Monday, October 29, 2012

"Change" for Mothers in the Year of Faith

It’s only natural to be thinking about possible new beginnings and changes in our lives at this time of year. After all, we as Catholics are embarking on a Year of Faith proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. What is Our Lord expecting of us in this brand new Year of Faith? We might wonder. What will He unfold in our lives?

We have the ability to change some of the things in our lives and others we simply cannot. As we leave the past behind us and are feeling ready for some sort of change, whether big or small, in reality many aspects of our lives will remain unchanged in a sense, especially for mothers. The feeling of sheer monotony in our daily routine could cause us to feel a lack of newness. And, further, we might lament that it would appear that nothing at all noteworthy is happening in our lives, no matter our efforts.
Donna-Marie's son, Joseph with Mother Teresa
Yet, truth be told, it’s in those very ordinary daily moments in which we are immersed as mothers where change indeed occurs.
Hearts are changed as we mature in our faith, as we continue to teach our families in the Truth by our word and example, and as we work out our salvation together in the blessedness of the family—right in those seemingly ordinary daily moments.
Perhaps, if we mothers could endeavor to see the bigger picture, we would feel more content during those nitty-gritty details of our lives when we are serving our family members—challenges and all. Sure, many times we may not be appreciated for our efforts to raise our children on the straight and narrow (within our homes and outside). We’re not exactly getting a pat on the back from our society, are we? As well, there are those who just don’t understand our commitment to care for not only the externals, but also the spiritual welfare of our families. Because of this, we are at times labeled “overprotective” when we don’t allow our children to partake in the inappropriate pastimes of our culture.
But, our Lord knows precisely what we are all about. He sees us shielding our children from the darkness of the culture and is aware of every single bead of sweat on our brows. He knows all about our sleepless nights when we are up feeding our infants, caring for sick children, or waiting up for our older ones to get home. Our reward will be great in Heaven.

God Calls Us

In this Year of Faith, God is calling us to go deeper into our faith, to learn more about it and even profess it more robustly. How can a typical Catholic do so? We can start by keeping our eyes on the prize and by offering every bit of our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings to He who gives us life! What more do we need? If we are wondering how our personal “Yes” to God in welcoming life and raising our families can have much of an impact on our world, let’s consider for a moment Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, whom I was very fortunate to know for about ten years.
She preached the gospel by doing—by living it. She seldom preached to the masses, only when asked to address a gathering; she then spoke God’s words and inspired others to also do the Lord’s work.
Fueled with the sacraments and prayer, the majority of Mother Teresa’s preaching was within her ministry of wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor—to one person at a time, she preached Christ’s message—through her loving hands and her selfless heart—during what would seem like ordinary moments. She didn’t shout the gospel from the rooftops, but rather shared it from her heart to each person she met—each one God put within her reach. Blessed Teresa’s approach of lovingly ministering to one person at a time made it’s way all around our globe. Amazing change occurred with God’s grace.

Our “Yes” is Powerful

Mother Teresa’s “Yes” was powerful. She has touched countless people directly and indirectly. Her life was an utter living testament to the gospel. And, this is just as a mother’s life should be as well. A mother’s personal “Yes” to God is very powerful too. We preach Christ’s message of love and forgiveness through our loving hands to the people we encounter—one-by-one, heart-by-heart.
We further the Kingdom of God in the heart of our homes—with every diaper change, every hug to our family members, every meal prepared, every squabble resolved, and every lesson of faith lovingly taught to our children, fostered through our words and very importantly, our example (yes, little eyes are always watching!).
Yes, let’s endeavor to make efforts to learn more about our Catechism and deepen our prayer lives during this Year of Faith. But, let’s also be mindful that God is counting on us to evangelize with love in our domestic churches, first and foremost. After all, as Mother Teresa was famous for saying, “Love begins at home.” She also reminded us, “Calcutta is all over the world for those who have eyes to see.” We don’t need to run out and try to convert the whole world. We must strive to find “Calcutta” in our midst. That is where we truly work out our salvation—between the pots and pans, bruised egos, warm hugs, temper tantrums, amazing joys, disagreements, and sleepless nights—within the nitty-gritty details of our lives. Graces are merited and hearts are transformed when we respond with LOVE to our calling.
So, what will unfold for us this Year of Faith? God only knows for sure, but we can start heading in the right direction by surrendering our lives more fully to God each day and allowing Him to work change through us in our families and beyond to draw countless souls to Heaven.
CHANGE—bring it on—all with God’s amazing grace!
~Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV Host of “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms,” speaker and author of numerous Catholic books including, Mother Teresa and MeEmbracing Motherhood, and Rooted in Love: Our Calling as Catholic Women. Learn more at:

