmanuel") which you can hear by clicking here. It would be beautiful for the family to sing this lovely Advent song at the conclusion of the O Antipons. For the lyrics, see the Lyrics and Melodies to Traditional Catholic Hymns page.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John is accepted to FSU

Last night our second son, John, found out he was accepted to Florida State University. Not as of old, when we anxiously awaited a letter in the mail, John was on his cell phone, on the internet waiting for the server to free up so he could access his account. His friends were texting back and forth as they were able to find out if they were accepted. 
The digital age and college applications has been interesting to experience. Much has changed since Bob and I applied to college in 1982 and 83. But more than the application process changing, our home is going to change. As we went to bed, Bob said, can you believe we will have two in college soon? I wept. 
Strength, Skill and Character is the motto of FSU
I know having the children grow up and become successful and productive citizens is the goal, but as a mother it hurts. These truly are my "babies." And letting go is hard. It is especially hard when you really like your kids, not just love them. 
John, pre-school
In my minds' eye, John and his older brother Bobby are about 5 and 3 years old. Smiling, happy, pushing Tonka trucks around the circle of our house and building Brio trains. "It went so fast" I said to Bob last night, and he said, "No it didn't." "It's been twenty years, Julie."

We don't know if John will go to FSU. He was also accepted to USF and has applied to UF too. But we know he will go somewhere. And it will be mostly likely out of town. And so we pray, that John, Bobby and all the younger children will continue to grow in wisdom and grace and that I will get better at letting go.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On True Joy: Pope Benedict's Angelus December 11

"....but true joy is connected with our relationship to God. Those who have met Jesus in their lives experience a serenity and a joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take away.
St. Augustine understood it quite well; in his search for truth, for peace, for joy, after having sought it in vain in many things, he concludes with the celebrated expression according to which man's heart is restless, does not find serenity and peace, until it finds rest in God (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1).
 True joy is not a mere passing state of soul, nor something that is achieved by our own power but is a gift; it is born from the encounter with the living person of Jesus, from making space for him in us, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our life. 
 It is the invitation that the Apostle Paul makes, who says: "May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In this Advent season let us strengthen our certainty that the Lord has come among us and continues to renew his presence of consolation, love and joy. We trust in him; again as St. Augustine says in light of his experience: the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves...
Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate Virgin, whose spirit exulted in God the Savior. May she be the one to guide our hearts in the joyous expectation of the coming of Jesus, an expectation that is rich in prayer and good works."

see full content of Pope Benedict's address given Sunday December 11 at

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Original Image in Mexico, Photo by Bill Bell
There is so much to say about today's feast. But three things stand out to me:

1. Jesus came for all people and so His Mother has appeared all over the world.

2. In the darkest days when many were leaving the church during the Protestant revolt in Europe, many more were coming into the Church in Mexico.The word "Catholic" means Universal and so we are.

3. The Virgin appearing pregnant. It is beautiful to have this feast in December, when our hearts turn to Our Lady, heavy in pregnancy. Awaiting the birth of her son. As a mother of 6, I love to think of Mary living our her vocation as wife and mother, through all things but sin. She gives me moral support knowing that she was not exempt from hardship or the "reality" of pregnancy and family life.

To honor this feast, serve Tacos and Burritos for dinner tonight. Pray the family rosary. Get or create your own picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

For many more details, see 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

LIghting up the night, Florida style

Katie, Mary Ann and Bob
What better way to celebrate the season than to hook up a generator to your golf cart and string it with lights!

We had Bob's mom over for dinner tonight and afterward we drove around the neighborhood looking at all the lights. How beautiful that the lights shine so brightly in the darkness. The full moon made it all the lovelier.

 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God;  all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.  The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.  -Gospel of St John 1:1-9

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception by Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)
Be sure to get to mass today.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Eve of the Feast of St. Nicolas

Remember to put your shoes out tonight for the Feast of St. Nicholas December 6th!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Great "Chance" Encounter

Today I had the great "chance" of meeting up with a woman who is a real hero of mine, Kimberly Hahn. Through my Lighthouse Catholic Media apostolate, I was set to have a table at the Scott and Kimberly Hahn conference in Tampa FL.

