Showing posts from February, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

I. What I am currently reading for Lent:

1. Thirsting for Prayer -- Jacques Philippe

2. The Magnificat Lenten Companion

3. The Word Among Us

II. Best Catholic Books for Lent 2015

III. Best Catholic Films for Lent 2015

IV. Lenten Activities 2015

VI. St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent 

VII. Lenten Reflection -- Fr. James Kubicki

Have a wonderful weekend!


For more Quick Takes, go here.

Conquered by Love


St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent

Today is the feast of St. Paula Montal Fornés (1799 - 1889), foundress of the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of Pious Schools.

Paula was born in a small seaside village near Barcelona, Spain in 1799 to Ramon and Vicenta Fornes Montal. She was the oldest of five daughters and was only ten when her father died. To help support the family, Paula went to work as a seamstress and lace-maker and helped her mother raise her younger sisters. She also taught catechism in her parish and, in doing so, discovered her gift for teaching. Denied an education herself, Paula promised God that she would devote her life to the Christian education of girls and young women.

Paula believed that women needed an education to prepare them for life. Women in society at that time were treated as subordinate to men, which Paula and her followers perceived as a factor in the breakdown of the family unit and other social maladies. They were determined to advance women and their status in society through education -- …

Exploring Lenten Themes in Art

Dr. Jem Sullivan explores Lenten themes in sacred art:

Fr. Robert Barron: Thomas Merton, Spiritual Master

Thomas Merton was not perfect, and he might not have been a saint. But he was indeed a master of the spiritual life, and his life and work had a profound effect on me and an army of others around the world. Fr. Barron offers a tribute to him on the 100th anniversary of Merton's birth.

St. Walburga, Benedictine Nun and First Woman Author in England and Germany

Today is the feast of St. Walburga (710 - 777)  missionary, Benedictine nun, author, and abbess of Hiedenheim.

St. Walburga was born in Wessex, England, about 710, the daughter of St. Richard and Winna, the sister of St. Boniface. She had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. When St. Richard set out for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his sons, he entrusted 11-year-old Walburga to to the abbess of Wimborne. She was educated by the nuns at the monastery school at Wimborne, and became a nun there, remaining with the community for twenty-six years.

When St. Boniface requested nuns to help him in the evangelization of pagan Germany, St. Walburga responded to that call. On the way to Germany, there was a terrible storm at sea. Walburga knelt on the deck of the ship and prayed. The sea immediately became calm. The sailors who witnessed this spread the word that she was a miracle worker, so she was received in Germany with great respect.
Initially, Walburga lived at Bischofshei…

Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco: The "Don Bosco of Southern Italy"

Today we commerate the feast of Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco, who was beatified in 2001 as a model of holiness for priests. He was dedicated to his priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and missions, teaching catechism to youth and organizing prayer evenings for young people and adults at the parish. Pope John Paul II referred to him as the "Don Bosco of Southern Italy" due to his heroic charity and concern for the plight of poor orphaned children. He had a deep devotion to the crucified Christ throughout his life and worked to build the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus among the faithful.

He was born December 1, 1831, in Pagani, Italy, the seventh of eight children. Orphaned by the age of 10, his uncle, a priest and a teacher, who took charge of his education.

Since 1839, the year of the canonization of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas Mary had dreamed of the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1847 and was ordained in 1855. In 1862 he opened a school of…

St. Polycarp: Bishop of Smyrna, Staunch Defender of Orthodoxy, Martyr

The saint of the day for February 23rd is St. Polycarp (- 155), a disciple of the apostles, bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch. He is one of the earliest Christians whose writings still survive.

St. Polycarp was one of the immediate disciples of the Apostles, in particular St. John the Evangelist. He embraced Christianity very young and was named bishop of Smyrna, a post which he held for 70 years. He was greatly respected by the faithful, wrote many letters and formed many holy disciples. His epistle to the Philippians - the only one to be preserved - demonstrates his apostolic spirit, his profound humility and meekness, and his great charity.

St. Polycarp fought against heresy. He was a staunch defender of orthodoxy and an energetic opponent of heresy, especially Marcionism and Valentinianism (the most influential of the Gnostic sects). He also taught that Christians must walk in truth, do God’s will, keep all of His commandments, and love whatever He loved. C…

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival


St. Peter Damian: Monk, Bishop, Cardinal, Reformer, and Doctor of the Church

The saint of the day for February 21 is St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who was one of the Church's greatest reformers in the Middle Ages.

