Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Feast Day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Prayer to St. Therese

O little St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. 

Make my troubles your own - speak a word for me to our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were - to that Queen of heaven "who smiled on you at the dawn of life." Beg her as the Queen of the heart of Jesus to obtain for me by her powerful intercession, the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment, and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life. Defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Delightful Moments in Everyday Life

My good friend Anne Reeves, Ana Designs author, photographer, baker, creator and designer extraordinaire who blogs at, loves to talk about delight. What is delight? For her, delight is all about using your senses and your heart to enjoy and appreciate beauty in our world, even when the news and things going on around us and in our towns, families, parishes, and workplaces don't exactly show delight.  She reminds us that it's always there, in the smell of a new rose in your front yard, cleaning off the dirt from a freshly picked cucumber (as I just did from my oldest son's bountiful garden!), the first sip of coffee in the morning (no other sip is as good as the first one), even a smile from a stranger. You may have to look high and low, but delight can always be found no matter where you are. Simple things, simple joys, simple little delights that we can enjoy alone or with the people around us.

If you look around at your day-to-day life, I bet you can find some delightful things about even the murkiest day. I managed to find a few delightful moments in my day yesterday, and yesterday wasn't exactly a stellar day for me! But by the end of the day, I could count several delightful moments God had given me, and I was thankful.

Anne and I met for lunch a couple days ago before her big move to Seattle, because delightful moments spent with good friends are all the sweeter. We enjoyed catching up with one another, saddened by the fact that she would be a four-hour plane ride away from now on, yet still talking about beautiful things, things that make you smile and bring you delight, like her newfound love of Seattle, her art, how you can buy and plant spring flowers there in February, and my writing. We first met while members of the Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan and hit it off right away, and have been talking about delightful things ever since.

What is delight? It doesn't have to be huge, like a trip to Hawaii, or an expensive purse you buy. It can be as sweet as when another good friend (Kelly, I'm looking at you!) calls St. Therese your "gal pal."  Or when you and your sons laugh so hard together that your sides ache! It can be a simple, funny moment you'll remember for a long, long time, like when Anne and I became "mitten sisters."  One day we met for coffee right before Christmas at a coffee shop and fell in love with adorable knit coffee cup cozies that double as fingerless gloves that were for sale near the register. We decided then and there to buy them and Anne declared us "mitten sisters" and each time I wear them I think of Anne and that day we met for coffee on a chilly winter day.  She and I are both "girly girls," and love anything pretty, floral, and pink. Knowing my love for St. Therese, she even bought me a lovely medal of her in Paris. It is very special to me. I had it blessed by a priest and I wear that medal around my neck, along with my Miraculous Medal, every day! See the blog post I wrote about that back in 2009 here. It's a delightful little story!

Anne taught me to look for little delightful things in each day, and I thought of her today when I was at a stoplight. The air was lovely, so everyone had their car windows down, enjoying the day. I let out two loud sneezes. Embarrassed,  I looked over at the lady in the car next to me, who also had her car windows down. I knew she must have heard me, so I smiled at her sheepishly. She grinned back and called over from her car to mine, "BLESS YOU!" I gave her a huge smile back and yelled back, "THANK YOU!"

I had a grin on my face the whole way home.

That's delight.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Foul Mouths: the New "Thing"

There's a Facebook post that's gone viral. Well, what Facebook post hasn't these days? But this one takes the cake. It's a note from a mom of six children to her husband as she goes off on a girls' weekend with friends, a much-needed respite, of that I am sure. Most of the moms I know (myself included) have all needed a little break from the demands of hearth and home! The note about how to take care of the kids while she was away would have been cleverly written and funny, if not for that fact that  it was peppered with the most foul language you've ever read. From a mom. About her children. Really? Really? Is that how a mother should talk about her children? So disgusting. Yes, we moms have all had moments where we've wanted to pull our hair out, come on, admit it. Those nights where they won't go to sleep and you can't even see, you are so exhausted. Those days when a trip to the dentist for a filling sounds like a vacation. 

But the language was so bad that it killed the whole funny out of the note for me. I've said this for years: The funniest comedians are the clean ones. Why? Because it takes more intelligence. One has to work harder when one removes the filth from a comedy act. They actually have to use their brains and sense of humor because they don't have the bad language there as a safety net or to pad material. It's just all funny stuff.

I can't help but wonder what her six children will think when they read that note ten years from now. Embarrassment? Shame? Maybe none of those things, maybe pride, who knows? The point is that swearing and foul language... I don't know, you don't really expect or like it when it comes from your mom, do you? I mean, it's never good from anyone, and when you're in those experimental, angsty teen years, it happens, but hearing that kind of language from a mom is just...icky. 

