Blog Archives

Christmas Gift Alert: Book Offers Daily Reflections on the Saints

Lives of the Saints Christmas GiftYikes! Christmas is seven weeks away! I was abruptly reminded that the holidays are on their way as my family and I made our very first Advent Wreath with other families at our parish over the weekend. We have a few weeks until Advent begins, but we all know how fast that time flies this time of year.

I recently came across what I thought would be a great Christmas gift for any Catholic this year. The saints were, and still are, one of the most intriguing aspects of Catholicism for me as I was drawn to the Church. I love how the saints are sinful humans, just like us, who overcame their sinfulness to live a life of holiness. If they did it, we can do it!

To learn more about the saints, I would search for books that delved more deeply in the life of a particular saint that caught my attention at mass, RCIA or in another of my studies. I also made use of the saint of day feature on my favorite free Catholic app Laudate. But that feature and most of the other online resources I found about the saints were fairly academic, full of dates and fairly difficult to relate to. It was a bit like reading a history book ;-).

I could handle that, but I wanted my kids to know the amazing lives led by the saints, as well, so I found a few books geared toward kids at the local Catholic book store. However, those felt pretty stodgy to me too — not something kids could relate to, at least not in the year 2014 :).

Recently, I requested a review copy of Lessons from the Lives of the Saints: Daily Reflections for Growth in Holiness by Father Joseph Esper (Basilica Press, $12.95) to see if perhaps it offered a more relatable perspective for Catholic newbies — and kids. It does!

The book is set up as a series of daily readings and focuses on the saint whose feast day is celebrated on that date. Fr. Esper’s look at the saint is a much more personal and readable description of the lives of these saints and their key virtues. He also offers some helpful information, as appropriate, about the Church’s teachings as they relate to these saints, such as explaining purgatory on All Souls Day.

At the end of each saint description, he offers lessons to learn from these saints — a wonderful thing to share with children. For example, for St. Teresa of Avila, he writes that having a lively personality isn’t an impediment to holiness, and for St. Therese of Lisieux, he offers that we don’t have to do great things to glorify God, but rather can do so through living our daily routine faithfully and lovingly.

These are quick reads that you can complete each morning before beginning your day, at lunch or before you drift off to sleep. Keep these virtues in mind and see if you can imitate that saint’s virtue even if for one day. I highly recommend reading it as a family each evening and discussing what we could do in our own lives to live more like these saints in heaven.

Do you have a favorite saint? Please share and tell us why!

Note: This book was provided to me at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Holy Dads, Holy Virtues

Catholic fathers
As we buy our Father’s Day cards and gifts this June, many of us may be thinking about what makes our dad a “good” dad so we can find just the right card. No doubt, our dads have their share of failures, like all sinners, but I bet there’s at least one, if not countless, qualities about your father that make you smile.

I’ve selected three inspirational Catholic dads who are living out their vocation and who, as a Catholic “newbie,” have helped me on my conversion and continuing journey of faith. These dads have shown perseverance in a particular value that relates to my life, and which I think many of us — dads or moms or kids or siblings — can model in our own spiritual growth.

Chad Judice – The Power of Prayer

Chad Judice is a devoted husband and dad to two children, including Eli who came into the world with spina bifida. Chad shares his experience of learning he and his wife were expecting a child with special needs through the pregnancy and birth in his book “Waiting for Eli.”

While a key lesson from Chad is learning to surrender to God’s will, what struck me the most was his powerful reliance on prayer throughout the process. I immediately thought, “Wow, I don’t pray for my own children enough!” I now make sure to include them at a minimum on my rosary intentions daily with special requests for graces they need at that point in their life to strengthen their faith. Fasting in times of dire need for my kids and special requests for Mary to take to Jesus have also been answered in abundance for me. Prayer works!

Throughout Chad’s ordeal and painful wait to learn Eli’s state of health, he turned to prayer. A teacher and coach, he committed himself to spend an hour in the school chapel daily and often asked others to pray with him (quite a foreign concept to this quieter Catholic newbie, but where two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name, there He is!). While waiting for Eli’s birth, he and his family visited shrines and graves of saints, turned to priests with healing powers and were blessed by the unceasing prayer of the school’s students and faculty.

