Great books for families!

Check out these two wonderful books, perfect for building up your family and enriching your own life and reading:

Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas, to be released this Spring!

Big Hearted gives you an inside look into the triumphs, struggles, joys and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. It invites you to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments like the simple cooking of a meal or the hug between a teenaged brother and his baby sister. Just like your family, these families experience pain, setbacks, and challenges. And just like your family, they also experience love and immeasurable blessing through their commitment and care for each other. In this book, you will learn the story of: ? A father of seven healthy boys who struggled to love his Down syndrome baby girl ? A mother of twelve who learned an important lesson about Christmas from her children ? A special relationship between a teenaged brother and his infant sister ? Two grandparents in their final days who inspired their grandchildren in simple ways ? Two orphan children from Kenya who prayed for adoption by an American family and got what they asked for! It has been said that God cannot be outdone in generosity. The stories in these pages will show you how big hearted families experience this truth in a myriad of ways, sometimes miraculously.

Dear God, I Don’t Get It by Patti Armstrong, available now!

“Dear God, I don’t get it!” is the perfect story for 3rd through 6th grade Catholic kids and classrooms with excellent writing, vocabulary and thinking activities incorporated at the end of the book. It combines a great story with age-appropriate apologetics and is endorsed by best-selling authors Emily and Jeff Cavins as well as Bishop Zipfel. Mary Kochan, Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange and homeschooler endorses “Dear God, I don’t get it!” and explains, “Sixth-grader, Aaron Ajax is happily comfortable, with not much more than the annoyances of a little brother to disturb him and he takes his friendship with God for granted. When a sudden change in family circumstances uproots him from the home and friends he has known his whole life, Aaron wonders what has happened to his relationship with God. Through this true-to-life story we follow the journey of a young boy coming to grips with a lesson we all need – that real friendship with God means God is in charge.”

Pope Francis Likes CCH!

Dear Friend of CatholicsComeHome.org,

The excitement of the Easter season continues here at Catholics Come Home® as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, our beloved Pope Francis, a momentous month for our apostolate in the national spotlight, and the extraordinary plan God has for all of our lives!

Pope Francis knows about Catholics Come Home®!
In the March 17, 2013 issue of Catholic New World (Chicago), Monica Mavric, a judge in the archdiocesan Tribunal recalls her first visit with Pope Francis, when he was a Cardinal in Argentina. During that visit, “Chicago was in the midst of Catholics Come Home, a campaign using advertisements to encourage non-practicing Catholics to return to church. Mavric took Catholics Come Home materials to share with then-Cardinal Bergoglio. He was very happy to have it, she said.”

Catholics Come Home® makes a splash on International TV News and on mainstream National TV during Lent and Holy Week!
We couldn’t be more fired up about the incredible results of our Epic campaign during The Bible on History Channel. According to the producers of The Bible, the series reached more than 100 million viewers during its airing from Lent to Easter Sunday. It’s exciting to think that all of those viewers were reached with the message to “come home to Jesus and His Church,” thanks to your generous support! Catholics Come Home® received an outpouring of emails and social media feedback from both practicing and fallen-away Catholics, as well as non-Catholics during the campaign. Amazingly, our website received 15,000 visitors at once at 10pm EDT on Sunday March 3rd and CatholicsComeHome.org received more than 75,000 visits during the month that our EPIC evangomercialTM was airing! One thing is clear after this campaign: we need to do more niche campaigns like the History Channel Bible Miniseries and our ESPN Coach Lou Holtz campaigns, to invite more souls home. These targeted niche campaigns are effective and cost efficient!

Multiple Good Friday national news stories about Catholics Come Home®!
The spotlight on Catholics Come Home® and the Church continued on Good Friday, with FOX News featuring me our apostolate in three stories throughout the day, commenting on the resurrecting effect Pope Francis is having on the Catholic Church. Since you probably weren’t watching TV on Good Friday, here are some clips from the stories that day, appearing in America’s Newsroom, Fox Report with Shepard Smith, and Special Report with Bret Baier.

Also on Good Friday, Catholics Come Home® was featured in a prominent article in the National Review online. In it, I refute errors about Catholicism, and explain how to invite more souls home to Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.

Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life is now in airport bookstores!
We recently received the great news that my new book, Catholics Come Home:God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life is now prominently displayed among bestsellers on bookshelves in the Atlanta and all the NYC area airports! Click to watch this new promo video for the book, and please share on Facebook and Twitter, so more people can read and benefit from the Good News that God has a unique and extraordinary plan for everyone!

A Coming Home Story…from Facebook!
Several weeks ago, a young woman and mother of two visited our Facebook page, asking questions about the Catholic Church. She wondered about how to recover from feelings of frustration over scandal in the Church, the Church’s teachings on various ‘controversial’ topics, how to forgive Catholics who hurt her in the past, and more. Sometimes her posts with harsh remarks had to be deleted. She seemed convinced that she would never return home. Nonetheless, Katie Peterson Warner, our Director of Communications and Evangelization, continued to dialogue with her online, lovingly and patiently inviting her to open her heart again to the Catholic Church. After much prayer and digital conversation, we received a message from her on Good Friday, during the hours of Divine Mercy, saying, “I want to thank the invisible person who answered my questions and helped re-open my heart. I went back home today and will be there till the day I die. Thank you and God Bless you…for this Catholic has come home and it feels so good.” God could not have given us a greater gift on such a holy day! Please keep this young woman and her family in your prayers as they return home to the practice of the Catholic Faith, thanks to the workings of the Holy Spirit in her heart and missionary evangelization using Facebook! Can you believe it?!

Your generous spiritual and financial support continue to impact many souls, some of whom you may never meet here on earth. What a great reward awaits us who continue to spread God’s Word to the spiritually poor. Please help us continue this vital work so the Holy Spirit can bring more growth to the evangelization mission of Catholics Come Home®!

