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Scenes from a Manhattan book signing

As you know, I had a book signing at Pauline Books & Media on West 38th Street in Manhattan this week. Here’s a glimpse of the goings on… Read more

Here’s an easy Election Day decision

Do you need something to take you away from all the partisan sparring? A little spiritual lift to whoosh through your soul like a cleansing breeze? A bit of grounding to help you deal with the chaos of day-to-day life, not to mention Facebook? Look no further. Read more

Year of Faith: Are you smarter than a fifth-grade religion teacher?

As part of our celebration of the Year of Faith and our commitment to reacquaint ourselves with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I thought it would be fun to post this catechism quiz that ran in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly a short time ago.

See how well you do, and, remember, it’s not just about content but about the process of producing the catechism, which was a lot more entertaining than you might expect. Check it out. This intro will jump you to the OSV quiz link, but be sure to come back here and leave a note in the comment section.

Here we go…

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Despite being a worldwide best-seller, the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be a little intimidating to the average reader, with its 900-plus pages and copious footnotes. I know from experience. Several years ago, when I was first asked to put the Catechism into “plain English” in what would become “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism,” I wondered if I had the stamina to get through it and understand it in such a way that I could “translate.” But something wonderful happened on my way through Church doctrine: I discovered the poetry and beauty of a book that weaves all of Catholic teaching into one magnificent tapestry of faith and morals.

It’s no wonder that even now, as the Catechism marks its 20th anniversary, it continues to sell in record numbers, inspire spinoff publications, turn up in various digital formats, and more. From teens devouring the new “YouCat” version of the Catechism, to adults going through RCIA, to lifelong Catholics looking to strengthen their already deep faith, the Catechism has proved to be the answer to a prayer, or, at the very least, the answer to the many, many questions Catholics and others have about the Church and its teachings.

If you’ve never read the Catechism from cover to cover — and even if you have — there are will be things inside its pages that will surprise and even amuse you. Just about every topic you can imagine, and probably quite a few you can’t, fit into the Catholic picture. Don’t believe me? Take the quiz below and see if anything stumps you. This is not your grandmother’s Catechism, and it was never meant to be.

The answer key at the end of this section will provide you with the correct Catechism paragraph numbers for many questions you may want to explore further.

Have fun and, remember, no cheating. But you already knew that. Click HERE for the quiz.

Take a virtual tour of my office

Main work desk, book posters, assorted goodies

I’m always talking about working from home — my incense, my candles, my stuff. So I thought today I’d invite you all in for a virtual visit. Now you’ll know where I’m coming from. Read more

Manic Monday: Here, there, and everywhere

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been showing up on various blogs, on various topics, in various places these days. It’s all good, although I feel pulled in a dozen directions. I thought I’d post links to my posts in case something strikes your fancy. Here we go…

Yesterday I was posting at Catholic Parent Network, a new website that serves up suggestions for parents trying to instill the faith in their children. I love the website’s subtitle: “Making sure the apple stays close to the tree.”

You’ll find my post under “Building Blocks: Helping Children Understand Prayer.” Click HERE to read that story, but be sure to check out the rest of CPN’s offerings, including posts on Catholic apps, countering the culture, raising big families, and specific prayers for the season. CPN also has a Facebook page, so stop by and “like” it when you get a chance.

I’ll be posting on CPN now and then, so check back often for other stories on Catholic parenting and more.

Last week, I also made an appearance at Catholic Moms Talk, a new blog featuring Catholic moms and the catechism. It’s a special effort as part of the Year of Faith, and I’m honored to be included among a great group of Catholic writing moms. I talked about my experience with the catechism, how it influenced my own faith life, and how I use it in my family and faith formation classes. Click HERE to read “A Catechism on Every Shelf.” I’ll be over at CMT on a frequent basis throughout the Year of Faith.

And, if you missed my Huffington Post piece to kick off the Year of Faith, click HERE to read “It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Catechism.” I’ll be back over at HuffPo next month with a piece to help you navigate the chaotic holiday season, so stay tuned for that. 

Just a reminder: If you are on Facebook, click HERE and “like” my author page. If you are on Twitter, follow me at MaryDTP.

