Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #46 - Introverted penguins & spiritual attacks. I promise I'll explain :0

Hello ALL! I'm so glad to have you with me for a very peaceful installment of:



Today I talk about spiritual challenges and how I'm coping with them. I tie in a story about a penguin. I promise, this makes sense in the podcast. ;-) Listen on, dear listener!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
  • Tuesday's post about spiritual darkness.
  • Baby Penguins Everywhere! board book. I found it, HUZZAH! *pats librarian bun*
  • Next Catholic Book Club selection: Church of Spies.  If you want to buy this book rather than going the library route, it is $15.99 for Kindle, and about $20 in hardcover. The paperback version doesn't release until November, as I suspected.
What are your practical suggestions for dealing with spiritual darkness? Also, don't forget to chime in about how we should structure our Church of Spies discussion. Over one month or multiple? Melanie had a great suggestion in the comments of yesterday's post. Leave yours as well!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Catholic Book Club: Divine Mercy for Moms


Well, hello to you all, and welcome to the brand new edition of the Catholic Book Club! I'll talk about our first foray into voting for upcoming books and the next selected title at the bottom of this post. We'll need to figure out how we want to structure the posts, since I'm thinking it will be a multi-part endeavor.

This month we're featuring a Catholic non-fiction title, indeed one of the special Catholic Mom imprint selections from Ave Maria Press, Divine Mercy for Moms by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet. For spiritual non-fiction, this was a quick read for me, which for someone who usually gets bogged down in spiritual reading and doesn't finish, is a really good thing!

 Here is our description:
Originating in the early twentieth century, the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska is one of the most celebrated of all Catholic devotions. In this, their first book, Catholic bloggers and speakers Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet break open the history, practices, and prayers associated with the devotion, guiding busy moms to receive God's message of Divine Mercy and pass it on to others through their words, deeds, and prayers.

In her famous Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina Kowalska recorded a series of visions of Jesus where he revealed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and promised that anything can be obtained with the prayer if it is compatible with his will. St. John Paul II formally established the Divine Mercy devotion and canonized Faustina in 2000. The Marians of the Immaculate Conception are dedicated to spreading the Divine Mercy devotion; the foreword for this book was written by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, author of Divine Mercy Explained and 33 Days to Morning Glory.

In Divine Mercy for Moms, Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet, chairwomen of the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference--one of the largest annual Catholic women's conferences in the country--draw upon their own experiences to introduce you to St. Faustina and her five essential elements of the Divine Mercy message:
  • The image of the Merciful Jesus

  • The Feast of Divine Mercy

  • The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

  • The House of Mercy

  • Spreading the honor of Divine Mercy
With heartwarming stories and practical advice, this book reveals that mercy is not just a gift to be received in the confessional but a spiritual resource that strengthens those who extend themselves in word, deed, and prayer. Designed for personal or group study, Divine Mercy for Moms celebrates the infinite mercy of God and the role of Mary, the Mother of Mercy, in the lives of all believers.

The book also includes group study questions, prayers of mercy, and thirty reflections from the authors' website, DivineMercyforMoms.
http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Mercy-Moms-Sharing-Faustina/dp/159471665X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461685817&sr=8-1&keywords=divine+mercy+for+moms

I absolutely LOVED the concept and structure of this book. From the appealing cover art to the practical suggestions and personal examples for acting out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in our own lives, this book pushed all of my buttons in a very good way.

I really enjoyed the beginning chapters which discussed the history of the Divine Mercy image and some background on St. Faustina. The authors' personal stories woven throughout is my favorite approach to non-fiction. Shamefully, I didn't know the corporal and spiritual works of mercy prior to reading this, so I appreciated having everything listed in one spot, with all of the ideas and prayers included for each one.  I thought the "30 Days of Mercy" exercises included in the appendix was an excellent addition. A wonderful exercise for Lent or Advent, either with a study group or individually.

The only part of the book I found awkward was the fact that there are two authors and it was written in the first person. Specifically, each would identify herself at the beginning of the chapter in parentheses as she began her discussion, and I found that that disrupted the flow of the narrative a bit. That's my only criticism. I'm not certain I can put my finger on a better way to handle the situation, however.

