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My Hand in Yours, Our Hands in His Marriage Workbook - Review

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My Hand in Yours, Our Hands in His, by Kimberly Cook, is a wonderful marriage workbook for exploring virtue with your spouse. Cook designed this seven-part series to show how to employ virtue in your marriage, and in the process, live a happier life. She starts with the Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Then she moves on to the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Cook gives you, and your spouse, ample opportunity to address one virtue at a time, before proceeding onward to mastering the next virtue. She sets the stage by providing you with an opening prayer to recite, at the beginning of each session.

What This Marriage Workbook Offers
Within each chapter, she offers a definition of the virtue under study, and how it might best be applied within your marriage. Then Cook gives you a series of exercises to partake in that:

Provide Scriptural reference for embracing the virtueEvaluate the strength of the virtue within your marriageIdentify areas …

The Best Way to Fix It is to Pray About It

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It was my husband’s turn to have “one of those weeks”. I don’t like it when he is stressed or upset. It makes me sad for him! So, I made sure he had coffee in one hand and a loaded lunch bag in the other as he left, and he’ll have one of his dinner favorites waiting for him when he get’s home. I’m a big fan of the idea that the way to a man’s heart is through his tummy. But there’s only so much food can do. As he walked out the door this morning, I was left wishing that I could have done more. I feel this way a lot. I’m a “fixer”, if something is wrong, I want to fix it. I’m probably a very bad listener because of it. I have a hard time just sitting and being compassionate. My brain immediately jumps to all the things that should be done to resolve the situation. And of course (insert sarcastic tone here), my advice is simply excellent all the time, because I am just at that right age where I’m young enough to think I know everything and old enough to think that I’m old enough to know ev…

The Final Fight

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Sister Lucia, the oldest of the Fatima visionaries prophesied that the final fight between Our Lord and Satan will be over marriage and the family. Being the one good thing that remains from Paradise, it is easy to see why the devil would attack it so harshly. With sex scandals upon scandals, the acceptance of same-sex “marriages”, the normalization of incest, the epidemic of contraceptive use, and a million other violations of the natural order, it’s not terribly crazy to speculate that we are nearing that final battle. Faithful Catholics easily recognize the dangers of the big lies society is pushing, and we seem to frame our understanding of this final battle as being against these big issues, but that is only the surface of the fight. .... Those of us in faithful, sacramental marriages, I really think we are going to be attacked more than anyone else. You only have to do a quick read through of the Book of Job to see how much the devil delights in bringing destruction to God’s faithf…

Within Marriage, There is No Place for Adultery - A Look at the Sixth Commandment

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Adultery has no place in God’s plan for how He defines marriage. That is why it is clearly spelled out in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14). We can go all the way back to Genesis, and read about the creation of man and woman. It is here that we learn of God’s plan for marriage. We see that Adam and Eve were created in a state of union and love with God.

God blessed them, saying to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28) By God’s design, through the complementarity of male and female, along with the gift of sexuality, humans may procreate. This design is further clarified later in Genesis, where it states:

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one body (Genesis 2:24). Not only do the couple become one body through the conjugal act, but they unite their love for each other, as Adam and Eve’s love was united with God, before the fall. Also, take note of the usage of the word “wife” in Genesis,... R…

When the Fireworks are Over, Then What?

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Yesterday, in the United States, we celebrated Independence Day with an assortment of fireworks displays throughout the country. As with this type of celebration, the day after seems like quite a letdown, doesn’t it? The evening before was exciting, filled with color, splash and sound! Today, all is quiet and serene. We can draw a correlation between celebrating the Fourth of July and marriage. How so, you might ask?

Fireworks and Marriage
When we initially meet our spouse, it’s like fireworks are going off all the time. Life is filled with excitement. Everything around us seems to come to life. Then we settle into a relationship, with its ups and downs. Yet, the fire is still strong; so strong, that we decide to marry. Much time is spent preparing for the wedding ceremony and celebration. Planning for the big day can create excitement, color and splash!

My Own Fireworks
I remember planning my own wedding 38 years ago this month. I experienced that sense of... Read more...

Love is in the Air! Wedding Bells Ring!

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It is wedding season and love is in the air! In the United States, June is always a very popular month to get married. The weather is usually wonderful; the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a great time for family and friends to come together. Yet, marriage is more than a celebration.

