Monday, May 31, 2010

Holy, Holy, Holy

We sang the traditional version of this song at Mass yesterday for Trinity Sunday. I love it when they pull these old favorites out of the vault because everyone joins in, voices raised to the max. The beautiful version above comes via my friend Fran at There Will Be Bread (Thanks, Fran!) via our friend Paul at Between the 'Burgh and the City. Go visit their blogs to see what they're up to. Then listen to this haunting interpretation of this old favorite and contemplate this awesome faith of ours. God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

And if that's not enough, head over to my wildly outdated Catechism Corner to see more on the Trinity HERE and HERE.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Merton's influence on the Dalai Lama

My May 26 post from OSV Daily Take:

Today, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, the 14th Dalai Lama writes about his belief in the need for world religions to work together and to learn from one another. He says his moment of clarity on this issue came not from a fellow Buddhist but from Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose writings on Eastern spirituality have garnered him as much criticism as they have praise.

As a huge fan of Merton, I know the power of his words, even when I don't fully understand the depth of what he has written. His words take hold of me and resonate somewhere deep, allowing me to listen with the 'ear of my heart,' as St. Benedict taught, even when I'm figuratively scratching my head in confusion.

Both Merton and the Dalai Lama are right: We need to find a way to respect one another, to dialogue and learn from the best of our traditions. And we can learn from each other without losing ourselves or our faith.

Merton wrote in Zen and the Birds of Appetite: "When we set Christianity and Buddhism side by side, we must try to find the points where a genuinely common ground between the two exists." He went on to write that to compare the two faiths would be like comparing mathematics and tennis. Obviously the differences between Buddhists and Christians, Jews and Muslims and Hindus are great and not easily reconciled, and yet, in our ever-shrinking global village, where we are so interconnected, it is imperative that we find a way to do what Merton suggested more than 40 years ago.

Today the Dalai Lama writes:

"A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.

"I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us."

Read the full op-ed piece HERE, and then share your thoughts in the comment section.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'll be tweeting about the catechism today

Join me for a live Tweetchat on Twitter at noon ET today. I'll be talking about The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism and Catholicism in general. All in bursts of 140 characters or less. Am I up to the challenge? Sign on, ask a question and find out! All you have to do is use #AskCIG in your question. That will put you in the right place. Or, if you'd rather just follow along, search for #AskCIG and you'll see the conversation going by.

Come on. Isn't this a great way to spend your lunch hour? See you on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Here's the cover of my newest book

I am very happy to share with all of you the cover of my newest book, Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship, which will be published by Ave Maria Press in November. You can actually pre-order through amazon HERE if you just can't wait to snag your copy. I'll be sharing lots more news about this book as we get closer to the publication date.

Here's the front-cover blurb from the book's foreword by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, catholic author and host of EWTN's Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms: "Exquisite! Will help others open their eyes to the beauty within their friendships." Thanks again, Donna, for the beautiful foreword to this book.

Inside you'll discover the blessings of spiritual friendships, those relationships that take friendship to another level -- a faith level. I've used stories from my own life, from the lives of kind people who were willing to share with me, and from the lives of the saints. And there are reflection questions and meditations at the end of each chapter for those who want to use this book as a study guide or for group discussions. That's it in a nutshell for now.

I've created a "fan" page on Facebook where I'll post regular updates about all of my books, speaking engagements, etc. So click HERE to go that page and then click "like" to become a fan. You can also go through the Facebook box on the top left side of this screen.

If you click on the image of the cover, you can see a larger version.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The joys, challenges of Catholic motherhood

From the May 9 issue of OSV:

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Mothers are often divided into categories: stay-at-home mom, working mom, soccer mom, super mom. But any mother will tell you that no single label could possibly capture the essence of what she does on any given day while caring for her children. Mothers are known to be champion multi-taskers, somehow managing to make dinner while helping with homework, doing laundry and, often, handling outside work and volunteer responsibilities all at the same time.

While the multi-tasking may help get the job of mothering done on a daily basis, it can take its toll on a mom over the long haul. Faced with myriad challenges and chores, many moms forgo things for themselves, from quiet time for prayer to social time with friends. But the truth is that a stressed and unhappy mom can lead to a stressed and unhappy family.

