My Advent Journey with Mary

By Sarah McDonald

Soon after welcoming our first child, I became more deeply connected to Mary, Mother of God, in my own prayer life. So much so, that in my daily prayers, I include, “Mary, Mother of God, pray for us,” in my own personal litany.

When I was pregnant for my second child, that connection grew even more intense for me. Read More

In Time of Need

By Greg Zambrano

During the month of the rosary in October, my family and I made a quick trip to the Disney Parks in Orlando Florida.
On the second day of the trip, we visited Disney’s MGM Studios’ new section that just opened over the summer. The main attraction: a long rollercoaster ride named “Slinky Dog.” Read More

Make a Joyful Noise! (Psalm 98:4)

By Kristy Solis

As parents, we often share stories of dismay of our children such as my child will not sleep, my child is a picky eater, or my child does not listen, etc. The list could be an extensive one.
Today, my 3-year-old daughter would not cooperate and take a nap. Instead, she was out of bed, talking excessively and playing with her toys. Read More

The Blessing of a Child in Old Age

By Leslie Bertucci

In November 2003, while my husband Johnny was at a Manresa retreat for the weekend, my four children and I decided to surprise him by clearing out the garage and the attic of all the old baby clothes and equipment.

After all, the kids were 8, 11, 14 and 17. Surely, we had no more need of these items. Read More

Why We Sit in the Front Pew

By Gaby Smith

I think one of the most terrifying moment of a parent’s life is sitting in the front row with your child at Mass.
Trying to explain to a small boy to sit still and pay attention at Mass (which can be very confusing to a child) takes skill.
I’ve come to terms that sitting in the front of the church is the best way for my son to pay attention. We’ve had moments where he was so wiggly that I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, judging. I could cry I was so embarrassed.

In the front rows, I can point things out for him easily and explain what the parts of the Mass mean and why we do it. I’ve started to see his attention span last longer in the front pews of church. He sees the priest, the altar servers and the readers.

We’ve learned to follow along in the book, when to stand, sit and be silent.
As a parent, I’ve learned to keep this consistent for our Sunday Masses. We’ll walk up, sit in the front rows and go through the Mass. He isn’t perfect and a lot of the times he has a lot of questions about what the priest is doing during Mass (which is great!).

I’ve learned to not shoo him off and tell him to be quiet in Mass but explain to him why we do what we do.
So, put on your badge of courage and make your way to the front pew at Mass. Even if you’re with your spouse that day or alone, do it anyway and silently explain the Mass to your child or children. They will start to understand why we as Catholics love celebrating the Eucharist.

What will you leave behind?

By Charla Spalluto Misse

Oct. 22 was the Feast Day of Pope St. John Paul II. Being a saint of modern time, his prolific teachings and far-reaching efforts profoundly touched the lives of most Catholics today.
I remember his visit to New Orleans in 1987. While most youth encountered him when he spoke at the Superdome, I was blessed to perform in a Student Papal Choir when he visited the University of New Orleans (UNO).
If you were at UNO that day, surely, you remember the severity of the sun followed by a deluge of rain. And then, you remember, by the grace of God, the rain stopping just when the Pope began to speak.

The Holy Spirit’s presence was resounding on that miraculous day.
As I read the “Saint of the Day” summary on his feast day, I learned that Pope St. John Paul II’s deeply religious father played an important role in his spiritual formation after his mother’s death when he was 8 years old.
Of all the outstanding moments and defining achievements recounted of this great man’s life, that one sentence kept coming back to my mind throughout the day.

Many parents sacrifice significant time, energy and money on their children’s academic, cultural and athletic development; it is admirable and selfless – a parent’s calling.
I do this like so many others, but had recently realized that, simply, without faith, there is no hope. I had been moved to more greatly devote myself to my family’s spiritual development.
I thought to myself, if I were gone, what would I leave behind?
I can’t imagine a better legacy than to give my child unwavering faith that will carry him through life’s certain challenges. The faith that there is a reason for the rain and that Almighty God in his power and wisdom will stop the rain at the right time.

The Gratitude Tree

By Dawn Cusimano

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I was reminded of a precious family craft that we were blessed to learn about last year and adopt called the “Gratitude Tree.” It was quick and easy to make, and only cost us pennies and some good, old-fashioned quality time.

First, we found a few bare branches in our backyard and situated them inside a vase.

