Consecration My Queen, My Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self without reserve. As I am your own, my good Mother, guard me and defend me as your property and possession. Amen
"Happy are we who, contray to our every merit, are already on the hill of Calvary by divine mercy. We have already been made worthy to follow the heavenly Master; we have already been numbered amongst that blessed group of chosen souls, and all this through a most special act of divine mercy on the part of the heavenly Father. Let us not allow this blessed group to disappear from sight, but let us always keep ourselves tightly united to them, fearing neither the weight of the cross we have to carry, the long journey to be made, nor the steep hill which we must climb."
Previously published by Catholic Exchange.
Posted By Elizabeth Yank On May 5, 2009 @ 12:01 am In Touched By Grace
This past weekend our homeschool group held its biennial Catholic Homeschool Conference. I gave a talk titled, “Getting Started: Jump Start Your Homeschool to a Slam Bang Success with Practical Tips, Helpful Resources, and Timely Advice.” A real mouthful! We cut the title for the program.
In my talk, the most important point I made is that homeschooling is not about getting into Harvard or receiving a basketball scholarship. Homeschooling is about love. But what does that mean?
Later on Saturday as I was reading at my table, a dad came up to me. He was excited and had to share something with me. This family has been homeschooling from some time and the dad did not know about the theme of my talk. Our family has known this family for quite a few years.
Their older son is now 20 and is a full time student at a local college. Like many college students, he also works. Friday was a long day for many of the conference volunteers, vendors, and speakers. When the mom got home that evening after a very long day, the son happened already to be home relaxing, watching a movie while eating his dinner, also after a very long day of classes and work.
This young man had a choice to make. He could have ignored his mother and siblings and continued to watch his movie without interruption. He didn’t. He could have paused the movie, gone in, said, “Hello,” and returned to his little haven of peace and quiet. He didn’t. He chose a different path. He turned off the TV and chose instead to go into the kitchen and visit his mom and siblings. He could have also chosen a far different path. He could have chosen to go out with his friends to a local bar. He didn’t.
Why was this father so excited that he had to share this story? His son chose the better path, freely and joyfully. This father was firmly convinced it was because of two reasons. They homeschooled. But, more importantly, the mother homeschooled in such a way that her children want to be around her, they want to express their love by being around her. They enjoy her company as much as she enjoys them. That is what homeschooling is all about.
Lest you think this is an isolated family, I was walking through the conference hall, running back and forth between two tables, when a seventeen-year-old high school boy jumped out at his mom and startled her by joyfully saying, “Mom,” and hugging her. She, of course, smiled and hugged him back and engaged him in a short conversation.
Now, not all children are quite so freely expressive. The young man in the first example never would have done that because he is far too shy. But both stories illustrate what homeschooling should be all about: love. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Love must become the fundamental principle of our lives and education.”
The ideal is possible. I have seen it. It’s not the case in every situation. I could share plenty of sad stories too. But, every once in a while the grace of our Heavenly Father shines through, illuminating our valley of tears. The key to homeschool success is love.
“Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Old Sam: Dakota Trotter by Don Alonzo Taylor 153 pp. Bethlehem Books
Old Sam is not any kind of horse. He is a thoroughbred trotter. While crossing an old bridge, Old Sam unexpectedly gets his leg caught in a rotted board, breaking his leg. Dismayed at the idea of killing such a beautiful horse, the nearby children beg the owner not to shoot him. Moved by their compassion and not able to race him any more, he changes his mind and offers the horse to them.
So begins the exciting adventures of Johnny, Lee, and Sam. Set during the Westward Expansion, the narrator is Johnny, a young boy of seven who moves with his family from Illinois to the North Dakota Territory.
More than an exciting story of two boys' adventures. It is also a tale of a young boy striving to be virtuous. In addition, Old Sam presents a slice of life during the 1880s: Blizzards, thieves, plowing and threshing, Winter nights and Fourth of July celebrations.
Old Sam is a first rate story that provides first rate entertainment.
From Slave to Priest by Caroline Hemesath, 255 pp. Ignatius Press
In this remarkable story, we witness one man's unwavering desire to become a priest against incredible odds. What make this story truly unique is that Augustine Tolton would become the first black priest in the United States. But it is his holiness that endears us to beloved Father Gus.
