This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Most Fascinating Catholics of 2010

Check out Faith & Family's list of most fascinating Catholics of 2010. There are so many wonderful and inspiring people living and helping us in every day life!

Faith & Family : Features : Most Fascinating Catholics of 2010

God bless and Happy Epiphany!

Herod and The Magi

My pastor described Herod as a man who wanted to hear the wailing and crying of his people at his own funeral; of course, he wanted to hear this before he died. Imagine someone so selfish to bring such misery to his own people for his own pleasure and security in power. We have seen them before: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin....

In contrast, the Feast of the Epiphany brings us the Magi, the scholars who searched the Heavens for God. They were drawn the follow the star. Their arrival to Christ marked a significant dimension to God's love and the salvation Christ brings to us. That is, Christ was (and is) meant for the entire world, not just the Hebrew nation, which had been prepared to receive the Messiah yet woefully had fallen into despair, Herod's kingship a clear indication of this.

The story of the Magi is a beautiful and awe inspiring story. Yet there is one more issue that I heard addressed the other day by a Sacred Heart priest--The Magi's science and astrology did NOT get it right. These methods brought them to Herod, not to Christ Himself. And this mistake led to a grave sacrifice and suffering--the slaughter of The Holy Innocents, all the baby boys under the age of two. I can only imagine the grief of the mothers and fathers as they watched in horror as their children were murdered before their eyes. Herod certainly must have been filled with evil happiness over the wailing and crying.

When I heard this, my first thought was, Don't we do this, too? In our earnest efforts to seek Christ, don't we sometimes apply worldly ways to the answers we seek? Even in their human frailties (wrought with mistakes) the three men were able to cast their eyes upon the Divine Christ, and their desire to serve Him led to their willingness to follow the instructions they received from God's messanger, to take another route home in order to avoid Herod.

Well, Dear Reader, my real intention today is to share with you Father Barron's homily on The Feast of the Epiphany. He has many beautiful insights. Please share this with your children, particularly your teenagers. Please click here. You can also enjoy his website, Word On Fire.

God bless and Happy Epiphany!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From the Front Pew: The Shoes of Many, One in Christ

by Kathleen Blease

It only makes sense. Since I am a little claustrophobic, sitting in the front pew is my sure-fire way to enjoy (and get through) the entire Mass. It also gives me an opportunity to see things that most parishioners who sit farther back don't get to see, like the small crucifix that graces the altar so the priest can lay his eyes on Christ's suffering while consecrating the bread and wine.

During the Mass on the Feast of the Holy Family, it occurred to me that there are things I see each and every Sunday, things that only a family can gather into one place in such abundance and variety--Shoes!

After receiving Holy Communion, I returned to my pew as usual, knelt down, and stared at the floor while saying my prayers of petitions and thanksgiving. I couldn't help but notice all the shoes that walked in front of me. Sneakers, dress shoes, boots, geriatric shoes, and cool sports shoes, even Monsignor's black wing tips.

Each and every one of those soles reflected the souls who wore them. Some have a casual attitude, while others are more formal. Some are quite active, while others are perhaps nursing sore feet. Young. Old. Mother and Fathers. Little girls in mary janes and frilly socks. Boys in their soccer shoes hidden under their jean hems. Teenagers in skinny jeans poured into heavy suede uggs. The elderly using canes.

Only a family could bring so much diversity to one place, to one line, to receive One Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

I watched those shoes go by, two by two by two. They padded slowly in line, stopped to receive the Eucharist, then off they marched with purpose back to their pews. Indeed, only a family!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Karen Carpenter Sings Ave Maria

Who doesn't love the voice of Karen Carpenter? America lost her much too soon.

Have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Skeet, Anyone? A Home School Field Trip

Some family fun, sporting clays.

Earlier this Fall, we visited Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, which is a special course designed for skeet-style shooting.  But with this skeet, called "sporting clays," the clay birds fly in all directions. Some fly out from underneath you, others from far left or right, and still others fly directly at you. Sometimes two fly out: one from below right, next from high straight ahead. A real challenge, and our instructor was terrific in helping us enjoy our day. Sore shoulders notwithstanding, we had a great time!! And I actually took a few birds down. Yahoo! (Talk about an inventive home school field trip!)

