Saturday, April 22, 2006

Calling All Irish Fans

The men in my house were happy to learn that this year's "Shirt" is not in that girly gold color! Our Notre Dame Club will be selling The Shirt as a fund raiser very soon, so I'll keep you posted!

p.s. yep, I'm back out of vacation mode! Will be posting pictures soon of our Spring Break Activities!

Lisa Barker

I've been waiting for weeks to unveil my interview with our own "Jelly Mom", Lisa Barker, featuring her insights on her new book Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent. With a name like that, how can you go wrong?! Click here to read my interview with Lisa and give yourself an early Mother's Day present by purchasing her book today!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!
I will be taking a few days to celebrate with family. Many blessings to all those who were joined our Church at the Easter Vigil last night!
I hope your Easter celebrations are filled with joy!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Today's Readings

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Isaiah 53

Please remember today to pray as a family for our troops.

Mike St. Pierre's Notebook reflection on the Work of Holy Week offers a great reflection on today's Good Friday readings.

Here's the question from his reflections that I'm pondering today:
Are we known in our parishes as active participants or are we content to sit in the back row at Sunday Mass? What program, ministry or event might I plug into which could help me to be less of a spectator and more of a leader in my faith community?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio also offers some wonderful prayer suggestions at his Crossroads Initiative

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross for Children

Vatican Way of the Cross for 2006

Recently, I asked the following question of Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints. His response follows:

Q: How can parents of young children begin praying the Stations of the Cross with them in a way that is age appropriate? I know that some young children may be frightened or become emotional when viewing the images of the Stations. Can you counsel parents on the best way to introduce this devotion in their families?

A: The Stations of the Cross may be difficult for very young children to see. (On the other hand, they may see things far worse by turning on the TV at the wrong time.) But their central message—that is, Jesus loved us all so much that he was willing to suffer—is one that can be, and should be, translated for young children to help them understand two things. First, that Jesus loves us. Second, that suffering (or struggling, or challenges, or pain) is a natural part of life. So, for example, when thinking about the First Station, “Jesus is Condemned to Death,” you might talk to your children about how sometimes good people are punished for no good reason—like African-Americans during the era of slavery. And when meditating on the Second Station, “Jesus Carries His Cross,” you might ask your children what types of sacrifices that they have to make every day.

Eventuallly, though, your children will have to be introduced to the reality of Christ’s suffering—in all its aspects. One key way of helping your children understand this mystery is by not fearing it yourself. At least in my very limited experience (as an uncle and as a friend of many young parents) the more a child sees trust in the parent, the more the child grows in trust. So the first step to helping your children move towards this mystery, is to meditate on its meaning in your own life.

All this might seem difficult, and each parent needs to make a decision about these things not from a sense of guilt, or a sense of what others in the community may think (no matter how much they seem to know), but what is best for one’s child. This is all God asks of us.

Fasting and Abstinence

Lenten Fasting Practices for Pregnant and Lactating Women

Good Friday Table Blessing from Catholic Culture

Lenten Recipes at

Divine Mercy Novena

Today, Good Friday, is day one of the Divine Mercy Novena. To learn more about the novena visit the EWTN web site.

Today, we pray for the souls of all mankind, especially sinners:

"Today bring to Me All Mankind, especially all sinners and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins, but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Judas in us All

I loved this piece by Patrice Fagnant MacArthur, over at her blog.

Holy Week Activities

At I have posted coloring pictures, puzzles and more to help your family learn and enjoy during Holy Week.

The Work of Holy Week

Mike offers a great reflection on today's Gospel reading over at his notebook.

He asks: When was the last time you shared the faith with someone who isn't Catholic? It is often a relationship or community bond which opens a door to sharing the faith- are you currently working on a project or event which may open up a door for evangelization a month or year from now? Finally, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the greatest), how strongly do you believe that you are an evangelizer?

In response to that last question, I have to admit to being probably a Four. Evangelization is uncomfortable for me - I need to give it greater devotion in my own life. At this point, however, I feel a greater sense of urgency in devoting time and energy to the faith formation of my own little family. In my world, evangelization starts in the home. Thanks Mike for another great reflection!