Think about it this way...Continue reading...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finding meaning and blessings in sorrow

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Today's featured Catholic mom-writer is Cathy Adamkiewicz, communications director and editor of PIME World Magazine and the author of Broken and Blessed: A Life Story, an incredibly powerful book about her daughter Celeste, who died at only four months old due to a rare heart defect. I picked up Broken and Blessed one night a while back and could not put it down until I was finished. It is the beautiful story not only of a short life well lived but of a mother's steadfast faith in the face of unbearable suffering.

I know that for some moms this Mother's Day will not be easy or happy because they are suffering with children who are sick or are grieving children who are gone, so I asked Cathy if she could offer some words of healing to those mothers. What she had to say will touch the heart of every mother (and father):

"It seems mothers' hearts are made to be broken. They break a little each day as our children grow and move away from us. Every time they get hurt - which of course they all do - it hurts us, too, because we are bonded to our children in such a unique way. But for those of us who lose a child to death, the heartbreak is so intense that there are really no words for it...

"Five years after my daughter's death, I feel the pain just as intensely, but because there is truth to the old adage about time healing all wounds - even wounds like this - I seem to feel the pain less often.

"Truthfully, I can't imagine getting through such a loss without a relationship with Jesus. When people ask me 'How did you do it?' all I can say is 'Jesus.' I say it not to make myself sound pious. It's just the truth.

"From the moment Celeste was born, I threw everything - my pain, my worry, my stress about her condition, my hope - right back at God. It was simply too big for me to handle. I felt tiny and weak, and so very helpless. My daughter's suffering and the fact that she might never come home were such big crosses that I wanted to run away, but I couldn't. So I told Jesus that I trusted Him. And I gave her back to Him, because she was never really 'mine' to begin with.

"I also found a renewal of my relationship with the Blessed Mother. She could understand my suffering better than anyone. She knew what it was like to watch an innocent child suffer. Each day when I left the hospital, I left Celeste in her arms. Today I still do that with my other children when I'm worried about them or can't be near them.

"In the past five years I've learned a lot about life from my Celeste. I learned that every single life is incredibly precious - and MEANINGFUL. Each of us has a unique purpose. It comforted me immensely to know that God had a plan for my daughter, and that she fulfilled it. I also learned to worry less about the small things in life, and to really enjoy the beauty in every day. I'm reminded continually that 'our value in is our being, not our doing.' Each life - no matter how brief - is a tremendous gift to our world from a loving Father."
To visit Cathy's blog, "From the Field of Blue Children," click HERE. For more information on her book, click HERE.

Bring flowers of the fairest...

Well, to Chiara a dandelion IS a flower of the fairest and rarest.

I always find a sunny little dandelion offering in Our Lady of Guadalupe's hands after Chiara has spent time in the backyard. Either we need some serious weed killer or we need to adjust our opinion of the lowly dandelion.

I think Our Lady likes it just the same as a big bouquet of roses, especially since it's coming from an innocent little girl who leaves it there with such joy and tenderness. If only we could all approach Mary with the same childlike enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marriage and Motherhood

Today's featured Catholic mom-writer is Lisa Hendey, creator of the wildly popular and author of the recently released "Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul" (Ave Maria Press). Lisa's new book covers just about every aspect of motherhood, from budgets and menus to prayer and organization, but today I want to focus on the fact that this book about motherhood starts not with children but with marriage.

Here's what Lisa had to say about that:

"I had such a wonderful role model in my own parents, who raised five of us. I’m the oldest of five. And they really always prioritized their time together. It wasn’t always go out on a date night, but it was very clear to us that they truly and deeply loved each other, that they had fun with one another, and they demonstrated that in front of us. That gave all of us a very healthy role model for what a happy Catholic marriage looks like. Certainly they had their stressful or difficult times, but we had enough of those really happy times where they just enjoyed each other’s company and clearly had fun together.

"One of the things in my own marriage, being married to somebody who didn’t share my faith for a long time -- although he was incredibly supportive of it -- was that there was a big hole. We talk a lot about a sacramental marriage and putting Christ at the center of our marriage, but I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like in my life because we didn’t sit down and pray the Rosary together. Just looking at serving Christ by serving my spouse has been a huge thing for me, and the joy of that relationship and modeling that for my kids so they have a healthy sense of what a happy marriage looks like.

"For many mothers, the key to motherhood begins with marriage, with becoming one with your spouse and complementing your personal identity with being in that relationship. The fact that that comes first I think is a great precursor to motherhood where you put the demands and the needs of others sometimes ahead of your own."

