We’re On!!!


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

By God’s grace, we will begin Spiritual Combat this coming Tuesday! I hope you’ll join us on our new site – Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.  Please check out the site and notice our introduction!

Before leaving our current home, I must say that I am truly humbled by this opportunity to share the profound wisdom of Holy Mother Church (imparted through these amazing quotes) with thousands more souls, and words cannot express my appreciation for your support thus far – without you, this could not have happened.

That said, I implore you to follow us to our new location – same book club, same format! And please – comment often! It would mean so much to see familiar friends at our new site. As to logistics – I will begin posting once a week on Tuesdays. If the response is strong, I’ll post on Thursdays as well.

Thanks again – and as I can think of nothing both pithy and profound to say – I look forward to seeing you on the other site!

Many Blessings!

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence


, , , , ,

Profile: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure & Saint Claude de la Colombiere

The following paragraph is copied from the back of the book:

“Since it is the most perfect act of charity and the most pleasing and acceptable sacrifice that is given to man to offer to God, there can be no doubt that whoever practices entire submission to His will lays up inestimable treasures at every moment and amasses more riches in a few days than others are able to acquire in many years and with great labor.  To remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting it all from the hand of God without questioning, not to ask for things to be done as we would like them but as God wishes, to make the intention of all our prayers that God’s will should be perfectly accomplished in ourselves and in all creatures is to find the secret of happiness and content.”  (pages 38-39)

In addition to sharing the excerpt on the back of the book, I feel compelled to tell you that this is one of my all-time favorite books.  It is a tiny little book that packs an amazing punch!  I have read it several times and each time it has left me ready to surrender everything – I’ve felt that I could accept with joy anything that happened to me, no matter how challenging, difficult or – most importantly – how against my personal wishes it may be.  If you’re anything like me, after reading this book your only desire will be whatever Godwishes for you.  Granted, the real world and my fallen nature cause this feeling to deteriorate over time, thus the “re-reading.”  Regardless, I strongly recommend reading it, as this book changed my life.

Have you read Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence?  If so, what did you think?

Journal of a Soul


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Profile: Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII

The following paragraphs are copied from the back of the book:

No other pope of this century has aroused so much interest and universal affection throughout the world as has Pope John XXIII. Journal of a Soul is an inspiring reading experience that records this pope’s thoughts and traces his spiritual development from adolescence to the seminary to a career as a priest, a European papal diplomat, Patriarch of Venice, and finally Pope John XXIII. This [book] includes several of his most moving prayers, sixty brief thoughts and aphorisms, his “Rules for the Ascetic Life,” many of his letters, even his last will and testament. Christians everywhere will welcome…”one of the most original, interesting, and inspiring revelations of intimate personal experiences ever written,” which “ranks well with the classic spiritual autobiographies”.

Journal of a Soul, the first ever such work from a Roman pontiff, opens new windows into the soul of the man himself.

Below is sneak peak from page 5 of Pope John XXIII’s autobiography.  It lists “Rules of life to be observed by young men who wish to make progress in the life of piety and study”

Every Day

1. Devote at least a quarter of an hour to mental prayer as soon as you get out of bed in the morning.

2. Hear, or better, serve Holy Mass.

3. Devote a quarter of an hour to spiritual reading.

4. In the evening, before going to bed, make a general examination of conscience, followed by an act of contrition, and prepare the points for the next day’s meditation.

5. Before dinner or before supper, or at least before the general evening examination, make a particular examination concerning the best way to rid yourself of certain vices or failings and concerning the acquiring of certain virtues.

6. Be diligent in attending the meetings of the Sodality on feast days, in school and in study circles on week days, and always allow sufficient time for study when you are at home.  

7. Visit the Blessed Sacrament and some church or chapel where there is a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, at least once a day.

8. Recite five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in honor of the wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, between six and nine o’ clock in the evening, and make at least three acts of self-mortification in honor of the Virgin Mary. 

9. Recite the other vocal prayers and practice the other usual devotions to the Virgin Mary, to St. Joseph, to the patron saints and the Holy Souls.  These devotions must however meet with the approval of your own director, as must also the books for meditation and spiritual reading.

10. Read carefully and thoughtfully a whole chapter, or at least part of one, of the very devout Latin book of Thomas a’ Kempis. 

11. So as to be constant in your observation of these points, arrange the hours of your day, and set apart the special time for prayer, study and other devotions, for recreation and sleep, after consulting with your Spiritual Father.

