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!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeschool Co-ops Are Excellent Resources. Here's a Genuinely Catholic One.

Check out Lacy's blog, Catholic Icing, to learn more about a Catholic resource for homeschoolers.

We have been part of a co-op for seven years, and I have to admit that I don't know where we would be without it. I do wish, however, that we would have had this option available to us, a genuinely Catholic program. The Catholic Schoolhouse is designed for elementary age children. (My boys are now in their teens.)

Check it out!

Catholic Icing: Catholic Schoolhouse- a New Resource for Homeschoo...: "Today I just wanted to share this unique (and brand new) Catholic resource for homeschoolers with all of you! I don't know how many of..."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Knitting Madonna

I love this image of Mary and Jesus, from a blog called The Careless Catholic. I think it reflects the Domestic Church beautifully! Jesus is a loving son and student, studying the Word. Mary is a caring and productive mother. She is knitting a garment for her son. I especially like how they are surrounded by God's bounty.

It also foreshadows Our Lord's crucifixion. See the angel holding the cross, and Jesus looking at him? Did you notice that the garment Mary is knitting is red? Perhaps this shows that in their daily lives they were ready to do God's will. The more I look, the more I see...such as what appears to a be a throne (or altar) behind Mary. Your thoughts?

Many thanks to fellow Catholic blogger, Kelly, for finding it and sharing it with us! The Careless Catholic: The Knitting Madonna...: "Detail from 'Visit of the Angel', from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar.1400 - 1410Meister Bertram von Minden (1340 - 1414) I lov..."

To read similar articles, click on a label below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Little Something For Mom and Grandma

Here's a little post for all you moms with small children who are still enjoying the "crafting years."

Wouldn't this make a lovely little gift for Moms and Grandmas and Great-Grandmas on Mother's Day? And it's easy to make. For several children, you might want to write their names in the center of the flowers. My Grandma Rose would have loved to have hung this in her room to show to her guests, then to have talked about all her great-grandchildren.

I'm tempted to make one just to brighten my kitchen. Spring is in the air!

It's from the Artists Helping Children website. Click here for complete directions.

God bless!

For similar posts, click on a label below.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Are You Mobile? So Is Kathleen's Catholic!

To check out KC's mobile format, click here.

Now you can take all the recipes, posts, videos, and links with you wherever you go:
  • to the library or bookstore (so you can find that excellent book KC just reviewed)
  • grocery shopping (for ingredients for that awesome chocolate cake from The Little Catholic Kitchen)
  • waiting at the doctor's office
  • during your little one's music lessons  
  • or while waiting for your children to be dismissed from school 
Happy travels and God bless!



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Go to Christ Through Mary? Here's Why

How you even wondered why Catholics go to Jesus through Mary?

From Catholic convert and well-known blogger, Denise Bossert, this is a beautiful explanation of why we should turn to our Blessed Mother and Queen in Heaven when we want to approach Christ.

God bless.

Catholic By Grace: Asking Mary for Help

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Flip-Flops and Blue Jeans Attend Sunday Mass

top reasons folks won't dress appropriately
by Kathleen Blease

Right now, I think my parents would laugh, and laugh hard, if they were to read this post. Growing up, I was just as difficult about dressing for Mass as any teenager, and that, well... thirty years ago (Yikes!). This issue is tougher to address these days, isn't it? Why is that? Because those teens are now adults (that's us), and we still want to do our own thing. Boy, do I understand!

There are two ladies who completely changed my mind and convinced me that jeans and flip-flops have no place in Sunday worship. First and foremost is my mother. Mom wouldn't give up. When we attended Mass with our parents, all four of us were expected to dress appropriately and pass a basic look-over. Of course, I whined and  cried when I couldn't wear my brand new Calvin Kleins. And, yes, I found ways to wear them waiting until the very last nano-second to show up in the dining room where Mom was waiting. Sigh. I remember, I remember. (Sorry, Mom.)

The second lady who had a big impact on me entered my life in my adult years, after I was married. My brother's wife, Maria, taught me a thing or two about presenting myself at Mass, in front of Our Precious Christ. Maria grew up in a large family who immigrated from Brazil when she was a child. Her mother insisted that the girls wore dresses always. And they all looked beautiful. They learned to be aware of their appearances as children of God at all times, not just at Mass. Over the years, their example has very much affected me. I have to tell you, the ladies in Maria's family are beautifully, modestly, and simply dressed. They are in no way frumpy or matronly, and they believe in maintaining their appearances without gaudy remedies, such as thick mascara or lipstick.