Published also at The Integrated Catholic Life:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Entrusting our Faith to Mary

I'm very pleased to introduce Marge Fenelon to you today. She's sharing a beautiful message here at "Catholic Moms Talk." Marge is a longtime contributor to a variety of Catholic and secular publications - including Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register. She's a contributor to Catholic Lane, Integrated Catholic Life, and CatholicMom. Her column, The Whirl, appears in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald and has won favorable reviews from laity and clergy alike. She's the author of two devotionals and four full-length books. Her latest book, Imitating Mary: Eight Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, will be released by Ave Maria Press in Spring 2013.

Marge is a regular guest on Catholic radio and holds a B.A. in Journalism/Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Certificate in Spiritual Mentoring from Cardinal Stritch University, and a Certificate in Marian Studies from the International Marian Research Institute. She spent several years as a public relations consultant.

Marge and her husband, Mark, are members of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt and assist in the faith formation of young couples in the movement. They have four children ages 26 to 16 who, combined with a rocket of a dog named Daisy, configure the fun-loving and sometimes outrageous Fenelon Clan.

Entrusting our Faith to Mary

“Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed’ (Lk 1:45),” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in his apostolic letter proclaiming the Year of Faith, Porta Fidei.

This last line of the Holy Father’s letter is impactful for many reasons. The most obvious is that he chose to summarize his proclamation by referring us to Mary. The letter in its entirety is beautiful, and I encourage you to read it – and re-read it – over the coming year. It’s packed with wisdom and inspiration. But the fact that he closes by pointing us to our Blessed Mother holds great bearing for us as Catholic moms.

The Church teaches that Mary is the model for all Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (967) states, “By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a ‘preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church’; indeed, she is the  ‘exemplary realization’ (typus) of the Church.”

The pope’s words echo that reality, but he takes it a step further. Not only are we to look to Mary as an example, but also we are to entrust our faith to her. True, faith is a gift only God can give, yet Mary, as Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix, and “by her manifold intercession, continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (CCC 969) If we ask her, she can and will intercede for us in the obtainment of the graces we need for a vital and ever-deepening faith.

Mary understands the kinds of obstacles we face in our faith life. On a number of occasions throughout her own life, she was faced with situations that required tremendous faith. You might even say that her faith was “tested” in the sense that she was asked to accept and endure things that the average person would have found impossible to respond to in faith.

Can you imagine what the Annunciation was like for Mary? An angel appeared to her and told her that she was to become the Mother of God. What would you have done in Mary’s place? If it had been me, I’d have been blown away by the angel’s appearance, muchless his announcement! Then there’s the Flight to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him that he’d have to take the Holy Family and flee to Egypt immediately. Have you ever had to pack up at a moment’s notice and move to a foreign country without knowing anything about what lay ahead? Mary did. Has your child’s life ever been threatened? Mary’s was. I wonder if we think so often about the Passion that it becomes matter-of-fact for us. Were any of your children ever falsely accused of wrong-doing? Mary’s was, and He was crucified for it.

Although she is completely holy and worthy of veneration, Mary experienced all of the above scenes on a completely human level.  Free from original sin, she welcomed God’s will – no matter what it entailed – in perfect love and submission. Yet, she also welcomed His will with the same joys, surprise, confusion, and heartache with which we strive to welcome God’s will in our own lives. Because of her holiness, she was able to give an unconditional “yes” to whatever God asked of her, and to follow along in profound faith – the kind of faith for which we must strive as mothers ourselves.

As we beg God’s grace and struggle to increase our faith, we can petition Mary’s help in doing so because she’s been there. She understands. On a daily basis, and with the simplest of prayers, we can entrust our faith to Mary with confidence that she will advocate, help, benefit, and mediate for us.

Mary, I entrust my faith to you. I want it to become profound like yours. Please, help me! Amen.

Marge’s latest book, Imitating Mary: Eight Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom will be released Spring 2013 by Ave Maria Press. You can find Marge online at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saint for October: St. Isaac Jogues, S.J.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recommends particular saints and blesseds to study during the Year of Faith. St. Isaac Jogues, S.J. is our saint for the month of October.

