Be a Missionary: There’s an App for That!

missio-lets-chat

Learn about a brand-new way to help the Church’s missions in far-off places, and TWO prizes you can win! I’ve got some swag to give away, and if you sign up soon, you can win a trip for two to Rome!

MISSIO, a unique new Catholic crowdfunding platform designed to make a difference for the poor and forgotten around the world, is now live at MISSIO.org and on the MISSIO app. MISSIO’s revolutionary concept uses technology to directly connect people with a mission project they’re passionate about.

Originally launched by Pope Francis, MISSIO was created by the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, the Pope’s official mission arm, which has been engaged in building up the Church and serving the poor for 200 years.

“Pope Francis has urged Catholics around the world to maintain a close and personal connection with the poor, just as Christ did,” said Oblate Father Andrew Small, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. “MISSIO helps you do just that.”

“MISSIO makes the Mission Church visible on your mobile phone or computer screen,” Father Andrew continued. “In a world where everything is so accessible – from deliveries to the sports scores – why shouldn’t your faith, your Church be that visible? MISSIO provides that space, one that is safe, trusted, transparent, reliable – and effective.”

contestbanner-01-1200x241missio

missio-lets-chat

Missio has a social-media presence as well as an app for iOS and Android. You can use Facebook Messenger to participate in a chat with Pope Francis! On Twitter, follow @1missionfamily.

Would you like to win some Missio swag? Just visit the Missio website or download the app, then leave a comment telling me what Missio project most interests you. You’ll be in the running to win a Missio coffee mug and T-shirt!

Giveaway open through 11:59 PM Eastern, February 1. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. If prize is unclaimed, alternate winner will be chosen.

Some content from this post was provided by Missio.org. All rights reserved. Images used with permission.

On the Feast of St. Francis deSales

live-today-well-header

In honor of today’s Feast of St. Francis deSales, here is a short excerpt from Live Today Well, the spiritual book I’m reading about his teachings:

The Doctor of the Church makes a distinction between different kinds of devotion. As there are different vocations or states in life to which we are called, so there are differences in what holiness means foe each of us. This distinction has two important implications.
On the one hand, it renders the devout life very flexible. It recognizes that the practice of holiness must be adapted to different occupations and situations, according to different times and places, and in fulfillment of different duties and responsibilities. On the other hand, the adaptability of the devout life does not mean that holiness is purely relative, that each person can decide what it means and how to live it….For Francis deSales, the real test of a good life is whether our devotion is in keeping with our state in life and whether it enriches who we are in that vocation. (25-26)

live-today-well-header

Let us be what we are and be that well. (St. Francis deSales)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Of Prayer, Twitter and Red Minivans

intercessory-prayer-gets-behind-the-wheel

Yesterday I was tagged in a tweet with an emergency prayer request.

twitter-prayer-request

After promising to pray that Emergency Novena for Christine’s friend, I messaged her to ask what color car her friend drives.

That may seem like a weird question, but I use visual prayer cues for special intentions. When I see a car that resembles one belonging to someone I know and love, that’s a reminder to me to pray for that person.

Christine told me that her friend drives a red minivan.

This morning at Mass, I remembered her friend in prayer, then resolved to turn off the radio on my way home and pray that day’s Emergency Novena.

After Mass, I got into my car, turned off the radio, and prepared to leave my parking space. The car in front of me moved away, revealing that the car parked in front of it was a red minivan.

A couple of miles later, I saw another one.

In your kindness, when you see a red minivan, say a special prayer for Christine’s friend. If you commit to doing this, I’m quite sure that God will make sure you see plenty of those cars.

intercessory-prayer-gets-behind-the-wheel
Photo copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey. Title added by author. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

#OpenBook: December 2016 Reads

"An Open Book" linkup hosted at CarolynAstfalk.com and CatholicMom.com

The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. In December, predictably, my reading list was heavy on the Christmas novella. There are so many to choose from, they’re quick reads, and they’re just fun: the literary equivalent of a Hallmark-channel Christmas movie. But there’s plenty of other stuff too.

Fiction

T36847-cvrThe Strangers at the Manger (Chime Travelers #5) by Lisa M. Hendey (children’s). Number 5 in the “Chime Traveler” series of chapter books for kids in grades 2 and up (younger as a read-aloud), this novel finds twins Patrick and Katie traveling through time to Bethlehem, where they accompany Mary and Joseph through their attempts to find lodging and stay with them until the Holy Family flees to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempts on Jesus’ life. Read my full review.