Max was feeling the recoil, here! Our twelve-year-old was the sharp shooter of the day. Way to go, kid. (The man standing next to Max was our instructor. He watched, then said quietly under his breath, "Yeah, this kid's a shooter.")

Yours truly. I was trying to lean into that gun, so I wouldn't suffer the recoil like I did before. It was hard not to flinch, but I managed to forget about the forthcoming pain and take down a few birds. Oh, I was so sore after that day, but I had a lot of fun.

Big Ben takes aim!

The Blease gang. Tired but happy. Went out to dinner at Grumpy's for a big pile of ribs, lagers for the grown-ups and birch beers for the boys! (Yes, I am a country girl.)

God bless!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do You Want to Read About Books I Don't Like, Too? A Note About My Book Reviews

by Kathleen Blease

It happened one day. I read a book that was just awful. If I would have been its editor, I would have rejected it. The author had a promising list of previous books he wrote, but he squarely missed the mark on this title. To explain quickly: His premise was this... If you want to communicate with someone, then you need to connect. Every chapter was the same, an argument as to why we need to connect in order to successfully communicate. By page fifty, I was getting antsy. I thought, Okay I'm with you. Now tell me HOW to connect. He broke the first and most important rule of all writers: Show, don't Tell. By page 110, I gave up and the book ended up on the donation pile. There was a whole lot of telling going on between those two covers.

Fortunately, all I really lost was some time. I participated in a program whereby a blogger received books for free from a certain Christian publisher if she would just give an honest book review. Once one book was finished and the review was posted, another book would be on the way.

This was my first title. And my last. My conundrum: I didn't want to publish a negative review. And since I wouldn't post the review, the publisher would not send me another title. My husband even approached me about this and made a good point. "Kath, if you don't give a tough review every once in a while, will people believe your positive reviews? Will they believe you if you post only positive stuff?"

Readers, do you believe me? The books I offer to you in my reviews are indeed as good as I believe them to be. I do not in any way contrive to gloss over glaring editorial weaknesses.

So why only positive reviews? I believe my blog is a "good news" blog meant to encourage others, so I offer reviews of only those books I believe to be of help to you, to lift you, to educate you, and to inspire you in Our One True Faith.  Albeit, it would also be helpful to you if I were to state which books to avoid, those that I believe to be unworthy of your investment in time and money. I have thought about that quite a bit. Believe me, I have read quite a few stinky titles, both children and adults, fiction and nonfiction, how-to and self-help, from Catholics and non-Catholics.

I think I would like to continue bringing you only positive reviews. (Click here to read some of my review posts.) However, I would like to know your opinion. Would you like to read about books I don't like, too? Please let me know!

God bless!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Homeschooling Gettin' You Down? It's That Time of Year When We All Need A Pick-Me-Up.

by Kathleen Blease

Well, now. If you started your homeschooling year in August or September, you have just completed the first semester. Besides the holidays peering at you from around the corner--gingerbread men who are crying to be baked and a sappy tree that's moping naked in the corner--it is homeschooling that had added to the mountain of work. Forgive us, Lord, but sometimes Your Work can be a little much for us dear-old moms....and we are getting, well, a little old.

Science fairs start in February and research papers are due in March. "Oh, that's far away," you say. "No need to put THAT on the pile right now." Ah, so you think. Don't forget to factor in time to research the history of steam locomotives and the transcontinental railroad, and time to purchase petri dishes and grow the mold. Then there's writing and editing the research paper, drawing the science poster, compiling the science report--hypothesis, objective, procedure, observations, conclusion, and "next time" (optional, but impressive). Tired yet?

Just about now, there are homeschooling moms across the country who are ready to cry "Uncle!" But I'm here today to tell you one thing: Don't give up. It's ALL for a good cause--the edification and education of the most important charges in your life, the wee ones.

Here's an oldie-but-goodie article about just one of the benefits of homeschooling. Maybe this will help put determination back into your bloodstream and boost you for the semester ahead. Click here, and have fun!

If all else fails, dear moms, remember this adage: This, too, will pass. (And our children will be out into the world all too soon!)

