Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Let This Upcoming Advent Slip Through Your Fingers!

Did you ever notice that the Advent season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye? All of a sudden you find yourself at Christmas Mass wondering how your time to prepare for Christ so easily slipped through your fingers.

Darn! You had promised yourself that this Advent would be different. You wouldn’t be caught by surprise, yet again! You bought Advent prayer books and an Advent wreath kit. You had great intentions to make this Advent season very different from last.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can make the conscious choice—right here, right now—to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the coming season of Advent; and its purpose.

Advent is a season of preparing.

If you have ever entertained guests, or even made the slightest effort to get ready for any company, you will see how those experiences lend themselves well to your own groundwork this Advent to invite Christ to dwell within your heart—and thus truly be ready for His second coming.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Angels Are...And Are Not

There isn’t anyone among us who hasn’t enjoyed a Christmas movie wherein an angel earns his or her wings. We love to hear the bell jingle because at that moment we know that heaven’s angel population has increased by one.


As much as those movies endear themselves to us, the fact is, the angel population neither increases nor decreases over time. But it does make those of us interested in angels sit up and take notice—and want to learn more about these heavenly creatures.

What are they?

Who are they?

Why are they?

Angels are spirits created by God (Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:14).

They are the invisible created things that have a hierarchy. These invisible created things are spirits meant to serve those who are to inherit salvation—fallen man who now freely chooses Christ. This establishes our relationship with angels in that they are to help us in ways that we may not fully know or understand; however, we shouldn’t be trying to discover how to boss them around or manipulate them! They are meant to help us usher our souls into an eternity with God.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Preparing Kids to Become Responsible Citizens

The following copyrighted excerpt is reprinted with permission from All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters written for Catholic boys aged 9-14:

"Along with patriotism, there is citizenship. You are a citizen of a country. This is what makes you American, Mexican, or French for example. There are a lot of rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship in a country. In many instances, people have died to help obtain the rights and freedoms everyone enjoys.

"This is why gratitude to those who are in your history—and obviously knowing about them—is important. Just like there are Catholics who have gone before you in your faith history, so there are county-men who have gone before you in your nation’s history.

"However, first and foremost your citizenship is in Heaven. You have a place there because you were baptized. This is your calling—your destiny. Granted, you're not there yet. You have some work to do in order to get there. It began with your baptism and continues each day that you do your best to live for Jesus. Always remember that you have to know, love and serve God before you can become a citizen of Heaven for good! But you can do it if you persevere in this life on earth. 

"Think about it: in order to be a good citizen here on earth you have responsibilities. As you grow up and become a man, it's important that you learn about your country and what goes on in it. That’ll be part history and part current events. You need to know what happened before—so mistakes don’t have to be made over and over again—and what’s happening now." 

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Woman of Faith Ages Gracefully, Right?

You’ve discovered what it truly means to be “young at heart.”

The wrinkles around your mouth and the pouchy jowls have no effect on you.

You see the varicose veins in your legs and feet as a sign of victory—having carried children and lifted the loads of life.

You are able to make fun of your bat wings and still wear sleeveless shirts in the summer.

That’s what it means to grow old gracefully; it is a sign of maturity of spirit.

Something we attain while we nurture others and as we, ourselves, learn and grow from life’s experiences.

Yeah, not so much…

My own struggle with getting older has been a quiet one—but a real one. And I don’t get that. As a woman of faith my struggles against aging make me question my faith.

Shouldn’t I be sort of excited to be on the dark side of 50? Isn’t one step closer to eternity a bigger milestone than the number 60 that looms in the not-too-distant future? Nope. Not at all.

So it makes me wonder: What’s up with that?

I went to a Neil Diamond concert a few years ago and all I could think was: What are all these old people doing here?

Don't get me wrong: I am glad to be alive and yet the reality of facing aging is still very real.

And I get that some people who are in their 70s think I’m still a babe in the woods; but the fact is, I can’t even call myself “middle aged” unless I can honestly say I think I will live to be around 112 “ish.” Probably not going to happen regardless of how Suzanne Somers spins aging—but I do like her spunk and am very tempted to order her electric-zapping facial contraption (has anyone tried it?).

In the meantime, I ponder this surprising dilemma more and more and look in the mirror less and less.

I’m trying to find the balance between my faith and digging in my heels against time as it flies by—although I do like the idea of the gusts of time pulling back the skin of my face and giving me a more youthful look.