12. Make a habit of frequently raising your mind to God, with brief but fervent invocations.

Spiritual Combat


, , , , ,

Profile: Spiritual Combat – How to Win your Spiritual Battles and Attain Inner Peace by Lorenzo Scupoli

The following paragraphs are copied from the back of the book:

There’s a battle raging for your soul:  make sure now that you’re on the winning side!

It’s no longer fashionable to speak of the Christian life as a “battle,” but there’s actually no better way to describe the tug-of-war for your soul that’s raging right now between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

Here, Dom Lorenzo Scupoli helps you take your proper part in this spiritual battle so that you can win – decisively – the war for your soul.

Spiritual Combat was first published in a world externally much different from ours.  But spiritual realities haven’t changed, and this book has been cherished for four centuries by saints and sinners alike (including St. Francis de Sales, who carried it in his pocket for eighteen years).  Why?  Because it gives sober and realistic guidance on how to overcome spiritual obstacles and achieve spiritual perfection and salvation.

Not only what, but how!

Best of all, Spirtual Combat doesn’t just tell you what you ought to be doing in order to live a truly Christian life – it shows you how.  

These directions include:

  • Seven reflections to help you be sorry for sinning
  • Seven ways to think about death – they’ll help you live better today!
  • What to do when prayer is dry and burdensome – or simply impossible 
  • And much more to help you overcome the most formidable spiritual obstacles!

With guidance like this and much more, you’ll soon be winning all your spiritual battles – battles that most people today concede without a fight!

If you’ve read Spiritual Combat, we’d love to hear what you thought of it and why!



, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fellow Readers,

I have some great news I’d like to share with you!  I’ve recently been asked to join a fabulous team with a first-rate website on Spiritual Direction.  They are completely faithful to the Magisterium, and serve Catholics from all over the world. Many of you may already follow their site.  With over 10,000+ subscribers and hundreds of thousands of hits, we’ll have the opportunity to expand our book club exponentially!

On this new forum, our book club will be formatted the same way, with quotes and posts from books we have on our list.  I will post on Tuesdays, beginning within the next few weeks.

Rather than begin a new book here and transfer to the other site to finish it, I thought I’d spend the next few weeks sharing several of the beautiful works our Church has to offer.  With each post I’ll profile another book on our list, so you can preview what is to come.

When you join me at my new location, you’ll have the benefit of profound guidance on spiritual direction as well as spiritual reading.  As soon as we’re up, we’ll start with Spirtual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli, which is next on our book list.

In the near future, we’ll coordinate a joint announcement, and I’ll share the website with you.  I hope you’ll check it out and decide to follow along there.  You will be able to receive posts via email just as many of you do now, and I highly encourage you to participate there as well.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank each of you for participating in this Lifetime of Catholic Reading book club endeavor.  As you continue to fill your soul with all that Holy Mother Church has to offer, may you find yourself at the very feet of Christ.  And may all aspiring “Marys” learn to serve with greater love. 

The “Little Way” to Heaven


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is the last blog post about The Story of a Soul. I hope you’ve enjoyed this book as much as I have. I couldn’t end the discussion without examples of St. Therese’s “little way”…

For a long time I had to kneel during meditation near a Sister who could not stop fidgeting; if it was not with her Rosary, it was with goodness knows what else…I wanted to turn around and glare at the culprit to make her be quiet, but deep in my heart I felt that the best thing to do was to put up with it patiently, for the love of God first of all, and also not to hurt her feelings. So I kept quiet, bathed in perspiration often enough, while my prayer was nothing more than a prayer of suffering! In the end, I tried to find some way of bearing it peacefully and joyfully, at least in my inmost heart; then I even tried to like this wretched little noise.

It was impossible not to hear it, so I turned my whole attention to listening really close to it, as if it were a magnificent concert, and spent the rest of the time offering it to Jesus. It was certainly not the prayer of quiet!

Another time, washing handkerchiefs in the laundry opposite a Sister who kept on splashing me with dirty water, I was tempted to step back and wipe my face to show her that I would be obliged if she would be more careful. But why be foolish enough to refuse treasures offered so generously? I took care to hide my exasperation.