I have made a one-eighty, from a tempramental teenager to a Mom who is watching over her sons' souls. So I'd like to share with you how I have been able to work myself through the various arguments against dressing appropriately for Mass. And, yes, it does have to do with the soul. I'll cover that briefly below. Here we go...

1. Too expensive. "I don't have money like you do. I can't afford nice clothes and jewelry like yours." This is the big one, so let's start here. Granted, there are those who legitimately cannot afford more than very basic attire, but even during the Great Depression every man owned a suit and took care of it. Every woman had a Sunday dress. It was unheard of not to own these. But we're living in today, so here's a timely remedy: Try looking into thrift shops, re-sales, and consignment stores in your area. My boys dress in khakis, button-down shirts (topped with sweaters in winter), dark socks, and belts every Sunday, and it costs under $10 per child, for the entire outfit. They look presentable, neat, and appropriate. Granted, I do think their hair could use a better combing!

As for myself, I find the vast majority of my outfits at thrift stores. The Goodwill in our area is a beautiful, small facility that has fitting rooms, a return policy, and a credit card system. I've found lots of pretty sweaters, blouses, pants, and skirts for around $3 a piece, and they are all in excellent condition and appropriate for the season. I HATE shopping, so I use very little of my time to find clothing. It doesn't take much effort or money. Let's be honest. If it's not getting done, then it's not a priority. When I finally digested that and accepted the responsibility, the job was already half done.

2. No time. "Hey, I'm lucky to get there (meaning, to Mass) at all." What we are really saying is not that we are lucky, but that the Church is lucky that we have decided to attend. I do think we're lucky. What I mean is that we are lucky to be Catholic and witnesses to the greatest prayer on earth, the Mass, to Christ and Heaven touching our world right on the altar in front of us. No time? Consider this: It takes the same amount of time to pull on a pair of jeans as it does to pull on dress pants or khakis. Even less time to put on a dress. No time for ironing? My kids' pants haven't seen an iron in years. Just wash, dry, and hang up.  It's a new invention (not really) called wrinkle free, care free fabrics. Gotta love that stuff.

3. Peer pressure. "My kid feels like a dope when he has to wear dressy clothes in front of his friends." Ah, yes. I've heard this one, too, from my own boys. Teens have the ability of taking a simple line of logic and using it to its extreme. Hey, we're not talking about a suit and tie here, just a nice pair of pants and shirt. Don't give in. We're not at Mass to please some buddies. We're there because Christ gave Himself to us on the cross. We should take a good look at a crucifix, and then tell Christ, who was stripped and humiliated and tortured, that we don't want our kid to feel out of place. We really should feel some shame if we do that and still feel right about it.

In addition, kids should be given the chance to rise to the challenge--it's all part of growing into a sound adult. Last school year, I led the local Boy Scout Troop in earning the Catholic Religion Emblem, the Ad Altare Dei. After much thought, but from the beginning, I realized that the boys should wear their dress uniforms (called Class A's) to each of our meetings. This would help show our respect for the topic at hand, Our Lord and the Catholic faith. I had been told that the decision should have rested with the boys, not me. But I disagreed. I was there to teach the scouts, and this was definitely part of the lesson. I held my ground, took a deep breath, and announced it to the kids. I heard not a whimper. No problem. Why? Because each boy did it, so no one was considered odd for dressing appropriately. It was expected and supported. They rose to the challenge. Wouldn't it be great if our children and their friends got together and agreed to dress appropriately for Mass? To unite? To be "cool" by showing Our Lord the respect He deserves? Let's start by making that pact in our own homes.

4. Husband pressure. "My husband thinks it's ridiculous to dress up and won't get behind me on this."
I personally have never had to deal with this. My husband has always supported the boys dressing for Mass, but this is an argument I hear a lot from moms, so let's address it. I suspect that most husbands would LOVE to see their wives in something feminine and pretty, instead of the daily frumpy jeans and T-shirts. Even though my husband doesn't attend Mass, he does notice my appearance on Sunday morning, because it is the only time I get to play dress up. He once said, "I need to take you out, so you can dress like that for me!"  I'm not talking party clothes here, just outfits that present you as the Catholic woman you are. I wouldn't be surprised that after seeing his wife dress in this way, a husband would gradually support her cause. Even if he doesn't, then the wife is doing well for her own soul.