Peter was the youngest child born to a large family in Ravenna, Italy in 1007. His parents both died when he was young and he was placed in the care of one of his brothers, who treated him like a slave. His oldest brother, a priest in Ravenna, rescued him and sent him away to study. Peter was brilliant and excelled in his studies (theology and cannon law), later returning to Ravena as a professor. Unable to endure the scandals and distractions of university life, he joined a group of Benedictine monks living in northern Italy. There he became a prior at the young age of 36: a position he held unto his death. While at the hermitage, Peter performed austere penances to the extent that he developed near permanent insomnia and was forced to modify them.

Although living in the cloister, Peter kept close watch on the Church and wo…

Seven Quick Takes

1. Ash Wednesday -- I went to Mass this Wednesday and got my ashes, despite the fact that I had been ill with chronic pain for two days. My husband took this picture of me, which I am offering up for the souls in purgatory, as Mother Teresa did.She made a contract with heaven that every time her photo was taken a soul would be released from purgatory. I am sure that purgatory will be empty after I publish this photo. ;-)

2. Lent -- That beautiful season of renewal is here again.  Need ideas for Lent? Check out myLenten activities for 2015.

3. New Book -- I just have started writing a new book this Lent. It is very rough at this point in time, but I feel called by the Holy Spirit to write it.

"This would make a greatLentenread or a gift for a recently converted Catholic, a seminarian or religious postulant, or anyone seeking to grow in their knowledge of the saints and a life of virtue." ~ Erika Marie at Simple Mama in her review of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

4.Seven Saints f…

St. Conrad of Piacenza, Holy Hermit and Healer

Today is the feast of St. Conrad of Piacenza, a Third Order Franciscan hermit celebrated for his piety and miraculous cures at Noto in Sicily.

St. Conrad was a noble, born at Piacenza, Italy. As a young man, he married the beautiful Euphrosyne, daughter of a nobleman.

One day while hunting, Conrad made a fire that quickly spread throughout the area. The wind carried the flames to nearby fields, forests, towns and villages. An innocent peasant was arrested as an arsonist and condemned to death, but Conrad stepped forward to admit his guilt in the matter, saving the man's life. Consequently, he had to sell his possessions to pay for the damages. He and his wife gave everything they owned to the poor in recompense.

Conrad and his wife then decided to enter the religious life. She became a Poor Clare, and he entered the Franciscan Third Order as a hermit. Conrad went to Noto, in Sicily, where he lived the next three decades at St. Martin's Hospital and in a hermitage built by a w…

Ash Wednesday

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

(Joel 2: 12-13)

It's that time of year again -- the time of both internal and external recollection that we are setting out on a journey. On Ash Wednesday, the ashes placed on our forehead invite us to begin a new journey of repentance. They invite us to turn back to God and to receive new life. Once again, we are called to let God penetrate deeper into our lives, for indeed, turning back to Him with our whole hearts is a submission to His holy will.

Lent is a time when we permit God to purify our hearts allow Him to unite our wills with His. Lent is a time of interior spring cleaning and obtaining new strength and great graces from God. This is the time of year to take a good look inside of ourselves and take invent…

Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites

Today is the optional memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites.

These seven men were born at Florence and led lives as hermits on Monte Senario, especially venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Friday, April 13, 1240, the hermits received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand the black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading Servants of Mary Mary told them, You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.

They accepted the wisdom of Our Lady, wrote a Rule based on Saint Augustine and the Dominican Constitutions, adopted the black habit of an Augustinian monk, and lived as mendicant friars. The men founded the Order of Servites which in 1304 received the approval of the Holy See. They are venerated on this day which is said to be the day on which Saint Alexis F…

Book Review: From the Hub to the Heart

I am pleased to participate in Andy LaVallee’s book-launch blog tour, hosted by Ellen Gable Hrkach of Full Quiver Publishing.

Entrepreneur Andrew LaValee was living in the fast lane and had no strong desire to return to his Catholic faith. After all, why should someone who is worldly successful and who has achieved nearly all his goals in life, go searching for something he is not particularly interested in finding?

