Bible Books Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Martina Prayer Reviews Spiritual Growth

5 Reasons to Buy This Lenten Journal

Last year, we put together a comprehensive list of Lenten resources in our Handy Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices. As Lent approached this year, I decided to update it with a few extra links since new resources have popped up. I saw the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist had put together a Lenten Journal, so I added the link. Shortly after Lent started, I received a copy of the journal. Friends, I love what this journal has to offer!

5 Reasons to Buy This Lenten Journal
photo pulled from @CatholicSistas on Instagram
  • It has a comprehensive preparation section so that you can adequately prepare for Lent. You have 10 pages that cover the three forms of penance, as well as questions for self-reflection for each virtue, ways to cultivate that virtue and opposing traits. You have an opportunity to jot down a prayer for perseverance as you head into Lent, asking God for an increase in fortitude and grace.
  • You get to sift through a thorough Disciple of Christ Virtues chart. I couldn’t stop looking over this page. It is filled top to bottom with a myriad of virtues, broken down into their meaning, opposing trait and ways to cultivate that virtue. SCORE! If I want to improve the virtue of…oh, let’s say moderation, for example, I would read its meaning as attention to balance in one’s life with the opposing trait being giving in to being excessive in one or more areas of one’s life and finish with Ways to Cultivate as set limits for oneself; create a balance in one’s life by limiting the use of media, consumption of additional food and drink, etc. 
  • Lectio Divina. The journal takes a Lectio Divina approach to the daily readings. Each day of the journal contains the Gospel readings, followed by a series of questions for reflection. There are beautiful illustrations laced throughout the journal that enhance the readings and reflections. Some questions are derived from the illustrations.
  • Gratitude Log. There is a section at the back in which you can simply write about any situation through the day in which you gave thanks to God or that made you happy. This is such an important part of the Lenten exercise, because we know that God is good, all the time, and giving Him thanks for all He does helps strike balance between the somber nature of Lent and our gratitude.
  • Stations of the Cross. At the back of the journal, there is a section for you to write reflections of the Stations of the Cross complete with pictures of each station as well as Scripture for you to reflect upon.

There are more fun nuggets laced throughout the journal, but I will let you discover those when you buy it. Did I mention it is only SEVEN DOLLARS? The journal is only seven dollars! Even though Lent is already underway, there is so much that can be extracted from this year round, such as application of Lectio Divina, a daily gratitude log and cultivating virtues.

So, I invite you to go ahead and purchase this journal and finish your Lenten disciplines like a marathon runner pushes those last few miles. Go ahead and order it. You will not be disappointed!


Books Ink Slingers Martina Parenting Reviews Vocations

REVIEW: Yes, God! What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories

Yes, God!

I have been waiting FOREVER to read Yes, God! What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories! No, seriously. It arrived late last week, but with my in-laws visiting I didn’t even check the mail until Sunday. It was their last full day. I couldn’t just open that book up and ignore them! So, I stared at it – saw friend Lisa Hendey’s review snippet on the cover of the book – opened it up and read the foreword. THEN I remembered one of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist {only my ALL. TIME. FAVORITE order – can I give them some daughters, please?!} was interviewed for this book. I still remember Susie’s Facebook PM asking me if I knew of any nuns or sisters for her to interview. I immediately inboxed Sister Elizabeth Ann, but found out shortly thereafter that the Order had already given a story for the book – SCORE! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to read a book!

So, I enjoyed the last day with my in-laws visiting in town – we rounded out the visit with a total slaughterfest of Euchre, followed by a close-but-still-a-win game of Skip-Bo. The next day, we said our goodbyes and I set the book next to my homeschool grading stuffs. I will read this once the kids have like 75.35% of their schoolwork done for the day. And that book stared at me, and I it.

I can’t wait to read you. 

Yes, I know. I can’t wait to be read. ::smug little book look::

Then, durn if I had to clean the house. The NOIVE! ::shaking fist:: Laundry had to be dealt with, dishes needed warshin’, kids needed feeding…and round and round we went.