I had set up the table the day before and had some of my Lighthouse friends assist me working it. When I arrived, who is the first person I see but Kimberly. She and I got to chat for quite a while about children growing up and leaving home. Quite a topic that has been on my heart lately.

Her bible study tape set "The Proverbs 31 Godly Wife and Mother" had been the first way I learned about being a Catholic Wife and Mom back in the late 1990s. At the time we only had 2 children. But Kimberly helped me learn so much about what our Holy Catholic Church really teaches about tithing, openness to life, submitting to our husbands and running a "domestic church."

How great to talk with her 15 years later as another chapter of raising children begins. She could not have been more pleasant, interesting, interested and kind. And when she gave her talk at the conference, she "knocked it out of the ball park!"

God Bless you Kimberly Hahn!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feast of St. Andrew

Reviving Advent: The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

By Scott P. Richert, Guide
ADVENT can start anywhere from November 27 through December 3 , but one popular Advent devotion always begins on November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. On this day, we begin the   Saint Andrew Christmas Novena also known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer or simply the Christmas Novena. 
While a NOVENA is technically a nine-day prayer (the word comes from the Latin word for nine, novem), the name is sometimes applied to any prayer that we say repeatedly over a series of days.
In this case, Catholics pray the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena prayer 15 times each day from the Feast of Saint Andrew untilChristmas. The prayer is addressed to God the Father and asks Him to grant us our request in honor of the birth of His Son on Christmas. It's an excellent prayer to pray with children, because it heightens their anticipation of Christmas, while keeping them focused on the fact that Advent is a time of preparation, and not an extension of the Christmas season.
·         You can pray the text of the prayer 15 times all at once, or you can spread it out throughout the day. One convenient way to pray it is to recite it five times at each meal, or five times during your morning prayers, five times during your evening prayers, and five times at supper. Be sure, when you begin the novena, to have a particular intention or request in mind, and recall it each time you say the prayer.

Here is the novena prayer:
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did you know Squanto, the Native American hero of Thanksgiving, was Catholic!  
   As a young man, Squanto was kidnapped by a rogue British officer, Lt. Thomas Hunt. Hunt lured Squanto and other Patuxet natives onto his ship, put them in irons and set sail for Malaga off the coast of Spain. Hunt's plan was to sell the Native Americans as slaves. His plan went awry, however, because Spain was a Catholic country and intent on adhering to the teachings of Pope Paul III, put forth in his Papal Bull, "Sublimis Dei." In it, the Pope prohibited Catholic governments from  becoming involved in mistreating or enslaving Indians from the New World. The Pope stated that the native peoples of the Americas were "true men...who could not be lawfully deprived of liberty." 

When Hunt came ashore, a group of Friars rescued Squanto and several of the others. These Friars looked after their needs, both physical and spiritual. Squanto was declared a free man, educated in the Faith and baptized while remaining with these holy priests. Squanto's Baptism also gave additional weight to his status as a free man. His dream to return home never wavered and the Friars secured passage for him on a ship bound for England, the first step in returning to the New World. Six years after his kidnapping, Squanto sailed back into Cape Cod Bay, likely guided by the prominent landmark known today as Plymouth Rock. On coming ashore, he found no trace of his fellow Patuxet natives. Squanto learned from the neighboring tribe that his entire village had been wiped out by a "great sickness."  Squanto was living with the Wampanoag tribe when the Pilgrims arrived a short time later. Massosoit, the leader of the Wampanoags, was upset by  the Pilgrims' presence and sent Squanto, who spoke English, to check out the situation. Squanto calmed Massosoit's fears and concerns about the Pilgrims and negotiated a peace between them which lasted 50 years.

 Governor William Bradford, a leader of the Pilgrims, wrote that Squanto was viewed by the them as "a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectations." Squanto taught the first settlers how to build houses to withstand the cold and to use fish as fertilizer to increase plant yield. Many historians now acknowledge that the Pilgrims' survival was due in large measure to Squanto's presence among them. Governor Bradford recorded that "he never left us till he died." On his deathbed, Squanto asked his friends to pray for him and then handed on his goods to them. Governor Bradford described these gifts to them as "remembrances of his love."

