Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent






Dear God, help us to remain hopeful and to trust in you no matter the trials and troubles life brings.  This first week of Advent, help us to remember that we are Your people and that You are our God.  Help us get our priorities straight and put the most important things first—loving God and loving our neighbor.


Holy Spirit, guide the choices we make throughout this week so that we choose to do what honors our Creator and what shows our love of others.


Father in Heaven, we offer thanks to You for the many gifts and talents You have given to all the people on the earth, to our family and friends, to the neighbors we know and the neighbors we have yet to befriend.


Come, Lord Jesus.  Come into our hearts, so that when the time comes, we will be prepared to join You in everlasting joy.


Amen.




From The Michigan Catholic

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Christmas Mother-Daughter Special from Bezalel Books!




You know how much respect and admiration I have for Cheryl Dickow, author and publisher over at Bezalel Books. I've blogged about her passion for providing Catholic books for adults and children (see this link). I'm excited to announce that Bezalel Books has published a new YA novel, Erin's Ring, just in time for Christmas! Talented Catholic author Laura Pearl (who wrote Finding Grace), has a winner in this lovely story that weaves the past and the present:

What story might this ring tell, if only it could talk?

When thirteen-year-old Molly McCormick, who has recently moved from the Midwest to Dover, New Hampshire, finds an old Irish Claddagh ring poking up out of the dirt in a garden outside her local parish church, she is immediately intrigued. The ring’s inscription, “To Erin—Love, Michael,” fills her head with romantic possibilities. She teams up with her new friend, Theresa Grant, to uncover the story behind the lost ring. With the help of the head librarian at the public library, the two girls become immersed in the rich history of the Irish immigrants who came to Dover in droves during the 19th century, to escape famine and poverty in their homeland and make better lives for their children and grandchildren.

Molly and Theresa learn about the courage, tenacity, and deep faith that were the hallmarks of these Irish immigrants—people with names like Ann and Seamus, Cara and Finn, and of course, Erin and Michael. The young girls eagerly delve into old records tucked away in the dark corners of the library and learn how instrumental Dover’s Irish-Catholics were in getting the first Catholic church built in their small New England town.

Molly and Theresa set out to discover the origins of the mysterious ring, but they unearth a story that is far stranger and infinitely more touching than anything they could have ever imagined.


Bezalel Books is offering a Christmas Mother-Daughter special for a limited time only: Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage for Mom, and Erin's Ring for your daughter, both for only $17.99, and this includes FREE shipping!  To order, click here.  It would make a wonderful gift set!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Multitasking!

I was pleased as punch to see this darling photo of Catholic blogger Jessica's 11-year-old daughter with Olivia's Gift in her hands. Her daddy asked her to gather up her siblings' bikes one afternoon and she didn't want to stop reading. According to Jessica, it only took "Twinkle Toes" two days to read Olivia's Gift. Jessica blogs about being a Catholic homeschooling mom on her wonderful blog, and her review of Olivia's Gift can be found here at http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-review-olivias-gift.html.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Martyrs Of Douai






Today I went on one of my phone apps that talks about the saint of the day, etc. I found out that today is the feast day of the Douai College Martyrs. Have you ever heard of them? When I read their story, I was completely blown away! 

These 160 holy priests, laypeople, and college members suffered the cruelest forms of torture before dying for the Faith in England in the 1500s (hanging, horrific torture, and beheading).  As I read about them, a movie was playing in my head. I could see these English priests, who were formed and ordained in France, sneaking over to Protestant England in the middle of the night to celebrate the sacraments for ostracized Catholics, celebrating Mass in secret, providing the sacraments, all knowing that if they were caught, they'd be tortured and hung for treason. This movie would be simply incredible being played out on the big screen, and would serve as a beautiful evangelization tool for so many. Why haven't so many of us ever heard of these martyrs? I know in England they are remembered on today, their feast day, but it boggles my mind and saddens me that so many (including myself!) know nothing of their sacrifices over here; nationality does not matter when it comes to Catholics dying in the most selfless way for the Faith, and I am so inspired by their bravery and love for Christ and His people. I have all of these images in my head of Mass being said in secret in homes of the faithful, Confession scenes, the brave families that sheltered the priests, and dying for the Eucharist. It would be absolutely incredible to see this bravery and love in action on the screen, wouldn't it? There may be documentaries available, but I'm thinking blockbuster movie here, a drama.