6-dates-to-disaster-fc-large6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face #3) by Cynthia T. Toney (YA) The recently-released third book in the Bird Face series, 6 Dates to Disaster, finds Wendy looking for ways to fund her summer plan of visiting Mrs. V and her grandson in Alaska after her stepdad loses his job. An excellent writer, Wendy agrees to secretly tutor one of the girls in the “cool” clique, with more clients to follow, but Wendy finds herself doing more rewriting than proofreading–and is soon accused of cheating. She’s also distracted by her budding romance with David and by a mysterious note she found in an antique jewelry box. ARC provided by author.

happiness-in-betweenThe Happiness in Between by Grace Greene. Sandra’s parents think she’s a ne’er-do-well, not realizing that her ex (whom she’s married twice) is emotionally abusive. They finally agree to let her hide out in the family homestead, where she’s supposed to care for her aunt’s dog and keep an eye on the home. But her ex is on her trail and Sandra can’t tell the nice guy next door that she’s still married; she also can’t tell her aunt that the dog is missing. Good suspense! Netgalley review.

sandys-seashell-shop-christmasA Sandy’s Seashell Shop Christmas by Lisa Wingate. A young military widow tries to escape Christmas by holing up in a resort town with her 3-year-old, fortifying herself against holiday memories. The town conspires against her, though, working to catch her up in the holiday spirit and even providing a love interest.  This was a sweet Christmas novella; I’ve enjoyed other books in this series.

 

endless-christmas-ruchtiAn Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti. A very public proposal right after the prospective bride meets the whole extended family turns into an awkward few days when everyone is snowed in. The only one really feeling the awkwardness is Katie, who’s convinced that it’s not a good idea for her to marry anyone. I loved the family in this novella–such great characters! Highly recommended.

 

connect-the-starsConnect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos & David Teague (YA). A bunch of troubled middle-schoolers and a drill-sergeant wannabe at a 6-week wilderness camp in the desert: what could possibly go wrong? Turns out, quite a bit. Audrey, who’s hypersensitive to people who aren’t telling the truth, and Aaron the walking encyclopedia are challenged to team up with people they thought were their enemies–just so everyone can survive the experience. Great story.

miss-kanes-christmasMiss Kane’s Christmas by Carolline Mikkelson. What happens when Santa Claus’ daughter is assigned to go undercover as a nanny for a Scrooge-like single dad who’s written a book about why it’s a bad idea to let your kids believe in Santa. Yes, it’s predictable. It’s also funny, and the elves were fabulous. As of this writing this novella is still free on Kindle–so go ahead and enjoy.

 

one-enchanted-christmasOne Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg. Sometimes the fact that a story’s premise is far-fetched gets in the way of my enjoyment of a story. That’s what happened with this novella. I focused a little too hard on “that could never happen” with this one. Novelist Maren falls hard for the guy who’s featured in the cover art of her first book. He leads her on and tells her she can come stay at his farmhouse anytime. Suffering from writer’s block, she takes him up on the invitation a year later–and runs into his brother, who’s reluctantly running the place.

dakota-bluesDakota Blues by Lynne M. Spreen. If you liked “Steel Magnolias” and “Thelma and Louise” you’ll enjoy this novel. Fired by her super-demanding boss after taking time off to attend her mother’s funeral, Karen is still trying to regroup after her husband abandoned her for his pregnant girlfriend. She gets roped into driving an elderly neighbor on a last road trip to Vegas in an RV. This is a debut novel, and I hope the author publishes more–and soon!

its-destinyIt’s Destiny: Three Women’s Fiction Love Stories by Bette Lee Crosby, Tanya Anne Crosby and Julianne Maclean. I’m a huge fan of “Memory House.” Fans of Bette Lee Crosby’s work will love how this novel ties in elements from most of her others. But you don’t need to have read Crosby’s other novel to enjoy this story of a vulnerable young woman finding her way in the world, aided by the kindness of an older woman who has a unique gift. It’s easy to love these two characters.
“Lady’s Man” seemed more far-fetched (even though it lacked the magical element of “Memory House.”) This short piece seemed to be leading in a different direction at the beginning and almost lost me in the first chapter.
I liked the story behind “The Color of Destiny” but the story was not as well-told as the other two; there was a lot of repetition and needless foreshadowing.
Review based on ARC provided by the authors.

Nonfiction

PrintWhat Pope Francis Really Said by Tom Hoopes unpacks the truth behind the media’s rush to judgment. I recommend the book to all Catholics committed to defending and living out their faith. Read my full review.

Links to books in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Your purchases made through these links support Franciscanmom.com. Thank you!

Follow my Goodreads reviews for the full list of what I’ve read recently (even the duds!)

Visit today’s #OpenBook post to join the linkup or just get some great ideas about what to read! You’ll find it at Carolyn Astfalk’s A Scribbler’s Heart and at CatholicMom.com!

open book new logo

 

On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Strangers at the Manger

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Here’s a book the whole family can enjoy together as the Christmas season winds down: The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa M. Hendey.