St. Isaac Jogues, S.J.

Jesuit priest, missionary and one of the North American martyrs
St. Isaac Jogues was born in 1607 and ordained a Jesuit priest in 1636. During the year following his ordination, Isaac saw the fulfillment of his dearest wish: to be a missionary to the Indians in New France. His first several years of missionary work among the Indians were quiet enough, but in 1641, he and a group of fellow missionaries traveled to Iroquois country. There, the missionaries were whipped, bitten, and tormented in the most barbarous ways imaginable. St. Isaac Jogues became a living martyr, watching his friends die around him and being constantly threatened by death himself. After a year of this torment, in which Isaac was able to evangelize and baptize a few of the Iroquois, a chance for escape presented itself. He boarded a Dutch ship and went back to France. This only lasted a few months, however, as his heart still longed to bring the Word of God to the Iroquois.This return mission was to be his last. Isaac foresaw this when he wrote to a fellow Jesuit, saying “My heart tells me that, if I am the one to be sent on this mission, I shall go but I shall not return. But I would be happy if our Lord wished to complete the sacrifice where he began it.” He was killed with a tomahawk in 1646, and canonized a saint in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. He is the patron saint of the Americas and Canada.

The above was excerpted from the USCCB website. Learn more here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Catechism on Every Shelf

I am very happy to welcome Mary DeTurris Poust to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Mary DeTurris Poust is an award-winning journalist, author, columnist, speaker, and blogger who has written for Catholic and secular publications for close to 30 years. She is the author of six books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism and two new books to be released this fall: Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, and Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality. Mary is co-host of "Guided by Grace," a new cable show for Catholic women debuting on Telecare TV on October 29. She writes about the spiritual journey at her own blog, "Not Strictly Spiritual"  and in her monthly column "Life Lines," which has been published in Catholic New York since 2001. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and three children.

Now, here's Mary...
People often find it hard to believe I can get so enthusiastic about the Catechism. I mean, just look at it. Clocking in at almost 1,000 pages, it’s more than a little intimidating to the average Catholic. But I had the good fortune of being asked to write a book that put it all into “plain English.” And, as I often tell people, the time I spent writing “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism” was as close to a conversion experience as this lifelong Catholic has gotten. At least so far. And because of that, I want to share the Catechism and what it has to offer with everyone, especially my own children and the children I’ve taught in faith formation classes.

When I taught fourth- and fifth-grade religion classes at my parish in recent years, I’d always make sure I had a copy of the Catechism and my own Idiot’s Guide on hand. I knew that at least once during every class I’d get a difficult question or need to explain something, and there’s no better reference tool than the Catechism. It is at once informative, inspiring, and poetic, not to mention the fact that is a foundational teaching tool for all Catholics.

Someone recently asked me what surprised me most during my research and study of the Catechism. I think it was the fact that it so beautifully weaves together all the different aspects of Catholic teaching. All the things we profess each week -- often without thinking -- and all the controversial things we hear only in headline form from the secular media are put into the context of Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and Catholic teaching down through the ages. It’s really quite an amazing accomplishment and gift the Church gives us!

Each of my own children has a copy of my “Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism” on their bookshelf, and we have the full version of the Catechism in a family bookcase right alongside the Bible and other spiritual reading because, as far as I’m concerned, the Catechism is essential, foundational, necessary if we want to steep ourselves and our children in the teachings of our faith and the reasons behind those teachings. In an age of increasing secularism, knowing the “whys” behind our beliefs will help our children navigate their way through the questions and doubts others will inevitably throw at them. But no matter what your age, the Catechism can be – should be -- your go-to guide for all things Catholic.

~Mary DeTurris Poust blogs at She recommends using her "Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism" as a study guide to the full Catechism.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thorny Mercy

I am pleased to introduce Heidi Bratton to you today at "Catholic Moms Talk." Heidi is amazed to have found her niche as a wife and a mother of six children ranging in age from 4- to 22- years old, the author and photo-illustrator of fifteen Christian children’s books, a Catholic columnist and speaker, and a professional photographer all at the same time.  She’s not amazed to be in constant need of an uninterrupted nap!  To learn more about Heidi’s newest book, Homegrown Faith; Nurturing Your Catholic Family which is endorsed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and all Heidi’s Christian family resources, please visit her website at

You know, I’ve got an unruly family tree.  Actually, it’s probably more like a family bush; an oversized, wild rose bush which produces both massive thorns and massively beautiful flowers. The flowers are gorgeous to be sure, but the thorns can cause such wounding and pain that I’m regularly tempted to avoid contact with whole branches of the bush. A recent conversation with one family member, however, convicted me of the need to remain engaged.  

