Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for Catholics

With the glow of Christmas still burning brightly, it's a good time to contemplate the New Year in light of the gift of the Christ child.  What does his coming mean to you and how can you take that with you into 2013?  Diet, exercise, and quitting smoking are typical New Year’s resolutions. Improved health is great, but for Christians with our sights on heaven, we can do better. Let’s not forget the spiritual realm where improvements last longer than a lifetime.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Lessons

Lessons from Santa
A few cookies on a plate are always appreciated.
* A bowl full of jelly is happy food.
* Don’t pout.
* There’s always someone watching.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Six New Monsignors!

      The Diocese of Bismarck, ND leaped from only one monsignor to seven this week, when six priests were given the title of monsignor, joining Msgr. Gerald Wash. Pope Benedict XV bestowed the honor at the request of Bishop David D. Kagan, D.D., P.A., and J.C.L. on five pastors and the president of University of Mary.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Three Priests Talk About Spiritual Direction

     Spiritual Direction is often misunderstood, misused, or overlooked. To help unmask the intrigue and bring it out of obscurity, I asked three priests--Fr. Mitch Pacwa S.J., Fr. John McCloskey III STD, and Fr. Wayne Sattler --to share their thoughts on spiritual direction. I will introduce each separately, and then offer their reflections.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Total Consecration at St. Mary's High School

150 parents and students consecrated themselves to the Blessed Mother on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
      While Fr. Joshua Waltz prepared his homily for the All Saint’s Day Mass at St. Mary’s High School in Bismarck, ND, he recalled a phone call from his brother Fr. Justin. “Don’t forget, if you plan to make the Total Consecration to Mary with me on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, (December 8) the preparation starts on November 5.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spot the Monk by Brother John Raymond

     If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you suppose a video image is worth? What about a video image of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament?

     I oversee our religious community’s web site. I had the idea to provide a live image of our Eucharistic Adoration chapel which is uploaded every minute 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so the web cam can bring Jesus closer to people through their computers. I quickly learned that this image was indeed worth much more than a thousand words.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Give Away The Things You Want

A man experiencing poverty goes to Mass, gives what little he has, and is rewarded generously.  

     “If you want more of something, then give away what you have,” Fr. Nick Schneider preached on a recent Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.  “If you want more joy, then give joy to others. If you want more love, give love.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicken Runs at Midnight By Rich Donnelly

Baseball unified this father and daughter in this world and became a connection between them in the afterlife.

As third base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, I was at the top of the world.   Although it was only March, it was obvious we had a strong team and could expect a winning season.

But with one phone call, my world suddenly shattered.  “Dad, I have something to tell you,” my seventeen-year-old daughter, Amy, began.  “Don’t be mad at me.”  

With an opening like that, a hundred possibilities crossed my mind:  she wrecked the car, drugs, pregnancy, bad grades, ......  “What is it?” I asked, impatient for the bad news.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ten Reasons to Celebrate Post Election

1. Pope Benedict XVI’s Congratulation to President Obama

In his message, the Holy Father offered best wishes to the President, and promised continued prayers on his behalf. The Pope assured the re-elected President that he will ask God to help him in his high responsibility to the country and the international community. The Pope also said he will pray that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founders of the United States of America, might continue to shine through the nation as it makes its way in history.

2. Our Bishops are United  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Prisoners of War

            I did not put the words, “War on Women” in the title because if I saw such a title, I would assume it was a stupid article.  Labeling the defense of life in the womb and religious freedom as a war on women is beyond irritating.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Family Circle

 Could failure to follow God’s commands be robbing your family of grace?

     God not only became one of us, but he was born into a family with parents: Our Blessed Mother Mary, and a father, St. Joseph.  There’s no escaping the message that families are intended to be holy places for children to grow and prepare to enter the world. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Miracle Tailor by Mary Pitstick

     In 1935, when my brother and two sisters and I were young children, we  went to a parsish run by Dominican priests in Somerset, Ohio.  Our pastor, Father Robert Kircher, loved to gather the children together for solemn church processions to celebrate special feast days.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cleaning House by Margaret Williams

     There came a time in my life when I was going through a spiritual renewal and examining how I could grow closer to God.  I decided to purify my house by getting rid of anything I considered to be evil.  We have a big house with thirteen rooms, six of them bedrooms for our eleven children.  That covers a lot of space.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Strength to Trust Again, by Madonna Silvernagel

     Madonna (Richter) Silvernagel had suffered a parent’s worse fear, not once, but twice—the death of two beloved baby daughters.  She could not have known that she herself would die young, but her legacy lives on in a powerful way. Her daughters, now married with families of their own, give thanks that their mother did not give into fear or the judgment of others.  This story is sad in many ways, yet, it imparts courage and joy to all who are open to life. Here is Madonna's story in her own words.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Other Terry

     Terry Schiavo was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state but her parents fought from 1998 to 2005 to keep her alive. Michael Schiavo, her husband, had gotten on with a new life with another woman and children. He won in court to have her feeding tube removed so Terry died from starvation on March 31, 2005.
     There is another Terry; this one a young man, also diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state after a car accident in 1984. For nineteen years, many people wondered why his parents did not just get on with their lives. But two years before the other Terry died, he surprised everyone. Here is his mother’s story, as told to me by Angilee Wallis.                                                                    

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Why Pray the Rosary? by Brother John Samaha, S.M.

