The Immaculate Conception

Today, December 8, is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

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Books Read in May 2016

Well, I didn’t read much in May. In fact, I read almost nothing at all, especially compared to last month. This is partly because there were a lot of scriptures for May’s bible study (which was a good thing!) and partly because I wasn’t particularly motivated to read. Not sure why that is, but it is what it is.

Books Read in May 2016

Image by publicdomainpictures (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In any case, here are the three books that I read this month:

Next: How to Start a Successful Business That’s Right for You and Your Family. As a business book, it is okay; however, as an inspirational and encouraging book, it terrific.

The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No 2). I have been working on this with Andrew in his home school.

The Way of a Pilgrim. I am not quite done with this book I am including it any way. 🙂 It is a beautiful book and I will be doing a separate review on this book once I am finished.

As for June, I don’t have any specific books I am going to read but I want to read at least four books. What about you? What books have you been reading lately?

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Tweetable: Books Read in May 2016

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 8 is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

Additionally, this year (2015-2016) the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is extra special because it marks beginning of the extraordinary jubilee of the Year of Mercy! The Holy Father says that mercy is the “beating heart of the Gospel” and that mercy is exemplified in the this solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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Tweetable: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

 

See What Love the Father has Bestowed on Us

 

On Sunday, my cousin’s grandson, Adam, was baptized. It started with an adventure for some of us because there was a miscommunication, and somehow the wrong church was put on the invitation! But, once corrected, and we got to the correct church, the Mass was lovely, and the baptism was lovely, and of course the party afterwards was a lot of fun.

Gift of Baptism
During the Baptism, this scripture verse from 1 John 3:1 came to me:

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.”

The scripture reminds me that through the gift of Baptism we gain the privilege of becoming God’s children and a member of His Church. And that is exactly what it is – a gift. Baptism is done to us, not something that we earn or work for or do to ourselves. Through no merit of our own, God freely, and unconditionally, through Baptism, “bestows on us” His great love, wipes us clean from original (and in some cases, actual) sin, and initiates us as a member of the Church community. How awesome is that?! And the fact that we, as Catholics, are baptized as babies certainly emphasizes the gift aspect of the Sacrament for those who witness it. Doesn’t it?

Also, even more mind-boggling, through Baptism we become the children of God. We are God’s children! We belong to HIM through the gift of Baptism. The only thing that can separate ourselves from God is ourselves, when we reject Him through sin. Such a comforting, and convicting thought, that.

Sometime this week, try and spend a few minutes reflecting on 1 John 3:1, and the incredible significance of Baptism for yourself and your loved ones. I also encourage you to read what the Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

P.S. I have a question for ya: Do you know when you were baptized? If so, do you do something special (either spiritually or practically) to mark the anniversary of your Baptism? Do share in the comments below…

As for me, I was baptized February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day. I always thought that was pretty cool because it made me feel like I was God’s special Valentine or something. Silly, I know, but true. 🙂 As for marking the day, I make an extra effort to get to daily Mass on that day, and spend a little extra time in prayer, if I can.

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Image of Baptismal Font from Public Domain

How to “Get Something” Out of Mass (Practical Steps)

In the previous installment of “How to ‘Get Something’ Out of Mass” I said I would share some practical tips and ideas for getting the most out of the Mass. Pick a few and them give them a try for a few weeks. If they work, great keep doing them and add a couple more. If not, scrap them, pick a couple different ones and try those.

Eucharist

(photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc)

Before Mass:

1. Pray the Scriptures.

Sometime during the week, spend a few minutes reading  and praying over the Scripture readings for the coming Sunday. If you can read them on Saturday, that would be best that way they will be fresh on your mind come Sunday morning.

2. Get ready the night before.

Lay out the clothes and shoes for you and your family. Set the table for breakfast if you will be eating before the one-hour fast kicks in. Do whatever you can the night before that will make the morning go smoother and easier to get out the door in time for Mass.

3. Arrive 5-10 minutes early.

I know that sounds impossible, but if you can get to church early it will give you time to take the kids coats off (in winter), settle them down and do any last minute runs to the bathroom before Mass starts. It will also give you time do do #4.

4) Spend a few minutes in prayer.

Give your heart and mind a few minutes to quiet down and settle your heart. Re-read the scriptures for the Mass and give yourself to enter into the mystery that is about to begin.

