CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 24, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 55: 6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 24, 2017

The Distribution of Power and Robbery

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The other day I posted a piece that points out one of the most significant things I learned in graduate school at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  It was a term all the professors used, and I came to understand it in a way that gave me a clarity I had not possessed previously when it comes to our relationship with God.  The term is: “The economy of God”.  For me that provided clarity for the way God’s grace (love) moves in the world and how I am a part of that. His love ebbs and flows depending on our awareness and willingness to recognize and act on the gifts and tasks he gives us.  It really is a lot like a financial system.
Within the system we are free to accept or reject His gifts, to keep them, give them away or give them back.  Sometimes we completely miss the hidden treasures.  The more aware we become about how God is acting in our life the more powerful we become.  We are not talking about the ability to bring lightning from the sky but, rather, the ability to carry out God’s will and to clearly teach others about Him.  The power really lies in the ability to see God in everything and everyone plus a tangible awareness that He is present with us every minute of every day.  John Paul II had this power.  Saint Teresa of Calcutta had this power.  Francis Xavier Cabrini had this power.  Jesus had this power!  Actor/poet, healer/miracle worker, real estate mogul, Savior.  You and I have equal opportunity to have the exact same power as these.  In your everyday life, you might have observed that the power ebbs and flows for you depending on your state of grace [Church speak].
When you are brand new in the serious practice of the spiritual life, the ebbing and flowing of that power is pretty much a mystery.  As you grow and mature, though, you learn things.  First of all, the power that will blossom as a result of your relationship with God has absolutely nothing to do with others and how they treat you!  Surprise!  People will be people and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes not so much!  In every situation we experience, there is the constant choice to recognize that God is present and we have an ever-free ability to willingly tap into his wisdom or not.
  [Jesus] Whoever is not with me is against me (Lk 11:23)
As with any scenario in life, then, how things go for you and the way you become the face of Jesus in the real world is a matter of choice.  Even in that freedom, you have been given power.  You have the power to choose or not choose God’s will. The idea of this power and how it manifests can be observed at a macro or micro level.  We can see it occurring in economics, trade, politics, religion and pop culture.  There is no really separating the power that God generously gives the world and personal, political power.  It’s all the same source and all the same result depending on its use or misuse.  Even “great” mad men, dictators, abusers and criminals knew that this power was real.  Hitler overturned half of Europe looking for the Arc of the Covenant because there was something in him that knew there was no other true source of power.  The communists knew the end of their “false” power was near when it was plain that JPII had become pivotal in the Solidarity movement!
Like it or not, as believers, we are very much part of God’s power loop and how it moves through the world.  This is probably a scary thought for some but remember the very first words of John Paul II’s pontificate as well as 365 citations in the scriptures: “Do not be afraid.”  Most of us will probably not be world players but we are still each responsible for the divine power that God decides to funnel through us.  Our ability to do that should be taken seriously.  As they say in education circles, “It’s learned behavior.   It’s also the “secret” of life, the “how” in how to be happy.
I suppose that it is easy enough to view fear as a nameless, faceless force that we have no control of.  The enemy would consider it a great accomplishment if he got you to think that way.  The truth is, that’s a lie of the boldest kind!  In God’s power loop all we have to do is pay attention. We can be our own best friends or worse enemies.  When we give in to those things that are easy to succumb to we give away our power.  Don’t let anger, envy, jealousy, and fear rob you of your power.  That’s really what they were meant to do.  It’s like stealing from yourself.  Do keep God uppermost in your thoughts and considerations even when it all seems lost.  Solutions sometimes show up in the most unexpected ways.
“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.” –  St. Théodore Guérin
“We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and our total surrender. Once we really belong to him then he is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases.”
— St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Thirsting for God
Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 17, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Sirach 27:30—28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 17, 2017

CWG Book Blast: “7 Riddles to Nowhere,” by Amy Cattapan

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Amy Cattapan’s book, “7 Riddles to Nowhere.”  It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner! Seventh grader Kameron Boyd must be the first to solve seven riddles involving churches in Chicago in order to inherit a fortune and save his school from closing.

7RiddlestoNowhere2 200x300

Summary:

All seventh grader Kameron Boyd wants to do is keep his little Catholic school from closing. It’s the only school where they’ve made life as a selective mute somewhat bearable. As the school faces financial distress, Kam learns he is one of many potential heirs to a fortune large enough to keep his school open.

