On my bookshelf with shelf of Catholic fiction

On My Bookshelf: Summer at West Castle

Theresa Linden deftly bridges the gap between her West Brothers series for young adults and the new-adult Anyone But Him with this novel that details the summer Caitlyn spends working in the Wests’ castle, while Jarrett, her friend Roland’s older brother who had yet to redeem his reputation as a ladies’ man, ponders God’s plan for his life. Caitlyn had looked forward to spending the summer as a kind of working retreat, but Jarrett’s presence challenges and upsets her.

Summer at West Castle is a fascinating story of two young people seeking to figure out God’s will in their lives.

 

 

Summary:

College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to offer kindness. Her act of mercy puts them on an unexpected path where Caitlyn is challenged to look beneath the surface and Jarret struggles to trust that God wills good for him. (Note: to avoid spoilers, read this story only after reading Anyone but Him.)

 

Looking back on the West Brothers series as a whole, seeking and following God’s will is the overarching theme of all the books. There are definitely moments where Theology of the Body takes center stage, particularly in Book 2: Life-Changing Love, but discernment is top of mind for the teens in these stories, as it is for every teen: What will I do with my life? Where will I go to college—or will I? Am I in love, and is this person the one I will spend my life with?

I’ve enjoyed watching Caitlyn, Roland, Jarrett, Peter, Keefe, and the other characters in the West Brothers series grow as the stories progress, and I’ll admit I’ll be sad when Theresa announces that the series is complete.

 

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Copyright 2023 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Amazon affiliate links are included; your purchase through these links supports the author.

An advance copy of this book was provided by the author for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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Sacramental Stories

Recently I read the new book by Allison Gingras, Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God. Interspersed with stories of Allison’s own spiritual journey as she and her husband adopted a profoundly deaf young child from China is “sneaky evangelism” about grace and the ways it’s shown to us—and the ways we hold our faith in our hearts. Allison had to make the faith visible and tangible to her daughter, but the Church made that easy for her through its traditions of sacred art and sacramentals.

 

This book contains not only a fascinating testimony but also an invitation to make your faith personal, by incorporating meaningful devotions, developing relationships with saints, and learning to see God’s grace and providence in every aspect of your life.

 

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As I read Encountering Signs of Faith, I was reminded of the many sacramentals with which I’m surrounded every day. I’ve had this little prayer card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in my kitchen window for at least fifteen. My grandmother kept a larger version of the same image in her kitchen, and having this image in my kitchen not only helps me recall my grandmother, but reminds me to look to the Blessed Mother as an example of my motherly vocation.

While I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I do have her statue of the Infant of Prague. That’s another treasure from her house that is now in my office, behind my desk, watching over me (and my work) every day. I remember from my childhood that my grandmother would keep blessed candles in front of the statue, and if a bad storm came, she would light those candles and pray there. I don’t know the story behind that devotion, or whether it’s something she did on her own, but that was her custom.

 

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This little grouping of crosses hangs near the Infant in my office. I have several San Damiano crosses around the house; as a Secular Franciscan, those are precious to me. There’s so much going on in that icon! I purchased the tin Sacred Heart cross at the Catholic Marketing Network trade show one year, and my daughter gave me the milagros cross, which she purchased at the Shrine of Saint John Neumann in Philadelphia.

 

 

In my office window, you’ll find this tiny Nativity scene, figurines of various saints (those move around; some are on my desk as prayer reminders, and others are near the window), my jar of rosaries and chaplets—which would be full if I collected the ones in my handbag and on various tables around the house—and a big bottle of holy water.

 

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My sacramentals might be a little dusty, but they’re reminders of what I believe in and what I’m here to do each day. To me, they’re simple treasures.

Ask for Encountering Signs of Faith at your local Catholic bookseller, or order it from Amazon.com or the publisher, Ave Maria Press.

 


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Photos copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Your purchases made through the Amazon affiliate links in this post support Franciscanmom.com. Thank you!