In From the Hub to the Heart, Andy LaValee and Leticia Velasquez share his captivating conversion story. He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Boston and spent most of his adult life drinking, gambling, and swearing. Then, one day, he met Jim Cavaziel (the actor who portrayed Jesus in The Passion of the Christ), who dared Andy to visit Medjugorje, a poor, obscure village in Croatia, where it has been alleged that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing for the past thirty years. His initial reaction to this challenge was, “No way am I going to fly fifteen hours to pray…

St. Gilbert of Sempringham: Man of Charity, Humility, and Piety

The saint of the day for February 16 is St. Gilbert (1083-1189), founder of the Gilbertine order, which consisted of a double monastery of canons regular and nuns.

Gilbert was born at Sempringham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire, the son of a wealthy Norman knight and land-owner. Unable to become a knight due to a physical deformity, Gilbert was sent to the University of Paris to study theology. When he returned home, he served as a clerk in the household of Bishop Robert Bloet of Lincoln and started a school for the children of the poor in Sempringham. He was ordained as a priest at the age of 40.  When he was offered the archdeaconship of the largest diocese in Europe at the time, he declined, humbly choosing to serve the poor in Sempringham.

When his father died in 1131, Gilbert returned to the manor and became lord of the manor and lands. He began to spend his inheritance by founding Benedictine and Augustinian monasteries, and by providing for the poor. That same year, he drew up ru…

What are you doing for Lent? Lenten Activities 2015


"Lent is a retreat that the Church gives us in order to re-focus on what should be first in our lives. The purpose of Jesus' life was to glorify the Father and save the world. ..Lent is not first a time of giving up but a time to re-choose to be the victim of Christ, the Lamb. It is a time to live the Beatitudes.” - Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, OP

Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday and one of the major liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church. Signifying the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism, it is a penitential season marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and almsgiving.

Lent is not necessarily about “giving something up” for 40 days only to return to it on day 41 or afterward, but is a period of ongoing conversion so that we may draw closer to Jesus. When we repent for our sins and then make a permanent--rather than temporary--change in our lifestyle, a spiritual transformation can take place. At the heart of …

7 QTs: A Mission, Valentine's Day, Lent

1.  This week, Father Jacques Philippe was the speaker at our three-day parish mission. He spoke on the topic of Spiritual Poverty.  Each day, I went to Mass and Communion and then returned in the evening for his 1 -- 1 and 1/2 hour talk and Eucharistic Adoration followed. It was so spiritually enriching and inspiring! I have read three of his books now and am starting on the fourth -- his newest book -- Thirsting for Prayer. (I am on the right in the photo above.)

2. This week we also celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was the 12th anniversary of my Marian Consecration, or more accurately my Consecration to Jesus through Mary via the St. Louis de Montfort method. This is a special Marian feast day for me.

3. Another speaker, I was privilleged to hear recently wasDr. Ralph Martin. He was wonderful, as usual. His topic was the New Evangelization. I am eager to read his book on the New Evangelization, The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call.

4. What are …

Movie Review: Old-Fashioned

An introverted, chivalrous small business owner and a sweet, extroverted Midwestern woman meet and attempt the almost impossible: an "old-fashioned" courtship in contemporary America. Amber, an attractive and intelligent young woman, is a drifter, a fun-loving, "free spirit" who moves from one town to another when the going gets tough and drives until she runs out of gas. This time, she has run out of gas in a town in Ohio, where she rents an apartment upstairs from Clay's antique shop. Amber is fascinated and curious about Clay’s old-fashioned ideas concerning women and his strong morals. She becomes so attracted to him that she conveniently invents accidents and repairs for him to fix, so she can see him on a regular basis. After a series of flirtatious episodes, at both her apartment and in the grocery store, he realizes that, he, too, would like to get to know her better.

The two, still in their twenties, have been tainted by the world and by their past re…

Fr. Barron on Christianity and Ethics

Is religion really just about being a nice person? Is the goal of Christianity to simply become more kind, compassionate, and just?  Fr. Robert Barron explains what Christianity is really about.

For Couples: Ten Romantic Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

1. Make a homemade Valentine for your loved one. Be sure to mention on your card some specific ways they are special to you, i.e., "You always laugh at my corny jokes" or "You always compliment me on my cooking even though boiling hot water is a challenge for me."

2. Write a love letter to your Valentine on pretty pink stationary and tell him/her exactly why you love him/her and what makes them special.

3. Prepare a special meal and get dressed up. Use your best china, candles, and your linen napkins. Take out your best wine or open a bottle of champagne, or favorite non-alcoholic drink. (Chill the glasses beforehand.)

4. Purchase one long-stemmed red rose for your partner and compose a love poem to accompany it. Present it in an envelope sealed with a red foil heart.

