Sunday, December 31, 2017

Writing the Next Chapter of Life

Happy New Year 2018!
Everyone desires that a new year will be better than the last--that wishes will come true, dreams will be achieved, and hopes will become a reality. And why shouldn't we feel that way about the year ahead of us? A fresh start as the old year closes and the new year begins gives us a reason to try. It's good to have goals because if we aren't shooting for anything, our life will be rather stagnant.

Where do we see ourselves at the end of 2018? Did we miss a lot of opportunities during the course of 2017? What can we do to make the most of every moment of each day that God gives us? These are some questions that make food for thought. Instead of wasting the night away with late parties, we should be grateful for the blessings of the previous year and think about what we want to do with the prospects of the new year.

I'm a writer so the way I look at New Year's is a whole year unwritten with lots and lots of blank pages. Each day is a page in the next chapter of our life, and God is the author of our story. Don't be a pen that runs out of ink! Be a pen that writes your life perseveringly, honestly, happily--filling the pages with triumphs in difficulties, endurance in suffering, charity toward all, and joy in family and friends. "Life is what you make it" is not such an untruth. God is in control, but He asks for our cooperation in His plan for our life as fulfilling His will is all that matters. 

St. Teresa of Avila says: "Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas All the Year

No doubt many a family reads or watches A Christmas Carol this time of year. It is one of my very favorite stories. There is a reason why some characters become iconic or plots become classic. Some just manage to hit home more than others because they touch your heart and make you see life differently. 

I especially love the quote: "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." Christmas all the year. Christmas is not simply a day, but a season, and not just a season, but a spirit that we should carry all year. I think it's so sad when we have to take Christmas decorations down . . . maybe because we think the joy and peace goes with them. Sometimes I'd like to think we should keep up a small tree with lights just to remind us that the spirit of Christmas should live in our hearts all year long.

Christmas has to be my very favorite holiday. Externals like Christmas trees and cookies help make things feel festive for sure, but the special graces that come to our souls from the celebration of Christ's Birth are the moments to be treasured. Our Lord wants to bring us that joy and peace every day. He is present in the smiles in our families, the laughter in our friends, the peace in our hearts. 

To keep Christmas all the year means to love the Infant Jesus in every moment and in loving Him, sharing that gift with others. For when we look hard enough, we may find that the Christmas spirit can be found all year, if only we let it reign in our lives. Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tapestry of My Life

Tapestry of My Life

"I wonder what the other side will be, when I have finished weaving all my thread. I do not know the pattern nor the end of this great piece of work which is for me. I only know that I must weave with care the colors that are given me day by day, and make of them a fabric firm and true, which will be of service for my fellow man."

"Sometimes these colors are so dark and grey I doubt if there will be one line or trace of beauty there. But all at once there comes a thread of gold or rose so deep that there will always be that one bright spot to cherish or to keep and maybe against its strand of darkest hue it will be beautiful."

"The way is held in place by the Master's hand. The Master's mind made the design for me; if I but weave the shuttle to and fro and blend the colors just the best I know, perhaps when it is finished, He will say, Tis good, and lay it on the footstool of His feet."

My grandmother made this plaque many years ago, and I always liked reading this little poem. It speaks for remind us that God is present in every moment of our lives, whether we feel we are weaving dark or bright strands of by day....just the best we know.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Cheer for the NICU

Looking for a great way to spread some Christmas cheer? Apple Mill Bakery is sponsoring a cookie drive! If you've never heard of the NICU, it's the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where premie babies have to spend a few weeks to a few months post-delivery, depending on the complications they may experience. 

My godson was a premie baby and I visited him several times during his stay in the NICU before coming home. It was a very moving experience to see such tiny infants fighting for survival (sometimes they're only 1 or 2 pounds!). They are connected to lots of tubes and sleep in an "incubator" with little human contact because they are so susceptible to germs. You have to "scrub up" sometimes to go inside the unit, and if you are allowed to hold the baby it is usually for a short time.

One of the hardest things to witness is how much the families go through whose child or sibling is in the NICU. The parents have to worry every day if their child will be able to come home with them. The baby can be in the hospital a long time, and they have to make daily visits to the NICU in order to be with their newborn. Worst of all, sometimes the baby doesn't make it. 

