Tuesday, September 1, 2015

WIWS: Little Black Dress Edition

I feel like a genius!!  I have figured out how to navigate through the labyrinth of convoluted pathways Windows 10 wants me to travel now, just to perform the simple task of inserting pictures into blog posts (something that used to be a lot easier for a technologically-challenged human such as myself). 

But I did it.  I right-clicked on the photo I wanted to add to this post and I chose a prompt I didn't recognize.  Suddenly I was looking at a new-to-me and therefore scary-different screen that was asking me to pick from a long list of unfamiliar-looking buttons...and wonder of wonders, I figured it out.  I pushed the right button, don't ask me how.  And after days--literally, days--of trying to figure it out, I unlocked the secret.

Excuse me, I need to go and do a happy dance, and then I'll get back to blogging.

Phew!  I'm really relieved.  I wanted to get over to Best Buy to ask the Geek Squad what in the world I should do, but my husband and I have been so busy here at home the past couple of weeks, doing a DIY bathroom renovation project.  (More on that coming soon!)

You can call me a geek, I'm proud to be one.  Go ahead, I assure you I won't be offended.

Okay then, I'm going to celebrate being able to blog on my laptop again by linking up with the fashionable faithful over at Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday (something I haven't done in ages).
For 9:00 a.m. Mass this past Sunday, I basically wore an LBD, a sleeveless black sheath dress that I got years ago at Wal-Mart (don't judge me--I love Wal-Mart!).  It's by their George brand, and it's just the greatest, most versatile little dress.  It's a perfect length (just below the knee), and it has just a touch of stretch to it so it's super comfy.  I've worn it with jackets, cardigans, pashminas, or just alone with a string of pearls.  I can dress it up or down; it's definitely a staple of my wardrobe.

I wanted to cover up my shoulders for Mass, so I paired the dress with a short-sleeved cropped sweater from Dress Barn, and then used a brooch to close it at the front.  My husband always seems to notice and comment when I'm sporting something bright red, so it's one of my favorite colors to wear.

After Mass, I asked my husband to take a picture of the Mary garden just outside our parish church, St. Mary's.  I had--gasp!--left my cell phone at home, so I needed to use the camera on his.   (I think this whole Windows 10 nightmare, from which I've just awoken, had rocked my world so thoroughly that I was beginning to turn my back on technology altogether!!)

Well, my husband was more than willing to play paparazzi, but he wanted me to sit in front of the garden.  "You can use the pictures in your blog," he said.

"No I can't!  I can't figure out how to use pictures in my blog anymore, remember?"

But I did as I was told, and I sat on the nice granite bench in this beautiful garden dedicated to Our Blessed Mother--a spot I love so much, and which was the inspiration for that first scene in Erin's Ring, when Molly McCormick finds an old Irish Claddagh ring poking out of the dirt near the statue of Mary.

Besides my LBD, I'm wearing a gold Claddagh ring
on my right hand (it's a little hard to see in this picture!). 
I've had it since 1979, and I wear it always!

And I'm wearing my gold Miraculous Medal,
which I also wear every day, not just on Sundays.

I know it's Tuesday, and this link-up is for Sundays...but I tripped on a rock...and the sun was in my eyes (it was!  Do you see the way I'm squinting in these pictures?!)...

And oh yeah, my best excuse of all: I upgraded to Windows 10!

If you want to see what other [better-dressed, younger] ladies wore Sunday, head on over to FLAP.

Friday, August 28, 2015

He Loves "Lucy"

Well, I just updated from Windows 8 to Windows 10.  How do I like the change, you ask?
AAAAGGGHHH!!!  Nothing is right in my computer world anymore!

I can't figure out how to add pictures to my blog now, which is a bummer.  So until I make a visit to the Geek Squad and get things ironed out, I'm going to be using my Kindle Fire to write posts.  Should be interesting!

This will be short and sweet today, because typing on my Kindle...woof.  I'm just going to share a picture with you, from about a million years ago--when my better half and I were fresh-faced newlyweds with nary a line on our plastic faces.  I think it would have made a great addition to yesterday's post, about the time I bought a dress we couldn't afford and then kept it a secret from my husband.

Because I think it looks like he's doing the Ricky Ricardo routine here:
"LUUUCYYY!  You got some 'splainin' to do about that dress!"

[With a guilty face]  "Umm...but you were hanging out at that club, Ricky. Waaaaaah!"

