Category Archives: The Catholic Post

Guest Post: “A Beautiful Life Surrounded by and Knowing Nothing but Love”

I’m humbled today to present a guest post from Teresa Lutz, a local mom, on a book I reviewed this month, Karen Edmisten’s After MiscarriageHere’s my review of that book.

I don’t know whether to say it was coincidental or something else that when I first received my review copy of After Miscarriage, within a few days I learned of three women in my circle of friends and acquaintances suffered stillbirths or miscarriages.  I sent each of the women copies of the book, hoping it would provide comfort and support at some point, either now or in the future. 

Teresa felt ready to share some thoughts about the book with me, and when I asked her if she would guest post about it, she readily agreed.

Teresa is wife to Mike and mom to two beautiful boys.   She is a stay at home mom and works part time as an oncology nurse.

My husband and I were very excited to learn that we would be welcoming our third child into our family.  We were shocked and heartbroken to find out at our 20-week ultrasound that our baby had a fatal neural tube defect called anencephaly.  This meant that very early in my pregnancy her skull had not formed completely and as a result, she would be born with little brain tissue.
Her life expectancy was minutes or hours, if she made it through delivery.  We decided to celebrate the gift of her life while she was still with us and spent the remainder of my pregnancy cherishing every moment.  We were blessed with 36 weeks to love and care for our daughter before she went to Heaven.  Gianna Therese was stillborn on February 19th 2012.
I found Karen Edmisten’s After Miscarriage to be comforting and practical at the same time. It gave both an insight into what other women have experienced after the loss of their babies, but also offered suggestions and information for women who may have recently gone through a miscarriage or stillbirth. The quotes, prayers and Bible passages help to provide perspective and hope to the struggles one might be facing.
I was actually surprised to find that most of the chapters made a lot of sense – I almost felt like I could have written some of them!
For instance, Edmisten even includes a passage from her journal stating that she was dreading going to the dentist and having to explain that her baby had died. I have also been dreading my upcoming dentist appointment.
It didn’t occur to me that other people had experienced those feelings of anxiety when faced with explaining to practical strangers why we are no longer pregnant, yet don’t have a baby, either.
The book was easy to read through, but isn’t one that necessarily needs to be read cover to cover. I was given a different book by my doctor which was in a similar format, but almost too lengthy. I will definitely suggest After Miscarriage to him.
Although the author does touch on both the topics of stillbirth and miscarriage, I could see how some people having gone through a late miscarriage or stillbirth might feel like it doesn’t completely apply to them, especially if they didn’t make it through the first few chapters.
Overall, I found it was a very helpful book – especially as a Catholic mother. At a time like this, it is good to read a book that provides both practical and spiritual comfort.
Nancy again here: I recalled, though I was not able to attend Gianna’s funeral, that several friends shared that the reflection shared by Teresa and her husband at the funeral was beautiful.  Teresa also agreed to share this with Catholic Post readers:
——
Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Gianna Therese had a beautiful life surrounded by and knowing nothing but love.  She was surrounded by love in the womb and we believe was carried directly to the waiting arms of God.  We as Catholic parents, are called by our vocation of marriage, to strive above all else to work toward helping our children arrive in Heaven someday.  The Church and our faith tell us to have confidence in God’s unending love and mercy for even the littlest souls.  How can we not be filled with joy?
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” – Sam Keen
Gianna was not “perfect” in the worldly sense.  She was not meant to be with us long on this earth and we knew that from early on. Some people have thought that we carried Gianna to term because we don’t believe in abortion, because we are Catholic, or perhaps we weren’t given the option to do otherwise.  While some of these factors might have played a part in our immediate refusal to “terminate”, this is not what it is about.  It is about love!  It was about our child that was given to us as a gift to love and protect! Gianna’s life had value from the moment of conception, just as every life does.
 We do not possess more strength than other people.  It is not because we can cope where others wouldn’t. There was no way to avoid the sad fact that Gianna could not live long after birth, but causing her death earlier would not stop this from happening.  Causing her death would have only taken from us the beautiful experience of knowing and loving her and allowing others to do the same.  We wouldn’t wish away the time we had with Gianna to save us the tremendous pain of losing her.  Was it worth it?  YES!  We had the chance to hold Gianna, to see her and to love her before letting go.  Love your children, and remember that they each have their own unique mission.  Children are always and only a blessing from God – even if they don’t stay very long.
Our daughter’s short life and certain death has prompted some wonderful things.  This is our prayer as a family.  “We gladly offer our baby back to You God, and endure the sorrowful pain of missing the soul we have come to love.  If our offering prompts just one soul to grow closer to You, we offer Gianna with greater joy than the sorrow we are feeling.”
We appreciate the love, support and prayers we have received more than we can ever express with words.  We have felt peace throughout this entire journey and although we are so sad and hurting, we know we are not alone.  May God Bless you all for sharing this journey with us!