But the language. Oh, it was bad. And I'm no prude, but it was just out of control. F-bombs every sentence, four-letter words, you get the picture. And oh, didn't the mommies out there just eat it up with a spoon. They loved it—every last, foul word of it.

Okay, so there's that. Read it, forget it, and move on. Think of whatever is pure and lovely. Okay, I can do that. Except I can't, because this foul language culture is sadly the norm nowadays. Don't believe me? I hope you're sitting down for this: It's entering the Catholic book world. A new release in Catholic nonfiction has the word "badass" in it its title. It's described as an "edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality." 

Is there no end to the filth, truly? We've reached a new low. It's crude.

So, I guess when you have a mother of six ranting in a trying-to-be funny letter to her husband about her #$%@ing children and all the $%&* rest (use your imagination; this is a clean blog), then the next step would certainly be...a Catholic book. But do we all want an "edgy" book about Catholic spirituality? The holy lives of the saints aren't enough for us?  And it really doesn't matter what's inside. No matter how well written, I can't get past the title. 

Moms swearing up a storm, foul words in Catholic book titles. 

Sigh. So unlike Blessed Mother. 

So, so unlike her.

God made us for so much more than this.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

When Parents Have No Say

What happens when parents have no say in their children's moral teaching? What happens when well-meaning parents send their children to a Catholic school and that school fails them by forcing their children to watch a graphic sex-ed video as part of the curriculum? Not only that, if they don't sit through the course, they will get expelled from this school that is supposed to uphold Catholic moral teaching. Parents of students at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, TN are facing this difficult choice right now, and they need our prayers, as does the confused administration at the school.  Apparently what parents say carries no weight with this administration. A petition by TFP Student Action is available to sign here. I hope you sign this petition to stop this atrocity and slap in the face of Catholic parents. They need 15,000 signatures and as of this writing, there are about 6,500. Can you just imagine your child sitting through this trash at school? My heart goes out to these parents, but it's not enough. Sign the petition and spread the word!

Remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 

Enough is enough!

Below is the press release from TFP Student Action:

Sept. 6, 2016:  Going against the will of many parents, Father Ryan High School -- a Catholic institution in Nashville, Tennessee -- is forcing students to sit through a graphic sex-ed course or get kicked out of school.

The explicit material covers contraception, fornication and prostitution in lewd detail.

Concerned parents describe it as:
  • Spiritually harmful.
  • Near occasion of sin.
  • Teaches all about contraception.
According to, school administrators "told parents that students cannot be opted out from the course, suggesting that when parents send their children to school they hand over their right and duty as primary educator."

But even public schools let parents opt out.

Parents are upset because the purity of their children is at stake.  That's why TFP Student Action invites you to sign your prayerful protest to the school, urging them to scrap the inappropriate course.

Susan Skinner, a Catholic mom whose son goes to Father Ryan High School, said:  "I just don't think my 14-year-old boy needs to see [graphic images] while a girl sits next to him in class. We were told this gets taught or you opt out of the school.  I'm trying to raise Godly children," she said. 

Sign the petition.  Share the petition.  Fight for purity.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Do Not Grind Your Teeth

WOW, thank you so much, Father Jason Worthley, for this timely video that I am sure was inspired by the Holy Spirit. For all of you teeth grinders out there, have a listen. If you are a Catholic dentist, please listen as well and share with your patients!

Father Jason Worthley blogs at

Pray more, grind less!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Evening Book Chat

I had such a fun time a couple of weeks ago speaking to a wonderful group of young ladies and their mothers at Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, MI. I spoke about the communion of saints, Catholic fiction for children, St. Therese, the Little Way, and how blessed we are to have our saint friends in heaven to intercede for us. I had suggested young readers bring any questions they might have, and I was pleased to answer not only readers' questions, but their mothers' questions as well! It was a lovely summer evening chatting about our beautiful Catholic faith.

Afterward, I signed copies of Olivia and the Little Way, Olivia's Gift, and The Gate.  One reader handed me her copy of Olivia and the Little Way and I was pleased to see it appeared to be so well read! Dog-eared pages, underlined passages, and such are the signs of a well-loved book, and that makes an author especially happy!  I really enjoyed having the opportunity to chat one on one with everyone. I left feeling very uplifted and I hope everyone else did as well. Thank you, Christ the King Church, for making me feel so welcome!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What a Crazy World We Live In

There's a lot of talk lately in the media about respect...or the lack thereof. People lack respect for their elders, teachers, law enforcement, priests, and just...everyone. Proper respect seems to be taking a nosedive everywhere. At my parish, I've heard people address our pastor by his first name. Can you imagine walking up to a priest and saying, "Hey, Bill"? So strange. So disrespectful. So WEIRD.