The book read quickly for me, I finished well within a week. What did you all think? Please detail in the comments!

And now...

*drumroll*

...it is time for the big reveal! Our next Catholic Book Club title will be:

Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler, by Mark Riebling:
The Vatican's silence in the face of Nazi atrocities remains one of the great controversies of our time. History has accused wartime pontiff Pius the Twelfth of complicity in the Holocaust and dubbed him "Hitler's Pope." But a key part of the story has remained untold.

Pius ran the world's largest church, smallest state, and oldest spy service. Saintly but secretive, he skimmed from church charities to pay covert couriers, and surreptitiously tape-recorded his meetings with top Nazis. When he learned of the Holocaust, Pius played his cards close to his chest. He sent birthday cards to Hitler--while plotting to overthrow him.

Church of Spies documents this cross-and-dagger intrigue in shocking detail. Gun-toting Jesuits stole blueprints to Hitler's homes. A Catholic book publisher flew a sports plane over the Alps with secrets filched from the head of Hitler's bodyguard. The keeper of the Vatican crypt ran a spy ring that betrayed German war plans and wounded Hitler in a briefcase bombing.

The plotters made history in ways they hardly expected. They inspired European unification, forged a U.S.-Vatican alliance that spanned the Cold War, and challenged Church teachings on Jews. Yet Pius' secret war muted his public response to Nazi crimes. Fearing that overt protest would impede his covert actions, he never spoke the "fiery words" he wanted.

Told with heart-pounding suspense, based on secret transcripts and unsealed files, Church of Spies throws open the Vatican's doors to reveal some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy. The result is an unprecedented book that will change perceptions of how the world's greatest moral institution met the greatest moral crisis in history.
If you're a fan of fiction over non-fiction, do not despair! I have some news on that front, so hang tight. ;-)

But for this one, I just took a peek. We have 26 chapters, about 240 pages worth of material. How would you all like to handle this? Should we read it over the course of the entire summer? Maybe a post per month for May, June, July, possibly August? Somewhere between 5 and 8 chapters at a time? Or do you have another suggestion? Please do chime in! If you're getting this from the library, you won't be able to check it out for that long, so perhaps you'd prefer a different method? I'm all ears!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spiritual setbacks during Easter season, & Holy Spirit moments...

All! I've missed you.

*hug*

I'm all emotional today, so expect lots of sappy lapses like that one. As is so often the case with situations such as this, I'm fine one minute, and struggling the next. What am I talking about? Spiritual darkness with a just a touch of depression mixed in with it. Picture me walking about, looking anxious, with a small rain cloud following me directly overhead. That sums it up really well.

This tends to happen when I'm praying 54 day rosary novenas, interestingly. And we're just past the halfway point, which seems significant, somehow. And it just...happens, you know? There isn't just one reason, it's not that I'm a weak person, it just happens sometimes. All of a sudden, ordinary things seem to be more of a struggle, and it gets me down. I always climb up out of it, but for a day or two, all I want to do is sit around and feel sorry for myself while eating Cookies 'n Cream ice cream. It happens.

So this weekend I was feeling a bit fragile. On Saturday I forgot not only to pray my rosary but to pray the St. Gianna Beretta Molla novena.

#epicfail

Then I felt guilty as well as a bit down, and oh so forgetful, and it was just a whole snowball situation. ;-)

But here's the interesting thing. Grab your tea. We're going to go on a full circle journey together.

So, Thursday I recorded Tea Time. And I was fine. I felt a bit scattered, but I was fine. That's not exactly an unusual situation for yours truly.

*halo*

Between Thursday and Friday I started to feel not so fine. I began to worry about a whole assortment of things, and my heart felt heavier. By Friday, I was definitely not fully myself, and that lasted the entire weekend.

But it's what ELSE happened this weekend, in the midst of all of this, that I find interesting. On Friday afternoon, I received a package containing the gift I'd ordered for Cristina's son's First Communion. It's a St. Gabriel the archangel saint doll:

He looks very stoic, yes?
As you might expect, I was very pleased to see him. :) I pulled him out of his wrappings for a little photo shoot, and Anne wanders in. She becomes entranced with him:

"Mommy, he has WINGS!"

