Catholic Survival Kits: GIVEAWAY!

Discovered here, through the Catholic Bloggers Network,
check out these wonderful Catholic Survival Kits!
I was so happy to review these wonderful kits
…all three editions: English, Spanish and Kids!
Enter my Catholic Survival Kits GIVEAWAY to win one for your favorite cradle Catholic, newbie Catholic, Sacrament candidate, Godchild or college student! 
Anyone YOU have in mind?
Which one do YOU plan to WIN at the Catholic Survival Kits GIVEAWAY ?

My Very First Noah's Ark Playtime Review

I am participating in a Kregel Publication Blog Tour for My Very First Noah’s Ark Playtime Activity Book with Stickers by Lois Rock.  This 16 page activity book is for very young children that teaches the Noah’s Ark bible story.  As the title suggests, it’s an interactive book with many stickers that help teaches this popular story.  Children can develop their pre-reading skills in the areas of letter sounds and counting skills. They are also working on their fine motor, identification and matching skills. So, as they learn about God and His promise to Noah they are also working on their cognitive and manipulative skills!  Great for spiritual and academic learning.

For a parent or teacher who selects this activity book, it’s mostly to teach the children about this popular bible story.  What I do appreciate about this book is that it did NOT include God’s displeasure at the pervasive wickedness of mankind and how he intended to wipe them from the face of the earth.  This book is geared towards young children who may become fearful of God’s action of flooding the earth which meant many lives ended.  God’s intent was not to destroy man but to destroy the wickedness and sin. This is a hard concept for little ones to understand, therefore, I appreciate how this book glossed over that truth.  Older children may wonder at what happened to all the other people but younger ones probably will not.

In the middle of Noah’s Ark Playtime book is a gingerbread recipe with directions to shape it into an ark.  Totally fun for kids and it’s easy to make.  Here are the ingredients.

The simple recipe.
 My version cooled and decorated.
There are countless ways of decorating this fun cookie.

Noah’s Ark cookie that was very yummy!

The only critique I have is that the stickers are not reusable.  Of course, the child can always read the book or use the pictures as a prompt to retell the story.  Plus the many stickers will not be used in one sitting but it would have been nice if they could have been used repeatedly.

I was given a complimentary copy of Noah’s Ark Playtime for my honest review. Thank you Kregel Publications for inviting me to participate in your blog tour.

Blessings,
Noreen

An Ordination and four Gentle Giants

Three men, brave and determined men, took that
final leap into a new life; complete with new titles, responsibilities, and new homes today….never to be the same again. But they prepared for this over a  seven year-span, immersed in the spiritual, biblical, and examples of those around them. They definitely had the support from family and friends, and the diocese, the church was packed!

My family came to know then Deacon Ryan last summer after the bishop appointed the newly ordained temporary deacons to posts at different parishes around the diocese.  The good deacon filled in at different events and study groups over the next several weeks.  Lucky me, I was taking the current bible study offering of the parish, Exodus, and the deacon filled in as the facilitator for a couple of sessions.  We had a blast talking with him, asking him questions and gleaning from his knowledge of the bible and all things Catholic.  Being a younger man of 27, the teens of the parish also got to know him and felt a special bond with him. Our daughters and family friend Bryan decided that they were determined to attend the ordination of their new friend when the date was set.  I agreed, so when the day came, we all got up early and headed to the big, and certainly long awaited, day’s event.

This may sound very strange coming from me, if you are a long-time reader of the “Pillars”, but this was my first ordination.  Yes, yes, I know, where have I been, what is the matter with me for not taking the time to attend such an amazing and important event as this in my Church, I have no excuse, other than the fact that it never occurred to me to attend one.

Anyway enough of the confession, this has been an experience that I will never forget.  All the pomp and circumstance and ceremonial traditions were beautiful and very comforting to be perfectly honest.  Our bishop was overjoyed since he had not ordained as many as 3 new priests at one time before, just one a few years ago and then last year 2 young men.  Our prayers are being answered, we are growing more and more priests!

My heart skipped a beat as the procession came down the aisle lead by the acolytes carrying candles, incense, and the crucifix; followed the seminarians along side the priests of the diocese.  It was quite a showing, a presence, so dynamic and spiritual! 

During the ceremony there were two times when all the priests present are called to show their support for these three, the first time each priest came forward and laying hands on the men individually, prayed over them and the second time by giving them each a sign of peace. This was a beautiful sign of support and approval for the ordinates.  Of course their families and friends were present also, but there cannot be a more meaningful gesture than the support of those in the frontlines already.

