Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent at CatholicMom.com

The Advent elves have been busy this week preparing our Advent Resources over at CatholicMom.com. We have tons of great stuff, including Children's Activities, Books, Music, devotions and more. If you have a favorite Advent or Christmas resource to recommend, please drop a comment below or email lisa@catholicmom.com with your recommendations.

Shop at iTunes and Support CatholicMom.com

Apple iTunes

Just in time for Christmas, you can now shop at iTunes and a portion of your purchase price will be donated to CatholicMom.com. Look for the iTunes button on the right and click through our iTunes link to help our site continue to grow. Thanks!

Give the gift of music with iTunes gift certificates

Ten Commandments CD

Do you have a kid in your home that's into the Rap/Hip Hop genre? (Or maybe you're a Hip Hop Mom or Dad!) If so, please check out the work of Nick T. (aka Nick Tancraitor) over at www.CatholicRecords.net. Along with being a world class producer, Nick T. is a Catholic, pro-life Dad! Check out the 10 Commandments CD and some of the other amazing music he's got going on at his MySpace. You can also check out Nick's production work - he has worked with some great artists. His work is really amazing!

Last Day for Bead by Bead Rosary Contest

Speaking of contests, today is the deadline for the Bead by Bead Rosary Book (Joyful Mysteries) contest. To enter, send an email to Lisa@catholicmom.com and include your complete mailing address. To learn more about this great book, check out Catholic Moments Podcast #19.

We have three copies of this fabulous book to give away, so be sure to get your email to me today!

Christmas Photo Contest

If you enjoy photography and love Christmas, you might want to check out the Christmas Photo Contest over at St. Maria's Messenger. The contest deadline and other details can be found here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast #23 - Trish Foti Genco

To help get us in the spirit of Advent, we spend a "moment" with Trish Foti Genco to discuss her new Christmas CD and the work she is doing to support the post-Katrina recovery of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. To share your comments, email us at catholicmoments@mac.com or comment at www.catholicmoments.com.

Links for this episode:
Trish Foti Genco
Spirit Wing Records - Catholic Christmas CD
Ann Ball
CatholicMom.com - Shop at Amazon or the Catholic Company
Catholic Mom Logo Store

Click here to listen to episode: cm023.mp3
Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes
Subscribe to Catholic Moments in a Reader

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Media Discernment Guide

There is a certain movie coming up that is provoking a lot of discussion and consternation among Catholic families. This week, at CatholicMom.com, Pat Gohn shares an incredible resource for Catholic parents - The Catholic Conscience as Moral Compass: Media Discernment for Families. Also, over at her blog, you can read Pat's review of the movie. I want to thank Pat Gohn for taking the time away from her graduate studies to research and write on this topic, shedding illumination for parents seeking the best for their kids. Thanks Pat!

The Birth of Christ

This looks like a wonderful program. Click here to view the program schedule.

THREE CHOIRS, TWO RELIGIONS,
UNITED BY ONE BIRTH

THE BIRTH OF CHRIST brings the Nativity Story to Life this Christmas premiering on Public Television.

Sony BMG Masterworks released the CD and DVD on November 6.

“Destined to become a classic. Aside from the transcendent beauty of the work, this piece has already demonstrated its power to unite people.” -Liam Neeson

After decades of sectarian conflict and bloodshed, Protestants and Catholics recently came together for a special evening in Dublin, Ireland to celebrate what unites them: The Birth of Christ. Hosted and narrated by Liam Neeson, Andrew T Miller’s The Birth of Christ (SONY BMG Masterworks 2007) musically brings the Gospel of Luke to life, and revivifies the passion, unity, and peace found in the Nativity story. Miller commented “I hope that people realize that grace and peace often come in unexpected ways, to places overlooked and ignored.” This historic world premiere of The Birth of Christ reunited the very same Protestant Choirs of the Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals that Handel used to unveil his “Messiah” in 1742, along with St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral Choir, a Catholic ensemble.

