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Remembering Jesus through a fragrant aroma–reflections on Ephesians 4

In looking over the readings from today’s lectionary, I just had to share this lovely excerpt from Ephesians 4:

“Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”

640 flowers1Take a moment and think of a favorite aroma. It could be summer flowers or grass just mowed. It could a pork roast, slow cooking all day in the oven. It could be the scent of your child fresh and clean from a morning bath. It could be the smoke of incense rising up in church, reaching for heaven.

Think about your favorite scent and then think about Jesus and all he has done for you. How he taught you through his words and deeds. How he has consoled you or healed you in the past. How he has enveloped you with love.

Perhaps now he seems far away even though he is always inside of you. Scents are powerful triggers for memories–think of that favorite aroma and then think of Jesus. Perhaps then he will not seem so far away after all.

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Name a fish and win a donation to your favorite charity!

How would you like to win $250 to be given to your favorite charity?
It’s as simple as naming a fish!

the grace of yesGood friend, author and Catholicmom.com founder Lisa Hendey wants you to name the goldfish gracing the cover of her soon-to-be-released book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living. Just for entering, you will receive a thank-you gift of a 20% discount on the purchase of her book!

You will have to work fast!

You only have today and tomorrow to submit your name and favorite charity.

Click here to enter.

  • Round 1 takes place October 20, 21, and 22 – Submit your name and nominate your favorite charity.
  • Round 2 will take place October 23, 24, and 25 – Vote on the final 3, as selected at midnight, PST, by Lisa Hendey.

Prizes include:

  • First Prize: $250 to your favorite charity and a signed copy of The Grace of Yes
  • Second Prize: $50 to your favorite charity and a signed copy of The Grace of Yes
  • Third Prize: A signed copy of The Grace of Yes

Lisa-Hendey-285x400I will be posting a review of The Grace of Yes on November 3, the date of the book’s release. This book embodies all that Lisa Hendey is and has been to so many Catholics. Her generosity knows no bounds. She is everyone’s cheerleader and prayer warrior; her wisdom is simple and yet profound.

Can’t wait? You can pre-order The Grace of Yes on Amazon. Remember to use your 20% off link from entering the contest.

Good luck!

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Words that Transform – God can speak to you through your library books

This is my monthly column for The Catholic Free Press and Catholicmom.com.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Words have power. Through prayer, guidance and meditation, the Bible can change lives. While God speaks most directly through his Word, he can also speak to you through the books you have in your home or that you find at your local library. It’s all a matter of being aware of how and when he is speaking to you.

My mother's copy of Little Women

My mother’s copy of Little Women

I developed a passion for reading four years ago after my mother had died. She had been ill for many years and all I could remember about her was her suffering. Reading acted as a balm upon numbing grief; it was an unexpected gift of grace from God. While cleaning out the family home I came up on my mother’s collection of books by Louisa May Alcott, each volume marked with her personal name plate. As I thumbed through the pages and enjoyed the familiar stories, I imagined my mother as a girl reading them along with me. I found myself wrapped in warm and happy memories of the woman I had called my very best friend.

mr. emerson's wife by amy belding brownBooks soon became a means of spiritual growth. Reading exercised a lazy mind and challenged my heart to open and grow. A novel of historical fiction was my first “breakthrough” book, one that shone a glaring spotlight on my soul and moved me to repent and change. Titled Mr. Emerson’s Wife by Amy Belding Brown it told the story of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wife Lidian. a highly intelligent and accomplished woman who, although married to an “enlightened man,” suffered the plight of all married women of her era. Just a scant one hundred and fifty years ago women were the property of their husbands; they had no legal rights. Women could not own land or a house, they could not vote and they had no lawful custody of their children. There were few options for gainful employment if a woman became widowed. Women in the nineteenth century were in essence invisible and powerless, unable to chart the course of their own lives.

