One parish’s plan for the Year of Faith

I received an unexpected email yesterday from an Alabama parish telling me the pastor had “placed a large order” for copies of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism for use as a text in his parish program for the Year of Faith. Obviously, that news made my day, but it also got me thinking…

Are there other parishes out there look for interesting ways to approach the Year of Faith, which begins on October 11 and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In Porta Fidei, his apostolic letter announcing the yearlong celebration, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that it should be a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world.”

“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church,” the pope wrote.

What will you do this year to deepen your relationship with Christ and perhaps walk through the
“door of faith” anew, as you did at baptism? If you or your parish are looking for resources to help you with this endeavor, consider my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism, which explains the catechism in plain English, was vetted by a theologian, and carries an imprimatur.

Or, you might want to try my Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass, which covers not only popular Catholic devotions but silent prayer, pilgrimage, and a host of other prayer methods. In addition, it includes an entire section on the Mass, covering the new language as well as the whys and how-tos for those who’d like to refresh the Catholic teaching of their youth or deepen their already strong faith. It, too, carries an imprimatur.

Click HERE to read a review of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism. Click HERE to read a review of my Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass, which one reviewer likened to a “textbook for Catholics.”

Amazon is showing a short wait for the Complete Idiot’s Guide, but I believe that’s a momentary glitch. You can also order via Barnes and Noble. And, of course, both books are available for Kindle and Nook, so you don’t have to wait at all! The catechism book is also available in Spanish. If you have any questions or want to know more about either of these books, feel free to email me at

Review: ‘Cravings will leave you satisfied.’

Dennis spotted this early review of one of my new books, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, coming from Ave Maria Press on December 17.

Here’s what the reviewer at GoodReads had to say in her five-star review:

Sep 13, 2012

MaryAnn Koopmann rated it  

“Cravings will leave you satisfied.” This book addresses issues with food, low self-esteem, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Shows you ways to improve your life with food and God. Prayer, mindfulness, and meditation are essential for all of us as we walk this path.

“At this point, most of us have tried everything but the one thing that can truly change us: God. When we shift our focus away from our false perceptions and onto the love poured out for us in the person of Jesus Christ, we begin to take those first steps away from the path of self-hatred and self-destruction, out of the darkness and into the light of life.” (NSS note: This is taken from page 34 of Cravings.)

Each chapter follows with questions to ask yourself and meditation. This is an example:

We are so willing to believe
the negative voices that echo
in our hearts and head,
the labels that make us think
we can never be good enough,
the words that cut like glass.
But our God has called us by name.
Our God holds us, treasures us,
loves us without conditions.
Is that enough for us?

“Thank more and need less.” This is a book for all to read and apply to your everyday life

Cravings is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through Ave Maria Press

Life in My 50s: The Adventure Begins

I hit the half-century mark today. I have to admit, this birthday feels different but not for the usual reasons. Dennis wanted to get me a fabulous “milestone” gift — an iPhone, a supercharged juicer for my green juicing, some sort of gizmo or gadget befitting a major birthday event. Much to his chagrin, I kept saying, “No.” Nothing seemed right, or necessary. There is no material thing I want or need, certainly nothing I equate with reaching 50 years old.

I think it’s because this birthday calls for something much harder to grasp and impossible to buy, a new perspective, perhaps, rather than a new phone. In the not-so-distant past, my birthdays were cause for what I called the “Birthday Triduum,” not one but three full days of celebration. If my birthday fell on a Friday or Monday, even better because the Triduum could include an entire weekend. Now I’m not sure I need even one day to mark the event. And it’s not an age thing. I long ago came to terms with the fact that it’s downhill from here in most departments. Maybe it’s the notion of turning point. It seems as though 50 years presents a nice, self-contained package of sorts, something to be archived in the basement. And today I’m unwrapping a new, empty box just waiting to be filled, but with what?

My grandmother, who still lives on her own, will soon mark her 100th birthday. As I have said time and again in recent months, if I’ve inherited her genes and determination and strength, I get to live my entire life over again from start to finish. What would I do with another half-century of living?

I don’t want the rest of my life — however long I get — to be only a time of fading, even though part of me welcomes that idea. (I’m continually threatening to live like a hermit in my basement office, but then I have to lead a Girl Scout meeting or drive one of the girls to dance or speak at a Catholic gathering and that idea goes out the window.) I think whatever comes next should be a time of growing in the important areas of my life, as a spiritual seeker, as a wife and mother, as a human being, and maybe in some of the less serious and more fun areas as well, things I haven’t yet had a chance to try but have always wanted to tackle.

I’ll see how post-50 life begins to develop in the months ahead, and you can come along for the ride. In between, I’ll share bits of half-century wisdom about everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Okay, mostly the ridiculous since sublime is way above my pay grade. Just watch for posts tagged with the “Life in My 50s” headline.

Now I’m off to blow out some candles. Anyone have a fire extinguisher?

Remembering the ‘people’s priest’

Photo by Marcus Yam/New York Times

From today’s “City Room” over at the New York Times online comes a story/obit that will make you stand back in awe of those Catholics — Father Flynn, in particular — who go out and walk the walk, no matter the cost or danger or difficulties.

Be sure to click through to the rest of this story and read more about Father Flynn, who used to tell those who visited him at his nursing home: “I can’t remember my name and address but I can remember we are supposed to be helping poor people.”

Here’s the story by Winnie Hu:

The Rev. John C. Flynn could have been a monsignor, but as he told the story in later years, he refused the elevation because he already held a title more to his liking: the people’s priest.

Father Flynn, 83, who spent a half-century championing the poor, the disadvantaged and the forgotten of the Bronx, died on Monday at the Schervier Nursing Care Center in Riverdale after a long debilitating illness, according to his family.

“He did not need any title, he did not need any accolades, he just wanted to be a parish priest,” said Heidi Hynes, the executive director of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, who used to receive regular visits from Father Flynn asking what could be done to help the needy. continue reading HERE.

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