Q&A with Karen Edmisten, author of "after miscarriage"

Thanks, Karen Edmisten, for being so open and willing to answer all my rambling questions.  You can read my review of After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing & Hope in this weekend’s print Catholic Post or here on the blog.
 
Q. First, can you tell us little more about yourself, your family and your writing?
I’m a former atheist (I was baptized at the age of 30 and came into the Catholic Church at age 35), a wife (my husband came into the Church five years after I did), and a  homeschooling mom of three girls. Our oldest daughter will graduate this year and my other daughters are 15 and 9. I’ve always written in one form or another, but I began writing for publication about five years after I became a Catholic. I started blogging (at Karen Edmisten) in late 2005, and my first book (The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary) was published in 2009. My second book (Through the Year With Mary) came out in 2010.
Q.  Why a book about miscarriage?
I’ve had five miscarriages myself, so it’s something I’ve lived, something I’ve thought a lot about. I wanted to share the things that were helpful and healing to me over the years, and I wanted to offer a specifically Catholic resource to address some of the questions and misunderstandings that I hear about the Church and miscarriage.
And, the grief I experienced through my miscarriages, while devastating at the time, ultimately helped me to grow closer to God, so I also wanted to share some of that hope and encouragement.
I also wanted to reassure others that they are not alone if they feel the grief of miscarriage deeply and for a long time. We’re often expected to “get over it” fairly quickly, and while it’s important to heal and keep moving forward, I think we are often surprised by how shaken we are by the loss.
Q.  You are very candid in the book about your own struggles through multiple miscarriages, and even share journal entries.  What gave you the courage to share this, and were you at all concerned about sharing “too much”?
I don’t really think of myself as courageous – maybe I should be concerned about sharing too much, but that doesn’t usually occur to me! It’s more a matter of thinking, “If this is helpful to someone else, then it’s worth saying.” Maybe because I was, at one time in my own life, such a questioner of all things religious, and I deeply appreciated people who were willing to share their spiritual journeys with me, that I want to do the same for others if I can.
Q.  Having lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth is kind of a “sisterhood” in a way.   Do you find women more willing in the age of the Internet/blogs, to share about membership in “the sisterhood” and talk about these kinds of details about their lives?  Is that a good thing or not?
I think we’ve always been willing to share and to support each other in that “sisterhood” – it just seems a natural reaction among women. But I think the age of the internet makes it much easier to find help, support, understanding – and I think that’s a great thing.
Q.  I’m not sure if this is a question or an invitation to discussion about this.  When I interviewed Amy Welborn about her book Wish You Were Here, I was thinking of, but never got to a post about, good books for kids who might be going through grieving.  So many of the books “specifically for or about grieving” left us cold when my own kids were going through the loss of both sets of grandparents in just a few short years.   
Amy had a great response that it isn’t necessarily a book about grieving that helps when you experience a loss, but everyone finds different types of books (perhaps something completely different-mysteries, for instance) /coping mechanisms that are helpful.    It may not be the right time or healing balm to read about death and dying.
And yet the experience of miscarriage/stillbirth is so intimate and unique, I think reading After Miscarriage is helpful for most women who have experienced it, whether recently or long ago.  The resources you provide to places like Elizabeth Ministry and the like are also very helpful and pertinent.  Your thoughts?
Thanks, and yes, I do hope that After Miscarriage ishelpful to women (and men) at any stage of that journey. But I agree with Amy that there are a lot of things that can be helpful that aren’t specifically about grief. Sometimes the tiniest thing was a healing gesture for me – bringing fresh-cut irises from the garden into the house.
One of my miscarriages occurred when my oldest daughter was six years old. She was devastated. I didn’t find that books about grief were all that helpful to her – what helped her the most was just my presence. She simply needed to know that I was there, that we could play Candyland, or go out for ice cream.
When I did read books about grief, they weren’t about the specific kind I was experiencing, but they were what I needed. For example, in After Miscarriage,  I quote A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, and Two-Part Invention, by Madeleine L’Engle. Both of those books deal with the loss of a spouse, and yet both were extremely helpful and meaningful to me after miscarriages, simply because they so accurately captured the state of grief itself.
Karen and I corresponded about some of the resources that are available to families undergoing a pregnancy loss.  
 