Then, it was bedtime. And, it was good. And then I realized it was Monday night and I had nowhere to be. And, it was good. And THEN I realized it was Monday Night Football. And it was SO good, friends, lemme just tell ya! Guilt free reading and hanging out in the same room as husbie. SCORE.

Since I knew a little bit about the book ahead of time, I knew it would be an easy read. I love love LOVE stories of people’s lives. It totally fits into what we do at Catholic Sistas, too! Stories, witnesses, testimonies are what connect people to each other, while drawing them to a closer, deeper relationship with Christ.

The range of stories and backgrounds of those who shared is also indicative of how unique and, yet, vast the culture of our Church really is, and while the aim of the book is to take a peek inside families whose children have heard God’s call to the religious life and see what the family life really entailed, Susie points out to me that this is not a book about fostering religious vocations but rather about raising great Catholic kids who will answer God’s call.

This theme especially resonated with me because I remember asking our then parish priest, Father Jonathan Raia, what his parents did to encourage him in his walk with the Lord. Really, what I was asking but fumbling with words was


The truth was, I wasn’t looking for specific ways to encourage religious vocations…necessarily. I became intrigued when he mentioned what his family did growing up. And ya know what? It was inspiring.

When I read Yes, God! What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories, it took me back to that conversation with Father Jonathan. The stories come from a variety of nuns, sisters and priests and talk about each one’s childhood and how their parents raised them – what worked, what didn’t, how the family responded to adversity and fostered that love for Christ and His Church. Though their backgrounds are all different, there is a common thread in each…

..the parents are real, everyday folks like you and me and there is a genuine love of Faith. I found this RIDICULOUSLY encouraging. I need to know that I don’t have to break myself in order to rear kidlets who love the Faith. I mean, I will break myself in other ways along the path to ::hopefully, fingers crossed:: sainthood. BUT, what this book offers is an element of simplistic joy…an element that is all-too-often overlooked in our pursuit of holiness.

The stories in the book offered me hope, encouragement and validation. 

As a parent, I know I am guilty of thinking too big picture. I want to know how this story is going to end. I forget that it’s the little things, the daily things, the sitting down and enjoying the mundane and the chaotic mess of the domestic Church that are the things that really matter in the long run.

If you’ve enjoyed Susie’s other books, Bless Me Father for I Have Kids or Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water!, you will enjoy her down-to-earth tell it like it is writing style in Yes, God!

So, buy a copy for yourself, but buy a copy for friends, too.

Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments!

Current Events Dominican Sisters Ink Slingers Martina Religious

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Current Events Dominican Sisters Faith Formation Guest Posts Religious Sisterhood Vocations Year of Faith

When I Say “I Believe”

Every few years, the Holy Father names a Year of Something – a Year of the Eucharist, a Year for Priests. This follows the Biblical custom of years of jubilee, calling a “year of favor of the Lord.” (Is 61:2, Lk 4:19) On October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Father will celebrate the opening Mass for the Year of Faith. As I have talked about this with various people, I have noticed a certain trend in our conversations. The conversation opens well enough, reactions varying from enthusiasm for anything the Pope does to polite but uncommitted interest. But then there is a question in people’s minds, sometimes verbalized, other times expressed by an awkward sort of silence. What do you do in a Year of Faith? What exactly is faith? Isn’t that rather abstract? And why is the Pope doing this? What, or how, is this going to have any impact on me?

With these and other questions in my own mind (the most pressing being “How do I do this in the classroom?”), I began reading Pope Benedict XVI’s short letter Porta Fidei in which he announced the Year of Faith. In reading Benedict, I am reminded that he is a master teacher, one with years of experience in a classroom. Porta Fidei is like his syllabus for the year, offering his rationale, his expectations, his goals, and like any syllabus, an inspiring challenge. He especially asks the faithful “to reflect on the act of faith.” (PF, 9) The act of faith is that act by which I say “I believe.” What is it that I am doing when I, every Sunday, stand before God and men and say “I believe”?