“The Catholic and Protestant singers involved in this project put aside their differences for “One Blessed Night” and raised their voices in unison around the central mystery of their faith,” Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) said. If you listen closely, you will not only hear their unity, but experience the inspiring peace it generated.

Accompanied by a full orchestra in Europe’s revered Christ Church Cathedral, The Birth of Christ is a contemporary classical piece scheduled to air on Public Television, nation-wide, throughout the 2007 Christmas Season. The CD and DVD will be available from Sony BMG Masterworks on November 6th.

Composer, Andrew T. Miller, a Seattle native, said, “I was determined to premiere this work abroad to underscore the universality of the Christmas story, and the power of music to overcome strife and conflict.”

“The birth of a tiny Child in a Bethlehem manger has fascinated mankind for centuries. In this dramatic cantata Miller and his accomplished soloists take us back to the first century,” said Raymond Arroyo, Executive Producer of The Birth of Christ and host and creator of EWTN’s international news magazine The World Over Live. “Each of the characters are faced with a choice, a personal choice to obey the call of God or to reject it. These are choices that we all face each day.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Even Though It Says "2008"

This is one book you may want to order this week, to help you make the most of Advent and the upcoming liturgical year. Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2008 compliments the wonderful Sacred Space web site and is perfect for morning prayer, quiet Eucharist Adoration, or something to keep in the car when you're toting kids around town. (Can you guess how I use mine?).

Rock Single Dedicated to Pope Benedict

Thanks to Syte Reitz of Oremus Music for sharing the following piece of news:

MADISON, WI—What do Benedict XVI, Pontius Pilate and rock n' roll have in common? Not much, it would seem at first glance. It turns out, however, that they do all have one thing in common—they are featured in a Madison, WI-based rock band's newest single, due to be released December 8, 2007.

The Song of Benedict will be Oremus' first release since their self-titled debut album in 2006. “We sat down to start planning another album, but out came The Song of Benedict instead,” Chris Reitz, the band's guitarist and co-vocalist said.

Chris, 23, and his brother Tom, age 20, started the band in 2004 with the goal or reclaiming rock. “We all know what 'rock culture' means,” says Tom. “It's not pretty, and it sure isn't family friendly. We wanted to show people that rock could be used creatively and beautifully, and to glorify God. It isn't done often, but that doesn't mean it can't be done at all.”

So, what's to expect from the Song of Benedict? Close and complex harmonies were a staple of Oremus and there's more to be had in The Song of Benedict. There's lots of guitar, backed up by Tom's keyboard work. And lyrics. Benedict’s haunting theme repeats itself several times throughout the song: “Speaking from my window / hope someone will hear. Listen to the Truth, now, Romans, lend me your ear.”

In another verse, Pilate agonizes about whether to allow Jesus to be crucified. His words echo at us across the millennia, “What is Truth?......” if it costs you your head?

What about the rest of the album the brothers were planning? Chris and Tom decided that The Song of Benedict couldn't wait that long – this song deserved to be released on its own.

For more information, including lyrics and a sneak preview of the Song of Benedict, visit the Oremus website, www.oremusmusic.net .

Children's Literature Blog Resource

Just in case you missed it in the comments below, thanks to Alice Gunther for sharing the following resource, which is truly wonderful!

My best friend, Melissa Wiley, is a literature blogger, author and Catholic homeschooling mother who reviews Children's Literature extensively. Her blog is called Here in the Bonny Glen: http://melissawiley.typepad.com/ If you are interested in a review of a specific work, you might even want to email her privately. My guess is she's probably already read whatever it is and would love to post a review!

Wayside Shrines in Miniature

Be sure to check out our latest, adorable "Living the Liturgical Year" craft by Alice Gunther. These little "wayside shrines" can be decorated for your favorite season or saint. Thanks Alice!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Catholic Superhero Runs First Marathon

Come along with Greg Willits of the Rosary Army and SQPN as he runs his very first Marathon in Atlanta. During this video, Greg mentions several times that he is offering his run/pain for the intentions of his listeners and for success in the Rosary Army/SQPN giving campaign. Through the Giving Campaign, you can support Greg and his wife Jennifer to devote themselves full time to Catholic new media efforts. I hope that you enjoy the video and that you'll join me in supporting the Giving Campaign. Click here to share your donation - any gift, small or large, will help this important Catholic media effort.