Number 5 in the “Chime Traveler” series of chapter books for kids in grades 2 and up (younger as a read-aloud), this novel finds twins Patrick and Katie traveling through time to Bethlehem, where they accompany Mary and Joseph through their attempts to find lodging and stay with them until the Holy Family flees to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempts on Jesus’ life.

Readers will feel as if they’re really there, encountering shepherds, Magi and even Anna and Simeon in the Temple. Hendey’s account of the Incarnation weaves Gospel stories seamlessly with the fictional addition of modern-day visitors who find ways to help Mary and Joseph take care of their newborn son. The stories incorporate a level of detail that will fascinate children who want to know what life was like during Jesus’ time.

Lisa Hendey’s devotion to the Blessed Mother is particularly evident in the way Mary is portrayed in the story.

Books in the “Chime Traveler” series always focus on a lesson the children must learn before they can return to their own families; this book centers on a refugee family seeking shelter in the twins’ parish church.

This series is published by Franciscan Media.

T36847-cvr

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Monday Recap: January 2, 2017

Monday recap 2016 edition

 

 

It’s the first Monday of the month, so I’ve gathered up links to the work I’ve done in other spaces.

At CatholicMom.com

i-played-my-best-for-him

I Played My Best for Him: A meditation on my favorite Christmas song. It’s not a traditional carol, but it sums up what we need to do every day.

featured-nativity-linkup

2016 Nativity Scene Linkup: Our Celebration of the Creche: Join our Nativity scene linkup! Share a photo of your family’s Nativity scene on your blog, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don’t forget the hashtag: #CMnativity. Open through January 8!

book notes

Book Notes for Teen Readers: Romance and Mystery by Cynthia T. Toney: Cynthia T. Toney writes novels for teens that combine Catholic characters, compelling mysteries and a touch of romance. I introduce readers to the “Bird Face” series, which would make great gifts for girls in middle school and up.

Book Notes: “What Pope Francis Really Said” by Tom Hoopes: Tom Hoopes’ book “What Pope Francis Really Said” unpacks the truth behind the media’s rush to judgment. I recommend the book to all Catholics committed to defending and living out their faith.

Book Notes: 4 Books for Young Readers from Pauline Books & Media: A new book is always a welcome Christmas gift. I reviewed 4 inspiring reads for children from Pauline Books & Media.

Book Notes: “Fearless” by Sonja Corbitt: I reviewed a new book by CatholicMom.com contributor Sonja Corbitt. “Fearless” invites the reader to take up spiritual warfare against fear, stress and anxiety.

cm-praise-moments-fi

Praise Moments: “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad: I spotlighted “Winter,” a new EP by Catholic musician Audrey Assad.

mexican-omelet-1c

Meatless Friday: Mexican Omelet: Try this Jersey-diner favorite for your Meatless Friday breakfast, lunch or dinner!

crs-digital-advent-retreat

Tech Talk: 10-Minute Advent Retreat from Catholic Relief Services: For those who don’t think they have time to make an Advent retreat, Catholic Relief Services packs a powerful spiritual experience in a 10-minute online retreat. Here are my impressions of “Holy Family, Refugee Family.”

At Cook and Count

cod-with-caper-sauce-1c

Cod with Caper-Mustard Sauce

mexican-omelet-1c

Mexican Omelet

lamb-stew-with-roasted-vegetables-c

Lamb Stew with Roasted Vegetables

At Dynamic Women of Faith

Book Review: Who Does He Say You Are? A review of Colleen C. Mitchell’s spiritual work on women in the Gospel.

 

Monday recap 2016 edition

New Year’s Reading (on the Spiritual Side)

reading-for-2017

I’ve always got at least one novel going, but there’s a huge pile of nonfiction awaiting my attention.

Here’s what I’m reading as the year begins.

CM Prayer Companion cover art

The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion will be with me as I start each day. I’ve been reading it since the summer, and its wonderfully-varied reflections fit just right into a busy schedule.

There’s even a book club on Facebook!

live-today-well

I’m not sure where I heard about this one, but it ended up on my Amazon wish list and I treated myself to it last week. Live Today Well by Fr. Thomas Dailey breaks down the work of St. Francis deSales. I knew I’d chosen well when I discovered in the prologue that deSales was heavily influenced by St. Francis of Assisi.

What are you reading to feed your soul in 2017?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! 

On the (Nativity) Scene

nativity-scene-2016-4c

The figures in my Nativity made a special appearance for today’s Nativity Scene Linkup at CatholicMom.com.

It was always the custom in my husband’s family that one of the children would put the Baby Jesus into the manger, last thing on Christmas Eve. When our children were little, we took it one step further, gradually adding figures into the scene to build anticipation and correspond with liturgical celebrations. All the figures are kept behind the manger (backstage) to await their appearance.

waiting-in-the-wings

Right around now, we’d put the animals into the manger (except the donkey, who was on a journey with Mary and Joseph.)