The story begins with background information about his parents poverty and slavery. Not just a story of suffering and sacrifice, it is also a story of hope and courage. Sadly, the racial injustices do not end with his parents. He too experiences many hardships because of prejudice and fear. At the same time, there are others who are kind and helpful along the way, encouraging his vocation. The overwhelming theme throughout the book is his outstanding virtue. In this year of the priest, this would make an excellent read to remind us of the many difficulties young men endure in order to become priests. "Good Father Gus" let us follow your example.
Called to Be Holy by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, 160 pp. Our Sunday Visitor
How do you define success? Fame, riches, honor? Do you define yourself by what you do, instead of who you are? After all, we are supposed to saints in progress. In Called to Be Holy, Archbishop Timothy Dolan says, "My goal is to be a saint. . . and to help you be one, too."
With practical advice and interesting anecdotes, Dolan presents a plan for striving for holiness. Beginning with Jesus Christ as the reason for it all, Dolan suggests daily prayer, Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual reading, spiritual direction, penance, devotion to the Blessed Mother and the saints, and striving in the virtues. Sounds like a lot, but he offers lots of practical suggestions.
This slim volume is loaded with scriptural references and encouragement from the saints, Holy Fathers, and Popes.
Throughout it all, he shares his Irish humor. He quotes Archbishop Fulton Sheen, "'A saint is only a recovering sinner."
Not just lofty preaching, he includes stories to make the faith alive and real.
If you were wondering where to begin your spiritual journey, Called to Be Holy gives you a head start.
Presenting Miss Jane Austen by May Lamberton Becker,179 pp. Bethlehem Books.
If you enjoy Jane Austen, whether reading her books or watching movies based on her books, you will enjoy learning more about her life and family. Offering a fascinating look into her family life, Becker shares many of the connections between Austen's family and characters and plots in her books. At the same time, you learn how her family encouraged her writing talent and the many years it took her before she finally completed and published Pride and Prejudice.
After reading about her life, we have a greater appreciation for her because of her high moral character. Jane Austen is not just another author; she is a wonderful person. Read about her life to find out how.
Sword of Clontarf by Charles Brady, 251 pp. Hillside Education.
After his father is murdered, Niall secretly leaves Iceland for Ireland in search of the grandfather he has never known. But he can not escape. His father's wicked murderer has followed him in the hopes of killing him also. With political strife throughout Ireland, who can he trust? To make matters worse, he finds out that the pagan Norse kings are plotting of seize the throne from Brian Boru. The story climaxes with the exciting conclusion at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.
Becky Landers: Frontier Warrior by Constance Lindsay Skinner, 198 pp. Bethlehem Books
The year is 1778. Back East the Revolutionary War has begun. But this is Kentucky. What can happen here? Reminiscent of Madeline of Madeline Takes Command, Becky Landers is a spunky heroine who wants to help take care of her family. Her father was killed and her brother was kidnapped. She does her best to be the "man" of the family. A close friend of Daniel Boone's daughter, she outwits good guys, bad guys, and Indians on her many wilderness adventures. Hoping to find her brother, she sneaks away to join George Rogers Clark dangerous mission to capture Vincennes and Kaskaskia. Will she find him? Will she come home?
Posted By Elizabeth Yank On September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 am In Arts & Entertainment | Catholic Exchange
With this film, the vocations crisis could end. That may sound like an exaggeration, but if you saw this extraordinary film you would agree. Fishers of Men is a powerful documentary! In our media driven culture, this movie was produced with the young person in mind. The images are bold, colorful, and exciting. The script is fast-paced and multi-layered with many themes running at the same time. Yet the strength of this film lies in its message. It spells out the truth in no uncertain terms. The priesthood is a calling from God. “The priesthood is tough. It is for real men. You have to be a real man if you want to become a priest.”
One of the greatest examples of a good and holy priest is Pope John Paul II. Watching clips of him brings back many emotional memories. What is his unabashed message to young people, “Be not afraid.”
Who should watch this film? While the target audience is young men considering the priesthood, every Catholic should watch this film. Catholics would have a far greater understanding of the role of the priest, his mission, and his calling if they would watch this film. The priest has been given one of the greatest gifts by God; to change bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to nourish our bodies and souls. Do we fully comprehend the incredible magnitude of this gift, or do we take it for granted?