     More than a century ago a proud university student boarded a train in France and sat next to an older man who seemed to be a peasant of comfortable means. The brash student noticed that the older gentleman was slipping beads through his fingers. He was praying the rosary.
     "Sir, do you still believe in such outdated things?" the student inquired. 
     "Yes, I do. Don't you?" the man responded. The student laughed and admitted, "I do not believe in such silly things. Take my advice. Throw the rosary out the window and learn what science has to say about it."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meeting My Daughter by Marsha Stocker

     Marsha and Jim discovered they were expecting a baby while unmarried and still in college.  They gave her up for adoption. It was a secret they kept even from their own brothers and sisters. The couple later married and raised three children together. Then, over twenty years after giving up their baby girl for adoption, she called and wanted to meet them. How could they explain her to their families? And how would they tell their other children about the sister they did not know existed?  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Little Girl in White by Doris Fischer

     It was World War II when Eldon Dahl, a school mate of my husband's and a pilot in the United States Air Force was shot down over Italy. He was returning from a bombing raid near Foggia, Italy on August 25, 1943.  Parachuting from his flaming B-17 bomber, which was riddled with bullets from German fighter planes, he landed near a small Italian village.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Modern Day St. Monica by LaChita Calloway

     When my twelve-year-old son, Donnie became involved with drugs and alcohol,  as far as I could tell, he was still the same obedient and kindhearted son he had always been.  We had been close during his childhood but I failed to recognize the changes he was going through. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vehicle to the Priesthood by Father John Riccardo

     My first memory is of the crucifix in my boyhood parish, Holy Name in Birmingham, Michigan.  I do not know how old I was, but I knew Jesus had died for me and my whole life was suppose to be a response to this. This is certainly not a typical first memory but my family was anything but typical.  My father, John, was the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for the Chrysler Corporation, and also a devout Catholic. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Russian Babushka’s Rebuild Church

St. Francis heard God’s call from a crucifix and the faithful Russian grandmothers heard God’s call from a cell phone.

     When St. Francis, knelt before the crucifix in the broken down church of San Damiano in the Italian town of Assisi, it was a moment that changed the world. “Francis, go rebuild my church, which is falling down,” he heard Christ say to him.
     Francis had given up his wealth so he rebuilt San Damiano by begging for the supplies. For a group of eight Russian grandmothers, in the 300-hundred-year-old village of Buranova, they are rebuilding their church through singing and dancing. They’ve become a hip group, flying across the country giving concerts and donating much of their proceeds to rebuild the Church of the Trinity, which had long ago been destroyed during Stalin’s rule.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Voodoo Dolls No Child’s Play—an Exorcist Weighs In

The latest craze being sold in stores to kids and teens across the country has all the makings of a successful fad—inexpensive, cute, and collectible.  But parents beware: the charm-sized voodoo dolls, also known as string dolls, are no child’s play. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wanted: Father

Job Description  Long term (as in lifetime) position in challenging and ever-changing work environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication skills and be willing to adopt a G-rated vocabulary. Applicants must also trade any existing sports vehicles in for a “babe” repelling, baby-friendly minivan. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Help Wanted: Mom

Candidates must posses the desire to love unconditionally.  Little or no training is required but willingness to learn on the job is a must. The initiation period is little or nonexistent, depending on the support staff you have in your extended family.
You must have the ability to be aware of every departmental need, supervise all underlings, function on little or no sleep, hear a pin drop even in the middle of the night, read minds, see through walls, and predict the future.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Making Peace with the 24-Hour Day

Do you have more things to do than time to do them?  Really?  No, not really.  Would God give you more to do than time to do it?   Of course not.  So if you feel that you can’t get it all done, then maybe it’s not all yours to do. Or, you aren’t organizing yourself. The question is, which is it?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Mouth as a Lethal Weapon

We have all done it--said too much or said the wrong thing and regretted it later.  Too often, opening our mouths releases gossip, complaints, or destructive words.  Our tongue is a concealed weapon—the most lethal.Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  (Matt 10:28).  A gun or knife can wound the body, but inflicts no damage on the soul, yet the tongue can mortally wound it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rock the World!