On that note...have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Storytime...

You want to hear a sweet little story?
It's sort of like O Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," but in reverse.  You probably remember that famous short story from your high school English class (at least if you grew up when I did).  You know, the classic tale about the young newlywed couple named Della and Jim, who didn't have much money but desperately wanted to give each other something very special for Christmas.  So Della secretly cut off her glorious waist-length tresses, and with the money she got for selling her hair she bought a chain for Jim's beloved watch.  And Jim, not knowing what his selfless wife was up to, sold his watch to buy her a pair of tortoise shell hair combs that she had been coveting, to adorn her beautiful hair.

Oh, the irony!

My story is different.  Because the story I'm going to tell you is about a time when my husband and I secretly spent money we had no business spending; but we did not spend it on each other, like those sweet kids Della and Jim...we spent it on ourselves.  (As my husband said when I told him I was writing this post, "It was more like the gift TO the Magi.  And we were the Magi.")

Shortly after the birth of our fourth son in as many years, my husband switched careers--from active duty Naval Aviator to civilian commercial airline pilot.  During that first probationary year in the airlines, he made half what he'd been making in the Navy, and I was a full-time stay-at-home mom.  To say that we were living paycheck-to-paycheck and just barely getting by financially is putting it lightly.  Even though we'd never exactly been rich in the eight years we'd been married, we'd never had any real financial worries up to that point.  But boy, did we have to tighten our belts!

I was alone a lot during that first year in Chicago (1988), and I'd lost the comfortable circle of fellow Navy wives I'd always had to rely on.  My husband was either working for the airline or flying down to our old home in FL to serve in the Navy Reserves; and I was holding down the fort, taking care of four needy and active pre-school boys.

You know how it is, girls: sometimes, when you're feeling a tad low, you just need a bit of retail therapy.  So one day I happened upon a dress at TJ Maxx that I thought was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.  It had Princess Diana's uber-feminine, lace-collared, shoulder-padded, 80's style written all over it.  And it was only $25!  A steal!  Certainly, I deserved at least one pretty thing, especially when it was so reasonably priced, to pick me up during that difficult year of privations...right?
So I talked myself into the dress.  But when I got it home, I tucked it way in the back of the closet, afraid to show my husband what I'd done.  I left the tags on it and kept telling myself that I'd return it for a refund, and he never had to be the wiser.  But when I finally got around to returning the dress, I found out, to my dismay, that too much time had elapsed; I had to either keep the dress, or I could take a store credit.

I kept the dress.  But I kept it hidden, and my feelings of guilt, remorse, and regret just continued to mount.  I felt like the most selfish, spoiled woman in the universe.  Here we were, barely making ends meet, and I had bought this dress that I didn't really need.  Shame on me.

Well, some time went by.  And then one night, my husband told me he had a confession to make.  On one of his recent trips, he'd gone out with some crew members to a comedy club.  The cost of admission (which included food and drink, along with the show) was only $11; but he was beside himself afterward, feeling so guilty that he was eating out, when he knew I was probably back home having peanut butter and jelly or mac and cheese with the kids.  He was just sick over it, and he hadn't told me about it for the same reason I hadn't told him about my TJ Maxx purchase.

"I have a confession, too!" I admitted, getting all teary-eyed.  And I told him about the forbidden dress hiding in the back of the closet.

He was actually happy that I'd bought myself a treat, because he knew this was a tough year for me; and I was glad he'd given himself a relaxing time out, because I knew how hard he was working--at two jobs--to take care of his family.  So all was well that ended well.  We hugged and laughed, and we both felt better after we got our secrets off our chests.

I still have that 27-year-old dress, you know.  It's been up in the attic for a number of years now, because I didn't think I liked the style of it anymore...but even though I wasn't wearing it, I just couldn't ever bring myself to give it to Goodwill.  It represents a piece of my husband and my shared history, a time in our marriage that was difficult, to be sure, but actually made our union even stronger than it had been before.  I love that dress.  I love the fabric and the color and the length, and the way it flares out at the hem.  I still think it's very pretty, even though the blousy-topped look is probably a huge fashion don't these days.  It's as comfy as all get-out, so I just might start wearing it again.  (Yay for elasticized waistbands!)
Um...we lived happily ever after.  The end.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #9)


It's book club day!  Welcome!

