Please Pray For Me

When I saw the book Francis Man of Prayer written by Mario Escobar pop up on the Booksneeze reviewer program, I was immediately thrilled to learn more about our new pope.  We all know that the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI made news around the world and I believe we were all watching to see who would succeed him. Our first glimpse of our newly elected Pope Francis was a revelation as well.  He appeared shy as he made his simple request of all who were watching “Please pray for me.”  I had read about his humility and desire to serve the poor but now I felt by reading this book, I would learn more about the man himself.

While reading this book, I had mixed emotions but, overall, I was a bit disappointed.  On the positive side, he did include a good biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and selected ten quotes by Pope Francis that reveal his beliefs.  He also listed an extensive bibliography of where he found his information. He did educate me on the fact that very few popes have come from religious orders.  I didn’t know that and he also included a list of the ones who came from the Benedictine, Augustinian, Dominican, Franciscan, Cistercian and Jesuit Orders.  Of course, it was well known that Pope Francis is the only pope from the Jesuit Order of Priests.  I also appreciated his chapter on the evolution of the papal election and background information on previous conclaves.

But I couldn’t help wondering how skewed it might be since Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013 and this book was published on May 14, 2013.  Gathering information to compile a book that needed time to be edited and published meant Mr. Escobar wrote this biography, in a very short time period.  I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a competition from the publishers on who would release the first book on Pope Francis?

What soured this book for me a bit, was Mr. Escobar’s comments on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  One can infer from his comments that he was not a fan of our previous pope.  He even went as far to say that “in many ways Benedict XVI was a roadblock for the Catholic Church trying to find its way toward modernity.”

What disappointed me is that I feel it was a book on facts rather than the man himself. The ten quotes he chose to include in his book are ones I’ve heard fluttering around the various media outlets and I do find hope and inspiration from them.  But it wasn’t anything new and revealing.  Of course, he didn’t have time to wait for an original quote but had to use what was already out there.  He obviously never met Pope Francis and interviewed him for his book.  That would have brought a warmth and interesting spin to it.   Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations of this book when only a few short months ago, no one here in US even knew who he was.  Would I recommend this book?  Not as a must read or as a type of book one can’t put down, but I would for someone who wants to learn more about the papal office and it’s history.

I was given a complimentary copy of Francis Man of Prayer from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion.

Blessings,
Noreen

How to love God more

Simon the Pharisee by Jean Beraud (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

 

Do you ever sit up and listen suddenly during the Sunday homily? That happened to me this week. Instead of the post I was planning, I am writing about Sunday’s Gospel, as I believe the Holy Spirit desires.

You see, for the past several months, I have pictured myself as the Penitent Woman at least once every day, as I pray or seek to overcome temptation. So when the Gospel is about this moving scene, I pay close attention.

I have also lately heard people questioning the need to confess venial sins–both on the internet and in person. The Church only requires us to confess mortal sins, and venial sins can be forgiven in other ways (such as reception of the Eucharist). So why bother to go to Confession for venial sin? (By the way, the Church only requires us to receive the Eucharist once a year too–but would we be satisfied with that bare minimum?)

There are many good answers to this question. I’m going to write about one: Confessing venial sins helps us love God more deeply.

Which comes first–love or forgiveness?
There is a certain mystery surrounding the Penitent Woman, which I believe is part of God’s plan. No one knows her identity. Some say Mary Magdalen, Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery, and the Penitent Woman are all the same person. Others say they are all different. I say, the Penitent Woman is all of us.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Free e-book: Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life

My new e-book on the Carmelite saints.

It’s finally here–my first e-book! I hope you’re as excited as I am. I wrote this e-book for you, to aid you in your spiritual life. And today I’m going to ask you to do something for me. But first, I want to tell you how you can receive a free copy of Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life.

It’s easy. All you have to do is sign up to receive my blog posts by email, using the form at the top of the sidebar on my blog. At the end of the process, you will receive an email containing a link to download the e-book.

What if you are already following my blog by email? No problem. I have set up a new account at MailChimp to handle my emails to subscribers. I have also removed the old WordPress widget for email signup from my sidebar. All new subscribers will go onto the MailChimp list. If you are on the old list, simply sign up for the new list and download the e-book. Then you can click on “unsubscribe” in the email you got today for this post to remove you from the old list. That way, you will not get two emails when I post on Friday. If you have any questions about this, leave a comment or email me directly.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

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!