Friday, September 19, 2014

THE SONG movie debuting SOON!

Have you heard about THE SONG? It's a beautiful love story.

A scene from the film
Here's my endorsement of the film:

Captivating, gritty, and tender—The Song is a powerful faith-based movie about redeeming love. The foolishness and wisdom of Solomon are woven throughout each scene. Masterful acting portrays the messiness of real life temptations gone awry when greed and selfishness prevail and focus on faith in God is lost. The Song is guaranteed to impact lives.

Here's my conversation with the star Alan Powell. But, first a short description:

The Song is a romantic drama inspired by the Song of Solomon with a modern-day setting: today’s country music scene. Written and directed by Richard Ramsey and releasing nationwide on September 26 from Samuel Goldwyn Films and City On A Hill Studio, The Song addresses themes of love, sex, and the meaning of life (it is rated PG-13).
The film is about singer-songwriter Jed King, who is desperately struggling to get away from the ubiquitous specter of his country-music legend father and finally make a mark of his own. After reluctantly accepting a little gig at a local vineyard, everything changes for Jed and he falls madly in love. He marries, and among his grand romantic gestures is writing a hit love song inspired by his love for his bride. Though Jed was determined to stay true to God, his wife, and his music, the temptations abounding in the life of a famous singer-songwriter take their toll, and Jed falls from grace, only to see the redeeming power of faith and love assert itself in his life.

See the conversation here at Catholic World Report.

Would you like to win a super cool THE SONG shirt? I have TWO to give away! I happen to own one myself. I'd model it for you in this post, but then I'd have to go upstairs and get it and put it on and then take a picture and post it...well, you know. But, please take my word, it is a really nice shirt (and soft too!). 

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post telling me in one or two lines why you want to see this movie. You don't have to be profound or witty. All entries will go into a random drawing. Please also leave your email address too so I can get in touch with you if you win. That's all! 

Please like THE SONG's facebook  page and follow them on twitter @SeetheSong

Don't forget to enter the fun THE SONG shirt contest! I'll look forward to your entries.

God bless!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rooted in Love!

Available at

I just came across a review for my book Rooted in Love: Our Calling as Catholic Women. Here's the description from the publisher:

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, bestselling author and popular EWTN television and radio personality, accompanies Catholic women through the ups and downs of their lives, encouraging them to be reflections of Christ in all things.With warmth and candor, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle demonstrates why she is so beloved by her readers, viewers, and listeners. Through sometimes-unexpected stories from her own journey, she shows that being a faith-filled Catholic woman does not mean being perfect. Rather, in the midst of parenting difficulties, marital problems, economic hardships, and sickness--among other challenges--one finds strength in Christ and in the wisdom and community of the Church. She highlights how the sacraments, the virtues, prayer, Mary and the saints, the works of mercy, and various devotions and practices all offer women grace and guidance for their lives.
Here's the review. The reviewer says she is "not fully comfortable with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s evangelical style." Nonetheless, here's her review: 

“Rooted in Love” has a very appealing cover. It gives a partial view of a woman walking through a field of what appear to be dandelions or buttercups. The layout, typesetting and soft, bright colors are pleasing. Even more pleasing is the connection between the feminine and the earth, and the representation of natural beauty. This book comes in an attractive “package.”
Can you judge a book a book by its cover? There are some parts I like in this book, other aspects that I don’t identify with. I am not fully comfortable with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s evangelical style.
Nevertheless, I find enough good in the book to write about it. I was reading a chapter a day but did not get farther than three paragraphs on Day 5 before pausing to meditate. “How is Christ ‘my life’ at home?” the author asks.
As a professional family life minister, I know a lot about Christ in the home. But that day I needed to reflect on Christ being not just “in” my life but “being” my life at home. Once again I had to be present to Christ who reveals himself in the quotidian of the household.
The very next paragraph deserves highlighting. Cooper O’Boyle says, “For me, the greatest joy in my vocation is the awareness that I have been raising my five children in the faith all these years — thirty-five to be exact. I consider my home to be a ‘domestic church,’ a little church where amazing growth and transformation happen right within the nitty-gritty details of daily life.”
Her thinking is affirmed by “On the Family” (“Familiaris Consortio”), an apostolic exhortation Pope John Paul II wrote early in his pontificate, and by “Follow the Way of Love,” a 1993 pastoral statement written in ordinary language by the U.S. Catholic bishops...

