CHILDREN’S BOOK: Sisters of the Last Straw, Case of the Stolen Rosaries

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring’s book Karen Kelly Boyce’s delightful children’s book Sisters of the Last Straw, Case of the Stolen Rosaries. It’s an SOA winner as well as an award-winning novel.

Summary: The Sisters of the Last Straw are a group of sisters struggling hard to overcome their bad habits. Sister Krumbles forgets everything. Sister Shiny can’t stop polishing and cleaning everything. Mother Mercy has a terrible temper. Yet when the misfit nuns band together to form a new order, lessons on tolerance and forgiveness (as well as much hilarity!) ensue. In this, the third of the series, the adventures of the lovable sisters continue! New troubles for the Sisters of the Last Straw require courage and cunning! A renegade rooster terrorizes the Sisters’ back yard and a mysterious thief snatches the Sisters’ rosaries. The Sisters struggle with their problems while seeking to love Jesus more. The Case of the Stolen Rosaries is a fun story that teaches tolerance and forgiveness in the midst of many comic exploits.

It’s available in paperback or electronically. You can read the first few chapters here:

Find it (and the other books in the series) on Amazon or get it from Chesteron Press.

Karen’s website:


Dear Lord, Thank You for writers who produce delightful books for children and adults to enjoy. Please bless them with abundant imagination and joy in their writing. +Amen.

True Devotion To The Holy Spirit by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez

I chose the book, TRUE DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT by Luis M. Martinez, as my spiritual reading and having finished it this morning, I thought to review it while still fresh in my mind. I HIGHLY recommend this book!

In the first notes the publisher tells us that TRUE DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT is an abridged edition of the book, THE SANCTIFIER, from the original by Archbishop Luis M, Martinez, EL ESPIRITU SANTO. This translation is by Sister M. Aquinas, O.S.U. copyright 2000 by Sophia Institute Press.

Archbishop Luis M. Martinez was archbishop of Mexico. His friends saw him as “a philosopher, a theologian, a teacher, an educator, a superior, a sociologist, a sacred orator, a writer, a poet, a director of souls, and a humorist.” My reading of this book gives me no doubt of the veracity of such accolades. The interior life of the person who wrote this book must have been as deep and fruitful as that of any Saint. If you read it, you too will see how true this is!

The book is divided into several parts, and each part is divided into chapters. My method of reading was to read only one chapter for each day and give myself time to think about the material before moving on. My experience was that for every insight that installed itself into my mind, there were great riches I passed by.  This is no shallow book.  This book is filled with fountains of richness.

True Devotion to the Holy Spirit is Part 1. The chapters cover topics pertaining to the meaning of devotion, entertaining the Holy Spirit as a guest in the soul, the Holy Spirit as director of the soul,  the Holy Spirit as God’s gift to the person to possess and to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit to form Jesus within each person and to perfect the soul, to lead you to Jesus and the Father, to reveal the mystery of the cross and teach us to love the cross and to love the Father’s will; our proper response to the Holy Spirit via loving attention, faith, hope, & love.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit is Part 2. The chapters cover the many ways that the Holy Spirit perfects the person by way of growth in the many virtues both natural and supernatural, and intellectual gifts.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit is Part 3. Here the chapters carry the subject of virtues further, teaching how the Holy Spirit brings about fruits that grow from the gifts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Three parts, and many chapters later, my word to you is to pick up this book and plan to read it over and over again.

Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom of archbishop Luis M. Martinez; may Archbishop Martinez rest in everlasting peace and love. +Amen.


A Traditional Prayer to the Holy Spirit

I love this particular prayer. I love it because I love the Holy Trinity. I love the Our Father, because it references the first person of the one God. I love the Jesus Prayer and the Hail Mary for their focus on the second person of the Godhead. Few prayers say much about the Holy Spirit, third person of the Triune God, so I find myself praying this one in honor of God the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,

enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.

And you shall renew the face of the earth. +Amen

I love this prayer. Sometimes I even add it to my Rosary the same way I add the Jesus prayer (which I say for the intention of all the Church being united).

Today, let’s pray it together.

Jesus Meant What He Said

We lack comprehension of Scripture.  For example, Jesus meant what He said, and He said that it would be better to die than to harm a child.  Commonly we pass over the millstone around the neck/thrown into the sea passage, but should we? Is it not important to understand the magnitude of that little statement about the fate of those who harm even one child and view with horror their and our potential fate?

Ours is a callous age. We execute infants placed in the womb by the participants in the reproductive act. This is not an invader, this is an innocent who exists by the willful actions of the adults involved.  Yet, rather than the adults paying the price for their actions and allowing the birth of the child and giving him into the arms of parents who will love and protect the child, the price for the inconvenient pregnancy is paid by innocent blood.

Historically it hasn’t been much better. In 602 AD the Eastern Roman Emperor Maurice was executed.  The usurper Phocas did not stop with the execution of his predecessor but also murdered his five sons.  He must have ignored the words of Christ, with whose words he presumably was familiar as an educated Christian, for he murdered a three year old child. I feel horror at that act and its implications for the souls involved.