On my bookshelf with shelf of Catholic fiction

Book Review: The Little Way of Living with Less.

Letting go is hard. And maybe that’s the reason for the subtitle of Laraine Bennett’s new book, The Little Way of Living with Less: Learning to Let Go with the Little Flower. In this new release from Sophia Institute Press, Bennett shares her musings on a “less is more” manner of living, inspired by the writing of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

 

 

Arguably, the saint’s life as a cloistered Carmelite nun automatically lent itself to the kind of simplicity that mothers in the 21st century will never hope to see. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from this saint’s words and example, and apply those to our situation, examining what to keep, what to share, and what we might not even need in the first place.

I admit it: I’m very attached to my stuff. I keep a lot of things I “might need someday” but probably never will … and it definitely goes against the grain for me to donate those useful objects—but, looking back, I’ve always been more than willing to give something I was saving for that elusive “someday” to a friend or neighbor who needed that particular thing right now. My challenge, I guess, is giving up the things without seeing the faces of the ones who will be using it.

Reading this book has pushed me to re-examine my relationship with the things I keep. Do I need all of them? Do I even want all of them? Would I benefit more if I moved some things along, by having more open space in my closet and on my shelves: do I have to have everything filled to the brim all the time?

Reading this book at this time of year has been a good push to examine the clothing I keep. As the weather gets chilly, I’m putting away the summer blouses and bringing out the winter fleece. How much of each of these do I really need? When’s the last time I even wore that? Why am I hanging on to it if I’m not using it? As I sort, I’m filling a box—and when it’s full, I’ll arrange for it to be picked up for the next clothing drive, along with the big box of handmedown kitchen stuff left behind by my kids after they finished college.

My favorite chapter in The Little Way of Living with Less is chapter 7: “The Tranquility of Order.” I want that tranquility, the peace that comes from having what I need—because peace doesn’t come from hanging on to stuff I don’t.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Amazon links are included in this article; your purchase supports FranciscanMom.com at no cost to you.

Start Your Advent Preparations Now!

It’s September 30. Do you know where your Advent candles are?

I do, because I bought about 6 packs in bulk a couple of years ago, and we’re still working through that supply. I don’t have an attic; we keep them in a mini-closet in the basement where the Christmas decorations live (which automatically means we can’t go too crazy buying Christmas decorations, because I insist that we keep the Christmas decorations there, and only there.

So I’ve got my candles (and enough for a few more years) and now I have the brand-new Advent devotional by Lisa M. Hendey: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath.

 

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This booklet is filled with Scripture-based, simple prayers for the Advent season, plus questions to ponder for each day as you prepare to welcome the newborn Christ.

These Advent prayers are appropriate for individuals as well as families, classrooms, and small faith sharing groups.

If you’ve spent any time around this blog, you know I’m hardly an expert about Advent. Around here, it’s the season where table manners and fire collide. But now that all my kids have come out the other side of the teenage years, I’m figuring that maybe—just maybe—we can add in some devotion to our family Advent-wreath ritual.

It’s only 5 minutes a day. We can do it! Join me!

And it’s not too early to think about Advent, my friends. It’ll be here before you know it: Advent begins November 27 this year. And all the craft stores are already putting Halloween stuff on clearance, so if you don’t have candles yet, don’t wait. And while you’re buying your candles, go ahead and order this book, too.

5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath is available on Amazon, through Ave Maria Press, and at your local Catholic bookstore.

Ave Maria Press offers even more Advent devotional materials based on this booklet: check those resources out for free!


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photos copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.
Article contains Amazon links; your purchase through these links support FranciscanMom.com at no cost to you.
I received a free review copy of this booklet from the publisher and was not compensated for this review in any way.

On My Bookshelf: Perfectly Human by Joseph Dutkowsky, MD

Is there anything better than a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? I believe we’re handed them by God all the time and too often don’t notice or can’t figure out what to do with them. I’m a firm believer that when God hands you a chocolate chip cookie take a big bite out of it! (173)

Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, or “Dr. D” as he signed off when he emailed to tell me he’d sent me a copy of his memoir, Perfectly Human, spent his life taking big bites of the chocolate-chip cookies God handed him, and the world is better for it.