So, to start things off...I just visited the Barnes & Noble website and came across this 5-star reader review for Erin's Ring (written by a gal who goes by "Catholicmum"--love it!).  Apparently, it was posted 143 days ago, but I saw it for the first time this morning.  I thought since it's book club day, I'd share it here at the blog:

Laura Pearl writes a wonderful novel that will be enjoyed by both adults and teens alike.
She blends in the rich history of life in a New Hampshire town in 19th century America and then describes life for a 13-year-old Molly, a member of a large, Irish Catholic family.

.
There's joy and sorrow interwoven in the pages, and of course, there's the mystery surrounding the Claddagh ring. Mrs. Pearl possesses a wonderful, heartwarming ability to tell a story, keeping the reader's attention. I look forward to additional novels from her.

Mrs. Pearl also describes the importance of faith and its role in people's lives. The beauty of the friendship between Molly and  Theresa highlights the importance of opening one's heart to others, particularly people who are undergoing trials.


Reviews like that completely warm my heart, I'll tell you. They remind me that it doesn't matter if my books sell a lot of copies or if they garner a lot of accolades; if they touch the heart of just one reader, that's enough.

When I started writing Finding Grace in 2007, I had a different sort of story in mind than you'd find in most modern mainstream novels.  I wanted to leave something behind for my grandchildren, something that would show them the beauty of their Catholic Faith and hopefully inspire them to swim against the tide and fight the good fight in an increasingly secular world.  I was going to run off copies for them; that was the extent of my ambition.  But my husband and one of my sons had bigger plans for that book, and they encouraged me to send the manuscript to Bezalel Books, where it was published in 2012.  And without Finding Grace,  there would be no Erin's Ring, because the first book led directly to the second.

Sometimes I'm completely amazed that I've had two books published. (I'm pinching myself--and OW!--I guess I'm awake.  So my wildest dreams have come true, and then some.)  But I know it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't meant to happen, if God didn't have some special plan in mind for those books.  I may not ever know what that plan is during this lifetime, but I believe there is one.

In the meantime, I have been given marching orders by Cheryl Dickow, the publisher at Bezalel; knowing my reticence when it comes to the marketing and promotion of my work, she has encouraged me to "be brave, be bold."  It's not about me, she reminds me; it's about using fiction as an evangelization tool.  It's about trying to spread the Word of God through the medium of an entertaining story. So...

Okay then, now I'm going to show you how brave and bold I am:  If you are a teacher or a parent of middle school, junior high, or high school students, and you think your school would be interested in using Erin's Ring in their religion, history, or reading curriculum, I might be able to work it out so that I could come for a classroom visit.  I did this for my niece's fourth-graders last May, and it was a wonderful experience.  I am able to travel more easily than your average Joe, due to the perks of my husband's job; and since becoming an empty-nesting grandmother, I have overcome a formerly crippling fear of flying.  My husband and I do a lot of traveling to see our kids and grandkids--but I just might be able to squeeze in a side trip to most locations in the Continental US.
Please notice the "Commas Save Lives" t-shirt in the background!

Just thought I'd throw that out there.  :)  :O

Okay, before I go, here's a book club question for you: what's your favorite genre of fiction (YA, historical fiction, romance, sci-fi, etc.)?  I love historical fiction and 19th-century literature--and actually, just about any genre but sci-fi or fantasy.

Until next time, happy reading!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dreaming about Oyster Haven

My husband and I are going to be closing very soon on a marvelous old renovated Colonial house on the shore of Lake Champlain.  I took some photos the day we met with the real estate agent for a showing back in July--which was also the day we fell in love with it.

You can't beat the view from the house.
Or the enormous grassy yard that leads down to the water.
Or the private beach, located in the center of a little protected cove.
This is the house to which we will retire, in eight years or possibly less.  In the meantime, we are setting it up as a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) property, so that we can afford to own it until we feel we're ready to sell our home here in NH, where we've lived since 1990.  Until we can move there, the plan is to block off a week or two every summer for our personal use--and hopefully the kids and grandkids will start making special memories at this house by the lake.

I am sure that there will be many posts in the future, regaling you with all the ups and downs of being the landlords of a vacation rental property.  But for now, I'm just giddy with ideas for setting the house up and making it look pretty.  And I think we're going to name it "Oyster Haven"...you know, because an oyster is a haven for a pearl?  (Clever?  Or cheesy?)

We've been ordering lots of stuff online from Wayfair and Amazon and Overstock.  One of our bedrooms upstairs is currently filled with sheet sets, towels, comforters, dishes...not to mention all kinds of framed artwork, pictures, and signs that I plan to hang on the walls of the new house.
 
