Christmas Gift Idea #8

Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words

Here is another book for your viewing pleasure.  Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words.  This fantastic book lets you read the writings of four great saints of the early Church: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus of Lyons.  Ignatius of Antioch was a student of St. John the Apostle himself and was the first to use the term “Catholic,” which means universal.

It is fascinating to learn about what the Early Christians thought, and how they worshiped.  This is a really wonderful book and an easy read.  What were the thoughts of the earliest Christians about the Eucharist? Were these people uneducated peasants or highly educated scholars?  How did they live and how did they die?  Get this book for someone special and then borrow it because it will really do something for your faith.

Christmas Gift Idea #3

Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within

Here is another great Christmas gift idea, one of several books I want to tell you about.   Fr. Thomas Dubay’s Prayer Primer.
As you have heard many times, I am a big fan of Fr. Dubay who passed away in September.  This great little book presupposes no knowledge of prayer but will help even those experienced in it.  Do you want to learn how to start or about different types of prayer?  What about Eastern forms of prayer, are they compatible with Christian prayer?  How do you teach children to pray?  How do you assess your progress or deepen your prayer?  This is the book for you.
I’ve linked to The Catholic Company, another (obviously) Catholic business you may want to support.
Disclaimer: The Catholic Company or Ignatius Press do not pay me for this recommendation.  I just really love this book!  Go to both of their sites and buy stuff!

The Stations of Light for Easter

The Easter season is in full swing and I thought you might be interested in something you may not have heard of: The Stations of Light, also known as the Via Lucis, or the Stations of the Resurrection.

Similar to the Stations of the Cross that many pray on Fridays of Lent and during the year, the Stations of Light have 14 stops, but you meditate on Christ’s resurrection and what followed. It is prayed during the Easter season, but I don’t see why you could not pray it during the year, especially on Sunday.

I think this devotional is just beautiful and I love praying it. Here is a quick list of the Via Lucis, the Way of Light:

1. Jesus Rises from the Dead
2. The Women Come to the Tomb Encountering an Angel
3. Peter and John Visit the Tomb with Mary Magdalen
4. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalen
5. Mary Magdalen Proclaims His Rising to the Apostles
6. Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus
7. Jesus Gives the Disciples the Power to Forgive
8. Jesus Confirms the Faith of Thomas
9. Jesus Eats with the Disciples on Tiberias Shore
10. Jesus Forgives Peter and Commissions Him
11. Jesus Gives the Great Commission to the Disciples
12. Jesus Ascends into Heaven
13. Mary and the Disciples Keep Vigil for the Spirit’s Advent
14. Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit

You can find the Stations of Light online at the Archdiocese of Detroit website and in a few books such as one by the well-known author Ann Ball, Stations of the Cross/Stations of Light and this absolutely beautiful book, Journey into Joy: Stations of the Resurrection

7 Quick Takes – Vol. 4

 
1.  So, last week I told you we were going to a concert with the Moody Blues. It was very nice and my husband and I, and our 6 year old enjoyed it.  It was a bit cold though, being outside and on the grass.  I wore my silk long winter underwear, turtleneck, sweater, coat and as a final touch the cashmere gloves & hat my mother gave me for Christmas.  I never get to wear those.  It is a bit much for a warm climate in March, but this is the coldest, longest lasting winter we have ever had here.  I’m enjoying it immensely.
7 Secrets of the Eucharist
2. One of my favorite books is 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn.  It has really helped me appreciate, and understand better, the Eucharist.  I just learned that a new study guide has come out that would be great for groups or individually.  Go to the Mercy Song website for information.
3.  Speaking of Mercy Song.  I love Vinny Flynn and his family’s song for the Divine Mercy Chaplet on EWTN.  It sticks in my head whenever I hear it, and when I think of the Chaplet, that is what I think of.  I found one decade of it on YouTube.  
4.  This article is interesting How to Easily Cut Your Calories – Eat Slowly   I believe this.  My husband’s grandmother was a firm believer of chewing slowly, and was thin as a rail her whole life.  She recommended chewing each bite of food 50 times!  That is a lot!  There are some very interesting bits in this article.
5.  If you grow tomatoes this might be a great article for you from Mother Earth News  The Best Tomatoes to Grow Where You Live 
 