During Mass:

5. Minimize distractions.

Getting rid of distractions all together is impossible. Well, it’s impossible for me, at least. But you can do things like avoid looking around the church, talking or whispering to those around you and such to minimize them. (One of the reasons I where a mantilla, or chapel veil is because it helps me to keep focused on what’s happening in front of me, not around me – but chapel veils is for a whole other topic of discussion!)

6. Stick to the missal.

This is actually a technique for avoiding distractions. Since the changes to the mass came out over a year ago we all went back to the missal to learn the new wordings. But whether you have all the responses memorized or not, reading along is a great way to keep focused. It also gives a whole new perspective. Sometimes when I’m following along with the priest by reading I’ll see something that I never noticed before.

7. Answer the responses.

A huge part of Mass is the communal participation of the faithful in the liturgy. We are supposed to respond at the appropriate places and sing along with the various songs at Mass. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live in NJ, the communal participation is sorely lacking. Very often the only people I hear singing along with the choir is myself (which is rather scary!) and my family.

After Mass:

8. Make your thanksgiving.

Years ago it was the norm that people would say for few minutes to thank the Lord after receiving communion. Nowadays, the priest is barely off the altar before people are rushing out of church. Resist that urge. Try and take a few minutes (or even one or two minutes) to make your thanksgiving and thank the Lord for coming to you. I remember being told by the sisters when I was with them that the body and blood of our Lord remain undigested for about 10 minutes after you receive communion. I don’t know for sure if that is true or not, but it’s certainly something being mindful of.

9. Discuss the Mass with your family.

On the car ride home or during lunch or dinner talk about the mass as a family. What was their favorite (or worst) part of the homily? What did the priest mean when he said such and such? How can we practically live out something that we heard at Mass today?

10. Prepare for next week.

The Mass is the most central part of our lives as Catholics. We are called to live out the liturgy in our lives and live for the liturgy (figuratively speaking.) Look forward to going to Mass each week. Go to daily Mass when you can. Read different books about what the saints say about the Mass. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the Mass. The more you live your life within the liturgy the more the liturgy will live within you. (<–Tweetable!)

What about you? What are your favorite tips for getting the most out of Mass? If you feel like you don’t get anything out of Mass, why? We can all use a little help in getting the most out of the Mass so let’s get a conversation going about this.

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P.S. If you want support and accountability in living out your spiritual life, including getting the most out of Mass and prayer, I encourage you to get on a free clarity call with me. Together we can explore the possibility of working together in a way that further supports you and help you go deeper into your relationship with God.

 

Moderation is Key: A Catholic View of Alcohol

Red WineLate last week a non-Catholic Facebook friend posed this question: “Is it right or wrong to drink, scriptorially? Is it ok to drink sometime or not at all?”

Apparently, she was getting conflicting opinions from her church and wanted to know what the Bible said about drinking. From this question, an interesting discussion ensued. One comment particularly stood out for me (copied exactly as stated in FB):

The Holy Spirit don’t stand alcohol. Let’s be not only believer’s, but let’s repent to get the promise for US and our children (act.2:38-40) to get the H.S in hearts. A simple believer without the H.S is not yet a confirmed child (son) of God. Rememeber what is said in Roman 8. The only way wine is allowed is to take communion. This truth is available only for the new Covenant. In the Old Covenant, only Nazareane couldn’t drink wine. They are the Equivalent of man (woman) filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant. Without the H.S in heart, we are not sons or daughters of God. Do you see?

What gets me about this comment is, that this person is basically saying that if a person drinks alcohol, he or she doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in his or her heart. That’s rubbish. This person doesn’t have some special view into a person’s heart. Only God can read our hearts. Only God knows our intentions. Only God knows where our hearts lie and whether or not the Holy Spirit is living in us. Alcohol has nothing to do with that.

On top of that,  how does this person know that the Holy Spirit “don’t stand alcohol”? No where in the Bible does it expressly say that alcohol is intrinsically evil. We are often warned not to live in excess, but that concerned eating, drinking, etc. but no where does it say that alcohol is evil. (If I’m wrong, do please point out the verse to me, and I will take this back!)

Concerning Romans 8, which is cited by this person, doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit is against alcohol. What it does say in verse 5 is this:

For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.