Finally, I will be disabling my “Networked Blogs” feature on Facebook, so if you read the blog through that portal, please be sure to become a “fan” of my author page so you don’t miss any blog posts. For those of you who have emailed me to tell me you can’t leave comments, that’s a Networked Blogs issue, so this will rectify that. As long as you continue to come back through my regular blog address.

More big news to come about new books, new ventures, new speaking engagements, so check back early and often. Have a great week!

Discovering the Divine in the Everyday

My other new book is nearing its release date, and I realized this morning that I’ve been kind of quiet about it. I’ve been so caught up in so many other projects, this one has been slowly and silently creeping up on me, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t near and dear to my heart. It most definitely is, and here’s why.

Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality, which will be released on Nov. 6, grew out of my own need and desire to figure out how to fit prayer into my extraordinarily busy life. I simply can’t get to daily Mass or Adoration on a frequent (confession: even occasional) basis. It just never seems to happen. I am Rosary-challenged, and I can’t seem to string together nine straight days of a novena. Bottom line: Regular, traditional prayer is a constant struggle for me. So I had to come up with more creative ways to include prayer in my everyday life. And that is how “Everyday Divine” was born.

This book — using stories from my own life, stories from friends and colleagues, advice from the saints, and, yes, traditional prayers and devotions — covers everything from how to weave prayer into your exercise routine or morning commute to how to find pilgrim moments in the most unlikely places. It was a labor of love, and so many wonderful people — some you may even know — shared their own tips and techniques with me. There are practical suggestions, meditations, and more. And if you buy now, and only now, I’ll throw in the Ginsu knife. Okay, not really. But, still, buy now. It’s available for pre-order at all the usual spots. (Link above takes you to Amazon.)

Here’s what Jesuit Father James Martin had to say about my book when he “blurbed” it for the cover:

“I love this book because it’s practical.  Too often spirituality is seen as something reserved either for mystics or, well, ‘someone else.’  Mary DeTurris Poust shows us that the spiritual life is not removed from your daily life, it is your daily life. Her new book will invite you to try some simple, down-to-earth and accessible ways of encountering God in what you might consider your ‘ordinary’ life.  But after you’ve discovered God while you pray, but also while you work, clean, hike, exercise, do yoga and look at a sunset, your life will begin to seem pretty extraordinary indeed.  Because it is.” 

— James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.

 
Let me give you a brief look at the Table of Contents (with a tiny explanation):

1. Creating Calm amid the Chaos (mindfulness)
2. Building a Spiritual Foundation (prayer essentials)
3. Turning Chores into Spiritual Practice (‘Little Way’)
4. Bringing the Body into Prayer (exercise)
5. Work of Our Hands (home and office)
6. Sounds and Signs of the Spirit (nature, song, and more)
7. Silence, Simplicity, and Solitude (sacred rhythm of life)
8. Dark Nights and Dry Spells (self-explanatory)
9. Pilgrimage of the Heart (walking the way of faith)
10. All of Life as Prayer (finding God in every moment)

So there you go. More to come in the days ahead as we close in on the release date. Still no decision (on my part) as to whether to do a release signing and party, mainly because I hate to burden my friends with yet another book signing. Especially when another book (Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God) is coming out six weeks after this one. If I do decide to go ahead with a signing party, you’ll be the first to know. Okay, maybe the second or third. Well, definitely in the top 100.

Cravings: download, print, pass it on…

Cravings Flyer: Click on this link to view, download, or print full size.

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 mary@notstrictlyspiritual.com

Is it food you’re craving, or something more?

One of my two new books being released this fall is heading into final production. Here’s a big stack of covers just waiting to be wrapped around the pages of “Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God” over at Ave Maria Press.

The official release date is December 17. You can pre-order at all the usual places. Click on the title above and you’ll get Amazon. Click on the cover image below and you’ll get B&N. You can also go straight to Ave Maria Press by clicking HERE.

Here’s the description of the book that’s up on Amazon, along with three “blurbs” from other important Catholic folks:

In this first book on the topic written from a Catholic perspective, award-winning writer Mary DeTurris Poust offers personal, hard-won wisdom on the complex relationship between food and spirituality.