6.  A friend of mine has been sick and wondered what medicines she could take since she is breastfeeding.  This can be a serious problem if you especially need drugs long term, like for high blood pressure, asthma, etc. or if you need cancer drugs.  Mostly moms want to know if they can take cold medicines or antibiotics, etc.  When I was breastfeeding, my lactation consultant recommended Dr. Thomas Hale’s website Breastfeeding Pharmacology.  Dr. Hale is the guru of what drugs you can take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  He is a professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech University.  Honestly, most doctors and nurses, and even pharmacists, do not know this information and will just tell you not to take the drug, or worst of all to quit nursing.  They do this to cover their butt from lawsuits, not because the drug really is in the breastmilk.  This is my pet peeve – because it was my experience that most every drug reference, especially for lay people, would say to just about every drug, to quit nursing to take it, or just that they just did not know if it was in breastmilk or not.  In fact many, many drugs are OK, you just need to know the ones that are not.  So if you know a nursing mother, tell her to go to Breastfeeding Pharmacology and click on Breastfeeding & Medication Forums.  Under no circumstances should you quit nursing until you check this out.  And have your doctor buy his book, Medications and Mother’s Milk.
7.  I love most all things Google.  My favorite tech writer, Harry McCracken, has a great article: The Undiscovered Google: 7 Services You Need to Try.  Go to his blog Technologizer for other great tech stuff too.
Now, check out Jennifer’s 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

7 Quick Takes – Vol. 3

1.  This week finds us in the midst of a strep throat mini-epidemic in our house.  The 6 year old was really sick last week.  His dad wound up going to the urgent care center on Sunday, and while they did not test him for strep he probably has it, plus double ear and sinus infections.  Today, the 14 year old has a sore throat… I’m just waiting for it to get me…we’ll see.

2.   A friend of mine recommended this blog post to me and I found it to be so beautiful and profound.  It is about the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb which is a French contemplative order that enables girls with Down Syndrome to answer their vocation to Christ.  It is good to be reminded that those who are disabled in some way still are people, they are not a faceless victims of a disability that have no worth or meaning.  They are people who have deep feelings, and a soul with the capability of donating all to Christ.

3.  Discover the beauty of the earth with the new photo NASA Blue Marble.  If you click “All Sizes” on the upper left you can enlarge it and take in the lovely aqua water of the Caribbean, the beautiful mountains and deserts of the West, and the Polar icecaps.  What a marvelous planet.  You might also find the photos from the Goddard Space Flight Center breathtaking as well.

4. There are two new books out by Catholic blogging moms that you might want to check out.  CatholicMom.com Lisa Hendey’s  The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul and Rachel Baulducci of Testosterhome has How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys.  Both sound lovely – by two lovely ladies.   Pull out your credit card right now!

5.  Back in November, a wife, mom and blogger in her 30’s named Anissa Mayhew, suffered a stroke.  I first learned of her on Twitter.  She has been in the hospital or in a nursing facility since then.  This past weekend she finally came home.  I urge you to take a look at the blog Hope4Payton that her husband has used to chronicle their difficult journey.  This is an amazing family.  Her husband is a tribute to all husbands, and it is wonderful to see them all home again.

6.  Well, how is Lent going for you?  I’m trying to be more patient with the kids and not get annoyed when interrupted.  I find myself slipping, but catching it first is a challenge.  I have been reading more.  I have got a great deal out of Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer from Fr. Thomas Dubay.  Abstinence is not so great.  Last Friday, I completely forgot it was Friday and gratefully and happily accepted that bacon and egg on an English muffin my non-Catholic husband handed me.  Groan.  I realized it later.  So, if you do it unwittingly is it a sin?  I did not make a conscious choice to eat that bacon.  I forgot.  So, I’m figuring that is not a sin.  But I just completely forgot God that morning….yeah…real great, that one.

7.  I’m looking forward to a Moody Blues concert my husband is getting the four of us free tickets to.  Now, they were big when I was a toddler, but I’m sure they will be fantastic, as long as we don’t freeze to death.  It is outside on the water I think (we do live in a warm climate, but lately it hasn’t been so warm.)  Too bad it is not date night, cuddling on the bay while listening to great music would be very romantic.  Listening to complaining children…not so much.  But it will be nice to expose them to real live music.  Wish us luck.

OK, you’ve read my ramblings, now go see more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Advice for Someone Returning to the Catholic Church

A few weeks ago, a woman emailed our parish, of which I am webmaster, to say that she would like to return to the Catholic Church and asked what she should do? She had been baptized Catholic but had not attended since. This is quite a common occurrence, so I thought I would share with you what I told her, in a slightly adapted version. It would be good advice for a new Catholic as well.