I tried hard to enjoy being splashed with dirty water, and by the end of half an hour, I had acquired a real taste for this novel form of aspersion. How fortunate to find this spot where such treasures were being given away…

So you see, Mother, what a very little soul I am! I can only offer very little things to God. These little sacrifices bring great peace of soul, but I often let the chance of making them slip by… – The Story of a Soul, pg. 180-181

So THIS is why St. Therese became a doctor of the church! In my opinion, anyone who can enjoy being splashed with dirty water over and over again without flinching deserves to be a doctor! Really! Just mentally run through your day and ask yourself how many times you consciously sacrificed discomfort, inconvenience or annoyance for love of Christ.

Perhaps you scored better than I did when I made the mental trip. Here’s a rundown of a typical morning in our home. I failed at Points A, B, C, D, E, and G!

A. 4:30am Cat creates a racket in my bedroom, running from a chair to an open box [packed with very loud and crinkly paper that houses a light fixture my husband plans to install], to the bed, back to chair and so on. I wake, annoyed, look at my phone, get further annoyed (even though this is a daily occurrence), look at my husband who continues to sleep comfortably (get even further annoyed), climb out of bed and carry cat to laundry room, feed her and lock her up so I can go back to sleep.

B. 6am Wake, do my spiritual reading (where I learn to accept with joy all that happens to me as God’s will), shower and wake the boys (ages 11 & 13); head downstairs, followed by my three-year-old who sounds like a screaming siren when I suggest he go potty before breakfast (very annoying).

C. 7:15 Make pancakes for breakfast and head back upstairs to wake boys again (inconvenienced and annoyed); wake girls (ages 6 & 9).

D. 7:30 Head back downstairs to serve breakfast. Girls wander down in pjs, so I send them back up to get dressed (annoyed – dressing before coming downstairs is a house rule).

[D-1. Apparently, these pancakes are the “healthy” kind and no one
likes them (six kids and their idiosyncrasies can be – very annoying).]

E. 7:45 Head back upstairs to wake boys again (further annoyed – these are the same boys who used to wake on their own at 5:30am).

F. 7:50 Bring baby down (all joy – and she loves the pancakes!)

G. 8:00 Boys finally shower. (Look at my watch and get annoyed at the time.) Afterwards they each head into the kitchen as I am cleaning up breakfast. They begin digging food back out (very annoying because they will not put it all away again).

This could go on ad nauseum. I’m sure you get the idea. The fact is, by 8am, I count nearly ten times wherein I allow myself to be annoyed by various incidents and family members in our household! None of these events is NEW – this is a ‘typical’ morning! You’d think by now I’d have found a way to ‘make a magnificent concert’ out of all the “hassle.”

I speak with many women who’s children are grown, and they all remind me to enjoy this time. They say that someday I will look on all these little annoyances in family life with great fondness, and I will miss each and every one of them. I have no doubt.

But what good will it do my family or me if I miss all these moments after my kids are grown? I know that if I enjoyed these little annoyances as much as I enjoy the smiles and laughter, my heart would be filled with peace and I would love every minute instead of every other. According to St. Therese, these little moments truly are ‘treasures,’ that I should never overlook or allow to go unappreciated (this sounds so nice, I almost believe it).

The truth is that I WANT to approach each of these instances (and all others) with patience out of love for Christ himself. So how do I grow to love these moments NOW as opposed to just missing them later? If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, I think I’m going to start practicing my own “little way” by carrying a set of sacrifice beads. Each time I allow a situation to go by without making my frustration known (I won’t share how many of the above occur with commentary by me), I’ll slide one bead. Every time I allow our Lord to conjure up joy in my heart for one of these moments, I’ll slide two. Eventually, perhaps I’ll run through ten beads twice in one morning – wouldn’t that be beautiful?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this book. Has reading it changed your life? In what way? Please share any comments about what St. Therese or The Story of a Soul have meant to you.

Love One Another…


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now Jesus made known to me His Will at the Last Supper, when He gave His Apostles His New Commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34).  I set to work to discover how Jesus had loved them.  I found that He had not loved them for their natural qualities, for they were ignorant and taken up with earthly things, yet he called them His friends (John 15:15) and His brothers (John 20:17) and wanted to have them with Him in His Father’s Kingdom; He was ready to die on the Cross to make this possible, saying: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

Meditating on these divine words, I saw only too well how very imperfect was my love for my Sisters; I did not really love them as Jesus loves them.