God bless you and yours,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My garlic scape pesto sauce!

I enjoy growing an organic garden each year. One of my very favorite vegetables to grow is garlic. Not only is garlic delicious in many foods, it is extremely nutritious. As well, it is medicinal, and even referred to by some as a natural antibiotic.

My garlic plants
I plant garlic at the end of October each year using cloves of garlic that I have grown. Into the earth goes the garlic clove. Then, late next summer, out comes a big full round garlic bulb when I harvest the plants.

During the growing process the plants grow a scape on top. It's a curvy loop on one of the garlic plant's stems and has a flower blossom on the end. The scapes are cut off the garlic plants so that the plant's energy can go to the bulb growing underground rather than to the blossom for the flower trying to grow at the top of the plant.

So, when the scapes are the right size, they are cut from the plant with a sharp knife to be used in various recipes. My favorite is scape pesto.

I have about 275 garlic plants in the garden this year but I only cut about 15 or so scapes the other day to make some pesto for dinner. So, I'll be harvesting the remaining scapes this week end and making LOTS more pesto sauce and freezing most of it for future use.

Harvesting the garlic scapes...

In my garden. A big handful of cut scapes ready
to bring into the kitchen.

My recipe:

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients for about four cups:

  • 10 to 15 garlic scapes
  • About 1 cup or so of chopped pine nuts (OR pistachios or walnuts)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less, depending on desired consistency)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (One time I added to this a couple of slices of an Italian four-cheese blend because I was short on the Parmesan cheese. It came out delicious!)
  • Juice from half of a fresh squeezed lemon (more if needed)
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  • You can also add 1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh chopped basil

Preparing the scapes - Rinse scapes in cold water, then roughly chop into one inch pieces.

Pour scapes and the pine nuts into the bowl of your food processor. Blend for about a minute, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved. Scrape down sides of bowl with your rubber spatula.
     With the machine running, slowly add olive oil, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 15 seconds or more. Then add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and blend for another 5 seconds. Taste and decide if you might like to add more salt and fresh ground pepper.
     This pesto is excellent freshly made and even better when refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Before chilling, place the pesto in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
     If you don’t grow your own garlic, garlic scapes are available at farmers’ markets and some grocery markets from June through mid-July. So, hurry and get some. If you make a lot of scape pesto, you can freeze it in air-tight containers for up three months. You can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays or muffin tins and then after frozen, take them out of the trays or tins and place frozen pesto in freezer bags and then pop them back into the freezer. Take out whenever needed for recipes and eating.

     I must warn you that this pesto is extremely "addicting"! :) At least, it is for me. :)

Some scapes cut from the plants and on my cutting board

I cut off the tough "woody" parts of the scape and froze
them for future soup stock making.

chopping pine nuts

Ready to process (a few longer pieces snuck in!)

It smells heavenly!

So delicious!

I hope you get a chance to make and enjoy fresh garlic scape pesto!

God bless!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Catholic Mom's Cafe: "Mom-ism Monday # 3!

Catholic Mom's Cafe: "Mom-ism Monday # 3!: It's been a week end of special very beautiful feast days! I love the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Hear...


BREAKING NEWS: NEW Hillsong movie about a Christian band's remarkable journey...

Here's the trailer.

Here's a press release for "Let Hope Rise"


An Up Close and Personal Journey with the World’s Most Successful Worship Band Shooting Currently On Five Continents 

LOS ANGELES, CA, July 1, 2014—Alcon Entertainment has acquired HILLSONG – LET HOPE RISE for worldwide release by Warner Bros. Pictures, it was announced today by Alcon principals Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson.

The full-length feature documentary, directed by Michael John Warren (Jay-Z’s “Fade to Black”), chronicles the spectacular rise to prominence of the Australia-based Christian worship band Hillsong UNITED. Matthew Weaver of MediaWeaver Entertainment and Jonathan Bock of Grace Hill Media are producing. B. Wayne Hughes, Jr. and Greg Campbell of Cantinas Entertainment, which is financing the feature, are executive producing. Warner Bros. Pictures will release the film on April 3, 2015. 