How wonderful for you! I’m so happy for you to take this step!

First, I would advise you call the Religious Education Office at your chosen parish to register for RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which is the program you will need to take to learn about the faith and to get your sacraments. This usually starts in the Fall.

Second, I would recommend for you make an appointment with one of your parish priests to have a chat to get you started in your spiritual life. I’m sure he would love to meet with you. Don’t be shy.

Third, I would start attending Mass every week, if you aren’t already. Even though you can’t take Communion, you can make a Spiritual Communion at any time, but especially during Communion time at mass. The Spiritual Communion prayer is found here:

Fourth, get a Catholic Bible (protestant bibles don’t have all the books of the bible, so you want a Catholic one) The New Catholic Answer Bible: The New American Bible is excellent. The Leather version is called The New Catholic Answer Bible – Librosario It is beautiful, and is the bible we gave our son for his Confirmation. Start reading it in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) & Acts. Mark is a great one to read first because it is short.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, you might want to check out these websites and books to help nourish yourself along your journey – of course, at your own pace.

Catholic Answers
A Simple Guide to Christian Meditation
How to Pray the Rosary
EWTN Faith Teachings
Envoy Read back issues & articles
New American Bible Online
Catholics Come Home

Books:
Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within – Fr. Thomas Dubay
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism An easy must-read by Scott & Kimberly Hahn
The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You Michael Dubruiel
7 Books for New Catholics

Also, see if there is a Catholic library at your parish or a neighboring one. There are also great podcasts online to help nourish you too. You can listen to them on an MP3 player or on your computer. See my list of podcasts on the left side of this website.

If you need any information or have any questions about the Faith, please don’t hesitate to contact me so I can send you in the right direction.

Congrats on this great step in your life,
God Bless,
Marcy

UPDATE: You might also find helpful the Catholics Come Home website.

The Thrill of Discovery

Gospel of Mark, The (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture)
Do you ever get a thrill when you discover a really cool new thing? What does it for you? New car? An iPod? For me it’s books or a website with stuff I have not seen before. Yeah, I know it’s pretty pathetic, but I’m a bookworm by heart and always have been. Yep, I was the teenager that hung out at the library. I was the one who checked out dozens of romance novels paperbacks at a time, and returned in two weeks for more.

At one point, I decided that I would read 1000 books in ten years. I did it in three. I kept a log with the book’s name, author, and a rating from one to four stars. It was handy since I would forget if I read a book and would have to go back and look in my records before I checked it out. See, I told you I was pathetic.

I’m at the point in my life that I have to be a little choosy because I don’t have a lot of time. I rarely read fiction. I really have not read much fiction for years. I just don’t like it anymore. I want to learn things, and truth is much stranger than fiction anyway. Last week, I finally got a hold of the latest Malcolm Gladwell book, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. It is always a thrill to read the latest Malcolm Gladwell book and I might just go back and read them again. A few days ago I finished Beating Back the Devilabout the disease detectives at the CDC.

Today’s thrill was brought on by a post at Patrick Madrid’s site: Some Advice for Catholics Who Want to Study Scripture More Deeply. Mr. Madrid posted an audio clip from his radio show and gave the caller some great advice for resources he could use to learn more about scripture. Most of these resources I have known about but the last one… yay, something new! It is the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. And I’m looking forward to seeing it. I immediately ordered one of the volumes from interlibrary loan and I will let you know what I find. In the meantime it looks great, here is a sample page for your viewing pleasure.

I’m a “Bad Catholic” This Week

I’m sorry to have been away for so long but duty called. Parental duties and work of various sorts have been taking me away from the computer, which is pretty much a good thing. Of course, there has been Halloween. My 1st grader had to do a book report this week on a book he can actually read, and also about Fall, Halloween or a mystery. The rub was that he also had to go to school on October 30th as a character in the book. Sigh.

Let me tell you right off. I’m not one of those creative moms. I don’t do two dozen cupcakes for the birthday in ice cream cones decorated to look like ice cream. There are no clowns, ponies or massive themes. No “treasure hunts” or “mystery theme” parties. Not that that is bad. On the contrary, I have massive respect and awe for those who love their kids so much as to plan it six months ahead of time.

The birthday parties I plan are usually an afterthought and an “Oh my gosh, what are we going to do for so-and-so’s birthday!” Said in mild panic. It usually is a bunch of kids from the child’s class, in the backyard with ice cream cake bought at the supermarket and decorated in the bakery department, pizza, chips, soda and goody bags. I have boys, which means they are happy with this arrangement.