Wings ;-)
"Yes Honey, he's an angel."

"I want wings too, Mommy. Can I keep him?"

"No darling, he's for Gabriel."

This was most disappointing to her, so she retreated to her room to pull out her own saint doll collection, which had been languishing for a time having fallen under her bed. She does not yet have any wooden dolls, but she has a plethora of felt dolls. All of a sudden, Anne's tiny body disappears beneath her bed, and out comes St. Therese, St. Kateri, St. Blaise, Our Lady Star of the Sea, and Our Lady of Lourdes. I could see her examining each carefully, becoming re-acquainted with them. She begins toting them around the house with her.

On Saturday, I find this on the dining room table:

Apparently St. Therese and St. Kateri are down with the sledding
She had become so enamored with her new saint friends that it was like a whole new relationship blossoming with them:

"Mommy. Can you...make me a saint? Like, can I dress like them?"

I mean...

*heart!*

So this is what we came up with:

Future saint ;-)
Yes, those are butterfly wings, inspired by our archangel friends. But she picked out a head covering, and carried that crucifix and a pair of plastic rosary beads around with her for the entire weekend. I even heard her in her bed praying a Hail Mary Saturday night.

*collapses from the cuteness*

So Anne is on this saint kick, and Sunday morning the kids and I head to Mass with me still not feeling myself. We get out to the car in the garage, and what do you suppose happens?

The car won't start.

I was about to go into the house to fetch Mike's kind assistance, but I gave myself a few tries and gave the car a little gas. It started.

My car is ancient, so this isn't exactly a shock for it to act this way, and in the past it's always been fine afterward, so we press onward. We are now running late, but away we go. When we arrive at our parish, our usual spot on the far right side of the sanctuary was full, due to us getting there later than usual. I tell Henry to choose a new spot, and he picks an area in the middle of the church, just past center.

On we proceed, and Anne goes up for Children's Liturgy of the Word. During the homily, Father devoted part of the time to a nun who came to speak about an appeal for her missionary order of sisters. Part of her discussion was about vocations, and she indicated that some of the children in the parish could be future priests, bishops, nuns and/or saints. She brought the young altar servers in as examples. :)

"And that young boy over there!" *points* "He could be the pope someday!"

I turn to see that she is pointing directly at Henry, and that he is weakly raising his hand to acknowledge her. If we hadn't sat where we did, she never would have seen him. And we wouldn't have sat where we did if we weren't running late due to the car not starting and me being in a general funk. It just seemed terribly fortuitous.

This is not to say that I'm taking this as a sign that Henry will be pope. ;-) It just warmed my heart to see my children engaged in their faith, and at a time when I really needed the boost. The Holy Spirit is always alive and well, even when things seem a bit more difficult than usual.

After Mass, I felt a little better. We took the kids on an afternoon hike after lunch, and Anne tripped, fell and skinned her knee about 2 and a half minutes into the walk. *long suffering sigh* We had to take turns carrying her for a spell. But I felt a little better still. I've been improving ever since. I'm going to try and get to confession this week.

Does this happen to you all as well? Spiritual dryness or darkness or however you want to term it? How do you handle it? I would love to discuss it with you in the comments.

Tomorrow is book club day! If you read Divine Mercy for Moms or are otherwise interested to learn more about it, stop in to chat with us then. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #45 - Who doesn't love dancing in the summertime?

Hello all! Reference duty called, so it's a slightly shortened version this week of:


But still fun! Some spiritual life and book club updates, then a quick rundown of my upcoming summer dance season. It's always an adventure!



**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
What's going on with you this summer dear reader? Do you have musical advice for my solo! Do write in!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

If you love to read, you'll love this!

Well, hi there! After my cathartic rant yesterday, I'm feeling MUCH BETTER and I hope you are too. ;-) I have another crazy day today (let's all groan together, shall we?) but I wanted to pop in here to thank all of you who left me sweet and amusing comments yesterday. I appreciate your presence in my life and your support more than you can know.