Mary DeTurris Poust draws on the rich appreciation of meals she first gained at the tables of her childhood in an Italian-American family, leading readers into reflection on the connections between eating, self-image, and spirituality. Like Geneen Roth in Women, Food and God, but from a uniquely Catholic point of view, Poust helps readers spot ways they use food to avoid or ignore their real desires — for acceptance, understanding, friendship, love, and, indeed, for God. Poust draws from scripture and the great Catholic prayer forms and devotions to assist readers in making intentional changes in their use of food. She also offers reflections on fasting, eating in solidarity with the poor, vegetarianism, and the local food movement.

And here are the blurbs:

“Whether you’re tired of being obsessed with your weight, are hungry for inner peace even more than you’re hungry for food, or are desiring the freedom that comes with self-acceptance, Cravings will leave you satisfied.” –Kate Wicker, Author of Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body

“This book opens a doorway to hope for anyone locked in a struggle with food. It is a refreshing guide to freedom in Christ.” –Jeff Young, Podcast host of The Catholic Foodie

“Another excellent tool in Mother Church’s hand to help feed God’s children with what they crave most: truth, the food of saints!” –Rev. Leo Patalinghug, Author of Grace Before Meals

Don’t miss the Fat Tuesday book giveaway

From my post at OSV Daily Take today. Follow the link at the end of this post to leave a comment and enter the book giveaway.

Paula Huston’s beautiful new book, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, is so much more than spiritual reading for one particular season. With its daily meditations, practical exercises, and gentle guidance, I know this book will be one I pull out not only during each Lenten season but any time I feel spiritually “stuck” and in need of something to jump start my prayer life.

Maybe it’s because so many of the daily activities remind me of things I’ve tried at different points along my journey — making a meal from “stored or forgotten items,” spending time in solitude and silence, turning off the cell phone or TV, learning to do the Examen. Maybe it’s because I’m intrigued by suggestions I hadn’t yet considered or tried — sleeping on the floor for a night or covering the mirrors for a day. And maybe it’s because Paula reminds readers that her book of Lenten practices does not include Sundays, days typically set aside as celebrations of the resurrection in miniature. Do you know how many times I’ve had to argue that point with people who insist the Sundays “count”?

Here’s a brief excerpt from Paula’s introduction:

“The beauty of the Lenten season is that it encourages the development of a humble heart. In Lent, we are invited to look deeply inside, identify what is impeding our ability to follow Christ along the way of humility, and begin applying antidotes…Simplifying the Soul is meant to aid you in this process…My prayer for you as you begin this retreat is that, first of all, you enter into it with the right spirit. This book is not meant to be a spiritual version of the Girl Scout honor badge program, and if you look upon it as a handbook for self-improvement, you’ll more likely become frustrated and disappointed. Instead, think of it as an invitation to self-knowledge and as a small step in liberation from destructive complicatedness — that is, from sin.”

And here’s a snippet from Ash Wednesday, with its focus on clearing out a junk drawer or closet, so you can get started while you wait for your book to arrive:

A junk drawer is the classic repository for what we are meant to leave behind. Not only does it symbolize our histories, but it also reveals the speed at which we lived through them: how did a sunflower seed wind up among the rubber bands and old corks, and this seventy-five-year-old baptismal gown stuffed into a brown paper sack?

When we clear out a junk drawer for Lent, we are in some small way dealing with the detritus of breathless hurry and our corresponding inability to focus. We are beginning to tear through the sticky web that binds us to our past: not only to the fine and happy times, the poignant seasons of growth and change, but also to the tears we once shed, the idols we once worshiped, the myths we once believed, and the lies we once told ourselves.

If you’re hungry for more, enter our book giveaway and you just might win a copy of Simplifying the Soul (Ave Maria Press, $14.95). Leave a comment at OSV Daily Take by clicking HERE. Share what you’ll be doing as a spiritual practice this Lent, and we’ll pick one winner at random. (My kids will be picking a name from a hat. Very scientific.)

Happy Fat Tuesday, and blessings as you begin the journey through Lent.