Early on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph and the donkey would make their appearance. Baby Jesus would be placed in the manger, last thing on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, the shepherds would arrive; the kings wait until Epiphany. And the whole scene stays in place at least until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord–sometimes until Candlemas.

I always wanted a set of figures that had Baby Jesus separate from the manger, so he could be placed in it ceremoniously on Christmas Eve, but these are the figures that came with the stable we could afford 25 years ago when we bought our first Christmas decorations together. I’ve added in a table runner that my mom made for me (which doesn’t fit my table but is perfect here), and four different handmade Christmas trees, all made by special people in our lives.

nativity-scene-2016-4c

I’m joining in at CatholicMom.com for the first-ever Nativity Scene linkup! Join the fun; share a photo of your Nativity scene on your blog or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (use hashtag #CMnativity on social media).

On Barb’s Bookshelf: What Pope Francis Really Said

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Every time Pope Francis writes an encyclical or makes an off-the-cuff remark on an airplane, the media (both Catholic and secular) jump all over it with various interpretations.

That’s a problem, states Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said (Servant, 2016). Depending on your news source (or who you follow on Twitter and Facebook) you’ll get wildly different versions of the same wrong story. Add in our lack of critical-reading skills and our willingness to accept “fake news” at face value and you wind up with a great deal of confusion about the Pope’s teachings and motivations.

He is celebrated by some for saying things he never said and rejected by others for doing things they don’t really understand (ix).

That airplane photo on the cover isn’t just a convenient file photo. It’s a symbol of the world’s eagerness to take one sentence out of an entire speech and make a huge (and often hugely inaccurate) news story out of it. The problem is not that Pope Francis holds news conferences on airplanes. The problem lies in what people do with the statements he makes.

Print

I can’t remember so much attention being paid to things previous popes said and wrote. It’s good, because the world (including the Catholic world) is watching and learning, but it’s challenging, because it’s so easy to take things out of context. I eagerly read Hoopes’ book because I find myself having to say, “That’s not what he said” way too many times when the subject of Pope Francis comes up!

Tom Hoopes traces Pope Francis’ papacy chronologically, from a speech then-Cardinal Bergoglio made in the conclave to the World Meeting of Families in the fall of 2015. Beginning with the retelling of the Gospel story in which Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath and is vilified by the leaders of the synagogue for doing so, Hoopes mentions that Jesus refuses to be “stage-managed by what officialdom is asking him to do and instead [turns] his attention to those who are looking to have a real encounter with him.” (2) Pope Francis operates in much the same way.

Hoopes assures readers who have painted the Pope as “too liberal” of Pope Francis’ unswerving commitment to the dignity of marriage and the right to life, while reminding those who believe he’s “too conservative” that Pope Francis decries the violence that begets more violence and often leads to war. Hoopes also mentions that Pope Francis is not saying anything new. He paraphrases the Catechism of the Catholic Church, echoes Popes John Paul II and Benedict, and frequently references Scripture.

In a fast-paced world with a second-by-second news cycle that reduces entire speeches to 140-character tidbits, Catholics need to read What Pope Francis Really Said to catch up on the truth behind what Pope Francis has said in the past so that they can be prepared to defend, and live out, what the Pope says in the future.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book from the publisher, Servant Books, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Words Matter

Copyright 2007 Temple-Samsung. All rights reserved. Via Flickr.

I work with words all day. Whether writing my own or editing someone else’s, I’m aware of the importance of choosing just the right word.

I think my parish may have missed the boat on this one.

The parish was formed in 2007 and formally instituted in 2008, a merger of two churches in the same zip code but on opposite sides of a busy highway.

I don’t know how the nomenclature works in other merged parishes in our diocese and beyond, but in our parish, they’ve been referenced as “the St. Casimir site” and “the Holy Name site.”

Sites.

They’re churches, not archaeological digs.

534426306_0e64c4e8aa_b
Copyright 2007 Temple-Samsung. All rights reserved. Via Flickr.

The term started out when the churches were listed as “worship sites.”

No. Just no.

“Worship” doesn’t even begin to describe what happens at a Catholic Mass.

Lately, I haven’t seen that word pop up in the bulletin or on the parish website, and I’m thankful that the churches are now referred to as churches (or simply as St. Casimir and Holy Name.)

But reference to the two churches as “sites” has become an unfortunate part of the parish lexicon, as evidenced by the early-morning text message I got from a friend today, checking where the vigil Mass for tomorrow’s feast day will be celebrated.

“SC site tonight, right?”

When I mentioned that I knew she didn’t create the term, but saying “site” bugged me, she agreed, and suggested that we use her fourth-grader’s words: “the daytime church” and “the nighttime church” (referring to the Saturday 5 PM Mass.)

I responded, “He says ‘church.’ I like how he thinks.”