I see now that true charity consists in bearing with the faults of those about us, never being surprised at their weaknesses, but edified at the least sign of virtue.  I see above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts, for “no man lighteth a candle and putteth it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel; but upon a candlestick, that they who come may see the light.” (Luke 11:33).  It seems to me that this candle is a symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer those we love best, but ALL those who are of the household. – The Story of a Soul, pg. 152

How many of us have built a habit of having to have the “last word” or of being “right” no matter what?  Even when we don’t comment, how much do we harbor in our hearts, judging even the smallest offense committed by our closest loved ones.  Our husbands?  Our children?  We wonder, How could they?

Somehow our sense of justice seems most acute where our “selves” are concerned, and most dull when we consider those around us.  I know I’m guilty in even the smallest instances.  Last night my husband was looking for car keys, getting frustrated because he needed to go somewhere.  Although I helped him look, I was frustrated that he was frustrated, and instantly my mind raced through the activities of the past several days, trying to determine who’d driven the car last.  I felt a sense of relief and vindication when I realized I hadn’t driven that car in a week, so clearly HE had misplaced the keys.  It was only an instant – but it was clearly a little mental version of securing the bunker and lining up the weapons for battle, just in case he took his frustration out on me.  [To show you just how pathetic I am, I should share with you that my husband is not even confrontational!]  I shudder at my selfishness as I read the above passage.  How often do my thoughts turn in reflex to defend or protect my “self” and not outward in love?

As my children get older, and we enjoy the dynamics of daily life, I’m realizing that we all struggle in this area.  In relationships, it is not hate, or even disinterest that is love’s greatest enemy, but pride, and self-love.  If I can see past myself, to see others as God sees them, to love them as God loves them, then through my example God can unleash endless amounts of grace into the world.  Charity toward others can spread like wildfire to the ends of the earth; unfortunately, sin and self-love can do the same.

So how do we love as Christ loves?  The bottom line is, we can’t.  But we can follow the example of St. Therese, who recognized her limitations and went straight to the source of all grace for help:

Yet I know, my Jesus, that You never command the impossible; You know better than I do how frail and imperfect I am; You know perfectly well that I can never hope to love my Sisters as you love them, unless You yourself love them in me.  

It is only because You are willing to do this that You have given us a New Commandment, and I love it because it is my assurance of your desire to love in me all those whom You command me to love.  

I know that whenever I am charitable, it is Jesus alone who is acting through me and that the more closely I unite myself to Him, the more I will be able to love all my sisters.

Should the devil draw my attention to the faults of any one of them when I am seeking to increase this love in my heart, I call to mind at once her virtues and her good intentions.  I tell myself that though I may have seen her fall once, there are probably a great many other occasions on which she has won victories which, in her humility, she has kept to herself.  What may appear to me to be a fault may even be an act of virtue because of her intention… – The Story of a Soul, pg. 153-154




If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since his first attack of paralysis, we had noticed that Father used to get tired very easily, and I had often noticed during our journey to Rome that his face betrayed pain and exhaustion, though what had struck me most of all was the wonderful way he was advancing in holiness.  He had completely mastered his natural impetuosity, and earthly things no longer seemed to concern him at all.

Let me give you an example of this, Mother.  During our pilgrimage, the days and nights we spent in our compartment seemed very long to some of the travelers, and they used to make up card parties, which often ended in quite a storm.  They asked us to play one day, but we excused ourselves on the plea that we did not know enough about it.  The time did not seem all that long to us, as it did to them; it was all too short to enjoy the magnificent views which opened out before our eyes.  

They were obviously annoyed at this, but Father very calmly defended us, leaving it to be understood that on a pilgrimage there ought to be a little more prayer!  One of the players, forgetting the respect due to age, thoughtlessly remarked: “It’s a good thing there aren’t many more Pharisees about.”

Father made no reply; he even seemed to take holy delight in the incident, and before long found an opportunity of shaking hands with the speaker, at the same time accompanying this fine gesture with so kindly a word that it appeared as if he had not noticed the other’s rudeness, or at least had forgotten all about it.  

But you know, Mother, that his habit of forgiving everyone began long before that.  Mother and all who knew him vouched for the fact that he never spoke a single uncharitable word. – The Story of a Soul, pg. 110-111

I am actually privileged to know a person like this.  Someone whom I have never heard speak an unkind word about anyone – my mother-in-law.  She is the most charitable person I know.  But do you know what I find really interesting about this?  The fact that she instantly comes to mind because I know very few people who share this virtue.  In other words, this trait is rare – and it seems to have been rare in St. Therese’s time as well.