I also wanted to point you to the VERY FUN Catholic Mom Hangout podcast that I recorded yesterday with a terrific duo of other Catholic Mom contributors:

http://catholicmom.com/2016/04/19/cm-hangout-23-book-love-catholic-moms-favorite-books/

We each brought a selection of our all-time favorite fiction and non-fiction titles, so tune in if you'd like to find some new titles to read! There is a video of the hangout, as well as a downloadable audio option.

A quick mention that the poll is open for another week to vote on the next Catholic Book Club title! So far, the historical non-fiction title is winning. If you are interested in a different title, make sure to vote! We'll see the official winner next Wednesday, when we will also be discussing Divine Mercy for Moms.

All right, I have to sign off. My "break" today is to attend PiYo during my lunch hour, because apparently I like pain and suffering. I'll be with you tomorrow for another edition of Tea Time with Tiffany. I don't know what I will talk about yet, but that's what makes it so fun, yes? See you then!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

You probably don't even want to ask :0

It's been a crazy week in the life of your Catholic librarian.

Because sometimes, you just really need a gigantic cutout cookie...





And I hate being all rushy, rushy, kwim? But I've been all rushy, rushy.  I know that my life is NOT more busy than anybody else's, but when it happens I do mourn for peaceful solitude. In that vein, every time I tried to write this post, I was interrupted (fits the theme ;-)) but whenever I come back to continue I keep remembering that the St. Gianna Beretta Molla novena starts today. When everything seems chaotic, turn to prayer, yes? So if you'd like to join in, I'm starting today!

For the amusement of all of you, I'll relay my busyness troubles of late, and maybe you can relate.  Do detail your own escapades in the comments. :)

All right, so last week every single weeknight had an activity in it. Don't get me wrong, they were fun activities: the ballet, a visit with out of town family, dance rehearsal. All fabulous.

Then there was the other stuff.

The first day above 50 degrees since back in the fall, and guess who had to work on Saturday afternoon?

*weakly raises hand*

I don't normally have to work on the weekends, but we all have to pitch in on a handful of undesirable shifts over the course of the semester, and Saturday was one of mine. Lucky me. And BEFORE that, in the worst instance of scheduling cluelessness so far this year, I had made an appointment to have my hair dyed delicately trimmed. I come by this brown hair honestly. Mostly.

So I need to rushy rushy to and from the hair salon, and back home to scarf down lunch and brew coffee before heading to the library. I arrive for my shift Saturday at 1 pm, feeling particularly martyr-like. For two hours, I peruse Instagram for fashion ideas, chat with Samantha and Cristina, and online shop for Mother's Day gifts. Then the phone rings.

It was a faculty member, looking for a specific journal volume. Everything went swimmingly until I discovered and relayed that aforementioned journal volume was located in our off-campus storage facility. And by "off-campus" I mean a less than 5 minute drive. We also will ship any requested volume to the library within a business day, free of charge.

Let's just say that the faculty member was very unkind in his reaction. This is a very charitable way of indicating "rude", just to be clear. Apparently, storage facility hatred is a thing. I was very calm and nice to him, which I think made him even madder. He hung up in a huff.

Afterward, I felt a little shaken up, but I thought to myself:

"You know, it must be a terrible cross to bear to be such a giant... CENSORED!!"

Indeed. In the past, I would have been upset about the whole experience for days, because it really bothers me to deal with people who act in such a confrontational manner. But over the years I have come to realize that we cannot control the behavior of other people, only ourselves. And it's pointless to let someone else's behavior disturb my inner tranquility.

Boom! Super professional and courteous, but inwardly conniving, librarian, for the win.

And those same skills are carrying me through this week, in that my students turned in the first draft of their final projects.

Sigh.

Does nobody read the syllabus anymore? Or come to class? That would also help. But even just READING THE SYLLABUS would aid them so, so much. It's only a couple of pages long, really. I promise. SO MANY QUESTIONS COULD BE ANSWERED THEREIN. That is the, you know, *reason* we created it in the first place. So when it gets to be time to turn in final projects, and some students have no idea what an e-portfolio even IS, let along how to use it, it gets a bit frustrating.