Catholic Contests

Want a chance to win something wonderful? Feeling lucky? Then check out CatholicContests.com, a new web site with free Catholic contests. This week's prize is a statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Check it out at www.CatholicContests.com.

Catholic Songwriter Seeking Someone to Sing His Songs

I had an email this week from Guy Sudano, a Catholic songwriter who is looking for Catholic singers/bands/artists to record his songs. If you are looking for a songwriter, contact Guy at guyser195194088@yahoo.com

If you have any music connections to share with Guy, he'd be happy to hear from you!

Critical Weekend for Catholic Filmmakers


Keep One in Theaters, Get the Other
into Every Catholic Home

Thanksgiving Weekend is a critical weekend for two sets of Catholic filmmakers. While the team at Metanoia Films appeals to Catholics to keep Bella in theaters this coming weekend, the filmmakers at Catholic Exchange appeal for a blockbuster response to our multi-award winning DVD, Champions of Faith: Baseball.

Just as important as ticket sales for theatrical releases, DVD sales support and sustain films released straight to video and in this instance will enable Catholic Exchange to create more films featuring cultural icons who embrace and affirm our beloved Catholic faith.

This Thanksgiving weekend only, you can buy a special “Christmas 6-Pack” for just $69. Keep one for your family and give the other five away as Christmas gifts. That's nearly 50% off the retail price and a full $30 less than the regular price for a Champions of Faith 6-PK! CLICK HERE or call 1.877.263.1263 right now to order!

By now you've heard a sampling of the reviews for Champions of Faith:

“A nine-inning faith classic!” – Bishop Ignatius Catanello, Archdiocese of Brooklyn

“A great testimony to how rich our lives can be when filled with faith .” – Dennis Heaney, President, The Christophers

“A healthy reminder that men of character do still play the game .” – Russell Shaw

“An answer and an antidote to the tidal wave of scandal.” – Arlington Catholic Herald

Anyone with a spiritual bent is sure to be moved by the experiences of these men.” – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Film and Television

Champions of Faith is being called “the greatest gift of Catholic evangelization this decade” – greater even than The Passion of the Christ, which was limited to adult audiences. That is why it is being shown to enthusiastic audiences at Catholic grade schools and high schools across the country with a special license permission granted through Champions of Faith. Call 1.888.488.6789 for information on how to participate.

But great reviews and accolades on their own cannot make Champions of Faith the success it needs to become in order for more such breathtaking films to be made for the Church.

Only you can make it such a success – and in just one weekend!

The Best Christmas Gift You Can Give!

Do you know five Catholic families that love movies or sports? Or five families that may be weak in their faith who would profit from seeing such a film as Champions of Faith?

Do you want to see more first-rate Catholic films that stand shoulder-to-shoulder with mainstream Hollywood films in terms of production values? Do you believe the culture can be changed by them and the Faith spread through them?

We ask that you help Catholic filmmaking by supporting this exceptional film – and in doing so help your neighbors, friends, co-workers or family members by giving them this important gift this Christmas.

Even if you typically do not give Christmas gifts to your neighbors or your children's friends or the people you work with, make this year an exception. Touch them with the gift of faith and help ensure that high-quality Catholic filmmaking is here to stay.

There is nothing more inspirational than to see and hear superstar athletes at the top of their game talking about something greater than winning the World Series or being named a Major League All-Star — that is, their faith in God, devotion to the Blessed Mother and love for Christ in the Eucharist. For the first time, there is a tool available to hand to those people in your life who are the most difficult to speak with about God. Champions of Faith is that tool.

ACT NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE FULL COLOR LIMITED EDITION MOVIE POSTER!