Here are some links to some info about the Douai Martyrs:



Screenwriters, see what you can do with this!




Thursday, October 23, 2014

"True Faith, True Fame"



Enjoy this touching video created by the Archdiocese of Detroit about our seminarians. They talk about what their plans were before they were called to the priesthood. It's beautiful, it's inspiring, and it's a must-share, so please spread it far and wide! Let's all pray for vocations and for these fine men who are saying "Yes" to God's call. But no matter what our vocation is, we are all called to be saints!












Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Retreat" Soup

I just returned from a wonderful trip to the east coast (my husband had to be near there on business and I got to tag along!) and was so pleased to be able to visit the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. I'll have a blog post about that very soon, but the fall colors and the gorgeous backdrop of the Berkshires was picture-perfect on cool, crisp autumn days in Stockbridge, MA. While my husband worked during the day (poor guy), I was able to rest and relax at the historic Red Lion Inn, peruse the quaint shops, take long autumn walks, and treat myself to solo lunches. It was a perfect little retreat for myself! The days were so beautiful that I could even eat al fresco in a cute little courtyard with my Catholic book of the moment. Walking up the very steep hill to the shrine was exercise in and of itself, helping me on my weight loss plan (as well as daily bike rides and time on the treadmill). I spent a few blessed hours each day at the shrine, beginning with Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, Holy Mass, and the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3:00.  So it was a religious retreat of sorts for me, and I enjoyed every moment of it. It was some much-needed R & R, filled with lots of prayer and discernment.


But even on religious retreats, one has to eat, right? It was at one of these lunches that I was able to have my first butternut squash soup of the season, and I came home craving it! So on this sunny, cool autumn day in Michigan,  I got to work and made a batch of this soup from Cooking Light magazine, trying to recreate the soup I had at a little cafe on the village's main street. I wasn't disappointed! If you are so inclined, make a batch yourself! I included the recipe here, with a few changes of my own to make it even better! It's rich and creamy, and I even decided against the half-and-half, opting to use lowfat milk instead. It will fill you up on a cold day!


Butternut Squash Soup

1 tablespoon butter
3 1/2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds...to save time, I bought it already prepared in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, carrot, and onion. Saute for about 12 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in milk and salt. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth. 

Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon into soup and enjoy!



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Prayer on the Feast of St. Therese

Today we celebrate the feast of our beloved St. Therese, who found a direct way to God through her Little Way of being humble and simple. Her Little Way of serving God is a model for us all, young or old, rich or poor. She promised to let fall a shower of roses to all who seek her help, and she has sent so many lovely roses my way. I smile when I think of them all.

I love you, St. Therese! Therese of the Child Jesus, most loving Saint, pray for us!



Dear Little Flower, make all things lead me to heaven and God. Whether I look at the sun, the moon, the stars and the vast expanse in which they float, or whether I look at the flowers of the field, the trees of the forest, the beauties of the earth so full of color and so glorious, may they speak to me of the love and power of God; may they all sing His praises in my ear.
Like you, may I daily love Him more and more in return for His gifts. Teach me often to deny myself in my dealings with others, that I may offer to Jesus many little sacrifices of love.  
Amen.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayer for the Feast Day of St. Pio

Today is the feast day of the great St. Pio of of Pietrelcina, a special friend of mine and hopefully of yours too! This holy priest was the only priest in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the Stigmata. A powerful intercessor for us in Heaven, he bore this special suffering for 50 years. Ask him to pray to God for what you need and to accept God's Holy Will in your sufferings.  St. Pio, devoted son of Mary and loving bearer of the Passion of Our Lord, pray for us!





God our Father, by Your Spirit You raised up St. Pio of Pietrelcina to show Your people the way to perfection. You made him a pastor of the Church to feed Your sheep with his words, and to teach them by example.

Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught, and to follow the way of life he showed us. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.



"Walk cheerfully and with a sincere and open heart as much as you can, and when you cannot always maintain this holy joy, at least do not lose heart or your trust in God."
—Padre Pio



For more information about this holy man of God, please visit The Padre Pio Foundation of America. www.padrepio.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

Taking A Stand

If I have any typos here, it's because my friendly cat is trying to snuggle with me as I sit in my recliner trying to balance a laptop—and a furry friend who wants a little lovin'. I'd like nothing more than to snuggle with him, but I'm on fire today. When you are on fire, you have to do something! You have to act!