Calling to try to reconcile a hurtful string of events, this family member said, “You know, it was easier for me to hang out with all those friends of mine who, - I know, I know, so, you don’t need to remind me - weren’t good for me, than it was to hang out with you.   They didn’t care if I missed Mass on Sunday.  They didn’t care if I drank too much.  They didn’t care what language I used.  They didn’t expect me to be “better” than this or that, or to try to see the glass as half full.  They accepted me as I was, but with you it is always this need for more of God’s grace or for seeing the glass as half full.  I’m not perfect, you know, and neither are you!” 

Of course this was a sword-like thorn piercing my heart, and my whole body began to tremble. I do not want those that I love to avoid me or to not feel accepted by me. My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in big time, screaming for me to either hang up or jump to my own defense immediately. Mentally submarining my biology, I forced my mind to recall the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2447, which lists the ‘bearing of wrongs patiently’ as one of the spiritual works of mercy. As soon as I did this, it became clear to me that our conflict wasn’t about acceptance, but about the nature of love. 

“Look, I am sorry you felt more comfortable hanging out with those friends than you did with me,” I replied in a somewhat shaky voice. “That is not how I want our relationship to be, but you, yourself, just identified the essential difference between them and me.  You said your friends didn’t care, and from what you’ve said, they still don’t. And not only didn’t your friends care about your actions, they didn’t care about you!  Where are those all-accepting friends now? They are out there somewhere, still not caring about you, what you did or do, or how it affects what you are going through today. But I am here taking your phone call and getting stuck in this tangled and hurtful conversation. Why? Because, I do care.  I do love you.  And, I know you don’t want to hear it, but it’s because I care, that I still want what’s best for you, not just what’s easiest.”  I hated being in that thorny conversation, but if I had hung up or tried to fight against how they were feeling, from where else was this person going to hear even the tiniest bit of truth spoken in love?

Love cares. Love doesn’t turn a blind eye. Love bears wrongs patiently by waiting for the right moment and praying for the right words to speak the truth in love. For Catholic moms this means not taking the easy ways out when interacting with family members, if those ways are not also loving. Love wants not only what is easy or good for now, but what is best for now and always. In order to enjoy the flowers on my family bush and for the privilege of influencing their growth positively, I am learning to embrace and patiently endure the unavoidable piercings from the thorns. In this choice I have the ultimate example of “him who was pierced for our transgressions,” and I hang onto the promise that “it is by his wounds that we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3). 

~Heidi's newest book, Homegrown Faith; Nurturing Your Catholic Family, (Servant Books) is a great companion for busy moms (and dads!) in this Year of Faith.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Phases of Mothering

I'm pleased to welcome Cheryl Dickow to you today on "Catholic Moms Talk." Cheryl Dickow is the president of Bezalel Books, a Catholic publishing company whose goal is to provide excellent literature for Catholic parishes, homes and classrooms. Cheryl holds a Masters Degree in Education and is passionate about sharing the truth of the faith with readers of all ages. She co-authored and published the best-selling All Things Girl books and co-hosted the EWTN television series based upon those books. A recent addition to that genre for tween and teen girls is You Go, Girl!

Cheryl’s own work also includes the non-fiction book Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with Her Past and the fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. She has written for many publications and websites and has been a guest on numerous radio programs where she shares her passion for women from the Old and New Testament and how their lives reveal the truth of women’s lives today. All these books and more are available at

Cheryl lives in the beautiful state of Michigan with her husband and three sons. Cheryl can be contacted at for questions about her publishing company or to invite her to speak at your event.

Today, Cheryl shares how the Catechism journeys with her as a Catholic mom...

Just as our children go through phases in their lives, we, too, experience phases of mothering. We also, as Catholic women, experience spiritual phases as well.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church became my “go to” resource very early in my personal journey and continues to be so to this very day.

