Looking for Christmas books for children in keeping the true spirit of the season? Check this review on Doyle’s Delights.

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Catholic Gift Shops

In addition to writing books and book reviews for my publisher, I also sell their books. It’s a pleasure getting to know the hard-working, kind, and spiritual owners of the shops I call upon across the country. Few sales reps are welcomed by cheery voices on the other end of the line, as I am.

Many of these shops, as other retail businesses today, are struggling. Their patronage is down due to competing prices online. But in contrast with merchandise we view on our computers and personal devices, there is an advantage and pleasure in seeing items in person, picking them up, and feeling them in our hands.

If we want to continue having these beautiful shops in our towns, we must support them. Not only do we need to step in their doors, we also must purchase items there. They are jam-packed with religious books, statues, rosaries, holy cards, crosses and so much more than seen on the Internet. For example, Linden Leaf Gifts, located in the Providence Center of the Sisters of Providence motherhouse in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, sells exquisitely handmade hats, gloves, shawls, and blankets made from the high quality fibers of the Alpacas the sisters raise there.

This holiday season is the perfect time to check out your nearest Catholic store. Let’s help keep these shops open

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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Speaking at a Catholic Wake

If you’ve ever been asked to speak at a wake or funeral you know the pressure of finding the right words to honor the deceased. To Say a Few Words. Guidelines for Those Offering Words of Remembrance at a Catholic Funeral is the guide we’ve been looking for to do this with faith and respect.

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The Catholic Church has specific rules for speaking at funerals and each diocese adds its own requirements. These rules are so that nothing distracts from the Eucharist and liturgy. To Say a Few Words explains these guidelines and offers examples of how to present a short, prayerful expression of remembrance for the deceased. It’s a little handbook bereavement committees, funeral homes, and church libraries should keep on hand for intended speakers.

You can get the book and ebook of To Say a Few Words here.

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A Visit to the Shrine

The new St. Mother Theodore Guerin/St. Theodora shrine is now open, and it is a destination to put on your travel list. Only a small percentage of canonized saints are native or naturalized North Americans, so the opportunity to come so close to the remains of a saint is rare on our continent.

In the hallway before the shrine are a series of dioramas that tell the story of the founding sisters’ journey to the New World and their early missionary work here. The miniatures offer a visual description of the perseverance needed to establish the first school and convent and survive the harsh life of the wilderness.

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Continuing down the hallway and beyond the double doors is the modest entrance to the shrine.

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Once visitors enter the doorway nestled beneath the adoration chapel, the site is surprisingly spacious. Quotes from St. Theodora, or Mother Theodore Guerin, which is the name the Sisters have always known her by, and information about her and the works of the Sisters of Providence, are sprinkled along winding pathways.

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Her personal items also are exhibited in such a way that it isn’t difficult to imagine St. Theodora using them right there.

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The main part of the shrine that features the saint’s remains is simple and bright. You can kneel before the coffin and even reach across and touch it. To be so close to such a holy person’s remains is quite a moving and inspiring experience.

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The document declaring St. Theodora’s canonization is displayed in that room as well.

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The shrine is located on 1200 acres shared by the Sisters of Providence motherhouse and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College campus.

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Throughout the grounds, notable information is offered on markers that highlight where St. Theodora and her companions first stepped off the carriage, lived, and worked. You’ll even find a replica of the cabin where Bishop Brute, the first bishop of Vincennes, offered the first Mass at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

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©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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To Live Like a Saint

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Year-long festivities begin on October 22, 2014 with the celebration of the Eucharist honoring 175 years of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Saint Mother Theodore, also known as Saint Theodora, and five other sisters arrived in the U.S. in 1840 with the mission to bring the Catholic faith to the children and adult women of the American Midwest. The religious community and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College continue today on that sight.

Saint Mother Theodore was a courageous and compassionate woman known even in her time as saintly. Her unfailing faith guided her through the hardships of the wilderness, prejudice against women and Catholics, and the challenges of building schools throughout Illinois and Indiana.

Seven Principles of Sainthood, which I wrote after attending Saint Mother Theodore’s canonization, shows how she prayed with the saints, trusted in Providence, spread the Word of the Lord, lead by serving, was just and kind, forgave like Jesus, and strove for humility. Historical references and personal examples are drawn from her letters and journals and archived materials. Every chapter of this readable and inspiring book includes supporting Scripture verses and ways in which we may follow in her footsteps.

(For more information on the celebrations at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN, see the Sisters of Providence website at www.sistersofprovidence.org or Saint Mary –of-the-Woods College atwww.SMWC.edu)

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Our Lady of The Rosary

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St. Theodora had a great devotion to the Rosary. The enlarged Rosary beads hung from her waist for easy access to pray throughout the day, as it does with so many sisters dressed in habits.

The Rosary is a Christocentric devotion, meaning that the prayer form is centered on Christ. We begin the Rosary with our dedication to the Trinity with the Sign of the Cross. We declare the basic truths of Christianity with the Apostles’ Creed. Throughout the Rosary, we meditate upon the greatest mysteries of our Catholic faith. And as we progress through the beads, we pray the Lord ’s Prayer, glorify the Lord with the Glory Be, and remember the magnificent gift of the Incarnation and ask Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death with the Hail Mary.

The Rosary has a history of more than a thousand years beginning with a group of Irish monks who prayed 150 Our Fathers on a string of beads in honor of the 150 Psalms. The prayer form soon evolved and in 1571 Pope St. Pius V approved the rosary as we know it today with three sets of Mysteries: The Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Pope Saint John Paul II approved an additional set of mysteries, known as the Luminous Mysteries, in 2002.

The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared numerous times requesting us to pray the Rosary. She is believed to have appeared to St. Dominic (1170-1221) and others requesting the Rosary be prayed as a weapon against war and a means to grow closer to her son, Jesus.

The month of October is traditionally known as the month of the Rosary. We celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, a title by which Mary referred to herself when she appeared to Saints Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesco in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

A book I’ve written, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, has more information on the development of the rosary, its significance, and additional prayers that may be said. With this book the Rosary may be prayed by following page-by-page. Each Mystery includes a diagram to show on which beads we pray these prayers, original artwork by my son, Joseph Cannella, corresponding Scripture verses, and a reflection.

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Why not begin the practice of praying the Rosary every day in this month of the Rosary? In doing so, you will be greatly surprised at the graces that come your way. It’s a very relaxing and inspiring devotion that will increase your love for Jesus and his mother, Mary and promote peace in your heart.

(Artwork: The Annunciation by Joseph Cannella, graphite)

©Mary K. Doyle

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The Last Book of Catholic Jokes

Public speakers, priests, and ministers begin many a homily or presentation with a bit of humor. A little joke can grab the audience’s attention and set a tone for the rest of their talk. The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, written and chosen by Deacon Tom Sheridan, former editor of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has plenty of jokes you can repeat, use in your presentations, and pass on to friends.

See more on this book review here.

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