Again, right now, and through this Thanksgiving weekend only, you can take advantage of a special offer to buy a “Christmas 6-Pack” for just $69. Keep one for yourself and give the other five away for Christmas. That's an almost 50% discount off the retail price and a full $30 less than the regular price for a Champions of Faith 6-PK! CLICK HERE or call 1.877.263.1263 right now to order your DVDs and Free Poster!

OR, ACT NOW AND RECEIVE AN AUTOGRAPHED MOVIE POSTER OR AUTOGRAPHED BASEBALL!

If you want to go the extra mile and impact 100 people with a gift of faith this Christmas, buy our 100PK for only $999 – a full 50% discount off the retail price! Buy one of these special packs and, JUST FOR THANKSGIVING, get an autographed baseball or autographed film poster signed by six of the athletes in Champions of Faith (while supplies last) plus your name or parish added to the credits for the next Champions of Faith film. Click here to order your 100 PK and get your free autographed memorabilia.

Champions of Faith has been the best-selling Catholic product of the year, but we need to get thousands more out there to really make the impact needed for future versions of this powerful new series to become a reality.

Buy a STEEPLY DISCOUNTED 6-PK or 100-PK this Thanksgiving weekend and make a gigantic impact!

This multi-award winning DVD will inspire the people in your life to not only “keep Christ in Christmas,” but to keep Him at the center of everything they do!

Not one of Amazon.com's “Hit Movies for the 2007 Christmas Season” deals with faith. Help us change that! We are celebrating the birth of Christ after all! By helping distribute Champions of Faith, you are providing your neighbors, friends and family with a phenomenal resource to enhance their faith and their life. Order your Christmas 6-Pack today!

New Book on Lourdes by Elizabeth Ficocelli

Here's some news on a great new book by our friend Elizabeth Ficocelli!

Elizabeth Ficocelli, Catholic author and convert, has released her eighth book entitled Lourdes: Font of Faith, Hope, and Charity (Paulist Press, October 2007) The Foreword was written by Father Benedict Groeschel, a highly respected priest, theologian, author, and Catholic television host.

To write this book, Ficocelli was sent as a guest of Our Lady of Lourdes North American Volunteer Association to experience the Sanctuary as both a pilgrim and a journalist. There, she was introduced to Father Regis-Marie de La Teyssonniere, a world-renowned expert on Lourdes, who agreed to review her manuscript for any inaccuracies. He also made it possible for the author to have personal interviews via translators with the Bishop, the Medical Director, the Father General, several chaplains, hospitality workers, volunteers, and others at Lourdes. Their insights provided Ficocelli with a fresh and insiders' look at one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world today.

Lourdes: Font of Faith, Hope, and Charity has been released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes.

Ficocelli is the author of The Fruits of Medjugorje: Stories of True and Lasting Conversion and Shower of Heavenly Roses: Stories of the Intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux for adults. For children, she has authored The Imitation of Christ for Children as well as a series on the sacraments. She has also published numerous articles in publications such as America, St. Anthony Messenger, Liguorian, Catholic Parent, Columbia, and others.

Check out
Lourdes: Font of Faith, Hope, and Charity

Reader Request

Can you help offer any suggestions on this question? I'm stumped!

Dear Lisa,

Do you know of a site online which reviews secular children’s books and popular authors for young people from a Catholic perspective? I know of several such sites which review movies, but was looking for one re: children’s literature. There’s a lot of scary stuff being marketed towards children these days, as you know, and I don’t have the time to pre-read everything (for all my children, and especially for my book-hungry 12 year old who is picking out his own books now).

Thanks for any info you have, God bless,

sincerely,
Gill


Need Entertainment for Your Holiday Event

If you are in charge of planning a holiday event and are in search of great entertainment, please check out this new service from our friend Sally Edwards:

Would you love to laugh this holiday season? Better yet, would you love to laugh with friends without the fear of being embarrassed or offended? There is now a reliable way to bring clean humor to your holiday party. I am introducing my new business and web site that will help you through your event planning stages.