I remember well discerning the sort of education I would choose for my children and seeking advice and counsel within the pages of the Catechism. Then there were the times where I felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities as a mother and sought refuge in the Catechism as I learned about sacramental grace and God’s love and mercy. As I pursued my call to be a praying mother, the Catechism quickly became my resource in discovering the vast and rich prayer life that a Catholic woman and mother can enjoy. I particularly loved learning about the different forms of prayer as found in the pages of the Catechism. 

My children are now young men and I still to turn the Catechism. As I pulled the Catechism off the shelf today I found pages tagged that had helped me explain to others the Catholic beliefs on abortion. I am still mothering my grown sons but in a different way: I now use the Catechism to defend the faith of my children against a world hostile to our beliefs.

~Cheryl Dickow, President, Bezalel Books and author of the inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage and the non-fiction book Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Catechism, an incredible gift and tool!

I'm pleased to welcome Dorothy Pilarski to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Dorothy is a Catholic author, television personality, motivational speaker and consultant. She is the family life columnist with the Catholic Register (in Canada). Dorothy facilitates thought provoking conversations on produced on Salt and TV. She is the founder of ministries. She is the author of Motherhood Matters and Monica Loves Dresses.

In her first post at "Catholic Moms Talk" today, Dorothy shares how the Catechism fits into her busy lifestyle.

The Catholic Catechism has been such an incredible gift and tool that has been integral to my role as a wife, mother and friend. One habit that I have developed over the years is to read the section of the Catechism that is touching my life at the moment. For example when my daughter was baptised, I read the section on baptism, when my son had his confirmation, I would turn to the section on the confirmation and so on.  In preparing a program for these celebrations, my husband would always include something from the Catechism to include in the program. It was our way of sharing a specific Catholic Church teaching to guests who were attending the celebration.  Each time a sacrament comes up in family life, I have picked up the Catechism and personally gleaned some ‘new’ truth, some precious treasure I had previously missed. Now that the kids are older, I find myself sharing with them , something that I have just read.

The Catholic Catechism has resuscitated me in my journey of faith more than once.  I really am grateful for it. I have often given it away as a gift too! It is written with such simplicity, beauty and clarity. I remember thinking when it was first released that I wouldn’t be able to understand it. Some of the papal encyclicals I have read, in the past left me a little perplexed, but to my surprise when I picked it up—it was absolutely beautiful and I was able to comprehend it!

 I have often read and reread the section on the sacrament of matrimony. Our culture sends so many mixed messages about marriage and family life. I find reading about the Church's vision for marriage and family life has kept me rooted in the truth and beauty of marriage. My family, my home, my life rarely resembles the images I see in magazines, television programs or movies;  in turning to the pages in the CCC, I often find myself nodding my head, smiling, underlining, circling and filling it with post it notes.  In reading it, I find it resonates with something that already exists inside of me and a part of me comes alive and rejoices in each word I read.

I have hosted a Catholic Mother’s Group, helped in sacramental preparation, I have run a Saints Club and I write a family column for the Catholic Register in Canada.  I find the Catholic Catechism a very practical tool which has helped me to explain parts of the Catholic faith, not only to my kids but to others. 

Lastly, I do have to mention that reading the section on the Ten Commandments in the CCC is also a great way to do an examination of conscience! Just recently I got into some interesting insights from a priest I met on Facebook. Fr. Cassian Sama, was catechizing his friends on calumny and detraction on Facebook. With the upcoming American election, many people on Facebook, he thought, were crossing the line. Honestly, his comments got me examining my own tendencies and so, I picked up the Catechism for a little more clarification. 

With the upcoming Year of Faith upon us, I am committing to picking it up more often!

Visit Dorothy's blog: Contact Dorothy at: 

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Excitement over the Year of Faith

I'm pleased to introduce Roxane Salonen to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five children ages 7 to 16, also has worn the hats of newspaper reporter and columnist, awarding-winning children’s author and freelance writer, and Catholic radio host and speaker. She currently works as the communications director and editor for the Diocese of Fargo in North Dakota. Her blog, Peace Garden Mama, includes musings on family life, writing and faith. Roxane's faith posts also appear regularly on Lisa Hendey's Peace Garden Mama:

And now, Roxane's contribution today:

My excitement over the Year of Faith came to a sudden pause Wednesday, just hours before the bells were to ring to herald the launch.