With the school’s bully as one of the other potential heirs, Kam and his friends race to solve the riddles first. Their journey takes them through the churches of Chicago to decipher the hidden meanings in artwork all while avoiding the mysterious men following them. But creepy men in trench coats won’t stop them! They’re on a quest–not only to keep the school open, but to help Kam recover his voice.

Excerpt:

Kameron Boyd hadn’t spoken a word in school for seven years. This, however, did not stop his teacher from asking him to stick around after class.

“Mr. Boyd.” Mrs. Harris eyed him over the rim of her tortoise-shell glasses. “You’ll need to see me after school again today.”

Again? Kam’s heart sank as he lowered his eyes to his desk. He knew exactly how this after-school meeting would go. The same as all the other ones. Mrs. Harris would talk, and Kam would stand there dumbly, shaking and nodding his head at the appropriate times. When a small movement of the head wasn’t enough, he’d scribble a brief note on his whiteboard.

Website: http://www.ajcattapan.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/acattapan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan
Instagram: https://instagram.com/a.j.cattapan/

Bio:

Amy (A.J.) Cattapan is an award-winning author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her young adult novel, Angelhood, has been an Amazon bestseller in Christian teen fiction and won multiple awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a Readers’ Favorite Book Award, and the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Her second novel, a middle grade mystery titled Seven Riddles to Nowhere has won an award from the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Writers Guild seal of Approval. She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls.During her precious spare time, she can often be found baking or traveling, usually to Rome. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/7-Riddles-Nowhere-J-Cattapan/dp/0997173254

Tweet:

Can a 7th grade boy solve the riddles & win the fortune that could save his #CatholicSchool from closing? #amreading http://tinyurl.com/y7d9fvme

 

Posted in Catholic book blast, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Fiction, fiction, Juvenile fiction, mystery, Novel, Young Adult Novel | Comments Off on CWG Book Blast: “7 Riddles to Nowhere,” by Amy Cattapan

Why Should I Know That?

JMJ

“Why should I know that?”

I have heard this question many times as a math teacher over the years, but once I askdec 7 1941 pearl harbored a student who the first president of the United States was and she answered, “Why should I know that?” Don’t scoff. It happened. Originally, this student lamented that her history teacher teased her for not knowing in what century the Civil War occurred. I said everyone should know those kind of important and fundamental facts, like knowing who the first president of the United States was. She replied with her infamous question and left me and the rest of the class stunned.

I wish I could say this kind of academic weakness had never occurred before, but I have another scary story. One year on an anniversary of September 11th, I remarked that one of my friends had to share his birthday with this dark event. I then said that I felt his pain because my birthday happened to fall on “the day that will live in infamy.” Expecting someone to reveal the secret date of my entrance into the world, I waited. No response came from the class. They sat there with quizzical expressions. None of these Advanced Placement students knew the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Why should they know that?

The academic elite continue to push critical thinking skills and college readiness to more and more students at the sacrifice of knowledge. Teachers spend hours crafting lessons that aim to increase test scores in reading comprehension of non-fiction texts so the school report card can look better, but more and more students don’t know any concrete facts about any subjects. One can argue that with all information available on the internet at the click of a button that this knowledge loses value, but I don’t accept that. I respond that a deep knowledge of history, culture, philosophy, and theology is necessary to fully synthesize and debate the current issues of our day.

This relates to Catholics and the knowledge of our history as well. Twenty-five years as a member of the Church and I still have so much to learn. Last year, when emails from members of Hillary Clinton’s staff contained mockery of Catholics I was embarrassed, not because of the content, but because I didn’t know what the term subsidiarity meant. (Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.) I learned that this very Catholic concept had a name and a theology surrounding it. The joy from this epiphany matched what I felt when I first heard about the Theology of the Body. In our entire lives, we will still not fully appreciate the richness and depth of our faith, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Radio, television, and the internet have only recently become available as resources for evangelization to a church that is two thousand years old. Pope John Paul II said that a New Evangelization was necessary for the third millennium of the church. As Catholic writers, let us pray that the Lord gives us the grace to let our words challenge and enrich the lives of the faithful. Let us never ask the question, “Why should I know that?” when an element of the faith arises. Let us learn of our past so we can be effective in the present and bring about a greater future through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns forever and ever, amen.