 

In this fascinating book, Dr. D describes his journey from engineering student to pre-med and on to a series of academic and professional opportunities that led him to dedicate his medical career to caring and advocating for persons (mostly children) with disabilities. It’s evident from the very first page that Dr. D loves his work, and that his patients have been as much a gift to him as he has been to them. Dr. D looks into the eyes of his patients and sees the eyes of Jesus looking back at him.

Dr. D has not only worked hard as an orthopedic surgeon to help his patients enjoy their lives by assisting them in overcoming mobility challenges, he has led by example in looking and listening and helping to meet the needs of his patients and their families.

Through the patients, families, and community providers whom I serve, I learned the fundamental truth that you cannot take care of a child with a disability without taking care of their family and community. (82)

Throughout the book, Dr. D shares stories of encounters with patients and acknowledges that he was changed as much as the children and adults he has treated over the years. The thread that holds all these stories together is Dr. D’s deep reverence for the gift of life, no matter how imperfect that life might be in the eyes of an unfriendly world.

Particularly timely in these days of post-Roe vitriol against those who protect the vulnerable unborn is Chapter 16, “The New Eugenics.” Many of Dr. D’s patients have been individuals with Down syndrome. He observes,

Worst of all, this new eugenics is even threatening their lives. Through medical science, new tests exist and are being developed to genetically and morphologically examine a fetus in the womb. In the greatest tradition of medicine this information would be used to make early diagnoses that could lead to prenatal treatments to enhance the life of the child in the womb and after birth. In the worst tradition of medicine this technology is being used to terminate the pregnancy of an “undesirable” child. (168)

In this powerful chapter, Dr. D decries a culture that penalizes women “economically, socially, and professionally” for having children; a culture in which easy access to abortion enables men to use women; a culture which views easy access to abortion as a “solution to poverty” (169).

Dr. D told me, when he sent me this book, that it’s not a book: it’s a movement. He’s right. This book, which I called a memoir but might better describe as a call to action disguised as a memoir, is a spiritual push to see the intrinsic value of each person: born and unborn, healthy or ill, strong or weak, ambulatory or wheelchair-bound.

It’s also a love story, dedicated to his late wife, Karen, who supported him in the adventures that took him from New England to Tennessee, from New York to Peru and back again.

And it’s a testament to the faith of a man who has come to see all of life as a gift from God, packaged as a series of chocolate-chip cookies and ready to be enjoyed in a way that, in turn, glorifies the God who created it in the first place.

Perfectly Human is a book that will make you smile and cry—sometimes within the same page. I’d particularly recommend this book to young people entering the medical field, whether as doctors, nurses, or allied professionals, and to educators as well.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Image: Stencil

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Recommended Reading for the Eucharistic Revival

To renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. (EucharisticRevival.org)

 

The United States Congress of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will initiate a three-year Eucharistic Revival beginning Sunday, June 19, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. During this revival, Catholics will be called upon to deepen and strengthen our belief in and devotion to the Eucharist: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Here are some of the books I’ll be reading during this time, and others I’ve recently read. Join me!

Merridith Frediani’s Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is much more than a guidebook about a particular type of devotion, this book, published by Our Sunday Visitor, begins with an explanation about Adoration that is definitely not for beginners only. Not every parish or Adoration Chapel offers advice or instruction on customary prayer practices associated with this devotion, so you’ll find that this book fills in those gaps in a helpful way.

nullIvonne J. Hernandez is the author of The Rosary: Eucharistic Meditations with St. Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist. This is a beautiful book of meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary. I prayed my way through this book over the course of four holy hours in the Adoration Chapel, but there’s enough material in the entry for every mystery that you could focus on a single mystery each day for three weeks, if you prefer.