The priest’s mission is to serve. Mothers and fathers should certainly be able to relate to that calling. The priest has been called to serve us at many moments in our lives. We see images of priests baptizing babies, celebrating mass, presiding at a wedding, blessing a closed coffin, hearing confessions, and offering absolution to a dying young man. We see images of priests as chaplains in the military, visiting the elderly in a nursing home, hearing a confession of someone in prison, and greeting people after mass.
After seeing this impressive film, parents might not hesitate to give their sons their blessing when they ask to join the priesthood. Friends and relatives would no longer plant the seeds of doubt and discouragement. They would say, “Wow! You want to be a priest! That is great!”
Priests should watch this film to renew their sense of hope and mission. We see a broad range of men from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds expressing their love, joy, and enthusiasm of the priesthood.
Young people should watch this film, so that boys would be open to the calling to the priesthood and girls would have a greater respect for who the priest represents. Young people do, in fact, understand the importance of the role of the priest. In the film, there is a series of interviews with young people who attended World Youth Day in Cologne saying why they value priests.
Catholic schools should have their students watch it and discuss it in their classrooms. Parents should watch it with their children at home. Elderly people should watch it and pray for vocations to the priesthood.
As you can see, I think everyone should watch this film, because they would be moved to think and act. If there are not enough priests to serve a diocese, I need to ask myself, “What have I done?” Have I prayed for our priests and bishops? Have I prayed for vocations? We are all called to evangelize.
Let me add that I am not a video person. I would much prefer to read a book. This film is gripping. Fishers of Men immerses our senses in the reality we so easily forget. In daily life, it is so easy to see the human faults of our priests. But who is he? What is he doing for us? He is laying down his life as Jesus did. He is bringing us the sacraments. Without sacraments, where would we be? Watch this film. You will be amazed, refreshed, and renewed in the love of your Catholic faith. See also: Fishers of Men 2005 www.grassrootsfilms.com
Catholic Exchange: An End to the Vocations Crisis
More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander, 160 pp. Sophia Institute Press. www.sophiainstitute.com
More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls is not just more of the same ol’ stuff. Each story is unique and a favorite in itself. Because these stories are about believable characters, such as Nickie, who prayed for the grace to be brave when things didn’t go his way, Timmy, who wanted to share his joy with another, Rupert and Osbert, who recognized their sins and regretted their mistakes, children will recognize themselves.
Clever and amusing, these are not just moral stories to teach your children a lesson. While holding our attention to the last word, Houselander has the ability to take a truth and turn it upside down. When Anna goes to church to complain bitterly to the Blessed Mother about all her hardships, she wishes that she could be the Blessed Mother. To her great astonishment, that is exactly what happens. She becomes the Madonna in the picture and soon realizes that the life of the Blessed Mother, as well as those who come to pray to her, is not so glamorous.
In Lumen Gentium, we read “’Christians must be to the world what the soul is to the body’” (38). These stories, about Tommy who sacrifices his honor to bring joy and happiness to another, about Kathleen who offers up candy in the hopes of converting Mr. Oats, or Montague, who finds out that sometimes assumptions about others are just plain wrong, give meaning to the words to act as Christ and see Christ in others.
Although I can summarize the plots or describe the themes of these wonderful stories, their powerful impact is what makes them great. If we put into practice the message of these stories, we will truly “bring the light of Christ to all men” (Lumen Gentium, 1).
As parents, one of our most challenging tasks is to make the faith come alive for our children. We want our children to understand the great mystery and appreciate the great beauty of their Catholic faith. In Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls not only does the Catholic faith come alive, but Catholic truths that may be difficult to understand take on new and richer meanings. Why would Christ become man instead of coming to us in all his glory? Why did Christ offer his life for us? Why should I be nice to someone who is wicked and mean?
Like a large box of delectable fine chocolates, each story in Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls contains its own sweet surprise, not an ooey-gooey sugary explanation of a Catholic truth, but a pleasant surprise that makes sense and causes us to pause and wonder at God’s goodness and mercy. In “Terrible Farmer Timson,” we meet Audrey and Jill, two girls who pray for a mean farmer to become “sensible and gentle,” and in doing so, soften his hardened heart. In “Joseph’s Godfather,” Joseph brings his Godfather, a bristling old gentleman known as the General, back to the sacraments through his simple prayers and sacrifices. In “Jack and Jim,” after a case of mistaken identity, twins, Jack and Jim, find out the real meaning of sacrificing yourself for the one you love.
