BOOK REVIEW - Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena

It constantly amazes me at how God calls us into deeper relationship in the timeliest ways. I took this book with me on a weekend retreat and while there one of the guided meditations was on Bartimaeus, which led directly into the theme of this book: "Do you want to be healed?" This prompted me to pray and ask, "Do I need to be healed?"

As I started reading this book, it became apparent that the focus was on the "mother wound," as in "How have I been affected by my mother's mistreatment," and "What has kept me from seeking healing until now."

My mother and I had a great relationship especially in her later years as she struggled gracefully with her diabetes and all its complications. But as I read this book, I discovered a few distant memories still in need of healing. One of the issues is something that lives on in my daily habits, or should I say lack thereof. I think one of the most powerful statements in this book is: 

"Before you can become who you are meant to be, 
you need to look back at who you were." (p.113)

It reminded me that forgiveness is a lifelong process with layers like an onion that we have to come back to now and then as we grow in faith and love. "St. John cautioned that the devil can use memories to gain influence over our souls."  (p.23)  The author, Marge Steinhage Fenelon provides practical methods and wisdom to assist in the journey towards healing memories.

This book also prompted me to address how I feel about Mary and how my relationship is with her. The author encourages the reader to evaluate what obstacles might exist and to assess what might be needed to remove them in order to deepen one's relationship with Mary. Growing closer to Mary is at the forefront of my spiritual goals for the coming year so this book was providential to me. As I journaled through the questions with each novena I realized that the only obstacle I face in my relationship with Mary is my lack of planning.

Forgiving Mother is a gift in your hands that may surprise you, especially if you are not aware of a need for healing, and will certainly challenge you to muster the courage to face any "mother wounds" you may have. Just it is more difficult to grow closer to our Father in heaven if we have unhealed "father wounds," it is also necessary to face our "mother wounds" if we are to have an authentic relationship with Mary, our mother in heaven.

I absolutely love the way this book is structured with nine chapters where the author witnesses to her relationship with her mother and shares about the process of moving from fear to forgiveness. Meanwhile, the second part of the book presents nine days of meditations, reflections, reader questions, and prayers in a novena format. I moderate a group where we practice "Nine Day Working Novenas" and this would be a perfect format for such self-evaluation and spiritual growth. Because of the Marian novena, I am confident that this is a book that will be used over and over again.

Thank you, Franciscan Media & Marge Steinhage Fenelon
for this priceless gift of healing and peace
which will be treasured forever by many hearts and souls.

I received this book for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Franciscan Crown and the Three Hail Mary's

Do you know how many types of rosaries there are? 

We all know the five-decade rosaries... but do you know about chaplets, finger rosaries, auto rosaries, wedding rosaries, bracelet rosaries, one-decade rosaries and seven-decade rosaries, fifteen-decade and twenty-decade rosaries...

I was intrigued especially by the Franciscan rosaries: the Franciscan Crown and the Three Hail Mary's chaplet. The seven-decade rosary is used by the Franciscan order, and there is a much larger fifteen-decade and twenty-decade rosary known as The Dominican rosary.

The Franciscan Crown, aka Seraphic Rosary, is a seven-decade rosary with meditations on the seven joys of Mary: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Epiphany, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Resurrection of Jesus, and the Assumption & Coronation of Mary. There are an additional two HailMary's on this rosary in honor of the tradition of Mary's living 72 years. The Franciscan Crown Rosary dates to the 1400's and was promoted by a young novice friar.

The fifteen-decade rosary is a complete rosary of three sets of mysteries all on one loop (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) as is typically worn by Dominicans as a habit rosary - aka Dominican Rosary. In 2002 St. Pope John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries, thereby some religious orders now wear 20-decade rosaries. Tradition says that Mary gave the rosary to St. Dominic in 1221 as the poor man's psalter to accomodate those who were illiterate and could not read the 150 psalms in prayer. It was encouraged by the clergy because it contained the central mysteries of the Faith. 

Another rosary recognized as Franciscan is the standard five-decade rosary with a Tau cross in place of a crucifix as the one shown above.

The Three Hail Mary's devotion began with two Franciscan saints, Anthony of Padua and Leonard of Port-Maruice and was adopted by St. Alphonsus Liguori and I also learned that there is an Archconfraternity of the Three Hail Mary's as well. Here is a version of the prayer for the Little Chaplet of the Three Hail Mary's.

Faithful Dove Light of Truth blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and its affiliated sites. 

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BOOK REVIEW - The Peace of Christmas

The author introduces this book of Christmas reflections with a discussion on the Christmas season. There are commercial, secular, family and religious versions of what days comprise this time of Christmas. Diane M. Houder approaches this devotional in her family tradition of a gradual movement toward Christmas in the month of December, plus a few days more. There are enough daily devotions for reflecting for about 40 days during Advent and the Christmas season. The last few meditations extend into the time after Christmas Day including reflections on the Feast of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, and the journey of the Magi.

The season of Advent before Christmas is a time of spiritual preparation and is meant to be a penitential time for self-reflection, change, and forgiveness; for making amends and making a difference. There are many ways to Celebrate Advent like a Catholic and devotional reading is a great way to prepare one's heart for the coming of our Savior.

