Thursday, April 28, 2016


With the launch of my new book "Talking to God" I have had many questions about the book but the one that I had to think about most is "Why another book on prayer?" Why did I write another prayer book and why is it different from the stack of others on the table next to my bed? I knew as I was writing this small prayer book that I wanted something that would slip into a purse or fit in a console and still be packed with prayers for many ages and the many stages of life that women experience. With input from my mother and my daughters, this handy book includes prayers for women who stay at home or work, women who attend school, who are married or single, young or old, with children or without, to Mary and from Scripture and the Saints both traditional and original. But most of all, this little book is all about talking to God who, no matter what we do or how we feel, understands and listens and loves us through all of life's joyful and sorrowful moments.

In my morning reading of "The Way of Trust and Love"  I found it no coincidence that Fr. Philippe says, "sometimes we lose a taste for prayer. What does that trial mean? It is a call to continue praying all the same, because we don't pray just because we enjoy it or experience satisfaction, but first and foremost to please God. When we find great pleasure in it, that's fine, but when prayer is difficult, we need to keep going just the same! (And this is why Talking to God - to help us to 'keep going' when we cannot find the words or are too sick or tired to express them) That purifies our love for God, which becomes freer, more disinterested, more genuine, and not just a selfish search for ourselves."

Fr. Philippe hits the nail on the head! We need these books of prayer so that we can keep praying when we cannot find our own words. We need prayer to "purify our love for God", to please Him especially when it is most difficult to pray but also when we find joy in it.

Can I get an "Amen"?!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Simply No Coincidence

I  have many Williams in my life, both living and deceased, that I have been praying for with much intensity lately. My nephew and my son of course are always in my prayers but recently these other Williams too have been heavy in my thoughts and prayers. Included are my friend William who made rosaries for the Bookstore (his story) who just recently died, my grandfather William Theodore, my Uncle William and my husband's good friend William who suffered a terrible stroke and is struggling to recover. My dad William died in November last year and I'd like to share a little lesson he sent me.

I try to go to daily Mass in the small Chapel of our Church after I drop my daughter off for school. (If you know me, you know I need all the help I can get.) As many of us do, I have my "assigned seat" in the Chapel and pretty much get that seat each morning if I am early. About 3 weeks after my dad's death, I went to my seat and my kneeler was missing. I thought simply it was my dad telling me that I needed to do penance to at least make it up to, if not farther than, where he is in paradise. (I know he loved the idea that there are "many mansions", perhaps different levels...who really knows, but...) So each morning I'd go in and kneel on the floor as others knelt comfortably on their cushioned kneelers (believe me, these people probably do not need the penance I need). Anyway, many, many weeks later, I was given a message through the homily or through something I read or through a thought that came into my head that my dad was teaching me that sometimes we have to do what is "uncomfortable" in this life to truly do the will of God or to gain a spot in heaven. We need to talk to those who make us uncomfortable or reach out to the man on the street or to those in prison or call a family member who drives us crazy or a coworker who unnerves us or scares us. We need to go to confession and reconcile with others. We have to deal with what God gives us especially if it is out of our comfort zone. I felt good. I felt I understood the message. The next week, my kneeler was back! 

Then, my niece got sick and I felt like since her name is Grace and I (slow as I am) realized while praying the rosary that I say her name as I pray Our Lady's prayer that I should share that idea. I felt the nudge to share it with my siblings and ask them to pray Hail Mary's for Grace each day until she heals. Well, I was uncomfortable for some reason to ask them to pray the Hail Mary every day. I don't know why. I guess I felt like they knew to pray for her and I didn't need to tell them. But, I'm just sayin...2 days later, I went to the Chapel and my chair was missing. I got right on my phone after Mass and group texted the family that we should pray the Hail Mary for Grace each day and all agreed that it was a good idea. Forget being uncomfortable. God wants us to ask. He wants us to be bold. And, a couple of days later, my chair was back. And please do not get me wrong, I know it's not my dad coming and moving around furniture in the Chapel, but the timing is uncanny!