Karen Edmisten and the owner of one resource, Heaven’s Gain, will be on an “After Miscarriage” show on the Catholic Answers Live radio show on May 28th.
 
In addition, Elizabeth Ministry International has a very helpful FAQ page for families undergoing miscarriage or stillbirth.

A Healing New Book for Coping With Miscarriage

Are you a member of the sisterhood?  No one wants to be, but many women are among those who have miscarried or have a stillborn child.  Every woman handles it differently, and every woman grieves differently.  A well-designed new book by Karen Edmisten, After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing & Hope, helps provide comfort and support to those who have gone through this.
I experienced a miscarriage when I was newly married, many years ago.  But even after nearly two decades, I found this book very healing to read and ponder.
Edmisten shares the stories of many different women who have gone through miscarriage or stillbirth, and the differences and similarities of each woman’s experience. She also candidly shares journal entries of times from her multiple pregnancy losses.   The book also includes additional resources for grieving, support and further reading.
I so appreciate how nicely designed the book is—the square shape is particularly appealing and had a good “feel” to it.  After Miscarriage would be a great resource for the many women who are part of “the sisterhood,” and for those who love them.

Meet a Reader: Liz Dahlen

I’m so grateful to Liz Dahlen for reaching out to me and offering to be the “reader” this month.  I’m always looking for suggestions and people in the diocese of Peoria willing to be “readers” on the Catholic Post Book Group.  If you know someone or are a reader yourself, please contact me here on the blog or through The Catholic Post.

How You Know Me:

After being a lifelong Lutheran, I joined the Roman Catholic Church on Easter 2007.  I am a member of St. Louis Parish, Princeton, where I am a lector.  I am a member of the Illinois Valley Cursillo Community, and I am a behind-the-scenes volunteer for the Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats.

Why I Love to Read:

I am absolutely certain I was born with a book in my hand!  Words and ideas have always fascinated me.  I love to read because I love to learn new things, and I also love to read because it “takes me away” from the daily grind to new places and new times, even if the times I’m reading about aren’t new in the chronological sense. 

What I’m Reading Now:

I just finished Catholicism by Father Robert Barron and The Litigators by John Grisham.  Both books were wonderful.  On my Kindle I am reading a biography of Michaelangelo.  I don’t anticipate starting a new hardcover until after the holiday rush.

My Favorite Book:

That is a very tough question!!  I would have to say Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  I read it for the first time when i was in junior high school and fell in love with it.  That book has everything—plot, characters, style, great writing.  I take it out and re-read every few years and I still enjoy it.  My second favorite is any book written by Donald Cardinal Wuerl.  He is a wonderful writer and I have learned much about the Catholic faith from his books.