While wholeheartedly agreeing that all people are equal despite gender and race, I have never embraced modern feminism. This, however, did not give me the right to judge others who did embrace it. My judgment was harsh, secretly leveled at dear friends whom I otherwise loved and respected. After reading Mr. Emerson’s Wife, my heart began to open for these women with whom I had disagreed as I came to an understanding of their passion and point of view. I prayed to God for forgiveness and asked him to stretch my small heart, replacing judgment with love. He wasted no time in showing me how to love better and to leave all judgment to him.

Other books challenged me spiritually. A series of novels by Chaim Potok explored the lives of people of great faith whose heritage clashed with their enormous gifts of intellect (The Chosen) and artistry (My Name is Asher Lev, The Gift of Asher Lev). Danny Saunders of The Chosen was a brilliant young man who was the rightful heir to his father, an Hasidic rebbe. Reb Isaac Saunders meant for his son to devote his vast intellect to study of the Torah while Danny hungered to be a scholar, feasting on the knowledge of the world outside of his Jewish community. Asher Lev was an artistic genius, compelled to create provocative paintings and drawings even if it put him at odds with his family and his own Hasidic community.

chaim potok books

Danny and Asher were young men of great courage who pursued their callings while remaining faithful to their Jewish faith. Their stories challenged me to dig deeper to find my own calling while at the same time, reminding me that such digging must be done in complete partnership with God, allowing him to lead me to self-knowledge.

Think about the book you are reading now: how does it speak to you? Can you read between the lines and sense God touching your heart, moving you to change? Does your mind open up to seeing the world around you in a different way? Do you derive comfort from the book? Or does it challenge you and motivate you to repent of some sin? Does it inspire you to step out into the world and serve God’s people?

Consider these possibilities the next time you visit the library. The next book you read could transform your life.


Autumn at Rocky Pond in central Massachusetts

80 degrees. No wind. A few wispy clouds. Colors popping out all over.

Perfect conditions for perhaps the final kayak trip of the season.

Enjoy the views.

Entrance to Rocky Pond in Boylston, MA

2-640 rocky pond autumn leaves2

3-640 rocky pond autumn leaves

640 rocky pond great blue heron

4-640 red tree at rocky pond

5-640 floating red leaf

6-640 red leaves and blueberries640 rock rocky pond

7-640 red leaves and blueberries2

8-640 rocky pond vertical autumn

10-640 rocky pond clouds3

A glimpse of heaven.

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The reviews are in! Update on the success of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One

Thanks to all of you who have ordered The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One – so far we’ve raised over $900 for the Purrfect Pals no-kill cat shelter (exact figures – 102 books sold, $910.68 USD; £17.20 GBP; €17.28 EUR).

Here are reviews from Amazon, :

5 star graphic
I just wanted to let you know that I received my book today. All I can say is….. MARVELOUS!!! This book is a wonderful reminder of all the work and effort John puts into all his fosters. I laughed, I cried. I remembered. The only John left out in his interview is how Dorian flirts with each Momcat. LOL This is great fundraiser for Purrfect Pals. I can’t wait for the next volume. Well done to everyone who was a big part of the creation of this book.
A lovely book! Perfect for any fan of The Critter Room or, really, anyone who loves cats and kittens. Looking forward to Volume 2!
Received my book yesterday and had to look it over on the spot. In a word: PAWSOME! Even if you are not a follower of The Critter Room, the stories about these kitty families, coupled with the tireless efforts Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals, is absolutely heart warming. I love the fact that you have their early days chronicled in front of you and can the follow them on Facebook to see where they are today. Can’t wait for Volume 2!
What a wonderful book. Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals will touch your heart.

Double the Donation!

How about buying two or three extra books to send directly to Purrfect Pals so they can sell them in the store?  That doubles the donation and exposes more people to the book. Contact Connie Gabelein on the Purrfect Pals website to let her know of your intention and to find out the shelter’s address.

What inspired me to make the book

1. Two kittens – Ray and Arthur (now Ace) – I wanted high quality prints of these two adorable guys:

ray and arthur

2. All the wonder fan art:

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R - Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R – Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

 3. The fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats which includes “Over the Bridge” and Ray’s letter to Trillian.