But YOU can help make their Christmas a little merrier! Visit and click on the listing for Christmas Cookie Drive for Children. Order a can of cookies and they will be given to a family with your name on it! What a special way to comfort parents and siblings of a little baby in the NICU.

Place your order now before Friday December 15th! The children will thank you.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Accepting Our Limitations

1st Sunday of Advent
Do you ever watch a superhero movie and think, gee that doesn't look so hard I could totally do that? . . . said no one ever. Some of us may be heroes in our own right like our servicemen and first responders, but we are all human. Being human means we will have limitations; we are not God, although some people think they can be. 

The Advent season reminds us of our human frailty and our need for a Redeemer. Our weaknesses do not serve as an excuse not to strive for sanctity and virtue, but they do remind us that sometimes there are goals we might not reach and achievements we may never accomplish. That should not make us sad, but joyful that we need to rely on God, and not only that we need to but God wants us to.

Our preparation for Christmas should not simply be decorations and food making. It is a spiritual preparation that requires a greater effort to receive the Sacraments, practice virtue, deepen our prayer life, and increase our works of charity. The reason for this is we are preparing for the solemn feast of the Incarnation, which surely must be the most profound mystery of our Faith that God would become man for our salvation.

Those moments when we most feel our weaknesses, we should look at the Infant in the stable. He understands the frailty of our nature and wants us to take comfort in Him. He doesn't ask for great deeds, but great love. St. John of the Cross said, "In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone." By this he means love based on sacrifice, giving, and self-forgetfulness.

Let us make this Advent our best yet, by taking one day at a time and adding a little charity to those around us. That may be a smile, a prayer, or a hidden sacrifice known to God alone. Blessed Advent!

Sunday, November 26, 2017


"Who gives you the courage to face the world?"
The movie Wonder makes you think. It makes you think about family, about life, about the things that really matter and the things that really don't matter. The story follows a young boy who has suffered through many medical issues and still manages to laugh at the end of the day. That makes you think too -- about how small your problems are and how we really have nothing to complain about.

The film takes you through different perspectives -- how members of the family and friends deal with the suffering in their lives. The virtue that seems to be glorified the most is courage -- courage to stand out, to be yourself, to face the world. The characters are real. They are relatable. You can feel what they are feeling and understand their various emotions. While there really is no climax to the film, there is a conflict and resolution followed by a happy ending.

Auggie is going to the fifth grade. He has to embrace a whole new world outside his home with a face that looks different from everyone else's. He's smart, funny, and truly adorable, but will he make friends? How will everyone see him? Can they see him for his personality? The viewer watches his sister, Via, struggle with being invisible to her parents and how despite her hidden sufferings she stands by her brother no matter what. You see what the parents have had to endure -- their worries, their sacrifices, their bond. 

Most importantly, you see how one person, how one family impacts the world around them. That was the message I took away from this film -- the importance of family, the strength of family, and the love of a family. While some may say this film is sad, I would say it was real. It follows a story that is believable because it's true, and the acting made it a moving story.

At the end of the day, your family is everything no matter what. Wonder makes that message permeate the film, and to have the courage to be yourself because "why blend in when you were born to stand out?"

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giving Thanks

Photo courtesy of
Try their tasty Thanksgiving treats!
We forget that Thanksgiving means "giving thanks." How many people think to go to Mass on Thanksgiving? Granted it is a civil holiday, but to whom are we giving thanks? There is not a day that goes by we don't have a reason for thanking God. Even when things aren't going our way, there is always something to be grateful for. St. Ambrose says: "No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks." 

A grateful soul is a cheerful soul because it recognizes that whatever it is receiving, be it easy or difficult, is a gift from God. "All things work together unto good for those who love God." I think the holiday of Thanksgiving at the end of the year makes us reflect on all the twists and turns of our life this year and how God used everything for His work in the salvation of souls. If we struggle with finding things to be grateful for, then perhaps we are not praying enough. St. Alphonsus says: "He who prays most receives most." The more we give glory to God, the more He will bless us.

Thanksgiving naturally brings families together and makes us grateful for those God has placed in our life. After God, our family should receive the most of our gratitude for being by our side through thick and thin. It is a holiday that we celebrate through feasting because food has a special knack for bringing people together. 