Just published by Aleteia+OSV, My Daily Visitor: Eucharist by Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P. is a devotional booklet with 40 days of meditations inspired by Gospel stories and the writings of the saints. Entries are short (one page per day) and the book’s small format makes it easy to take with you or keep inside your Bible or breviary for daily reading and prayer. This devotional also contains a collection of prayers before the Eucharist, written by saints including St. Catherine of Siena, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

7 Secrets of the Eucharist  by Vinny Flynn, published by MercySong/Ignatius, is a favorite of three authors whose opinions I deeply respect: Maria V. Gallagher, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, and Allison Gingras, who commented, “This book literally changed my life.” Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur noted in her Amazon review, “[this book] helps readers to once again be amazed by the mystery of the Eucharist. While no one can fully understand the Eucharist, Flynn uses Scripture, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, certain Church documents, and the Diary of St. Faustina to help explain it as much as possible. … This book provides complex information about this sacrament in a highly readable format.”

Ave Maria Press has recently published two books by Timothy P. O’Malley, in its Engaging Catholicism series, which I’m reading now. Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?, the first book, explains the biblical origins and long tradition of the Church’s doctrines of real presence and transubstantiation, and encourages spiritual practices that will help us recognizing Christ in the Eucharist and in others.

The second book, Becoming Eucharistic People: The Hope and Promise of Parish Life, discusses ways to cultivate a culture in our parishes that treats Real Presence not only as an important Catholic doctrine, but also as the most important part of parish identity. This book is not just for priests and parish ministers—there’s valuable information and food for thought for every reader.

 

What will you be reading during the Eucharistic Revival? Share your recommendations in the comments!

 


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of some of these books, but no other compensation. Others were purchased on my own. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

books on a bookshelf

An Open Book: June 2022

The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. This has been a spring for reading books outside my normal fare! Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:

Fiction

I’ve been bingeing my way through Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor series. Set in a small town in coastal Oregon, this clean romance series features a terrific supporting cast, including Charley, an artist/taco truck owner whose powerful insights often set other characters on the right track; the priest and minister, good friends who engage in good-natured battles over who knows Scripture better; and Floyd and Gladys (I won’t spoil this one for you). They’re quick, enjoyable reads—perfect for summer. So far I’ve read the first 6 of 8 books and definitely recommend that you read the series in order:

Hope Harbor
Sea Rose Lane
Sandpiper Cove
Pelican Point
Driftwood Bay
Starfish Pier
and the last two, which I’ll be reading soon: Blackberry Beach and Sea Glass Cottage.

The Love We Vow and The Vows We Keep by Victoria Everleigh feature a man in his early thirties who struggles with his priestly vocation and guilt from his past relationships. The books include prolife themes as well as a focus on forgiveness (including forgiving oneself for past mistakes) and reconciliation with God and others. I wasn’t much of a fan of Tristan, the main character—he didn’t seem to know what he wanted out of life, but the female characters in both books were more relatable.

In the Shadows of Freedom by C & C Spellman is the first in a dystopian trilogy by a husband-and-wife author team. A young woman, off to attend art school in New York City, is tracked by government agents seeking to remove all religious influence from the country. The self-focused Amanda is oblivious to all of this. She trades obsession for her art to obsession with a drug her supposed “friends” introduce her to, and neglects contacting her own family until the crisis she finds herself in, a literal battle between good and evil, threatens her life and she decides to go home and seek refuge there. This novel was beautifully written and is a compelling story. I’m not a big reader of this genre, but I’m invested enough in the story that I want to continue reading the series. Book 2, A Nation of Tyrants, is available now.

 

YA/Children’s

Pudge & Prejudice by A.K. Pittman. A slightly overweight high-school sophomore in a large family of beautiful girls starts the year in a new school in a new state, and can’t figure out how to fit in, or what to do about her feelings for the football star whose best friend is her sister’s boyfriend. The ’80s references in this book were terrific—it takes place during the time of my own teenage years. I missed most of the Jane Austen references in this novel, because I’m not a fan, but even without that, it was an excellent story.