      Squanto's story is an inspiration for all of us to infuse our Catholic faith into our celebration of Thanksgiving. Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC, suggests that the most effective way to do this is to make a special effort to attend Mass together as a family on Thanksgiving Day.  And while at Mass, don't forget to remind the "little pilgrims" in your family that Eucharistia is Greek for Thanksgiving---how very Catholic!
This is a brief retelling of his fascinating story, for more information, go to:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake starts off the Thanksgiving Week

Cake cooking over the coals in the Big Green Egg
Bob, the Cast Iron Skillet, the Southern Living Magazine and real thing !
In the November issue of Southern Living, pg 126 there is a great looking Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake. But why just look at the picture? 

Tonight while watching the Notre Dame and FSU games, Bob made the cake on the Big Green Egg outside (think charcoal burning stove.) The Big Green Egg was already hot because Bob had made home made, hand tossed pizza and garlic bread on it for dinner. So why not cook dessert while the big games are on? This is no week to go on a diet, but it is a huge week to be Thankful. Thank God for Bob!

Southern Living Photo by Jennifer Davick
Click HERE for the recipe!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Noah Thomas Hughes

During November the scriptures at mass are all about the end. They remind us to use our talents well, to have our oil jars filled and to be prepared when the Master returns. November is the month we remember those who have died.

Today all that talk hit home. A friend of our oldest son died today. His motorcycle crashed into a tree. When my husband called to tell me the news, I was devastated. I sobbed.

I had never met Noah. I didn't even know his last name until today. But my loss is so great. Because Noah life was cut short, just 22 years.And he was a friend of my son.

My son's sadness made me sob too. I can't take that sorrow away from him or shield him from it.
So, I will try to show him how to walk through it, to rely on God, to pray, to hope and to trust. And to be prepared.

For we do not know the day nor the hour.  Matt 24:36

Please tell everyone you know that you love them. Tell them today.
Forgive those you don't love.
Forgive them today.

Please join me in praying for the repose of Noah's soul. Please pray for his family and my family.

"Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace."

youtube video by Kate Cillian

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marie Bellet, a Catholic singer, songwriter, wife, and mother

What great encouragement for Moms! 

I first heard of Marie Bellet maybe 10 years ago, probably between our fourth and fifth children. At that time, our family had "crossed the line" and become a "big family." Marie and her husband Bill had a bigger family and loved it. Her first CD "What I Wanted to Say" had songs about the difference a mother can make, the ability to do nothing without God, and the heroic virtues developed in a family. I played that CD over and over and over again and found so much inspiration and encouragement. 

Through the years, she released 3 more CDs. A week or two ago, I found my copy of the fourth CD "A New Springtime." It brought back so many happy memories of the years when it first came out, but again brought encouragement for today as well.

Then I heard she had just released her 5th CD, "Everything Changes." Here's how she describes the CD "This is not Marriage and Family 101 anymore! A few years further along, these songs reflect the changes wrought by launching kids out into the culture wars, learning not to take troubles personally, rolling with reality and resting in the rhythm of perseverance. Authentic and organic, this collection is an essential companion for those beginning to suspect that, in this grand adventure, everything changes."

Well, I was not prepared for the emotional state this put me in. It traced so many of the changes that our family has gone through. Their oldest son is off to the Army, our oldest off to college. Both our "babies" are now in school and Marie and I have both noticed a few more wrinkles. From the title track the words jumped out at me about how when the kids are little we put them in car seats and make them wear helmets and now they are going hunting and using power tools! But as she concludes "Your rhythm and rhyme has it's own perfect time and everything changes" I knew that all things were in God's plans.

Get her CDs for yourself and for any Mom, but especially Moms with Young Children, who are open to life and trying to live our beautiful Catholic Faith. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Plenary Indulgence and other prayers for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory are  granted to the faithful who:

On All Souls Day, November 2:

piously visit a church or a public oratory

recite one Our Father, the Creed, and one Hail Mary for the Pope’s intentions.

receive Holy Communion

go to Confession within 7 days; and,

have no attachment to sin, even venial sin.

