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10 Christmas Gifts for the RCIA Candidate or New Catholic

10 Christmas Gifts for the Catholic Newbie via @ACatholicNewbie

Thanks be to God if you have someone in your live who’s decided to join the Catholic church or who is spending their first Christmas as a Catholic. These newbies need your support to help their faith flourish and grow so they will continue to become active Catholics who are making a difference in the world and spreading the Good News.

As someone now in their second Christmas as a Catholic, here are some suggestions for what to buy the budding Catholic in your life, most of which are less than $25:

1) A Rosary – Every Catholic needs a rosary (well, everyone in the world needs a rosary!), but to help keep their faith on fire (see more ideas), a devotion to Mary will do wonders. She will guide and mold them into the people God wants them to be. One of the best ways to get to know Mary — and her Son — is to pray the rosary. Buy them a simple rosary — it doesn’t need to be anything expensive or fancy they’ll be afraid to use — and print them out a guide to how to pray it like this one on Real Men Pray the Rosary.

Catholic Rosary

2) Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers” book – I just came across this resource on the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops website, which I think is perfect for someone still learning the faith. This paperback book helps you memorize essential prayers, explains the Liturgy of the Hours, goes through the Church’s liturgical year and how to pray throughout, as well as provides basic prayers for meals, blessing a house, Advent wreaths, times of distress and more. Plus, they’re giving away 1 copy daily throughout Advent. Enter to win here.

Catholic blessings book

3) Advent Wreath – No need to buy a fancy, dancy wreath! Make your own just like I did in these 4 simple steps that even the least crafty of us can accomplish. I’ve found many longtime Catholics do not have Advent wreaths, so this is a great way to get them started and it gives them something to pass down from generation to generation.

4) A Miraculous Medal – Continue to develop their devotion to the Blessed Mother by giving them a Miraculous Medal to wear. Mary asked St. Catherine Laboure to have this image cast into a medal and promised many blessings (and conversions) to those who wear it. Mother Teresa handed them out regularly. They only cost $1 at most Catholic book stores. I now have a store of them to pass out because mine always generates conversation among Catholics and non-Catholics alike!

Miraculous Medal

5) The Way of Serenity” (Harper Collins, 2014) by Father Jonathan Morris – There are several Catholics in the public eye who do a remarkable job of reaching across faith boundaries and demonstrating Catholicism to be modern, relevant and even fun! Father Jonathan Morris, a regular correspondent on Fox News Channel and program director for Sirius’ The Catholic Channel, is one. His new book, which looks at faith through the lens of the Serenity prayer, offers some of the most amazing conversational gems of wisdom that will certainly relate to your Catholic newbie. It’s an easy, inspiring read and it will likely encourage them to delve deeper into the Catholic faith.

The Way of Serenity by Father Jonathan Morris

6) God’s Bucket List” (Image Books, 2013) by Teresa Tomeo – Another easy-to-relate-to Catholic who has the gift of reaching outside of Catholicism is Teresa Tomeo, author and host of Catholic Connection, a daily Catholic news and talk radio show on EWTN Radio. I have listened to Teresa Tomeo almost daily since I happened upon the existence of Catholic radio and really enjoy her conversational and fun take on the world, the faith and how we can live it authentically. Her latest book, “God’s Bucket List” challenges you to consider what God has planned for you and shares her own wisdom and experiences through many laugh-out-loud stories.

Catholic Book by Teresa Tomeo

7) The  New American Bible & the Catechism of the Catholic Church – Everyone should have both of these — enough said! Package them together and perhaps bookmark a favorite passage in each that you think will be meaningful to them for a personal touch.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

8) 7 Secrets of Confession” (Ignatius Press) by Vinny Flynn — Confession, or Reconciliation, is an easy one for new Catholics to avoid. Or if you have someone going through RCIA, they’re likely very nervous about their First Reconciliation. I’ve got tips in my blog post on what I wish every RCIA candidate new about confession, but this book will do wonders in educating them in an easy-to-read way about the benefits and the reasons for confession. I loved it! It will inspire you to get there much more often, as well.

7 secrets of confession

9)The Holy Land” (Servant Books, 2013) by Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ – I think that as Christians, we need to take the time to understand the Holy Land in order to provide context in which to place Bible readings and Jesus’ life. For example, when the Bible tells us Mary, newly pregnant, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, did you know geographically how challenging that was? Seeing where she had to walk and the hills she had to climb gives you a new perspective on the self-sacrifice she made. Father Mitch, whom I adore for his ability to simply explain the Catholic faith without all the jargon, takes you on an armchair journey in this beautiful coffee table book filled with photos to all the key spots mentioned in the Bible, offering his unique insight along the way.

Holy Land by Father Mitch Pacwa

10) Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly – I just can’t have a list of recommendations without this book! It was key to my conversion and I think if you have any fence-sitters when it comes to the faith, it will help them make the leap. Matthew Kelly has a unique gift, not unlike Father Jonathan and Teresa Tomeo, to make the faith relevant to you today and explain why fasting, confession, weekly mass attendance and more is important and will help you on the path to becoming your best self. You can order a free copy here.

Rediscovering Catholicism

Let me know what you pick and if they liked it! May they have a very Merry Christmas as they unearth all the amazing resources of the Church!