At CleanComediansChicago.com you will find a full service site offering referrals for the top clean comedians in Chicago. You will not view countless videos of unfamiliar comedians. Rather, state your needs and we'll do the legwork. Simple. Effective! No extra cost to you.

Thank you from all of your favorite Clean Comedians

Sincerely,

Sally Edwards
www.CleanComediansChicago.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast #22

Our "Thanksgiving" podcast features interviews with Author/Saint Expert Bert Ghezzi and Rocker/Mom Laurie Collins. We talk a bit about faith-parenting kids on your own, a new book that is seeking prayer stories and more. To share your comments, email us at catholicmoments@mac.com or comment at www.catholicmoments.com.

Links for this episode:
Bead by Bead Rosary Book Giveaway
Grapevine Magazine
The Heart of a Saint: Ten Ways to Grow Closer to God
Bert Ghezzi Website
Laurie Collins Website
Submit a Prayer Story for 101 Inspirational Stories of the Power of Prayer

To listen to this episode online, click this link: cm022.mp3
Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes
Subscribe to Catholic Moments in a Reader

Fostering an Attitude of Thankfulness in Our Children

As we embark upon another year of holiday celebrations and commence our new Liturgical year with the season of Advent, it is good to reflect upon the many blessings that fill our lives. While Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, it offers Catholic families the perfect opportunity to teach our children about the quality of thankfulness, both in prayer and in personal life.

I was blessed to grow up in a home filled with thankfulness. In turn, I'm trying to foster that same attitude of appreciation in my own sons. I've learned much from my own parents, who taught their five children to always be grateful for lives rich in blessings as opposed to looking at what we might not have. This "glass half full" outlook on life has served me well, enabling me to look at even life's most mundane gifts with a heart that perpetually gives thanks to God.

To help create a spirit of thankfulness within your family, make time to explore the following suggestions:

As a family, routinely pray together. Include prayers of praise and thanksgiving and invite your children's prayers as well. Some of my fondest family prayers include my boys precious "thanks" prayers prior to bed times when they were younger:

"Thanks God for the anthill I found at preschool today"
"Thanks for helping me find my missing lego monkey"
"Thanks for the soccer game, even though we lost"

Sure, some of these might have been thinly veiled attempts at stalling bedtime, but they always taught me to remember to say thanks for both the big and the little moments that made up each day.

Encourage the writing of "Thank You" notes. Little ones can be taught from an early age that every gift and kind gesture deserves a note of appreciation. Those too young to write can draw a picture or pose for a photograph of themselves and their gift to send to the giver. Older kids need to be taught that this social grace is also one that will be essential to them professionally and personally in the future.

Model everyday thankfulness for your children. Let your children see you take time to truly thank the clerk who helps you at the grocery store, the person who offers directions when you are lost, or the friend that helps drive the carpool. If everyone in the malls this holiday season took time to thank the employees who helped them, the world would be a nicer and friendlier place. Encourage your children to remember to say "thank you" in socially appropriate situations, such as when they are departing a friend's home or receiving a ride from another adult. If they forget to say thank you, politely prompt them frequently and eventually they will remember.

Remember to thank your children. Sadly, this is one area where families sometimes fall short - we forget or neglect to express appreciation to those we most love. We take small acts of kindness for granted or see only shortcomings. My father is an excellent "thanker" - his small notes of encouragement to me always raise my spirits. It's not unusual for me to receive an unsolicited email from my Daddy saying something akin to "Thank you for being such a wonderful person." Granted, he's my Daddy so he's a little biased, but the point is that when he takes time to thank me, it encourages me to do the very same for my own children. Next time your child brings home a test that falls short of your expectations, why not try genuinely thanking him for his efforts in school prior to launching into an interrogation? Thank the child who helps with chores, lovingly helps a sibling, or is kind to a friend. Take the time to say you appreciate the person they are becoming.

As we pause this week to count our blessings, I thought I would share with you the following prayer of gratitude. May God richly bless you and your family this holiday season, and may each of us make time each day to express our heartfelt gratitude for His eternal goodness in our lives.