Nonfiction

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler was a fascinating look at the city very near where I grew up during my growing-up years. I recognized the names of most of the politicians and baseball players just from what I absorbed as the child of an avid Yankees fan. I remember many of the events that took place that year (the blackout, Son of Sam) and this book put things into more context than I had, given that they happened while I was in middle school. I’m recommending this to my mom (the Yankees fan mentioned above).

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

Where noted, books are review copies. If that is not indicated, I either purchased the book myself or borrowed it from the library.

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!


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz

On my bookshelf with shelf of Catholic fiction

An Open Book: April 2022

The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:

Fiction

The Roommate Situation (Only in Atlanta, Book 1) by Katie Bailey. An enjoyable clean romance, but I liked the second in the series more. This one featured a young woman who just broke up with her cheating boyfriend, showed up unannounced at her older brother’s house, and found that only his roommate would be there for a few weeks. They try to hide their developing relationship from everyone, to no avail and to hilarious effect. (4 stars)

 

Neighbor WarThe Neighbor War: A Romantic Comedy (Only in Atlanta Book 2) by Katie Bailey. A fun, light read about neighbors who have longtime crushes on each other but don’t know the other one likes them—and one of them thinks she hates the other, based on an erroneous first impression. Witty banter (so much witty banter!), fun characters. (5 stars)

 

Bluebird by Genevieve Graham. Historical fiction set in Canada during/just after World War I. In this second-chance love story, a military nurse falls for a patient who, along with his brother, had been seriously injured doing dangerous work. After the war, the former soldier and his family make their living as bootleggers and smugglers across the Canada-US border, and the nurse unwittingly begins dating the brothers’ biggest competition, a gangster who is out to ruin his enemies. I’ll definitely look for more by this author. (5 stars; Netgalley review.)

 

YA/Children’s

Finding Junie KimFinding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh. Dual timeline fiction, set during Korean War and present-day, with both story lines from the view of adolescents. The story itself is a lovely family saga, even as it recounts the brutalities of war. The book takes on racism and bigotry but openly supports the BLM movement, and there was definitely an undercurrent of anti-white-privilege going on, which is its own form of racism. Because of this and because of some disturbing content (war violence), I would recommend a critical read before giving it to a child because the book definitely does endorse a party line. (4 stars)

Nonfiction

No Such Thing as OrdinaryNo Such Thing as Ordinary by Rachel Balducci. Rachel’s upbringing in the faith is different from most, because she was raised in an intentional Christian community, where she still lives. Don’t let her unique experience stop you from reading this encouraging look at being your best for God, structured around the story of the woman at the well. (4 stars; Netgalley review. Releases May 6.)
Synopsis: Are you looking for freedom and fulfillment in the life you are already living, or do you feel trapped because your everyday reality doesn’t match your dreams? No Such Thing as Ordinary will help you discover the passion and adventure in your life while empowering you to see how God uses daily, here-and-now moments to draw you to him in an extraordinary way. Drawing from Jesus’s conversation with the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, Rachel Balducci—Catholic writer and cohost of CatholicTV’s The Gist—shares how a deep unrest in her life launched her on a journey to discover the secret that true joy is found in a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Dust Bowl Girls coverThe Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team that Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder. The true story of a Depression-era women’s basketball team in Oklahoma. A fascinating premise: women recuited to attend a junior college in Oklahoma face challenges ranging from poverty to sexism as they work to qualify for a championship tournament against some of the region’s best female basketball players. The book got bogged down in some unnecessary detail that didn’t keep the story moving and maybe could have been included as a supplement rather than incorporated into the story line. (4 stars.)

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

Where noted, books are review copies. If that is not indicated, I either purchased the book myself or borrowed it from the library.

Visit this month’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!

Stations of the Cross - HC Cathedral Boston 2019

OSV Kids Stations of the Cross: Devotions Just Right for Children

In her new booklet, OSV Kids Stations of the Cross, Colleen Pressprich proves that the Stations of the Cross can be made accessible to kids without watering down the impact of the devotion.