Now I have my scrapbook of memories and many of you do as well. Grab your copy of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One if you don’t have one yet, donate copies to Purrfect Pals or give some as gifts – Christmas is coming … :-)

Thanks for all your support of Purrfect Pals!

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October 18 Gospel reflection: receiving our marching orders

Previously published on Catholicmom.com

October 18 – Luke 10:1-9

Jesus gives explicit instructions to the apostles as they go forth as evangelists for the first time:

  • sent with nothingCarry nothing with you and greet no one along the way
    (in other words, remain unattached to people and possessions and do not be distracted; remain focused on the task at hand)
  • Grant peace to the household where you choose to stay; if your greeting is accepted, peace will remain and if not, it will return to you
    (in other words, show graciousness to your host and bring your best self into their dwelling)
  • Stay in the same house and eat and drink whatever they give you for the laborer deserves his wages
    (in other words, accept whatever hospitality the household offers even if the food isn’t necessarily what you want; accept the payment that is given without complaint)
  • Do not move from house to house
    (in other words, plant yourself in the community)
  • To the towns that welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure in the sick and say to them that the Kingdom of God is at hand
    (in other words, accept their hospitality without question and offer healing in body, heart and mind to everyone you meet)

Sounds like we have our marching orders. Ready to go?


How do you approach sharing the Good News? What special directions is the Lord giving you?


Lord, clear my mind and heart of my own ideas and fill them with your own. Help me to be loving and gracious to everyone I meet, letting your love shine through me, accompanied by a few choice words. Amen.


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Free online writing retreat being offered by Loyola Press author Vinita Hampton Wright

Whether you are a published author, an aspiring author or someone who just loves writing in your diary or journal, I highly recommend this free week-long writing retreat offered by Vinita Hampton Wright of Loyola Press.


You can subscribe to receive the posts in your email by clicking here. Each day you will receive writing exercises and teaching from Vinita; you can choose when and where you “attend” this retreat thanks to the flexibility of the online experience.

This year’s theme is “Writing for the Soul.” Vinita offers details here:

WritingRetreat book_Soul Tells a StoryI also highly recommend Vinita’s book, The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life; this book changed my life. This book is not just for writers but for anyone engaged in creativity. Vinita shares her own experiences along with sage advice, leading you on a journey within that will reveal an unexpected treasure trove within yourself.

Besides adding a tremendous dimension to my writing, I found myself coming to understand the creative within me and how to deal with it. This is a gritty read; the exploration and authentic living of the creative life is necessarily risky. It also is a life brimming over with exhilaration and joy, opening your eyes and your heart to a whole new world.

Check out this wonderful, and FREE, week-long writing retreat!

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September 18 Gospel reflection: how lavishly do we love?

September 18 – Luke 7:36-50

mary-washes-jesus-feetHow much she loved Jesus!

She might have seen him preaching on the mount when He told the crowd that the poor in spirit were blessed. Blessed. No one had ever said that to her before.This vibrant preacher drew her to Him like a magnet. His words shone a bright spotlight on her soul where she saw the reality of her life for the first time. She knew she was poor. Somehow she must meet this prophet and find out how she could be blessed.

She would do anything to get near Him. She could not get Him out of her mind after seeing Him that day on the mount.

Several days later she saw Him entering a house nearby her own. She burst into the house uninvited, paying no mind to the other men in the room who were whispering about her: “Sinner!” “Prostitute!” She ignored their murmurs and their stares. She only saw Jesus.

She had one thing on her mind: “I love Him.” She cried copious tears at the sight of the object of her desire but this time her intentions were pure. She lavished her love upon Him, covering His feet with kisses, washing them with her tears, and drying them with her hair.

His eyes met hers and in that moment she knew she was blessed. Her unbridled love for the Son of Man saved her that day.


How can I show my love for Jesus? Whom can I lavish my love upon?


I love you Lord but sometimes my love is reserved. How I wish I could see you face to face but I cannot until the day I die. Oh Lord, send me those people that You wish me to love just as that woman loved You. Amen.


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