Do you want to rock the world?  Like St. Francis who moved spiritual mountains and Mother Teresa who moved heaven and earth to serve the poor, we can change the world. We would not be here if God did not plan for just that. He put us here to make a difference in every walk of life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Feminism vs Feminine

          I am a recovering feminist. Getting married in the Eighties was my first step when I changed my mind about keeping my own name. I went with logic. A long hyphenated name would be nothing but trouble over the long haul. And what does the second generation do if two people with hyphenated names marry each other?

Keeping my own name would have created problems after the children came--Is that your stepmother? Why doesn’t everyone in your family have the same last name? That’s how my deprograming began. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Healing Through "October Baby"

Although Shari Rigby was a seasoned actress, she was unprepared for the October Baby movie script. The movie is a story about Hannah, a college freshman who learns she was adopted and born premature as a result of an attempted abortion. She is shattered and embarks on a journey to find her birth mother. The quest ends in rejection and self-loathing for Hannah until she ultimately learns a lesson in forgiveness.   

Shaking as she read the role being offered to her—birth mother to Hannah--tears poured from Shari’s eyes. “I had to put the script down,” she said. “I sat on the couch and cried for a long time.”  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Until Death Do Us Part

I came across an amazing marriage recovery story when I was working on the Amazing Grace for Married Couples book.   A priest friend who heard of the title I was working on told me, "Oh, do I have a story for you!"  He wasn't kidding! Alcoholism, drugs, adultery, and then just when all seemed lost, a miraculous conversion. Oh, I've given away the ending. Still, you will be amazed.

I interviewed both spouses (I ghost wrote the story) and met them in person. This story is real and one that will strengthen your own marriage. Either you can say, "We aren't that bad!" or, "We'll, I guess there is hope for us."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Loving the Rapist's Child by Heather Gemmen Wilson

This story is a dramatic  testimony to the value of life--even life that results from a rape.  It was featured in Amazing Grace for Survivors

It had been more than a year since Casey was stillborn, and it seemed Steve and I would never be able to have the third child we wanted so badly. The nurse in the doctor's waiting room was used to seeing me there. She knew how hard we had tried since losing Casey. I guess that's why she just couldn't resist giving me a sly grin while practically singing her words, "The doctor will be right with you … and I think you'll like what she has to say."

The poor thing had no idea what I was really going through. The doctor came in to share my dilemma. I was pregnant all right. And neither of us was smiling. We both knew that I had been raped.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our Sons from Kenya

We never officially said "yes" to taking in a boy from Kenya, but had promised to pray about it. One thing led to another and in the end, many lives were changed.
Calvin’s coming to us was an amazing answer to his seemingly impossible prayer.  Years earlier, he had read a book about a boy who left Kenya to go to school in the United States.  ”Maybe I could go there someday,” he dreamed and prayed, “Dear God, please let me go to the United States.”  
Calvin prayed with the faith of a child, even though long ago, at thirteen, his childhood had been lost.  Both his parents had died of AIDS, leaving Rogers, 15, Calvin, 11, and Joash, 8, among Kenya’s 650,000 AIDS orphans.  When Calvin revealed his prayer to his older brother and an aunt, they laughed at him but he kept praying.

Monday, March 5, 2012

BLESSED BY MELISSA by Patricia M. Devlin

When I was collecting stories for the Amazing Grace for Survivors book, I came across this heart warming story by a friend of a friend who was  born blind. Here is her story.
I suppose Melissa would be called a child in a PVS state these days.  About fifty years ago, a  professional called children like her "vegetables" because they couldn't do anything for themselves, and the phrase unfortunately stuck.  Today, PVS stands for "persistent vegetative state."  

 Melissa was certainly not like the other children in the station wagon which picked us disabled kids up from all over Oahu, Hawaii,  including the outlying areas around Honolulu to take us to our respective schools. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can Contraception Raise Family IQ's?

     Minorities are not generally high achievers so the government has a responsibility to reduce their population. (Stay with me, I have a point to make.) Singleton children from highly educated, successful parents tend to be self-centered, so the government needs to address that unpatriotic situation.   Rich families breed kids with tendencies for depression, so they should be encouraged not to procreate.

     Are these hateful and ignorant statements?  Uh, yeah. Would anyone dare speak them publically?  Not if they value their reputations.  So then, explain to me why one of President Obama’s top science advisers got away with claiming children from large families have lower IQ’s and the government has a responsibility to curb such populations.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

They Just Don’t Understand

I once did not understand. So now, instead of getting upset when others don’t understand, I see it as an opportunity to inform or at least to pray for them.