There's something special about preparing to see our Lord, even if it's done under pressure, and the interior can't help but get in the right frame of mind. Yes, even when the kids are driving you nuts. (To learn more about the beauty of being a Catholic woman and living out your femininity, you might want to click on The Authentic Catholic Woman: A Book Review.)

5. It's a hassle. "It's a job just getting everyone out the door each Sunday." Oh, boy, do I hear you!! Last weekend, I was upset with my kids for dragging their feet--again. We have been attending Mass every Sunday at 10:30 since they were babies, and still it's a mad dash. Every family goes through this. Yes, it is a hassle. But let's remember the "hassle" our Lord went through so He could give us ("us", as in you, and you, and you.... I don't mean this collectively) His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Since my boys are teenagers, they are old enough to understand, and so I finally laid down the law: Be in the car at 10:00. If I leave without you, you are grounded. No yelling, I promise. Just grounded. (Which means they go to bed very early that night. Not a tough grounding, I know, but they definitely don't like it.) Gulp. I think I had better be on time! I will let you know how this works out. Please know that you are not alone! Hang in there and don't give in!

6. God loves us anyway. "And we love him with all our hearts and minds." Hmm. Doesn't seem that we're using our minds here. By saying, "God loves us anyway," what we really mean is, "No matter how little we give Him, He still loves us." Do we really want to give little? Most of us really don't intend on doing this. But intentions and actions are two entirely different things. It's not good enough to intend on giving Him our hearts and minds. We have to do this through our actions, and it's very pleasing to Our Dear Lord. And when it comes down to it, just how difficult is it--really--to dress appropriately for Mass? You might want to check out What Kind Of Spouse Are You?. It's a post about being devoted to Christ and how we show it.

Phew! I'm exhausted! This has been a very enlightening post for me, and I hope it has been for you, too. It's good for me to review the sound reasons for presenting ourselves to Our Messiah in a pleasing way. Please share your thoughts on this. I need to sign off now. God bless all of you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lessons in Writing Letters: Contacting Authors David McPhail and Elvira Woodruff

An interesting twist on the penmanship assignment, and a great way to include grammar, literary analysis, and spelling in one measure.

by Kathleen Blease

This year marks our seventh year of homeschooling. We started when Ben was entering third grade and Max first. Over the years, I've relied on some of my own educational concoctions, instead of turning to time-tested and prepackaged plans.

One year, I was trying to convey to the boys the importance of writing letters. Yes, it's old fashioned, but basic letter-writing etiquette and format are still necessary--even in this day of emailing, twittering, and texting.

To make the lesson more fun and less of a chore, I collected the names and addresses of the boys' favorite authors. One such address came to me in a funny way.

I was standing in line at our local pharmacy, when I noticed the woman in front of me. "Excuse me," I said sheepishly, "but are you, by any chance, Elvira Woodruff?" With a big smile and a ready handshake, the author made me feel right at ease. When I told her that my oldest son was a big fan, she quickly gave me her home address and encouraged me to have Ben write to her. With a little prompting, he did. Elvira responded very generously with several signed copies of her books, made out just to Ben.

If you've never heard of Elvira Woodruff, and you have a child who is between nine and twelve (especially a boy), then you owe it to your kids to go to the library and check out her books. At our local library, her titles take up just about as much shelf space as the books by Avi. What, you don't know who Avi is? Don't feel badly, I didn't either. Check him out, too. (To find these two authors, either click on their links, or click here to visit Kathleen's Book Shop for Kids.)

Back to the letter writing...

It was a penmanship assignment that, granted, was not all that sparkly at its onset. Boys are boys. They don't enjoy the details of forming proper letters in size, shape, and spacing. Their rewards came later, some sooner.

While Ben made contact with Elvira Woodruff, Max connected with picture-book great David McPhail. Tucked away in snowy New England, Mr. McPhail put together a little packet just for my son.

Here's an original piece of art from David McPhail. Remember Pig Pig?

And his note thanking Max for writing to him.
 He also sent along a signed copy of Henry Bear's Christmas, a real treasure. I always loved Mr. McPhail's picture books. In response, Max quickly wrote a thank you card. Grateful for his kindness, I included one, too, and mailed them off. Much to my surprise, he sent back another packet of art, this time with an original piece that had his handwritten note on the back, and it was just for me!

I never considered that my children--and myself--would benefit so much from this crazy penmanship/letter writing assignment. It was fun and a pleasure to connect with authors. Being a writer and editor, and after working in a major house in Manhattan, I also had the underlying objective to impress upon my children that creative people (in both the sciences and the arts) are living and breathing individuals just like ourselves. And in this way, I was hoping my boys would see that they, too, can create and affect other people's lives in a positive way.