The Peace of Christmas features quiet daily reflections from Pope Francis' homilies, addresses, and greetings. The voice of Pope Francis is warm and inviting, as he is after all the vicar of Christ in our world. The author adds after each reflection, her personal sentiments and memories in "A Christmas Reality" and then gifts each of us with a call to action for the day. The gifts for the day are as small and simple as adding a new Christmas ornament to your tree, attending a performance of Handel's Messiah or recalling your favorite Christmas memories, and there are also daily actions proposed that will stretch you gently to contemplate ways to create change in yourself or to promote a difference in your community.

I love the size of the book so that it can be easily carried in a purse. The meditations are not numbered or dated so it gives one the freedom to begin at any time during the Christmas season and leaves one with no guilt if a particular day is missed. It is perfect for individual reflection but also serves as a valuable guide for family devotion. Our parish hands out free books at the Christmas Masses to all parishioners, perhaps this book might be gifted to parishioners as Advent begins?

Thank you to Diane M. Houdek and Franciscan Media 
for providing us with a fine meditative Christmas devotional.

God always surprises us...but he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness, and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us, and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.  (p.4)  ~ Pope Francis

I received this book for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Catholic Vocations Awareness Week

A Catholic mother can only pray, with sincere hope and trust, that each child will follow God's calling for their lives. I have raised eight children and three of them have seriously considered religious life as their vocation. How does that happen?

I am sincerely convinced that homeschooling my children has allowed my children the foundation and the freedom to explore what God wants them to do with their life, rather than embracing society's expectation of deciding what "they" want to be when they grow up - or in other words considering their future in discernment of vocation, rather than in terms of simply choosing a career.

The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare - "to call." One's vocation is a prayerful response to discerning what it is that God is calling you to do. The Catholic Church recognizes vocations in the states of single, married or religious life. The book  Hundredfold is an excellent resource to help parishes encourage vocations as a ministry in the Church.

My children grew up with Catholic prayer at home and regular attendance to weekly Mass. However, their greatest and most meaningful experiences for their discernment were at our Diocesan summer vocations camps called Totus Tuus, and by way of seminary and convent visits. It was there that they got to know sisters and priests as real-live, fascinating, devoted, and fun people!

The first to be called, and my second son, decided to enter the seminary for his first year of college, after a "Come and See" weekend visit to the seminary when he was in high school. Several in our parish had asked him if he had considered becoming a priest, and I had encouraged him to visit the seminary. As he left our home to depart on that trip he was firmly insisting that he would never, not ever, enter the seminary and he came home convicted that he was indeed called to enter the seminary. He stayed for seven months before he discerned out. 

What many do not realize about religious life is that there is a period of several years during which the young man in the seminary, or the young woman in the convent, is in a period of continued discernment as to whether or not this is to be their lifelong calling. Sometimes, for whatever reason, individuals are called to live in the environment of religious life as a means of formation for their future, even if their permanent calling is not living their life as consecrated or religious. Final vows are most often 5-6 years after entering an order of religious.

My oldest daughter and third child, named Rachel at birth, and now known as Sister Regina Familiae (Queen of the Family), had an inclination to religious devotion and wisdom from a very young age. When she was only three years old, while her father and I were fighting, she picked up a rosary from which a crucifix had broken off and she spoke firmly and directly to both of us saying: "When you forget about Jesus, you forget about relationship." She participated in the Totus Tuus summer camps for ten years, as participant, leader, and as an adult volunteer. She went on "Nun Runs," organized by our diocesan Vocations Office, visiting several different religious orders - but she was always drawn back to the Servidoras (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara) which led her to make several visits to the formation house in Washington D.C. She entered the convent on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2015.

When my daughter entered, everyone was assuming and asking if I missed her, and I honestly had to say no. Yes, she had been my right-hand woman and she had helped me remodel our house, painting and installing flooring, and she had used her natural gifts of precision and expertise to help with landscaping many outdoor projects, and she loved helping with the babies in my 24/7 daycare. But when she announced that she had finally decided to enter the convent at age 23, I knew that she had spent at least six hours a week in Adoration and went to daily Mass for many, many months - all in discernment and prayer as to what God was calling her to do. So I knew she was right where God wanted her to be, so how could I miss her? Now her religious sisters and the Catholic families they serve, are enjoying the skills she learned at home - the sisters call her the baby whisperer (she holds babies and calms them at every chance she gets), and she continues to love gardening and painting the convent, along with her many other apostolates which have included teaching youth religious formation, visiting the elderly at nursing homes, and missionary work in the US and Guyana. Her religious family of sisters are the most joyful group of women I have ever known!

The youngest of my eight children participated in Totus Tuus a few months ago and he felt a strong calling to the priesthood while he was in prayer at Adoration during the summer camp. He is at this moment (as I write this post) on the "Come and See" seminary weekend visit. Funny thing is that when we visited the seminary, sixteen years ago when his older brother was there, the rector was already trying to recruit this one, my youngest boy, who was only a couple months old and yet a baby in my arms...Time will tell if I will one day be writing a post to say, "When your son becomes your FATHER..."