My morning paper's front page was ugly, and it wasn't just because I hadn't had a cup of coffee yet. Personal opinion replaced fact on the front page. Silly me—when I was in journalism school, I was taught that feature and opinion writers had their place in another section of the paper, not the front page. I freelanced for one of the big dailies in Michigan and my feature articles were never on the front page. Why? Because, you see, the front page is supposed to be reserved for NEWS.  Unless, of course, you're an editor who wants to celebrate and create scandal, and has a bias...and wants to feed a massive ego. Then, of course, it's okay to pass off opinion as fact. 

A feature columnist, who calls herself a Catholic, is at it again this morning. I already fired off a private email to her last week; do I have to compose another one? No, it won't do any good, because she simply ignored it.  I expected this and wasn't surprised, but my hope was that I planted a seed. That's all you can do; let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

So I'll simply reprint the letter here, in hopes that it will inspire you, my fellow faithful Catholics, to do the same: to not just fume privately about someone who openly, publicly berates the Faith he or she openly professes to be a part of, but to actually speak up if you haven't already.

Do we have free speech? Do we have freedom of the press? Of course we do, and I wouldn't change that. However, this freedom comes with responsibilities, don't you agree? Like the responsibility of being balanced and fair. This columnist has NOT been balanced and fair. Every column of hers that mentions Catholicism is a slam on the Faith. That is where the problem lies, and I'm tired of my Church being trashed by this columnist. In Christian charity, I've left out her name and some other details, but you get the idea. After you finish reading this, I hope you are inspired to stand up for the Church as well in whatever way you can in your community. Be kind, be charitable, but be firm. And don't forget that these people need our prayers desperately.






Dear Ms.      :

I've been a reader of your column for many years now, and I feel compelled to write to you as a fellow Catholic, a fellow writer, and even a fellow parishioner (I grew up at your parish, although I have since moved to another area).

It always puzzles and saddens me when a fellow Catholic uses opportunities to make snide comments about his or her faith, and I have found many of these instances in your columns over the years. Today is no exception, with your comment about how several archdioceses were not to be "outdone." It was an unnecessary slam on a very significant claim that some of the monies that go to ALS are used for embryonic stem-cell research: stem cells taken from babies that have been denied a proper chance at life. I am not going to get into a debate with you right now about IVF or abortion, but you do need to know that priests and bishops do not sit around all day thinking of ways they can't be "outdone." I assure you that Catholics are not dreaming of ways to make sure charities don't get the money they need to help sick, innocent people. Prayerful consideration, I am sure, is the case with this moral decision and all others. 

True, the people of the Church are not perfect, but that is simply because we are talking about human beings. So yes, we do have problems, and yes, there are things we can work on. I understand that you have a platform to talk about all sorts of topics, and it is your right to do so. However, I feel that I have to stand up for the Church, my Church, which I love deeply. I am tired of seeing her ridiculed, made fun of, and torn down. I write Catholic fiction books for children that are used in the curricula of Catholic schools across the U.S. and Canada. I am PROUD of my faith and feel it is my mission to pass along this love to pre-teens. In my novels, I teach these children not only to live their Catholic faith, but to love and cherish it, too. I do this for the young souls that God loves so very much. You are not helping the Church you profess to be a part of—and these children—with your snide comments. 

We all get it: You are mad at the Church.  I won't ask why, but do you not see the harm you are doing in your remarks? The Church is wounded; we all know that, but positive, helpful comments to build it up will do so much good, instead of little hurtful remarks that tear it down. I know you must have stories of wonderful, faithful, and holy priests and sisters you have met over the years...of your encounters with a favorite saint, or how you felt at Mass one Sunday morning when the priest elevated the Sacred Host and you just KNEW it was Our Lord Himself, or how your rosary beads comforted you during a sorrowful time as you prayed. I know you have these types of stories, Ms.    . Please write more about them!

Think of all of the good you could do as a Catholic writer with such a wide readership. Please help all of us as we build up the Catholic Church, not tear her down.

In Christ,

+JMJ+
Nancy Carabio Belanger  www.harveyhousepublishing.com


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