We are not alone, not one of us, and watching these three new ordinates receive the support of the priests, the Holy Spirit, and the holy saints, prostrated in front of the altar while the church sang the litany saints; it was clear to me.  They made some solemn promises of obedience, received great gifts from the Holy Spirit, and accepted tall responsibilities as new shepherds during this ceremony, of which, without the help and support of the Church and all of those around them, their tasks could be unbearable, if not impossible.

The Catholic Church continues to grow and lead as Jesus Christ to the world and it is starkly obvious how important my role is, both as a mom and wife, but also as a parishioner of a parish, and a fellow Catholic Christian along side her priests and religious.  I have a responsibility to support and pray for these gentle giants in a world so cluttered with evil and darkness.  There is no other way to say this but, if WE don’t take care of these men and women, who will.  They are rarely thanked, ignored, and just simply taken for granted.  If we don’t have priests, we don’t have a Church!  If we don’t have a Church, we don’t have the support of the sacraments to keep us on the path to righteousness and glory.


Pray, and pray hard for all the priests in your diocese and around the world.  Bring them food, cards, and money.  Smile and shake their hands, give them a hug (if they allow that…ask first), and always, ALWAYS make sure they are happy, taken care of, and loved.

Our family felt so blessed to be a part of Fr. Ryan’s ordination and we look forward to getting to know Fr. Nick as he takes on the role of Spiritual Director for our high school students and our daughters.  They will remain in our prayers always along with the other priests in our diocese. 

We. Are. So. Blessed!

What is detachment in the Catholic spiritual life?

File:John of the Cross crucifixion sketch.jpg

Among Carmelite saints, John of the Cross, co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites with Teresa of Avila, is not the most popular. Why not? He insisted that detachment was necessary for holiness. Many Catholics, misunderstanding his teaching, think it too hard and too dull. On first reading his Ascent of Mt. Carmel, they might be tempted to settle for luke-warmness.

On the other hand, nearly everyone loves St. Therese of Lisieux. The irony is that Therese was a true daughter of John, embracing all that he taught. If we reject John, we implicitly reject Therese as well.

Misconceptions about attachment Let’s examine some of the misconceptions about detachment.

First of all, the detachment John of the Cross speaks of is not aloofness. We should have proper affection for our family and friends.  It’s nonsensical to be cold towards your spouse due to a supposed love for God.

Detachment doesn’t mean denying the good that is in the material world. Rather, it means viewing temporal goods as temporal, gifts from God meant to lead us to Him. Unlike some religions, where the physical world is seen as evil, Christianity does not teach asceticism for its own sake. We give up our desires for things in order to make room in our hearts for God.  Detachment is a means, not an end.

Continue reading about detachment.

An Interview with Elizabeth Scalia

One of the awesome things about being a book reviewer is being able to touch base with the authors of the books I review. Yesterday I posted my review of Strange Gods : Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life. You can find that review here. I was really excited when Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress, agreed to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions. So without further ado….here is my latest author interview at the Catholic Book Blogger. Continue reading……..

Is love or fear the better motivator?

Last week’s post on the Final Judgment (and Mr. Darcy and St. Therese) reminded me of two opposing views I’ve read in books about homeschooling. Some authors say that loving your students is the best way to motivate them to learn. Others say a healthy fear of the teacher is more effective. Here’s my take on the love versus fear debate.

The Machiavellian argument Niccolo Machiavelli famously wrote in The Prince:

“Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”

Focus on a child’s fear of his parent(s)–whether it is called fear, respect, or discipline–seems to me to be particularly Protestant. I mean no disrespect to my non-Catholic fellow homeschoolers, but many conservative Protestants have a somber view of humanity. Calvin taught that man was totally depraved. Fundamentalist Christians generally believe that man’s nature is bad since the Fall. Thus a child has a naturally rebellious spirit that must be tamed.

Ruth Beechick was one of the early homeschooling experts among “Bible Christians.” I gleaned much from her book Heart & Mind:What the Bible Says About Learning.  However, her works have the typical Fundamentalist shortcomings, most based on an overly literal interpretation of Scripture.  Since “[t]he fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 3:12), she believes that education must start with discipline.  Without a healthy fear (she says), children won’t be motivated to learn anything.

Read more at Contemplative Homeschool.