A Good Spiritual Library is a Hospital for the Soul

Here is my March column that appears in the print Catholic Post this weekend.
——————————————————-

Are you ready for Lent yet?  Not quite?
I’m not, either.
Lent and Easter are so late this year that it should be a cinch to have all our Lenten devotions and practices spelled out, but it never seems to happen that way.  So I have started to set aside some books.  That’s because I know that alongside prayer, fasting and almsgiving, spiritual reading can make Lent fruitful, even more so than giving up my beloved dark chocolate.
There’s a great book blog called “A Library is a Hospital for the Mind.”  With a nod to that fascinating title, I submit that good spiritual reading is a kind of “hospital for the soul.”  If you haven’t had spiritual reading as part of your Lenten practice, or are looking for something fresh, here are a few suggestions of newer books to consider:
*The Little Way of Lent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux by Fr. Gary Caster, a priest of the diocese of Peoria.  [Full disclosure here:  Father Caster was my boss when I taught high school for two years, and I’ve known him for nearly two decades. ] Father Caster draws on a long devotion to the “Little Flower” to give meditations for each day of Lent.  “What struck me,” Father Caster writes St. Therese, “was her insistence on the way we do things for God and not the things we do for him.  It wasn’t about what I was offering; it was about why.”  There are great little “nuggets” of quotes from St. Therese at the end of each reflection.
*”God speaks to us in the great silence of our heart,” is a famous quote from St. Augustine, and the frontspiece for Finding Your Hidden Treasure:  The Way of Silent Prayer by Benignus O’Rourke, OFA.  This nicely–sized book is truly “treasure”-filled with short meditations and encouragement from St. Augustine and his spirituality.  Finding Your Hidden Treasure is a wonderful read, eliciting a spirit of silence and peace on every page.
*Lent & Easter Wisdom from St. Benedict, by Judith Sutera, OSB, is the newest in Liguori’s “Lent & Easter Wisdom” series (other authors include GK Chesterton, Fulton Sheen and many others).   There’s a short quote from St. Benedict, Scripture verse, prayer, and Lenten action for each day of Lent and Easter Week.  A great instructive guide to St. Benedict’s thoughts.
*If you’re ready this Lent to take on a classic like St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life, consider an excellent new edition by TAN Classics.  For many years, TAN was a reliable publisher of classics and great new books, but the graphic design and book quality were… let’s just say they left a little something to desired.
Since TAN was acquired by Saint Benedict Press several years ago, all that has changed.  The books are still the great classics, like Story of a Soul, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and others are here.  The difference is that the books have handsome, durable covers; beautiful typesetting and fonts, and just the right “feel.” Finally, these great classics have a production value that begins to match their greatness.
–What are your favorite Lenten reads?  What are you planning to read this Lent?

Meet a Reader: Sue Wozniak, R.N.

How you know me:  I retired this month as COO of OSF St. Francis Medical Center, after a long career in nursing and hospital administration.  My husband, Ken, and I are members of St. Vincent parish in Peoria, and we have five children and four grandchildren.
Why I love reading:  Reading reduces stress and can take you away to fantasy land.  For me, reading, especially biographies of famous leaders, helps me to understand how other people make decisions.  Reading history helps me learn about living in the past.  I just love to read.
What I’m reading now:  I just finished reading Decision Points by George H.W. Bush, and I’m currently working my way through The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
My favorite book: My all-time favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I also loved all the Cherry Ames mystery books (Cherry is a nurse) when I was a girl because I wanted to become a nurse, and I did!

UnPlanned a Must-Read About Life, Prayer, Friendship & Conversion {my February column @TheCatholic Post}

Following is my February column that appears in this issue of the print edition of  The Catholic Post.

Back in the day, I worked in public relations in the pro-life movement in Washington, DC. I wrote too many press releases to count (when we used the latest technology of faxing them to reporters), ate expense-account lunches with columnists, and did countless interviews.

When people would tell me that prayer was their primary way of serving the pro-life cause, part of me thought, “Amen.” But can I make a confession here?  Part of me didn’t really think so.  The 20something media hotshot me felt all my busy “inside the Beltway” activities were more effective.

Today, I laugh at my poor younger self.  Yes, press releases and legislation are important, but prayer and friendship are even more powerful in establishing a culture of life.

Prayer, friendship and conversion are at the heart of a new must-read: Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.