I am a tad, shall we say...overzealous when it comes to hanging things on the walls of my house.  Most of the walls in our home look about like this.
I can't even fit all the things I'd like to hang on the walls of the NH house, so I just happen to have lots of excess wall décor items that I can put to good use.  I needed a second house, because I was running out of wall space here.

So here are a few of the things we'll be taking up to NY (where my new decorating mantra, as far as the walls go, is going to be "less is more").
On the left, a watercolor by Adirondack artist Pat Reynolds (a wedding gift
from my Grandma); on the right, an old window (given to me by my D-I-L
Ginger, with a wreath that was a gift from son #4 hanging on it).

Top right: an artist's rendering of our old high school (which has since been torn
down).  Bottom right: my Grandma's house on the left; the Old Stone Barracks
(home of my S-I-L's soon-to-open Valcour Brewery) on the right; this frame used
 to hang in our downstairs bathroom, with pictures of our boys in sports gear in it.

That oil painting on the left is something we've had more than 30 years,
since before we even had children.  We got it at a silent auction charity event
when my husband was an Ensign training to become a Naval Aviator.
Some of the stuff that goes in the Oyster Haven house will be new.  Like this great mirror I just found at a secondhand shop for $5.  (Well, I guess it's not technically new; but it's new to us.)
I dream about our grandchildren playing by the water at this idyllic location, swimming in the lake...making memories of being at Papa and Grammy's house that will last them a lifetime.  My dreams look something like this:



 
But those are just artist's renderings, pictures of someone else's grandchildren.  So actually, my dreams for this new house look more like this:
Can't wait to make them come true!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Grace in Glasses (Again? Really?)

In the four years that I've been a blogger, I've written not one, but two (two!) posts dedicated to Grace Kelly and the fact that she wore glasses.  On December 13, 2012, there was this one called "Grace in Glasses":
 And then on February 7, 2013, there was this one, called "Grace in Glasses (Again!)" :
Well, it's 2015 now (where did the time go, readers?), and I haven't talked about Grace Kelly and her glasses in quite a while.  So I think it's time for another installment of "Grace in Glasses."

You were just waiting for this, I know you were.  Or maybe not.  But if you were, you can read on, 'kay?

The other night my husband and I were looking through some old photos I'd scanned to my computer, and we came across this one, taken right after son #3 was born in 1986.
My husband smiled when he saw it and exclaimed, "Look at you!"

Yes, I thought, grimacing.  Look at me indeed.  I look puffy-eyed, exhausted (this was the third baby boy I'd given birth to in a two-and-a-half-year span, mind you, and he weighed in at 9 lbs. 13 oz.!), and...what are those things on my face?  Ski goggles?!

Egads!!  Holy backfire, Batman.  Holy costume party.  Holy horrible day-mare.  (Those are actual Robin quotes from that wonderfully cheesy old TV show.  I googled "Robin's sayings," readers, because I wanted to keep it real here; I care about this blog that much.)

Anyway, after seeing that day-marish photo, I found myself musing that my fashion idol, Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco, would never have been caught dead in such ridiculous-looking glasses.

Or would she?

Oh no, Grace.   Say it ain't so! The 80's got to you, too!!

For years now, I've been wearing rather smallish frames, usually wire ones, because they've been the style that's "in."  I was never, ever, ever going to go back to wearing ginormous plastic frames again.  (Refer back to the above picture of me with newborn son #3, in case you need to be reminded why I didn't dare entertain the idea.)

Yes, I was actually in Monaco here!  These photos are from December of 2011,
when I tagged along on one of my husband's trips.
And I'm wearing nice, normal-sized wire-framed glasses, not goggles.
But, as they say...never say never. 

I've always been as blind as a bat (or almost, anyway), but my husband's eyes were always better than perfect.  He had 20/15 vision--something that I never even knew existed before I met him.  I thought 20/20 vision, which had left me in the dust by my 11th birthday, was the be-all-and-end-all of good vision;  but I was so wrong.

Over the years, I've tried contacts from time to time (in college, and in my early motherhood years); but mostly, I've just worn glasses.  They're easier, for one thing; and I like to sort of hide behind them, for another.  Meanwhile, that guy of mine with the Superman-like vision never had to don specs, because those enormous baby blues of his were always able to see the world with razor-sharp clarity.