BOOK REVIEW - Franciscan Saints

This book was a delightful read and it was quite providential that I finished reading it on All Saints Day. The fact that there are just over 100 Franciscan Saints who are mentioned in this book set me to thinking about the significance of one hundred.

The hundred-day benchmark is something that is said to have started with Napoleon Bonaparte. He returned from exile, reinstated himself as ruler of France, and declared war against the English and Prussian armies - all in 100 days. A century later our American Presidents, beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were being assessed by what they accomplished in their first 100 days in office.

Every year now in January or February our elementary school students are celebrating their 100th day of school because it is said to be a classic teachable moment. So what if we perhaps embrace the teachable moments of studying 100 saints in 100 days?

I love that this book is laid out simply and can be used either as a resource tool, or as a daily source of study and thought-provoking saintly quotes for meditation. If you start reading this book today, November 1st, and read about one saint per day it will get you very close to the beginning of Lent. Or if you read one saint per day - only on school days - it will get you very close to Holy Week.

This book, Franciscan Saints, by Robert Ellsberg, is the perfect way to begin a new and wonderful Catholic tradition. The publication has 107 entries of Franciscan saints, famous and obscure, beginning with St. Francis and St. Clare, and ending with Fr. Mychal Judge and Sr. Dorothy Hennessey. There are founders, missionaries, and martyrs; doctors of the Church, poets, prophets, mystics, and theologians; third orders and Poor Clares; princesses, queens, and abbesses; chaplains, friars, bishops, and even a Pope.

In the spirit of St. Francis, since we now have a Pope named Francis, I think this book is the perfect beginning to what I can see as a whole series of books: another book with 100 Vincentian saints, and another with 100 Dominican saints, and another with 100 Carmelite saints... and perhaps all-encompassing book that embraces all the orders and explains more about their core values and charisms.

Another excellent read by Robert Ellsberg and Franciscan Media.
In this book, I have received another good gift of Faith, by the grace of God.

"Attribute to God every good that you have received. If you take credit for something that does not belong to you, you will be guilty of theft."
~ St. Anthony of Padua ~

I received this book for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW - Our Lady of Fatima

I may be getting ahead of myself, but I am awarding this book 2017 Book of the Year! Our Lady of Fatima: 100 years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions is my favorite Catholic read this year.

From the first pages, I felt as if I was sitting in an overstuffed chair in front of the fireplace listening to Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle tell the story of an incredible Lady and three shepherd children who have captured our hearts in a very special way over the past 100 years.

October 2017 marks the 100th year since the last apparition of Mary in Fatima, Portugal to the three children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco. I was overwhelmed with awe and humility by the depth of faith expressed by these children, the oldest of whom was only 10 years old... "these children chose to remain faithful. They did not turn their backs or run away," (p.96) and "They grew in unfathomable, bold holiness as they prayed and sacrificed for heaven's sake." (p.81)

This book is not simply a reporting of the history of the story and message of Fatima, but it is presented as a mini-retreat in that each chapter ends with a "Time to Reflect," how to apply the message "In My Own Life," and a "Prayer."

I found myself challenged on many levels to increase my own faithfulness to daily prayer, Morning Offering, sacrifices to save souls, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the First Saturdays.

If only we could all fulfill Jacinta's dying words: 
"I wish I could put into everybody the fire that I have here in my heart which makes me love the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary so much." (p.93) 
Thank you to Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle 
and Franciscan Media for a great Catholic book!

I received this book for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW - Catholic Planner

I am happy to review the 2017 Catholic Planner {affiliate} by Jennifer Rainey. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a full-sized 8-1/2 x 11 planner book - and it was perfect-bound, not spiral! The open page design with space for weekly planning - which is on the left side of the open page spread - would be a perfect place for bullet journaling or homeschool record keeping.

On the right side is a place to journal weekly spiritual goals, prayers, and thanksgiving. With its open weekly design, this would be a perfect planner to use with simplified Catholic Bullet Journaling!

I am pretty new to the idea of bullet journaling so the pages below are still blank in my planner, but I have been collecting ideas on my Pinterest board for Organizing the Routine. The book study discussion group on the A Mother's Rule of Life is also helpful for establishing routines and spiritual goals.

Jennifer Rainey's 2017 Catholic Planner includes pages for 52 weeks of planning, monthly planning, Holy Days of Obligation and selected feast days, Catholic devotions, prayers and quotes from Scripture and the Saints. My only suggestion for improvement would be to make the numerals smaller on the monthly calendar pages, and I was slightly bothered by the skew of the cover photo causing the image to be out of proportion. but I still gave the book an overall Amazon 5-star rating. I love it!

The author Jennifer Rainey is a Catholic homeschooling mother of four, and she has published several planners and Kindle books. She is a freelance writer and a mom entrepreneur. Jennifer has written catalogs and television shows, designed websites, hosted an online writing class and she handcrafts rosaries.

I received this book for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Faithful Dove Light of Truth blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and its affiliated sites.

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