Better to die a sudden death by drowning than to harm/kill a child is a powerful statement.  Hell must be the destination of such a person; be they a new emperor in 602 AD, or a Muslim extremist in 2014, their eternal welfare would be greater were they to die before harming a child. We ought to pity them and pray for them. For Jesus meant what He said, and their fate if they die without repenting is the complete loss of Heaven and an eternity in Hell.  The woman who grieves an abortion is in infinitely better spiritual shape than the terrorist who kills children or the ancient emperor who executes the children of his predecessor. She repents deeply and with great pain but did/do they?

Dear Lord, thank You for forgiving the women who repent of abortion, grant them healing and do not let them be reproached by anyone; please end violence against children and bring everyone who harms children to full and complete repentance so that they too might be saved. +Amen.

FUN!! A realistic doll!

I purchased two dolls from the Lammily company.  Why? Well, they have created a doll with the AVERAGE measurements of a 19 year old girl. Thus, the doll is athletic looking. She is healthy and normal looking. She looks real. AND she appears both pretty AND intelligent!  I am a delighted parent!

Why two? Well, one for my child, one for me to use as a model for making clothing. I like doing garb for SCA activities, but don’t really want to make much for myself. I also like to explore various periods of clothing without the need to wear it myself.  I also can make the garb with very little expense and give it to my child to use for dressing up the doll.

I can also make garb for both child and her doll that MATCHES. The sort of thing many kids like very much. Kids also like natural looking dolls.  Me too!

I learned some of my sewing skills by trying to make clothing for my Barbie (I was horrible at it!). But clothing never looks right on a Barbie– she is just too oddly shaped.  THIS doll is going to be far more fun to garb!

I am very glad to be able to give my child a doll with a normal appearance that will encourage a healthy self image. The doll is also jointed for more natural movement, more action doll than merely one that is stiff.

They make stickers to allow the child to put scars on the doll to match their scars– encouraging a positive body image even when that image is marked by surgeries or other changes.

They have plans for a broader range of ethnicity so your child’s doll can be selected to match her– or just so her dolls don’t all look the same. Delightful!

Dear Lord, thank you for a doll like this. Help every person learn to value themselves as they are and know that You love them. +Amen.

Pope Francis A Confusing Pope

We certainly have a confusing Pope in Pope Francis.  I love his humility. I love his gentle as a dove approach to communicating. I love that he reminds everyone about ways to LIVE their Catholicism. I love when he comes right out and defends the Faith. I love how he shines with love for people and seeks to connect with them everywhere he goes.  However,  I am scandalized by some of his off-the-cuff comments that can be spun any way the media and ideologues wish!

I have been giving much thought to this post by Fr. Z on Fr. Z’s Blog. It includes a video by Michael Voris over at Church Militant TV. Many people commented and there is a good bit worth reading in those comments.

I agree with M. Voris that there is a lot of questionable stuff going on and that the two extremes of response to it are neither one healthy.  I also agree that our Church is having a rather serious crisis and that few Bishops are doing anything to fight it.

Assuming God is in control, I believe the following to be true as well: Pope Francis gives potential heretics plenty of opportunity to show their errors publicly which ought to be a useful bit of data for the next Pope and appears to be waking up the Bishops of orthodox belief that they need to be assertive for orthodoxy.  Clever as a fox?  I do not know, but I am certain God knows.

Dear Lord, please send us many Bishops like St. Athanasius! Bless and protect Pope Francis and turn the heterodox back to the faith and to full orthodox belief. +Amen.

Giving: A Result of Gratitude

Having chosen by an act of will to be grateful for our many blessings and having chosen to pray for God to correct our emotions to bring them into line with the fact of our gratitude. We next should consider an appropriate response to this new attitude.  What action should we take?

I suggest we look at our blessings, note how we have enough, we have what we need, and can recognize how blessed we are in this. From here we should turn out eyes outward, to the news we hear and read, the Christian martyrs in Syria and surrounding areas, Christian women and children sold into slavery in the middle east, Parents forced to watch as their children are ordered to convert to Islam and then killed when they will not abandon Jesus, Christians in Africa facing persecution and death for their faith there, with their children kidnapped to be forcibly converted, killed, and sold into slavery, entire countries suffering the slow tortured death by Ebola.  It is a horrifying prospect!

We are so blessed here. Even with the economic hardships we face, even with the threats of disease and invasions due to open borders, even with the economic persecution of Christian businessmen here, we are still far better off than the Christians, our brothers and sisters, in much of the rest of the world.

We need to look at our blessings and ask how we ought to use them.  Could be buy cheaper coffee and donate to a food bank? Could we donate to Mercy Chefs who are trying to raise funds to ship water purification systems to the refugee camps in the middle east? Close to home or far away, there are needs that are only going to be met if we seek to go from mere gratitude for our good blessings, and move into a response of generosity towards others.  No one of us can do much, but the small bits grow to a huge amount there more of us do our little bits. We are grateful, we are praying, we need to ACT.