The movie will present the band’s remarkable journey from a youth group band at Hillsong Church to worldwide sensation, routinely performing sold-out stadium concerts and selling more than 16 million albums all over the world.

In a joint statement, Kosove and Johnson said, “In terms of reach, Hillsong UNITED is one of the biggest bands out there, Christian or otherwise. But at their core, they’re just a group of unassuming individuals impacting the world with their music. We’re thrilled to be part of bringing their extraordinary story to the big screen.” 

Led by Joel Houston, son of Hillsong Church founders Brian and Bobbie Houston, all of Hillsong UNITED’s 11-member band are volunteers or employees of the church. Their songs are so popular is it estimated that on any given Sunday, more than 30 million churchgoers around the world are singing one of Hillsong’s worship songs. 

“With songs like Mighty to Save, Oceans, Hosanna and From the Inside Out, anyone who regularly attends a church knows Hillsong’s music by heart. That’s how influential they’ve become,” Bock said. “And yet despite the fame and adulation, they’re still just a simple worship band trying to do what tens of thousands of other worship bands try to do every week -- glorify God through their music. How they balance that is a fascinating and surprising story.”

The filmmakers will follow the band as it completes its current tour and prepares to record its next album. The film will marry live concert footage with a narrative structure.

“It’s a little weird and a lot humbling to have a movie made about us,” Joel Houston said. “But we didn’t say ‘yes’ to this to draw attention to ourselves. It’s our hope that by sharing an up-close and unvarnished look inside our music and lives, we can shatter pre-conceived notions of what it means to follow Jesus in today’s modern world.” 

Hillsong Church spans 12 global locations with more than 100,000 weekly attendees, including thriving congregations in New York and Los Angeles. In addition to its music efforts, Hillsong  sponsors worldwide ministry work – examples include feeding and educating children in the slums of India, building housing for those living with AIDS in Africa and rescuing victims of human trafficking around the globe – outreaches paid for in part through proceeds from Hillsong UNITED music and merchandise sales

Co-founders and co-CEO's Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson founded Alcon Entertainment in 1997 with partner Frederick W. Smith, the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx. Warner Bros. distributes Alcon’s motion pictures via the companies’ long-term output distribution agreement.
Alcon has financed and produced, and/or co-financed/produced 23 films to date, including My Dog Skip; Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank and directed by Chris Nolan; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; P.S. I Love You, starring Hilary Swank; the Academy Award nominated Best Picture The Blind Side, which earned Sandra Bullock a Best Actress Oscar; The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman; the hit family film Dolphin Tale, starring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson; Prisoners, the critically acclaimed thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal; and Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp. Alcon’s next release is Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to the 2011 box-office success that reunites the original cast. Alcon is currently in pre-production on Point Break, a reimagining of the classic action movie, starring Edgar Ramirez.
Alcon Television Group is currently producing the drama pilot Hysteria with Shaun Cassidy and Adam Schroeder for Amazon; a four-hour mini-series documentary for HBO about the life and times of Frank Sinatra, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney; and The Expanse, a ten-episode epic space thriller for Syfy Network.  
Cantinas Entertainment, LLC, founded in 2014 by Greg Campbell and B. Wayne Hughes Jr., seeks to inspire and engage audiences disillusioned with the landscape of cynicism – and to offer a dependable choice in entertainment.  Upcoming projects include a film based on Brenda Spahn’s book “Miss Brenda and the Loveladies," with Donald Petrie (“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Miss Congeniality,”) set to direct. 

God bless!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Catholic Mom's Cafe won an award from the Catholic Press Association

My book Catholic Mom's Cafe: 5-Minute Retreats for Every Day of the Year was recently awarded Third Place in the "Family Life" category by the Catholic Press Association.

You can see an article in Publisher's Weekly here. And an article mentioning it in the National Catholic Register here.

God bless!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Catholic Mom's Cafe: "Catholic Moms Cafe" Premiering in November!