Why is this?  We have all been taught since we were very young not to say an unkind word about or to anyone.  After all, what do we tell our children on a daily basis?  “If you can’t say anything nice,…”  You all know what follows – because you’ve been taught too.

Again I say, WHY do we persist in saying negative things?  WHY do we feel the need to respond to unkind comments?  If you have more than one child, you know these two issues consist of 85% of childrearing.  Not a day goes by when I haven’t said to one child, “If you can’t say anything nice…”, and to another child, “Don’t respond – just offer it up.”  [If one of you has a solution to this very human problem, please share – it would instantly solve  most of my discipline issues!]

So what is the problem?  Is it lack of self-control?  Is it a lack of charity?

Perhaps it’s a little of both.  But although there are numerous bible verses advising us to control our tongues, I think self-control plays a smaller role.  As Christians, we can temper our words and learn to control our tongues, but changing our hearts would make do so much more!  The former controls a symptom, but the latter eradicates the problem!

When I look to the saints, their advice is much more directed toward having hearts of charity than controlling our words or actions:

To love our neighbor in charity is to love God in man. – St. Francis e Sales

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God.  But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell.  If, then we possess charity, we possess God, for God is charity.  – St. Albert the Great

Let us also pray for those who persecute us.  He who pardons anyone who has offended him is sure of being pardoned by God, since God has given us the promise, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven.”  – St. Alphonsus Liguori

Here’s one that I try to keep in prayer at all times:

In our neighbor, we should observe only what is good. – Saint Jeanne de Chantal

The appropriate question is, how do we change our hearts so that charitable thoughts and words become natural?  I have a feeling we’ll get to address this idea through the course of this book.

Before we get there, do you have any ideas?  How do you control your tongue?  Do you have solutions that work in forming your children?

[By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the holiness of Louis Martin, there is a great little book called The Father of the Little Flower, published by TAN Books.  You can find it a description on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Father-Little-Flower-1823-1894/dp/0895558122.]

Trustful Surrender


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

At the end of my resources, I left it all to you, and you said I should write and remind the Bishop of his promise.  I lost no time in doing as you advised, and once the letter was in the post, I was sure he would say I could enter immediately.

Every day a fresh disappointment.  Christmas came, with all its beauty, and Jesus slept on.  He left His little ball upon the ground and never so much as looked at it.

What a trial!  But He whose Heart is ever watchful taught me that He works miracles even for those whose faith is like a tiny mustard seed, to make it grow, while, as in the case of His Mother, He works miracles for His dearest friends only after He has tested their faith.  He let Lazarus die, even though Martha and Mary had sent word that he was sick; and when He was asked by Our Lady at the marriage feast of Cana to help the master of the house, He said His time had not yet come.  But after the trial, what rewards!  Lazarus rises from the dead, and water becomes wine.  This is how her Beloved dealt with His Therese – a long testing, and then He realized her dreams. – The Story of a Soul, pg. 102

When things go the way we want them to, we are full of gratitude – so full we can feel ourselves near bursting with thanksgiving, and we can’t express with enough joy the swelling of our grateful hearts.

But then there are times – we’ve all had them – when we wonder whether God is listening at all.  Those times when we’re waiting for that letter like St. Therese, or perhaps we’re in the midst of spiritual, emotional or physical suffering, and we’re begging for relief that it is not to be found…yet.

What do we do then?  We think of this very passage, that’s what we do!  We remember Lazarus and Martha and Mary, or Our Lady and the Wedding Feast of Cana.  We remember the 40 years the Egyptians wandered in the desert only to be escorted to Cana on the other side.  Or better yet the thousands of years God’s people waited for a savior – and they were not disappointed.

The examples are numerous, but what we can realize through all this “remembering”, is that God really does have everything under control.  We needn’t worry about His lack of concern.  Everything He does is for love of us.

In Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure puts it very eloquently:

“Do not let ourselves by troubled when we are sometimes beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to the ocean.  Sometimes it might seem as if the sea in its fury would overflow and flood the land, but it respects the limits of its shore and its waves break upon the yielding sand.  There is no tribulation or temptation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for our destruction but for our salvation.  God is faithful, says the apostle, and will not permit you to be tempted  (or afflicted) beyond your strength, but it is necessary for you to be so, since through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts:14:21)…If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best interests.  You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor.  The sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art.  God wishes to make us the living image of Himself.  All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification (1 Thess 4:3).  Trustful Surrender…pg. 31-33

So has God worked miracles in your life the way he did for St. Therese? If so what did He do?  Or have you been waiting on a miracle? Please share with us!