Dear Lord, help us to grow in our gratitude for the many blessings You have given to us, and help us from our place of enough, to recognize that others are less fortunate, and find a place to donate our little bit to help.  Please help me, and all of us, to explore expressing our gratitude by means of giving to others. Thank You Lord for helping us see and do right. +Amen.

Preparation for Spiritual Warfare: Gratitude

Preparation for Spiritual Warfare takes many shapes. Confession, aka Sacrament of Reconciliation, is always a good place to begin, but another very good beginning is GRATITUDE. An act of will is a good way to begin with any virtue and can be chosen even in the face of uncooperative emotions. Feelings are not fact!  It is not essential to FEEL a virtue to HAVE that virtue.  I’m grateful as an axiom. Still, I wanted to feel the emotion of gratitude, not just the fact of it.

Recently, we had a fire that cost a lot in lost equipment and there was no insurance because the increased cost of health insurance sucked up so much cash we were forced to drop some of the insurance on equipment that was in storage and presumably safe. Well, it wasn’t. But strangely, that huge monetary loss has resulted in a deeper emotional connection to my gratitude.

To my delight, I FEEL my cup running over.  I LOVE my new office. I love sharing the RV as our sleeping quarters. We have a roof that is sound. Enough food, a kitchen to cook it in, plenty of electricity to run everything, a working coffee pot and plenty of coffee (both decaf and regular!), we are all healthy, we are together, etc. In short, we have what we NEED. Everything we actually NEED is still ours. I feel grateful for how good we have it, and I use some of my leisure to pray more diligently for those who are suffering– I want them to have it good too.

So today, cultivate gratitude. Choose it as an act of will, and make sure you know in your own mind the list of your blessings no matter how your emotions feel. Make gratitude a fact, then ask God to do whatever He needs to do to bring your emotions into proper order with the fact that you choose gratitude.

Dear Lord, thank You for the many blessings in our lives. Please help us make an act of will to choose to be grateful no matter how we feel. Please do the work in our emotions so they come into line with the fact that we are grateful. +Amen.

Prayer Warrior 101

Scripture is clear that our enemies are not the people whom we see before us but the principalities and powers in the spiritual realm who are driving the evil being done by our obvious human enemies. History is full of endless rounds of futile violence that generally cycles back around years after it seems to have all been settled. WHY? Because of sin of course. We all KNOW this if we know anything about our faith, but it is so basic, so obvious, that most of us give it no thought at all. Yet, that sin is the hook that allows those principalities and powers to influence human behavior.

You see, no demon can do much with you if your free will is properly ordered to the things of God.

Which is why doing an examination of conscience every night before bed is such a good practice. Note where your actions that day did not reflect Christ. Repent, and ask God to forgive you and help you grow in whatever virtues are needed for you to avoid repeating that sin. Commit to going to confession.

Catholics have the added spiritual powerhouse of taking their sins to God in the confessional.  There is a grounding that comes from having to NAME your sin, in front of a witness who represents Christ, and the freedom that comes with the words of absolution.

We human beings are really good at rationalizing our sins. It takes humility to name those sins to another person. It is very difficult to rationalize that some sin isn’t so bad when you have to speak it out loud during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession). Naming the sin is an exercise in humility.

What is also good is the priest cannot be forced to divulge your sins because he has taken vows. I suppose under torture the poor man might be broken, but even then far more will choose to die for Christ than to betray the trust He placed on them than ever could be made to talk.

Dear Lord, bless all the Priests who serve you each day. Please strengthen their guardian angels and grant them Your protection and much grace. Thank You Lord for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and please encourage all the faithful to go more often to confession and to grow in heroic virtue. +Amen.

Fighting like a Christian

Christians alive today are part of the Church Militant. The secular world thinks of violence when they think of militant things. But the secular world is limited in its thoughts to the would of the visible and material. Church Militant is all about spiritual warfare. Spiritual Warfare is about prayer and growing in heroic virtue. I speak of course of the vocational goal of becoming a SAINT.

So I see darkness rising, what am I to do? As a Christian, I step up my prayers. I make an effort to pray more diligently for the leaders of our Church, for the elected and unelected persons running our government, for my family and those whose lives touch mine on a daily basis. It is the diligent and determined practice of prayer that makes the prayer warrior.

We are to pray for our enemies not just our friends.  We must pray that the principalities and powers that fuel the works of evil are cast back into hell, and that the people who are doing the work of evil will be stopped and hopefully converted to good.

Christians wake and take your Bible in hand, turn to a psalm and pray it out loud today, add prayers for the grace of final perseverance in those who are being martyred for the Faith, pray for the conversion of the enemies of Christ, and then round it out with the Lord’s Prayer.

Dear Lord, thank You for every person who prays that Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done. Please help those who seek Your will to grow in virtues pleasing to You. Protect our families and those people in the Church and in the government who do Your will. +Amen.