Prayer on Thanksgiving Day

Heavenly Father,

This is the day set aside to give you thanks for your surpassing goodness to human beings. You have created us in your own image and set us over your wonderful creation. You chose us a people to be your won and to carry your message of salvation to all people. You carried out your redemption in Jesus, your Son, and his saving fruits are passed on to every generation to all who believer that by his death and resurrection Jesus has given them a new freedom in his Spirit. Let me give you proper thanks for your blessings - those I am aware of as well as those that I habitually take for granted. And let me learn to use them according to your will.

Amen

The Legend of the Five Kernels

Each year, at my children's school, we hold a special Thanksgiving ceremony. A traditional part of the ceremony is the reading of the "Legend of the Five Kernels". Whenever I listen to this simple legend, I am always reminded of the importance of having a grateful heart in all aspects of my life.

Many years, our family has followed the tradition of placing the five kernels adjacent to plates at our family Thanksgiving meal. Simple object lessons such as this one can be a wonderful conversation prompt and can grow into a family tradition that will be passed along to future generations.

I hope you enjoy this legend and that your family celebration of this holiday is filled with beautiful traditions and newly created memories. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Legend of the Five Kernels

It was very cold for the Pilgrims that first winter. Food was in short supply. Some days, they had only five kernels of corn. When spring came, the Pilgrims planted the remaining corn. The sun and rain helped the seeds to grow and much food was harvested in the fall.

Every Thanksgiving thereafter, the Pilgrims placed five kernels of corn beside each plate to remind them of their blessings.

The first kernel reminded them of the autumn beauty.
The second kernel reminded them of their love for each other.
The third kernel reminded them of their family's love.
The fourth kernel reminded them of their friends...especially their Indian brothers.
The fifth kernel reminded them of their freedom.

This Thanksgiving, let us all remember the blessings of our lives. Count the kernels, count your blessings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast #21

Today's podcast features Danielle Bean. Danielle is a wife and mom of eight, author, Catholic blogger and editor of Faith and Family Magazine. I share information about a visit to my parish from the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima and share a warm autumn column and two yummy recipes from Cay Gibson. To share your comments, email us at catholicmoments@mac.com or comment at www.catholicmoments.com.

Links for this episode:
Danielle Bean
Faith and Family Magazine
Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living
My Cup Of Tea: Musings Of A Catholic Mom
International Pilgrim Virtue Statue of Our Lady of Fatima
Cay Gibson's Recipes for Pumpkin Bread and Snickerdoodles

To listen to this episode online, click this link: cm021.mp3
Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes
Subscribe to Catholic Moments in a Reader

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two for Nana!



Great CD for Catholic Families

If your family loves listening to music together, please check out "Friend of God", the new CD from Christ Music Kids (formerly Catholic Kids Music). My interview with the Executive Producer of this group, Natalie Burt, will be featured in the next Grapevine Magazine, but don't wait until then to order this great CD for your family. I think you'll love it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tips for a Prayer Friendly Home

Maureen Pratt wrote to share the good news that her feature, Ten Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Prayer Friendly, is now online at Beliefnet.

The "Way" I most need to work on is:

Diminish Clutter

If our surroundings are too jumbled, we might find it difficult to focus our eyes and hearts on the simplicity of spirit. By reducing the amount of unnecessary things we keep in our homes, we leave space for breathing in openness and freshness of outlook. We might also discover ways to give to others who truly do need what in our lives is unneeded.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Adam Plays at Mass

video

Here's a little video of Adam playing clarinet at Mass this morning. He just started playing about 8 weeks ago, so I think he's doing great! Enjoy!

Catholic Moments Podcast #20

Enjoy a few giggles during this "moment" with Sally Edwards, Catholic mom and stand up comedian. Sally shares the good news about her new business which refers clean stand up comedians for corporate and church events. To share your comments, email us at catholicmoments@mac.com or comment at www.catholicmoments.com.