Faith is relational. My act of faith is a secondary thing. Not secondary as in “unimportant” or “unnecessary,” but secondary in that it is a response to something else. Something else has to happen first. Faith is a response, a yes to an invitation, the acceptance of a gift. God is the one who acts first. He speaks to me, reveals Himself, inviting me into the dynamism of His own inner. This is the self-revelation, borne of love, of which the mutual self-revelation of spouses is the earthly copy. He holds nothing back; He gives all. It is an invitation to fellowship with God, a call to communion. I stand on the receiving end of this gift. Faith is my yes. Faith is my acceptance of this invitation, my entering into communion with my God. Faith begins the relationship that God has desired from all eternity.

Faith is personal. Since faith is more than assenting to a lists of formulas or even acknowledging the existence of God (as if our acknowledgement of His presence somehow added to His dignity), since faith is entering into a relationship, it is must be something profoundly personal. It is something I do. It is something that I do freely and completely, with my whole being, down to the tips of my toes and from the first waking moment of my day. It defines who I am. The act of faith can be this personal precisely because it is not a yes to formulas or ideas, but because it is a yes to a Person, a Person who loves me. It is the Person of Jesus Christ, the “mediator and fullness of all revelation,” (DV 2) who invites us live in Him. It is in this encounter with Jesus Christ that we believe, and we “look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb 12:2) A life touched by Christ is the life of faith, a life transformed and fully alive.

Faith is ecclesial. Faith is deeply personal, but it is not an isolated or a private act. “No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone.” (CCC 166) Because faith is something received, as is life itself, it is something lived within the community of believers. Throughout the history of salvation, God has communicated Himself through others, first Adam and Eve, then Abraham and the nation of Israel. Finally, in these “last days” God communicates Himself completely through Christ and His Body the Church. It is standing in the midst of the assembly that I encounter God and respond to Him. My personal faith is taken up and perfected in the faith of the Church. An experience at the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto made this reality hit home. After days of being surrounded by dozens of languages, cultures, customs, and nationalities, I was overwhelmed by the vast diversity of the Catholic world. I was almost shamed by the simple devotion and piety of the Poles. The Brazilians were just overwhelming – talking, laughing, singing, cheering, and chanting, all at the same time and with no concept of personal space. And the various African nations… Oh, who had ever seen such dancing? So hauntingly beautiful, obviously ancient, so vibrantly alive and joyful. It looked like the music itself was coming from their bodies, through the curve of their backs, down the arc of a lifted arm, and out the tip of a finger. I was happily lost in a swirling world of faces, eyes, colors, movement, sounds, and smells; this suburban American girl had never seen so much variety. In the midst of this, I felt a twinge of something as Blessed John Paul II intoned the Latin words of the Creed: Credo in unum Deum. You could hear a pin drop as his frail voice fought the Parkinson-induced paralysis of his face to profess his belief. That twinge became an overwhelming sensation of belonging as the teeming crowd roared with one voice: Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium, et invisibilium… We – the 800,000 or so young people at Downsview Park – we believed, we were one. We were united with the larger “we” – the millions of believers from every era, country, race, language, and culture – a “we” that transcended the limits of space and time. We believed. I knew then and there, as the song of the ancient chant swept over and through me, that I believed. I was a part of something so much larger than myself. I was not alone.

For the sake of union. To say that the act of faith stopped at the profession of faith would be as ridiculous as thinking that the Mass stopped at the Creed. Our God comes to us, invites us to Himself, simply because He desires union with us. The God of the universe desires to be in communion with me. And so He comes to me. We see this reality manifested with a simple profundity in the sacrament of the Eucharist. My God comes to me, to me personally, in the midst of the worshipping Church so that He can begin the union of heaven at the moment of Holy Communion. Which means, of course, I am entering into a relationship with Him. It is no coincidence that we call the reception of the Eucharist “Holy Communion,” we are entering into a relationship of communion with God that will flourish in eternity. A relationship that calls me at the deepest core of my being, a relationship that will transform my entire life. And what is it that we say as we receive the Host? Amen. I believe.