Raising Saints


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A poor woman had been taken ill, and I was given a good deal of my time to looking after her two little girls, both under six.  It was a real joy to see the way the believed everything I told them.  Baptism does indeed plant the seeds of the theological virtues deep in our soul, for the hope of the joys of Heaven, even from our earliest days, is quite strong enough to encourage the practice of self-sacrifice.

I did not speak of toys or sweets when I wanted these little girls to be kind to each other, but of the eternal reward the Child Jesus would give to good children.

The elder one, who had just reached the use of reason, used to look very happy about it and ask a host of delightful questions concerning little Jesus and His beautiful Heaven.  She promised faithfully that she would always give way to her sister and said she would never forget what the “tall young lady,” as she used to call me, had told her.  Innocent souls like these, I thought, were like soft wax, ready for any impression, evil ones, unfortunately, as well as good.  I understood what Jesus meant when He said: “It were better to be thrown into the sea than to scandalize one of these little ones.” (Matthew 18:6).  – The Story of a Soul, pg. 78-79

I’ve been thinking a lot about that precious time before children approach the age of reason.  During those early years, my first three children were enveloped with stories of saints and sacrifice, love and virtue (or at least lessons in virtue).  As a result, they were open to God’s grace and our Lord inspired them to make incredible sacrifices and acts of love at early ages.

When my oldest was five, he decided that “Ty the House Builder” – what he called the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – should not be building homes for people who already HAVE houses, but for those he saw in a brochure from the Philippines – people who live in abject poverty, in shacks with leaking roofs.  My son went on Catholic radio (You may listen to a portion of the interview here), painted rocks to sell, solicited funds from all his relatives, and drew a hundred pictures of how he was going to furnish the homes of the poor when he had them built.  First and foremost on his list was a Bible and a crucifix for each room, so these families could praise God.  He worked like crazy, and in the end, through the help of friends, family and a few strangers, he was able to sponsor a house that cost $2500 for a family in the Philippines through Cross International.

When my second son was five, he told us he felt called to become a priest.  At a very young age, he came home from a weekday mass with his dad, jumped on the coffee table, and held his hands up as though he were consecrating a host.  With great reverence he exclaimed, “I can’t believe one day these hands will hold the body of Christ!”

At four, my daughter Emma heard about a little girl named Elsie who had one eye, and was having surgery on her head – in the past, she’d had surgeries that had caused her to be blind for several weeks at a time. It was very important to Emma that Elsie not lose her sight.  Emma wrote her a letter and told her that she was praying for her (but did not share her specific intention).  For the three weeks before Easter Emma drank only water.  She forgot a couple of times, but then she would remember and feel bad.  We never reminded her, because at her age, we weren’t even sure she should be allowed to fast.  But the letter we received from Elsie’s mother after the surgery spoke volumes to Emma about the value of prayer and fasting.  Elsie’s mom said, “She is doing great after surgery.  Her head, which usually swells after one (surgery) like she had – to the point that her only eye swells shut – did not happen.”

These children are older now (13, 11 & 9 respectively).  And although they are remarkable kids (would you expect me to say anything less?), I don’t often see the same level of sacrifice or devotion these days – not because they lack faith or because they do not love.  They still have great reverence for God, but their thoughts are often consumed with friends, music, material desires, friends, friends and friends.

St. Paul tells us, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).  But as young children turn into pre-teens and teens, thinking about the pure, the noble and the admirable often tends to get pushed aside in the interest of other concerns – frankly all those things the culture bombards them with on a daily basis (homeschooled or not).

So how do we raise saints in a world that has virtually declared war on us in our vocations as parents?  Outside of barring the doors, throwing out the TV, using a sledgehammer on the computers, smashing the I-Pods and burning all the books that have been written within the past 100 years – all things I’m tempted to do on a daily basis – I’m left with two things over which I have some modicum of control: my example as their mother (I who am certainly not touted as a candidate for canonization)…and prayer.

I’m thinking prayer is my best bet.  I have consecrated each of my children to their Blessed Mother in heaven – who is a perfect example and in her great love will surely lead them to her son.  In addition – because I am very well aware of my absolute dependence on God’s infinite mercy – I meditate on the words of Saint Paul: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

So do you have any stories about your own children?  Please share anything true, noble, right pure, lovely and admirable!

Also, please offer suggestions for guiding children toward heaven – we’re all open to new ideas!