Throughout the chapter, it talks about living in Christ and being a new creation and that we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, through Christ. In verse 10 it says:

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think any of these verse are intended to categorically say that alcohol is evil. I encourage you to read Romans 8 and decide for yourself.

I also spent a little time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There isn’t anything explicit about alcohol, but under the section of the section dealing with the 5th Commandment – when it talks about the dignity of the human person – there is a part dealing with “respect for health”  it says this (Article 2290):

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

See, it is the virtue of temperance that must guide our choices. Any abuse or excess of ANYTHING is wrong; however, that doesn’t necessarily make the thing itself intrinsically evil or wrong. (Although, one could make a case for tobacco!)

In conclusion, let me sum up my view using the comment (in response to the person mentioned above) I left for my friend:

“Jesus ate and drank with his apostles and turned water into wine. Wine is made from grapes, which was made from God and all that God has made is good. The key is moderation. The bible says to stay sober and not get drunk and carousing, but no where in the bible does it say that alcohol in itself is evil. It’s us humans that make it evil by giving into drunkenness and excess. Or anything else that is good for that matter; alcohol, food, sex are all good. We are the ones that distort that goodness by not using them as God intended. Everyone of us are responsible before the Lord for our actions, so if we know that we “can’t hold our drink” then we have a responsibility not to drink, but having a glass of wine with dinner or on a special occasion is not against the Holy Spirit or wrong.

I’d love your opinion. Do you agree with me? Or take a different position? What are your thoughts on this?

Further Reading:

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism

(Photo Credit)

 

Product Review: Journey With Jesus: Sacraments

Journey with Jesus

via http://www.armadei.blogspot.com

Monica over at equippingcatholicfamilies.com was kind enough to give me the “Journey with Jesus: Sacraments” craft kit to review.

Journey with Jesus is a 23 page printable kit that teaches children about each of the 7 Sacraments as well as the Mass, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and the Stations of the Cross. Each page has fill in the blanks, prayers, Catechism and Scripture quotes and information regarding the Sacrament being studied. There are also pictures related to each Sacrament that the child can study. Once the pages are completed they can be made into an accordion scrapbook like in the picture above, or put into a store-bought scrapbook or one that you’ve created yourself.

My experience

So far, Andrew and I have worked on the Baptism and Sacrament of Penance pages. He is seven and will be making his First Holy Communion next year, God willing. My plan is to work on the pages as much as we can, put the scrapbook together and then revisit the book each time he receives a sacrament. And not being very creative (!) I’ve opted to just make our scrapbook out of construction paper.

So far Andrew and I have enjoyed working on the pages together. It’s been so wonderful talking about Baptism and Penance with him and watching his understanding and knowledge of our faith expand. I’ve read the Scripture and Catechism passages, having Andrew read the words he knows before he colored and glued and the pages to the construction paper.

If I had one slight criticism, it would be that the fill in the blank lines are a little too small. I’ve had to write the answers down for him because he’s not able to write that small yet. Having said, that, there really isn’t anyway to make them bigger and include everything on each page.

Andrew’s experience

When I asked Andrew how he like the craft kit, and told him I would be writing a review, he told me that he wanted to give his own review. 🙂 This is what he said:

I like this stuff, except there’s too many words I don’t know. I like the pictures to color and I like gluing.

Here are a few pictures he wanted me to take of him working on the pages:

Andrew coloring

Baptism page

Finished Baptism

Happy Andrew

I definitely recommend this Sacrament craft kit and give the program four (4) stars. 🙂

 

Why Honoring the Lord’s Day Each Sunday is Important

For a long time now, I have felt called to make a greater effort in honoring the Lord’s day. All of us are busy, I’m no exception. School (homeschooling or not), work, and obligations crowd our days and often our evenings. We make the effort to pray, to keep our hearts and minds for God, but it’s not always easy. Well, it’s not easy for me at least.

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

As I was praying about this,  I was reminded of the three months I spent in France when I was discerning a religious vocation. One of the things that struck me the first few weeks I was there was that almost everything shut down on Sundays. The churches were open, of course; but, aside from an occasional grocery store everything was closed (except for hospitals, the police, etc.).

