Review: Little Sins Mean a Lot

Posted by on Jun 6, 2016 in reviews | Comments Off on Review: Little Sins Mean a Lot

little sinsFull disclosure: I knew I wanted this book , Little Sins Mean a Lot by Elizabeth Scalia since last year, so to say I have been looking forward to its publication so I could inhale it chapter after chapter is a bit of an understatement. This is the kind of book that I want to gobble up greedily like the giant bowl of ice cream prepared after the kids were asleep and the husband was engrossed in the football game. Swallowed up and finished quickly and leaving no evidence…until chapter 4 convicted me of my own little sin of over-indulgence. And chapter 5 waggled its finger at me for gossiping. And chapter 8 punished me with my own snarky judgmentalism (is that a word? Nah, I don’t think so).

The book became an examination of conscience — and folks, it slows you down when you start doing an examen like this.

On the upside, I went to confession, so that’s a win.

I knew I’d love the book because I’ve loved Scalia’s writing for many years. If you haven’t read Strange Gods…what’s wrong with you? Get on it!

And then, of course, there’s this one, Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before they Kick Us. In this collection of essays reflecting on the little things we do that pick away at us and lead us down the path of sin, Scalia reflects on her life and how these habits have taken hold of her. It’s not an exposé, and certainly not a holier-than-thou parade of how she has overcome these sinful habits, but rather, an authentic sharing of how she, we are all a mess in varying degrees, and boy could we use some strategies to change these behaviors.

That’s what I love about this book, the strategies. Every chapter talks about the bad habit-becoming-sin, gives a marvelous and eclectic selection of sources that explain the Church’s position on the sin (of course scripture and the Catechism, but so much more), and then offers some advice on actionable steps we can take to overcome this habit, because it is a habit, this concupiscence. Finally, she calls us to prayer — how else can we find the strength to overcome these sins?

In the front matter, before the table of contents, is nestled a pair of quotations that delight me, but then again, I’m a fan of both women :

Don’t let your sins turn into bad habits. — St. Teresa of Avila

Don’t let your bad habits turn into sins. — Elizabeth Scalia

There’s no denying the causal relationship of habits and sin. But there’s also no need to get so jacked up about it that we despair. This book recommends the strategies, sure, but also offers hope in gems like this:

… if we would only invite [God] in, he would come. And then, where God is, what has been empty becomes full; what has been dark becomes light; what has been plundered can be made whole.

There’s hope in that. God wants so much more for us than the small ways we sell ourselves short.


Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us
by Elizabeth Scalia
published by Our Sunday Visitor




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Review: Messy and Foolish

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in reviews | 2 comments

messyI received this wonderful little book for review from the author, Matthew Warner, months ago. MONTHS ago. I read it in an evening, lauded his vision, and then did the dreadful thing — the thing most of us who are book lovers know to be a bad move. I let someone borrow it.

It disappeared for all these months, until I got it back today. I didn’t think I would. In fact, I’ve started to give people books, instead of lending them, so I don’t fret over their return. But I was surprised to get this one back. I reread it, because it’s well-written, and then I remembered why I lent it, and that I hadn’t really properly reviewed it. So here’s the review.

And here’s why I lent it:

The message in this book is for all of us.

Are we measuring out our lives in coffee spoons, as Prufrock laments, content to live by-the-book instead of by-the-Word?

Matt encourages us to get messy. To take risks. To live our lives  fully. This means detaching ourselves from the meaningless markers we create for success. He reminds us that Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The challenge is this — can we take the risk — do we allow ourselves the vulnerability of engaging, truly engaging with those who are around us, in our families, our friends, our neighbors? The fruit of it is, of course, finding our place in God. When we do this – we truly begin the work of evangelization.

I’m going to give the book away to someone I know, someone close to me, maybe a friend, or a family member. I get it, and I think more people need to get this simple message, too.


#21 on my on-going book challenge:

1. A totally gratuitous and vapid book that I’ll forget the moment I set it down after finishing it. I suspect this happened more than a few times last year.
2. A biography.
3. A history book. Preferably American history because I’m weak there.
4. A book about music. The Inextinguishable Symphony by Martin Goldsmith
5. A book about an artist.
6. A book of poetry.
7. A book about prayer.
8. A science-fiction novel. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
9. A book about Catholic theology.
10. A book about writing.
11. A classic.
12. A New York Times best-seller.
13. A book in Spanish.
14. A romance.
15. A murder mystery.
16. A book about a Saint.
17. A book BY a Saint.
18. A book by a friend. A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac by Margaret Rose Really
19. A book about photography.
20. A book about science. Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man Who Invented the 20th Century by Sean Patrick
21. A book with a pretty cover. Yes, I’m going to judge it. Messy and Foolish by Matthew Warner
22. A book with an ugly cover. I’ll stay open minded.
23. A banned book. Hey. It’s me we’re talking about here.
24. A book that’s been sitting on my bookshelf, unread, for years.
25. A book you recommend.

