Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: What to get your mom for Christmas

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Sorry Netgalley and Ave Maria Press for taking so long to write a review on this one. I wanted to get a good sample of it read before I said anything.

The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion is the perfect book for the Catholic mom in your life. Every reflection is only a couple of pages long with a short prayer and a thought to ponder throughout your day. It’s short enough to fit into the most hectic morning.

This collection features the best Catholicmom.com writers (who am I kidding all the writers at Catholicmom.com are good!) and each day covers a very different topic. Often it discusses something appropriate for the time of the liturgical year or a certain feast day, but just as often it’s a simple reflection on the nitty-grittiness of life as a mom. The variety of topics keeps you reading and gives you something to look forward to each day.

I also blew off writing this review in order to have the product fresh in your mind as you start shopping for Christmas. At around 10 to 15 bucks, depending on where you shop, it’s a great gift to give to the Catholic mother in your life. (Note: It is cheapest at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, although it is always best to support the little bookstores when possible.)

Personally, I started this book about midway through the year and I look forward to reading it anew in the new year. Because of the way that the reflections truly all stand on their own, it’s not a big deal if you don’t start at the beginning. I’m just looking forward to reading this on my own without a book review over my head just working through the reflections as part of my morning routine.

Thank you Ave Maria Press for the opportunity. As you probably noticed, I did get the opportunity to read this book as part of my membership in Netgalley. Really, go get this book for the Catholic moms you know today!

A Child Speaks of His Conception

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Under the abstract words of paternity…I have come to believe that, far from being endowed with an absolute experience of my own, I am, without having wished or suspected it, I incarnate the reply to the reciprocal appeal which two beings flung to each other in the unknown and which, without suspecting it, they flung beyond themselves to an incomprehensible power whose only expression is the bestowal of life. I am this reply, unformed at first, but who, as I become articulate, will know myself to be a reply and a judgement. Yes, I am irresistibly lead to make the discovery that by being what I am, I myself am a judgement upon those who have called me into being; and thereby infinite new relationships will be established between them and me.

– Gabriel Marcel, Homo Viator

Getting Past Perfect: A Book Review

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Looking for some hard truths about motherhood? You have come to the right place. Getting Past Perfect is a good little book, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes even a little harsh. I had a bit of a hard time with this book, but it was because of me and where I am in my life, not because of anything about the book itself.

Each chapter covers a lie that mothers have come to believe and the contrasting truth. These lies cover the entire gamut of a mother’s life from dealing with newborns to having grown children. This book is really for all mothers, biological, adoptive and spiritual. Kate Wicker does an exceptional job at extending her book to mothers of all ages and types.

Each chapter features real stories from the trenches in it’s unedited reality as well as Gospel truths to help you through. As I said, sometimes those truths are a little harsh, but that doesn’t make them any less true or any less important.

For example, we all need the reminder that our children are not our own. God made them, God will dictate their lives, and God will ultimately welcome them to their true home. It’s terrifying if you think about it, but it’s also a bit liberating. You are tasked to do your best, but even if you screw up, God is the one ultimately in charge. As the title suggests, many of the lies moms fall for involve the pressure to be perfect. We forget that we are all (moms and children) God’s children.

I got the opportunity to read this valuable book through my membership in Netgalley. Thank you Ave Maria Press for the opportunity. It is available at your favorite bookseller now. I recommend it for all mothers.We are constantly bombarded by the “mommy wars” and we need these truths.

Benedict XVI on Marriage and the Family

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Marriage and the family are not in fact a chance sociological construction, the product of particular historical and financial situations. On the other hand, the question of the right relationship between the man and the woman is rooted in the essential core of the human being and it is only by starting from here that its response can be found. In other words, it cannot be separated from the ancient but ever new human question: Who am I? What is a human being? And this question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God: Does God exist? Who is God? What is His face truly like? The Bible’s answer to these two questions unties them, and makes one a consequence of the other: the human being is created in the image of God, and God Himself is love. It is therefore the vocation to love that makes the human person an authentic image of God: Man and woman come to resemble God to the extent that they become loving people.

– Benedict XVI

Prepare the Right Way: Advent with Mother Teresa

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As Bishop Barron is quoted in the introduction:

There can never be too much love; there is never a time when love is inappropriate, for love is what God is, and love constitutes the very life of heaven. Mind you, in heaven there is no need for faith, and hope fades away. But in that supremely holy place, love remains in all of its infinite intensity and radicality. Mother Teresa’s way of life, accordingly, is an icon of the love that we will obtain in heaven, when we are drawn utterly into the very life of God.

Sounds like something I want in my Advent. What about you?

