Gangnam Style, Ice Buckets, Blood, and the Grace of Yes

#Grace ofYesDay

Two years ago when the musician Psy released the video for Gangnam Style, I avoided watching it, in part because of a genuine lack of interest, and in part because I resist pop culture fads. This past year it was the ice bucket challenge. Yes for a noble cause, but there are many noble causes, and the whole social/viral thing was off putting for me. I try to avoid viruses. And now, into my mailbox pops an invitation to help an author I adore begin a viral marketing campaign for her newest book, the “Grace of Yes.” Hmmm…. a fresh dilemma. What to do for a friend? So, no to dancing, no to ice buckets, but an enthusiastic YES to grace.

graceofyes-blogpostLisa Hendey is a warm and generous California Catholic and her new book, the Grace of Yes, is a candid journey into eight spiritual values essential to a life of faith. I’m not done with the book yet, because I started reading it ‘buffet style’ with little tastes from all over. I began on the chapter “the Grace of No”, then skipped around snacking on different chapters before returning to the beginning to give it a proper read.

What I appreciate in her writing is the accessible, realistic and humble narrative of experiences, reflections, mistakes and successes. For me, they echo what I hear from Pope Francis. Be open to God, be concerned for others and cultivate within yourself a living faith that interacts with and transforms the world where you live. Continue reading

Advent Ideas ~ And a Prayer

Lighting the Advent CandleWhen Advent begins this year on November 30th all of the stores will already be festooned with Christmas decorations and your family calendar may start to look like there will be no time to breathe between Thanksgiving and the 25th of December.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Every November, after we have given thanks in a family gathering that fills our home (and causes us to gain a few pounds in post-Thanksgiving pie consumption) I take a deep breath and consider Christmas. Continue reading

Patron of Dogs? Not St. Francis!

I finally got a chance to look at the diocesan newspaper and it had wonderful pictures of pet blessings from around the diocese, including an adorable girl and her guinea pig. The occasion had been the Feast of St. Francis earlier this month. Pets are as welcome at our house as people and we have lots of both: 6 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 12 indoor/outdoor fish.

When I was in high school I found and brought home stray dogs, three separate times. Looking back, I can now appreciate how my parents may not have been as excited about my finding these shaggy creatures! Everyone I know immediately thinks of St. Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of animals. I have been known to send up a prayer to him when we are adopting a shelter pet to share our lives.

NotFrancis+I have always thought St. Francis of Assisi was the patron of dogs. Imagine my surprise when I found out that St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs, not St. Francis!

St. Roch is known to be a French noble who lived in the 1300s. He cared for plague victims in Italy and was known for miraculous cures. When he contracted the plague himself he went to the woods to die. We are told he was found there by hunting dogs who brought him food and licked his wounds, which began to heal. It is said that he returned to Rome with a dog, where they worked to care for and heal the sick and dying.

It is a lovely example of working side by side with one of God’s creatures. Pets become  (furry) members of our family. The next time I need a prayer for our dog, Rika, I will ask for St. Roch’s intercession.

Little People Have Faith Too!

When our children were younger we mastered the dance steps required to move through the house without stepping on a small, hard toy. Countless legos, plastic animals and dinosaurs, little people figures, cars and more made a minefield out of many a floor.toys-on-floor

This post, however, is not about the mess. Rather, it is about how play is the work of children. And, how imaginative play, especially when paired with the stories of faith, plays an important part in shaping the world our children know. Continue reading

Our Family Red Plate Tradition

One of the top songs in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof is “Tradition.” Raising a family of faith in a secular culture, we share the struggles of Tevye, the father in the musical. In all families traditions create bonds of shared values and experience among that small community. Our mother Church recognizes this when she refers to the family the “domestic church”. In our family one of our favorite traditions revolves around a Red Plate with the words “You are special today” encircling the rim.you are special Red Plate Continue reading

What? A Catholic Children’s Bible that is actually a Bible?!

Catholic Children's BibleWhen initially asked to review a new Catholic Children’s Bible I was anticipating a small, padded book, with a handful of sweetly illustrated and reworded popular stories from the Bible.  What I was handed was a BIBLE.  A 2,000 page, you-could-do-weight-lifting-exercises-with-it-Bible!  Upon doing research I found that this Bible in particular is the only children’s Bible with the entire 27 book contents.  My interest was peeked.  What else is special about this Bible? Continue reading

4 For the 4th

Four reasons why saint medals are a fitting gift for those in the armed services.

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As we approach the 4th of July and get ready to celebrate our country’s freedom and independence, we remember that 238 years ago these blessings were obtained through the brave sacrifices of patriots in the armed service of the new republic.

Today men and women continue to serve, protect and defend our country. Here are four reasons why religious medals that feature the insignia of a branch of the armed services, paired with the image of a related patron saint are a favorite for families with a loved one in the Military. Continue reading

When My Husband Washed My Feet

It happened several weeks after our wedding day.  My husband and I were enjoying a quiet evening in our first apartment.  I really don’t remember how it all began; I do remember that all of a sudden he was in front of me with a basin full of water, a wash rag, and a towel.  I was confused.  “I’m going to wash your feet, “he said.  That is exactly what he did.

45615 Jesus Washing Feet StatueMy husband and I have now been married ten years.  The funny thing is that I do not remember any details from that experience.  I recall it was sweet, and very idyllic.  He more than likely told me that he loved me, and that he wanted to serve me throughout our lives together.  What is even funnier about this memory is that as thoughtful as the gesture was, my husband does not remember it at all. Continue reading

Kids, Family and Holy Week

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Celebrating Holy Week as a Family – Well here we are again, at the start of Holy Week. Perhaps there was a time earlier in your life when it was possible to enter into the parish observances of this week without loading a diaper bag. When the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper did not present a conflict for a child with stacks of homework. Sometimes in the life of a family it is a challenge to be able get out of the house at all.

So what is a parent to do? As the caretakers of the domestic church, how do we live Holy Week as a parent, a spouse and a family? To answer those questions we bring you back to a wonderful article by Katie that first appeared in our blog last year. In Celebrating Holy Week as a Family, Katie offers a comprehensive list of ideas for parents, particularly parent of young children, to encounter this special time in the life of the Church. Read, Enjoy, Plan and Celebrate with your family.

Additional options for you:

Celebrating Holy Week With Little ones – Kathryn Whitaker

Ideas for Lent, Holy Week & Easter for Family & Kids Ministry – from a Pinterest page by Tammy Herbert