Maybe it is a win-win after all.

(picture: © Mellefrenchy |


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back By Popular Demand

"Innovative, insightful, practical, and inspiring! A great gift for teens." +Ronald P. Herzog Diocesan Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana 

"If the first few moments of the day set the tone and mood for the rest of the day, then Catherine Brown's words will fill you with energy, optimism, and joy. This work will make you excited to be alive and inspire you to move through the day with greater confidence. A must for anyone who desires to make a difference and live each day to the fullest." B. David Brooks, Pastor Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria, Louisiana 

"Putting teens in touch with our God is a remarkable work today! I believe Daily Direction for Teenz is an opportunity for such moments to happen." Sr. Ann Lacour, MSC, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Diocese of Alexandria 

Daily Direction for Teenz is back by popular demand so if you are looking for a fun daily devotional for your teen or tween, you won't want to miss this one!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Could That Best-Seller be Bad for Your Health?

There’s growing evidence to support the idea that fiction books can be good or bad for you. It’s a drum I’ve been beating on for a very long time.

I begin supporting my own belief about this by going directly to Scripture: Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Books, after all, cause us to think of things. Whatever fills the pages ultimately fills our mind.

But this doesn’t mean that books ought to be boring. I’m not interested in reading boring books—or publishing them either!

This directive in Scripture shouldn’t translate into fiction books that don’t capture our interest and don't take us on an adventure.

I was invited on Catholic television where I was asked to talk about the newest trend in YA fiction (young adult fiction): the fastest growing audience of YA books is adults! This is because adults love the adventure, characters and even intrigue found in a cleverly crafted YA book—and they like the way they feel when they are done reading it.

So I wasn’t surprised when I recently read in the book Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine that “It is detrimental for the nerves if persons are always reading new thrillers, or the newest bestsellers.” It goes on to say how the nerves can, however, benefit from reading excellent books and even recommends re-reading them.

I immediately thought of a few amazing fiction books that I had planned on re-reading this fall and now feel even more excited about doing so:

1.     The Green Coat byRosemary McDunn. Love this book!
2.     The Gate by NancyCarabio Belanger. Easily a classic!
3.     Finding Grace byLaura Pearl. I plan on joining her 2015 online book club for the book.

Of course, these are also the reasons that we ought to immerse our tweens and teens in great fiction as well—and these books are a perfect start!

Monday, August 18, 2014

In-Law Problems? There is a Patron Saint for That!

Very few people know about St. Jane Valois. She was a deformed and sickly young daughter of King Louis XI of France. The Catholic Church has given her February 4th as a feast day and many turn to her intercession when in a difficult, loveless marriage for she was in an arranged marriage that was without love and still she prayed for her husband for decades.

She is just one of the many interesting saints in the Catholic Church.

The following excerpts are taken, with permission, from the daily devotional Tending the Temple by Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes, and Shane Kapler. Kevin, Peggy and Shane are regular guests on such popular shows as Sonrise Morning Show on EWTN among others where they talk about health and fitness, Catholic style.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Root Canals and Other Miracles

I so did not want a root canal and although I couldn't chew on the right side of my mouth for more than 6 months, I still patiently prayed for my miracle healing.

After all, I kept telling myself, “I am healed by the stripes of Christ.”

Am I right?

I’ve prayed for healing a lot over the past decade as I’ve suffered from chronic conditions that have often left me lying in bed for extended periods of time.

So it seemed like a miracle healing to avoid a root canal was a no-brainer. It wouldn’t take too much of God’s time and so would be a win-win for him and I. But no miracle healing arrived. In fact, quite to the contrary, my tooth got worse (go figure!).

I prayed for the intercession of St. Alena (toothaches are her specialty) and took homeopathic remedies.

Still nothing.

Finally I couldn’t put it off any longer and scheduled the dreaded root canal appointment.

That’s when my pleading changed; my definition of a miracle evolved.

I began to see that the fact that I could go get a root canal that would be—essentially—pain free was a miracle! Sure the roof-of-the-mouth shot hurt and the 2 ½ hour procedure was a bit exhausting and the throbbing after-root-canal procedure pain was there…but the fact remained that the root canal was a success and the pain wasn’t anything like, let’s say, having a tooth extracted a century ago.

Miracles abound.

I began to thank God for the miracle of being able to have a root canal. Crazy, right? Yes and no.

