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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein, saintly Carmelite, profound philosopher and brilliant writer, had a great influence on the women of her time, and is having a growing influence in the intellectual and philosophical circles of today’s Germany and of the whole world. She is an inspiration to all Christians whose heritage is the Cross, and her life was offered for her own Jewish people in their sufferings and persecutions.

Born on October 12, 1891, of Jewish parents, Siegried Stein and Auguste Courant, in Breslau, Germany, Edith Stein from her earliest years showed a great aptitude for learning, and by the time of the outbreak of World War I, she had studied philology and philosophy at the universities of Breslau and Goettingen.

After the war, she resumed her higher studies at the University of Freiburg and was awarded her doctorate in philosophy Suma Cum Laude. She later became the assistant and collaborator of Professor Husserl, the famous founder of phenomenology, who greatly appreciated her brilliant mind.
In the midst of all her studies, Edith Stein was searching not only for the truth, but for Truth itself and she found both in the Catholic Church, after reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila. She was baptized on New Year’s Day, 1922.

After her conversion, Edith spent her days teaching, lecturing, writing and translating, and she soon became known as a celebrated philosopher and author, but her own great longing was for the solitude and contemplation of Carmel, in which she could offer herself to God for her people. It was not until the Nazi persecution of the Jews brought her public activities and her influence in the Catholic world to a sudden close that her Benedictine spiritual director gave his approval to her entering the Discalced Carmelie Nuns’ cloistered community at Cologne-Lindenthal on 14 October 1933. The following April, Edith received the Habit of Carmel and the religious name of "Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce," and on Easter Sunday, 21 April 1935, she made her Profession of Vows.

When the Jewish persecution increased in violence and fanaticism, Sister Teresa Benedicta soon realized the danger that her presence was to the Cologne Carmel, and she asked and received permission to transfer to a foreign monastery. On the night of 31 December 1938, she secretly crossed the border into Holland where she was warmly received in the Carmel of Echt. There she wrote her last work, The Science of the Cross.

Her own Cross was just ahead of her, for the Nazis had invaded neutral Holland, and when the Dutch bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of the Jews and the expulsion of Jewish children from the Catholic school system, the Nazis arrested all Catholics of Jewish extraction in Holland. Edith was taken from the Echt Carmel on 2 August 1942, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz, the conditions in the box cars being so inhuman that many died or went insane on the four day trip. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on 9 August 1942.
We no longer seek her on earth, but with God Who accepted her sacrifice and will give its fruit to the people for whom she prayed, suffered, and died. In her own words: "Once can only learn the science of the Cross by feeling the Cross in one’s own person." We can say that in the fullest sense of the word, Sister Teresa was "Benedicta a Cruce" -- blessed by the Cross.

Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross on 1 May 1987, and canonizes her on 11 October 1998. --from EWTN

"O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me."

– St. Edith Stein

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Feast of St. Peter Julian Eymard

"The Eucharist is the life of the people. The Eucharist gives them a center of life. All can come together without the barriers of race or language in order to celebrate the feast days of the Church. It gives them a law of life, that of charity, of which it is the source; thus it forges between them a common bond, a Christian kinship" --Peter Julian Eymard 1811-1868

Let us increase our devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament this day. Get to daily mass or spend some time in adoration!

 Click her for a biography of St. Peter Julian Eymard

Monday, August 1, 2011

Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori

St. Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorists,  and a doctor of the church, had a good knowledge of the value of time. He prayed and asked God never to let him waste any. His message to us today can be "be about the work that God has given you." That can mean tending all the parts of our vocation, our state in life and our illness and suffering. 

"St. Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a "practical" model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all." -Saint of the Day,

When we hear people talk of riches, honors and amusements of the world, let us remember that all things have an end, and let us then say: "My God, I wish for You alone and nothing more."  – St. Alphonsus Liguori