31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Gifts (Day 26)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Gifts (Day 26)

So, I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who like surprises, and those who do not. Guess which I am?

Yes, yes, I love surprises. And so, tonight, it is my absolute (and unexpected!) joy to share a very, very beautiful and fun surprise with you. I thought I was going to be posting about the unexpected joy of order tonight, but God (and my sweet friend Meg) had other ideas.

I will not apologize in advance, but I will warn you: a sizable photo dump ensues from the marvelous spiritual art care package I received via snail mail mere minutes ago. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the return address label:

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I haven’t known Miss Meg for very long, but she messaged me when she saw my “Life is Beautiful” post on FB, I believe. Meg wrote to tell me that she was so moved by my words that she wanted to offer me a gift from her shop to commemorate my birthday. I thought she was so very sweet. And then I plum forgot to follow up with her on her offer. How very me of me.

Anyway, we did finally connect, and I was so impressed by the items I received (The Memorare, below, as well as The Hail Mary Prayer and ABCs) that I asked her if she’d be interested in collaborating for the (at the time) upcoming Catholic Women Rejoice conference.

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Thankfully, she said, “Yes,” and not only created the cover art for our program, she provided signed mini-prints of the cover art for each of our attendees!

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I was so impressed by Meg’s generosity of spirit, her humility, and her openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that I invited her to work with me on next year’s conference, too. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Anyway, back to the care package … I was like a kid in a candy store – ripping at the package:

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I knew Meg was working on a Liturgical calendar, and … she sent it!!

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I’m planning on sharing more about the calendar itself next week, so you’ll just have to wait. 🙂 However, in true Meg form, she sent other amazing goodies as well! Here’s the front view:


And the back view:


And close-ups, clockwise from the upper left!

Flowers/St. Faustina quote bookmark:



Houses/Mother Angelica quote bookmark:



Butterflies+flowers/C.S. Lewis Humility quote bookmark:



Geometric stained glass/Divine Mercy (Diary of St. Faustina quote) bookmark:



Periwinkle+leaves flowers/Edith Stein bookmark:



Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas for a Holy Life card

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Fortitude card:



And, last but not least, an Act of Consecration card with Miraculous Medal:



It is so wonderful to see someone with such amazing gifts using those gifts to glorify God and to encourage others. I was just overwhelmed by the generosity and beauty before me … and simply humbled.

Please go check out my friend’s shop. I promise you won’t be disappointed, whether you purchase a gift for yourself or for someone else.

Until tomorrow, may God bless y’all with abundant joy.


PS – BTW, Meg neither asked for nor knows that I’m writing this post, but I hope that an uptick in her orders by generous souls such as yourself will make her glad that I did. 😉 –hr

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Beauty (Day 8)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Beauty (Day 8)

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

-John Keats

Keats may have coined the phrase, but I first heard it from Mary Poppins. Anyone else??

My relationship with beauty is somewhat, um, complex. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated beauty it in all its various and sundry iterations until recently. The topic is probably best saved for an more in-depth post on another day. That being said, I do have a great appreciation for beautiful art, especially sacred art, which has had a profound impact on me and my ministry.

Fast-forward to today, and I am blessed to share something beautiful with you, dear readers, and offer you something unexpected – an opportunity to partake in the beauty shared! What joy!

Saints for all Occasions notecards are based on a collection of vintage holy cards belonging to Fr. Eugene Carella and meticulously curated by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua of novena.com.

One of the great things about these notecards, other than their striking beauty, is that there are an assortment of saints suitable to send for various occasions. Is your daughter going off to college? Give her St. Joan of Arc, patroness of bravery.

St Joan of Arc

Or send St. Monica, Patron Saint of Mothers to your Mom as a pick-me-up. Or you could send (Feast Day alert) St. Teresa of Ávila (invoked for healing), St. Thomas Aquinas (Patron of Students), St. Vitus (Patron of Laughter – who knew?), St. Julian (Patron of Hospitality),

St. Julian

and many more. Each of the 20 cards features a different saint and comes with envelopes in a gorgeous foil-stamped box.

Saints for All Occasions

Can’t wait to get your hands on them, can you? Well, please be sure to follow this blog if you don’t already and comment below for your chance to win your own box of notecards! The first 50 commenters* on this post, will also receive the novena app (for iPhone) for free, through the kindness of Sandra diPasqua, who is probably one of the most generous people I’ve never met in real life! Thank you so very, very much, Sandy!

I’ll announce the notecard winner on October 15th, in honor of St. Teresa of Avila’s Feast Day. Purchase now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!


*One entry per individual, please.

Today’s Reading & The Visitation by Albertenelli

Today’s Reading & The Visitation by Albertenelli

An online friend reminded me that today’s Gospel reading is the story of The Visitation, where John the Baptist leaps in St. Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting.

I have a special connection with St. Elizabeth, as she is my Confirmation Saint. Little did I know that, at the tender age of 14, I hadn’t really chosen St. Elizabeth, but that she had chosen me. I had honestly wondered, over the years, why I had actually chosen St. Elizabeth. Singing the customized versions of the Liturgy of the Saints for the RCIA Candidates at the Easter Vigil over the years and hearing all the wonderful saints’ names actually filled me with some regret that I didn’t really put much thought into selecting my own Confirmation Saint. Elizabeth is my Aunt’s name, and she was my Confirmation Sponsor, so I just picked “Elizabeth” for my Saint. Frankly, in my apathy and ignorance, I didn’t really want to do the research involved in selecting a Confirmation Saint, nor did I think it important. Silly me – God was still at work.

It wasn’t until this year, while contemplating how I could uplift and encourage women and further the pro-life message, that it finally started to dawn on me. I first saw the masterpiece “The Visitation” by Italian painter Albertenelli, below, at the local Catholic bookstore. The painting, with its sheer emotion and beauty, stopped me cold in my tracks and actually moved me to tears. Right there in the bookstore. Finally, I thought. This is what a loving relationship between sisters in Christ should look like! It was in no small part because of this painting that I was motivated to coordinate the  pro-life Tea  at church this past April.

In addition, I don’t think it is a fluke that my son was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist. He declares Christ’s love and saving power to me in his own way each and every day. And my Confirmation Saint is St. John the Baptist’s Mom. God is so awesome. In case you needed to be reminded. 🙂

So,  St. Elizabeth really *is* my Confirmation Saint, even if it took me 20 years to figure out why. And it is with her guidance that I see how the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.

God works in mysterious ways … through the brush strokes of a long-passed master artist, through the underdeveloped selections of an ignorant teen-aged girl, and through  Sts. John & Elizabeth, the first pro-life heralds (John, by action & St. Elizabeth, by proclamation). Deo Gratias!