We have at times gone to a park, or had a baseball themed party at the neighborhood ball park. A bounce house was the feature, with water balloons one year. This year, I was forced to have my little one’s party at Chuck-e-Cheese. It was very easy for me personally – all I had to do was show up – but it was very impersonal and I detest the place with every fiber of my being. There is a reason I don’t go to casinos and this is just like one. The birthday boy enjoyed it, so it was a success.

I have great guilt about my lack of party planning, but my laziness and lack of creativity win out usually. But lately people say, “Oh that is soooo much more frugal,” so I’m OK with it.

With this costume thing, the first thing in my mind was, “What character could he be that would be the least work for me?” Yes…I know….bad mom. My first thought was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and he loved the idea. YES!!!! So, we bought a Scooby Doo book, and he took a few days to read it through, and I shopped all over town for a “Shaggy green” shirt, which is a type of chartreuse.

Now, for years the “Color Police” have determined that we should have the most hideous greens. Chartreuse, and generally putrid colors we refer to as “barf green.” I have been waiting for lovely greens for years. And now that I need one of those disgustingly putrid greens…none to be found. Lovely emerald or forest greens… but no ugly ones. Finally, I found one on clearance at Tar-Jay. That’s Target with a French accent, in case you are so uncultured as to not know that.

So, “Shaggy green” shirt, brown pants, black shoes, a little mascara on the chin for whiskers and he was all set. Whew…I hate costumes. One of the rules was “no bought costumes” so we did ok. But Shaggy was not good enough for Halloween, so #2 son went as Spiderman with last year’s costume. #1 son is too old and sophisticated for trick-or-treating and he spent the evening at a friend’s house.

So that is some of what has occupied me this week, but one thing that has been in my life lately, albeit in small doses, has been books. I, of course, am a bookworm – or at least I used to be when I was childless, but now I take it when I can get it.

After the last book club meeting that my friends and I had, we decided to read Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic for the next meeting.

This is not a new book. Patrick Madrid has written what seem like scads of books since this one, but the first Surprised by Truth is excellent and I love conversion stories. I have in fact read this book twice before and also read the two sequels to it Surprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2) which actually is my favorite, and Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)

Why this book? Because I think convert stories are fascinating and you learn so much about the Catholic faith from them.

Now, for some of the other books I’m reading. Well, for meditation I’m reading four different books as the spirit moves me. First, The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque because I know nothing about the Sacred Heart devotion.

Then, Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay. A former spiritual director recommended this, and I read part of it but stopped midway when I got busy. It is truly excellent and really has opened my eyes to the nature of God. I’m going to start it all over again, and then start reading some books by St. Teresa of Avila, one by one.

I’m almost finished reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. It has really helped me understand and be more reverential toward the Eucharist. I may suggest this as a book club book, since it is really fantastic. This book explains so much of how the Eucharist enriches your life with graces.

The last book for meditations I’ve been using is Listening at Prayer by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. I’ve just started it and have learned a few things already.

I do think that I am going to stop using several books at one time, and concentrate on one at a time for meditations because it takes me too long to get through them. In other words, it slows my download to have too many going at one time.

Now, for the other books in my life right now. I just finished reading The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic’s guides) and I feel so naughty. (sly smile) I have seen this book before but was reminded of it at a blog I was reading. So I ordered it from Interlibrary Loan through my public library.

I also ordered its companion book The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feast and Fun (Bad Catholic’s guides). I have been very impressed with them because they are fun, extremely informative and yet totally true to the faith. No pope bashing, etc.

These books are pretty much bathroom material and I am having so much fun people are banging on the door – “Mom! What are you doing in there?!” (smirk) I have a few other books floating around too like SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance that I ordered on loan from the library and it came a lot earlier then I thought it would.

And Father, Forgive Me for I Am Frustrated: Growing in Your Faith Even When It Isn’t Easy Being Catholic by the wonderful Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. So, with all these books I have to steal every free moment and hope no one notices too much.