Making contact brought the people behind the creations to front and center!

Maybe you'd like to try the same assignment, so here are a few of the steps/requirements we followed. This lesson can easily fill a week. Take it slowly; don't try to squeeze it all into a day or two. If your child is overwhelmed, the value of the lesson will be lost.

Letter Writing  and Penmanship Assignment: Steps to Writing to Authors 
(and how to include grammar, literary analysis, and spelling lessons)

1. Mom hunts down authors' mailing addresses. Many times (most times), I simply used the publisher's address, which is found on a book's copyright page. Publishers have assistants who forward all the mail.

2. Child is taught the proper form of a letter.

3. Child drafts a letter with mom's help. His letter introduces himself, tells the author which book he likes, and explains why he likes it. He finishes the letter by thanking the author for his work. This is an excellent way to discuss stories, both picture-books and chapter books, and introduce your child to literary analysis in an informal yet effective way.

4. Mom sits down and checks all spelling and grammar. This is a good time for a simple grammar lesson. For younger children, it's great to ask questions like, "In this sentence, can you point out all the nouns?" For older children, you can discuss proper tense and usage, and so on, to help them grasp strong writing. (Need a brush-up yourself? Check out Strunk's and White's  Elements of Style.)

5. After all spelling and grammar is checked and corrected, your child then copies the final letter in his best penmanship. Lined paper appropriate to your child's age is just fine. Pencil is fine, too, unless your student is in high school.

6. Child is taught how to address an envelope, and it's first done on scrap paper. When all is checked, it's carefully copied onto an envelope. Again, pencil is fine. For small children, you might want to pencil in exactly where the postage stamp must go.

That's all there is to it! Again, take your time and spread the assignment over a week, to avoid tears. You will find, if you are diligent, that you can mark your day schedule as completing the following subjects: penmanship, grammar, literary analysis, and even spelling. By collecting the words your child consistently misspells while drafting the letter, you can create a personalized spelling list to study the following week.

Have fun! And happy letter writing!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Like Catholic Icing? Vote!

From Lacy at Catholic Icing..

Catholic Icing: Catholic Icing is a Finalist! Please Vote!: "I am soooo excited! Catholic Icing is a finalist for best Catholic blog on's reader's choice awards!!! Vote for Catholic Ici..."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Gingerbread Cake

This recipe is a deliciously light and bright gingerbread. My son, Max, says that it's unusual because it reminds him of Spring, instead of Christmas. It does have a special quality to it that reminds me of fresh air and summery days. It tastes wonderful with fresh whipped cream or a simple scoop of ice cream. I'd like to share it with you here, before I permanently move it to The Little Catholic Kitchen.

I think it would also be delightful to serve for St. Valentine's Day. At the very least, your kitchen will smell divine!

You could use a heart-shaped cake pan. If you do, please keep in mind the volume of this batter, so it doesn't over flow. I bake it in a 9" x 13" x 2" pan, and the baked cake fills it to just below the rim. Perhaps you'd like to bake it in the oblong pan, then cut it into a heart shape after it's cooled, which I describe below. The cake is firm yet springy, so it shouldn't crumble under your hands if you choose to do this.

This cake tastes great the day after it's baked and keeps well, but it's at its very best while it's still warm or soon after cooling. If you choose to serve it warm with some ice cream or cool with a drizzled glaze, it would make a wonderful and fresh St. Valentine's Day treat.

Happy St. Valentine's Day, everyone!

St. Valentine's Day Gingerbread Cake

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 extra-large egg
1 c. molasses
1 c. hot water
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 heaping tsp. Saigon cinnamon
1 heaping  tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" x 2" pan.

In large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside.

In mixer, beat together sugar and butter until fully incorporated. Add egg and beat again. Add molasses and dry ingredients, then beat until combined. Add hot water, then beat again until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake on oven's middle rack for 35 minutes, or until skewer inserted comes out clean and cake is slightly pulling away from sides of the pan. Let cool in pan on wire racks.

To make this a special valentine, here are some ideas:

For a large valentine, turn the cake out of the pan when cooled. Then cut the cake into a heart shape. First cut the heart out of paper to be sure you are happy with the proportions. Place over the cake for sizing. Then using a sharp knife, cut the cake into the heart shape. Cut the left over pieces into small squares for snacking. They are delicious in a lunch box! Decorate the heart with confectioner's sugar or drizzle it with a simple glaze of confectioner's sugar, lemon extract, and water.