Next, we cut some colored paper to look like fall leaves and punched a hole in each one so that we could loop a piece of string through it.

We then sat together on the rug in our living room and took turns sharing the blessings that we were thankful by writing them on the “leaves.”

My husband and I even added a few extra messages expressing gratitude for things about each other to find later.

Our sweet little “tree” project graced the kitchen table where we shared our family meals and reminded us daily of God’s goodness.

Savor your grandchildren

By Christine Bordelon

There’s nothing sweeter in the morning than being woken up by your 9-year-old grandchild singing and telling you she made breakfast for both of us.

She has learned, from being “my little cooking helper,” how to toast a waffle, make hot tea with lemon and chocolate milk all on her own.

That’s what my Marley does in the morning on the days she sleeps at my house and wakes up at 6:30 a.m. before I get out of bed.
Of course, I hear everything she does, so I know she’s ok.

She’ll come in my room, like I go in hers, singing “Wake up, wake up you sleepy head. Get up, get up get out of bed …” from the song “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along.”

My mom used to sing it to my son – her father. She has been gone now 22 years, so it’s a nice memory and carrying on of a tradition every time she sings it to me and I to her.

With grandchildren, you tend to spoil them a little more than your children.

I know that I’ve tried to be a little more patient, although that can be challenging since kids today just come out smart and sassy from the get-go.

With 31- and 24-year-old adult children, I have recognized how fast the time has flown by since they were children.

We must cherish the time with our new, littles ones while we can before they become grown-ups, too.

Tough Days

By Stacy LaMorte

We all have them: Tough days.  We have those days where nothing seems to go our way.

So, as Catholic parents, how do we teach our kids that these are normal and even necessary in our lives?

What I have found with my kids is that listening is the first course of action.  And I mean really listening – stopping what you are doing when you can and really giving them your undivided attention.

In our noisy, busy world, sometimes a child just needs to feel like he or she is not alone and that someone will take the time to really hear him or her.

I tell my kids that there are few things that a walk around the block or a cup of tea (or both!) can’t fix. There is something about the ritual of a cup of tea that makes old-fashioned sense of things.

Taking a walk together is really a great way to get a little fresh air, a little sunshine and some endorphins to help your child feel better.

Living close to Lake Pontchartrain gives us a perfect kind of route there and back which usually gives us enough time to work through things.

The beauty and expanse of the lake also allows me to think more openly and appreciate the greatness of God’s splendor (almost like a mini-beach vacation!)

Above all, as Catholics, we need to help our kids understand that God has a perfect plan for this hour, this day and this life.

Just because it doesn’t go the way we planned, it doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it and try to learn from God’s way.

Our Father does know best, after all.

How do you help your kids deal with those tough days?

Why My Son Opens Doors for Women

By Ana Borden

While dating my husband, we often cooked together, recreating meals from dining experiences as well as grocery shopping together.

Following the first meal we cooked together, I served his plate first. He was silent for a moment but then followed with, “I can serve myself.”

I had watched the women in my life serve all their loved ones first before themselves – it was a sign of respect and a cultural difference I had not noticed until that moment.

Of course he could serve his own plate, but my instinct was to serve him before myself.

This is one reason I have taught our son to hold doors for women. It is not because I think women need to have doors opened for them as a sign of weakness, but out of respect.

Could you imagine a world where you put the needs and care of others first before your own?

Jump forward a decade and a half later, and my husband and I instinctively take turns serving each other and our little one’s dinner plates every night.

How do you show respect and God’s grace to your loved ones?

God will give you everything you need (Psalm 23:1-3)

By Kristy Solis

Universally, we are all tired.  Parenting is a full-time job with a full schedule of its own.

If you are like me, it is not your only duty.

Whenever I feel weary, I reflect and ask the Lord, “Have I lost my way? Is this the path you created for me?”

The answer may be “keep moving” or “this is the way.”

I have learned that a full schedule is a blessing, if what fills it has a purpose.

As my children grow, I sense when they are tired.  I remind them “God will give you everything you need, not what you want.”

My girls used to ask me all the time, when will we have a baby brother? And I would tell them God gave me everything I ever needed with the two of them.

One day, my oldest daughter said, “Maybe God thinks you need another child.“

Guess what? I could not argue that God will decide what I need and what my family needs.

Let us pray to the Lord, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, and he refreshes my soul.”