I hope you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Forgotten Holiday

It seems like many pass over the holiday of Veterans' Day with little to no thought other than the post office is closed, so things will have to wait another day. While Memorial Day is perhaps the more celebrated holiday and rightfully so for what it is, Veterans' Day focuses on our heroes who are still fighting the battle. 

For our Veterans must face life after their service, which can be such a challenging adjustment. They have returned from the war changed whether in small ways or large. And as they have changed, so may have the things they once knew. They have been away from their families, their homes, all that was near and dear to them. 

The obligation of gratitude we must show to our heroes is not a light one. They have made sacrifices for souls they never met....sacrifices that may be known only to that solider and God. He will repay them in a way that no human being can, but that does not lessen our duty to thank, pray, and support those who have served our nation.

I really like the site that provides ways to reach out to our military, including Veterans. While my business, Handmade Catholic Shop, mainly sends packages to our deployed Troops, I have often thought that I should send a package to our Veterans who have come home and also need our love and thanks.

Let us not undervalue the holiday of Veterans' Day that remembers our heroes throughout our country and always pray for each one during the whole year! THANK YOU VETERANS!

Friday, November 3, 2017


Change. Different. Adjust. Adapt. Amend. Modify. Revise. Revamp. Swap. Switch.

All words that have essentially the same meaning: things will not be the same as they were before. How do you handle change? Change can be good; change can be bad. The key is our reaction to the change. Do we take it in strides? Do we go with the flow? Do we realize that absolutely everything around us changes whether we realize it or not? 

We are not the same from one day to the next. A little older...hopefully a little wiser. The world is ever changing. Are our hearts rooted in God Who is unchanging? We kind of have to just keep our hand in His, knowing He's leading us because we can never know the future. Trusting in His Providence is the only thing that brings peace of mind to change.

If everything stayed the same, wouldn't we get bored? Let's face it, we need variety in everything. Clothing, food, activities, people (haha)....if we wore the same thing and ate the same thing day after day, sure it might make life simpler, but would that help us grow? I think the reminder that life changes helps us focus on the end goal. If we are made for eternity, then the present trifles will not satisfy us.

God remains the one constant in life, Who we can lean on through all the change. And hopefully in the midst of it all, we realize that it was good for us and brought us closer to Him.

Friday, October 27, 2017

100 Posts and 16 New Products

Hi readers! Thanks so much for following my blog! Guess what? This is my 100th post! Hard to believe this blog has been up and running almost two years! Email me at to let me know what your favorite post has been. I'd love to hear from you! 

More exciting news....I expanded the chaplet section in Handmade Catholic Shop! To get ready for the upcoming holidays, what better products to add than chaplets that send prayers to God!

The 16 new items include: Franciscan Crown, Carmelite Crown, Seven Sorrows Chaplet/Dolor Rosary, St. Andrew Chaplet, St. Padre Pio Chaplet, St. Kateri Chaplet, St. Raphael Chaplet, St. Benedict Chaplet, St. Peregrine Chaplet for Cancer Patients, St. Lucy Chaplet, St. Gerard Chaplet for Mothers, St. Patrick/Irish Chaplet, Sacred Heart Chaplet, Holy Ghost Chaplet, Precious Blood Chaplet, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet--all with prayers included. View these products under our Chaplets/Devotions section. (Use code THANKS for 10% off!)

I am also working on a new book Act of Hope about a fallen away Catholic actor who receives a fan letter from "Hope" who may remind him of a few things he's forgotten. I hope myself this story is ready for the holidays! Last but not least, I may be starting a new job soon. (Like on top of being an author, entrepreneur, and blogger, right?) So prayers for that would be appreciated! 

Well readers, just want to say thank you so much for all your love and support over the last two years! It's been great sharing stories with you. Here's to another 100 posts!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Having a Road Map

Are you already in a vocation and feel fulfilled, or like me still trying to discern? Sometimes I find myself asking God if He can just print out a "road map for life" that would be as simple as google maps. Then I realize google maps gets you lost, reroutes you, and tells you your destination is a burned down school--yes that actually happened to my uncle. We are not going to get lost in our discernment if we are seeking God's will. He desires to show us the way more than we want to follow it!

