"We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us." -Pope Francis

Category: Books

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today…

I have found much comfort and peace in praying the rosary in times of joy, in times of anxiety, and in times of sorrow.  Along with my Catholic faith, the rosary is perhaps the best gift my family has passed on to me.

Have you ever wondered why Catholics like me love this prayer so much?  Are you looking for ways to go deeper with the rosary to truly unlock more peace in your heart and in the world?

Whether you’re someone who has never felt like praying a rosary before, or someone who prays the rosary every day, there’s something here for you.

In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri does an excellent job of covering the basics and apologetics of this ancient prayer, while also taking experienced rosary devotees into a more thorough understanding of the rosary’s many facets and applications to our lives.

The book includes great discussion questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflection or group discussion.  The first half of the book explains how Jesus is at the very heart and center of the rosary.  It addresses many common hindrances to this prayer, including a lack of understanding about its importance and a fear of its beautiful repetition.  The second half of the book takes readers through the 4 sets of mysteries in the rosary that are contained within the Gospels, explaining how we can meditate on each mystery as we pray to truly come to know Jesus more intimately.   At the end, a scriptural rosary is offered and suggested as an additional way to pray through the mysteries of the rosary with renewed zeal.

It’s simple.  If we want to see more peace on this earth, we need to be saying more rosaries.  Why?  Because Heaven has asked this of us through Mary, through the saints, and through the Church Jesus established here on earth.

If you’re ready now to begin praying the rosary like never before, pick up your copy of this book from Franciscan Media here or from Amazon here.

P.S. God is merciful & He love you!  Pass it on…


101 Places to Pray Before You Die

101 Places

*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today…

Going on a roadtrip?  Here’s your Catholic travel guide.  I found this book to be full of incredible stories that I had never heard before, and unless you’re an expert on Catholic history in the United States, you’re probably going to be in the same boat.

In 101 Places to Pray Before You Die, you’ll journey through each of the 50 states alphabetically, and learn about several places in each state that seem well worth a visit.

When I was on a cross country RV trip with my family during my summer break after 6th grade, we made a special stop at the Corn Palace.  It was supposed to be amazing.  I remember my parents taking a picture of us in a photo op wooden board that made it look like our heads were connected to a giant ear of corn.  Definitely not amazing.

Yet, the sites in this book do seem to actually be worth your while, and I can attest to this because I have been to several of them myself.  After providing descriptions and stories associated with each place, author Thomas J. Craughwell goes a step further by providing you with contact information, hours of operation, and a heads up if there’s a major renovation or project going on that might interfere with drop-in style travel plans.

This is a book about places, but you’ll learn about them through stories.  The storytelling in this book is excellent.  You’ll learn fascinating and true anecdotes about wars, saints, authors, incredible artwork, historical sites, churches, little known hard working nuns, courageous priests, shrines, retreat centers, and more.

This book can easily be read one state at a time to go along with your already made travel plans or if you’d like to make a quick retreat in your home state, but Craughwell does a great job of holding interest if you’d like to read it cover to cover as well.  And you may find after reading it cover to cover, that it may be worth creating a trip of your own to go and visit these amazing places.

It’s worth knowing these places exist!  What amazing site might you be driving or flying right by on your next vacation?

101 Places to Pray Before You Die: A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide can be purchased from Franciscan Media or Amazon.

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

Our Lady of Fatima: 100 years of stories, prayers, and devotions


Have you heard the message of Fatima?  Even if you are familiar with Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, I guarantee you haven’t heard the story told quite like this before.  And if you’re skeptical about the whole thing, all the more reason to pick up this book.

Mary wants to lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ.  She wants peace for the world, and she wants us to repent of our sins so we can all make it to Heaven!

There’s no better time to pick up this book than right now, as we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of these apparitions.  In fact, the Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, which is right around the corner.  On this day, Pope Francis will also canonize Jacinta and Francisco, two of the Fatima visionaries, as Saints for the whole world to celebrate!

In this book, author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle takes readers through a century of fascinating stories related to Fatima.  She recounts what occurred in this city back in 1916 and 1917, and the fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies that have taken place since that time.  She also shares things that Sr. Lucia experienced later in her life as she worked to ensure that Mary’s message spread throughout the Church, and that things were completed as Mary and Jesus requested.

In these pages, you will hear remarkable stories you’ve never heard before, and details that you won’t find in other places.  Did you know that Saint Mother Teresa planned a top secret mission in Russia specifically to occur just as Saint John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart?  Did you know she pulled it off?  Do you know about the devotion of the Five First Saturdays?  Do you know why Mary specifically requested five and not six or seven?  Have you heard the Fatima prayers?  Do you know how you can incorporate these prayers into your daily life to make atonement for the sins of the world?  All of this and more is shared in this fascinating book.