Copyright 2017 Mark Andrews

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

Women are More Expensive than Men and Other Language Lessons

language-758589__480[1]A Funny Lesson

Everyone laughed. I was trying to say in Farsi, the Persian language, “Women are stronger than men”, and unfortunately, it came out otherwise.  “Geruntar” meaning “more expensive”, innocently rolled off my lips instead of “gavidtar”, or “stronger”.

While chuckling along with everyone else, I hastened to explain in English that I meant women have great endurance. Years later, the incident reminded me that the language of the heart is always generously received by others.  You see, I was just learning Farsi and trying hard in a room full of Persians to speak with them in their own language.  Since then, with imperfect grammar and pronunciation, I have spoken with relatives and friends in broken words but a whole heart. They never seem to mind my mistakes.

Some of the First Lessons

As a young child, I wanted to learn Tagalog, so I could speak with my Filipino grandmother when she visited.  I only managed to say “good morning” and “good night”– it was hard to learn from a book with so many consonants in each word and a dad who was out at sea most of the time and unable to help.  When my grandmother did visit, she was pleased with my effort and gently corrected my inexperienced pronunciation.

When our family moved to the United States from England, I had a strong British accent amidst a deeply southern school community.  I had to learn that “ya’ll” meant “all of you” and that “kids” were children and not baby goats.  In the language of math, I had trouble remembering that a dime was ten cents and not the same as a schilling which was fourteen cents—carrying over 14 cents in a money problem leads to wrong answers.

My mother and father always believed in learning the language and customs of the country in which they lived.  And Daddy always said “When in Rome, do as the Romans do, except in sin, of course.” thus, my mother learned French while we were stationed in Villefranche, just outside Nice. When my parents didn’t want my sisters and I to know what they were saying at the dinner table, they spoke in French—of course.

At Barry University in Miami, my friends from Central America patiently listened while I practiced my high school Spanish. It was often frustrating being unable to follow their rapid conversation.  When I married my Iranian husband, I made extra efforts to speak slowly and clearly when around his friends.  And they were only too happy to translate common words into their language, so I could learn.

Idioms and Accents

Words are not the only difficulty when confronted with a foreign language—accents and idioms present their own challenges.  One evening while having dinner with another Iranian/American newlywed couple, some rice fell into the shag carpet.  Mansour, Leslie’s husband asked her to go and get the…the…the “rug sucker” when he couldn’t remember “vacuum cleaner”.  We all laughed.  When my husband still calls his “toes”, “fingers”,  I just smile knowingly, as he says “What do you expect from a foreigner”, and gently remind him he is no longer a foreigner after being in this country forty seven years. And thanks to my Dad, I understood that sometimes non-native English speakers mix up “he” and “she”; some countries have no “v” sound, so “adventure” becomes “adwenture”;—you get the idea.

Today, I listen hard to people of many languages and accents around me, seeking to understand and respond with interest and love.  My parish has been blessed with priests from Ireland, India, Kenya, Vietnam, Poland and Brazil—each with their wonderful, unique ways of speaking.  The key is they all speak that language of the heart.  Their love of God, reverence for the Eucharist, and compassion for their parishioners always spoke more loudly than any mispronounced words in a sermon.

“Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

The Language that Matters

People everywhere understand the language of love. In the effort, in the trying to reach out to speak and to understand, we connect with others in a way that is beyond words. God speaks to us in a language beyond the written page in scripture. He infuses his spirit of understanding into those who have ears to hear, just as his spirit guides those who proclaim his good news.  “Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?” Acts 2:8

We may not ever experience the magnificent fire of Pentecost or the miraculous courage and comprehension that occurred that day, but we can experience the same spirit. We can reach out with compassion and kindness as we recognize language challenges for those of different heritage than our own.  I am convinced that love matters and the heart speaks and hears perfectly.  God is love and when we speak his language to others, they understand.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”  Matthew 13:16

Language Fun

If you are interested in languages, try this exercise based on words from 1 John 4:8.  See if you can identify the languages listed below for this famous scripture excerpt, “…for God is love.”  If you want the answers, I’d be glad to email them to you.  Just contact me at wordsbypaula@gmail.com and put “God is Love” in the subject line.  If you have language stories of your own you’d like to share, feel free to leave your comment.

From 1 John 4:8
·         for God is love – English

 

·         denn Gott ist Liebe

 

·         car Dieu est amour

 

·         vì Thượng Đế là tình yêu thương

 

·         for Gud er kjærlighet?