Links for this episode:
Sally Edwards
Clean Stand Up Comedians
Ann Ball
Lisa's Facebook Profile
Catholic Mom Logo Store - Nielsen Design Studio

To listen to this episode online, click this link: cm020.mp3
Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes
Subscribe to Catholic Moments in a Reader

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"To Teach" November Issue

The November issue of "To Teach" from USCCB is now online, discussing the topic of "Encountering Christ in the Least of These". Two of my favorite suggestions from the family section are:

  • Before you and your family donate items to local agencies or organizations, call or check their website to find out what they need the most. Many organizations have a “wish list” of the most needed items.
  • Start your family Christmas shopping by buying gifts from the many small businesses listed by CCHD and support socially just causes with your holiday shopping.
Check out "To Teach".

Toy Alert

Donna-Marie shares info on the latest scary toy recall over at her blog. Truly scary stuff!

The headline caught my attention - SoCal Fires Burn Valley Food Banks - but it was the picture that really drove the message home. Help is needed...today. Sure, my parish food drive and the kids' annual canned food collection will take place Thanksgiving week, but the need for community support of our food banks is ongoing, not based on the holiday schedule.

At my church, we have a monthly drop off for collecting donations of rice and beans, but I'm sad to say that I frequently forget to come to church armed with a donation. I have the best of intentions, but too often my lack of organization keeps me from following through.

That's why I just got off the phone with our local Catholic Charities food bank, where I made a small pledge to donate on a recurring basis. I mentally calculated what we could afford, estimating what I might spend if I actually made it to the store and donated those rice and beans each month. The lady on the phone kindly took my pledge - when I apologized about the size of the donation, she encouraged me. "Every little bit helps, and this will add up over time." The hit to our budget will be minimal, and the donation will recur automatically without me having to remember it.

Many of us remember to make charitable donations at the usual times - at Christmas, year end, and around tax time, but social service and faith based organizations need our support year round. By setting up automatic donations, you assure your ongoing giving and chances are you won't even miss the funds you set aside to donate. There are many ways to do this - online, over the telephone, through online bill pay, or via credit card. It's quick, easy and painless - plus you get the added benefit of knowing that no matter what else you accomplish today, you've done something to help someone in need. That's a great feeling. And don't feel bad if the amount you are able to donate seems small or insignificant.

Remember, every little bit helps.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Expressing Condolences

I wrote the following today for my Productivity @ Home blog (a secular resource) and would love to hear your thoughts on this topic from a Catholic perspective. How do you comfort those in pain due to the loss of a loved one? How do you speak with your children about the topic of death and dying?

Within the past ten days, we have lost two friends to untimely deaths. The first was a 52 year old wife and mother of two and first grade teacher at my sons' elementary school. She lost a quite rapid battle with cancer - she has actually started the school year and didn't leave her classroom until mid-September, when her pain and treatments became too difficult to enable her to continue teaching the first graders who loved her so dearly. Our second loss was the father of one of my son's peers - a forty year old whose family discovered him dead of an apparent heart attack with no warning. He leaves behind a loving wife and three awesome kids.

Death, whether it comes swiftly or after a long battle, is always a shock. As parents, we struggle to try to explain to our children (and to ourselves) how some people's lives seem to end so quickly. Platitudes fail to heal the suffering that lingers when we lose a loved one. We want, so desperately, to find a way to reach out to those left behind to deal with the loss. We also may find it impossible to explain death to our children, who fear their own parents may suddenly meet with the same fate. At times like this, I fall back on my spiritual frame of reference as a great comfort.

A friend recently shared these three tips for helping a family who has experienced the death of a loved one:

Hug - Physical comfort, when appropriate, is a tremendous support to the family of one who has died. When words escape us, hugs can bring healing. Do not avoid the widow or widower out of discomfort because you don't know what to say. A simple hug and an honest expression of grief are appropriate in many cases.

Hush - So many people make the mistake of saying something trite like "It was God's will" in these times of pain. Do not feel as though you have to say something explanatory to those grieving - saying nothing is much better than saying something that will only multiply their sorrow.