These are just three of the many stories that remind us to see Christ in others as well as to act as Christ to those around us. Sure, we can lecture our children ad nauseum about being good, but it does not have the same effect as reading a story that touches their hearts or pricks their consciences, hopefully reminding them to imitate Christ, such as the one about Vaslav, a boy who risks his life to bring the Eucharist to a group of nuns in a Siberian prisoner camp. Of course, the best way to read them is together aloud, that way you can discuss them later throughout the day. Inspire your daily words and deeds to be more Christ-like and in turn light the faith of your children by reading Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls.
Posted By Elizabeth Yank On July 16, 2009 @ 12:01 am In Touched By Grace |
Menacing clouds blackened the sky as the temperature dropped and furious winds picked up. Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and torrential rains began to pour. For most people in the tiny, rural, Wisconsin community of Sherman, it meant more rain. But for Advance Cast Stone, a company that manufactures architectural, pre-cast, concrete panels and beams, it meant much more.
On July 16, 2008, sometime before 8:00 p.m., lightning struck, causing an electrical surge, sparking a fire in an outlet box. Fortunately, a firefighter living in the area saw heavy smoke and called 911. Because of the construction and composition of the roof, the fire stubbornly persisted until the early hours of the morning. This was no ordinary fire. Nineteen fire departments from three counties with over 200 men were called to the scene. They completely drained the municipal water tower of a nearby town and then began drawing water from a nearby lake. The blazing inferno caused well over $1 million dollars worth of damage, totally destroying three overhead cranes crucial to their work. Thankfully, no lives were lost.
When the fire had finally died down, black soot completely coated the interior of the large workspace that the employees use to manufacture the panels and beams.
The previous owner, Erhard Garni (now deceased), and father of the present owner of the company had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. On occasion, when there was left over concrete, the employees would fill a Blessed Mother mold to create an outdoor statute. Erhard’s son, and now third-generation owner, Matt Garni, continued this same tradition.
After the smoke had cleared and it was safe to enter the building, Matt Garni entered to be greeted by an amazing sight. A Blessed Mother statue, which normally stands at the entrance, had been brought inside the day before for minor repairs. There she stood, a pristine (dare I say “Immaculate”) Blessed Mother against a black backdrop, untouched by the black soot.
Even more amazing was the fact that, although there was extensive, heavy, smoke damage, the roof irreparably lost, and three of four cranes lost, the worst damage seemed to be contained in the back section of the building where the fire started. The statue seemed to stand guard over the lower interior of the building, preventing the fire from continuing on to the offices. If it would have, the company would have lost everything. Even in the most traumatic moments, the Blessed Mother truly takes care.
By the way, July 16 is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Reviewed by ELIZABETH YANK, an avid reader, homeschool mother and freelance writer from South Milwaukee.
LET'S FACE IT: We're all busy. We may have good intentions of setting aside time for spiritual reading, but that doesn't always happen. But in Breakfast With Benedict: Daily Readings, popular author Bert Ghezzi has compiled a series of short meditations from Pope Benedict XVI that cover a wide variety of topics, such as "the beauty of the liturgy, comforter of the afflicted, the mission of youth" and more.
We too easily get caught up in the world and forget what life is all about. Reading Benedict XVI restores our focus on Christ, the good gifts God has given us, the purpose of our existence. Drawing on his homilies, speeches, encyclicals and many books, Ghezzi introduces us to Pope Benedict on a level to which we can all relate. Ultimately, Pope Benedict challenges us to live more deeply and authentically the words of Christ.
This book is ideal for setting the tone for the day or for refocusing our attention on the higher things during the day, or for lifting our minds to God's goodness and grace at the close of the day, so that our last thoughts may be peaceful and holy.
One motif Pope Benedict brings up over and over again is God's merciful love for us. Many of the pope's reflections touch on the theme of love or mention some aspect of love, God's love for us, our vocation to love, our need to love God and those around us. The pope challenges us to love more as God has loved us—"in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know."
He begs us to open our hearts to God's love: "Let no heart be closed to the omnipotence of [God's] redeeming love." He pleads with us that God's love is for us all: "Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope—true hope for every human being."
He asks us to rest secure in God's love, and to "remain in his love." To those who are searching for love, he says, . . . To read the rest, go to the link below. You can order BREAKFAST WITH BENEDICT: Daily Readings from St. Francis Bookstore.