Perhaps as astounding as the Fatima miracles themselves, are the personal experiences of the author that she shares at the end of the book.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s unbelievable what this woman endured for the sake of this writing, and the timing of her injuries is absolutely astounding.

In short, I had a hard time putting this book down!  You won’t want to miss this exciting read, especially as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima apparitions this year.

We all must now do our part to make reparation for the sins of this world.  Find out what you can do to live the Fatima message today!

And a note to any skeptics:  With Mary, you have nothing to fear except fear itself.  Fear of Mary will only keep you from Mary, which will only keep you from a deeper intimacy with Christ.  Our Mother Mary who is Our Lady of Fatima, is the Mother of Jesus Christ who is our brother.  Hence, she is our Mother, too, and Jesus also gave her to us on the Cross.  Mary is truly amazing.  She also only wants to do the will of her Son.  She wants to support Jesus as much as possible in the work of bringing all souls to Heaven.  Perhaps you will be able to get to know her just a little better through the words in this book.

This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

Mother Mary, pray for us!  God bless you!

Pray with Your Senses – Color & Sound Sets Make Great Gifts!

I recently had the privilege of working with these two “Color & Sound” sets for Paraclete Press.  They have paired completely unique, fun, and inspirational, Marian themed coloring books with high quality Gregorian Chant CD compilations.

Set aside your electronic devices and games, and do something with your hands that will free your mind up for prayer.

I wanted to share these with you today just in time for Mother’s Day, but they would also make a perfect gift for a graduating senior!  These books are a gentle way to instill or rejuvenate our Catholic Faith.

You could also use them for prayer time in Adoration, or as a teaching tool for children to help them learn the Rosary and how to meditate on Mary’s many beautiful names.  Children love to color, so teach them also that they can turn their coloring into prayers!  It’s fun to actually pray the rosary as you’re coloring each decade page, too.  I think these also work beautifully as side-by-side adult coloring books for those times you are coloring with young children.

In fact, my daughters love to see my finished coloring pieces, and I enjoy coloring with a picture that stretches me beyond the super familiar shapes of Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty.

So here are two excellent Color & Sound sets for you to consider!  May they enhance your own prayer life, and the prayers of the ones you love.

  1.  Mother Mary – Color & Sound:  An Imaginative Pathway to Stillness and Beauty


This coloring book has a page for many of the beautiful names we give to Mary the Mother of God.  Each page contains a title for Mary, a powerful prayer or quote related to this title, and a little more info to peak your curiosity about where this title came from, or who Mary appeared to under this title.  The pictures are fun and simple enough for coloring, and the end result is a beautiful picture that might even be suitable for displaying in your home!



This set includes “The Chants of Mary,” a Gregorian Chant CD sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores Men’s Schola.  I love having this CD on in the background of my day.  It puts children to sleep like a light switch when we play it in the car.  It keeps me calm in the inevitable challenging moments that arise at home with three toddlers.  It is 65 minutes of Heaven on earth.  Brush up on your Latin with the accompanying CD booklet that contains English & Latin lyrics as side-by-side text, along with beautiful full color pictures and images.

  1. The Rosary – Contemplation with Color and Sound: Color and Music to Inspire your Prayers9781612619194_p0_v1_s192x300

This coloring book takes you all the way through your rosary, with a page for each decade of the Glorious, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Joyful Mysteries!  There’s also a page for the Apostle’s Creed & Hail, Holy Queen.  The pictures are whimsical and leave much room for contemplation as you pray along with your coloring.  Enter into each mystery of the rosary a little deeper, and then go back and remember your prayers when you see a beautiful, completed picture in their place.



This book is paired with “Feasts of Our Lady,” a Gregorian Chant CD by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes.  It also contains a booklet with side-by-side Latin & English text.  This CD is one of my favorite Gregorian Chant compilations.  The music is very vibrant and rich.  The harmonies are solid.  The sweeping melodies lift one’s thoughts to Heaven.  You will not be disappointed!

Purchase these CDs from Paraclete Press or Amazon!  And remember, God loves you & He is merciful!  Pass it on…

2 Beautiful Lenten Devotionals to Bring You Closer to Christ


The beginning of this week marks the half-way point of the Lenten season.  Are you staying on track with your Lenten promises?  If not, now is a great time to reboot and refocus.

If you’re needing some help, it’s never too late to dive into a great devotional book for motivation!

Here are my thoughts on these beautiful Lenten devotionals that I was privileged to be able to read and review for you.  May God richly bless you in your journey to Easter!


