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

Category: Mary

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…


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…

Unveiling a Masterpiece…


“Wouldn’t it be great if we could give each mother the same image of Mary & Jesus?” Serena asked, as we browsed through prints for sale at our local Catholic Corner booth.

The only problem was:  which one would we pick?  There are so many gorgeous paintings of our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son Jesus.

God took care of that for us.

When Mary Garden Showers opened a chapter at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, OH, we had no idea that a talented Catholic artist was sitting right in the pews of that very church.

Our chapter leaders knew.  They reached out to her about a painting project.

When artist Bernadette Carstensen was asked to paint an image for our ministry, she says:

“The idea for this painting came to me right away, inspired by the way my daughter sometimes plays with me.  So, I decided to pose Mary and Jesus in an affectionate moment, mother and baby playing together quietly.  Jesus is meant to look like He is crowning her with flowers playfully, but also representing what will come when they are both in heaven.  Mostly, I wanted to show Mary as a human mother in love with her child, awed by His beauty and innocence, hoping that a new mom who is feeling scared or worried could look at it and imagine the happiness she will have with her baby.”

A few months back, we shared a progress sketch of the painting that Bernadette graciously sent our way.  Now, we are thrilled to be able to unveil the finished painting that is such a gift and blessing to this ministry…

Purchase your copy here today!  All proceeds go to Mary Garden Showers.  Thanks for your support.



Amazing, right?  Ms. Bernadette, we are so grateful and humbled that you painted this for the mothers we serve.

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! 

hush, hush, beautiful is the mother

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Christ is born tell the folk of the village.  Jesus is sleeping in his cradle. Hush, hush, beautiful is the mother.  Hush, hush, beautiful is her Son.

In a few weeks, we too will be invited to peek into the stable to take a look at baby Jesus.  We will begin anew in our endeavors to tell the folk of the village – to tell the people of this world that Jesus is here!

What a gorgeous Christmas carol this truly is, as it invites us to hush.

Hush, hush, be still my soul.  Hush, hush, be still my heart.

And beautiful is the mother.  What a wonderful phrase.

If we truly were to peek into that long-ago and far-away stable, we would see Mary at Jesus’ side.  Perhaps baby Jesus would be in her arms when we arrived.

She truly is beautiful.  Can you see her?  Can you see how lovely she is and how her eyes are fixed on Christ?  Can you see her hair pulled back underneath an ivory veil?  Can you feel the warmth of her tender love?

You see, the beauty of the vocation of motherhood lies in its quiet service.

Mary is the epitome of this servitude.  She humbly, gently, ever so carefully, surrendered over her entire self to God.  She surrendered over her entire self to the process of pregnancy and birth, and she journeyed with her Son all the way to Calvary.

How contrary this is to our culture today that tells women who find themselves pregnant, “You don’t need to serve.  You can escape.”

How beautiful it is to see such virtue, such holiness, such gentleness, and such warmth in Jesus’ mother Mary.  May we bring these qualities to life more fully in our own vocations!

As we journey through these days of Advent, let us hush.  Let us escape from the clamor of the world in moments of quiet reflection.

Let us stand in awe of the beauty of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus is to the world.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus gave us in his mother Mary.

For beautiful is the mother.

need to charge more to power on


As I plugged my phone into the wall, the screen lit up, and a picture of an empty battery flashed at me in the darkness.  “Need to charge more to power on,” it said. 

You know what?  I can relate. 

I need to charge more to power on lately.  Why don’t I take the time to charge?  Is it laziness?  Is it pride? 

For me it comes down to trust.  I need to trust more in Christ.  Trust is what keeps me running through my days.  Without it, I fail miserably.  My compass is off kilter.  My direction is cloudy.  My best efforts are squelched.  It’s really that bad.  

When I pray the rosary, I trust that I am doing what I can to connect myself to the life and sufferings of Christ and our mother Mary.  The rosary allows me to trust in God’s goodness, to revel in the mysteries of His life, and to trust that my life is also intricately planned and ordained. 

Your life is also intricately planned and ordained.  Do we trust that our lives truly have purpose beyond what is seen? 

When I quiet my mind, ask my soul to be still, and listen for the sound of God’s voice in the stillness, I trust that I am doing what I can to make myself available to God’s living word in my life.  A listening prayer exercises my trust in a living God who wants to guide my heart and set order in my days. 

God wants to guide your heart and to set order in your days.  Do we trust Him and let Him lead? 

Through the rosary and through ongoing effort at contemplative prayer, I charge my battery as a wife, as a mother of three children ages three and under, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a neighbor, as a human – as me. 

I’ve had trouble finishing my rosaries lately.  I start and stop, but God knows my heart.  He searches my soul.  He searches within all of us and knows us intimately. 

Graces await if we only begin. 

I’ve had trouble finishing the dishes lately.  I’ve had trouble finishing the laundry lately.  I’ve had trouble finishing a cup of tea lately.  I start and stop, but it’s no matter.  God does not always intend for us to complete all of the work that we begin – certainly not always in the order we think is best, and certainly not when other pressing things clamor for our attention.  Yet God knows my heart.  He searches my soul.  He searches within all of us and knows us intimately. 

What matters is that we are joyful as we go about our work.  What matters is that we give praise always and everywhere to God. 

Graces await if we only begin.

So I would do well to wait until I am at least charged to power on.  I would do well to wait until I am connected with Christ before I even search through my thoughts, before I even open my mouth for the day.  I would do well to trust in Christ more fervently and intentionally. 