As I reflected upon that custom in France, it wasn’t the act itself I was impressed with; but the meaning behind the custom. It was a reminder that Sundays are important. Remembering God, dedicating a day to Him is important. God IS important. Honoring the Lord’s Day IS important.

Scriptural Reasons:

Honoring the Lord’s day is important because God Himself said so. 🙂 Here are a few scriptures to reflect upon in regards to the Lord’s BibleDay. There are several more so I encourage you to do your own scriptural study on the meaning of the Lord’s Day.

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seventh day He rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. ”

Exodus 31:15 “Six days there for doing work, but the seventh is the sabbath of complete rest, sacred to the Lord.”

Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we gathered to to break bread…”

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

You can find what the church teaches about the Lord’s day in the Catechism in numbers 2168-2195, which you can read here. I will just quote the “In Brief” that comes at the end of each chapter of the Catechism:

2189 “Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Deut 5:12). “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (Ex 31:15).

2190 The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

 2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the “eighth day,” Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day (cf. SC 106).

 2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church” (CIC, can. 1246 § 1). “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (CIC, can. 1247).

2193 “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound… to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (CIC, can. 1247).

2194 The institution of Sunday helps all “to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives” (GS 67 § 3).

 2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day.

Other Reasons:

Praise
Now that we have laid the foundation of why the Lord’s Day is important; I want to mention a few other reasons celebrating the Lord’s Day is important.

It’s a “mini Easter”. Sundays are a reminder of Jesus’ victory over death and our re-birth. They are a reminder of the first Easter and although they aren’t quite as big as the “official” Easter we celebrate, they are no less a day to remember that great victory won by Christ.

 It’s a day of rest. Well, it’s supposed to be! How many of spend our Sundays doing errands, cleaning, or car pooling to sports?! But the Lord has given us a day of rest because He knows we need it! We need a day to recharge our mental and physical batteries, so we can do the work He has called us.

It’s a day to give thanks and glory to God. Again, the Lord knows we are busy so He wants us to spend one day remembering HIM. It is a reminder that He is in charge. That He is God. That He loves us and wants us to grow in our relationship with Him. He doesn’t need our thanks and praise, but WE need to give Him the glory that is His. Praising HIM lifts US up, renews our spirits and helps us grow in our love for Him.

It is a day to grow in Charity. Honoring the Lord’s day helps us open our hearts and eyes to others around us, so that that we can love them with Christ’s love. Sundays are a good day to reach out to those who need us.

Tomorrow I’ll offer some things you can do to honor the Lord’s Day.

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Tweetable: Why Honoring the Lord’s Day Each Sunday is Important

(Scripture verses come from the Saint Joseph Personal size edition of the New American bible, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York 1970, 1986)

Angels Among Us: A Personal Witness

“For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11

With Autumn comes two excellent feast days. On September 29 we celebrate the feast of the Archangels and on October 2 we celebrate the obligatory memorial of the Guardian Angels.

Image by Alexas_Fotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

I love these celebrations of the angels and I love knowing that God has given each of us our own angel to watch over us and protect us. (Between you and me, I am convinced that God gives little boys more than one guardian angel – at least to my physical, somewhat clumsy son! LOL!)

Devotion to the Holy Angels was something that was taught to me much of my life. I was taught to give my guardian angel a name and to pray to him (and all the angels) daily. I was also taught say the prayer to Saint Michael every day. To this day, I still pray to the angels and am trying to teach my son to do so too.

So, in honor of the Guardian Angels, I want to share a couple of real life examples of encounters with Angels. They may sound crazy, but I promise you, they are absolutely true.

This first event happened way back in the dark ages, when I was seventeen. {smile}

One night, when it was already dark, I was driving with a guy-friend. My friend was making a left-hand turn when his car stalled: Right in the middle of the street. In the meantime, there was another car barreling toward us from the opposite direction at full speed. I don’t know if that person saw us or not because he/she never slowed down, not even a little. Can you say panic?!

All of a sudden, when the other car was only a few feet away, our car was lifted up and out of the way! It wasn’t lifted up very high; just high enough to get across the intersection. There was no one around, our car hadn’t started, nor did that person coming toward us stop at all. It just continued speeding down the road as if we weren’t even there. It was the craziest thing!