One of the things I look forward to each Lent is the parish celebration of the Stations of the Cross each Friday. When my children were in grade school, they would go to the church on Friday afternoons to pray the Stations. Parents were invited to attend, and I often did when my schedule allowed, but the resource the school was using for the Stations was complicated, with flowery language.

That’s not a problem with this new resource from OSV Kids. Colleen Pressprich and illustrator Adalee Hude have created a prayer resource that’s long on reverence and simplicity and short on complicated vocabulary and graphic detail.

Each Station begins with the traditional call-and-response used at the Stations of the Cross. A brief meditation follows, accompanied by a few questions to help the children relate the challenges and suffering Jesus faced to experiences in their own lives. In the prayer for each Station, the children ask for Jesus’ help in meeting challenges such as loneliness, tiredness, frustration, discouragement, and forgiveness.

The meditation and prayer from the Second Station are good examples of how the suffering Jesus experienced is depicted in a child-appropriate way:

The soldiers make Jesus carry his own cross to the hill where he will die. The cross is very heavy. Jesus was in prison all night, and he hasn’t eaten any food since the Last Supper the night before. He also has been beaten. He is tired and weak, yet he still chooses to take up his own cross and walk toward his death because he loves us.

Have you ever had to do something very hard even though you were tired? How did it feel? What helped you keep going? What do you think Jesus was thinking when he lifted the heavy cross onto his back?

Dear Jesus, please remind us that you are with us when we are tired and don’t want to do what is asked of us. Please help us to remember that we can offer up what we don’t like as a prayer. Amen.

 

I would recommend OSV Kids Stations of the Cross for use with children in elementary school. It’s an excellent resource for families to use to pray the Stations together, and would also be great for use in Catholic schools or religious education programs.

Don’t skip the author’s note at the beginning of the book. Pressprich addresses this to parents, teachers, and priests; in it, she explains how adults can model faith-sharing by using some of the questions in the meditation for each Station.

OSV Kids Stations of the Cross has received an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, which indicate that the book is free from doctrinal or moral error.

It’s important to note that while the Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion during Lent, the Stations can be prayed all year ’round. I remember that when I was a child, my great-aunts and great-uncle used to visit a church every single day to pray the Stations—even while on vacation! If you find that the Stations of the Cross becomes a special devotion for your family, think about ways you could pray it as a family once a month, perhaps on the First Friday.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

This article contains Amazon affiliate links. Your purchase using these links supports my writing ministry at no additional cost to you.

Our Lady of Lourdes

The Miracle You Want vs. the Miracle You Need

Christy and Todd WIlkens took their son Oscar to Lourdes with the Order of Malta on a pilgrimage, hoping for healing.

The couple was desperate for a miracle. Their little boy was suffering from a seizure disorder that had begun during his infancy. After a year of chasing treatment after treatment, Christy could see that nothing was helping Oscar—at least, nothing that doctors or hospitals could offer him.

In Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith, Christy Wilkens describes the details of her last-ditch spiritual effort to heal what modern medicine could not. She and her husband were exhausted, and the constant caregiving, monitoring, and medical visits for Oscar did not leave much left over for their five older children—or their marriage.

As they began their journey at the airport, Christy and Todd learned immediately about the loving care Oscar—and she and her husband—would receive from the team of Order of Malta volunteers, known as a “pod,” who were assigned to her family, and only to her family. Even as they learned what Oscar needed, these volunteers provided what Christy and Todd needed as well, including time to process the 24/7 caregiving their little boy had required for the past year.

A pilgrimage to Lourdes is much, much more than simply a trip to a shrine that boasts a spring of healing water, as the Wilkens family learned. It is a spiritual experience, bringing healing and wholeness in unexpected ways.

Awakening at Lourdes is a timely read during National Marriage Week, and as we prepare to celebrate the February 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.


Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil

This article contains Amazon affiliate links. Your purchase through these links supports FranciscanMom.com at no cost to you.