Then middle age hit, and suddenly my superhero was forced to wear "cheaters" in order to read.  Eventually, his worsening vision required him to break down and get actual prescription progressive lenses to wear while on the job.  Suddenly, we were in the same-ish boat.

This summer, we both were due for eye check-ups.  So about a month ago, my husband and I did something that we've never done before: we went for back-to-back eye appointments and then shopping for glasses together.   It was a super fun glasses-shopping date, where we tried on a multitude of frames and helped each other to choose which ones we should get.

Long story short (is this story short, Laura?  Is it?), I am now back to wearing big old plastic frames.  (Holy throwback, Batman!)
I thought they looked extremely goofy on me, but my husband LOVES them, for some reason.  He strongly encouraged me to get them, and I have a hard time saying no to him.

Actually, he got himself some retro-style glasses, too.  I think they make him look like Clark Kent.

Do these glasses make us look smarter?
While doing research for this post, aside from looking up Robin quotes I also googled "Grace in glasses," just for grins.  And I found these pictures of the young actress wearing frames almost exactly like my new ones.

 
Here they are, the Grace Kelly frames.
And they are just about the same shape and size as the ones my husband convinced me to get.

When I showed him these pictures, he said, "See?"  (No pun intended.)

It's true that Grace Kelly would have looked good in anything...I mean, even those awful 70's and 80's monstrosities couldn't mask the beauty of her perfectly proportioned face.  I, on the other hand, can look pretty bad in bad glasses.  But you know what--I think if big plastic frames are good enough for Grace Kelly (and of course, for my husband), then they're good enough for me, too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: "Altaration, the Mystery of the Mass Revealed"

Some months ago, the people over at Ascension Press asked me if I'd be willing to watch and then review their new DVD series called "Altaration, the Mystery of the Mass Revealed."  I eagerly agreed, and was gratified to receive the entire program, complete with a teacher's guide and student workbook.
In a nutshell, as described on the Ascension Press website, here is a description of this extremely well-done and thought-provoking series created by Mark Hart:
 
The 3-DVD Set provides five lessons (approximately 20 minutes each) and features some of the top Catholic youth presenters in the church today, including Mark Hart, Jackie Francois Angel, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Chris Stefanick and Fr. Josh Johnson. The program also features music from acclaimed Catholic musicians Ike Ndolo and Emily Wilson. Through a combination of stunning cinematography and powerful testimonies and teaching, teens will come to see the Mass in a dramatically new way.

With the exception of Lesson 5, which is a dynamic, 60-minute specially formatted walk through the Mass.

I could leave you with that blurb and then just say, "Two enthusiastic thumbs up!"  Or, "'Altaration' is a wonderful series--every parish should have this DVD set for its CCD programs and youth ministries!"  Or "Every teen should watch these attention-grabbing and informative videos--and so should his or her parents!"

But I feel I need to give you more.  Much, much more.

Because even a 50-something cradle Catholic like myself needed to see this series: to be reminded, again, of the enormous importance of participating regularly and reverently in the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is not a mere obligation to be fulfilled, but a true privilege.  To be reminded, again, of the enormous gift of Himself--Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity--that Christ gave us in the Eucharist.  To be reminded, again, that I must never allow myself to take the Mass experience--and especially the Eucharist-- for granted.  Ghandi is famous for saying that if he believed what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, he would crawl on his hands and knees to receive it.  Yet sometimes, it seems that even we Catholics, who ought to know better than anyone what--make that Who--is contained in that Sacred Host and the many graces this Sacrament offers us, have lost our sense of awe and reverence when it comes to receiving it.

There are five lessons, or sessions, in the "Altaration" series.  Each of these sessions is broken up into three segments, presented by the very energetic and appealing young individuals mentioned above (Mark Hart, Chris Stefanick, Jackie Francois Angel, and two wonderful young priests, Frs. Schmitz and Johnson).

