“Be Not Afraid”- Jesus, St. John Paul II…


From this artist. Check her out!

I state right from the outset: “Be not afraid!” This is the same exhortation that resounded at the beginning of my ministry in the See of St. Peter. Christ addressed this invitation many times to those he met. The angel said to Mary: “Be not afraid!” (Luke 1:30) The same was said to Joseph: “Be not afraid!” (Matthew 1:20) Christ said the same to the apostles, to Peter, in various circumstances, and especially after his Resurrection. He kept telling them: “Be not afraid!” He sensed, in fact, that they were afraid. They were not sure if who they saw was the same Christ they had known. They were afraid when he was arrested; they were even more afraid after his Resurrection. The words Christ uttered are repeated by the Church. And with the Church, they are repeated by the Pope. I have done so since the first homily I gave in St. Peter’s Square. “Be not afraid!” These are not words said into a void. They are profoundly rooted in the Gospel. They are simply the words of Christ himself.

– St. John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope

His feast day is tomorrow! Please remember this awesome saint! JPII, pray for us!

Strangers at the Manger: Children’s Book Review


Last week, you got to jump ahead to Lent. Now, let’s reel back a little, back to Advent and Christmas with Lisa Hendey’s book, The Strangers in the Manger.

I guess I didn’t read the description of this book too closely as I got it hoping to read it to my son. He’s only 4-years-old and after only a couple sentences, he was asking for his Curious George book instead. Even the fact I was reading it to him from the Kindle Fire didn’t keep his interest (I hardly ever read to him from the Kindle). Well, it’s his loss.

Even as an adult reading this on my own, I got a kick out of it! Such an adorable little chapter book chock full of facts about the Church, the Bible, and the Nativity story. Anyone reading it couldn’t help but learn something, but it doesn’t read like a text book. It reads like a fun adventure of a pair of twins traveling back in time.

As another reviewer commented on some other site (it’s really hard for a mom brain to keep track), these twins are relatable kids who are good role models you’d want your kid to read. They are, nonetheless, full of personality and very three-dimensional. In this adventure, the fifth of the series, they travel back in time to the Nativity of our Lord and help the Holy Family in this momentous occasion. They play soccer with the shepherds. They marvel at the wise men. They are fascinated at the sight of seeing the Lord and Savior they hear about so much at Church being a little baby. As an adult reading this, I could feel their child-like wonder and fascination. It was great!

As in all the Chime Traveler books, they go back in time to learn an important lesson. Before they travel, we are introduced to a refugee family that has just moved into the parish. As you can imagine, this relates very well to the impoverished Holy Family being unable to find a room in Bethlehem only to later have to run off to Egypt. I’d love to share the moral of the story with you, but you’ll have to discover it for yourself. It’s a beautiful little one-liner that will stick with you long after the book is put down.

My husband has a cousin who’s just the right age for chapter books, maybe I can get her a copy for Christmas. Maybe she’ll even let me read it with her.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Franciscan Media for the opportunity. This book is available now through your favorite bookseller.

Why John Paul II Loved Mary?


Mooched off this travel blog. Best picture I’ve seen of this awesome statue!

This filial relationship, this self-entrusting of a child to its mother, not only has its beginning in Christ, but can also be said to be definitively directed toward him. Mary is said to continue to say to each individual the words she spoke at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). For he, Christ, is the one mediator between God and mankind; he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); It is he whom the Father has given the world, so that man “should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Virgin of Nazareth became the first “witness” of this saving love of the Father, and she also wishes to remain its humble handmaid always and everywhere. For every Christian, for every human being, Mary is the one who first “believed” and precisely with her faith as spouse and mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). And to the same degree they recognize more and more clearly the dignity of man in all its fullness and the definitive meaning of his vocation, for (as is stated in Gaudium et Spes) “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself.”

– St. John Paul II, Encylical Redeptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), March 25, 1987

Walk In Her Sandals: A Book Review


I know it isn’t Advent yet, but plan now to get some of your favorite girlfriends together this Lent to read this book!