The change in momentum resulted from an email message that came with a foreboding subject line. "It is with great sadness that I must let you know..." I thought as I read the words my heart did not want to grasp. A baby for whom I've been praying had passed on earlier that morning in the arms of his parents.

Back in December, this little darling had captured my heart through a photo his mother had sent me of him swaddled in red cloth with large, white cardboard snowflakes behind him.

I was so taken with little Francis that I made the photo my computer wallpaper. It served both to introduce him to my kids and prompt me to pray for improvement of his health issues that had come with his diagnosis of Down syndrome.

I'd been praying for him well before that, too, from the time his mommy, Cathy, had announced her pregnancy. How joyful I was when I learned he'd entered our world! I welcomed updates on the family and loved knowing how they'd opened their arms to this youngest child of seven.

When Cathy reached out through email Tuesday afternoon asking for prayers, I immediately sent out some urgent petitions. Francis was struggling and had stopped nursing. Disconcerting as this was, I truly believed I'd hear back in a few days that things had improved. Instead, little Francis was called to his eternal home.

I can't begin to imagine what this dear family is going through. It is, for them, a time of deep grieving, and I can't ignore that I am connected, even though we've never met in real life.

So rather than be dishonest and offer a post on my exuberance over the Year of Faith, I feel I must be real: this is hard. And yet...I know that it is through faith that we find hope, even in the darkest situation.

Thursday morning, while checking emails before work, I saw that my "Read the Catechism in a Year" email from Flocknote had arrived. I searched the words, looking for something that could encourage. And there it was in the prologue:

"So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,to the close of the age." Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.

I am with you always...while the Lord worked with them...

God is with us. Even in this! This is our hope. Even in the death of a precious child, the Lord will work with us. He will not abandon us in our greatest hour of need, in this moment of grief. Somehow, in some way we can not yet imagine, God will turn this into something good.

Later, at an opening Mass for the Year of Faith at our cathedral here in Fargo, N.D., Monsignor Goering reminded us that faith is, first and foremost, a gift, and as such, our faith is to become our response back to God for that gift.

Francis was a gift, too, and our response to his life, even his passing, is a call out to God, a cry of the heart. More than ever, we need Him. We need the light that He offers. The world needs it. Little Francis' family needs it.

Monsignor also reminded us, as did the Holy Father, that this Year of Faith should not be just about studying facts, but getting to know the person who is Jesus -- to deepen that relationship with Him.

How can I turn my sadness at the loss of baby Francis into a conversation with God -- a dialogue of hope?

Dear Lord, I know that the sadness we feel over Francis is because of love. Thank you for your faith that helps ensure us that you love him beyond measure, and will take good care of him. Let this be one more reminder of how desperately we need you, how great our need to accept your gift of faith to us is. Thank you, God, for Francis, and thank you for the Year of Faith.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Faith and Our Children

I'm so happy to introduce Woodeene Koenig-Bricker to you. Woodeene Koenig-Bricker is an award-winning Catholic author and editor.  She has published with Our Sunday Visitor, Word Among Us, Ave Maria, Loyola, and Harpers, as well as having been the editor of Catholic Parent magazine. She has a particular fondness for saints and her most recent book, Facing Adversity with Grace looks at ways the saints dealt with the same kinds of suffering we all face, such as financial worries, physical illness, worry, grief and aging. She lives in Oregon where she loves the summers and grumbles about the endless winter rain. Woodeene blogs more or less regularly at and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

I suspect Woodeene's first post at "Catholic Moms Talk" will give us all something to think about regarding passing on the faith to our children and may even lift a bit of guilt off our shoulders.

The Faith and Our Children

Passing our faith on to our children is one of the challenges all of us face as parents. To listen  to some people, all of whose kids have remained in the Church, talk about how they made sure they attended Mass as a family, said prayers together  etc. and that’s the reason their kids have remained Catholic can make us feel like a failure when we did all the same things and one or more of our children have stopped practicing the faith.

The truth is that passing on the faith isn’t like baking a cake. There isn’t a list of ingredients that, if you mix them in the right order and bake for the appropriate amount of time, will produce perfect results. You can do everything you are supposed to do and it still isn’t a guarantee that your children will remain Catholic, or even Christian.

That’s because, as the Catechism points out, To be human, man's response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”

Faith is a free act. It has to be or it wouldn’t be faith.