Thus, I spoke about how to draft and publish their work in the e-portfolio in class on Monday. I sent out an email that day, as well as this morning, about how to draft and publish their work in the e-portfolio. I pointed to the posted help documentation on how to draft and publish their work in the e-portfolio. Yet, some of the e-portfolios are still lacking content.

I get a few email responses:

"Do I need to hit 'publish' for you to be able to see it?"

Why yes. Yes you do.

Is it me? I think it's me. I am officially old enough that I have forgotten how college students think.

That's the verdict: I AM OLD.

Clearly, I need a few ridiculous belly dance gigs to stumble into my life to make me feel young and vibrant again. Where are all of those rickety stages and terrified-looking audience members when you need them?!

Oh, and then there is the overeager author who keeps calling me to request that the library buy his book:

"Have you looked at all of the emails I have sent to you?"

"Yes, thank you. If we're interested, we will order the book."

We're not. But I didn't say that. See, Operation Feelings Being Spared afoot, right there. I'm nice.

"But will you be back in touch with me?"

"No, we have all of the information, thank you."

"But you'll have to call me to order the book. You cannot order it any other way."

"I'm sorry?"

"The book is only sold out of my house. I have the boxes in my basement."

People, I WISH I was making this stuff up. Let's just say it's only Tuesday, and yet it's been a REALLY long week.

And then there's this:

This is after a WEEK of detangling work. #killme








In an effort to shorten my future time in purgatory, I occasionally put fingering weight yarn onto my swift and purposely tangle it into an absolute MOUNTAIN of thousands of tiny little knots, so that I can spend the next 10 days of my life painstakingly getting them all out, thus allowing the yarn to form a proper ball.  I will have to deal with inexplicable yarn fuzz causing tight, deadly knots, and the logistical nightmare of trying to detangle from both ends at the same time. I will have to face the terrifying possibility of CUTTING the yarn, and even worse, REATTACHING IT! And then, in the most painful irony of all: when the yarn is all safe and sound and ready to be knit, I will have to knit, not for myself, but FOR SOMEBODY ELSE. THEY will get to enjoy the super fantastic scarf/shawl/socks/whatever that likely has some of my own blood mixed in with it.

*glares*

That's how my week has gone. How has yours been? :0

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #44 - Who loves the ballet?! More than you could possibly ever want to know about "Giselle"...

Good morning to you all! It's finally sunny here, so I'm taking that as a very good sign, and the perfect start to our next episode of:


Today I talk about spring craft projects and an exciting, upcoming craft-related journey (yay! Meetup?!) as well as my now annual tradition of a spring ballet. Never seen "Giselle" and curious about the story? Look no further, dear listener! All the dramatic, heart-stopping details are right here! :0




**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:



Are any of you headed to the theater this spring? Are you working on any spring or summer crafts? Did you vote in the book club poll?! Write in and let me know. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More book talk! You can vote! :0

Oooooooh, it's all exciting! :0 I have a poll up, and you can vote on a book for us to read during May (or maybe multiple months, we'll figure it out after we pick the book!) I had one book recommendation, which I included on the list, and the others I just did a little poking around on new books at Amazon and at a few Catholic publishers. The poll is over on the right sidebar, and I see that some of you have already found it! If you haven't already, do go and vote!

The only snag with the poll widget in Blogger is that there is no option to include hyperlinks.

*we all groan together*

Annoying, to be sure. I'll include links here for your ease in reading reviews and voting. :) I'll also pop the descriptions from Amazon down below each one. Here we go!

Contemporary Fiction - Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders: A Novel, by Julianna Baggott.

The reclusive Harriet Wolf, revered author and family matriarch, has a final confession-a love story. Years after her death, as her family comes together one last time, the mystery of Harriet's life hangs in the balance. Does the truth lie in the rumored final book of the series that made Harriet a world-famous writer, or will her final confession be lost forever?