It occurred to me that we live our lives knee-deep in miracles—things we definitely take for granted can be moved in our minds from “expectations” to the “miraculous” and thus make us more grateful throughout our day.

And what I see as a miracle is probably way different than what you see as a miracle and that’s why we don’t really need to share them with each other; rather, the miracles we choose to see can be kept between ourselves and God and simply raise our spirits to him as they are filled with gratitude.

Who would have thought that a root canal was a miracle and an answer to prayer! Not me, that’s for sure.

Picture: ID 13250246 ©  |

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Fourteen Holy Helpers

August 8th is the Feast Day for The Fourteen Holy Helpers. It is a great time to call upon this powerhouse of heavenly help! You may know some of the line-up but some may be new to you.

Together they work wonders!

Read more about these saints.

Man Up! Fans

Fans of Jared Zimmerer's popular Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man will be delighted to know that Jared's book Ten Commandments of Lifting Weights is now $2.99 on Kindle. 

Catholic blogger and speaker Brandon Vogt endorsed Man Up! and recently connected with Jared in a fun interview about Jared's "Strength for the Kingdom" ministry.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Would I Not Let Go?

In my exhaustion, I choose to completely let go and let God.

In purposeful trust, I choose to finally let go and let God.

In the gift of faith, I excitedly let go and let God.

I choose to see and believe that God is for me—and if God is for me, who can be against me?

I choose to understand and know that God is my friend—and if God is my friend, who can be my enemy?

I choose to eagerly accept that God has a plan for my life—and if God has a plan for my life, why would I not let go and let God?

Cheryl Dickow

Picture: ©  |

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pope Excommunicates Mafioso



In a statement made on June 21st, Pope Francis issued strong words for people who choose to make a conscious decision to follow the ways of money, sin, and exploitation. The Pope is specifically quoted as saying, “Those who follow the path of evil, like the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated!”

The Pope was speaking to tens of thousands of people in the southern region of Calabria when he issued what is the most severe ecclesiastical penalty within the Catholic Church: excommunication.

But what exactly does it mean to be excommunicated?

And how is it enforced?

Read more  here

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

All Things Girl Just .99 on Kindle

School's out and it is time for sun and fun! 

We're excited at Bezalel Books to offer All Things Girl: Truth for Teens--one of our most popular teen books--at an amazing price of .99 on Kindle.

As one Amazon reviewer wrote: All Things Girl is jam-packed with Catholic girl awesomeness and we think you will agree!

Contributors include best-selling author Peggy Bowes and the effervescent Heather Renshaw.  

So for this week only we are offering "Catholic girl awesomeness" for the special Catholic teen in your life!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Company We Keep

If we are known by the company we keep, then hats off to one of my favorite authors--Laura Pearl--for the company she is keeping on Amazon!

Check it out:

Customers who bought Finding Grace by Laura Pearl also bought The Ear of the Heart by Mother Dolores Hart; Come My Beloved by Ellen Gable Hrkach; Past Suspicion by Therese Heckenkamp; and Frozen Footprints also by Therese Heckenkamp (which I am currently reading and loving!).

Congratulations, Laura!

check out Laura's blog at:

or follow Laura on Twitter @Finding_Grace_

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hang New Curtains this Lent!

Did you ever notice that the Lenten season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye? All of a sudden you find yourself at Easter Mass wondering how time so easily slipped through your fingers. Darn! You had promised yourself that this Lent would be different. You wouldn’t be caught by surprise, yet again!

But already you can feel it happening again; you are not experiencing Lent the way you wanted.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can make the conscious choice—right here, right now—to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the Lenten season.  

Lent is a season of preparing for the resurrection of Christ—to be ready to live in that resurrection  

Prepare room so that he may dwell in your heart: Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and where his resurrection can be most noticeably felt. Lent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ. This Lent do an honest, even painful Examination of Conscience wherein you ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you any unforgiveness that exists in your heart. Remember that as God has forgiven you, you are also asked to forgive others.

Clean out the cobwebs: After an Examination of Conscience where you ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. A beautiful time to do this is during a Stations of the Cross service. As you move through the Stations of the Cross and participate in the responses, you will find the cobwebs being dusted away and preparing you for the resurrection.

Hang new curtains: The room of your heart is now ready: unforgiveness and cobwebs have been cleared out. Now it is time to hang new curtains! Many of us fall into a rut in our daily lives and forget how to live in joy. You are preparing for Christ’s resurrection and that ought to bring great happiness! So throw out the old curtains of fear and despair and exhaustion and hang new curtains of joy and praise for the resurrection.