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Struggling to Get a Loved One to Convert to Catholicism

Fr. Mitch PacwaI recently had the privilege of interviewing Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., about his new book “The Holy Land: An Armchair Pilgrimage” and to get his take on traveling to the Holy Land. But in the course of the interview, he said something that really struck me. I find the way he words things often makes something that, to me, is difficult or complicated, as plain as day :).

In this case he spoke about people who bring along a family member on one of his Holy Land pilgrimages that he leads each year in the hopes of their conversion to Catholicism. I think every true Catholic has someone in their lives they desire to know the joy they have found within the Church and for whom they have cajoled, prayed and done everything they know to do. Father’s take?

“I cannot engineer anybody’s conversion. Conversion is always a management issue. God is the manager. God invokes the grace of conversion. I’m simply in sales.” — Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

What a great quote! Funny AND it gets the point across very clearly. It’s not up to us if someone converts; it’s really not up to them either. It’s up to God alone. Pray and then trust that God has the perfect timing. And remember if St. Monica can wait patiently for 30 years for the conversion of her son St. Augustine and be rewarded, so might our patience and trust be rewarded, too.

Christmas Catholic Book Giveaway

Catholic Book GiveawayIf you’re anything like me, you love to read! Since I became interested in Catholicism and converted, the stack of Catholic books on my shelf is sky high — with many unread — but I just can’t resist buying new ones that pique my interest. If I’m any kind of an addict, it’s for books. They are always the one thing when we clean out our house, I just can’t stand to give away. 🙂

So here is a great new contest from the team at Teresa Tomeo Communications, run by the fabulous Catholic TV and radio show host Teresa Tomeo. As a part of the team who promotes various Catholic authors, organizations and projects, we’re giving away 15 awesome Catholic books from authors like Teresa, Dan Burke, Randy Hain, Matthew Kelly, Al Kresta, Father Mitch Pacwa and more. Plus, you have a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card to purchase whatever you’d like this Christmas. It’s Teresa’s gift to you and a way to share some of her favorite Catholic writers.

There are a bunch of ways to enter and the more you do, the better your chances to win. Browse the list below and choose which ways (or all ways!) you’d like to enter. Be sure to complete your entries before Dec. 9 (and there are a few entries you can do daily that involve promoting the contest to your network) when the contest closes. Then we will announce the winners on Dec. 10 via social media and by contacting you via the email you submit.

If there’s a particular book you’re interested in, note that in your entry or be sure to complete the Answer a Question entry that asks which book you’d like to win. Complete contest rules are available at That’s it! Go enter below and good luck!


  • $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • “God’s Bucket List” by Teresa Tomeo
  • “The Holy Land: An Armchair Pilgrimage” by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.
  • “These Beautiful Bones” by Emily Stimpson
  • “Something More” by Randy Hain
  • “Dangers to the Faith” by Al Kresta
  • “Navigating the Interior Life” by Dan Burke
  • “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly
  • “Real Men Pray the Rosary”  by David Calvillo
  • “Big Hearted” by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas
  • “Dear God, I Don’t Get It” by Patti Armstrong
  • “Pope Francis” by Matthew Bunson
  • “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” by Lisa Hendey
  • “Experience Grace in Abundance” by Johnnette Benkovic
  • “Mission Libertad” by Lizette Lantigua
  • A Mass Journal from Dynamic Catholic

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Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

Good evening! This is my first blog post as part of a group of bloggers who gather weekly to share their best posts with one another in a series called Sunday Snippets. The idea is to give a brief overview of the week on your blog with summaries of key blog posts, as well as answering the Question of the Week.

Let me start by saying today was a terrible day of weather here in Indiana and our neighbors in Illinois. Please keep those affected by the tornadoes and storms in your prayers as there was a lot of damage in so many places in our state. I live near Indianapolis in Zionsville and we were lucky enough to have the storm systems go on either side of us and stay in the clear.

I was scheduled as a reader tonight for mass right in the middle of all the chaos, and as a Catholic newbie, I wondered if mass would be cancelled or if it’s ever even cancelled. Since I didn’t receive any emails or phone calls, I decided to head on over. I found an entire church full of people just as if nothing was going on. As I sat in mass with a view out a window just behind the Blessed Sacrament, I watched the trees and a flag wave furiously while everything inside was calm. It made me realize how Jesus is just that for us. He gives us peace and calm when all else in our lives is chaos and that’s why everyone was at mass :).

Now, to answer the question of the week: What religious artifacts (statues, pictures, icons, altars, etc) would I find in your home if I stopped in for a visit?

Since I’m new to Catholicism, you’ll find a small but growing collection in my house. I have built a small altar area where I have a crucifix, a lovely image of Mary I found at Good Will of all places (so glad I saved her!), a rose candle for St. Therese (my confirmation saint), an angel statue for my mother-in-law who passed a year ago, a statue of Mary and St. Benedict, a rosary and various prayer cards for my favorite saints. I cherish my little area :).

My blog round-up for the week:

This week I shared how I made the Switch to Christian Radio and challenged others to do so, too. Do you listen to Christian radio? I also discussed how I am doing in checking off No. 1 on “God’s Bucket List,” the new book by “Catholic Connection” radio show hos Teresa Tomeo. The book asks you to put down your own bucket list and consider what God might have in store for you instead. No. 1 on her list? Be still. How are you at being still?

Next week I plan to review “The Holy Land: An Armchair Pilgrimage”  by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., one of the best around at explaining the Catholic church simply and clearly!