Besides the indulgence which is specific to November 2, you can always say a short prayer for the dead. A simple prayer that our family adds to the end of the blessing before meals is "May the souls of the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace, Amen." This can be done especially in November, but throughout the year as well. 

 And another well known devotion and prayer would be this, dictated by Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said:
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

November the Month to Pray for ALL SOULS

Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch, All Souls' Day 1910
November 2 we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. But did you know the entire month of November is designated to pray for dead?

This has become such a special feast day and month for our family since the death of two of our parents in 2006 and 2007.  From the beginning, Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. There is scriptural basis for this intercessory prayer for the sins of others and for the dead in the Old Testament. Job's sacrifices purified his sons (Job 1:5); and Judas Maccabeus "made atonement for the dead that they be delivered from their sin" (II Macc 12:46). 
As the church militant, we are privileged to pray for those who have gone before us. We don't know the state of their souls at the time of death. Many will go through a period of purgation so that they will have all stain of sin burned off and can then enter Heaven to see God face to face. 

Today is a great day to go to a cemetery along with your children or other members of your family and visit the graves of your family members. My parents often visited the graves at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio when I was a child. They would pull weeds, edge around the tomb stones, plant flowers and say prayers. 

It is also a great day to go to mass, see separate posting on gaining the indulgence for your loved ones or for those who have no one to pray for them.

One of the things we do every November is to cluster all the photographs of our deceased friends and families on a big poster board. You can also use a shelf or small table. We take time to teach the younger children who these people are; Nana Kavanaugh, Grandpa "JoJo",  and our relatives and grandparents that they never met. 

I highly recommend Susan Tassone's books about praying  for the Holy Souls, see 
Susan has done a great deal of writing and praying on this topic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day

All Saints by Fra Angelica
Today is the best feast day ever~ ALL SAINTS DAY. I love the saints. I love learning about the saints. I love reading their lives. I love their diversity and I love how each became totally untied to Christ and therefore, A Saint.

I got a great quote from the Una Fides e-letter this week. Pope Benedict XVI said "Often we are led to believe that sainthood is reserved to a few chosen ones." He goes on to say, "saintliness, the fullness of Christian life, does not consist in the achievement of extraordinary feats, but in uniting oneself with Christ. Indeed, a Christian is already holy because Baptism unites him to Jesus and His paschal mystery, but he also has to become holy by conforming himself ever more closely to Christ. Every Christian is called to be a saint, as is every human being!"

YouCat, the newly released Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, explains
this teaching in a very understandable way.

   "Only in holiness does man become that for which God created him. Only
   in holiness does man find real harmony between himself and his Creator.
   Holiness, however, is not some sort of self-made perfection; rather, it is
   union with the Incarnate Love that is Christ. Anyone who gains new life
   in this way finds himself and becomes holy."

Spend time today in mass, it is a holy day of obligation. And if your choir doesn't sing the litany of the saints, click on Matt Maher's version from YouTube. This video is done with all Monastery Icons which are just beautiful.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blessed Pope John Paul II

"I urge priests, religious and lay people to continue and redouble their efforts to teach the younger generations the meaning and value of Eucharistic adoration and devotion. How will young people be able to know the Lord if they are not introduced to the mystery of his presence?" - Blessed Pope John Paul II

October 22 has been set as the feast day of Blessed Pope John Paul (the Great) II. This is the day that the Holy Father began his pontificate in 1978.

Blessed John Paul has written so much, that encyclopedias could be filled. Much more has been written about him. I have been tackling George Weigel's biography of JP2 Witness to Hope for several years now. So what then to blog about?

Then I came across this quote, and it really hit me. Very few of us spend enough (or any) time in prayer with our Lord, especially in adoration.

Why is that so? Too busy? Too much to do? Can't find the time? Not located close to me?

Can you imagine at the end of your life, meeting Jesus at the pearly gates and trying to explain that one to Him? "O sorry Lord, I meant to spend time with you, but job, my kids, my activities.....etc"

I know God has been pulling on my heart to get in the quiet, even for 10 minutes. Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J Sheen always recommended spending an hour a day in prayer, unless you are busy, and on those days, spend 2 hours in prayer.

We need it that much.

