Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Catholics of the Year"

Now that 2014 is coming quickly to a close, we start to see "____ of the Year" awards everywhere. Every publication, it seems, has its own award for people who made a difference in the past calendar year. TIME magazine has its Person of the Year, as well as its Most Influential People awards. There's a Year in Photos, Novel of the Year, Games of the Year, and in an example of how low our society has sunk: a "Booty of the Year" award. I always thought these inane awards were a perfect fit for tabloids and newsstand magazines at the airport, but imagine my disappointment when a Catholic newspaper came out with their own version. Not to be outdone by the mainstream media, it too has an award at year's end: the "Catholics of the Year" award.

My heart sank when I saw the headline. Not us, too? Ugh.

I quickly flipped to the pages to see who the Catholics of the Year are, according to the newspaper's editorial staff. They are wonderful people, to be sure.

Inspirational? You bet.

Tireless workers for the Faith? Most certainly.

But I think we get into trouble with awards like this. I mean, who decides who should have such an "honor" bestowed on them? Should there even be such an honor? And why? And how on Earth can someone decide who is the "best" Catholic of 2014?  It's distasteful.

And what does "Catholic of the Year" even mean?

Because truly? I can think of several people who are, in my mind, Christlike, generous, humble people...and they'll never get a half-page spread in a newspaper, even though they are Catholics doing awesome things:

The sole priest in a small, financially strapped parish who selflessly serves his flock, even though he isn't feeling well. And he does it quietly and humbly and tries to stifle any yawn. I've met him on one of those days and he simply smiled without complaint.

The senior citizen  prayer warrior who prays every day in front of the Tabernacle for friends who ask her to, even though she has aches and pains and family troubles of her own. She signs her emails, "In His service." She asks "What can I do for you?' when you call her on the phone...and she means it. She saw a homeless family in our town while driving in her car one day and found the mother a job at a hair salon and a motel to sleep in.  Last time I checked: no award for her.

The publisher (a friend of mine: you know who you are!) who tirelessly works to evangelize Catholics on a small publisher's budget, just to get good Catholic books in the hands of the faithful. She gives books away and prays for everyone. Award for this? Nope.

The friend I've known since high school who writes encouraging letters to her pastor who suddenly lost his mother a couple of weeks before Christmas. Her family makes him food and is a listening ear and a huge support for him.

The mom and daughter who spent Christmas Day serving the homeless at a soup kitchen instead of at home in front of a warm fire with extended family.

The man who helped an elderly neighbor by spreading salt on her driveway so she wouldn't fall.

The busy seminarian who offered to pray rosaries for someone he's never met, simply because she said she is going through a hard time.

The newly ordained priest who wrote to a friend half a world away to wish her and her family a Merry Christmas, even though he was swamped with his new pastor duties in an impoverished parish, because he didn't want her to think he forgot them at Christmas.

The divorced father who did without for himself so he could give his children presents under the tree and dress-up clothes to wear to Christmas Eve Mass.

I could go on and on with stories. So could you. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that you know people like this...or you are people like this. And you'd probably think that an award for that would be the strangest thing ever.

The people I named above are quietly doing what they do because they love Christ. Humbly, quietly, without splash, without medals, without space in a newspaper telling the world.  Are the winners of these awards doing this as well? I'm sure they are.  After all, they didn't nominate themselves for these awards; someone else did. In fact, some of them might even be downright embarrassed at the attention. It most likely goes against the very things they stand for!

Yet, they are the "Catholics of the Year." Why are we ranking Catholics, anyway?  And out of the gazillion Catholics worldwide, why and how would we even try? Because that's essentially what an award like this is: by saying they are "of the year" they are saying that they outshine, outdo, out-Catholic all other Catholics.

This is weird.

For  the secular media, it makes sense. You'd expect that from People magazine or your local daily. But Christians are called to a higher standard than this. And Catholic Christians, since we alone posses the Eucharist, are especially called.

Those in the Catholic media MUST be above what the secular media does. They HAVE to, because as Catholics they represent the Church. Anything less, anything secular like TIME magazine, is wrong.

God doesn't pass out awards to those who make the biggest splash. The Catholic media shouldn't, either.

Because we're all equal in God's eyes, I'm begging the Catholic media to stop "ranking" Catholics.

Have a blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas to you and your families. I am thankful for all of my readers and wish you many blessings in the new year!

"How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you. As she cooked meals in her Nazarene home, as she nursed her aged cousin, as she drew water at the well, as she prepared the meals of the village carpenter, as she knitted the seamless garment, as she kneaded the dough and swept the floor, she was conscious that Christ was in her; that she was a living Ciborium, a monstrance of the Divine Eucharist, a Gate of Heaven through which a Creator would peer upon creation, a Tower of Ivory up whose chaste body He was to climb "to kiss upon her lips a mystical rose."

As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellow man a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through. If you knew He spoke through your lips, then your speech, like Peter's, would betray that you had been with the Galilean. If you knew that He wants to use your mind, your will, your fingers, and your heart, how different you would be..."

—How to Find Christmas Peace
   Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

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.


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


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.  

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