::Sister Jude Andrew, OP is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. She teaches middle school religion at Holy Family Catholic School in Austin, TX where her students make her laugh all the time. Prior to coming to Austin, she taught in central Phoenix, AZ and kindergarten in Plymouth, MI. ::  


The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a Roman Catholic community of women religious based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The community was founded in the Dominican tradition to spread the witness of religious life in accord with Pope John Paul II’s vision for a new evangelization.  The Dominican Sisters came to Austin in 2009 to assist in the work of Catholic education and to establish a priory of their community in Central Texas.

To learn more about the Dominican Sisters and their plans to expand to Texas, visit

Dominican Sisters Religious Sisterhood Spiritual Growth Vocations





“This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator…this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will …” (CCC 27, 30)
written by Sr. Maria Catherine Toon, O.P.

After not knowing how to be left me so restless and
It wouldn’t die when I left the adoration chapel and
knowing daily Mass and rosary weren’t enough;
After I’d arrive home feeling empty to a house full of stuff, full of dog hair, full of my roommate,
and it wasn’t enough;
After I’d had my fill of secretarial jobs that left me bored and listless, agitated and unchallenged,
and they weren’t enough;
After I found my dream job that was filled with books, books I could eat, with people I loved,
and that wasn’t enough;
After hoping that I could make it work anyway and work there forever,
but it wasn’t going to be enough;
After realizing how much I love studying and it was all I wanted to do, yet somehow
even that wasn’t enough;
After realizing that I had no life because I spent all of my time working, or reading for work, and

I knew He wanted more from me. But would it really make me happy?

After traveling and feeling sucked dry by my boss who wasn’t sure what enough was;
After I tried to push away the calmness I felt filled with at the thought of prayer;
After I wanted to fill myself with distraction, because that is what everyone else is doing, and
won’t that be enough?
After sitting in the soft, stiff rocking chairs out on the screened-in porch with the dog,
thinking that would take care of it,
but it still wasn’t enough;
After I had to go back into work to plan a golf tournament without knowing thing about the game,

I decided to try, to see, if it would be enough.

After visiting what I thought was the monastery and the religious order that
I thought would be enough;
After leaving the tread marks from my tires in their driveway, because
I had to get away as fast as I could,
because maybe it would be enough, but I still wasn’t sure;
After being back on the porch and sitting with “Sweet Pea” a dog the size of a small horse,
still hoping to banish the restlessness into the full flood of the sunset;
After my fourth godchild was born, and I wanted to see her walk, and what she would be like before I left;
After I met the man who could decide everything, and
he wasn’t enough;
After coming to the middle of nowhere Mecosta, and
hoping I could hide the visit I was trying not to wait for;
After driving two hours with an Australian-speaking GPS,

not sure what I would find in Ann Arbor,
not sure I would find Ann Arbor,
hoping not to live in Ann Arbor;

But would it really make me happy?

After landing on the doorway of the Motherhouse in my jeans and my chocolate sweater, with my blonde curls,

Knowing they were waiting for me,
Hoping that God wasn’t waiting there for me;
Hoping it also wouldn’t be enough and I could keep running;

After meeting them and seeing their smiles, these white brides;
After realizing they had the silence and the Eucharist, and that was the everything that would be enough;
After recognizing that I had run out of time to run and
running isn’t enough;
After Sister asked me how tall I was, and told me she had an outfit just my size;
After I thought about wearing the blue polyester thing for a year and then I would get the Dominican habit

After I went home to Texas, to my family, and told them that my life was not enough anymore;
And I couldn’t not enter the convent anymore;
That I couldn’t not read and pray, and be with other women who read and prayed and
ripped life apart to find out the truth, anymore;

They asked me why,
after I had found out that truth is a Person, my spouse, and that was the enough that I was looking for.

::Sister Maria Catherine, OP is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. She grew up loving books, movies, and dogs. When she isn’t teaching Speech and English Literature at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin TX, she is reorganizing the convent library and thinking about what book to read next.::


The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a Roman Catholic community of women religious based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The community was founded in the Dominican tradition to spread the witness of religious life in accord with Pope John Paul II’s vision for a new evangelization. The Dominican Sisters came to Austin in 2009 to assist in the work of Catholic education and to establish a priory of their community in Central Texas.

To learn more about the Dominican Sisters and their plans to expand to Texas, visit