Holy Thursday

Today's Readings

Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me "teacher" and "master" and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

Today, we celebrate Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the first day of the Triduum. I always love attending Holy Thursday Mass at my parish. Tonight, I have the honor of photographing our candidatcatachumenschumens who will be received into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday. I am always awed by these men and women who have given so much time, energy and effort into their RCIA preparations. They bring a gift of enthusiasm and desire that fills my heart. All of the spiritual work they have put into their RCIA preparations is amazing. Frequently, they go on to be some of the most committed and devoted members of my parish.

Another part of the Holy Thursday liturgy that I love is the candlelight procession to our Altar of Repose. We silently file after our priest, who has removed the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle. In darkness, we process around the exterior of our church building, each holding a candle. The path to the altar of repose is lit by CandidatCatachumenschumens, each holding a candle. The silence is stunning as we walk along the sidewalk of a fairly busy street. I always wonder what passing motorist think when they see us processing in silence in a single file line like that. Our procession ends at the Altar of Repose, where we have silent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is truly a wonderful evening, and one I look forward to every year.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gone Fishing!

No posts tomorrow (Wednesday), as I will be accompanying the 8th graders on their whale watching field trip. Please pray for good weather and lots of sightings!

Mike's Notebook - The Work of Holy Week

From today's reflection, over at Mike St. Pierre's Notebook:

In your friendship with the Lord, are there moments when you are more prone to “betray”? Sometimes we betray with our words, at other times with our attitudes and actions.

Somehow, given this week's media fascination with the "Gospel of Judas", this seems especially timely. Thanks for the reflections Mike!

Tuesday of Holy Week

Today's Readings

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Today's Saint - St. Gemma Galgani, despite years of suffering and illness, remained steadfast in her total devotion to God and her prayer life.

Lord, I want to love you with total devotion as St. Gemma did. Help me to overcome the things in my life that separate me from giving you my total self. Let my love for you shine like a light. Amen

Monday, April 10, 2006

Book Buzz

I just posted my interview with Brian Singer-Towns, editor of Breakthrough! The Bible for your Catholics.

I love bibles and this one is a new favorite. It's aimed at middle school students, but will also appeal to youth (and Moms and Dads!). Take a few minutes to read my interview with Brian and I think you'll see why I liked this one so much. Now that I'm done reviewing it, I'm going to have to share it with Adam, who falls perfectly into its target demographic.

God or the Girl

One of my little hidden secrets is that I'm a reality TV junkie. Along with one day owning a Harley, participating on Survivor is near the top of my "life after kids" list of goals...Weird huh?!

So I was excited to hear about a new A & E series debuting on Easter Sunday. "God or the Girl" looks at four young men as they consider their vocations to the priesthood. It's getting really good advance reviews and sounds very interesting. I won't likely watch Sunday night, but thanks to my DVR I'm hoping to check it out sometime next week.

Catholic Spirit Review

God or the Girl Web Site

Renovate Your Easter Celebration

Sorry, I know that we're just starting Holy Week, but this is a topic I've been thinking about myself so I thought I would share it and it might require a little advance planning.

This article from Weight Watchers landed in my inbox this morning. Given my recent attendance at the Go Red for Women luncheon, I'm thinking of how to help my family celebrate a more healthy Easter than our usual jelly-bean laden fest! So when I go out Easter shopping this week, I'll be looking for a few healthy alternatives and the WW article gave me some great ideas.

The Work of Holy Week

A special thanks to blogger and Catholic campus minister Michael K. St. Pierre for the introduction to his wonderful blog. Mike has a special feature running this week entitled "The Work of Holy Week". Mike will be reflecting on the daily readings of Holy Week in light of their relationship to the "stuff of daily life" - I found his reflections to be very thought provoking, particularly this question:

Do our lives produce amazing work, quality relationships and results that show others that we are clearly followers of Christ?

I could spend all day thinking about that one! Visit Mike's site each day this week with me. Thanks Mike!

Monday of Holy Week

Today's Readings

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
Psalm 27

Today's Saint - St. Fulbert, 11th century French bishop of the diocese of Chartres. Well known for his devotion to the Catholic schools of his diocese, his intellectual prowess, and his love for the Blessed Mother. His Easter hymn, You Choirs of New Jerusalem, is still sung today at Eastertime.

"Ye choirs of new Jerusalem,
Your sweetest notes employ,
The Paschal victory to hymn
In strains of holy joy."
--Saint Fulbert of Chartres

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Milo Moments

God's "Top Ten" List

Thanks to author Lisa Umina and illustrator Meg Vrana for sharing our friend Milo!  Click here to order Milo Moments!