I have known people who have tried vocations in so many ways. One person was engaged to be married, then realized she had a vocation to religious life. Another was in religious life in one convent, tried a second, and ended up perpetually professed in a third. One was one year away from ordination and then realized he did not have a call to the priesthood, eventually met his wife.....and their son became a priest! None of this is infidelity to what we first tried, but rather a generous openness to wherever God leads! His ways are not our ways.

An ultimate failsafe for a vocation is peace. You won't be flooded with unshakeable doubts if you are on the right road. Uncertainty is normal in any big decision, but there will always be a calm, quiet conviction deep down that rests in your heart. Having that in our vocation is crucial because it will require perseverance until death and will be the means of our sanctification and the sanctification of those around us.

It is always important to have a spiritual guide in discernment because they can look at our life objectively, when we often feel clouded by our own feelings. Friends and family can often point out to us what is obvious that we cannot even see. Good books can tell us even more. We don't have to feel like our life is a question mark. Even when we finally discover our vocation, there will be things we don't have answers for throughout life. I think God allows this so we always rely on Him--always turn to prayer. We don't have it all figured out--no one does but God. 

If you're trying to figure out what God wants for your life, I can relate. It's difficult and you're not alone. That's why we have prayer to remember each other before God in seeking to become saints. Have courage. Sometimes when we feel we have so many questions, maybe what we need to ask ourselves is, are we really listening to what God is telling us?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let Nothing Disturb You

Well I honestly think this is the first time I missed a week of blogging! Life happens.....a lot! Things get away from you, leaving you wondering which way is up sometimes. The Church provides even for moments like this in such a marvelous way through her glorious line of saints. 

Today we have such a special one, St. Teresa of Avila, a great mystic and doctor of the church. But for all her special gifts and knowledge, her simple maxims are the ones that touch the heart. I love this one: "Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you; all things are passing; God never changes; patience obtains all things; nothing is wanting to him who possesses God; God alone suffices."

There is nothing more simple nor more sublime than these words. The "one thing necessary" is God. God is our happiness in this life and in the next. St. Teresa found God in prayer but also among the pots and pans. God is not far from those who love Him and are closest to those who suffer. There is something so consoling in the thought that God never changes even when things around us do. 

Let us pray to St. Teresa today that she may inspire us with a deeper love for God and a greater zeal for souls. Her example encourages us not to settle, but aim for the higher things and our greatest dreams. Even though there is much to be said for being a "little saint", why can't we aim to be a "great saint?" What could be wrong in such a noble desire if we desire this simply to give God greater glory?

A great piece of advice I once received was if you aim for Purgatory, you might miss and end up in Hell. If you aim for Heaven and miss, you could end up in Purgatory. The key? Aim higher! Because if we aim for God, we can't miss!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blondies

Looking for a treat that melts in your mouth? If you eat chocolate and have to have more, this is the dessert for you! And guess what? It's gluten free....but you can't tell!


1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
4 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 cups GF flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (and sprinkle extra on top)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and blend until mixed. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until well blended. Add chocolate chips and mix. Spread into a greased 7x11 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (for gooey or chewy blondies) or 30 minutes (for more like a cake). Serves 15-20. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Gentle Saint

If you're looking for a master in the spiritual life who writes in a down-to-earth, understandable format, then St. Francis de Sales is your guide. It is remarkable that a priest with so many demands as St. Francis could write countless letters and treatises, but one could say this is how his apostolate reached more people. To this day, men and women in all states of life are benefiting from his invaluable advice and direction.

It is hard to pick a favorite work from a favorite author, but I really drew much from St. Francis' Introduction to the Devout Life. Perhaps because it is so varied in the practical could literally find advice about most any situation and how to grow in virtue. From the Sacraments, to meditations, to virtues and vices, to friendship, St. Francis has an encouraging word to say on every topic. His words are truly immortal because they are just as relevant today as when he wrote them.