What brings two people to the altar of marriage is a love formed by God; a uniting in a covenant; the giving of one, fully to another. Remember asking your mom, “When will I ever fall in love?” or asking a friend, “When will I find my soul mate?”

Loving any another person is always a choice; but falling in love, with your soul mate, that’s a whole different thing! That’s because... Read more...

'God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.' Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year A

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The Trinity. El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
For Readings and Reflections for Trinity Sunday click on the following:
Trinity Sunday, Year A
Benedictus sit Deus, Mozart


Antiphona ad introitum 
Entrance Antiphon

Benedictus sit Deus Pater, Blest be God the Father, Unigenitusque Dei Filius, and the Only Begotten Son of God, Sanctus quoque Spiritus, and also the Holy Spirit, quia fecit nobiscum misericordian suam. for he has shown us is merciful love.

'Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ Sunday Reflections, Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A

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The Raising of Lazarus, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
For the shorter form of the Gospel omit the passages [in square brackets].Gospel John 11:1-44 [11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45] (NRSV,Catholic Ed
[Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.] So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ [The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now tryin…

'From now on five in one household will be divided . . .' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

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The Marriage at Cana,Marten de Vos, 1596-97
Gospel Luke 12:49-53 (NRVS, Catholic Ed, Can)

Jesus said to his disciples: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

About 40 years ago when I had some programs on DXDD, a radio station in Ozamiz City, Mindanao, started by a Columban priest, Fr Charles Nolan, and now owned by the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, two friends of mine brought in a boy of about three whom they had found wandering at night. I appealed on the air for his family to…

'The family is the image of God, who is a communion of persons' (Pope Francis). Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year C

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The Two Trinities, Murillo, 1675-82
John 16:12-15 (NRSV, Catholic Ed., Can.)

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


During my kinder, primary and secondary school years, 1947 to 1961, my brother and I had breakfast and dinner - a midday meal in Ireland in those days - with our mother. In the evening we had 'tea', as that lighter meal was known in some English-speaking countries. My father had his dinner and tea combined, the four of us together. I often heard my mother 'complain' about having to prepare two meals for my father in the e…

When Life Isn't Ideal: "Amoris Laetitia"

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Something I found on page 59 of "Amoris Laetitia"1 is an example of why I love being Catholic — common sense, drawing on the Church's experience and wisdom, developed by dealing with people for two millennia.

Some folks have been having conniptions over the encyclical: some because the Pope won't redefine marriage to suit their preferences; others, I suspect, for his failure to heap abuse on couples in " 'irregular' situations."

Instead of denouncing them as loathsome sinners who should be cast into the outer darkness, Pope Francis actually talks about "...offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God's plan for them...." ("Amoris Laetitia," page 227)

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

"Amoris Laetitia" — or — Don't Panic

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(From Elia Kazan, via Petrusbarbygere/Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Screenshot from a "Panic in the Streets" trailer. (Elia Kazan, 1950))

Actually, "Amoris Laetitia" means "The Joy of Love."

Pope Francis signed "Amoris Laetitia," about 58,000 words about love in the family, March 19. The apostolic exhortation was released Friday.

So far, I've heard an imaginative summary on radio news, read a few dramatic headlines, and one or two online remarks about it that make sense.

The latter generally boil down to 'I haven't studied it yet, so I don't know what it says.'

That's pretty much where I'm at, but that won't stop me from talking — briefly, for me — about what I have read. So far, I've finished the introduction, glanced at the index, and am working my way through the first chapter....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Gift of Abandonment

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What had happened to my life and how had things turned so quickly? We had renewed our vows on Valentine's Day, and it seemed, even to me, that we lived the perfect life. We had four beautiful little boys and another child on the way. Our large home had been built, much of it by our own hands, in an upscale neighborhood. Yes, it needed a lot of work, but we were looking forward to making it "perfect" together over the years. Friends and family were welcome and visited often. Laughter was a constant companion in days filled with sunshine.
Challenges and darkness had risen ugly heads in the past, but they seemed to have faded and finally been replaced by a deeper Love, a Love that comes only from choosing to face hard times with maturity, Trust, and sheer stubbornness, the refusal to succumb to defeat.
To read the rest of the post and see how abandonment can be a gift from God, please join me at SingleMomSmiling.com
Happy Easter & God Bless...