For small valentines: When the cake has cooled, use a sharp knife to divide it into 12 even pieces, then remove the pieces from the pan. Using paper and scissors, make a little stencil of a heart that will fit over the center of each piece. Be as creative with the heart and design as you'd like. Place the stencil on each cake piece and gently sprinkle confectioner's sugar over. Carefully lift the stencil straight up to remove it. Hold it over the sink and shake it clean before moving onto the next cake piece.

Ladies, if you have any ideas of how to embellish this delicious treat, please leave a comment and share them with us. Thanks!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mario Andretti... Is He?

by Kathleen Blease

or The Racer Slows Down, For Just a Second

Last night, my husband and I took a well-deserved break and went out on a date.  Imagine, a date! We went to a restaurant tucked away just outside the little town of Nazareth, and was served the most delectable dinners of roast duck and filet minon topped with lumped crab meat. Mmmm. Unbelievable. The memory of the aromas and flavors can easily tempt me to get off track here, so let me jump right into the story.

Sitting at the corner table was a man and his wife.

Roger lowered his voice and informed me, "That's Mario Andretti."

I looked over my shoulder, trying to be casual. (Yeah, right. What else was in the corner to look at?) From a distance, the man strongly resembled the real-life papa Andretti. For you fans of the speed racer, you will recognize that Nazareth is where the Andrettis have made their home. Still, I wasn't convinced.

I looked again. (Good, Kath, real smooth.) "No, Honey. I'm tellin' ya, that's not him."

But it sure did look like him, and I almost changed my mind when the man got up, put on a very expensive leather jacket and politely walked out.

My husband asked me, "What kinda car do you think he's driving?"

"I'll bet a truck or a Wrangler."

From our window table, we could see him drive off in a gorgeous white king-cab.

Our waiter came by with my glass of wine, and Rog said, "That's Mario, huh?"

"Who? Andretti? Oh, no. That's not him. He comes in, and he was here last week." Then he informed us where he usually sits. (Nope, I ain't sayin'.)

Later during the night, I couldn't sleep. With a full stomach and tucked under warm covers, I let my mind race. (No pun intended.) Ideas were flying about. Random thoughts were criss-crossing. Then finally two smacked into each other.

Mario on thank you cards. Mario on thank you cards. Mario Andretti...thank you. Mario said thank you.

Yes! That was it! In the morning, I went downstairs to the drawer where I keep special items and keepsakes. There it was.

Four years ago, Roger won a balloon ride in a silent auction. It took weeks to make the arrangements and find perfect weather, and when he finally floated above the valley, his camera went with him. Surprisingly, he and the pilot flew over Mario Andretti's home. Rog snapped a beautiful shot. He then had it printed--not out of a home photo printer, but the real thing--and sent the picture to its rightful owner.

Soon after, and to our surprise and delight, Mr. Andretti responded with a thank you.

From the man himself.

And now I get to my point.

The next time someone balks about writing a thank you card, consider this: If the master of the race track can slow down for just a second to be gracious and show his appreciation, then surely so can you...and me...and all of us. 

God bless!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Attention: Recall Notice

Are you operating at 100 percent?

The recall notice below comes from an email I received from my dad. I don't know who is the original author. It is one of those little writings friends can't help but share with others. Be sure to read it through. It's very clever...and so true!


The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed
"Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.

Some of the symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.

The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear
the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.

The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.  Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with: 
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions
Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes. WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!


P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this
important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by
'Knee mail'!

Because He Lives

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catholic Icing: Catholic Saint Valentine Craft

Okay, I can't help it. As I told Lacy at Catholic Icing, her crafts bring back lots of wonderful memories of working at the kitchen table with our boys, now in their teens. Those were hours I will never forget or regret, despite glue in the rug and paint on the wall.

Check out Lacy's adorable St. Valentine paper bag puppets. If you have small children or grandchildren, they are perfect for spending a fun afternoon together. First make the puppets, then put on a puppet show. The back of your sofa would make a great puppet stage. Don't forget to take photos and videos! While you're at Catholic Icing, you might want to print out a few recipes for St. Valentine snacks, too.

Catholic Icing: Catholic Saint Valentine Craft: "There's not much that we're certain of about Saint Valentine, but he might have been a bishop and he is often depicted that way. Since makin..."