So, I am sitting in a book group several weeks ago with a Dominican Sister who tells us about the graces she has received from reading some of the writings of one of their former Mother Superiors, Mother Marie William, O.P. She says she's probably a saint for all she had to struggle through for their order during her time as Superior and we should feel free to pray to her for our intentions. She had no idea when she shared that that I had Williams on my mind. The idea of praying to Mother Marie William, who I knew, for my Williams, simply gave me goosebumps. Actually, tears filled my eyes. And then.... I got on their website and found the quote below. It is simply No Coincidence. Go. Venture out of your comfort zone. Be bold. Follow Him.

Because God chose us and we were willing to make our pilgrimage along a narrow road, the travel is bound to be less comfortable and more demanding of us than of other Christian pilgrims. …Our perseverance in faith and vocation depends on the depth of our prayer life and our fidelity to our vows. So does our happiness. Whatever we do, Sisters, let us do it for one purpose—God’s greater honor and glory. Be faithful to your prayers—lead the common life, practice regular observance with freedom and love. (Mother Marie William MacGregor, May 26, 1971)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Talking to God

Very excited about the release of "Talking to God: Prayers for Catholic Women"! Here's what to expect...

"Talking to God: Prayers for Catholic Women is a beautiful book with words redolent of the peace only Jesus can give us. Embellished with a sprinkling of great quotes from the saints and spiritual writers, it is a treasure for yourself and for many to whom you will want to give it." -Ronda Chervin, Ph.D

"This book has everything I love: heartfelt pleas, traditional prayers, Scripture, and, from my favorite spiritual giants, quotes that pack a powerful punch. It's my new go-to prayer book." -Karen Edmisten

"Tender and heartfelt, Julie Cragon's delightful Talking to God is not only practical for busy people in search of new ways to pray, it is also wise and thought-provoking."
- Gary Jansen

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Gift of Grace

"but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

Over and over I have received this same message, "when I am weak, then I am strong." I have written previously about listening to Fr. Jacques Phillipe speak on this subject and after I attended the talk, I began reading "The Way of Trust and Love". Needless to say since this particular book is filled with the "little way" of St. Therese, Fr. Jacques leads us in depth through this particular truth, "when I am weak, then I am strong".

What I find most amazing, and surely a moment of grace, is that I am reading two other books, Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley and the novel, Elijah in Jerusalem by Michael O'Brien, and both authors mention this same truth. Honestly, I received the messages in each book about the same time. Hmmm. A gift of grace no doubt. God wants me to believe this truth and to understand it from many perspectives and to use it in my life. From the novel, "Always- always-weakness had been his strength. Unknowingness. Simplicity. Trust." The message over and over to trust, to go to Him, to sit at the foot of the cross with Him, to Console Him and in return, to receive all we need. Strength for the journey. Only if we give it all to Him, become like children and trust, can we gain strength.

I find it no coincidence that on this day I looked up the full verse which contained this truth and found the line, "My grace is sufficient for you." On this day, my niece, Grace, has her second brain surgery and all we can do is place her in the hands of Jesus, in the arms of Our tender Mother, and pray. We are weak. With confidence, we place our trust in Him.

If you happen to read this in the next several weeks, please send up a prayer for sweet Grace and her family and for all the sick, especially our children.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Crucifix

This is what we can hear Him say as we gaze upon the Crucifix. “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as we know the "rest of the story," He is risen and dwells among us. He is real and He lives in each of us. He is flesh ad bones and all He asks is that we love one another. I personally find it the most difficult challenge of my day, but the Crucifix reminds me to stay the course. "Do not be afraid." Gaze upon the Crucifix and listen to Him speak. He is love. We can go to daily Mass, pray the Rosary daily, do special Penances, etc...but if we have not loved, if we have not shown mercy, "we are but a noisy gong." Listen to Him. What do you hear?