Catholic Mom's Cafe: "Catholic Moms Cafe" Premiering in November!: Finally, (well, not quite yet) the show you have been waiting for! A new television series for Catholic Moms on EWTN TV called "Cat...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Catholic Mom's Cafe: It's time: Mom-ism Monday # 2!

Catholic Mom's Cafe: It's time: Mom-ism Monday # 2!: 1) Summer is here! Are you keeping your sanity intact? How about your prayer life? It's a bit challenging with a changing s...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Catholic Mom's Cafe: Celebrate your "Mom-isms!"

Catholic Mom's Cafe: Celebrate your "Mom-isms!": UPDATED POST! 1) Loving nature around us! I was absolutely thrilled that Mr. and Mrs. Wren decided to build a nest in the ...

Friday, June 13, 2014

My top 12 inspiring book picks to throw into your summer beach bag!

Well, it's almost that time of year. We will hopefully have a chance to get to the beach and do some reading. Here are my top 12 inspiring picks for your summer beach bag (in no particular order):

1) Studies in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the Academy of The Immaculate.

I can't help but recommend this book since it is about Our Lady of Guadalupe and partially written by my dear friend Cardinal Burke. My endorsement is on the back cover.

About this volume

Extraordinarily relevant, Mariological Studies in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a one of a kind treasure trove delving into the great mysteries of salvation through the lens of Mary’s maternal mediation. Eight essays relating to the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, but particularly about Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of the Americas, will stir your heart to a renewed devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary, so essential for our times. You’ll want to savor this book. Highly recommended!
- Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV Host of
"Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms” and “Catholic Mom’s Café”
is the author of numerous Catholic books including
The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions

Contributors to this volume...

  • His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
  • Father Angelo M. Geiger, FI
  • Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God Moss, O.S.B.
  • Father Dwight Campbell
  • Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins
  • Father Peter Damian M. Fehlner, FI
Order here:

2) Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men by Randy Hain (Emmaus Road)

"Each hour of each day you are forming habits that shape your character and will determine where you will spend eternity. When your earthly life ends, it will be too late to change your destiny. In the midst of the hectic demands, busy schedules, and countless interruptions of every day, this book gives you the surefire, divinely instituted "apps" for becoming the man God wants you to be. Use them! Your family is counting on you.

Order here:

3) Mary, Virgin Mother and Queen, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., (Our Sunday Visitor)

In his new Bible study, Mary – Virgin, Mother, and Queen (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), popular EWTN host and renowned scripture scholar, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. gives Catholics the necessary background to understand Marian doctrine in light of Sacred Scripture. Fr. Pacwa wrote this study to educate Catholics about the Mother of God, and to give them the tools needed to enable them to dialogue with those who typically reject Marian devotion.
“Marian teaching advances best,” states Pacwa, “when it is grounded in a sensitive reading of the scriptural text.” This background becomes the basis for understanding Mary’s role in salvation history, which becomes a platform for evangelization opportunities. “She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization,” writes Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (284).
The study examines Scripture passages that refer to Mary, including Old Testament women and images that prefigure Mary, and New Testament passages that give details of Mary’s life. Nine sessions are included in Mary – Virgin, Mother, and Queen, with each one including background information by Fr. Pacwa, Scripture passages to read, space for notes, and thought- provoking discussion questions. The book also includes common Marian prayers.

4) Something Other Than God, Jennifer Fulwiler, (Ignatius Press)

Jennifer Fulwiler told herself she was happy. Why wouldn't she be? She made good money as a programmer at a hot tech start-up, had just married a guy with a stack of Ivy League degrees, and lived in a twenty-first-floor condo where she could sip sauvignon blanc while watching the sun set behind the hills of Austin.
Raised in a happy, atheist home, Jennifer had the freedom to think for herself and play by her own rules. Yet a creeping darkness followed her all of her life. Finally, one winter night, it drove her to the edge of her balcony, making her ask once and for all why anything mattered. At that moment everything she knew and believed was shattered...Hardcover, $22.95:
5) 150 North American Martyrs You Should Know, By Brian O'Neel (Servant Books)
n this compelling new book, Brian O’Neel tells the stories of martyrs associated with North America. Some are from other countries and died in their attempts to spread the faith on this continent. Some were born on 

n this compelling new book, Brian O’Neel tells the stories of martyrs associated with North America. Some are from other countries and died in their attempts to spread the faith on this continent. Some were born on 