Kathleen's Catholic: St. Valentine's Day Surprise

I was looking through my blog's archive to see what I posted for St. Valentine's Day last year. This is the fun part of having a blog, coming across items that have been completely forgotten. Here's a story about a little boy who gently clung to his dad during a special moment at Mass. Enjoy!

St. Valentine's Day Surprise

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trying to Grasp the Seven Sacraments? This Little Guide Can Help. The Power of the Sacraments: A Book Review

by Kathleen Blease

 Sr. Briege clearly explains the sacraments; why they are the path to holiness and a gift instituted by Christ. Her short essays have a powerful message that's steeped in love as deep as the ocean. Clear, moving, and succinct.

Servant Books, paperback, 64 pages, 5" x  6", $9.99

Sr. Briege McKenna writes:
The sacraments, as one of the old writers put it, are "the veins of the Church." Veins of the physical body pump blood to the heart and revitalize it. Veins run through the Church that Christ instituted when he said, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (Matthew 16:18). 

The sacraments are veins that flow with life. At every stage of our spiritual journey, they bring us life. What kind of life? Supernatural life, the life of grace, which makes us holy....

...We are on a pilgrimage here. This helps us realize why the Lord in his mercy and great love gave us the sacraments that are guaranteed. He promises, "I will be there to help you." That's what a sacrament is.  In the sacraments, Christ guarantees his presence. This doesn't depend on feelings; it depends on faith. On each step of the journey, he meets us with the needs we have.

First, let me say that appearances can be deceiving--yet still revealing. When I opened the envelope that came in the mail, I was first disappointed that this book was so small. It's only 5" x 6" and 64 pages. It looks more like a little gift book than an instructional text that promises to share all the nuances of the Seven Sacraments.

I didn't expect what I eventually found inside. After a careful read, I found Sr. Briege's explanation of the sacraments to be both complete and moving, and well described in just a few pages.

This little book's slim trim size and page count fit its mission perfectly. Sister Briege defines the seven sacraments in simple measure, and her words are steeped in truth. In her short essays is an ocean of Faith that is deep and wondrous. We could live out our lives exploring and loving it. A few simple lines delivered to us, and we are on our way contemplating with awe the life-giving and sustaining power of the mysterious sacraments. Simple yet complex, they are a gorgeous paradox. Thus, this little book fulfills its mission beautifully.

Sister Briege's voice and style are warm, welcoming, and instructive. You will find a willing friend who explains why we are Catholic.

There are seven chapters, one for each sacrament, of course. In each essay, Sr. Briege explains the scriptural root of the sacrament and its value in our lives, and also her personal experience of seeing it dramatically alter ordinary folk. Sister has traveled the world in her ministry and has met people in a variety of situations, such as life is, so she has had the unique opportunity to learn about the personal and private struggles of believers who turn to the sacraments for help and hope.
My reaction to call this work a "little gift book" was exactly right. The Seven Sacraments are themselves a gift we receive directly from our Lord, each one clearly explained by Christ in scripture. Thankfully, Sr. Briege shows us just where in the New Testament we will find them.

Bravo to Servant Books for packaging it in such a way. The Power of the Sacraments would make a wonderful gift for birthdays, St. Valentine's Day, your loved one's saint's feast day, or Mother's Day.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Power of the Sacraments by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts

About the author:  Born in Newry, Ireland, Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C., is known worldwide for her ministry to priests and her healing  ministry. A member of the Sisters of St. Clare, she has traveled extensively, giving conferences in all parts of the world. Her healing from crippling arthritis is recounted in her book, Miracles Do Happen (Servant Books).

God bless!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kathleen's Catholic: St. Valentine's Day with Kids

A little one is born loving mom and dad, and it fills her heart to see her parents get warm and fuzzy, googley-eyed and mushy.

Here's an oldie but goodie, first posted February 13, 2010.
I hope you enjoy it. God bless!

Kathleen's Catholic: St. Valentine's Day with Kids

Monday, February 7, 2011

Solitude, Imprisonment, and Peace: To Christ through Mary

"My child, the soul that is detached from the world and all that occupies the world lives truly happy days in solitude. Its only concern is with God, as though it is alone on earth with Him.

In solitude the spirit is always recollected so that it may hear the Lord's voice, and nothing can interrupt the heart's own voice as it constantly speaks to God." 
Mary speaks, The Advantages of Solitude, from The Imitation of Mary by Alexander De Rouville

I have been thinking a great deal these days about St. John the Baptist and St. Maximilian Kolbe, and these words from The Imitation of Mary ring loud and clear! 