Starting A Catholic Book Club


Well, I have been wanting to write about Catholic Book Clubs for DAYS, but we have been in DSL distress for over a week now. So, please forgive me for not posting. For the past couple of months we have had occasional Internet disruptions. Usually they have not lasted long. Last week, we started having longer breaks in service and had two different days when we pretty much did not have any service. We have called our DSL provider and they have been as helpful as they can be, but sometimes you just have to work from one diagnostic procedure to another until you figure out what is wrong. They have been here four times and so far, so good…for now. So let me pick up a post I was working on last week but was so rudely interrupted…

I have several good Catholic friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, and I was thinking one night about what I could do to get us together. Another bible study? Or perhaps a party? Neither really got me that excited. I wanted something where we had fun but it did not involve a lot of work, especially on my part. It would be nice to have husbands too since we never get together as couples… Nights or weekends might be better since I have several friends that work during the day. I wanted it to be more of a social event, but I’m not much of a party giver. Too much stress. And I wanted to do whatever it was on an ongoing basis.

Then it hit me. A Catholic book club. It is a great excuse to read and expose others to great Catholic books. The real reason however, was to have fun, to catch up with my friends… to socialize. We could perhaps meet new friends, too. I had an email together in a few minutes and a lot of people really liked the idea. All this came to mind as I was reading a recent post by Jennifer at Conversion Diary. She is planning on a mini Book Club with her readers and I realized that I wanted to share with you this whole idea of the Catholic Book Club.

So, what did I do to organize it? Well, I’ve learned from organizing bible studies that you need to invite lots of people in order to get a few. That is just the way it is. Especially, if people are scattered over wide distances. For us that means maybe 1/2 hour driving time. You also have to expect that the people who join will not always come. People will be out of town, get sick, have other commitments come up, etc. Years ago, I was always disappointed because a few people could not make it. I would try to change the date, but that would inconvenience other people. Once I finally faced reality that not everyone will come every time I was able to make a plan and have fun.

I decided to make the meetings on Friday nights, the second Friday of the month. Friday night seemed good since there is no school or church the next morning. Many people are really involved with their families on Saturday and so daytime would be out, and in the evenings people are recovering from their day at the beach or whatever. I thought the second Friday of the month would be good since holidays or school startings don’t seem to be then, etc.

We vote on which books to use. At first, I compiled a list of good Catholic books and asked people to vote by email. Now that we are meeting, I propose books to the people attending the meeting, and we choose a book then and there for the next month. Here are the books that we have chosen to discuss so far.

A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot

I’m Not Being Fed: Discovering the Food That Satisfies the Soul by Jeff Cavins

Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into, or Back Into, the Catholic Church by Patrick Madrid

Because we started during the Summer many were out of town or unavailable. Some people could not get babysitters. The babysitter point is important. For years we have had women’s bible studies or other studies, and always children are welcome. But since this is once a month, and more of a social event, the adults want to socialize without the children. Nursing babies are always an exception, of course.

We have the meetings in people’s homes and once we had a really small group and decided to have it at Starbucks. So far, since we are getting started, and had one meeting specifically discussing a book for women, we have not had husbands yet. I’m hoping we do that in the future.

Refreshments are fairly simple. When we had the book club at my house, I had cheese and crackers, wine, some fruit and cookies. We start about 7pm so everyone has had dinner and is not too hungry. Perhaps a dessert bar next time? We’ll see. I stuck my kids in the family room with a movie and computer games and they were great. Of course, they are 14 and 6, so that was not any problem. There are advantages to not having toddlers!

We do not have a specific format for discussion. Many of us usually make notes or outline in the book parts that specifically helped us or that we liked. So we start off with catching up with each other, open the wine, have some food and eventually we get to the book. If someone has not finished the book, we don’t mind at all. In fact, I always remind them that if they haven’t read the book come anyway. This is supposed to be fun, there will be no test at the end.

How do I choose the books to pick from? Well, I try to get several books that have topics that I think people will learn from, but are not too deep. Something they can finish in the month time period. I also look for popular books that I think people would like to read. No politics, period. I only choose from good Catholic publishers. I don’t want any books that will steer people wrong in their faith. So no dissenting authors. I also don’t want devotional books on the list. Those are better read slowly and prayerfully over a long period of time. Here are some of the books that I’m thinking of adding to the list for people to choose from:

7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn

The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina

The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition by Mike Aquilina

Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life by Bishop Charles Chaput

Catholics and the New Age: How Good People Are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram, and the Age of Aquarius by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

I’m pleased the way things have worked out so far, though we have had to postpone a couple of meetings. You do need to remind people throughout the month to get the book early to have time to read it. And remind them of the date several times so they can get their schedules together. I’m always surprised that people say…”Oh, I thought it was next Friday!” or whatever.

So far it is a positive experience for all of us and I’m hoping it will continue in the future for quite a while. I’m interested to know if you have any experience with Catholic book clubs, or book clubs in general. Do you have any tips?