 

·         waayo, Ilaah waa jacayl

 

·         pentru că Dumnezeu este dragoste

 

·         sapagkat ang Diyos ay pag-ibig

 

·         sepse Perëndia është dashuri

 

·         pues Dios es amor

 

·         he aroha hoki te Atua

 

·         mert Isten maga a szeretet

 

·         gdyż Bóg jest miłością

 

·         quoniam Deus caritas est

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 10, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Romans 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 3, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 3, 2017

The Piano Farewell: My Wife’s Passing is Now Complete yet the Music Lives On*

My wife, Marty, after a four+ year downward spiral with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, passed last March. But, for me, her passing was never complete as long as her piano remained at home. Recently, her piano found a new home and the way it all played out was truly a beautiful thing. I thought I should share it here.

___________________________________________

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”                        St. Thomas Aquinas

Marty passed away this past March and her piano remained behind. It was part of her, an extension if you will, for no matter how much of her memory disappeared, every day she would still manage to play that piano. The last few months of her life she probably sat playing it two to three hours a day. It followed that after she was gone the piano stayed right where it had always been, the only difference being the silence resonating from it.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson. All rights reserved.

The presence of her piano had extended the grief process for me. When you came in my front door it was right there, waiting to be brought to life. It was silent but when I looked at it I could see Marty sitting there playing. At times I could even hear the music. When I did it was so clear and vivid that at times I just had to leave the house. I even thought I was “losing” it.

After several weeks I covered the piano up with a large blanket. I placed a few knickknacks on top and did my best to ignore it. The camouflage worked just a tiny bit but it was better than nothing. What to do? What to do? Here is where my faith comes in. Here is where I opened myself up and “let go and let God.”

I thought of selling the piano, but that thought evaporated quickly. There was no way I could “sell” Marty’s piano. I wanted it to go to someone who could not afford one and who would be able to play. So I contacted my parish and after two or three weeks of “no response” I forgot about it. So I just kept praying and waited.

Hospice had a bereavement group that had begun on May 10. I decided to attend. We met once a week for six weeks. I had discussed the piano with them. When we had finished our meetings, the three of us who were left exchanged our email addresses and phone numbers. On July 27, I received a Facebook message from Sue, who was part of the bereavement group. She wrote that the music director at the Anona Methodist Church (who was also a piano teacher) might know a family that could use a piano.

I phoned the music director. Her name was Sandy and she told me that she knew a lady named Sarah, who had a seven-year-old boy who was learning to play. They only had a keyboard as the family could not afford a piano. It was a perfect scenario. I asked Sandy if she would have Sarah call me, and the next day she did. She was thrilled at the opportunity to get this piano for her son. And herein is when I fully understood how God was in charge of this entire piano saga.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson. All rights reserved.

Marty began playing a piano at the age of six or seven. 70 years later, Sarah’s son has begun playing at the age of six or seven. I thought about it and realized that it is possible that maybe 70 years from now, an older man might be playing a piano somewhere. He would have learned to play on the same piano that a woman named Marty played her last song on 70 years earlier. In essence, the music coming from that piano had never stopped and now spanned four generations. And yes, the possibility exists that it may continue well after he is gone. Who knows, right?

I have absolutely no doubt that this was “meant to be” and here is why; the piano was picked up and delivered to its new owner on August 10. That is the Feast Day (and this only happens once a year) of St. Lawrence, who is my patron Saint (talk about messaging). Having Faith (as quoted by Aquinas above) is a beautiful thing. My prayers were, without a doubt, answered.

One final thought; I can see Marty looking down with that great big smile of hers stretched from ear to ear. She is watching as a little boy sits at her piano and fingers the very keys she had fingered only six months earlier. And, as is God’s way of things, life goes on. On occasion, so does His music.

*Another version of this appeared in Aleteia on August 11, 2017

© Larry Peterson 2017

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: August 27, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


AUGUST INTENTION PRAYER 

PRAYER FOR ALL NEEDS
We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed.
Pity the insignificant.
Raise the fallen.
Show yourself to the needy.
Heal the sick.
Bring back those of your people who have gone astray.
Feed the hungry.
Lift up the weak.
Take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus is your Child,
that we are your people,
the sheep that you pasture.
Amen.
-Clement of Rome

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: August 27, 2017