Teaching Moments

Thanks to Laura and the folks at for sharing the following:

Who Stole Your Day?

Thanks to Carole Hale, St Louis, MO for sharing her Teaching Moment idea.

Every day has the potential to be a good, and in some cases, a great day for you. Few of us get up in the morning thinking that we want this to be a bad day. Yet in many cases the day turns that way because of a person, an event or because we worry something in the future.

This Teaching Moment is about those small events that throw you off balance and negatively impact your day.

What stole your day? Was it a boss, an unruly child, the erratic driver on the way to work, not getting the ”B” you expected on the history paper, a discourteous server at lunch, etc.

Every day there are numerous people or events that can prevent us from having a good day – if we let them. The key is not letting them “steal your day.”

In most cases we can not control these life experiences, but we can control how we react to them. Lao-Tzu, a Chinese Philosopher said: “He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty.”

Question for discussion:
* Discuss the pluses and minus of your day with your family. Be specific
* Discuss with your family something that almost “stole your day.” Describe the event and how you handled it.
* Do you notice a pattern? Are there particular people or events that seem to always steal your day? Say, the drive to work, the bus to school, and the neighbor’s barking dog? etc. Discuss.

Suggestions for implementation:
* Do your- family members have suggestions on how you could have handled a particular situation? Keep it positive. This is a learning experience for everyone in the family. The idea is to share positive ways to keep you positive and focused on what is really important.
* Make this a fun discussion stimulating experience for everyone.
* Learn to accept others. They may be having a bad day for any number of reasons. Take a couple of deep breathes and say to yourself: “I’m not going to let this steal my day.”

We hope you have found this Teaching Moment helpful. Please visit our website for additional easy-to-implement parenting ideas.

Just in time for Good Friday

Thanks to Kay, who shared this link featuring recipes for Orthodox fasting. Suddenly I'm hungry!

In case you missed Sharon's recipe in the comments below, here it is!

One of our favorites is rice and bean tostados or tacos. It's instant brown rice, chopped onion, and once that is simmering, you add a can red beans in chili sauce. Stir that, then add a can of corn (drained). Mix it together and heat. Then serve it as tacos or over heated flat tortillas w/ lettuce. We use cheese, but it's flavored enough to omit the cheese.

Thanks Kay and Sharon!

Helpful Link

Thanks to Pat from Trinity Bridge for sharing the following:

Trinity Bridge - This site offers Catholic mothers of children with emotional illness links to authentically Catholic resources, as well as other (prayerfully) appropriate references for both spiritual and practical assistance.

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
the king of Israel.”

Today's Readings

Palm Sunday Crafts and Activities at

Today's Saint - St. Gaucherius - This young French man gave up worldly things to lead a solitary life devoted to God and became a beloved Abbot. Lord, help me to be less concerned with worldly desires and more concerned with a total and complete love for you and for others. Amen

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lenten Almsgiving

Looking to do a little more lenten almsgiving this year? Why not help an elderly Salesian Sister throught the Adopt-a-Sister program? A relatively small financial contribution goes a long way towards helping these women who have dedicated their lives to serving God and others.

Click here for more information

Giving to God through Gardening

As a gardener, I loved a story I found this morning through CNS - I'm hoping to find some time today to buy and plant the start of this year's flowers. About Passion Flowers, Wikipedia states: "The plants were named for the Passion of Christ, because the flower structure seemed symbolic of Jesus' scourging, crowning with thorns, and crucifixion." Here's the story:

For Milwaukee man, passionflowers symbolize his own resurrection

MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- The exotic passionflower is said to tell the Easter story of Christ's crucifixion, but for a Milwaukee man the flower is also a symbol of his personal resurrection. Dick Wuchte's journey to the Catholicism of his youth had several detours, but eventually brought him to the northwest side of Milwaukee, where he moved next door to a devout Catholic and prolific gardener, Marion Wicen, in 1978. He had little interest in Wicen's pride and joy, thriving passionflowers which bloomed on the east side of her house each summer, or in her faith life. But both remained a constant. Wuchte, 59, returned to the church after a 30-year absence sparked by pain from the Vietnam War and addiction. He's now fully recommitted to his faith, and said that has made all the difference. Wicen died in November 2004, but last summer Wuchte said her passionflowers bloomed more vigorously than ever. With the permission of Wicen's family, Wuchte has planted cuttings from her plants in hopes his yard will be graced with the flowers that seem to tell the story of Christ's crucifixion. And Wuchte knows the story doesn't end with the crucifixion. He said he is proof that a resurrection follows.