Both men were faced with a lonely and inhumane imprisonment. St. John the Baptist was captured and thrown into a cell before he was finally beheaded at the request of a young, narcissistic girl. St. Maximilian Kolbe was taken to the Nazi's Auschwitz. It was there he requested to be put into solitary confinement, underground without food, clothing, water, or warmth. He did this to save another man. But his selflessness and acts of kindness didn't stop there.

Both men felt the utter joy of Christ while surrounded by hard, cold walls. St. John the Baptist sent out his disciples to ask Jesus if he was indeed the anointed one. Christ sent them back with instructions to tell John exactly what it was they were witnessing. They were John's eyes and ears. And when John heard their news, he was beyond joy and thanksgiving. His heart was bound to Christ in complete peace, despite his earthly surroundings and his forthcoming execution. 

St. Maximilian Kolbe was also bound to Christ, and he found a way to share the joy with the other men and women forced into the horrific conditions of their confinements.  While spending every hour in cold darkness, slowly withering away from severe hunger and thirst, he arranged daily prayers and hymns among the dying prisoners and practiced his duties as a priest to help the others face their death with hope and the eager anticipation of meeting their Lord. Even though they could not see one another and were surrounded by cold and wet stone walls, they developed a community of faith. The prison guards, who had the gruesome task of checking in to see if there were any bodies to collect, fell in love with the priest, and one even testified to help the process of his canonization.

What was it about these two men? I'm sure there are many, many more stories that are similar--prisoners who lived in unthinkable conditions yet lived in joy. (Fr. Walter Cisek is another. He writes about it in With God in Russia.)

In their solidarity, they turned their ears to the voice of God, and in Him they found the peace and love that completely filled their souls with the freedom of Heaven. If God can come to them in these moments, then we should know He comes to us in our comfortable surrounds.

There is so much more to this! But these are my thoughts for today.

Take a few moments of solitude with God. If you find that you can't settle your mind, then take all your thoughts to Him. Let him live with you in your thoughts. Peace will come. The door to each of our hearts opens only from inside. You will need to unlatch it so Christ can come in. He would be delighted to see you.

To Christ through Mary.

God bless.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Catholics On the Web: We Are Here!!

I've had the luxury over the last few weeks--a few minutes here and there--to search the Web and follow links to find other terrific Catholic blogs and websites. Catholics are everywhere in cyber space.

St. Maximilian Kolbe would be so proud. He was a master of communications technology, bringing the Light of Truth to his people. And I do believe he would have been a leader in this Catholic Internet community as well.

Let's keep you in the loop!

Here is a collection of new links I think you would enjoy. They now appear on my page, Catholic Links for the Family. Visit often and have fun! There are many others links listed there as well.

(Special note: If you have a blog, or know of a blog, you would like included on my links page, please leave a comment with the link. I'll be sure to visit as soon as possible. I'm happy to help promote solid and useful Catholic resources.)

Coffee and Canticles--At Home with the Divine Office

Catholic Writer Daria Sockey talks "about the Liturgy of the Hours, aka Divine Office, aka Breviary, aka Christian Prayer, aka Morning, Evening, Daytime,and Night Prayer, aka Lauds, Vespers, Terce, None, Sext, Vespers, and Compline (with a dash of the Office of Readings, aka Vigils)." Perfect reading and fun for us Catholic geeks!

Mary's Prayer Garden
Living and homeschooling in Australia, Therese says, "Have a prayer request? Email me and I will offer a decade of the rosary for your intentions for a week." Her site is devoted to our prayer need and is also designed to help us in our own prayer journey. You will find plenty of helpful materials on her blog. I asked Therese, "If you are Down Under, then what do you call the US?" She replied, "Well, if I'm Down Under, then you are Up Over!"

A Perpetual Jubilee

Fellow homeschool mom and Catholic writer, Celeste Behe, brings a wonderful levity to her real- life writings. You'll enjoy her wit, honesty, and writings on all sorts of Catholic topics. She is a uniquely talented writer.

The Badger Catholic
"A husband, father of three, Sconnie, Traditional minded Papist, covering local, state, and other issues affecting Catholic Peasants in the region."

Of Sound Mind and Spirit
The blogs subtitle reads: "Where sisters contemplate, reflect, reason and engage in thoughtful perceptions of the changes in our world." Here you will find terrific insights in how to live the Catholic faith in this modern world, including book reviews, political updates, and pro-life issues.