5. Take a walk together, hold hands, and reminisce about romantic times in the past - such as the day you first met and fell in love, your wedding day or another special time for the two of you.

6. G…

Reflections on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

The feast of Our Lady of  Lourdes, which we celebrate on February 11, has always had a special place in my heart -- not only because of my French family background and living in a small French village (located in the heart of the USA), but because as a child, I related on a personal level to Bernadette. Like her, I was initially a slow learner in school. My health was poor and I was a little behind my peers in the primary grades because I missed so much school and also because I was nearsighted and needed glasses. (However, it didn't take me long to catch up and even excel in my studies after I got my glasses.) Everyday after school, I visited Bernadette and Our Lady at the Lourdes shrine behind our church and prayed there, often imagining what it would be like to have been St. Bernadette. To this very day, I continue to be fascinated by the simple obedience, humility, and holiness of this great saint.

February 11 marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to S…

St. Scholastica

Today is the feast of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order. They were born of wealthy parents in Nursia, Italy around 480. Scholastica was dedicated to God from a young age. She and Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.

Like most twins, Scholastica was very close to her brother. When Benedict established his monastery at Monte Cassino, Scholastica founded a convent in nearby Plombariola, about five miles away. The two met annually at a house near the Monte Cassino monastery to discuss spiritual matters.

Saint Gregory tells the charming story of their last meeting. The saints had spent their time together in the mutual comfort of "heavenly talk" and with nightfall approaching, Benedict prepared to leave. Scholastica believed that it would be their last opportunity to see each other alive, so she asked Benedict to spend the evening in conversation. Benedict sternly refused because he d…

Top Ten Catholic Films for Lent 2015

Lent is a season of  drawing  into a deeper intimacy with Jesus. Watching sacred films during Lent is one method I use to draw closer to Christ. Here are the films I recommend watching this Lent, which have served that purpose for me:

1. Babette's Feast (1987) Babette, a French Catholic woman flees to Denmark after her husband and son are killed. There, she works as a domestic servant for two aging Protestant sisters and ends up winning the lottery.  This film contains a beautiful message about God's great generosity and Jesus' total self-sacrifice as manifested through the charitable actions of Babette.

2. Les Miserables (2012) The musical version of Hugo Victor's tale of love and self-sacrifice comes to the big screen. Jean Valjean, an ex-convict, strives to build a new life of nobility and compassion, only to be pursued by the callous Inspector Javert, who doesn't intend to let Valjean escape his past.

3. Into Great Silence (2005) Director Philip Gröning's stu…

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival


St. Colette: Abbess, Mystic, Reformer

The saint of the day is St. Colette, founder of the Poor Clare Colettines.

Colette was a miracle baby, born to parents over sixty years of age, who had been praying for a child to Nicholas of Myra. Born at Corbie in Picardy, France in 1381, Nicolette was named in honor of St. Nicholas and was known by her nickname, Colette. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a pious child who demonstrated a sensitive and loving nature.

When Colette was 17, both of her parents died and was left her in the care of a Benedictine abbot. She distributed her inheritance to the poor and initially joined the Beguine and Benedictine orders, but neither one worked out for her. Instead, she became a third order Franciscan. At age 21, she renounced the world in order to spend her life alone in penance and prayer as an anchoress - walled into a cell whose only opening was a grilled window into a church. She left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream directing her to reform the Poor Clares.

She entered the orde…

7 QT: Lenten Ideas 2015

This year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18.

1.  Lent is a great time to catch up on your spiritual reading. What will you read this Lent? You can check out some reading ideas at:
Best Catholic Books for Lent 2015A Good Book Can Go a Long Way in Lent
2. It always helps to have good spiritual guidance during Lent. You can get it here:
Fr. Robert Barron -- Lenten emails
3.Prayer is a vital part of the Lenten experience. Go here to participate:

Igniting Our Values: A Jesuit/Ignatian Pilgrimage for Lent (online)

4.  We can all use some new recipes for Lent. Why not try these?

Readers share best recipes for Lenten cookingLOOKING FOR SIMPLE MEALS TO PREPARE THIS LENT?Lent RecipesMealess Friday Recipe Archive5.  Mega-Resources for Lent include the Following: Praying LentLent 2015Lent at Catholic MomAsh Wednesday and LentLent -- USCCB6.  Lenten Podcasts: Preparing for LentOur Daily Bread - Fr. Al Lauer
7.Have a happy and holy Lent!

See more Quick Takes HERE.