Check it Out

I loved this piece by one of our columnists, Heidi Hess Saxton, over at Catholic Exchange

It made me think of my sister and brother-in-law who live across the street from a Kingdom Hall. I have frequently thought, when visiting them (my sister and her family), about how devoted the congregants of that hall seem to their faith. I loved Heidi's response to Walter in this story! Thanks for the inspiration Heidi.

Today's Readings

Today's Readings

I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Today's Saint - Julia Billart

Today's saint, St. Julia Billart, knew at an early age that she was born to share her faith. As a young woman, she felt a strong devotion to Jesus and to teaching. Despite years of suffering and illness, she went on to found an order and to defend the faith even when her own life was threatened.

Dear Lord, inspire in me a love for Jesus that is as strong as that of St. Julia. Help me look beyond the difficulties in my own life that I may use as excuses towards truly loving and serving you and those around me. Help me to feel a zeal for sharing your light and love with those I encounter in my life each day.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Open House

I've always wondered why they don't call it "Open School"...We're off tonight to view the fruits of our boys' labors as 5th and 8th graders this year. As usual, I'm feeling very nostalgic. This will be our last grade school Open House with Eric. At our school, once it's time for Open House it feels like the year is over in the blink of an eye. I can still remember the night that we attended Eric's first Open House, back in kindergarten. It feels like yesterday! The years have flown by so quickly. It is always a treat to go to Open House and see all of the hard work our children and their teachers have accomplished during the year. Tonight, I think I need to remember to bring the kleenex!

A New Look for Gibraltar

Just in time for spring, my buddy Cami's fabulous book Gibraltar has a newly redesigned cover. Great job to your designer Cami! This new look makes me want to curl up on the rocking chair in my sun room and read the book again! If you haven't yet read Gibraltar, treat yourself! Cami knows how anxious I am for the sequel, so I won't mention that here!

Looking for a Great Book

Debra Murphy, author of the wonderful book The Mystery of Things (Ashland Grail Cycle ; Bk. 1), has begun compilation of a comprehensive list of Catholic fiction. I think she's got a great list going, and I'm going to drop her a note with a few suggestions. What would you add to the list? Have any favorites already listed? There's nothing like a great work of fiction to take you away to someplace new (or old!)

We all need to do so much more to support and encourage the wonderful Catholic authors who are busy creating these great books! Hats off to Debra for getting us thinking about Catholic fiction!

Craft Query

Fifth grade relgious education teacher Angela wrote me to ask if I'd ever heard of the Lenten Journey Keychain Craft. I haven't, but maybe one of you has! Drop a comment below or email me at if you can help Angela and her fifth graders!

Going Red

Yesterday, I put on a jaunty red jacket and my favorite boots and went downtown to have lunch with girlfriends. Going out to lunch isn't something I do very often, but this time I justified the time and expense because my attendance was for a good cause and in honor of one of my most special friends.

Eight years ago, when our sons were in Kindergarten, my 28 year old friend Michelle, a skinny former college soccer player, suffered a major heart attack and almost died. One of the many shocking things about the situation was the fact that Michelle had no previous history of cardiac disease.

In typical Michelle fashion, she turned her dilemna into an opportunity to serve others. After dealing with years of doctors visits, surgeries and invasive medical procedures, Michelle has become an advocate for the Go Red for Women mission:

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion and power we have as women to band together and wipe out heart disease. Thanks to the participation of millions of people across the country, the color red and the red dress have become linked with the ability all women have to improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives. The movement gives women tips and information on healthy eating, exercise and risk factor reduction, such as smoking cessation, weight maintenance, blood pressure control, and blood cholesterol management.

The lunch was followed by a fashion show featuring heart survivors. As I watched my beautiful friend Michelle up there stutting her stuff on the runway, I said I silent prayer of thanksgiving for people like her - people who don't let the crosses of life get them down...people who make this world a better, more healthy and loving place for others...people who have an optomistic attitude that's infectious - who make you want to look for opportunities in your own life to be of service to others.

Thanks for the lunch and the friendship Michelle. You look marvelous in Red!

To learn more about Go Red for Women and how you can reduce your own risk of heart disease visit Go Red for Women.