One great quote from this work is about choosing to be "in the world" but not "of it" and adhering strongly to our devotion to God: "Never heed this blind world, then; let it cry out as it will, like a bat that would disturb the birds of day. Let us be firm in our plans, unchanging in our resolutions; perseverance will show whether we are in earnest in offering ourselves to God and leading a devout life. . . . Hypocrisy and true virtue have a considerable external resemblance, but they are easily distinguished, since hypocrisy does not endure, but soon vanishes like the rising smoke, whilst true virtue abides firm and constant. . . . We are crucified to the world, and the world should be crucified to us. It counts us as fools, let us count its votaries as madmen."

Other inspiring works of his include: Roses Among Thorns, The Sign of the CrossThe Art of Loving God, Consoling Thoughts (4 parts), Serenity of Heart, his Sermons, Treatise on the Love of God, and so many more! St. Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints because he devoted so much time to writing as a way to really reach souls. People drew profit from his advice because it made the attainment of holiness seem possible. His life was a model of virtue and sacrifice, one example being his tireless efforts to convert the Calvinists resulting in nearly 60,000 people returning to the Catholic Faith. His last word of advice before his death was "humility."

One could write forever about the glories of this amazing saint. He is an ideal saint to pray to because one can tell by his writings how understanding he was of human nature--thus giving him the name of "gentle saint." St. Francis knew above all how to encourage souls in the pursuit of Heaven by carrying our daily crosses for the love of God. Take the time to read one (or many!) of his excellent works. It is well worth it! St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Our Lady of Sorrows

On the 15th of September, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a great devotion to have/remember because no matter what we suffer we always have an understanding Mother to turn to who will make our sorrows lighter. 

The Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. Prophecy of Simeon
2. Flight into Egypt
3. Loss of Jesus for three days in Jerusalem
4. Meeting on the way to Calvary
5. Crucifixion/Death of Jesus
6. Jesus taken down from the Cross
7. Burial of Jesus

The chaplet pictured consists of meditating on these mysteries/sorrows of Mary, while praying an Our Father and seven Hail Mary's. (It will soon be available for purchase at!) The chaplet originated in the 13th century to honor and meditate upon the moments Our Lady shared most deeply in the Passion of her Son.

Sometimes in our lives when we can't understand why we should suffer and think that God should take away all our troubles because He is God, it is helpful to turn to Mary, who willingly suffered in union with Jesus in order to bring about our salvation. This is all God asks of us---a willingness to suffer, that is, to accept our trials for love of Him and to remember that we can never suffer as much as Jesus and Mary did for us. In our darkest moments, we have to remember that all we endure is but little repayment for the price Our Lord and Our Lady paid for us.

Words of St. Bernard: "All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: call upon Mary." 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Song of Bernadette

The Song of Bernadette film opens with the line: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." This 1943 movie gives a stirring presentation of the apparitions and miracles of Lourdes that reflect this statement. With 5,200 cast members and an Academy Award winning lead for "best actress of the year," the efforts to portray the events of 1858 in The Song of Bernadette pay off.

To begin, the movie brings alive the sufferings and poverty of the Soubirous family, who lived in an "old jail" that was not even fit for prisoners. Early in the film we are introduced to Bernadette's humility and generosity despite her poor health. It doesn't take long for the movie to jump right into the heart of the story, that is, the visions the saint had of Our Lady. For a fortnight, Mary would appear to Bernadette, calling for penance and the praying of the rosary. 

One also witnesses the political resistance and general opposition to Bernadette's faith, alongside the acceptance and belief of thousands of the faithful. With the growing miracles of the spring water of the grotto, even the doctors have to admit something unexplainable by earthly means is taking place. Viewers are gratified especially when her parish priest, Peyramale, eventually rallies to her side in so many instances. A particularly good scene is with the Bishop of Tarbes who says: "The Commission (to look into Bernadette's apparitions) can render only one of three decisions. First, 'you're an impostor little Soubirous. Away with you to a home of juvenile delinquents'. Second: 'you're a madwoman little Soubirous. Away with you to an asylum.' Third: . . ." Peyramale cuts in: "You are the rarest of mortal beings, little Soubirous."

When Bernadette shares the name of her Lady as the "Immaculate Conception," debate ensues among the clergy. When one of the priests says he thinks the Lady made some kind of blunder, Bernadette says she will let her know that. Bernadette's simplicity and sincerity render most objectors speechless. She manages to win over many hard-hearted souls through her piety, as well as her conviction in the Lady's messages. Her heroic acceptance of sufferings, especially toward the end of her life in the convent, would inspire anyone to bear all for the love of Christ.