Get out the fine china and set the table: Company is here! We aren’t doubtfully thinking that maybe He’s been resurrected. We are certain in our belief of His resurrection and every cell in our body joyfully shouts, “He lives!” This is the time we get the fine china out of the cupboard to celebrate the resurrection. Our fine china goes so well with our new curtains!

Open the front door: Whenever we have company in our home, after all the preparation is complete, we open our front door and wait expectantly, excitedly on our couch. We can’t wait to visit with our company. The same is applicable now: let’s rejoice in the resurrected Lord and celebrate by the way we live and love.

Cheryl Dickow

Monday, March 31, 2014

All Things Girl: Truth for Teens

Heather Renshaw, the contributor for the chapter on vocations and motherhood in the new 2014 release of All Things Girl: Truth for Teens invites you to connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Come and join the fun!

Here is the FB page:  

The Twitter feed:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Man Up!

The ultimate men’s conference is now here…easy to attend in the comfort of your own home!

Jared Zimmerer has accomplished a herculean task and gathered some of the best voices together for Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man.

Fr. Robert Barron endorses Zimmerer’s work and writes: What does it mean to be a man and a disciple? For too long, the Church's outreach and witness to men has suffered from a lack of coherence, vision, and zeal--a sad situation that has left too many men at the margins of the Church's missionary endeavors. Man Up! is evidence that a hope-filled change is in the making. Jared Zimmerer, with his "Man Up!" team, is boldly taking the lead into one of the great peripheries of the New Evangelization.

Catholic Apologist, Matt Fradd says of Man Up!: This book encourages men to become who they are—who they were created to be. Jared Zimmerer, and his extraordinary contributors, offer sage advice to a culture of men gone soft. I believe that it will contribute a significant amount to the renewal of authentic masculinity in the Church.

Perfect for hubby’s Easter basket—or for dad or brother—Man Up! truly is the best “men’s conference” in a book.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are You Setting Yourself Up for Failure This Lent?

This Lent I’m doing some different things. Or maybe I should say I’m doing things differently.

Regardless of my intentions, I’ve noticed that the last few Lenten Seasons (and Advent, too) have started out as gangbusters but then have really petered out. I’m reminded of the saying “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Talking with some friends, I’ve found that it is a far more common occurrence then most of us are willing to admit. We purchase the Lenten book, we buy all the pieces for the Advent wreath, we envision the holy and anointed times that will take place in our homes and in our hearts during these sacred seasons.

Of course, the more we plan, the more likely we are to fail. After all, 40 days is a long time to stay committed. It is test of endurance and we unwittingly set ourselves up for failure because we aren’t always realistic in what we set out to do.

So this Lent, I’m doing something different: I'm setting myself up for success.

This Lent I’m re-reading a couple of books that I have loved over the past few years; books that have fed my soul AND kept my interest. I’m not about cutting down bare tree branches and painting them and hanging Easter eggs on them (yes, that was one activity we did years ago that had less than successful results! LOL!).

This Lent I’m excited to pick up Nancy Carabio Belanger’s latest book The Gate and delve back in. It is such a great story and one that seems so fitting for my Lenten reading.

I’m also going to re-read Rosemary McDunn’s The Green Coat. Every time I read her book my heart is filled with a renewed sense of hope in all things. Perfect for Lent!

Last month I was invited to be a guest on Catholic Television’s This is the Day and talk about Young Adult literature. The fastest growing segment of the YA market is adults! This Lent I am reminded why that is the case and will be enjoying great Catholic YA literature—and invite you to do the same.

It is something I promise you will finish and feel nourished.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Catholic Sisters Week March 8-15

It turns out that Elizabeth Ficocelli and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation have a lot in common.

Ficocelli authored a series of children’s vocation-awareness books with a beautiful entry titled “Where Do Sisters Come From?” Elizabeth has shared her story behind the vocation-awareness series on Catholic radio and on a number of Catholic websites and in print. A convert, Ficocelli explains how her own interest in understanding consecrated life was the impetus behind writing the first entry “Where Do Priests Come From?” which was then followed by “Where Do Sisters Come From?.” The final entry in the series is “Where Do Deacons Come From?.”

