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

Category: Faith

always scary, always amazing, always BIG news…

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We are having a baby!  Yes, I am pregnant with our 4th child which is such a blessing!

And you know what?  No matter how much you plan for a child, pray for a child, plead for a child… I’ve decided it’s always going to be scary.

No matter how much you long for a child or no matter how much of a shock a new child may be, taking a pregnancy test has got to be one of the most terrifying things ever.

Hands down, the moments of anticipation that have followed every pregnancy test I’ve ever taken, waiting, waiting, while that little lit-up hour glass flashes, and flashes, and flashes…

… those moments of anticipation have been some of the most terrifying ones of my entire life.  They’re right up there with actually giving birth, which still terrifies me, even though I’ve done it three times.  Go figure.

Surrender is always hard.  And that’s okay.

No matter how much you think you’re ready or not, here baby comes!  It’s like baby’s first little innate communication to us or something:  Ready or not, here I come!

This sentiment is cute and sweet, and the baby will be cuddly and precious and amazing, and beautiful beyond belief, but I’m still terrified of the surrender required of me as a pregnant mother.

But you know what?  Surrender to God is always hard, but it is always worth it.

So here’s to a brand new little life, already here with me and with my family, but coming soon out into this world!  Please keep us in your prayers during this special time of anticipation.

Oh, and please say a little prayer that I can handle the joys (and nausea) of the first trimester with grace and joy!  😉

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

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101 Places to Pray Before You Die

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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…

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…

the day Mother Teresa died…

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It was one of those moments you can never forget.  You remember exactly where you were, exactly what you were doing when you found out.  Like that one class transition during high school, when I was leaving my science class, and someone mentioned something about an airplane crashing into a building.

It was September 5, 1997.  I know that date because the internet knows the date, the world knows the date.  I was in elementary school, at a Catholic school at the time.  I remember that I was sitting in the library.  It was a sunny day, and we were listening to a presentation from the librarian.  Suddenly, an announcement came over the PA to let the school know, that Mother Teresa had died.

I mean, I had heard of her before.  But the librarian just burst into tears.  She needed a minute to compose herself, and then she explained that she was so sorry to hear this news.  She explained what an incredible impact this woman had on her life, and shared that she always hoped one day to meet Mother Teresa.  Now she never would.

And it struck me the other day, as I considered that announcement over the PA, the tears of this woman, and the pain and sorrow of death, that these saints in Heaven are not lost forever.  Mother Teresa knew pain and suffering well.  She endured much spiritual dryness and profound spiritual darkness.  She endured much evil.  And what was her response?  To keep the faith.  To keep pushing.  To never give up.

What would Saint Mother Teresa say to our tears over her death?

I cannot say for sure.  But as we know that she is now in the eternal presence of God, I think she would tell us to rejoice.  I think she would tell us to rejoice at her birth into eternal life.  And I think she would point us to Christ, and say that it is not too late to meet her… for we all make up the body of Christ, the whole Church makes up the body of Christ.  And one day, if we are faithful to the commands of Christ, and if we love Him and accept Him, we will be perfectly united to this body of Christ in Heaven.  Together with all of the angels, and all of the saints, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  And there is no need for tears over that…

 

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

grateful for guilt

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I have struggled immensely with guilt in my life.  Anyone can tell you that.  But I have decided to rejoice in this gift!  Guilt keeps me going to Confession!  It keeps me striving to be perfect as our Father is perfect in Heaven.

We must take care not to dismiss or disregard the guilt of others as insignificant.  There is so much of that in our world today – so much justification of little sins. 

There are so many excuses made for our errors, faults, and imperfections.  One may say, “But God knows this is just how I am!  So it’s okay!” 

Yes, but He overcame the world to give you strength to overcome yourself.

Our guilt is there for a reason.  Namely, that we confess it to God, and move on with a little more knowledge, a little more life experience about how to do better next time. 

Sure, some guilt is unfounded and is the result of sins of scrupulosity.  But that guilt we must give to God, too.  Scrupulous thinking is the work of the devil, no doubt.  It keeps us in a negative spiral so that we think we are not good enough to go to Christ.  I know this all too well.  I know how satan tempts me all too well.  And this is excellent and as it should be. 

satan loses his power over us when we can see ahead of time all the cards in his hand – when we know exactly which card he is going to play next. 

Yes, I am grateful for my guilt.  I am even more grateful for the One who takes it all away. 

 

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

3 Steps to Mercy for You

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*This article originally appeared on VirginiaLieto.com here.

 

There’s a lot of mercy talk these days in the Church. Why?  Because it’s the time of mercy!

The Church recently celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. If you’re not familiar with this message and devotion, take a moment to learn a little more here.

We should strive to show mercy to everyone we meet. Mercy is a great virtue, no doubt.  But today I want to ask you, how often do you show mercy to yourself?

Are you your own worst critic? Are you hyperaware of your faults and not sure how to actually improve?  Do you ever beat yourself up at the end of the day for not doing a better job at keeping it all together?

I’ve been working on kicking these bad attitudes for a while now, with great success. How?  Divine Mercy!

 

3 Steps to Mercy for You

Here are 3 steps you can take today to help you start showing mercy to you:

 

1. Participate in the Sacraments Frequently

I’m not saying you should get married frequently, nor do you want to take a “collect ‘em all” mentality and start preparing for your last rites, but frequent Confession and receipt of Holy Communion are beautiful ways to stay close to Christ. Mercy is waiting for you in the confessional!  Mercy is waiting for you on the altar at Mass daily!  Show up.  You deserve mercy!

 

2. Educate Yourself

Pick up a copy of the Catechism. Bring questions to a priest.  Read the Bible.  Study up on Divine Mercy.  Learn the works of mercy.  It’s actually an act of mercy to instruct the ignorant, and we’re all ignorant of many things.  Learn all you can to strengthen your relationship with Christ!

 

3. Forgive Yourself

You’re going to fall short. Every day you’re going to fall short of the person you want to be, and the person God is calling you to be.  Pick yourself up.  Forgive yourself.  We talk a lot about forgiving others, but it’s so important to forgive ourselves.  Would you forgive a friend if she apologized to you?  Well you can be that friend who just apologized to you.  Having a healthy relationship with yourself is vital to having a healthy relationship with others, Christ included!

 

So, take some time today to show mercy to you, because you’re worth it. Jesus died for you!

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

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

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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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…

in every age…

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In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens. 

Lyrics speak of God’s power and might and unfathomable Divine Mercy.    

Melodies weave through time lifting our thoughts to His amazing grace.

And in every age, voices join the feeble instruments we have here on this earth, to give praise and glory to God.

Now imagine that at the end of our days on this earth, we all come together as one people, one Israel, one nation truly of God.

Can you imagine the songs we will be singing as we journey to Heaven all together?

Can you imagine what it will sound like when voices of people throughout history, throughout time, all join together to give God his due glory?

In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens.

And oh, that glorious day, when we will be able to hear these songs sung all together in harmony!  When from the east and the west, and the south and the north, God’s people sing as one,

walking Heavenward, homeward, together.

 

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

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

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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!