UnPlanned is the story of Abby Johnson, an abortion clinic director who leaves her job after the first time assisting an ultrasound-guided abortion, and seeing with her own eyes a baby struggling away from the abortion instrument.   This is more than just pro-life apologetics; Johnson writes a well-paced and sensitive memoir of her spiritual journey.

In UnPlanned, Johnson shares the impulses that brought her into the abortion industry, and the many decent people motivated by compassion who worked alongside her inside the clinic.  But she shows how that compassion is misdirected and used by some (including leadership at Planned Parenthood) to make money by pushing abortion regardless of what’s best for women and their children.

Two issues Johnson raises make UnPlanned especially worth reading and discussing:

*How do we as Christians speak the truth about life while still remaining open to those with opposing views?  Johnson was asked to leave a Protestant church when her abortion work became known, understandable but a move that drove Johnson away from people who might have reached her.   It’s actually the confession from the Book of Common Prayer at the  self-described “pro-choice” Episcopal parish Johnson attended that becomes a factor moving her towards repentance. God does the work of conversion; how can we be channels of this grace?

*How do we attract young people to the culture of life?  Johnson writes how she was drafted as a college student to volunteer for Planned Parenthood by an appeal to her sense of idealism and desire to help women.  Young people are in a kind of “sensitive period” in their late teens to mid 20s when values and life course are being set.  How do we direct their natural idealism and energy to the culture of life, instead of the opposite?

Johnson’s conversion happened in a moment, but UnPlanned makes clear it was the sustained effort of many people praying, fasting and acts of friendship for and to her that made that moment possible.

This fine book speaks volumes about the power of love and prayer to overcome darkness and despair. Johnson writes that she was “loved from one side to the other.”  Reading Unplanned  will make readers want to be that kind of love and prayer in their own communities.  I can say now, with no division, “Amen” to that.

Meet a Reader: Shannon Cardaronella

This month’s “Meet a Reader” is a wonderful woman I met several years back at the Peoria Diocese Summer Institute.    At a dinner for speakers & spouses (both our husbands were speakers that year), we talked the entire time about–I know you will be shocked to hear this—books!  This actually is quite surprising as we have kids of similar ages, and kids tends to be a default subject.  I knew she would be great to feature here, and I am so glad to be able to introduce another thoughtful “reader” to Catholic Post readers.  Thanks, Shannon.

How You Know Me:

You probably do not know me.  More people know my husband, Marc, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) at Holy Cross Parish in Champaign and the Regional DRE for Champaign/Danville.  I love Holy Cross!   Holy Cross is one of the loveliest churches I have every enjoyed, and it is our home parish.  If you are ever in Champaign, please come worship with us.  Consider yourself invited.  I also appreciate that our parish is a motley crew of folks from all walks of life.  Marc and I have two boys:  John Berchmans “JB”, 9 and David, 7.  I am a homeschool mom, and I love homeschooling also allows us to read, read, read!

Why I Love Reading:

I grew up surrounded by huge bookshelves filled to the brim and even cataloged.  My sister read to me all the time when I was very young.  My parents discussed their latest reads at the dinner table.  We read it all, from junky books to works that uplifted the mind.  We were curious about other people and places, other points of view, new ways of looking at the world.  Finally, my parents were not afraid of the world.  They both possessed an innate love of and trust in the world and people, always teaching me that most people are good and kind and want to help.  This trust allows me to go deeply into the world of the book I am reading.  There is something about losing oneself in a good book that can neither be adequately expressed nor replicated with other media.

My Favorite Book:

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  While Scarlett is the main character, it is Melanie who fascinates me.  Melanie is a beautiful Christ figure.  As a reader, I wince at Scarlett’s flaws: her insensitivity, selfishness and heartless conniving.  Melanie sees Scarlett’s perfections: her fortitude, intelligence, good horse sense and strength. The kicker is Melanie is right.  Scarlett — exactly who she is, with all of her flaws, because of who she is, with all of her flaws — saved herself, Tara, Melanie and the baby, Mammy & Prissy… her whole “tribe” if you will, against seemingly insurmountable odds.  Melanie is no doe-eyed ignorant optimist.  She accepts and embraces Scarlett and the world as they are.  This acceptance brings out the best in all, including even Rhett Butler and Belle Watling.