  1. Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, by Heidi Hess Saxton


Join Saint Mother Teresa as she journeys through the streets of Calcutta, caring for the destitute, the broken, the lonely, and the dying.  The wisdom and wit of this saint are so profound.  Author Heidi Hess Saxton pulls many texts together and captures this saint’s spirit beautifully.

In her own unique way, Saint Mother Teresa set out to help one person at a time, and ended up helping the entire world through her example.  We would all do well to more closely imitate this saint, daily placing the needs and wants of others before our own.

Heidi Hess Saxton has penned strong reflections to supplement the words and prayers of Saint Mother Teresa.  She guides readers to understand the relevance of this shinning example in our lives today.

I personally struggled with some of the author’s wording in a sensitive devotion that addressed pregnancy resulting from rape.  If you don’t know what the Church teaches and advises in these circumstances, this will provide you with a great opportunity to look it up and learn more… something all should do more often anyways!

But overall, this was a beautifully written book that will lead many closer to Christ during this Lenten season, or anytime someone picks it up and takes these words to heart.

This book is available for purchase on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.


2. The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, by Diane M. Houdek


Who better to turn to for encouragement in our season of Lent than the man put in charge of the Church by the Holy Spirit Himself?

Connect with the words of Pope Francis in this little devotional that is not to be underestimated.

This tiny but mighty book pulls together Pope Francis’s words to the Church from throughout his papacy, and author Diane M. Houdek makes sure they correspond nicely with each step of our Lenten path. This is certainly a book that can be picked up at any time, but of course it will carry special significance when it is read during Lent.

In each devotion, Houdek provides Scripture for you to look up, words from Pope Francis, an opportunity to take the words to heart, thoughts on bringing the words to life, and a concluding prayer.  Devotionals are short and sweet, but jam packed with great information for you to reflect on throughout the day!

Journey through the rest of this Lenten season with Pope Francis, and you won’t be disappointed!  This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.



P.S. God is merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God


Mary’s way can be our way, too!  Judy Landrieu Klein opens her heart in this beautiful book of affirmation, hope, and encouragement for all mothers. 

Klein takes readers through her own personal journey of motherhood, with all of its sorrows and joys.  Just like Mary, we all must bring our children into the world, nurture them, love them, and then let them go into the world to hopefully become the adults God desires them to be!  This is no small feat.  And motherhood is certainly not for the faint of heart. 

Klein had a beautiful turning point in her life when Mary spoke to her heart.  From that moment on, Mary played a large role in Klein’s motherhood.  She encourages readers to trust in the Blessed Mother, and to turn to her for wisdom, guidance, and strength. 

Inside the book, you’ll find a beautiful prayer for consecrating your children and spouse to the care of the Blessed Mother.  Klein explains the significance of this consecration, and how sustaining these prayers have been in her life. 

I recommend this book for all mothers, but especially for any mothers who have adult children – particularly children who have fallen away from the church, or who have fallen into bad habits in their lives. 

Get ready for an awesome testimony to the power of a mother’s prayers! Don’t miss Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God. 

You can purchase this book from Amazon or Ave Maria Press.

P.S. God is merciful & He loves you… Pass it on! 

The Strangers at the Manger – Another Chime Travelers Adventure!


I received an opportunity to read and review another fun Chime Travelers book, called The Strangers at the Manger.  These books are really just fantastic.

Katie and Patrick are off an another “chime traveling” adventure, but this time, they get to travel together!  They find themselves accompanying Mary and Jesus in their preparations for the birth of their Son, Jesus.

What an exciting time in history for all of us!  Can you imagine being there yourself?  Now you and your children can imagine being at Christ’s birth together!

But perhaps my favorite part of this book is the story that runs alongside the birth of Jesus and its relevance for our time.

You see, in each Chime Travelers book, there are two stories going on simultaneously.  There is a story of Katie and Patrick, students in our present time, and the things that are going on in their childhood.  And there is a story from history going on, a story that these kids are thrown into, from which they must learn a lesson.  The lessons Katie and Patrick learn from their travels in history correspond beautifully with the situations going on in their present lives back at their church, school, and home.

So my favorite aspect of The Strangers at the Manger was how it relates the story of welcoming Christ to the welcoming of refugees seeking safe accommodations in our world today.  This is a message for the whole Church and a great lesson to share with our children.  Author Lisa M. Hendey sets this lesson up beautifully in this book.

These books are wonderful for reading a chapter per day in a school, Catechism class, or at bedtime with your children.  They make a great, inexpensive gift for your Godchildren, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, kids birthday parties, family friends, and really for any children in your life.

Share the Faith, share some fun, and share some Chime Travelers adventures with your family.  The Strangers at the Manger is available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Franciscan Media.   Find links to each of these purchase locations here at the fun Chime Travelers Kids website.