My husband and I watched Sessions 1 and 2 with a group of our teenaged nieces and nephews in early July (I blogged about it here), and it kept them very engaged.  One nephew (now a freshman at Catholic U) called the material, and the way it was presented, "relatable."  I can see why he thought that, because in this series, the presenters are youthful, good-looking, and enthusiastic--utterly real and normal people--and they don't come across as preachy or judgmental.  Instead, they come across as regular folks who are flawed and human, just as we are; they are people who have struggled through periods of doubt or ennui themselves, but who have fallen totally in love with their Catholic Faith. Their enthusiasm for the Mass is contagious.
Another nephew (now a freshman at the Univ. of Notre Dame) said that at first, it seemed like "Altaration" was going to be the same sort of thing he'd seen many times before in his different religion classes over the years--good enough, to be sure, but just nothing all that new, nothing to write home about; but then after watching the second segment of Session 1, he said that it was obvious this series was something altogether different.  That segment includes scenes of both Fr. Schmitz and Fr. Johnson at Mass, raising the consecrated host, their faces radiating reverence and love, until it is aligned with the large crucifix in the background that's hanging high over the altar.  These scenes are so beautiful, they will bring tears to your eyes.  Parts of them are included in the "Altaration" trailer, which my husband and I watched together back in April (and which I reviewed in this post); when my husband first saw them, he was blown away.   Watching the full-length video and seeing those scenes more fully fleshed out only strengthened his reaction.  We both agree that this segment is easily the most deeply affecting in the entire series.  In this session, Fr. Schmitz  hammers home the fact that the priesthood is an essential part of the Mass, that the priest acts "in persona Christi."  When, as if speaking to Christ, he says the words, "I will be your priest"...wow, that part made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Our oldest son and his wife (the parents of four little girls, 4-years-old and under) watched Sessions 3 and 4 with us.  They thought the series was wonderful, too, and that the format--each lesson broken up into three short segments, with a different presenter for each segment--was perfect for teens.  My son commented that because kids can sometimes have short attention spans, he thought this was an ideal way to present the material.  Each segment can be easily digested before going on to the next one.

The presenters in this series are all quite dynamic.  Chris Stefanick, a young father of six, beautifully explains that going to Mass is not an invitation; it's a command.  But he reminds viewers that commandments come from a place of LOVE, that parents set boundaries because they know their children need them.  Just as Stefanick, a loving dad, wants to feed his own children with food that's good for their bodies, God the Father wants to feed us with what's best for our souls.  Jackie Francois Angel, a young wife and mother, is as stunning and glamorous-looking as any supermodel; but this sweet-voiced and faith-filled beauty has so much more to offer than the Hollywood celebrities to whom teens are typically drawn.  "How long would you wait for VIP passes to see your favorite artist or band?" Angel asks.  Most young people answer that they'd camp out overnight for such a privilege; and yet, she asks, how much value do we place on God's gift of Himself?  How far would we go for Him?  Can we give that hour a week at Sunday Mass, and in return receive his grace and peace?

Wow.  That's the word that kept popping into my head at the conclusion of each segment: "Wow." In our increasingly God-less modern age--where reality TV stars become role models, where there is an almost epidemic (and unhealthy) longing for worldly riches and pleasures--these vibrant Catholic speakers show young people how you can live in the world, but still be holy.

My husband and I watched the final installment, Session 5, by ourselves.  (By that point, we were back home in our empty nest, after summer travels to visit with our grown kids, grandkids, and extended families on both sides.)  I must say that by the time we got to this portion of the series, which is an hour-long lesson explaining each part of the Mass and showing the symbolism and meaning behind every gesture and every prayer, I was more than ready for it.  In Sessions 1 through 4, the presenters reawakened in my heart a stronger love for the Mass and a desire to understand it better.  Although the last session is much longer than the previous ones, it is unbelievably interesting.  Riveting, really.  I can't think of a better ambassador for the Mass than Fr. Mike Schmitz; he's a good-looking, likeable, athletic, down-to-earth, engaging, and holy young priest whom viewers will feel they know very well by the time they get to this all-important lesson that teaches what the Mass is really all about.  I believe young people will find Fr. Schmitz incredibly "relatable," and he will inspire them to know and love their Faith better.  I wish he'd been in our parish when our boys were growing up!
In closing, I have to say that it seems like young Catholics of today--and even of my generation--were shortchanged a bit in our catechesis. What a great tool "Altaration, the Mystery of the Mass Revealed"  provides for strengthening our understanding of our beautiful Faith and inspiring a deeper devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  May it find its way into the religious education programs of Catholic parishes across the world!

Many thanks to Ascension Press for allowing me the opportunity to view and review this series.  I hope--and believe--that it will touch many hearts and minds, and bring many souls closer to Heaven.

(If my husband writes a review of the "Altaration" series--and I dearly hope he will--I am going to have him on to do a guest post.  So stay tuned...)