One can hardly appreciate the beauty of the saint's life only by seeing this film or reading books about her, but they do aid in the visualization of the deep wealth of her virtues and gifts. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wishes to revisit such a beautiful event in history as Our Lady appearing at Lourdes.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five First Saturdays

The five first Saturdays devotion is one that is so intimately connected with the anniversary of 100 years since the Fatima apparitions. Our Lady expressly asked for these conditions to be fulfilled for five consecutive first Saturdays:

1. To receive Holy Communion.
2. To make a good Confession (eight days before or after).
3. To recite a five decade Rosary.
4. To spend 15 minutes meditating on one or all of the mysteries of the Rosary.
5. Offer the devotions in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart.

Why five?

1. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Conception.
2. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Divine Maternity.
3. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Virginity.
4. In reparation for those who impress hatred for her in the hearts of children.
5. In reparation for insults committed against her sacred images.

Those who observe the five First Saturdays receive the promise of Our Lady who will help at the hour of death with all graces needed for the salvation of their souls. Let us respond generously to the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for a world so in need of God's mercy and for the conversion of poor sinners and the country of Russia.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Royal Road of the Cross

The "royal road of pain" is a phrase that Fr. Owen Francis Dudley (English author of several Catholic novels) uses in his book, The Shadow on the Earth. In this work of fiction, the reader is introduced to Father Dudley’s iconic character, the Masterful Monk, also known as Br. Anselm. The novel begins with a mountain climber who has been injured on the Alps and is brought to the monastery of Issano where Brother Anselm lives as a monk. Having served as a doctor in the war, Br. Anselm is called, and it doesn’t take long for him to determine the mountain climber will be crippled for life. The “Cripple” as he is to be called undergoes a search for meaning in a life that has been stripped of all worldly hopes and possibilities for the future.

Three major players in The Shadow on the Earth are the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, all of whom share their ideas about life with the Cripple. Dudley uses Br. Anselm’s character to refute these positions with Catholic teaching to reconcile a good God with a suffering world. While the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist all argue from different angles, the answer to their questions is the same. Br. Anselm confirms the goodness of God, Who contains all infinite perfections in Himself and shows that, when understood through the Crucifixion of Christ, suffering is redemptive and valuable. The Cripple’s witness of these arguments sets his mind working on accepting his own sufferings and lot in life through a gradual conversion from despair to hope. Despite the firm objections of the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, the Cripple considers the claims of the Catholic Church, not because of Br. Anselm but because the Cripple has found God. And in finding Him, the Cripple is willing to endure all pain in union with Christ on the Cross.

The idea that inspires me most in this work of Dudley's is the concept of the royal road of the cross. Every suffering no matter how great or small is Jesus asking us if we will share His Cross with Him. To accept is to follow a royal road, a road that our King has chosen before us and laid out for us as the path to Heaven. Dudley's character the "Cripple" asks Br. Anselm, "Supposing you were in my position; supposing you knew that you had to lie on your back for the rest of your days, cut off from the pleasures of life, and having at times to suffer pain like this--how exactly would you take it?" Brother Anselm answers, "How would I take it? I would take it as an honour--an honour to be chosen for the royal road of pain; and I would take it as a privilege, to be asked to share so fully the Cross with Christ."

When seen in this light, suffering becomes a gift--a means of uniting ourselves more closely to God and offering these pains for the salvation of souls. Let us value suffering because through it we share in the great honor of resembling our God Who died for us.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Attachment to Heaven

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (Covington, KY)
All spiritual writers frequently talk about detachment from the world and earthly things, which is the same as saying "attachment to Heaven." We just celebrated the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which helps us remember we are pilgrims on this earth and our true home lies in eternity with God.

Divine Intimacy, one of my favorite books, has an excellent passage on this topic: "The Feast of the Assumption is a strong appeal to us to live ever intent upon heavenly things, and not to allow ourselves to be carried away by the vicissitudes and seductions of the world. . . . Mary's Assumption shows us the route we must follow in our spiritual ascent: detachment from the earth, flight toward God, and union with God." To reach this end, we must fulfill the will of God in our lives and accept all our sufferings because the closer we are to Christ on the Cross in this life, the closer union we shall share in His reign in the next.