So when it was recently announced that March 8 through March 15th is Catholic Sisters Week, Ficocelli was not surprised. Her own passion for helping young children learn about vocations was acknowledged in that announcement. Ficocelli’s life work and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation had oddly crossed paths around the consecrated life of sisters!

Catholic Sisters Week is the enterprise of St. Catherine University out of St. Paul, MN and is backed by over three million dollars from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. It is a vast undertaking and, according to Andrea Lee, IHM, president of St. Catherine University, it will essentially be “Fostering meaningful relationships between college-age women and accomplished American women religious will be a powerful inspiration for some to consider religious life.”

Rosemarie Nassif, SSND, program director of the Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation adds, “The Hilton Foundation’s vision is to create a movement that ignites a national awareness around the lives and profound contributions of Sisters, inspiring girls and women to be open to a potential call to religious life.”

For Elizabeth Ficocelli, it is an exciting time to introduce the beauty of vocations to Catholic families and classrooms. “Even if the youngsters aren’t called to a consecrated vocation, being aware of them as a special call from God increases everyone’s respect and appreciation,” Ficocelli has said in radio interviews.

It looks like the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation agrees!

(illustration is from Where Do Sisters Come From?)

Friday, February 28, 2014

L'Chaim! To Life!

I’m all about symbolism.

So when we decided to give away copies of the newly released, 2nd revised edition of All Things Girl: Truth for Teens, symbolism was bound to play a role! LOL!

My decision on 18 copies is based upon the number representing “life” in Jewish teaching. That just resonates so deeply with me. I pray for great life for the book and for those who will read it.

That is why we are giving away 18 copies of All Things Girl: Truth for Teens. The link to the giveaway is on the new Facebook page being administered by one of the amazing new contributors, Heather Renshaw.

Heather is a blast. She’s a mother of five youngsters who somehow found the time to write a chapter on vocations in general and motherhood in particular. Because of her honesty and great sense of humor, I am convinced that her chapter will deeply affect the teen girls who read All Things Girl: Truth for Teens.

If you’d like to enter the contest, visit the new Facebook page, like it, share it, and good luck!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Saying No to God

As Catholics, we make a lot of Mary’s fiat. Her “yes” to God.

And rightfully so: we get how that “yes” gave us a chance at salvation.

Unfortunately, in seeking to imitate Mary, we have almost crushed ourselves with consequences of a life filled with our own “yes” responses and have, ultimately, been saying “no” to God without often realizing it.

Somehow we have translated Mary’s “yes” to mean that we ought to say “yes” to everything that comes our way—to every idea that pops into our heads and to every opportunity to do something good; we’ve mistakenly believed that our lives are meant to be filled with fiats when, in truth, these fiats have often taken us away from God. They have filled our lives with obligations and busy-ness that may not actually be God’s will for us.

 I’m at the age where all my friends and acquaintances are caregivers of one sort or another. They are grandparents doing everything they can to help pick up the slack and they are volunteers at a variety of different, amazing organizations. Some are caring for older parents and working full time while others are blogging and running home businesses and still others are young women who have filled their lives with exciting and rewarding prospects to do great things in the world.

Without exception, each considers her lot in life to be one of “yes.”
And on the surface I agree. We do serve God through others; it is a good thing to model Mary’s fiat.

However, it is important to overlay the entirety of Mary’s life upon our own if we choose to imitate her. It is imperative to see that her “yes” involved the fullness of her time.

What does this mean, though?

Well, there’s only so much we can do in any given day or week. When we begin saying “yes” to everything that comes our way—and don’t discern God’s will but just assume it—we actually have less time for God. In that way our “yes” actually begins to be a “no.”
First and foremost we have to take back the understanding that everything life is a vocation. And every vocation is a call from God. It isn’t a willy-nilly stumbling along doing lots of “good” things.

We each have a specific call and we all certainly have different seasons in our lives in which the call changes, grows, evolves. What was right yesterday may no longer be right today. But how can we know what we are called to be doing at any given point in time if we just keep piling on things in our lives with a “yes” to every request that comes along? Looking at the fullness of Mary’s life, we see that her “yes” was an anointed journey from beginning to end. God did not have her going in a thousand different directions.

This is actually what God asks of us: to discern his will and take it from beginning to end; in that way our own “yes” has the full impact it was meant to have—just as Mary’s did.
Maybe you are called to be a caregiver for your aging father. It is a noble call and one that will be demanding and even difficult. Chances are you will find, because it is God’s will, that this “yes” will take you into a deep, profound relationship with God because there will be much for God to teach you in the midst of this time caring for your dad. You might learn forgiveness and unconditional love—or patience and perseverance, and so on.

