Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Got My First Review For "Visiting Mary" - Thank you Carol!

5.0 out of 5 stars Local replicas of European shrines, March 26, 2014
This review is from: Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and Their Graces (Paperback)
From the title of this book we expect to find information on numerous shrines honoring the Blessed Mother across the United States. Indeed, the author gives us that, but much, much more. Yes, there are 28 titles of Mary in the table of contents, and yes, the appendix shows sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The original apparitions usually occurred long ago and far away--countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany, and Poland. The stories of these begin each chapter.

When we get into the book, we find that most of the visited sites not only honor a specific title of the Blessed Virgin but also pay tribute to other saints, all of which the author describes in some detail. And at locations such as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., additional titles of Mary are memorialized. As Cragon walks us through the Shrine, she points our mosaics of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Assumption, and Our Lady of Guadalupe. She describes several more images of Mary, and tells us that saints related to different countries are often represented in chapels, either by a statue or a quote.

Cragon's story of her personal visits to all the sites enriches the writing. She closes each chapter with an original prayer and short explanation of the grace she and her family found in each visit. At the National Shrine in Washington she prays in thanksgiving and asks for the trust, care, and peace that can be found only in Jesus. The grace she took away is the beauty of the cathedral and the call to build our lives in the Church and our faith in one another.

The grace Cragon brings readers is an awareness that replicas of the shrines of Europe exist in our own country, many in locations where we live or visit

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Break and My New Book is Available!

Last week we journeyed to Naples, FL for Spring Break. As usual, we had an adventure because as usual, I had no plans.
Rarely are all my children out of school at the same time for Spring Break but this year, yes! College, High School and Grade School shared the same dates. My oldest daughter took off a few days of work and went with us leaving only one working girl home with dad. We piled into the Flex and left Nashville a little after 4pm, picked up Beth in Chattanooga and headed south. We decided to look for a hotel once we hit the FL line because the driver was tired. First exit, no room in the inn. Switch drivers. Second exit, no room in the inn. Switch drivers. Third exit, no room are you kidding me???  Stop at Steak and Shake at 3am for burger and shakes while this momma slept in the car. By the time they ate, I was ready to get to Naples. Granted, a 14 hour drive took 16 hours but it was an adventure.
I loved driving them to Naples every year when they were little and dragging all their stuff to the beach and watching them play in the sand and the gulf. But at this stage in our lives, I had the perfect trip (except for the crazy traffic coming back).
My kids are funny and they love to be with one another. One night we even walked 4 miles together to the Barnes and Noble to check out the books. What can I say? I love bookstores. We ate enough fresh seafood to satisfy us for quite a while. The boys tried blackened swordfish and fresh clams and my youngest tried fried oysters for the first time. The food was amazing, the shopping was out of this world, the beach was beautiful and my parents were the best, as always, about letting us just enjoy it all.
Family time, face time, is a time for real life conversations and real life experiences. We are one fortunate family all the way around.
The sunset picture above was the view from my bedroom window almost every night in Naples. As quick as that sun melts into that Gulf every night once it gets started is exactly how quick our children grow up. Remember to take the time, to spend the time, to love the time spent with our children. At first it seems they will never walk then suddenly, you're begging them to walk back to you. Enjoy them while you can because it's so true, life is short.

AND, right before I left, my new book, Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and Their Graces, arrived at St. Mary's!!! April's blogs will be about the trips and I will have a giveaway a week.

Stay tuned in and WIN!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Following the Call of Christ

Sunday, I set up a display of books and a few articles for sale after a Mission given by Fr. Ben Cameron of the Fathers of Mercy at St. Rose Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Arriving early I was able to do a little writing and set up and attend the first talk of the 4 day mission. The Mission centered on the amazing Mercy of God and at the end of the Sunday conference we prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which was quite moving. I felt somewhat showered by His love and His mercy. From the talk, I meditated mostly on whether or not in my own life I am truly following Christ' call or if I am following my own desire of what I want to be Christ' call for me. Ya see, I find it difficult to distinguish between the voices in my head. Is it you God or is it me hearing what I want You to say to me? Of course, we all must pray for the grace to hear God speak to us and to distinguish between our own wants and His. I realize that, but I also say, "easier said than done."

On the 40 minute drive, I had begun listening to a CD by Fr. Robert Barron from Lighthouse Media on Following the Call of Christ. I had no idea what the conference would be about and truly I just grabbed one of the CD's out of my console to pass the time. Fr. Barron and Fr. Cameron seemed to be in cahoots. Fr. Barron shared three stories from Scripture that he made very easy for me to relate to; the Man Born Blind, the Woman at the Well, and Jonah. Although I love the first two stories, Christ opening our eyes so that we may see and Christ forgiving us of all our past burdens, allowing us to leave that huge jar behind, I have to mention his talk on Jonah. Because, and of course this has happened, our reading yesterday was about Jonah. God really wants me to pay attention. Fr. Barron relates that Jonah does not want to go where God wants him to go, Nineveh, to do what God wants him to do, preach against wickedness. Jonah wants to go to Tarshish, mainly because the people there will not be as difficult. And, we all know the rest of the story. The storm at sea, Jonah booted overboard, swallowed up by the whale, remained in his belly for three days and then spewed upon the shore. The second request to go to Nineveh was obeyed, needless to say. And, the people and the animals listened to Jonah, repented and were saved. God wanted Jonah to follow His Call, His Way. Fr. Cameron's entire conference was on repentance, sacrifice, following His Way and not our own.

As the story of Jonah was read at Mass yesterday and as I heard the Gospel message, "“This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah", I had to stop and contemplate. "Am I following the Call of Christ?" "Am I seeking an easier way?" "Am I strong enough, do I have the courage, the fortitude, to listen to His Words and to follow His Way?"

Lord, give me the grace to listen and to hear and to follow. Your Will, not mine. "Easier said than done."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Did Anyone Else Hear That?

I had just knelt down and was preparing myself in the silence as the table was being set. The corporal went down and the chalice and the paten were placed on top and just as the table was almost set...grrrooowwwlll!

Wow! Someone in this place is really hungry. And just as soon as the thought entered my mind, I realized that I too was very hungry.  Yes, and, I should be hungry. Hungry for the Bread of Life. I knew that shortly I would be fed, but it was much more than that. The bell had rung and I was being awaken from my daily routine.

Today is the second day of Lent and I believe that sitting in that small Chapel, all of us were given the sign that God wants more than just the typical fast and abstinence this Lent. He wants more than just 40 days of giving up something or doing something better. I believe, in that moment, as we were awaken to the Act of Consecration, as we were called to focus, as we were welcomed to the Table, God was asking for something extraordinary this Lent. But what?

We are all called during this time to a deeper life of prayer and of repentance. God wants us to empty ourselves, to journey with Him and to hunger for Him and for Him alone. We must not have anything going on in our lives that will block us from completely walking this 40 days with our Savior. He wants all of us. He wants us to voluntarily come to Him. He wants us to hunger for Him. He wants us to put aside all that holds us back, that limits us. As we begin these 40 days, God wants us to come to the One who can truly satisfy. To join Him at the Table. To be a part of His Life. He doesn't want us just to try. He wants us to succeed. Really turn off the TV. Really close down the computer. Really visit the sick. Really do the dishes. Whatever "it" is, He wants us to do it all the way until we are completely empty, hungry, starving as a matter of fact. And then, when we need Him most, when He has our complete attention, He will satisfy and we will be amazed.