So, I resolve, to recommit to prayer, especially in His Presence. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Feast of St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Brebeuf and the North American Martyrs

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings.
– St. Isaac Jogues

St. Isaac Jogues (January 10, 1607 – October 18, 1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary, and martyr who traveled and worked among the native populations in North America. In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawks near present day Auriesville, New York. Jogues, St. Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuits or laymen associated with them, were canonized in 1930, and are known as "The North American Martyrs" or "St. Isaac Jogues and Companions."

These great saints were tortured tremendously. St Isaac even escaped and returned to France to recover, but after recovering, returned to serve the Mohawks in the Americas!

They can inspired to accept the same difficulties most of us face each day, as well as the bigger crosses we carry. They teach us to not give up and to hold nothing back.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blessed John Henry Newman

Photo of John Henry Newman 1887
Prayer written by Blessed John Henry Newman 1801-1890:

"God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.

"I have a mission; I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons; He has not created me for naught.

"I shall do good—I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore, I will trust him."


John Henry Newman, the 19th century's most important English-speaking Roman Catholic theologian, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer and eminent theologian in both Churches. 

Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford's Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons as well as two novels. His poem, "Dream of Gerontius," was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.

After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective.

Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory, founded three centuries earlier by St. Philip Neri. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland. 

Before Newman, Catholic theology tended to ignore history, preferring instead to draw deductions from first principles—much as plane geometry does. After Newman, the lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.

Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (his spiritual autobiography up to 1864) and Essay on the Grammar of Assent. He accepted Vatican I's teaching on papal infallibility while noting its limits, which many people who favored that definition were reluctant to do.

When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur" (Heart speaks to heart). He was buried in Rednal (near Birmingham) 11 years later. After his grave was exhumed in 2008, a new tomb was prepared at the Oratory church in Birmingham.

Three years after Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pittsburgh. In time, his name was linked to ministry centers at many public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman on September 19, 2010, at Crofton Park (near Birmingham). The pope noted Newman's emphasis on the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society but also praised his pastoral zeal for the sick, the poor, the bereaved and those in prison.

A Jane Austen Education - How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

What a delight this book is! I came across it by chance on the new shelf at the Dunnellon Public Library. I liked the cover, a paper doll outfit of a Victorian Man's suit. Also by chance, my 6 year old daughter and I had just watched the movie "Emma" last week. So as a read the first chapter "Emma: Everyday Matters" I completely followed not only the plot of the story but the profound insights that Mr. Deresiewicz expounds upon.

How interesting to me to basically find a secular version of St. Therese of Lisieux's "little way, in the chapter on Emma.

The second chapter about Pride and Prejudice is also very enlightening. The author points out that it is our suffering that causes us to mature. Likewise it is our humiliations that can very well teach us life lessons. I remember clearly many of my own mistakes and failures in the past and how vividly they still hurt all these years later. But usually due to the pain and lesson learned, they are not repeated and did help me to grow up.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of A Jane Austen Education and so I am challenging myself to read for myself the major works on Jane Austen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cowbell Etiquette

Will and Mary had the great fortune to skip school today and attend the Ray's playoff game with their grandma, Mary Ann. They came home full of exciting news about the mascot Raymond and the Seventh Inning Stretch and a possible TV appearance. But the most exciting news is regarding the rules the Rays put up on the jumbo-tron about Cowbell Etiquette. Did you know that you are only supposed to ring your Cowbell at certain times in the game and not constantly?? Well now you do :)
 Too bad Texas won and is going on to next round.

Will got a permanent souvenir~ Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria signed his glove.
Great Day Mary Ann, thanks so much!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feast of St. Matthew

The Call of St Matthew by Caravaggio 
I love to study this great piece of art painted around 1600. The first thing I notice is that Christ is very specifically pointing to Matthew and Matthew is confirming that he understands by pointing to himself. The call was so clear that when Christ said to Matthew "'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him." -Matt 9:10

St. Matthew gives us a wonderful witness of listening AND responding to Christ. And he did it with JOY. The very next verse tells us that Jesus went to a feast at Matthew's house with many other tax collectors and sinners.

Today let us hear and answer God's call in our life. Maybe it is the simple request of a child, maybe it is call to visit the sick, maybe it is a call to prayer time and maybe God is calling us to something bigger.