Needless to say, both of us were quite shaken up. At the time of the incident, my friend didn’t have much of a relationship with the Lord and I was just re-discovering my faith. And I can tell you, that incident left a deep impression on me and my faith. I have never forgotten that night and I don’t think I ever will.

Another “encounter” with an angel that happened to me was in 2004. I was on a pilgrimage with my husband and some others to Medjugorje*. On the bus ride from the airport to the village Medjugorje, I saw a warrior angel in the sky. I am not sure how I knew it was a warrior angel but I had the distinct impression that this angel was protecting us during the course of our trip. And, that sense of protection stayed with me the whole time we were in the Village and surrounding areas.

I believe that there have been dozens of little ways the angels have protected us over the years; many of which, I’m sure, I never even noticed or recognized. These two events, however, have been permanently embedded in my mind and heart! It is comforting to know that God “has our backs” and sends His Angels to watch over us and protect us. Isn’t it?

What about you? Have you ever had an encounter with an angel or felt his/her protection in your life? Please, do share them with us in the comments.

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*Although my experience at Medjugorje was positive, and I personally believe they are true, the jury is still out in regards to the apparitions of Medjugorje and they have not yet been officially approved by the Church. I will submit completely to the decision of the Church regarding these apparitions, whatever that decision may be.

(If you want to learn more about our Catholic belief in the angels check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 328-349.)

Top Ten Favorite Christian Books

Last week I shared our Top Ten Children’s Books. This week I thought I’d share my top ten favorite Christian books (for grown-ups!). These are all books that have had an impact on my spiritual or family life.

1. The Holy Bible. I suppose this should be a given, but I am including it anyway. 🙂 There is absolutely no “book” more crucial to living an authentic Christian life than the bible.  I try to spend time praying the scriptures at least a few days a week when I can.

2. The Catholic Catechism. The Catechism is a “must have” companion to the bible. It is not a book that you read from cover to cover. It is a book that you can go from section to section as you need. Part Four of the Catechism is an absolutely beautiful expose of the Our Father. If you haven’t read the section on the Our Father, you should!

3. The Imitation of Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I have re-read this book! It is a classic book loaded with admonitions, prayers and advice for living a Christian life.

4. Abandonment to Divine Providence. This is another awesome classic! This sneak peek says it all: “If the work of our sanctification presents, apparently, the most insurmountable difficulties, it is because we do not know how to form a just idea of it. In reality sanctity can be reduced to one single practice, fidelity to the duties appointed by God. Now this fidelity is equally within each one’s power whether in its active practice, or passive exercise.”

5. Handbook of Prayers. I’ve only had this book since January and it’s already has that “well-worn” look! It is chock-full of classic prayers, novenas and devotions. It even has the prayers in both English and Latin. I keep this book by my bedside and use it every day.

6. Divine Mercy in My Soul. I read all or parts of this book every Lenten season. This book relates the experiences and visions of Saint Faustina Kowalska. It is from her that the Lord gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Feast of Divine Mercy.

7. True Devotion to Mary. This book from Saint Louis de Montfort expounds on why we should have devotion to Mary and what perfect consecration to Jesus through Mary means. It also includes the 33 days of preparation for the consecration. I use this almost every year when I renew my consecration.

8. A Mother’s Rule of Life. This book by Holly Pierlot is a wonderfully practical book. Taking the idea from a religious order’s rule of life, Holly shows us how to balance our “Five ‘P’s” (Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider) by creating our own “Mother’s Rule.”  I confess to being a total failure on this. I’ve made and tweaked (and tweaked and tweaked!) my own rule but often forget to follow my own rule! I keep going back to this book though, for inspiration and keep trying!

9. The Trial of Faith of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have to come clean here: before reading this book I didn’t have much appreciation or devotion to Saint Therese. She seemed “too flowery” and “up in the clouds” for me. I’m a very practical person and she didn’t seem very practical to me. Boy was I wrong! She suffered tremendously and even suffered doubts about God. This book changed the way I thought of St. Therese and of suffering.  If you are ever struggling with your faith you should consider reading this book!

10. The Way, Furrow, The Forge. This book is actually a compilation of three books by Saint Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. They are exhortations, counsels and food for thought to be taken with you during times of meditations. In the words of Saint Josemaria himself: “Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won’t tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.”

What are you favorite Christian books? Do share! And don’t forget to add your own Top Tens post over a Oh Amanda!