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders tells the moving story of the unforgettable Wolf women in four distinct voices: the mysterious Harriet, who, until now, has never revealed the secrets of her past; her fiery, overprotective daughter, Eleanor; and her two grown granddaughters--Tilton, the fragile yet exuberant younger sister, who's become a housebound hermit, and Ruth, the older sister, who ran away at sixteen and never looked back. When Eleanor is hospitalized, Ruth decides it's time to do right by a pact she made with Tilton long ago: to return home and save her sister. Meanwhile, Harriet whispers her true life story to the reader. It's a story that spans the entire twentieth century and is filled with mobsters, outcasts, a lonesome lion, and a home for wayward women. It's also a tribute to her lifelong love of the boy she met at the Maryland School for Feeble-minded Children.

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders, Julianna Baggott's most sweeping and mesmerizing novel yet, offers a profound meditation on motherhood and sisterhood, as well as on the central importance of stories. It is a novel that affords its characters that rare chance we all long for--the chance to reimagine the stories of our lives while there's still time.

Historical Fiction - The Secret Healer, by Ellin Carsta. This comes out May 1st, fyi.

In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.
After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it endangers her life, she cannot resist the urge to help the sick patients who seek out her miraculous treatment. When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her.

Will Madlen’s gifts bring about her downfall? Or can love and reason prevail?

Catholic Autobiography - God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith, by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Nicolas Diat.

In this fascinating autobiographical interview, one of the most prominent and outspoken Catholic Cardinals gives witness to his Christian faith and comments on many current controversial issues. The mission of the Church, the joy of the gospel, the heresy of activism , and the definition of marriage are among the topics he discusses with wisdom and eloquence.
Robert Cardinal Sarah grew up in Guinea, West Africa. Inspired by the missionary priests who made great sacrifices to bring the Faith to their remote village, his parents became Catholics. Robert discerned a call to the priesthood and entered the seminary at a young age, but due to the oppression of the Church by the government of Guinea, he continued his education outside of his homeland. He studied in France and nearby Senegal. Later he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, followed by a licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem.

At the age of thirty-four he became the youngest Bishop in the Catholic Church when John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, in 1979. His predecessor had been imprisoned by the Communist government for several years, and when Archbishop Sarah was targeted for assassination John Paul II called him to Rome to be Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI named him Cardinal and appointed him Prefect of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Pope Francis made him Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2014.

Catholic Historical Non-Fiction - Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler, by Mark Riebling.

The Vatican’s silence in the face of Nazi atrocities remains one of the great controversies of our time. History has accused wartime pontiff Pius the Twelfth of complicity in the Holocaust and dubbed him “Hitler’s Pope.” But a key part of the story has remained untold.

Pius ran the world’s largest church, smallest state, and oldest spy service. Saintly but secretive, he skimmed from church charities to pay covert couriers, and surreptitiously tape-recorded his meetings with top Nazis. When he learned of the Holocaust, Pius played his cards close to his chest. He sent birthday cards to Hitler—while secretly plotting to kill him.

Church of Spies documents this cloak and dagger intrigue in shocking detail. Gun-toting Jesuits stole blueprints to Hitler’s homes. A Catholic book publisher flew a sports plane over the Alps with secrets filched from the head of Hitler’s bodyguard. The keeper of the Vatican crypt ran a spy ring that betrayed German war plans and wounded Hitler in a briefcase bombing.

The plotters made history in ways they hardly expected. They inspired European unification, forged a U.S.-Vatican alliance that spanned the Cold War, and challenged Church teachings on Jews. Yet Pius’ secret war muted his public response to Nazi crimes. Fearing that overt protest would impede his covert actions, he never spoke the “fiery words” he wanted.

Told with heart-pounding suspense, based on secret transcripts and unsealed files, Church of Spies throws open the Vatican’s doors to reveal some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy. The result is an unprecedented book that will change perceptions of how the world’s greatest moral institution met the greatest moral crisis in history.

You have until the early morning of Wednesday, April 27th to vote. That's the day that we'll be discussing Divine Mercy for Moms, and at the end I can announce the winner!