Hang Around - Offers of help may be graciously declined, but after the initial rush of condolence cards and casseroles, your grieving friend will need your support. One of my friends who lost her husband to an untimely death still speaks of the neighbor who comes over every year to hang her Christmas lights. It's a simple gesture, but one that speaks volumes about how much this person cares for her and her family. Honor your friend's need for privacy, but take the initiative to do simple gestures of compassion like offering to go grocery shopping, mow the lawn, or even drive her children to school.

When our friends or family are suffering as a result of death, it's the perfect time to practice love and compassion by quietly serving them. Our children will watch and learn the important lesson that "actions speak louder than words".

Join me for a couple of "moments" with Sandy Rosetter, author of the Bead by Bead Rosary Prayer Book and John Paul Rudolph, a Catholic musician and great guy! Don't forget to enter our latest giveaway - Sandy Rosetter has donated three copies of B for this giveaway. Send your email to lisa@catholicmom.com by 11/30/07 to be entered to win. Be sure to check out John Paul Rudolph's debut solo album Reflections. To share your comments, email us at catholicmoments@mac.com or comment at www.catholicmoments.com.

Links for this Episode:
Bead by Bead Rosary Prayer Book - The Joyful Mysteries
John Paul Rudolph - Web Site, MySpace
Lisa's Facebook Profile
Catholic Mom Logo Store - Nielsen Design Studio

Direct download: cm019.mp3
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Monday, November 05, 2007

Novena for those with Autism

A huge "thank you" to Mary Ann from Australia who wrote to share with me some very special news. Mary Ann was responding to a recent Daily Miracles column by Mary Ellen Barrett who writes about her son Ryan.

Mary Ann shares that at her web site she has an ongoing Novena for autistic children and adults. You can visit Mary Ann's site to join this novena, and please join me in praying for all those touched by autism and for those providing love and care.

Can You Help Milo and Lisa?

Our good friend Lisa Umina is looking for your help? She and her buddy Milo are looking for contacts at Catholic Charities and Community Food Banks around the country to visit in support of Milo's latest book on community service. If you know of a Catholic Charities organization in your neck of the woods, would you please email lisa@halopubishing.com and give her the name of the organization.

When the Going Gets Tough

Time for a little self disclosure here on the blog. Maybe it's the time change or the fact that life has been a little hectic lately, but I've been somewhat discouraged the past week or two. Then last night I received an email that was very upsetting to me and I felt like packing up my mouse and taking a breather from web "stuff". I wisely called my favorite emotional consultant, my mother, who talked me down from the ledge and made me giggle, helping me to put the situation in perspective. Then I prayed a bit, for guidance and wisdom, and re-read the words of yesterday's second reading:

Brothers and sisters:
We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed
either by a "spirit," or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.

Now I would never put myself anywhere near on par with the apostles in terms of the tests and attacks they faced along their journeys, but for me there is great strength and comfort in this epistle. We, each of us, belong to a communion of saints who intercede for us every day. Whether you're fed up with changing diapers, or dealing with a co-worker who drives you nuts, or simply trying to run a little web site, we all face trials every day. If you're like me, many days you feel like giving up because your efforts fall so very short of what you aspire to do. At those moments, that's when I need to pause and recall that all of what I do every day, whether it's driving a kid, packing a lunchbox, or working on a web site, is being done to bring glory to God. I may not do those things perfectly, but they are my prayers...my way of using the gifts He's given me. I can't allow my spirit to be shaken by emails or by my own self-doubt. All I can do is give God my best, with pure intentions and a heart filled with love and service.

So today, I'm praying for those of you who, like me, might be feeling a bit discouraged or down. Today is our prayer - all those diapers and that driving and those meals we fix are our gifts to a God who loves us just as we are. Done with love, even if they are not done perfectly, these "little" things can be our gifts to Him.

"You know that our Lord does not look at the greatness or difficulty of our action, but at the love with which you do it. What, then, have you to fear? "
St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, OCD