In the end, we really don’t pass the faith to our children. We offer it to them and they either accept or reject it. It is their choice. To take credit for the faith of our children, especially our adult children, just isn’t ours to take. (No matter how perfectly we mixed the cake.)

Anymore than it is ours to accept the blame when they reject it. (No matter how imperfectly we mixed the cake.)

I read somewhere that God doesn’t have grandchildren, meaning that each of us has to become a child of God ourselves. We have to make that act of faith for ourselves. As we begin this Year of Faith, that’s really where we have to start. With our own faith, our own response to God’s call. We can, and must, pray for our children, especially those who are no longer practicing Catholics, but we can’t make them believe…anymore than anyone can make us believe. That part of faith lies between each of us and God because that’s how the Master Baker wrote the recipe. 

~Woodeene Koenig-Bricker blogs at  Her latest book is Facing Adversity with Grace, Lessons from the Saints, from Word Among Us Press.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Being part of a FAITHFUL Church

How wonderful that we are part of a Church that lovingly reminds us about the importance of our faith and even our duties to profess it! We are blessed with a specific year dedicated to learning more about our faith as well as urged to proclaim it more heartily too.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith to begin today on October 11, 2012. There are a couple of reasons for beginning the momentous Year of Faith on this date. One is because it coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well it is the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

What does the average Catholic do to celebrate this Year of Faith? There are countless things we can do as Catholics. And today is a perfect time to reflect on how you might delve more robustly into your Catholic faith. Here at “Catholic Moms Talk” we’ll focus on studying the Catechism and talking about it as it pertains to our mothering. I'm excited to have an awesome line up of Catholic mom contributors (you can see in the left-hand column) who will be chiming in with their words of wisdom all throughout the year. I hope that the discussions here will enrich your life even in some small way.

I hope you’ll feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or questions in the comment box. We’d love to hear from you. I also hope that you’ll pass the word about this endeavor, “Catholic Moms Talk” so that others can join us as well.

Speaking of the Catechism, I believe every Catholic family should have at least one copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on their bookshelves so they can look up information as needed, as well as read it to nourish their faith and learn more about the teachings of the Catholic Church. I use the Catechism so often in my writing work. I like to quote the Catechism in my books and articles to help bring the Catechism into homes and give Catholic moms in the trenches something to ponder and pray about.

As we begin the Year of Faith, take some time to think about how you can teach your family the faith. It can include reading parts of the Catechism together in the evenings or on Sundays (when you might have more time). Try to make a commitment to participating in at least one daily Mass each week with your family if you are not already doing so, or by praying the family Rosary together, even one decade (either daily or on Sundays).

If you are unable to make big commitments at this moment, try adding something seemingly tiny to your days. Pray just one Hail Mary at the dinner table after you’ve prayed your Grace Before Meals prayer. That small effort will have placed your family under Mother Mary’s mantle of protection as she guides you ever closer to her Son Jesus.

Every step forward in your commitments to going deeper in your prayer life, learning more about your faith, and in striving to be the best faith educator you can be for your family is a HUGE step in the right direction! And it’s indeed an effort that our good Lord will reward you for doing.

As Catholic moms, let's be mindful that an awful lot of our teaching to our children is transferred simply in the way we live our life--our example. Little eyes are watching us all of the time!

Make the most of your teaching opportunities. Set an awesome example--always--even when no one is looking.

May God richly bless you and your family today and throughout the Year of Faith and beyond!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Celebrating the Year of Faith

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI declared a “Year of Faith” which will begin on October  11, 2012 which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening day of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the day the Catechism of the Catholic Church was promulgated. 

Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics to spend this year studying, professing and demonstrating their faith. This year, he hopes, will provide a “new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ.” He's asked us to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Starting October 11th, "Catholic Moms Talk" will delve into the Catechism of the Catholic Church and talk about the faith and the family. You'll see our list of Catholic Mom contributors grow along the left hand side of the page as this project unfolds. By clicking on the contributor's photo you'll be directed to their personal website or ministry.

Take a look at Pope Benedict's words on the Year of Faith:

Here's Pope Benedict's Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei explaining the Year of Faith:

Take a look at the Catholic News Service article regarding the plenary indulgence which Pope Bendict attached to the Year of Faith:

I heartily invite you to join us here on a regular basis, bring your friends, share your faith. Feel free to leave comments or questions. Let's pray for one another and families everywhere. 

God bless you and yours!