If now, you also say “yes” to the local school because they need a volunteer to read to the kindergarten kids, you have less time for the care of your father—and certainly less time for God even though reading to the kindergarten kids is a beautiful and valuable thing to do and it seems on the face of it that you will find God there, too. But maybe, just maybe, God’s will was to use that time quietly with him in prayer so that your time with your aging father would be more meaningful and not just an obligation.

Both caring for your father and reading to the kids is good—and that is what makes the negative ramifications of our “yes” to everything so difficult for us to see.

Then your place of employment decides to have a retirement party for your favorite co-worker. You love her, she has been a real confidant and friend, and you are sincerely sad to see her go and so of course you will spearhead to event! How could you not? Again, a good and kind and loving thing to do—nothing sinful about it. So why shouldn’t you? The way you see it, it is an opportunity to say “yes” with bells on and to serve God. You will make your friend happy and she will know how much you cherish her. On your way to seeing your dad you will order the cake and tomorrow you will just spend a half an hour less with dad because you will go print out the announcements for your friend’s retirement party…

But women are excellent at multi-tasking you say?

I can also eat a quart of chocolate gelato but that doesn’t mean I should.

That’s why we have to go back to Mary’s fiat and see that the thing to take away from it is that the “yes” was an agreement from beginning to end—and that was enough. That is what God asks of us: to say “yes” to his will and then to stay with him for the duration, which will be clear to us because we are serving him so fully and thus are hearing him more clearly.

What is God really asking each of us to say “yes” to today? Because he isn’t asking us to say “yes” to everything; of that we can be sure. Otherwise, there is absolutely no point in free will or discernment. Ironically, we might actually begin to push God out of the picture with every “yes” we proclaim. Instead, let us learn from Mary’s fiat to run the race God has invited each of us to run. Let’s each say “yes” to our individual races with excitement, anticipation, love, and faith—for it is there that God is patiently waiting for each of us and where our fiats will bear the most fruit, just as Mary’s did.

(The illustration is by Shannon Wirrenga and is from the Elizabeth Ficocelli vocation awareness book Where Do Sisters Come From?)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Win a Free Copy of All Things Girl: Truth for Teens

We're giving away 18 copies of
All Things Girl: Truth for Teens
over at Goodreads.

Enter for a chance to win!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Asked, We Answered

When All Things Girl first came on the scene there were a lot of mixed reviews. People said things like "it is terrible; it seems homemade" to "the best book EVER for young Catholic girls." Of course, once those books went out of production (there are new ones now in print), everyone clamored for them. I suppose that's how it always goes, right? We don't know what we have until it is gone.

We are now excited to say that the newest All Things Girl book is out! In the 2014 release of Truth for Teens you are going to find the same great open and honest talk that girls love but with fresh, new, relevant voices!

Peggy Bowes (best-selling author of The Rosary Workout and popular speaker) writes about health and fitness. Heather Renshaw, mother of 5 youngsters, somehow found the time to write about vocations in general and motherhood in particular. Kayla Brandon, a journalism major with time in at Fox and other really cool places addresses the "Me" in social media. All women speak from a place of passion and experience.

It is awesome and since the ones that are out of print now sell for a couple of hundred dollars (who knew! LOL!), this 2014 All Things Girl: Truth for Teens is a steal at less than $20!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An Interview with Catholic Fiction

I recently had the opportunity to answer questions from the great folks at Catholic Fiction. The interview was fun and thought-provoking! It can be found here:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lousy Godparents

You’ve been poorly catechized and didn’t really understand the role of a Godparent for your newborn baby and so you gave this honor to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. It made sense at the time and you both giggled and loved the whole idea of it. Now, years later, you no longer speak to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. You’ve come to regret this poor choice—in a very big way—and don’t know what to do about the lousy Godparent you chose.

You have been blessed by faith-filled parents and have been living your faith in a constant manner for as long as you can remember. Bestowing the honor of Godparent upon your cousin was a good choice. After all, she’s family and your lives have the blood connection that will stand the test of time. A few years later you see that she didn’t really get how important this honor was and has really failed. She apparently didn’t read up on the “job” description and now your daughter is burdened with a lousy Godparent. And your daughter sees this at every family Christmas where other Godparents give their Godchildren gifts and hugs and special attention and your daughter gets nothing. Nada. What do you do?