​Elisa Lardani Marchi: Body Given for Love

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A special and touching story shared by guest blogger, Michelle Arnold Paine:

In the evening of February 27, 2015, I received a text message from my dear brother in Christ Alessandro: his sister Elisa had delivered her baby, was in surgery and they were not sure she would survive. He was asking me to spread the request for prayer to our network of American friends, those who have been students or faculty for the Gordon College in Orvieto program over nearly 20 years. Quickly I emailed and called several faculty and former Orvieto students to ask for their prayers. A few hours later another text – the hemorrhage that had begun during the birthing process was continuing and she was fighting for her life.

Through the night I was up several times nursing my own five-week-old baby, and that night checked my phone frequently. The next day, Saturday, we found out... read more 

11 Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

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Once in a while, when I’m bored, or curious (or need a good introduction to a blog post!), I browse through the “Days of the Year” website. I never cease to be amazed at the variety of celebrations on the calendar. In February, people will be celebrating Stuffed Mushroom Day, Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, World Nutella Day, and Gumdrop Day. Mouth-watering, right? February also includes Thank Your Mailman Day, Take Your Child to the Library Day, and Extraterrestrial Culture Day. If I followed my taste buds here, I’d probably be advocating for World Nutella Day; if I succumbed to my inner geek, I’d go with Extraterrestrial Culture Day. But, given the proximity of Lent, the lack of known alien life, and my focus on marriage and family life both in my job and at home, I’ll rise above the tasty and bizarre, and focus your attention on February 14. This year, February 14 is both Valentine’s Day and World Marriage Day. The two focuses actually go pretty well together, so here are a few id…

Prayerful Thoughts from St. Ignatius of Loyola

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I wanted to pray "for families" today. Then I looked in my little book of Ignatian thoughts and realized that's too vague. His words challenge me to become a better wife and mother myself--THAT is an important step in praying for families!

Open this booklet with me at Praying with Grace!

God, What Should I Do?

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Have you ever felt lost, alone, confused, unsure of what to do next, unsure of what your calling is? Do you ever sit back and wonder what God is asking of you?

Maybe there was a time you knew your calling. You were to be a Wife and a Mother, a caretaker, a healer, a child's giggling dance partner, a coloring book aficionado, and a world class booboo kisser. You were to be a partner, a supporter, a champion, a budget-applying miracle worker, a secret look across a crowded room interpreter, and a soft place for your better half to land at the end of a long, hard day.
And now...you are just not.


So what is God calling you to do? When your dreams have been dashed and reality is that you need to concentrate just to support, to feed, clothe, and house your children.
In Sunday's Gospel, Luke 3: 10-18, John the Baptist addresses crowds asking similar questions, "What should we do?"

To read the rest of God What Should I Do? please join me at SingleMomSmiling.com.
And, as always, t…

A Glimpse into Hell, Preparing the Way of the Lord, & The Christmas Season

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It came to me in the sudden realization, "This is what Hell is."
I didn't see the burning, unending agony the Saints have seen. I thank the Lord He knows me well enough to understand I'm not strong enough to witness such suffering even in those justly condemned by their own choices.
But I understood what must be one of the greatest agonies of Hell, and it wasn't an eternity of physical torture. It was no gnawing and gnashing of teeth. It was what was not in Hell that hurt souls most. It was their inability to give or receive Love. What made Hell so awful was, quite simply, a complete absence of Love.

And I knew this is what Hell would be. To continue reading, please join me at SingleMomSmiliing.com

Oops, Your Vocation Is Showing!

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November 1-7, 2015 is National Vocation Awareness Week. I'm not sure local bakeries are stocking up on vocation-themed pastries, but that won't stop us from praying!

The USCCB has a page dedicated to National Vocation Awareness Week, complete with a news release, homily helps, and prayers from several dozen dioceses to get us going.

This is how the USCCB describes the vocation-awareness phenomenon:

“National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.”

But is the USCCB leaving something OUT? Join me at Praying with Grace!

BOOK COVER REVEAL of The Four Keys to Everlasting Love!!!

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The thrill-ride of book publishing continues as we hit our next milestone: the cover of our new book, The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime!!! This Catholic marriage help book is alreadyavailable for pre-order at Amazon.com (what a dream come true).

Our editor called publisher Ave Maria Press' art department their "secret weapon" because of how great they are at developing attractive cover art, so we were overjoyed to work with them. Like everything else in publishing, coming up with a great cover is a long process.

For the final cover and to see how the book got from rough sketch to finished product, click here!!