This review first appeared in St. Anthony Messenger Press Magazine. Breakfast with Benedict Daily Readings Review
THERE SHE WAS AGAIN, Immaculée Ilibagiza, on the cover of her new book. I had always wanted to read Left to Tell, but had never gotten around to it. Now she has written a sequel, Led by Faith.
In Left to Tell, Immaculée recounts her horrific experience of living through the 1994 Rwandan genocide. One million Tutsis were brutally murdered by the Hutus. Such a number is hard to imagine. Through the kindness of a Protestant pastor, the Catholic Immaculée huddled with seven other women in a tiny, cramped bathroom. Despite nearly starving to death and fearing death at any moment, she survived.
When she emerged, she discovered her mother, father and two brothers had been killed. One after another relative was reported dead. Rather than live a life of rage and resentment, she turned to God for healing. Through God's transforming power of love, she was able to forgive those who had so cruelly butchered her family and destroyed their home.
Now in Led by Faith, she picks up the theme of God's loving divine providence. After recapping the events of the genocide, she highlights the significant events of her new life and how she has continued to cope with her loss.
When the genocide was over, fear abounded. Two million Hutus had fled in exile, fearing reprisals. The Tutsis were afraid that the genocide organizers were regrouping in the thick jungles of Zaire.
The number of dead was staggering. Everywhere were the ruins of burnt-out or destroyed homes. Could the new government ever recover? More importantly, could Hutu and Tutsi families ever live side by side again?
Immaculée had lost everything—her family, her home, the possibility of a college education. She was adrift, yet God had a plan for her. While many were unemployed, she was able to find a job with the United Nations. When she was pressured to compromise her moral principles, she chose to live by faith. When all seemed lost, her courage and daring urged her on.
Ultimately, her adventurous spirit led her to come to the United States. Rather than live a life consumed with grief, she found a new life after the tragedies.
What makes this book a joy to read is Immaculée's beautiful soul. She doesn't pretend that a magic formula will answer all problems. She presents herself as fully human, experiencing the sorrow of missing her family, the anguish of not having been able to live a normal life, and the uncertainty of the future. After she meets her future husband and has children, she shares the happiness and love of her newfound family.
What is most amazing about Immaculée is . . . To read the rest, go to the link below.
My son needed his hair cut. His eight-year-old sister even commented that his eyes are in his hair. No, sweetie, his hair is in his eyes. Haircutting in our house means we all watch a movie while the “victim,” perched on a wobbly stool, gets his head shaved by mom. Well, it used to be shaved when the boys were little tykes, but now the constant reminder is, “Not too much, mom.”
So I checked out our DVD/video collection. No one seemed interested in Learning How to Sing or Darwinism on Trial, so I kept hunting. Oh, another day, another time. Then I found the perfect fit. It is Lent after all. I announced, “We are going to watch, I Don’t Believe in God, I Know God by Fr. Rick Wendell.” The rabble rousers did not rise up in arms.
After setting up the temporary barber shop, we popped in the DVD and all settled in to watch, while I snipped away. Let me say it is hard to concentrate on cutting hair when you are listening to, that is, watching a captivating speaker. I really didn’t expect it to be so engrossing. The poor “child” is lucky he didn’t lose any flesh on his ears or receive any nicks on his skin.
Recorded before a live audience, Fr. Rick recounts the dramatic account of his life story. Beginning with his youth, he relates his conversation or reconversion to the faith, depending on how you look at it, since he never really practiced it. But most amazingly of all is his death experience. This is the moment that transformed him.
Through his mother’s request, God gave him another chance at life. The doctors could not resuscitate him. He lay in ER, brain dead, his body waiting to have his organs harvested, when his mother begged God to bring her son back, whole or not at all.
While she was pleading for his life, he was experiencing the afterlife. Totally entranced by the immense power of God’s love, he had no desire to return. But
God had other plans.
Eventually, God brought him back to life, miraculously, without any complications. After he returned, he felt God had given him this chance for a purpose. Initially engaged to be married, they broke the engagement because of financial circumstances.
While God’s call was certainly dramatic, he resisted it. Being a priest was the last thing on earth he could imagine himself to be. Up to this point, he had lived anything but a holy life. Eventually, he succumbed to the “hound of heaven.” Thankfully, he answered God’s call to the priesthood, a life of service to God and his people.
I urge you to view this DVD. It is a beacon of hope in a world gone awry. There still are conversions in the world, dramatic conversions, displaying the immense power of God’s love.