In this compelling new book, Brian O’Neel tells the stories of martyrs associated with North America. Some are from other countries and died in their attempts to spread the faith on 
this continent but died doing missionary work in other lands. Some were individual martyrs, and some were part of an heroic group. Some were “white martyrs” who, although they did not shed their blood for the faith, suffered much for the spread of their faith. The book includes:
  • A lively presentation about each martyr (or group of martyrs)
  • A practical application for the reader
  • A historical context for how these martyrs helped the Church to grow in North America
These martyrs changed the world by their courage and commitment, and their stories have the power to inspire us today to live our Catholic faith bravely and boldly.

Order here:

6) Pope Francis, By Matthew Bunson, (Our Sunday Visitor)

Pope Francis is still new to us, but in this biography you will get to know the man who became pope: A street priest at heart with a deep love for people and a pastor's touch. He teaches in word and deed the truths of the Church and God's merciful love.
Get inside access to the entire history-making event, from the startling resignation of Pope Benedict through the gathering of Cardinals for the Conclave and the installation of this Pope of the people.
Examine Pope Francis the man - his background, his ideas, his mission, and his challenges and opportunities as our new pope - including 16 pages of full color photos from Pope Francis' past and present.
Order here:

7) He Leadeth Me, by 

He Leadeth Me is the deeply moving personal story of one man's spiritual odyssey and the unflagging faith which enabled him to survive the horrendous ordeal that wrenched his body and spirit to near collapse.
Captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a "Vatican spy," American Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent some 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. He here recalls how it was only through an utter reliance on God's will that he managed to endure. He tells of the courage he found in prayer-a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustrations, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the "arrogance of evil" that surrounded him. Learning to accept even the inhuman work of toiling in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God, he was able to turn adverse forces into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.
He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God-even in their darkest hour.

[this book might be out of print but you might be able to find it]
8) Made for Love, Loved by God, Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., (Servant Books)

A down-to-earth, practical reflection on the nature of God’s love, eloquently written by Fr. Peter Cameron. Drawing heavily on Sacred Scripture and the transforming encounters with Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospels, Fr. Cameron seeks to make God’s love as real, concrete, and accessible to his readers’ lives as possible. He emphasizes how God constantly searches for us and takes the initiative in loving us—how he woos us into happiness with him.

Made for Love, Loved by God will also address common misconceptions about God’s love as well as the obstacles that prevent us from letting God love us. After reading this book, the reader will feel closer to God by being shown a way to be closer to God. It will imbue the reader with the certainty of the psalmist: “The Lord delights in those who wait for his love” (Psalm 147:11).

Order here:

9) Marian Gems, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, (Marian Press)

In Marian Gems: Daily Wisdom on Our Lady, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, shares gems or quotes on Mary that he was inspired to begin collecting when he was a seminarian. He includes a gem for each day of the year, drawn from the writings of the Popes, Saints, Blesseds, and Venerables. When these gems first appeared in his book Under the Mantle, many readers loved them and suggested he publish them in a separate book for daily prayer. He was delighted and took their advice. 

Order here:

10) You Did it To Me, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC (Marian Press)

What Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, has done in 33 Days to Morning Glory to promote true devotion to Mary, and what he has done in Consoling the Heart of Jesus to promote devotion to the Merciful and Sacred Heart of Jesus, he now does in 'You Did It to Me' to promote the works of mercy.
     Father Gaitley has a genius for bringing together the spiritual and corporal works of mercy under the umbrella  of "The Five Scriptural Works of Mercy" that Jesus will use to judge us at the end of the world, as found in Matthew 25:31-46. He then enriches these Scriptural texts on mercy with the practical insight of St. Pope John Paul II, St. Faustina, and Pope Francis.
      He also has a very fertile imagination in bringing to life practical ways of implementing these works of mercy in our own individual lives, in our parish ministries as well as in the workplace, together with a plan of action for making these works of mercy concrete and livable.
     If implemented, these concepts will transform the culture of any parish. The simple soul will be energized to do and the contemplative soul will be inspired to intercede.
I could not recommend this book more highly.
~Bishop Robert J. Hermann

