Grace-Filled Days for 2015

It’s that time of year—when our new fall books are coming out. Loyola Press is a Jesuit ministry, and we’re quite choosy about the books we publish. So by the time I have books to talk about, I have likely edited them and I believe they can help in the great mercy of healing this world.

2015: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

2015: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

At times we’re overwhelmed by life’s hectic pace. When it’s time for meditation and prayer, we’re too tired or distracted to concentrate. A Book of Grace-Filled Days offers an approach to Scripture and personal meditation that opens up a window of grace every day of the year.

  • Lectionary-based Scripture readings are matched with daily meditations.
  • Page-a-day calendar format begins with Advent 2014 and runs through the end of calendar year 2015.
  • Notes major feast days, solemnities, and holidays.

Prayer doesn’t always have to take a lot of time—we can spend a few quiet moments with God and be united with our church community in prayer through the lectionary-based meditations.

Author: Nancy Jo Sullivan is the author of five books and is a frequent speaker at both the local and national levels. She is a columnist for two popular websites: Catholic Exchange and Catholic Mom. Sullivan lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

We also have 2015: A Book of Grace-Filled Days in Spanish, written especially for that audience.

2015: Un año lleno de gracia

2015: Un año lleno de gracia comienza con el inicio del año litúrgico en Adviento de 2014 y continua durante todo el año 2015. Las lecturas y meditaciones tienen en cuenta los días santos más importantes, especialmente las solemnidades, los días festivos y las conmemoraciones de santos destacados.

Author: Santiago Cortés-Sjöberg has 18 years of pastoral ministry, teaching, and writing experience. He is managing editor of curricula at Loyola Press, a master catechist, a faculty member at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Liturgical Hispanic Institute, and an adjunct professor at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

Worry and Prayer Aren’t the Same Thing

Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God

I’m going to let Jane Knuth speak for herself today. Here’s an excerpt from Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God.

Both Ellen and I are seeking answers, but we are not asking each other. At this moment, a world apart, the parent-child relationship is no longer the sweet sharing of victories, losses, and endless questions. The questions have stopped somewhere in the middle of my valuable advice, my thoroughly reasoned apologetics, and my avalanche of nagging. I have spent decades glimpsing Jesus in the writings of saints, in the mystery of forgiveness, in the ancient dialogue of liturgy, and in people who are suffering. This sheep-herding carpenter shows up when I need his strength, and waits patiently by when I muddle around with my unhelpful schemes for making myself and everyone else perfect.

Ellen doesn’t read the books I give her, she doesn’t attend Mass or go to confession. She is still the loving, giving person who will bend over backwards to cheer a person who is glum, who will make each new acquaintance into a friend, and who never clings to a grudge. She talks to Jesus, she acts like Jesus, but she doesn’t often want to come to his house. Jesus seems to be telling me not to worry about that too much, but I ignore his advice because he never worries enough for my taste.

There are no more chances to brace Ellen for a universe created of troubles and difficulties. I can no longer warn her against the creeping disaster of a hardened heart. She refuses to hear me telling her to guard against too much wanting and getting. Dean and I are left watching from a distance as she pulls away from us and—our biggest worry—away from God.

“Do you remember when I told you,” I begin slowly [talking to Dean], “how Ellen has been restoring that Buddhist shrine on the school grounds?” [Ellen is teaching school in Japan.]

“Uh huh.”

“What do you think is going on with that?”

“I think she grew up with St. Francis in the backyard.”

I glance sharply at him. “But St. Francis and Buddha are not the same thing.”

“Shrines are a place to pray. . . . It doesn’t seem that different to me.”

“Sure it’s different: Mary and Francis are Christian, and Buddha is . . . Buddhist. Plus, the trees around the jizo have some kind of Shinto spirits attached to them.”

He nods. “You know what? You’re right. We need to create some balance on our side of the planet. One Francis is not enough to counter a jizo and several Shinto tree spirits. I’ve been thinking that it’s long past time for me to nail some theses to the front door—that should help.”

He grins at me sympathetically. “Don’t worry, Jane. Pray. Worry and prayer aren’t the same thing.”

“Okay, I’m trying. Anyway, I don’t like the way worry makes me feel.” For the next few miles, while Hail Marys chant through my head, I ponder the differences between worry and prayer. One thing I know for sure: I like the way prayer makes me feel. I like it a lot.

  • When have you felt uneasy about the endeavors of an adult “child” in your life?
  • Where have you found support as you pray—and try not to worry—about young people you care about?

The Faith of Our Adult Children

Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God

This post’s title alone should begin a discussion! How many of us have adult children who have left the faith, or at least left the traditional practices of it? And how do we respond to that?

And even those of us whose adult children have not left the faith in any discernable way—we wonder if the years of prayer and training will keep them steady as their own lives unfold “out there” where we no longer exert control or protection.

A good parent wants her child to become independent. A healthy parent lets go when the time is right, rather than clinging to the former dynamic of parent caring for the child and giving direct guidance. We have seen and known parents who tried to exert their control long past when it was helpful—some of us have been that parent.

The question is: What form does my love take now? My child is an adult, and she or he needs my support and my love—I will always be Mom. But now that my role is not so directive or protective, what is it? What do I do?

We were looking for an author to write that book, and it turns out that we already had her. Jane Knuth has written two wonderful books for Loyola Press: Thrift Store Saints and Thrift Store Graces. Her daughters are grown now, and one of them, Ellen, spent five years teaching in Japan. We asked Jane to write a book about how to support the faith life of an adult child, and Jane suggested that she and Ellen write a book together about Ellen’s experience of being out of the usual context of her Catholic home and about Jane’s experience of being Mom to a young woman completely out of her reach except through letters and Skype.

They did not disappoint us! Love Will Steer Me True is a delightful story, told in the two voices of mother and daughter.

For now, I’d like to hear from those of you who have accumulated some wisdom about how we love our children after they are not children anymore.

  • Which aspect of at-home parenthood has been the most difficult to give up?
  • What have your adult children (or nieces and nephews or young adults outside your biological family) taught you about the spiritual life?
  • What, in your earlier life with young people, has turned out to be a good practice to prepare them for adulthood?

A Week with Pope Francis: Make Some Noise!

Let’s end the week with part of Pope Francis’s speech at World Youth Day, July 2013, in Rio de Janeiro:

Let me tell you what I hope will be the outcome of World Youth Day: I hope there will be noise. Here there will be noise, I’m quite sure. Here in Rio there will be plenty of noise, no doubt about that. But I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the Church to go out onto the streets. I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out . . . if they don’t, they become NGOs, and the Church cannot be an NGO. May the bishops and priests forgive me if some of you create a bit of confusion afterward. That’s my advice. Thanks for whatever you can do.