Don't Know Much About the Rosary
A blog by Peggy Bowes, author of "The Rosary Workout".  Her goal is to spread devotion to the Rosary and a love for the Catholic Church. She posts reflections and links on the Rosary mysteries and other related Catholic topics. She also occasionally writes about fitness and health in the context of caring for the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Click here to see this former Air Force Pilot sharing her story on The Journey Home on EWTN.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop PDF of Liturgical Year 2011
Here's the complete document from the USCCB's official site.

Praying Through Chaos
Both a mom of three children and a student, this blogger offers some light-hearted insights about her chaotic daily life. Nicely written and designed. A quick visit can brighten your day.

Feminine-Genius: Exploring the Richness of Authentic Femininity
Here is a blog by Genevieve Kineke, author of The Authentic Catholic Woman. Click here to read my book review and to purchase a copy.

The Clay Rosary Girl
Stay at home mom, Sarah, makes terrific rosaries and writes her own blog about living the Catholic faith.

I hope you enjoy! God bless.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Angel by His Head

We’ve read lots of stories about guardian angels on the job, and now we have our very own. I’ve said it before, so forgive me but I just can’t help but say it again… Grace drizzles in! Sometimes it takes a sore bruise to help us see it.

I tell the rest of the story of how an angel protected my husband the other night at See you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Handbook for Catholic Moms: A Book Review

The Handbook for Catholic Moms:
Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul
by Lisa M. Hendey
Ave Maria Press, 2010
paperback; 243 pages;
ISBN-13: 978-159471-228-9

I just had to laugh! After absorbing and enjoying Lisa Hendey's book, I pulled the old game of reading any page to which the book happened to fall open, and I came to this, her description of her violin lessons. I, too, embarked on a similar adventure, but with a cello. How my family--and neighbors--must have suffered! But I loved every minute of my musical (and I use the term loosely) journey.
“Let me just say that a forty-year-old woman has no business trying to learn to play the violin. As my lessons began and I embraced my daily practice schedule, I noted that my playing had the ability to quickly clear the house... A badly played violin can emit horrific sounds, but I was oblivious...”
Lisa writes that her music--like mine--could have had “composers rolling over in their graves,” but it's clear to me, an old editor, that her true creative gift is relating to moms everywhere and sharing with them her unique and loving insight.

I first heard from Lisa when she invited me to contribute to her blog,, as a regular columnist. Soon after, I had the privilege of meeting her in person at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference Live! that was held outside Philadelphia. I found her to be warm, welcoming, and very encouraging to all the writers seeking her wisdom and friendship. At the conference, Lisa kindly offered me a copy of her book, and I devoured every page.

Since then, I have been meaning to write a book review!

The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul features twenty-two chapters organized under four sections, as the book's subtitle illustrates. Heart covers relationships, Mind covers running a home, education, time management, and so on. Body covers health, diet, stress, and doctors. And Soul discusses prayer, Mass, help from the saints, the bible, and the culture of faith. It would be easy to read the book cover-to-cover, but it's also terrific reading when you have time for just a chapter.

Lisa's special focus is the needs of moms in all walks and stages of life (married, divorced, stay-at-home, and working, for example), and she offers plenty of sound suggestions for nurturing marriage, domestic church, parents, and children in the loving light of the Catholic faith. She provides plenty of resources, both in your community and on the Internet.

What I admire most about Lisa's writing is her ability to carefully and tactfully instruct her readers. Her voice is loving, soft, and carefully direct. It is easy to relate to her stories and take her suggestions and sound advice.

I intended on reading The Handbook for Catholic Moms in piece meal, but once I started I just didn't want to put it down. I thought, “She really does understand,” and I stormed through the book, dog-earing it, and marking it and writing notes with post-its. I highly recommend it for all Catholic moms!

To read more about The Handbook for Catholic Moms, click on the book above, or visit my little book store in the right column of this blog. Enjoy and happy (Catholic mom) reading!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exceptional Lights

Have you ever seen natural lights such as these? I haven't. Check out a scientist's explanation at  What Does The Prayer Really Say. I can't help but think that this is one more love letter from heaven, but this one leaves me in awe. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Little Homeschooling Post: Teaching Your Child to Read

Many Little Blessings
If you're looking for help with teaching your little one to learn to read, Angie at Many Little Blessings has some helpful tips for you.

She has also included a link-up where you can find lots of homeschooling moms sharing their insights and blog posts.

Go homeschooling!!  God bless.
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