Walk in Her Sandals is a deep and unique look at Christ’s Passion and the events after His death from a woman’s perspective. Each chapter contains numerous reflections on various aspects of Holy Week and beyond. There is something for everyone in this book. There is a fictional retelling of the events of the Passion told from the perspective of a woman who watched it all unfold. There are reflections connecting these foundational events to aspects of our feminine genius. There is a guide to pray through important scripture passages using the ancient practice of lectio divina. There are good reflection questions to discuss as a group. The book features authors that most Catholic nerds are familiar with like Teresa Tomeo, Lisa Hendey and Pat Gohn as well as many more authors that you will want to learn more about.

I was a little surprised to see that one of my favorite parts was the fictional retelling of the Passion. I’m usually not a fan of that kind of thing (funny, because I do enjoy writing it, but that’s another story). Stephanie Landsem clearly did her research bringing stories such as the Last Supper and Pentecost alive. You could really sense that these women could have actually been there, were actually the kind of people you would have expected to see there. I had never heard of her before and I’ll have to look her up and try some of her other books.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to pick this book up again as part of a book club. That would be awesome! I’ll have to tell you about it when I do. Not to say that the book isn’t good to read on your own. I certainly enjoyed it.

I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Ave Maria Press! This book just came out yesterday and is available from your favorite bookseller now.

NOTE: I have been informed by the wonderful people at Ave Maria Press that there will be at least two online book clubs this Spring (just in time for Lent!). One will be held at CatholicMom.com and the other will be at WomenInTheNewEvangelization.com. Join me there!

GK Chesterton on the playfulness of God


Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

– GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy. Quoted in Walk In Her Sandals. Stay tuned for the book review.

Love, Henri: A Wonderful Collection of Letters from Henri Nouwen


When I first opened Love, Henri, it annoyed the heck out of me. I don’t know what I was thinking when I requested this book. I’m not a big fan of this genre (collected letters). All I knew was that one of my professors at Aquinas Institute obsessed with this man. She frequently assigned passages of his writing and I dutifully read the assignments even if I didn’t get much personally out of them. She was, and undoubtedly still is, a sweet, loving woman and her obsession with Henri Nouwen was seen as just one of her quirks.

Reading books like this is a little like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but in this case, it is a good and fulfilling half. It helps that most of the letters are to the same handful of close friends so the letters lend context to one another. The topics covered in the letters are easily to relate to. While the first few pages were hard for me to get through, the book did eventually grow on me and I did reach a point where I couldn’t put it down.

Henri Nouwen wrote to people of all walks of life: gay, straight, young, old, single, married, people in the religious life, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, atheist… He had a wide variety of friends. He loved to write letters and he took his friendships very, very, very seriously.

This book would be excellent for anyone doing research into Henri Nouwen as it gives tons of background information and context for many of his life’s events. It certainly added to my reading list as I was intrigued by what he had to say about several of his books, particularly Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World.

I came away from this book with one intriguing question that could take a whole book to cover: Why isn’t there a open cause of canonization for Henri Nouwen and could he ever be canonized? I am very interested in what you have to say about that. On one side, his responses to questions in the letters were mostly quite orthodox. It is generally accepted by scholars that he did deal with same-sex attraction. He referred to it much like St. Paul refers to his own thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). He was a faithful priest who used his own suffering to effectively minister to others. He was very into ecumenism. On that front, he didn’t always follow Church teaching to the letter. What do you think? Should he be canonized? Could he be canonized?

I was given the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in Blogging for Books. Thank you Convergent Books for the opportunity.

Henri Nouwen on Today’s World


I know a lot of people out there are worried about the state of the world. I’m currently reading a book that is a collection of letters by Catholic scholar and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. One letter written in 1981 is in response to someone who wrote to him concerned whether humanity would survive to the end of the century. Here is his response:

Dear George,

I really don’t know if our civilization will survive the century. Considering the growing threat of a nuclear holocaust, there certainly is reason to wonder. But important for me is not if our civilization will survive or not but if we can continue to life with hope, and I really think we can because our Lord has given us His promise that He will stay with us at all times. He is the God of the living. He has overcome evil and death and His love is stronger than any form of death and destruction. That is why I feel that we should continually avoid the temptation of despair and deepen our awareness that God is present in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds us and that that presence allows us to live joyfully and peacefully in a world so filled with sorrow and conflict.

Please be sure of my prayers for you in these tempting times.


Henri Nouwen


Stay tuned for my review of this book coming soon.