When I came to understand Catholic teaching on love and marriage, my heart grew to include the unborn children I once thought I did not want.  Knowledge demanded action since my husband and I had taken permanent measures to end the creation of life in our family.  One reversal and four more souls later, our clan of ten, grew to twelve when we later accepted two orphans from Kenya. Love grows; pure and simple. But some just don’t know that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


You are a dummy if you do not friend the Blessed Mother, the best thing this side of God. Mary is the very best friend we could ever have. Yet, there are some out there who don’t even bother accepting her friendship. 

In general, Protestants don’t include her in their social circles but there are also plenty of Catholics who don’t bother with her. That’s even dumber than splitting from the Catholic Church. Ironically, the Protestant Fathers actually had a devotion to Mary.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why a Child is a Good Idea

Today, in "Annie's Mailbox" newspaper column, a woman who admitted having no desire for children wrote: "Babies are messy, leaky, smelly and noisy, as well as demanding and expensive."

The woman is accurate. It is not logical to have a child. A baby will drain your bank account and rob you of sleep.  It will be twenty or more years before he begins to truly appreciate all you do for him.  He will fight your authority and push the limits. Your lights will be left in the “on” position, long after he has has left the room. Then, there’s all the mess and the stress. Yes, life will never be the same if you have a child.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Former Altar Boy on Death Row

Ron Keine refused to become one of those people who find religion in prison on the way to death row. No, he decided, repenting is for the ones who are here for a reason. I have done nothing wrong.
Ron felt the justice system was a joke. "Justice was only a word that the court system was using to put four innocent men, myself among them, to death in New Mexico for a murder we did not commit," he said. As the days drew closer to his execution, his faith in God withered. "You did this to me, God!" Ron cried out. "I’m not gonna get on my knees and beg, because I don’t want your help! I am an innocent man!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Which is Worst Kind of Catholic?

Which is the worst kind of Catholic; an ex-Catholic or one who identifies as a cultural Catholic but does not follow the faith? 
One of the most unfortunate things about ex-Catholics is that they criticize and chip away at the body of Christ. One of the most unfortunate things about Cultural Catholics is that they criticize and chip away at the body of Christ. So, in that respect, it’s a draw.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Angel to the Rescue

Do angels really guard us and interact with us? This short story by Paulie  Ruby from Minot, ND was included in the Amazing Grace for Mothers book. It's a testimony that we are not alone. 
One foggy morning I heard my son Dan's truck leave and I began to hustle. I was a slow starter this chilly morning and knew my husband would be waiting--
not so patiently--for me to begin our own route.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vending Machine Morality

When a former college president shared that he had installed vending machines with condoms in the girls’ dorms, my face must have betrayed disapproval.  After a pregnant pause, (sorry, couldn’t resist) he further explained, “The girls asked me to do it because they wanted to be responsible.”

I was my husband’s date at a banquet he had been invited to as a county commissioner. Sitting at a table of strangers, we made introductions and small talk. The friendly, Mr. K explained that he was the retired president of a local community college. “There were always unexpected surprises around every corner,” he commented.

“So tell us about some of the surprises you encountered,” I inquired.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beatitudes for Parents

Blessed are those parents who make their peace with spilled milk and with mud, for of such is the kingdom of childhood.
Blessed is the parent who engages not in the comparison of his child with others, for precious unto each is the rhythm of his own growth.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Pray Like Jesus

During a recent talk, Fr. Thomas Richter explained that praying like Jesus requires one thing: to desire for God to have his way in your life.

As the vocation director for the Bismarck diocese, it would seem that Fr. Tom knows about answered prayers. Bismarck is in the top twenty per capita for vocations in the country.  But Fr. Tom would say it’s not a matter of God answering his prayers as it is for him to be answering God's will in his life.  They key to prayer, according to him, is to get out of the way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Like Mother Used to Say

“Get down from there before  you break your neck!”  Sound familiar?  You heard it growing up and you have probably repeated it to your own children.  There are certain sayings in a mom’s lexicon that seems to have infiltrated homes throughout the land.  Some you probably promised you would never repeat once you became a mom--and yet, the sayings stowed away on your tongue and popped out of our mouth quicker than you could say, “Because I said so, that’s why!”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mary and The Moslems

 At times, it seems that Moslems and Christians have no common ground. Yet, there is one who can bring us together--Mary, our Blessed Mother. Mary is greatly loved by both Muslims and Catholics. There are differences in our devotions to her, but Bishop Fulton Sheen once stated that he believed it would be through Mary that one day the Moslems would convert to Christianity. It is perhaps through Our Lady of Fatima that this hope is most likely.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Son the Matchmaker by Regina Rico Ferreira as told in the Amazing Grace for Mothers book

“Mommy, where’s my daddy?”  My four-year-old son Jacob asked me.  The question was a jolt to our leisurly Sunday afternoon walk together.  I always knew the question would one day come, but I was not expecting it so soon.