What I’m Reading Now:

Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.  Fr. Willard, our pastor at Holy Cross, gave a copy to every family at Christmas Mass.  Thank you, Fr. Willard!  There is a lot of “food for thought” in this one.  And since this is my very own copy, I can underline to my heart’s content.

"The Grace to Race" and other Books Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

Do you have a New Year’s resolution, or more than one?
When I put this question out on the blog last week and the Facebook page for the Catholic Post, an assortment of worthy goals were listed, from physical goals, such as eating better or exercising more; organizing goals; relationship goals such as having more family time; and financial goals.  Three new books offer interesting possibilities to help nearly anyone begin to tackle the challenges of a new year.

*The Grace to Raceby Sister Madonna Buder, is one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in recent years.  The lengthy subtitle tells the story:  The Wisdom & Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun.

I was a wee bit put off by that “concept,” too–until I started reading and couldn’t put it down.

Sister Madonna’s book is part fine spiritual autobiography, part triathlete war stories, and throughout, true inspiration to the rest of us to really “reach” for more in our spiritual and physical lives.

Born to a life of privilege in St. Louis, Sister Madonna Buder considers a vocation from her early years, but still dates and immerses herself in an active, happy family life.  Her decision time approaches as she reflects during a summer trip to Europe:

“Once safely on the train coursing along the scenic Rhine, I began to collect my thoughts.  My Irishman!  Monsignor Doheny!  My European adventures!  The past, the present, the future!  What was God really asking of me?  Then, from the depths of my soul, came an interior voice, ‘Can any one man satisfy you when I alone dwell in the deepest recesses of your heart?’  The message was seeping in just as surely as the waters flowed along the banks of the Rhine.  My true longing was becoming clear.”

Based on her active lifestyle through her early life, it doesn’t surprise to see Sister Madonna to take up running at age 48, begin running marathons and then racing triathlons (including the punishing full-length Ironman triathlons) through her 80s.      What is surprising is how well she shows how running has enhanced and aided her vocation and her prayer life:

“All I knew at the time was that I was running on faith, and I prayed while I ran.  Afterwards, I realized it was a different kind of prayer posture.  Besides using my heart and head, when I ran my whole body was involved in the petitioning.”

For those looking for a little personal motivation, Sister Madonna gives tips and ideas for getting or staying active, but her story itself in inspiration enough.

*Is personal or home organization among your top goals for the new year?  Smart Martha’s Catholic Guide for Busy Moms by Tami Kiser is a super-encouraging, practical book that helps moms streamline home management and family organization.

Kiser presents her approach not just for the sake of a sparkling house or well-groomed family, but chiefly so that family members can be more “present” to one another and others, just as Mary was “present” when Jesus visited the home of Mary & Martha in Bethany.

A busy mom of nine, Kiser culls tips from her “Smart Martha” seminars to give a boost to moms who feel drowning in school schedules and home management.  What I love best about Smart Martha is the reminders that your way may be different, but just as good, rather than a “one size fits all” approach too common in home organizing books.

One feature I found especially helpful was her take on the 7 Habits time management skill of  “sharpening the saw,” originally all about balance and taking breaks to increase efficiency.  Kiser adds to that definition that moms should take the time to rethink routines, schedules, or even rooms, in order to be more efficient and have more time for one another in the family and in the world.

*With all the depressing financial news, it’s no surprise to see that Merriam-Webster decreed“austerity” as Word of the Year (WOTY).

(That’s not quite as much fun as the Oxford English Dictionary’s WOTY:  refudiate; but that’s for another column.)

Financial goals can be both a worthy goal and a significant challenge.   An intriguing new book, Why Enough is Never Enough:  Overcoming Worries about Money-A Catholic Perspective by Gregory S. Jeffrey, proposes that much of our worry and insecurity about money lies in two areas: a lack of trust in God, and a lack of generosity.