As with Matthew, Christ will call us in the midst of our ordinary every day occupation.

So let's listen up today, and respond.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Olivia and the Little Way by Nancy Belanger

I cannot recommend this book enough!

I just read it aloud to my daughters ages 9 and 6 and they begged me to read more each night!

Summary from Ignatius Press:Fifth grader Olivia Thomas has moved to a new school in a new state, and is eager to make friends! Her best friend quickly becomes someone she has never seen - St. Therese of Lisieux.
Follow Olivia's trials as she tries to fit in at St. Michael's School. With the help of her grandmother, she learns about the “Little Way” of serving God and how it can change everything!
This touching and heartfelt story celebrates the life of St. Therese and will inspire children to follow her example and discover how to live the “Little Way” for their own lives, and the blessings and even miracles that come from it.
Nancy Belanger has created a contemporary example of how to live like a saint – something children greatly need in today’s culture. It will inspire and encourage young readers toward a more wholesome childhood marked by a generous and vibrant faith.

What I loved most about this book is that it gave real life situations a fifth grader would face. But moreover, it gave solutions to peer pressure and teasing and trying to fit in, that we can all learn from. Belanger masterfully weaves the life story of St. Therese along with her "little way" of loving Jesus and growing in holiness into the story of modern day fifth graders.

My girls had so many questions about St. Therese that we started reading her autobiography Story of a Soul.  I would never have thought to read this to them, even though I have read it before. But as I read the pages of Story of a Soul, written by St Therese who is a Doctor of the Church, it was so interesting to them they we are now slowly reading through a page or 2 a night.

So Thank you Nancy! Keep up the great work. We can't wait to read your next book, Olivia's Gift.
And thank you St. Therese, you are one of our new favorite Saints!
Ora Pro Nobis!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa M. Hendey

I have long wanted to write a book about the saints, about my life, Catholic motherhood and a combination of all three. A year ago or so I read My Life with the Saints by Fr. James Martin and thought- that is exactly the type of book I want to write. Now Lisa Hendey comes out with another book that sounds just like the type of book I wish I had written! Although I don't know that for sure, because it hasn't yet been published.

So, that is why I am joining in the contest to guess one of the saints in this new book. The contest is sponsored by Aquinas & More Catholic Goods and promoted on Lisa's website

The contest is only to guess one of the saints in the new book and say why. But since the new book covers 52 saints (I believe one for each week) I think that I can guess several of them!

1. Mary the Mother of God. Mary is the perfect role model for all women for all time and the perfect Catholic Mom.
2. St. Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist. Elizabeth had the privilege of being a relative of Jesus who conceived in her old age, "for nothing shall be impossible for God."
3. St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Giana is a recent saint, a wife, mother of 4, who sacrificed her life for her newly born child.
4. St. Therese of Lisieux. Although Therese was not a mother, her "little way" is quite possibly the best advice for any Catholic Mom to deal with children, husband and homemaking.
5. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Mother of 5, then widow, then founder of religious order, Elizabeth has something to teach all women.
6. Ss. Perpetua and Felicty. These early Roman Martyrs  had an infant son and were pregnant when they made the ultimate confession of the faith.
7. St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Princess, mother, widow, estranged from family wealth and power, she saw to the raising of her children then joined the third order Franciscans and worked with the poor.
8. Ss. Martha and Mary. The sisters of Lazarus teach us the benefits of being "active" and "prayerful."
9. St. Monica. One of the most powerful examples for mothers with wayward children, Monica prayed for her son for more than 20 years and he became SAINT Augustine.
10. St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Mother of 6, then widow, was blessed to have St. Francis de Sales as her spiritual director.
11. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edit Stein.) A Jewish convert to Catholicism, Edith wrote extensively on the dignity of being a woman
12. St Teresa of Avila. One of only 3 women Doctors of the Church, Teresa was spirited and had a good sense of humor as she set about reforming her order of nuns.
13. St. Theodore Guerin. Mother Theodore traveled to the missionary country of Indiana in the early 1800s to found the Sisters of Providence and their schools throughout the state.
14. St. Katharine Drexel. Katharine was an heiress who put all her wealth at the feet of the church.
15. St. Frances Cabrini. She too traveled to American to found numerous hospitals and schools.
16. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Most well know recent soon to be saint, she worked for the poorest of the poor and the unborn.
17. St. Anne. Mother of Mary, Grandmother to Jesus, she conceived in her old age and brought forth "the morning star."
18. St. Rita. Patron saint of hopeless cases, Rita had a difficult husband to warring sons and kept the faith when all went wrong.
19. St Joan of Arc. Joan gives us the example of a true warrior, qualities that all mothers need to raise a family in this day and age.
20. St. Mary Magdelene. Best known as the most repentant of all women, every mother needs to be able to put the past behind and stay close to Christ.