Lisa's comments were a good reminder for me. What do my children see when they look at me and my husband -- co-workers who are getting a job done or true partners who demonstrate on a daily basis what it means to live out our vocations as spouses and parents with Christ at the heart of our home?

The "Handbook for Catholic Moms" is filled with stories, advice, practical tips and spiritual inspiration for mothers from every walk of life and in every type of mothering situation. To learn more, visit Lisa's website by clicking HERE. Lisa is also featured in my story on Catholic motherhood in the May 9 issue of OSV, which is available to subscribers by clicking HERE.

Helping moms grow in faith one step at a time

In today's post on Catholic mom-writers, I'm talking with Danielle Bean, mother of eight, editorial director of Faith & Family, and author (with Elizabeth Foss) of the newly released "Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day" (Circle Press). Danielle talked to me about the need for Catholic mothers to support each other and to find ways to bring prayer into the daily events of their lives.

"We women are so great at tearing each other apart. As much as we’re great at tearing each other apart, we can get great at building each other up and encouraging each other in Christian living. That’s something we want to encourage more women to do in their parishes and their communities or even with just a couple of friends or online because connecting with other women is such a powerful thing," says Danielle, whose new book has a prayer journal/study guide companion piece to help moms grow in faith on their own or in a group setting.

As a busy mom herself, Danielle recognizes that it's not always easy for mothers to fit long sessions of formal prayer into days that often include running from soccer games and volunteer activities to making dinner and helping with school work. The key for Catholic moms, she says, is to remember that even "attaching bits of prayer" to certain times or events of the day can add up to big spiritual gains. Those 'small steps' are pleasing to God and lead to big steps in the end.

"Ultimately the goal for anybody who is living an active vocation is to recognize that that does not have to be contradictory to growing closer in your relationship with God and advancing in holiness because this is what God intends for you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Christ-centered life because you’re busy with all these things. I think the key is recognizing the way in which God intends you to do that. Maybe He doesn’t mean for you to spend hours every day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, but He may very well mean for you to turn your heart toward Him many times a day that would add up to a lot more.

"I always think about how when my toddler was 2- or 3-years-old, how they want to share everything with me. Whether they get hurt or if they have some accomplishment when they’re playing with a toy or building something, their first instinct is to turn toward me, to share that moment with me. It’s like it’s not complete for them until they’ve shared it with me. I find that so precious and I try to keep it in mind because we’re all children of God and that’s what He wants from us too, for us to have that natural inclination of turning toward Him in all of our joys and sorrows and to never consider any part of our day complete until we share it with Him, until we experience it with Him."

To learn more about "Small Steps," visit Danielle's website by clicking HERE, or visit the Small Steps blog HERE. Check the May 9 issue of Our Sunday Visitor for my feature story on Catholic motherhood, which includes a longer interview with Danielle, by clicking HERE (open to subscribers only).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Affirming Catholic mothers

This week, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, I will be featuring interviews with and books by Catholic moms over at OSV Daily Take. (I'll repost here at the end of the day.) Today I’m talking with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author, speaker and host of EWTN’s “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms.” Her first book was the “Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2005), which immediately hit the Catholic bestseller list. She followed that up with “The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home” (Crossroad Publishing, 2006). Here’s what Donna had to say in an email interview about Catholic moms and the struggles they face:

“I wrote ‘The Heart of Motherhood’ because I felt passionately about wanting to help encourage Catholic and Christian mothers who seldom get a pat on the back for a job well done in the home -- their domestic church. I know it's not easy for a mother to hold her head up high in our world today where motherhood was once a revered vocation. Our culture dictates to us that our worth is measured by the size of our paycheck,” Donna said.

Donna, who is also the author of “Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship” (Circle Press, 2009), says Catholic moms need affirmation as they face unique challenges, working hard to care for their families while trying to make regular time for God.

“As much as they may try to set aside certain prayer times, they invariably get interrupted by a myriad of demands that most times require their immediate attention because they are dealing with children,” she explained. “I try to get across in my books and talks that a faithful mother who is striving to care for her children devotedly pleases God immensely. After all, it is God who has placed her in the heart of the home to raise her children.”

Donna’s newest book, “A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers,” will be published by Our Sunday Visitor in September. Click HERE for more information and to visit Donna’s website.

Check back here tomorrow for another perspective on Catholic motherhood.