This book is made to be used year after year and I’m sure it will take many years to really start to plumb its depths. Unlike the little booklets you’ll find around this time of year in the back of Church, this book has extra days and special feasts added so that it can be used again and again. The concepts covered in the daily reflections are deep and complex and sure to give you a new thing to ponder every year.

You may ask how can a religious sister in Calcutta be applicable to my life here and now. The author, Heidi Hex Saxton, did some of the work for you. Her life couldn’t be any more different from Teresa’s as a working mom in the United States, but she shares with you her personal reflections on Mother Teresa’s words and actions and how they apply to her life and the human condition.

You may also ask how does Mother Teresa relate specifically to the season of Advent. Although through these reflections you will be given many answers to that question, I think the best answer for me was in the way that Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the poor. Just as God Himself comes to us in the season of Advent in the “distressing disguise” of an infant in poverty, Mother Teresa saw God in the “distressing disguise” of those she cared for.

Advent starts this Sunday, so I suggest you get this book now. But even if it doesn’t quite come in time, keep it in mind for the future and start it this year in the middle of the book. In any case, you’re sure to get plenty out of it.

I got the opportunity to read this book through my membership in Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Franciscan Media for the opportunity. It is available at your favorite bookseller now. I even saw it online at Target.com, maybe due to the popularity of this newly canonized saint.

 

St. Basil the Great on the Dignity of Women

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“And God made human being according to his image.” “The [masc.] human being,” says the woman, “What does that have to do with me? The man came to be, for it does not say the [fem.] human being,” she says, “but by setting forth the [masc.] human being, it implies the masculine.” But that nobody may ignorantly ascribe the name of human only to the man, it adds, “Male and female he created them” [Gen. 1:27]. The woman also possesses creation according to the image of God, as indeed does the man. The natures are alike in honor, the virtues are equal, the struggles equal, the judgement alike. Let her not say, “I am weak.” The weakness is in the flesh, in the soul is the power. Since indeed that which is according to God’s image is of equal honor, let the virtue be of equal honor, the showing forth of good works. There is no excuse for one who wishes to allege that the body is weak. And why is it simply delicate? But through compassion it is vigorous in patient endurance and earnest in vigils. When has the nature of man been able to match the nature of woman in patiently passing through her own life? When has man been able to imitate the vigor of women in fastings, the love of toil in prayers, the abundance in tears, the readiness for good works?

I have seen a woman secretly committing good thefts, doing good works apart from her husband for the sake of her husband, for the sake of the household’s growth, for the sake of the children’s long life. She gives and hides it from her husband’s knowledge, distributing alms for his sake and concealing it from him. For since the Creator sees the things that are hidden, she does not make public her well-doing.

The good woman has that which is according to the image. Do not cling to the outer human being, it is molded [like clay]. The soul is placed within, under the coverings and the delicate body. Soul indeed is equal in honor to soul; in the coverings is the difference.

Therefore you have become like God through kindness, through the endurance of evil, through communion, through love for one another and love for brethren, being a hater of evil, dominating the passions of sin, that to you may belong the rule.

-St. Basil the Great, part 18, On the origin of humanity, discourse 1

My Life with The Saints: Popular for a Good Reason

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Ten years ago, I was a college student and a recent convert to the Church. If I had seen this book in the bookstore, I wouldn’t have picked it up because I already had plenty on my plate to read. Although I was a Catholic nerd, I was more interested in Biblical studies and apologetics rather than reading about saints, much less memoirs that revolved around saints.

I’ve noticed in recent years, however, that this particular kind of Catholic memoir has been becoming more and more common. Maybe Fr. Martin started a trend.

Anyway, it was probably better this way, with me reading it 10 years after it’s peak in popularity. More age, more wisdom, more appreciation for the saints mentioned in this book.

And are their saints in this book? I counted at least 20 or so mentioned. Lots of background given to a very varied group of holy people.  I can guarantee that at least one of them will be new to you and they are all very fascinating. He shares their stories interwoven with his own and may highlight parts of their lives that you never really thought about before. He certainly shed a different light on some of my favorites like Dorothy Day and St. Aloysius Gonzaga. (By the way, they aren’t all canonized saints, but they are all people who at least have a cause open. So, please, don’t be picky.)

His story which we see through these stories is highly relatable and perfect especially for anyone who has had trouble with discernment. His journey to the Jesuits mirrors many such journeys today. Haven’t we all, regardless of our destination, had trouble getting there and hearing God?

I want to thank Loyola Press for the opportunity to read this great book that I missed the first time around. I hope everyone who missed it has an opportunity to catch it this time. I was able to read this through my membership in Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.