God bless, and Happy Advent!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Newest Writing Projects--Exciting!

My-oh-my, this has been one crazy year. Between my husband being sick, my son being couch-ridden for two months, and homeschooling, it seems that my writing projects have had nothing but little fits and starts. It's no secret, really, that even this blog hasn't been very focused, and I'm grateful that I have a handful of readers who are willing to stick with me. Thank you!

But what I'd like to tell you today is that despite my crazy life, Our Dear Lord has placed a few projects right in my hands, and I'm so excited about them!

I can't give you the exact details yet, but let me tell you about them in less than exact terms.

First, The Catholic Writers Guild, whose conference I visited over the summer, has asked me to serve them in a very special and honorable way. It's a role I cannot tell you about as of yet, in this public forum. To say the least, I am very humble that they invited me to take on this role. Of course, I accepted right away! Well, maybe after saying a few prayers, because (to be honest) I didn't think I was up to the task. But the Lord said, "I am giving this to you because I KNOW you can do it." So how could I refuse? I am indeed looking forward to it! And I will surely tell you more when I can.

Second, a well-known Catholic publisher contacted me about writing a book about observing Lent at home. It will feature prayers, crafts, recipes, devotions, and essays of encouragement from one Catholic mom (that's me!) to another. I'm truly looking forward to starting the project this Spring. Again, this is also in its infancy, and a contract has not be drafted yet, so I'm not able to divulge the details (publisher, price, etc.) as of today. But as soon as I can tell you more, you can count on lots of info forthcoming.

Phew. Suddenly, the year ahead looks very exciting. Will you give thanks with me? Just as I was thinking that my aspirations were too high for this time in my life, Jesus gave me a few opportunities to encourage and edify me. Praise the Lord!!

God bless!

P.S. I just might be asking you in the near future, dear Readers, to help me with my Lenten book project. Put on your thinking caps and brainstorm: Do you have any special traditions or devotions you would like to share? They can be prayers, crafts, recipes, or any other form of Lenten devotions. I would be delighted to offer you credit in the book's text. Or...perhaps you might have some questions about Lent, which I can answer in an essay. Feel free to contact me at Put "Lenten book" in the message line so I don't delete it by accident.

Monday, December 13, 2010

About Rose and Yarn

There was something special about Grandmom  Rose and her knitting needles.

I was sitting in the breezeway, pushing the glider back and forth. I was just eight years old, full of energy, and bored.


"Yeah, Grandma."

"I have something for you." Grandmom was making her way out her kitchen door, with a few items in her hands. With a line or two of introduction of materials, and a little lesson on patience, Grandmom began my first crochet lesson--the chain stitch. She then taught me to count, count, count my stitches, to hold the needle correctly, to keep my "hand" even...and how to read a pattern, which isn't always easy. And so it began. I was "hooked," so to speak.

The proprietor of Charles' Yarn Shop in South side of Allentown, Rose Charles taught literally hundreds of women to crochet and knit. She was also an accomplished seamstress--truly the daughter of a tailor and seamstress making their living in Brooklyn.

Today, knitting and crocheting takes me right back to those days of perusing her display of pattern books and leaflets, of examining her selection of needles--some almost as thick as my arm, and some so tiny their hooks seemed microscopic--and ah-ing over the crocheted jewelry in the glass case. I think of Grandmom whenever I work on a project, and I remember how most of our conversations took place over the clickety-clack of her needles.

My mother is also an accomplished knitter and crocheter, and so I feel I belong to something like a very special sorority whenever I pick up a pair of needles--or even when I just daydream about doing the gorgeous projects I see in knitting and crochet books. I am transported right back to the hospitable surroundings of Grandmom's yarn shop.

When our boys were little, I had a hard time working on needle projects, but now that they are teenagers, it's time for me to return to the enjoyment! I think lots of needlework will be in my future.

Here are a few pillows I just finished knitting. The herringbone (right) and the honeycomb (left) patterns can be found at Lion Brand Yarn. Click here for the free herringbone pattern. While I was downloading the pattern, I also visited Lion's stitch encyclopedia and found the honeycomb cable pattern, which is just a swatch. For the honeycomb pillow, I simply used the same number of stitches the herringbone called for, then made the pillow front from there; I then used the same back from the herringbone pattern.