11) The Faith, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., (Servant Books)

Fr. Hardon was my friend and spiritual director. He is also my daughter's godfather. Fr. Hardon was a very humble and holy world renowned theologian and scholar. I highly recommend all of his books. here's the book description: 

In this new reissue of Fr. Hardon’s classic, the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church is presented in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format. He zeroes in on what question each section is trying to answer and formulates that question in user-friendly language. He then gives a simple answer in his own words, referencing the section of the Catechism that addresses the question.

Still as fresh and relevant as when it was first released, The Faith makes the Catechism of the Catholic Church accessible to a new generation of readers. Fr. Hardon helps to form Catholics in the faith by focusing on the principle points of doctrine, moral teaching, and spirituality conveyed so richly in the Catechism. In the pages of this book, you’ll learn:
  • What the faith we profess is all about
  • Why Christianity is the most credible religion in the world
  • How the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth
  • Catholics today have a greater responsibility than ever before to educate themselves first and then the world—a world that is starving for knowledge of Christ and his truth. This question-and-answer guide will be a valuable addition to your library.

12) Evangelizing Catholics, Scott Hahn, (Our Sunday Visitor)

You can't keep the faith unless you give it away.
That's a fact. To be a Christian is to be an evangelizer. When the Catholic Church calls us to a "New Evangelization," that's simply a reminder to us of what has always been true. The good news is: you can do it - you can evangelize - and Scott Hahn shows you how.
In this this very practical "mission manual" Dr. Hahn equips you with:
  • A guide to understanding what the New Evangelization is, and who it's really for
  • A roadmap that leads you to where it all happens (hint: it's closer than you think)
  • A simple, beautiful message to share - in words and actions
You don't need esoteric knowledge. You don't need to master a new set of skills. Evangelization, for Catholics, is simply friendship raised up to the highest level. Enter a deeper friendship with Christ, and you'll want to share his companionship more and more with a wider circle of friends.

Order here:

It's tough to limit good book picks to twelve. I suspect I'll need to recommend twelve more in the not so distant future! :) I think my next set of book recommendations will be fiction. Please leave your fiction recommendations in the comment box. I'll also do a set of books for teens and also the young-ins'.

Enjoy your summer reading! Be inspired!

God bless!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Keeping Prayer in Summer: A Mother's Strategy

Keeping Prayer in Summer: A Mother's Strategy

Just the thought of summer fast-approaching might bring thoughts of rest and relaxation to mind. We may recall the lazy days of summer during our youth. Summer may also mean anticipated excitement and adventure--exploring new places or trying new things.

Some families plan escapes to beaches and paradise vacations, while others may stay home and plan day trips to fun spots, the local library, or parks and recreation centers.

The realization that summer is just around the corner can cause the Moms to feel a bit (or a lot!) nervous too. They might not want to let go of their semi-structured schedule for the more relaxed bedlam, craziness, and insane structure of summertime.

One thing is for sure—the schedule will usually change quite dramatically. But there's no need to fear. Let's take the stress out of summer right now by pausing to plan a strategy.

Summertime can certainly be a time of well-deserved rest and also a welcome change of scenery. While making plans for our families this summer, let’s not forget about prayer. A change in schedule once we hit summertime and an eagerness to “get away from it all” could cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We don't want to inadvertently let our  prayer life go on vacation!

Recently, on a radio show I suggested that we should actually write down the intention to "pray." We can do that on a dry-erase board, chalkboard, or in our tablet. I suggested that in order to make family prayer happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it—we need to make time to be with our Creator! Sure, all kinds of inconvenient stuff happens in the heart of the family, but God knows what we are all about. He knows we can't drop to our knees to pray when we are taking care of a pressing need with the children. He also knows that we are a work in progress! When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, let’s just try again—let’s make it work! But, let’s not beat ourselves up when our efforts might fail. If we try our very best God will surely reward us for making sure that we are training our children to develop a beautiful relationship with Him.