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The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in good for the soul, Reading Challenge, reviews | Comments Off on The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

Catholic Moms Prayer BookComing soon! The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion:A Book of Daily Reflections

Are you a Catholic mom who prays for the wisdom and patience to get through each day? Do you pray for your children, husband, family and friends, and sometimes even yourself? The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion offers a new, daily resource to make the most of those few, precious minutes you have to pause and reflect.

You’ll find encouragement when you’re struggling, reassurance when you feel alone, and comfort when you’re distracted by worry. Created by moms for moms, these hope-filled meditations touch on the issues and concerns you face as you try to get through the day with a sense of God’s presence in your life. 

I’m delighted to be a contributor to this great resource. Go ahead and pre-order so you’re ready for the new year!

Pre-order online today at:

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Review: The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in reviews | 1 comment

Fr. Stanley Rother with children

Fr. Stanley Rother with children in Guatemala

I often have opportunities to review books. This blesses me in a number of ways, mostly because I get to read things I might not intentionally select for myself. Because books seem to find their way to me, I’ve been able to broaden my knowledge base and world view. Sometimes it’s a humbling experience — especially when it means learning about amazing people such as Father Stanley Rother.


Sons of Oklahoma

I first heard about Fr. Stan on an episode of Catholic Weekend when co-host Steve Nelson mentioned him. In fact, I’m pretty sure Steve had spoken about Fr. Stan before. You see, Steve is from Oklahoma, and Fr. Stan’s story is very close to him.

Fr. Stanley Rother was a priest from the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, who after only a handful of years as a priest, asked to go to Guatemala as a missionary. He overcame trials with language, learning not only Spanish, but Tz’utujil as well. In the process, he fell in love the people he served.

Guatemala was a dangerous place for Fr. Stan. His connection to the people and the ways in which he enriched the community eventually drew the attention of factions who wanted to eliminate him. Scare tactics that included threats via murders of his own parishioners didn’t deter him. Although he returned to the US briefly, ultimately, his heart remained in Guatemala where he returned and was eventually murdered in his own home.


The Book

The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma

by María Ruiz Scaperlanda



click to purchase the book

María Ruiz Scaperlanda tells Fr. Stan’s story — a gift for people like me who yearn to make sense of the Saints, and yearn even more to grasp the depth of conviction and strength of trust in the Lord that would give an ordinary man extraordinary courage.

Saints are local. They come from ordinary families, parishes, and communities like Okarche, Oklahoma. But their impact is universal. They belong to the whole Church. They remind us that holiness is our fundamental vocation. Saints represent the full flowering of the grace of our baptism.

~Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City


Scaperlanda’s tribute to this holy soul inspires me to continue in my ordinary work — to be present to those I serve, and in that way, follow Fr. Stan’s example:

To put it another way, Fr. Stanley came to understand with clarity the importance of “presence.” By constantly striving to deliberately be present to the people in front of him, to the needs in front of him, Father Stanley proclaimed a God who lives and suffers with his people.

~ María Ruiz Scaperlanda

The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run

In the past 30 years, María has been published broadly in the U.S., including the New York Times, Our Sunday Visitor, St. Anthony Messenger, Columbia, and other national and diocesan publications. Maria’s work as a Catholic journalist has taken her on international assignments in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and throughout Europe. But perhaps her favorite assignment was covering Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to her native country, Cuba. Her primary life-time assignment, however, has been as wife to Michael for 34 years, mother to four grown children—and now “Bella” to six adorable grandchildren!
Read more from María Ruiz Scaperlanda at Day By Day with María


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Super Sale all Week at Ave Maria Press [updated!]

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in courageous saints, formidable women, reviews | Comments Off on Super Sale all Week at Ave Maria Press [updated!]




Day 2 code: MERCY15


Get your shopping on!sale

click on picture to go to website

Please note my tiny little book is nestled in there between some other awesome titles! At these prices, get them all!

I’ll update each day’s code here.

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The Day of the Dead and The Book of Life

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in good for the soul, reviews | Comments Off on The Day of the Dead and The Book of Life


John Blaine Johnson, Jr and Alex Morera


Today, on All Souls Day, I remember in prayer both my father, and my father-in-law — two wonderful men who were in my life too short a time. Many other beloved family members and dear friends were included in those prayers. Although I had a heavy heart, the prayers, and subsequently, the remembering of so many fun and beautiful times, lifted my spirit.

Cubans don’t celebrate the Day of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration, although some well-meaning people make assumptions based upon our common language. The customs are quite different. But…I have become enamored of this holiday and its traditions.

I enjoy that it is a family celebration, and that the separation of loved ones, through death, reunites the families through love. In the end, as Catholics, we believe the same — that one day in Heaven through the mercy and grace of God, we will be reunited.

posterLast year I bought the Book of Life, a fun animated film that is like a cross between Dante’s Divina Comedia and Groundhog Day. The main character, Manolo, must face his greatest fears and turns to his family, all of whom are deceased, for help on his journey as he travels through three lands.

It takes place on the Day of the Dead, so most of us would like to find some redeeming catechetical value in it. It’s there, though you need to look at broad themes. I was delighted by so many elements of the film: the animation is clever and appealing; the cast is exceptional; the music — EXCELLENT!

It’s the perfect end for today — a snuggle movie that will entertain and delight me.

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