The fact is, most of us are somewhere in the middle when it comes to selecting Godparents for our children. We get that it is an honor and we know it is somewhat important. (And the people we ask probably get it to a degree, too.) Since we can’t predict the future, we do our best and ask the person we feel would be best suited for the role—and he or she accepts—all without anyone necessarily understanding the entirety of the Godparent moniker. I inquired of a friend, a faith-filled practicing Catholic and the mother of a rather large brood, if she was “happy” with her choices of Godparents. Without skipping a beat she replied, “Nope.”

So what is the role of a Godparent in the Catholic faith? To answer this I asked my own Pastor who is always so generous with his time whenever I am trying to get to the bottom of this or that question about our faith. Father’s answer easily sums up the “official” and “unofficial” roles of a Godparent:

The “official” role of a godparent is to be a religious or spiritual example for the child. They are also the official witness of what is taking place.  Unofficially a godparent is supposed to be a loving presence in the life of the child.  I often tell folks at baptism that it is through the love of a godparent and grandparent that a child learns unconditional love.  Mommy and Daddy have to say “no” but a grandparent or godparent doesn’t have too.”

The first line really had an impression upon me: …to be a religious or spiritual example for the child. This is so clear cut. It should become the litmus test for each time we choose a Godparent. It isn’t meant to be an indictment of the possible Godparent, but forces us to look at whomever we are considering for this important role through the eyes of the young person to whom they ought to be a “religious or spiritual” example. I really, really like the words used here: religious or spiritual example.

It doesn’t mean we must seek out someone who goes to daily Mass (although there isn’t anything wrong with that!) but rather we should find someone whose countenance is loving, selfless, and kind: an embodiment of Christ. If we’ve experienced them in this way, we can count on them fulfilling their role as Godparent as they should. As Father then says, they officially witness what takes place at the baptism which is the Sacrament of Initiation.

Father’s brief explanation continues to impress upon me the role of a Godparent:…be a loving presence. In other words, be a presence. Again the words are important. What does it mean to be a “presence” in a child’s life? It means remembering birthdays, graduations, basketball games, acknowledging successes and offering encouragement in difficult times. “Be a loving presence” is as clear as “be a religious or spiritual example.” If we’ve witnessed that this person, this potential Godparent, has been a loving presence to others, chances are he or she will be that same sort of loving presence to our child—his or her Godchild.

As Father continues and mentions the “unconditional” love that a Godparent shows a Godchild, we again see that for this to occur they have to be a “presence” in the child’s life. Does this mean they must live around the corner? No. Especially with all the ways in which people can stay connected nowadays, we can select a Godparent who lives near or far; in the end what matters is that the Godparent must choose to be “present” in their Godchild’s life.

So we missed the boat and are stuck with lousy Godparents. Can we do anything?

No…and yes.

No we can’t re-baptize our children and pick new, better, more-improved Godparents.

No we can’t change their status or demote them because they were the witness to this incredible event in our child’s life.  

But we can make sure that our children have other people in their lives that fill the role of Godparents—just without the official title. “Foster” Godparents, if you will. We can also make a concerted effort to be a religious or spiritual example to our children and to practice more unconditional love towards them. If we feel something is lacking in our children’s lives because of their lousy Godparents, then chances are we are up to the task of all this!

And it makes perfect sense if our children are a bit older to even share the role of Godparents and let them know that while their own Godparent(s) may have missed the mark (it is probably best not to use the word “lousy” when talking with our kids), their baptism was a joyous day in the life of the Kingdom of God! Help them focus on the day of their baptism. This is particularly important if, within a family, you have one child whose Godparents are especially lousy and some of your other children have exceptional Godparents. Kids should never think they somehow failed to “earn” or “deserve” a Godparent’s love or interest. (On the other hand, if you’ve been given the honor of being a Godparent and have not lived up to the responsibility and the privilege, it is never too late to start.)

We can and should pray for the Godparent(s) we have chosen, especially the lousy ones. At some point we thought they were the best candidate for the job and although we now know better, it would be a beneficial experience for us to offer up our sorrow and sadness for their sanctification. While there may not be earthly rewards for such an exercise in humility, the eternal rewards might be significant—for us and for them!
Cheryl Dickow
The illustration used is from the children's book "Where Do Deacons Come From?" written by Elizabeth Ficocelli and illustrated by Shannon Wirrenga