So, add "prayer" to your "to-do" list and teach the kids to do the same. Do that soon! We want to establish some good prayer habits.

Prayer Strategies

A key strategy to help us remain prayerful this summer is to begin each day with prayer—no matter what. This simple suggestion may seem like a no-brainer to a praying individual. However, the busyness of mornings and preparations for summer outings of even the well intentioned “pray-ers” can cause prayer time to become lost in the commotion.

Getting on our knees when we face each new day and giving it right over to the Lord will indeed start the day off with the proper disposition and it only takes a few minutes of our time. Mothers should teach their children to do the same—to greet Our Lord first thing in the morning. A morning offering in our own words or a more formal version and a prayer to our Guardian Angel at the breakfast table works very well with our captive hungry “audience!” We can offer our hearts to God all throughout our days as well. Teaching our children to begin their days with prayer is an invaluable lesson that will remain with them as they grow older and begin to navigate life on their own. 

Making time to come together as a family to offer our hearts to God is indispensable and will be etched on your children’s hearts forever. No family is too busy to pray together. We can easily slip meaningful prayer into mealtimes to keep our family focused on prayer throughout the day. Saint John Paul II emphasized the importance of family prayer frequently. He said, "Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God's own “strength” (Gratissimam Sane, Letter to Families, 1994).

When making plans for family trips, perhaps we can think about including shrines, basilicas, and holy places in our trips. It's a win-win situation! When researching places of interest for our family this summer, we can utilize the many Catholic magazines, newspapers, and websites that often highlight interesting places for pilgrimages and visits. We can attempt to attain that healthy balance of nourishment for our family’s spiritual life and fun and enjoyment to relax and entertain our senses.

Summer travel affords us many opportunities for prayer—more than we might imagine. Prayers such as the rosary can be said in common in the family vehicle en route to a vacation spot or while traveling to the beach, park, or picnic area for day trips. Each child can voice a prayer of petition about something that is close to their hearts and offer prayers of thanksgiving for God’s gifts — including family time together. Naturally, we will want to ask our good Lord for His protection over our family as we travel.

Why not teach the kids about the saints this summer? A saint a week! My book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book (32 saints) is on sale at Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company for $2.00 off all throughout the month of June! It has just been re-released in paperback and is just the right size to toss in the beach bag. Check it out here:

Turning the Negative Around

Annoyances and inconveniences can crop up at any time. Summer doesn’t automatically translate into bliss. However, the traffic jams, whiny children, bug bites, sunburn, or unexpected delays and mishaps can be turned around and used for good. We have a perfect opportunity to “offer it up” to God and ask Him to use a small sacrifice or inconvenience on our part for the good of others, rather than allowing the situation to cause us to become annoyed or angry. Let’s keep our cool and turn to prayer. We can ask our Lord to use our sufferings for the souls in purgatory so that they can get to Heaven a little faster.
Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., the late world renowned theologian and author (and my former spiritual director), said in his book, Theology of Prayer (The Daughters of St. Paul, 1979), “When I suffer prayerfully, I recognize that God is behind the suffering and I humble my head in faith… when I suffer prayerfully, I trust that God has reasons for permitting what I endure and that in His own time and way, the experience now suffered will eventually somehow be a source of grace.”
These prayer times are not only spiritually enriching and gifts for the recipient, they also become beautiful teachable moments, pointing our children to patience and thinking of others during trials, helping them turn to prayer rather than allow a negative situation to get the best of them.

Whatever way your family plans might unfold for this summer, be sure to have fun, enjoy, and offer your joyful heart to the Lord! Your example of prayer throughout the summer days will inspire your family and those that God puts in your midst. 

Have a happy and holy summer!

Prayer from St. John Paul II for families:

Lord God, from You every family in Heaven and on earth takes its name.  Father, You are love and life. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and through the Holy Spirit, the fountain of divine charity, grant that every family on earth may become for each successive generation a true shrine of life and love. Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families and of all the families in the world. Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and through the family. We ask this of You, Who is life, truth and love with the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

God bless!