I have a favor to ask as well. After you vote, leave me a comment if you think that any of the books should be included in our next voting go-round should they not be selected this time. I of course always want to be on the prowl for new titles, but if something really intrigues multiple people yet doesn't quite get enough votes, we could keep it around for another try.

All right. Ready, set, VOTE!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Praying with a 4 year old...

This morning, Anne woke up clutching this little foldout pamphlet with all 20 mysteries of the rosary printed on it that she had picked up after Mass yesterday. For each mystery, there is a tiny, color illustration, which is what I think captured her imagination the most.

I caught her "reading" it, still in her sleeper, when she was supposed to be getting dressed this morning. :0 25 minutes later...

"I'm ready, Mommy. Don't forget my little prayer book!"

She kept it with her throughout breakfast, then asked me for rosary beads so that "we could pray in the car on the way to school." I was absolutely delighted, but then remembered that I wasn't driving her to school today.

"Sorry darling, we can't pray in the car today. But how about while I pack our lunches?"

"Yeah!"

Score.

I fetch her a set of St. Kateri rosary beads that were hanging out in my purse, and hand them to her.

"I like the blue beads, Mommy!"

"Those are for the Our Fathers. We pray a Hail Mary on the other beads."

"I do not want to use the other beads."

"Well, that's how...OK, it doesn't matter right now. It's just good that you are holding the beads and want to pray the rosary. Let's look at your little pamphlet and you can pick one picture for us to pray about."

"I get to pick one of the pictures?!"

 That was a real crowd-pleaser.

"Yep! How about one of these on the far left? Those are the Joyful Mysteries, which we pray on Mondays."

"I like the one with the angel!"

"The first one, great!"

I got a child who enjoys chronology as much as I do. I see this as a blessing. ;-)

*I read the short blurb next to The Annunciation*

"All right, now we pray an Our Father."

"I don't know that one all the way yet."

"I know, that's OK. I'll pray that one. You just hold one of the blue beads."

"OK! I can pick whatever blue one I want, right?"

"Um, sure. Go ahead."

Why not, right?

*I pray Our Father*

"All right, now we move onto the Hail Mary, and you know that one really well. Do you want to pray those out loud for me?"

"No."

*surprised pause from Mommy*

"But you love praying the Hail Mary."

"I know, but I want to pick a new picture now!"

"Well, we we're not quite ready to move on yet, Dear..."

"Mommy, what's this one? Jesus is carrying this big cross. I want to pick that one!!"

"Well, OK, Darling, but then we do have to pray the prayers."

"OK!"

"Here, hold onto this red bead and keep track for Mommy since I have to pack our lunches."

"I do not want to hold that red bead."

"Well, fine, pick a different bead, but you have to keep count while Mommy packs. That IS the reason we have the beads, so that we can keep count."

"I do not want to do that. I want to pick one of the blue beads again!"

As you can likely surmise, we didn't get a whole lot of praying done. But any opportunity to talk to my kids about the rosary is a good thing, in my estimation. Right? We'll go with that.

But what about our own prayer lives?! I wrote about taking on "Easter Resolutions" over at CatholicMom.com this month. Want to take a peek?

http://catholicmom.com/2016/04/11/lent-resolutions-can-remain-spiritual-carryover-throughout-easter-season-beyond/

I would LOVE for you to leave a comment with your thoughts over at Catholic Mom. Just like our dear Samantha has done, HI SAMANTHA! :0 What are you spiritual resolutions this Easter season? Write in!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #43 - Can you hear me now?! ;-) Audio updates & upgrades, plus exciting summer project plans!

Morning all! Welcome to a wet and dreary, early springtime edition of:

Today, now that the snow is finally melting :0 seeds of ideas for the upcoming summer season are swirling about in my head, so I gab on about those for a spell. There are a few audio upgrades to discuss, plus a summer writing series that I am teasing about, though not yet fully revealing. All this, and I complain just for a bit about how frustrating teaching can be at this point of the semester. ;-) Come join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
If you have any ideas for me for the summer, whether about audio, video or writing topics, do write in! Do you have books or genres to suggest for the book club? Write in about those too! I'd also love to hear how your Easter season is going.