As always, we thank you for your continued support of our mission to invite Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church.

The Meaning of Marriage

A Reflection by Damien J. O’Connor, Office for Pastoral Services, Diocese of Bridgeport

I remember when I was a high school morality teacher, I used to show a video by National Geographic entitled, Lions in the Darkness. I’m sure that most of my students questioned my sanity for showing it to them. Nevertheless they watched the video intently. The scenes simply documented the daily habits of the lions and lionesses. The scenes revealed them copulating, hunting/eating, sleeping together, killing the weak and a total disregard for the greater good of the animal kingdom. It was simply in their nature and their DNA to act this way. This was their normal state. The question I presented to my classes was quite simple, “How are human beings any different in today’s society than the lions?” Now these were fairly intelligent adolescents yet they all struggled with this question. Some simply could not make a distinction between the lions and humans while others, rightfully so, were offended by the implication I was making about them (as part of society) through my question. Thank God for the students that were offended!

The recent debate over same-sex marriage has gained national attention in the United States and rightfully so. The institution of marriage or more appropriately, the Sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a simplistic list of qualities a couple should have if they meet the criteria for marriage as understood by mainstream society. The currant language that seems to qualify a couple for marriage is:
• I/We love each other
• I/We make each other happy
• I/We enjoy intercourse together
• I/We would die for each other

There is a subtle yet dangerous dynamic that occurs in every aspect of mainstream society called Normalization. Simply put, the more we are exposed to something, the more normal it becomes and ultimately accepted. Rarely do we see qualitative or quantitative studies to substantiate that which we now consider normal even if it had always been considered abnormal or even evil in nature. Rarely do we see studies that evaluate what benefits the greater good of society, consult teachings from scripture or even basic common sense and human nature. Nevertheless normalization is all around us and it is often evil.

It has become “normal” and expected to be politically correct and yet no one can provide a credible source through which politically correct or incorrect language and behavior is elucidated. Beyond inclusive language that in many cases seems reasonable, political correctness is nothing more than an overwhelmingly persuasive way of thinking that is based in fear. Due to normalization we now live in a very strange reality: we self-censor ourselves. We are afraid to say anything, so we say nothing. This is not of God and most certainly not Christian. Society and I would dare say most politicians, do not want Catholics to think, use logic, common sense and most certainly live our faith through a radical missionary spirit: which is exactly what we are called to do through our baptism.

The marriage debate regarding same-sex couples offends me deeply not because I am anti homosexuals but because the Sacrament of Marriage is immeasurably more than how it is defined by most in society and is most certainly more than a catchy one-liner on Facebook or 120 characters on twitter. Furthermore, and to be fair, if I was in a homosexual relationship and perceived the way in which marriage is predominantly exemplified in society, it would seem only fair that same sex couples qualify for the same rights. That is precisely my point. I have never understood it as a right but as a vocation.

I knew as a young adult that I was meant to give myself to God in some way as we all are. I had grown up around priests and they deeply influenced my faith development. I witnessed the profound graces of their vocation as I observed them live their faith. I also knew them as human beings, who like me, could be Christ to others or falter and need God’s mercy through the sacrament of confession. Needless to say, I was naturally drawn to the priesthood but wasn’t sure if that was what God was calling me to. I began praying daily that God would show me my vocation, because we all have one. I knew that true joy could only be achieved by fully giving of myself to God and not taking or desiring that which others had. I spent over a year praying daily that I may grow closer to God and that when my vocation became clear, I would first be completely grounded in our Lord.

Then I was given the greatest gift of my life, my wife Monica. Far more important than our nascent physical attraction, love for each other and friendship, God called us to be together. The way in which we live our marriage is a Sign of the Sacrament of Marriage. Our vocation is to be a living Sign of God’s love to all those we encounter, most especially our children, who through the miracle of their birth, consummated our Holy vocation. Although we fail at this often, that is our constant calling and what we have given our lives for. I simply do not understand marriage outside of these parameters. Our marriage (as all marriages) is meant to be a gift to the world and ultimately God, and not a gift that I deserve or qualify for. I deserve it no more than I deserve life itself.
Since Adam and Eve the world has understood marriage and the family as the basis of a civilized society. It has always been the primary source for education, faith development, morals, dignity, self-worth, sacrifice and the stewardship of God’s most precious gift, children.

From the beginning of time there was nothing more natural or understood than the structure of a family being a man, woman and children. It is shockingly narcissistic and naïve to think that suddenly now, we the current (and temporary) stewards of the earth, have come to some sort of unfounded evolution of thought and behavior that contradicts a previously universal truth that has existed since the creation of the world.

Society needs a “new normal” regarding marriage. It is paramount that sacramentally married couples boldly live their vocations and be a very visible Sign in mainstream society. We must all pray publically for vocations to sacramental marriages. When a man and a woman desire marriage, they must understand that their preparation to receive the sacrament, is just as important as the formation prior to joining religious life or ordination to the priesthood. They are giving their lives completely united in God. Canonically, a man and a woman have a right to be married. However, this does not presume that they are automatically predisposed to be Signs of a sacramental marriage. We must have the courage and discipline to prepare these couples with the same fervor, spirit and candor that is applied to men who desire ordination to the priesthood or women who wish to join religious life.

From the beginning of Christianity it has always been through our example that we evangelized the world. I implore sacramentally married couples to live their vocation with a missionary spirit, joyfully in the public square!

Salvation history was changed forever through a family, the Holy Family.

“At a historical moment of severe family fragmentation throughout the Western world, the example of evangelical Catholic families that share joys and burdens, and do so with wit and grace, is one of the most powerful conversion tools available to the Catholic Church.” (George Weigel)