To aid us in fulfilling the will of God, we should try to remove all obstacles to His grace acting in our day to day life. This means detaching from the things of this world. Yes we have to live in this world, but we must live in this world as Christ did while on earth, which was with mind and heart always fixed on the things above. If there are worldly things in our lives that are dragging us and attaching us to earth so much that we cannot keep our gaze on the things that are eternal, then we need to examine our situation and see what can be removed so we can better serve God. For example, I recently discovered how much social media was weighing me down (not that it cannot be used for good) but it was leaving a negative impact on my life. Removing social media seems to have made it easier to think on the things of Heaven rather than of earth.

Let us imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary (who appeared to the Fatima children today) and make many sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them, which will keep us focused on God and Heaven.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Excitement of DIY Projects

Do you like DIY projects? In my book, being able to do something yourself is very important. Why pay someone else to do it if you can? My parents are big on DIY so I guess you could say I grew up with the idea, but with so much information available now anyone can really get into DIY.

There is something very satisfying in stepping back and looking at a project that you brought to completion. And usually (if you did it right) the project will stand the test of time and maybe you can pass it onto your children. 

DIY projects can be as simple as these window boxes which I was very excited to put together! Or as complicated as house renovation with ripping up tile, new kitchen cabinets, or repainting. One of my favorite DIY projects was building bookcases with my dad for either side of the fireplace for my mom's birthday. To me the best part of DIY is the memories.

The memory for these window boxes is the state on the bottom, which comes from my mom's childhood home! It's been brought along through six different houses! So whatever your project is good luck and have fun! And it's always more fun if the whole family gets involved.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blueberry Crumble (Gluten + Dairy Free)

This has become a new family favorite! A must try! 


3 cups quick oats
1 cup GF flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (medium sized) blueberries
1 1/2 T maple syrup
1 T corn starch
1 T orange juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour oil in slowly until well mixed and/or crumbs begin to form. Take half the mixture and line a 7x11 glass pan with the crumb mixture as the bottom crust (packed firmly). Save the other half for the top. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Put berries, maple syrup, corn starch, and juice in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for two minutes or until juices begin to thicken. (Blueberries should still be round not completely smushed). Pour filling on top of the baked crust and add the rest of the crumb mixture over the top and pack down. Bake entire mixture for additional 25 minutes. Serves eight-ten. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fruits of Attending Holy Mass

Because the value of Holy Mass is infinite, we can never truly know the wealth of grace available to us by attending Mass. Here are but a few of the beautiful gifts God bestows on those who attend devoutly!

Through attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass . . . 

. . . your greatest consolation at death will be the Masses you have heard devoutly.
. . . when you are judged each Mass will be with you and plead for your pardon.
. . . you can diminish your temporal punishment due to sin according to your fervor.
. . . you give the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
. . . Our Lord supplies for your negligences and omissions.
. . . the venial sins you are determined to avoid are forgiven.
. . . all your unknown sins never confessed are forgiven. 
. . . the power of Satan over your soul is diminished.
. . . you offer those in Purgatory the best possible relief.
. . . one Holy Mass heard during your lifetime is more beneficial than many offered for you after your death.
. . . you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes that would otherwise have befallen you.
. . . you shorten your Purgatory by each Mass heard devoutly.
. . . you kneel amid a multitude of angels present at each Mass.
. . . you are blessed in temporal goods and affairs.
. . . when offering in honor of a saint or angel you give that saint or angel a new degree of honor and joy, drawing his special protection and love on yourself.

(Info courtesy of St. Benedict Center Still River, MA

"For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death." ~ revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the Great

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Be At Peace

I am Polish and I have this sign hanging on my fridge to remind me of these simple yet powerful words "Be at Peace." In a world that is suffering and always needing to "de-stress," peace is something that is very much sought after. It is hard when we feel like "our world" is falling apart around us and there seems to be no answers to our problems, but Our Lord said, "I have overcome the world."