I love all of these sisters in Christ, but my vote for the saint that should be in Lisa's new book has to be......

St. Frances of Rome

The reason I chose St. Frances is due to a quote that this wife and mother gave us that is very helpful to me:

"It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar, to find Him in her housekeeping." (As quoted from the book Lessons from the Lives of the Saints by Fr. Joseph Esper, another book I wish I had written. :)

Looking forward to reading this book and someday writing one of my own!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary --August 15

The feast of the Assumption (15 August) celebrates Mary’s passage to heaven at the end of her life, a divine recognition of her fidelity and her role as mother of the Son of God. This public festival connected with her seems to have begun in the fifth century at the site where Mary was thought to have rested on her way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. This was the feast of the Theotokos (“God-bearer,” “Mother of God”) celebrated on August 15.

Gradually the August feast came to focus on the Dormition (“Falling Asleep”) of Mary. At the end of the sixth century it became known as the Assumption, calling attention to the manner of Mary’s passing. She had been taken up, fully, into heaven. The idea that Mary has been assumed is connected to her having stood in the presence of God (through the angel of the
annunciation and through her life with the Eternal Word). This fits in with Mary’s role as intercessor, one who listens to the disciples of Christ. 

--The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia p.56

On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church.

"Monday, Aug 15, 2011,  the Feast of the Assumption, is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Rite because it is the day after Sunday. However, it IS a Holy Day of Obligation for Byzantine Catholics. Next year it will be a Holy Day of Obligation again if it does not fall on a Sat/Sun/Mon.
Yes, this is confusing.
What is NOT confusing, is the Feast of the Assumption is a beautiful Feast to honor our Blessed Mother being assumed into Heaven. The readings and Mass prayers are beautiful. I hope we can attend Mass and obtain the wonderful graces waiting for us on this special Feast Day- (out of extra love and effort, not obligation) I also hope we can find 20 minutes in our busy day to pray the Rosary with our family in honor of the Blessed Mother as well." 
--Love from Louise Barrett

Monday August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption. If you can get to Mass in St. Petersburg, there are many choices- 7 AM St Paul's; 7:30 AM Holy Family and Blessed Trinity;  8 Am St Raphaels; 8:15 AM St Judes' Chapel;  9 AM at Transfiguration, St Therese Byzantine, and Blessed Trinity, 11 AM St Judes; Noon- St Anthony Hospital Chapel; 12:10 PM St Mary's; 6:30 PM St Judes' Chapel and 7 PM St Theresa Byzantine.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Christ has no body but yours. Guest Column by Jenetta Padilla.

I have to say I think my only “deep” spiritual reflection within the last year (or three) ties in with all of the little statues around my house that keep losing limbs and being beheaded… St. Francis keeps losing his head and our Blessed Mother Mary loses her hands.  My “deep reflection”? I’m meant to be Mary’s hands with the mind of St. Francis. Mary is right by the rocking chair in Clara’s room, so I am reminded of being Mary’s hands often.  I’ve skipped trying to glue her hands back on again.  I figure it’s supposed to be a reminder.
Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,   Yours are the eyes with which he looks  Compassion on this world,  Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,  Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. 
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,  Yours are the eyes, you are his body.  Christ has no body now but yours.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
--St.Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)


Jenetta writes from her home in North Dakota. She is a wife and mother of three young children. She is the creator and webmaster of She is the Lighthouse Catholic Media Regional Manager for North and South Dakota and several other states.