Each chapter ends with reflection questions that Jeffrey suggests people write out and talk over with a “money partner:” a spouse or trusted friend.  Overall, the reflection questions and indeed the whole book, are designed to foster in readers hearts that are “radically generous” and trusting in God for all good.

My main concern about Why Enough is Never Enough is the fear some readers might take away that the only cause of money troubles or money worries is spiritual; that somehow prayer, the sacraments and trust in God is all that is required to be a good financial steward.  In its defense, that really isn’t the book’s only message, but based on the title and some of the content, readers could be misled.

I wish the book had given more strategies that people can do to economize, or save more, or make wise financial decisions.  These might not fall into the category of a “spiritual” or “Catholic” approach, but can still help people meet their financial goals and be more at peace with money.

Also consider:

*Once you’ve been inspired by Sister Madonna Buder’s triathlons, consider The Rosary Workout by Peggy Bowes.  Bowes outlines a sensible, easy approach to interval training (for people of any physical or spiritual level) using the prayers of the Rosary.

 *A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.  Pierlot proposes moms adapt St. Benedict’s Rule of Life to maintain rhythm and prayer in managing a family.
*7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free: A Catholic Guide to Managing Your Money by Phil Lenahan is a well-respected newer classic (from 2007) with an online component for small group study.

I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You

Today’s first reading is from Job 1, about all the misfortunes that happened to Job.  Servant after servant came to tell Job of losing everything, and their “line” is, “I alone have escaped to tell you.”  And Job responds with,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

naked I shall return.
The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I am reminded of several random thoughts here that I hope will be somewhat cohesive.

*the lector for daily Mass, coincidentally, happened to be the October featured “Meet a Reader” that will appear in this weekend’s edition of The Catholic Post.  You’ll just have to check back later this week to see who it is, but suffice to say she is an excellent lector.  I always think when she is the lector, “Word on Fire,” because she reads in a very deep way (for lack of a better word, not “drahmatic” but moving and heartfelt–it’s hard to let your mind wander during her reading).  You know you are hearing the Word of the Lord.    I had arrived a bit late for Mass (not that that ever happens to me! hmm), so the reading has just started, but I was instantly drawn into the narrative.

*Job, scripture tells us, “committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.”  I think that is more difficult than anything when bad things happen.  Who can say they never complain to God?  I know I am extremely prone to this, for small things and big things.

*A suggestion for your Ipod: (and it happens to be on my running playlist), Blessed Be Your Name is a great song by the CCM band Tree 63, a meditation of sorts on this passage from Job.


*I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life and Pastimes
is the title of the excellent memoir by Ralph McInerny, who died last year.  He was a personal hero of mine and I wrote about him several times in my blogging life, so I’ve mined one of those old posts to share:

I met him once many years ago, when my husband and I were first married.  McInerny gave a speech at Bradley University, and one of the hosting professors invited us to the after-speech gathering at his house.  I brought along a super chocolate cake.  It was good, with a chocolate-sour cream ganache frosting–now where is that recipe?

McInerny praised it by saying it was the “most chocolatey chocolate cake” he had ever tasted.  My husband, the philosopher in the family (by trade, degree, and temperament), said this was the highest compliment given by a philosopher.  McInerny agreed, and we all had a good laugh.

Several years ago my husband presented a paper at a conference at Notre Dame. I tagged along with the two children we had at the time.   McInerny was one of the organizers, and even though I saw him walking around the conference, I was always too shy to re-introduce myself and tell him how much I admired him.  Usually I am pretty bold about introducing myself to people.  Now I wish I had.

How he discusses writing in I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You is brilliant.    He takes the craft of writing seriously but not too seriously.  He speaks of it being a discipline and work, and the luck/serendipity involved in his success.

He has referred to Anthony Trollope, one of my favorite authors, at least three times in the few chapters I have read.  He and/or his family regularly spent several years, and weeks of others, in Europe.  He is a faithful Catholic family man with a large family.  What’s not to love?