St. Therese talks about suffering from moment to moment, which was the only thing that brought her peace. True peace comes from God. I know when things are upside down in my life, it's those quiet moments before the Blessed Sacrament that bring peace to my heart. Our Lord said again, "Come to Me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will give you rest." Rest is that peace that He alone can give.

Acceptance helps us be at peace as well. There may be things we simply cannot change that are overwhelmingly challenging in our lives. We may have to accept them without understanding. It is then that we must look to Christ Crucified which is the only place that suffering makes any sense.

I love this quote of St. Francis de Sales: “Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, the same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wholesome Writing

The words "wholesome writing" might deter some folks who are only looking to be amused by things that are not necessarily good. But writing can be genuinely interesting, entertaining, and fun, while remaining wholesome at the same time but without being what is considered "preachy." 

For example, I absolutely love mysteries. So many of them however are twisted, weird, or just depressing. So why can't they be lighthearted and uplifting? Why can't the books we read be clear of all offensive content and enjoyable for any age range? 

Writers have a tremendous responsibility. You can either make someone a better person for having read your creation or a worse person. Every little thing matters. The simplest sentence can have a powerful impact on a person. This means that writers have the beautiful ability of touching hearts and making someone see something in another light.

Stories of heroes are what encourage us in our own lives. Fiction can only encourage us to a certain extent and the stories that are true resonate even deeper. But beneath the fiction of a narrative are messages and themes that apply to our day to day life and inspire us to go forward. Writers can never forget that more important than their stories are the people who read them.

Let's make our writing wholesome in the sense that when readers walk away from our books, they are better and happier people--ready to face troubles in their lives with courage.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Apple Pie Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

It doesn't get better than this right? Love apple pie? Love cake? So you have to make an apple pie cake! This is also awesome because it's gluten and lactose free! 

Ingredients for Cake:

~ 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
~ 1/2 cup honey
~ 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff not Aunt Jemima's guys)
~ 1 T orange juice
~ 1/2 t salt
~ 8 eggs
~ 3 cups GF flour
~ 2 t cinnamon
~ 1 T vanilla extract

Ingredients for Glaze:

~ 2 cups confectioners sugar
~ 1 T cinnamon
~ water to desired consistency (see below)

Directions for Cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, which can also be greased with oil. Combine the apples, honey, maple syrup, and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are tender. Put the eggs, flour, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a mixer and stir till combined well. Add the apple/honey/syrup mixture and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until knife/fork comes out clean. Let cool for half an hour and place on a serving plate. Spread the glaze over the surface of the cake and allow to drip down the sides. Ready to enjoy! Can also put into the freezer for fifteen minutes to harden the glaze.

Directions for Glaze:

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Add water slowly. Start with 1 T and stir. Depending on if you want a thick or thin icing, add more water slowly to desired consistency a teaspoon at a time. If it gets too thick add water, or too thin add sugar. Pour over the cooled cake. This cake serves 10-12 people.

Now you can try this out and have it all ready for the Fall!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Precious Blood of Jesus

Pall from Holywell in England
The devotion to the Precious Blood is one of my favorites. The simple prayers below offer such beautiful promises and give much glory to God. Most of us will not likely be actual martyrs, but these prayers offer in the fourth promise that it will be as if we had died martyrs by honoring the Precious Blood through this devotion. How amazing! Let us not miss these simple opportunities of strengthening our Faith and consoling the Heart of Jesus. 

Devotion to the Drops of Blood Lost by Our Lord Jesus Christ
on His Way to Calvary

St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, St. Matilda, and St. Bridget, wishing to know something of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, offered fervent and special prayers, upon which Our Lord revealed to them: 

To all the faithful who shall recite for 3 years each day, 2 Our Father's, 2 Hail Mary's, and 2 Glory Be's in honor of the drops of Blood I lost, I will concede the following 5 graces:

1. The plenary indulgence and remittance of your sins.
2. You will be free from the pains of Purgatory.
3. If you should die before completing the said 3 years, for you it will be the same as if you had completed them.
4. It will be upon your death the same as if you had shed all your blood for the Holy Faith.
5. I will descend from Heaven to take your soul and that of your relatives, until the fourth generation.

(Blessed by Pope St. Leo XIII in Rome April 5, 1890).

Happy Feast Day of the Precious Blood of Jesus!