Here's a sweater that I started to crochet (get this) twenty years ago! Before I even met my husband of 17 years, I managed to finish the front and back, which are both festooned with cables. Although I lost the pattern, I still had the wool, even after moving from three houses. This summer, I thought it was time to get it done, so I improvised the sleeves, cuffs, and waistband. It needs a little blocking to help straighten the stitches, and then it's ready to wear--after all those years! And, yes, it still fits. By the way, Lion Brand also has tons of crochet patterns and a crochet stitch encyclopedia. You can also learn various techniques (for beginners on up) at their website.

God bless!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Women Saints: A Nice Gift Idea for Mom

Here's a terrific book I discovered at the library, called Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage by Kathleen Jones (Orbis Books, 1999, paperback, 310 pages, ISBN 1-57075-291-5).

The book is divided into eight chapters:

1. Visionaries
2. Martyrs
3. Collaborators
4. Wives and Mothers
5. Penitents
6. Outcasts
7. Innovators
8. Missionaries

I just finished reading a selection from the Wives and Mothers, about St. Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837), who lived a very arduous and difficult life. She lived in the poor quarters of Rome, and her husband was far from a reasonable and happy man. He was prone to many tantrums. Yet, while raising six children (she gave birth to them over a span of twenty years), she kept her eyes on Heaven and sought out Jesus' refuge. She offered her husband unending patience and guidance. In time, queens, clergy, and nobles sought her out, in her austere and humble home. One queen even offered her gold, which she readily refused, acknowledging the extraordinary gift of her faith. Her canonization was a long yet amazing process, during which her husband personally vouched for her strength in Christ. Since she was never a religious, documents were not available regarding her spiritual development, thus every detail was carefully scrutinized.

Author Kathleen Jones is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of York and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Pyschiatrists. She has translated The Poems of St. John of the Cross and revised two volumes of the new edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints.

Women Saints includes only a few modern women: Katherine Drexel, Edith Stein, and Anuarite Nengapeta. I would like to see more included, but just the same, the book is beautifully written and well researched.

You can purchase Women Saints by just clicking on the book above, or by visiting Kathleen's Catholic Book Shop. It is wonderful, edifying reading. Perhaps it would make a nice gift for a mom in your life.

God bless!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For Our Awe and Wonder, Made by a Magnificent Creator

Here is the Universe as we have been able to map it out thus far. What's even more amazing is how much we haven't been able to determine.

And to think the Creator of all this wants to be with us!

God bless!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Wreath: The Wood of the Manger, Carpenter, and Cross

A few years ago, I was visiting my parents' home. On their dining room table sat a very simple yet elegant Advent wreath. Soon afterward, my father arrived at my home with two pieces of wood in his hands. "Here you go, Kathleen. I hope you like it." And I love it. Dad made one right away in his workshop. The above photo shows you the pieces of the wreath and how the two pieces of wood are fashioned.

It's a simple wreath, and I like Advent wreaths to reflect our time of waiting and preparation. While some people like to festoon their Advent wreaths, I am more of a purist. Each Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit, saving the rose candle for the third Sunday, called Joyful Sunday. It's a special day that reminds us to be attentive, the time is drawing near when His Light is about to enter the world.

I also like to add a white pillar in the center. This we light on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning, and burn it throughout the Christmas Season. This year, I'm going to replace the spent Advent candles with bright red Christmas candles. Together with the white pillar, they will look very festive.

There's one more thing about this wooden wreath I particularly love: It reminds me of the stable, Christ's manger, Christ the carpenter (learning the trade at Joseph's side), and also Christ's cross, from which He redeemed the world. I am still amazed that our God came to us--in complete union with His Creation--as a tiny and helpless baby, born to a simple handmaid and carpenter. This is why Advent is so special. It's a time to deeply reflect on this and also to prepare for His coming!

Have a wonderful, blessed Advent!

God bless.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remedy for the Bah-Humbug

Check out my new column at Click here to read about combatting the dreaded Bah-Humbug!

Have a blessed Advent!
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