The other day I was listening to a Catholic satellite radio show in the car. The host is supposed to be a funny, hip Catholic guy, "just one of the guys," and invites guests onto his show to shoot the breeze. I don't normally tune in but my son and I were in the car and we turned the radio on. It was our first time listening to him. He had a guest on the show, a speaker on the Catholic circuit. They were chatting amiably about an idea the host seemed to think was extraordinarily clever: a "new" set of mysteries to add to the Holy Rosary. He called it the "mundane mysteries" and he had put a shout-out earlier for listener suggestions. Who could come up with the funniest "mystery?" He was interested in knowing what parts of Jesus' daily life would be mundane or boring, that we could all relate to, and if they were funny enough, he would (tongue in cheek, of course) include them as a new decade of mysteries! I raised an eyebrow but said nothing, not sure how the conversation would go.  I like to think I have a good sense of humor and can laugh at lots of things. I figured I shouldn't rush to judgement, it was a Catholic radio show on a well-known Catholic satellite station; how bad could it be? 

The host proceeded to read the suggestions put forth from these callers to which his guest would give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down response. They ranged from "Jesus makes a sandwich," to "Jesus stands in line at the DMV," to "Jesus sweeps the sawdust from the floor." My son and I glanced at each other, admittedly a bit uncomfortable, but figuring it probably wouldn't get worse than that. Nothing prepared us for the one the host and his guest began to guffaw about: "Jesus clips his toenails." They laughed and talked about it on an on, just enjoying the thought. Oh, they thought it was soooo amusing. In my gut, I knew it was wrong, but I could not get over the shock of what I was hearing. My son and I looked at each other and talked about how disrespectful it was. I turned off the show before it had the opportunity to get even worse and become an occasion of sin. Nice programming for Catholics, I thought. Could it have been worse? Sure, it could have. But it was bad enough. I felt like calling in and asking him to reach for a higher standard. The secular media continuously scrapes the bottom of the barrel, must the Catholic media stoop to that as well? Shouldn't they be striving for a higher plane instead of disrespecting Our Lord with junk like this? And encouraging others to do the same? Shameful. I so long for humility in the Catholic media, don't you?

There are those who may say it's all in fun, but to insult Our Lord like this? NOT funny in the least. I have a good time being silly. I like to joke about Catholic things, like how funny it is when you almost accidentally genuflect in a movie theater (apparently lots of Catholics have this problem!), awkward things that happen in the pew at Mass now and then, the jokes about toddlers who innocently try to drink the holy water, how Catholics always seem to sit in the same seat every week, stuff like that. Cute, harmless, poking fun at ourselves. Think of most of Catholic comedian Jim Gaffigan's material (not all, but most). There are funny memes out there that capture these funny instances of Catholic life in a gentle but respectful way that make us all laugh at our foibles on the way to holiness. But here's the thing: It's always about the awkward things WE do, as people. We are making fun of ourselves. Nothing is funny about poking fun at the Savior of the world. Who even goes there, who even tries to take Our Lord's human side and make a joke out of it? I think they were trying WAY too hard to fill airtime. I'm sure they did not mean to be disrespectful and would argue that it was all in fun, but that does not change the fact that it WAS disrespectful and bordering on the blasphemous. 

I wonder how our young people ever learn about the reverence we are expected to show toward Our Lord and the Mass when self-professed Catholics-- who are supposed to be representing the Faith in the media-- do not even understand what that means.

Humor is good in its proper time and place. We all need a good belly laugh; our world is so fallen and finding the funny aspects of life is healthy and good; Our Lord surely wants that for us. Let's just keep it respectful and remember about Whom we are speaking.

Let's say the Golden Arrow prayer that Jesus gave to Sister Mary of St. Peter, a French Carmelite nun in 1843. Sister Mary called it "an act of Praise that Our Lord Himself dictated to me, notwithstanding my unworthiness, for the reparation of Blasphemy (insulting or disrespectful thoughts or behavior) against His Holy Name." 

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

What a crazy, crazy world we live in, friends. Keep praying.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Reading Discussion Questions

 Jessica over at the Shower of Roses blog snapped this photo of her daughter reading Olivia's Gift while cleaning up outside. She gave me permission a couple of years ago to post it here and I couldn't resist posting it again since it is so cute!

Talking about The Gate with a young reader at Celtic Cove Catholic bookstore. 
I've been hearing that Olivia and the Little Way, Olivia's Gift, and The Gate have made it onto many Catholic school summer reading lists, and it makes me happy that young readers will be getting to know St. Therese and St. John Bosco over their summer vacations!