Randy Hain – Integrating Work & Faith

As a business owner for the last 15 years whose day never looks like a typical 9-5 clock-in, clock-out shift, balancing my work life with my faith is an area where I struggle, as I know many of us do. How do I make room for God, my children, my husband and still get enough work done to do a good job for my clients and make ends meet for my family?

Randy Hain, a business consultant and Catholic convert, has written numerous books about successfully combining work life and spiritual life, including the best-selling “A Catholic Briefcase.” Randy is not only a business consultant, but author, founder of Catholic eMagazine Integrated Catholic Life and parish leader.

In his latest book, “Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men,” Randy focuses specifically on men and dads, and he addresses the work/faith balance in the chapter “Are We Working for God’s Glory or Our Glory?” He asks us to consider if work that cuts into family and prayer time is truly for God’s glory or if it’s actually for personal satisfaction. He dares us to take a deep look inside where we are likely to discover that an overload of work is indeed likely to fulfill our own desires.

It’s true, isn’t it? If you’re doing more than your 40-hour or 30-hour allotted work week, it’s because you WANT to, isn’t it? You want the money, you want the recognition, you don’t want to let anybody down, you want to make your client happy… But that what’s best to get you to heaven? Good food for thought!

In the book, Randy also provides tips on how to offer the day’s work to God and reclaim wasted time by transforming it into productive prayer. Great information for today’s time-strapped families!

David Calvillo – Dedication to the Blessed Mother

For many men, the rosary has been relegated to the realm of, as David Calvillo says, “old ladies and funerals.” He, too, was one of those men until he had a transformative experience with the rosary as an adult. Now, he’s built an entire organization and written a book, both titled Real Men Pray the Rosary, encouraging men to pick up this grace-filled prayer and make it a habit.

After converting, I found myself drawn to the rosary and subsequently True Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I now make this prayer a part of my daily life, and I feel it’s helped provide a sense of peace and blessings beyond belief.

I admire David’s shouting from the rooftops about the blessings of the rosary, daring men to fully embrace their Heavenly Mother. And his book, “Real Men Pray the Rosary,” so simply explains what the rosary is, why you should pray it and how exactly to go about it. How to pray the rosary certainly confused me early on, and it took a pamphlet from my parish (no amount of web searching helped!) for it to finally make sense. You can download a similar pamphlet from Real Men Pray the Rosary here.

Dads or sons, brothers or uncles, grandpas and husbands, these are three wonderful men to follow if you struggle with prayer, work or integrating Mary into your daily life. Moms and daughters, sisters and aunts, grandmas and wives, consider these gifting the dads in your life with books for by these holy men this Father’s Day. Better yet, why not give them the gift of a quiet hour to spend reading them, too!

Do Not Fear

Catholic RCIAThis is one of the most repeated phrases by Jesus in the Bible – “Do not fear” or some variation. But so many of us worry, and worry and worry. I decided long ago as a child when I had to have a tooth pulled that worry was useless. What good did it do to torture myself with worry when either way I STILL had to have that tooth pulled. Might as well not think about it until it was actually happening.

That’s not to say I never worry, but I try not to let it take a front seat and mess up my day. But there are members of my family who truly paralyze themselves with worry, letting it destroy their life. And there are so many things you could worry about — and they do. What quality of life is that? I pray to you Lord to release them from their worry.

Here is one of my favorite Gospel passages about worry from Matthew, Chapter 6, that provides me with infinite comfort:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat?’ or What shall we drink?’ or What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

If only we can put our trust in God, we can release all worry. “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Yes!

Another good read for worriers: “The Worrier’s Guide to the Bible” by Gary Zimak.

My Favorite Catholic Books

I talk a lot about books on this blog, because first off, I love to read, so that’s how I tend to get a good bit of my information, but also because Catholic books have helped me so much in my journey as a newbie.

I just set up a board on Pinterest of my top Catholic Books. I thought that would be a great way to visually display some of my favorites. Come take a look and see if there are any you haven’t read. Plus if you click through and buy any of them from Amazon, I get a small kick-back to help support my blog :).

Follow Lyn Mettler’s board My Favorite Catholic Books on Pinterest.

And please share your own favorite Catholic books in the comments. I’m always looking for a new read!