As we open our hearts and turn our thoughts toward the coming of Christ in this Advent season, let us begin anew with great fervor and zeal. 

Graces await if we only begin.

the gift of the Eucharist


As Mothers, we are programmed to pour out our love for our children.  It happens automatically and subconsciously.  We pour of ourselves.  Our children literally eat of ourselves – the milk we produce gives them nourishment.

In exactly the same way, our Mother Mary placed Jesus in the manger, a feeding trough for animals.  ‘This is your nourishment.  This is your bread.  This is your drink,’ she said to us through this profound gesture.

This is the gift of the Eucharist.

Mary poured out nourishment for Jesus with her body through her precious milk.  Jesus poured out nourishment for mankind with His body through His precious blood.

We are called to eat the body that Mary nourished for us.  We are called to drink the blood that Jesus shed for us.  And we are called to pour out nourishment for the world with our bodies through our precious merciful love of one another.

It is true that we are what we eat.  We must eat what is pure that we may become what is pure.

The milk that sustained Jesus was pure.  The blood that sustains mankind is pure.  So too must our merciful love be pure!

Let us guard our hearts that we might make of ourselves a pure and holy sacrifice, burning with merciful love that is pleasing to our God!

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. – John 6:53-57

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

MGS National Update 10.12.16 – God is on the Move!

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We’re so excited, because from our vantage point – God is on the move through this apostolate!!!  We are so humbled and blessed to share all of this news with you.  Here are some Mary Garden Showers updates from each city where we are located:

Charlotte, NC

In recent weeks, our city of Charlotte has mourned the loss of Justin Carr.  Justin and Tanae have been awaiting the birth of their child, due at the end of October.

We will be hosting a baby shower for Tanae and her baby boy at St. Thomas Aquinas Church here in Charlotte, NC!  The shower will be held on Sunday October 23rd from 1-3pm in Aquinas Hall.

Please note, we are only 11 days away from this shower!!  Tanae is also very close to meeting her baby face to face.  So we really appreciate your support in helping us pull this shower together quickly!  Please visit marygardenshowers.org to view Tanae’s gift registry, and to find information about how to send prayers and gifts to the shower!

In order to ensure a joyous celebration for Tanae and her baby, we ask that you please drop any cards or prayers related to Justin’s passing in the wooden “cards” box at the shower.  If you’re sending a card from out of town, please address the envelope to “Tanae & Baby” if it belongs on the gift table.  Please address it to “MGS Card Box” if it belongs in the wooden box.  Please reserve the gift table for joyous and cheerful congratulatory cards, prayers, and gifts for Tanae and her child, and please no photography.


Columbus, OH

Our chapter leaders in Columbus, Michele and Angie, have been working hard to pull the community together for the women showered at the St. Patrick’s Chapter!

They have connected with many wonderful donors who are providing their baking, decorating, photography, writing, and painting talents to serve Mothers at their baby showers!  They recently collaborated with their local Catholic radio station to put together an advertisement for Mary Garden Showers that is available nationally for stations to pick up and air.

They also were contacted by a Catholic artist named Bernadette Carstensen.  She is extremely talented.  When she found out that we provide images of Mary and Jesus to each Mother at her baby shower, she felt called to create something special for our ministry to distribute.  She has given permission for us to share this “progress sketch” of her work with you.  We will let you know when it’s finished!  Please check out her website at http://www.bernadettecarstensen.com/ to view her finished work!  Gorgeous, right?  We’ve never seen anything like it, and we can’t wait to have a print of this in our own homes!


Madonna and Child Progress Sketch. Shared with permission. Copyright 2016 Bernadette Carstensen. http://www.bernadettecarstensen.com/

Indianapolis, IN

Debbie is our chapter leader at our Holy Spirit Chapter, and she had a beautiful update to share with everyone from their last shower.

“Ashley was overwhelmed by gifts!!!  It was the best shower,” she wrote.  “People came by that couldn’t stay dropping off gifts and cards. Fr. Paul came by and had some food with us and spoke with Ashley and her family. He gave them his blessing.”

Guests at the shower were moved to tears.  “One lady said she could feel the love being poured out!!  Our Mother had tears and kept thanking everyone.  She said every time I put an outfit on my girls or touch these items I will think of you all.”

There were many people in attendance.  “God’s mercy was so evident!! Thank you Father for your beautiful mercy!!! May our corporal and spiritual works of mercy glorify you Lord!”


Amen!  Thanks be to God!  You can view information about all of our upcoming showers at marygardenshowers.org.  Thank you for your support and continued prayers!!
P.S.  God is merciful and He loves you!  Pass it on…

roses in heaven


Every Hail Mary that we say is a rose that will adorn the gardens of Heaven, because it is through these prayers that we can achieve peace on earth.

Peace in our hearts on earth will lead us to Heaven, which will make Heaven more beautiful.

So every Hail Mary is a rose that will adorn the gardens of Heaven.

We will live with Mary and our Triune God in Heaven.  We will live among the saints.  We will live among these gardens of roses.

We are encouraged to care for our earthly home.  Through the Hail Mary and through the rosary, we can express care for our true heavenly home.

We can lift our concerns to Heaven and join with saints and angels in praising God and honoring Mary.

Shouldn’t we want our earthly home to be as beautiful as possible?  Shouldn’t we want our heavenly home to be as beautiful as possible?

Then let us pray for peace.  Let us pray for souls.

Let us together join in praying the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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