Did you know there are discussion guides for each book? Teachers, parents, and book club leaders email me at Nancy(at)harveyhousepublishing(dot)com often to request the free PDFs, and I would be happy to email them to you as well! They include valuable questions for readers to talk about as they read the books.

Are you reading Olivia and the Little Way, Olivia's Gift, or The Gate (or all three!) on your summer vacation? Send me a photo like the ones above and I will be happy to include it on my blog! Happy reading!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

History Lessons at an Antique Store

My family and I like to visit antique stores when we take road trips. They're a welcome rest stop along the road. Sometimes they're small little shops, and other times they are large emporiums filled with a gazillion booths. Large or small, they are always filled with unique treasures from the past. Yes, sometimes I do feel a little antique myself when toys from my childhood are among the shelves (Fisher Price A-Frame house, Donny and Marie dolls...), but most of the time I enjoy walking around. The owners are always friendly people, and it's a relaxing break from the highway to stretch your legs.  Once in awhile I pick up an item and say out loud to whoever is in earshot, "My mom still has this!" or "I totally forgot about this until right now, but I had this!" or "I remember that!" I am always fascinated by vintage clothes (ladies sure were petite back then!).

On our way back from Chicago a couple of weekends ago, we stopped at a nice antique store in Michigan City, IN.  My husband took off toward one end of the store (he collects old books), while my son and I poked around together looking at things from time gone by: old toys, Beatles posters, vinyl record albums, knick-knacks, books, and housewares. Religious items always catch my eye, and I've come home with several Catholic items from shops like these.

The things I am drawn to the most, however, are old photographs: people all dressed up at weddings, baby photos, and family photos. I always wonder who these people are, how they felt when their photos were taken, what kind of people they were, and of course, where they are now. The photos are usually so old that the people in them have likely gone into eternal life, and that always gives me pause. How did these family photos end up in an antique shop and in my hands? Didn't the family want them anymore, or are they long gone as well? Sometimes people purchase these photos because they like the frames, but when the photos don't come in frames, I wonder who buys these photos of other families, someone else's grandma or grandpa, or great uncle or cousin.

One photo I looked at was a photo of someone's parents, in front of their home on a summer's day, probably taken in the 1940s. The mother had a corsage pinned to her dress, and they both looked happy, grinning at the camera. Mother's Day, perhaps, or an anniversary? Easter Sunday?

I usually reflect for a bit on these photos of someone else's family and then move on, since there is so much to see and merchandise crammed everywhere. But the other week, buried in the back of a shelf of the antique shop in Michigan City, IN, a particular framed photo caught my eye. I don't know when the black-and-white photo was taken, but I am guessing sometime in the 1930s or 40s. I was drawn to it because it is a photograph of a Catholic priest. I dug it out of the shelf and stared at the 8x10 photo of a man in glasses looking back at me. Who was this priest, and where was he from? How did this photo come to be here in this antique shop? Most of these stores have booths they rent out to vendors, and this store was so large and had so many vendors that I knew the man at the front desk would most likely not know the back story of this particular photograph. Now I wish I would have at least tried to ask him.

I called my son over and showed him the photo of the priest. "I wonder who he is," I mused aloud. I wondered about his vocation and the parishes he served at.  I turned the frame over but there was no information on the back. Then it occurred to me that we should pray for this holy priest, for the repose of his soul, for he was most likely deceased. So right there in the middle of the antique store, a short prayer was said for this man of the cloth who we had never known. But I figured somebody, perhaps many, many people, loved this priest and he had most likely served hundreds and hundreds of God's people over the years of his priesthood, so he deserved a special prayer here in 2016.  After snapping a quick photo of it, I gently set the framed picture back where I had found it and wondered if anyone would buy it.

We walked back toward the front of the store and saw a large display case of jewelry. So many colors and styles of necklaces, earrings, and rings that ladies of days gone by wore and enjoyed.  I wondered who gave these ladies their treasures, and if they were birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gifts. Each piece, I realized, was treasured by someone, was loved and kept in a special place on their dressers or in jewelry boxes.

Meandering through the rest of the store, I came upon many other photos of people enjoying special times in their lives, and I was a bit in awe of all of these people and their photos. I happened upon a photo of a little girl's First Holy Communion, seated with her mother for a formal portrait, and I wondered who she was as well.

Walking through these antique stores is a real, living history lesson. I love history, so perhaps that's why I enjoy it so much. Sometimes it makes me a little sad, but mostly it makes me appreciate that I am still here, still alive and able to enjoy living in the here and now, and am able to learn from looking at and appreciating belongings that others cherished so much in the past. Somehow I think the owners of these treasures would like knowing that someone still appreciates them now in 2016.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...