My daughter is so excited as I’m adding this picture on this post…  “Hey!  We have that book!  That’s like the book with the broken glass (Whisper in the Ruins).  That one is my favorite!  Hey!  That picture is like a little family!  It’s like our family!”

Yes, when we welcome strangers in the way Katie and Patrick do, it does make us like a little family.


P.S.  God is merciful and He loves you… Pass it on!

Another Chime Travelers Adventure: The Mystery at Midnight!


I love the Chime Travelers books, and hope to eventually collect them all!  Did I mention they’re written for kids?  I want to collect them all, and I’m a grown up!  But my 3 year old daughter has loved listening to these stories as well. 

These books are full of adventure and surprise.  Katie and Patrick are siblings who find themselves traveling back in time on occasion when they hear church bells chime.

In Lisa Hendey’s book “The Mystery at Midnight,” Katie chime travels and meets Clare while visiting the Poor Clares on a school field trip. 

The story winds through a turning point in Clare’s life, as she decides that she wants to serve Jesus and the poor no matter what the cost. 

Clare’s zeal is contagious, and Katie soon finds herself wanting to imitate Clare’s decisions.  Your children may want to imitate Clare, too, after reading this book!

I absolutely love when chapter books have pictures, as they are engaging for small children, and hold the attention of my 3 year old.  The Chime Travelers books are filled with adorable, fun illustrations! 

Jen Bower is the illustrator, and she has a style all her own!  I have enjoyed turning the pages to see what cute little scene is coming up next. 

These books would surely be at home in any Catholic home.  But they could also find a place on the shelf of any Christian home.  And those are perhaps my favorite Catholic books – the ones that are truly universal and that invite everyone to discover the riches of the Christian Faith we hold in our hearts. 

“The Mystery at Midnight” would make a wonderful gift for any child.  It can be read aloud to small children.  It can be read with a parent for those learning to read.  Children can also read it themselves, of course.  And adults will also delight in following along with these well-written gems!

Grab your copy of “The Mystery at Midnight” on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble.  And find lots more adventure at chimetravelerkids.com


P.S.  God is merciful and He loves you.  Pass it on!

faith under fire


When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was called “It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny.”  I’m not sure whether that title is true.  I’ve never actually been a bunny.

But I have been a Christian.  I am a Christian.  And after one quick look around the world, I think we can all agree that it’s not easy being a Christian.

Fortunately, God always goes with us into the hard places!  If you need to be reminded of this, then “Faith Under Fire” by Matthew Archbold is a great book for you!

Mind you, this book is not for the faint of heart.  But then again… is Christianity?  I mean, the great symbol of our faith is a crucifix, a cross, something used to kill someone.  And as Christians, we are all called to follow Christ even if it costs us our life.

This book will take you to these hard places.  It will show you that Christ is always there, that He always goes before us, and that He always overcomes evil.  Yes, we must suffer with Christ while we are on earth, but if we stay close to Him, this suffering brings us into new and everlasting life.  And this is why we should count suffering as joy!

“Faith Under Fire” takes you through the stories of several courageous individuals who exemplify through their actions what it means to be a true Christian.  They are people who have tried to follow Christ with their whole heart, no matter what the cost. 

Some of the stories are difficult to read and contain some gory details.  For this reason, I would give this book an R rating, and I would not give it to teens without reading it first and providing a lot of guidance and discussion. 

The author anticipates that this is a book for discussing, so each chapter contains some very helpful questions at the back.  This makes the book ideal for any kind of Bible Study, book club, or group of friends wanting to explore their faith together on a deeper level.

Be prepared to walk through a whole range of emotions as you read this book.  But if you’re looking for something that’s going to prepare you for absolutely anything this world can throw at a Christian… don’t miss “Faith Under Fire!” 

“In this (salvation) you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1: 6-7

This book is available on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble

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P.S.  God is merciful and He loves you!  Pass it on…  

Pope Francis Takes the Bus

This book is written in an honest, charming, and almost whimsical way that makes it a fun and easy read. It would make an excellent gift, but you’ll want to get a copy for yourself, too!

A few years ago, I learned that Father Bergoglio personally canceled his newspaper subscription after becoming pope.  He then returned his newspaper rubber bands to the shop.  He had been collecting them for a while and did not want them to go to waste.  This simple gesture invited me to start looking at the little things I threw away in a whole different light.  Actually, I learned about this event right around the time that I first read the Gospel, and I went through quite a drastic shift in life at this time.  Those of you who knew me personally around that time know what I’m talking about.  Let’s just say a lot of things went to Goodwill… Read the rest of this entry »