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10 ways dads can help their children grow in holiness

File:Severin Nilson-I pappas famn.jpg
In Daddy’s Arms by Nilson (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


Today is my dad’s 75th birthday. I’ve been thinking about my relationship with him a lot lately, especially while writing a chapter on fathers in my upcoming book, Trusting God with St. Therese. Louis Martin was St. Therese’s prime example of God’s character. God made all human fathers to be mediators between Himself and their children. Fathers are the priests of their family.

Here are 10 ways dads can help their children grow in holiness.

    1. Practice authoritative parenting.
      Authoritative dads are firm, but affectionate. They discipline when their kids break the rules. They show mercy when their kids are repentant. They kiss owies when moms aren’t available.
    2. Love and respect your wife.
      Fathers represent God in their families. Mothers represent the Church. Lay down your life for your wife. Tell her you love her often–in front of the kids. Never tolerate a child’s disrespect for her.
    3. Be humble.
      Don’t pretend you have all the answers. Any kid above 10 knows it isn’t true. Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Take your whole family to Confession.
    4. Be grateful.
      My husband Dan always says, “Thank you,” even when I do a routine job we all expect me to do. This sets the tone for the whole household.
    5. Say “I love you” often.
      Dan leads in this area too. After the first time he told me he loved me, he began repeating it every time we met or parted. The kids (and I) follow his lead. Our toddler shouts, “Hello, I love you, Dad!” before Dan even comes in the door. Don’t expect them to know how much you love them if you don’t tell them often. Your love makes them secure.
    6. Sing at Mass.
      Your kids, especially your sons, will follow your lead at Mass. Don’t leave them with the impression that prayer and participation are for women.
    7. Pray daily as a family.
      Say either morning or night prayers together. Family prayer can be as simple as a fatherly blessing, or as involved as a family Rosary. Be the one who calls the family together, especially on the stressful or busy days.
    8. Pray daily in private. Practice daily mental prayer. Make sure your kids know you do it. Teach them how to pray from the heart themselves. Mental prayer should be the center of your spiritual life.
    9. Be open to life.
      Using contraception is a mortal sin. Abortion is an especially grave evil. If you aren’t open to life, your kids will figure it out sooner or later. And they might question whether you really love them if you’re so opposed to having more kids.
    10. Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
      Take this lesson from James 1:19 to heart. Be approachable when kids have problems. Don’t prejudge them. Avoid lecturing. Know what you believe and be able to give reasoned explanations for the faith and your family and personal ideals.

Happy birthday, Dad! Thanks for life and for your example in the faith. May dads everywhere model God’s Fatherhood for their children! Blessed Louis Martin, pray for us.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: What would you add to this list? What have you learned about the role of dads from your childhood or parenting your children?

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Here’s the cover design for Trusting God with St. Therese



The front cover design for my upcoming book, Trusting God with St. Therese is complete! I will still have to design the back of the print version, using quotes from reviews I hope to get before the book is released. Let me know what you think of the design. Does it accurately convey what the book is about? (If you don’t already know what the book is about, do you have a good guess after viewing this?) Are you ready to buy it?

Unfortunately, I’m not ready to sell it yet!

I’m hoping to have pre-release sales begin July 16.

Review copies should be available by May 1.

I hope to offer a sample chapter to subscribers in June.

In the meantime, I’m still writing. Please continue to pray for the book and for the protection of my family as this important project nears completion.

And don’t forget to share with this your friends, so they can sign up for updates too.

Thanks and God bless you!

Connie Rossini

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This Christmas seems strangely familiar…


D, M, C, and J slide together at the park.
D, M, C, and J slide together at the park in September 2013.


Dear Family and Friends,

Did our Christmas photo give you a déjà-vu? Then you know the theme for this year’s letter! Five years ago we took a slide photo of the three boys and licensed it as micro stock. It continues to pop up in unexpected places. This year, my brother Matt saw it in an electronic photo frame at Target. A friend told me it’s used in a Catholic Heritage Curriculum science text.

Our first event after my last letter was Christmas at Grandma Rossini’s. After four years of gathering elsewhere, we’re back in Eagan for Christmas, at least for now. There’s no party like it. The 28 grandkids take up all the seats—let alone the air waves.

Dan returned to LaCrosse in April for a friend’s wedding. Maybe next year we’ll be able to visit as a family. J (2) has never been to Wisconsin, but M (9) and C (7) were born there.

We did go back to the Grotto of the Redemption in Iowa together. Last time we were there, I was expecting C. The boys fed the swans and bought souvenir rocks, besides the obligatory rock candy.

D (11) and M have now had piano lessons for as long as I did as a kid—one year. We bought an electronic piano. Sometimes Dan will relax long enough to play The Entertainer or other songs from his youth. The piano will mimic nearly every instrument and serenade us at dinner, but my favorite feature is the volume control!

This summer we cleaned out our store room and moved boxes to the attic Dan finished. For the second time, we gave away baby clothes and equipment. We love the extra room, but are sad that era of our lives is—probably!—over.

Meanwhile, I’m back to writing more than I have in years. I blog twice a week. My short ebook, Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life, reached #4 in Catholic books on Amazon. You can get it free from my blog. I am now working on a full-length book called Trusting God with St. Therese. It’s part memoir, so I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past.

D, M, and C in their "famous" photo from 2008.
D, M, and C in their “famous” photo from 2008.

I’ m also doing public speaking again, but this time on spirituality, rather than apologetics.

J’s favorite movie is Davy Crockett. Yes, the one you loved in childhood, with Fess Parker. He runs around in a coonskin cap and a faux buckskin vest one of my brothers used to wear. (No, you can’t have it back, Joe.) Underneath his cap he has reddish hair. Now M blends in more with the rest of the family.

C made his first Confession in November. Just like his brothers were, he’s eager to go again. First Communion will be here before we know it.

One way or another, these kids will keep us on the road to Heaven. When we get there, I hope we have a déjà-vu. I hope we feel right at home. Save us a seat if you arrive first!

Christmas blessings to you and yours!

Connie Rossini, with love from Dan and the boys

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An exclusive gift for subscribers to Contemplative Homeschool!

Happy subscribers reading A Manual for Mental Prayer.


I’m so grateful for all of you who follow my blog by email, especially those who have been reading my blog since the beginning. I want to send all my subscribers an exclusive gift for Christmas, A Manual for Mental Prayer. I have compiled this 34-page, 8000-word PDF from sixteen past blog posts on prayer. I edited and reformatted them just for you. I will not be distributing this PDF to anyone but my subscribers–ever.

If you are already subscribed (and are consequently reading this in your email box), you should have received a separate email a few minutes after this one with a link to download the PDF.

If you have not yet subscribed, what are you waiting for? You can do so now by clicking here.

In this PDF, you will learn:

  • Why daily mental prayer is vital to your spiritual life
  • A suggested method of mental prayer
  • Examples of Christian meditation you can use today
  • What Carmelites mean by “contemplation”
  • And much more!

In coming months, subscribers will also receive:

  • Exclusive sneak peeks and deals on my forthcoming book, Trusting God with St. Therese
  • A “private screening” of my video series on Carmelite spirituality (more on that in January!)
  • First dibs on review copies of all future publications
  • Anything I else I have time to make to show you my appreciation

Please subscribe today and learn how to grow closer to God through A Manual for Mental Prayer.

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Give God your widow’s mite

The Widow’s Mite by Tissot (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


I was thinking recently about St. Therese and Judgment Day. Therese wanted to stand before God with “empty hands.” As part of her plan to trust in God rather than in her merits, she chose to give away all her spiritual goods. She offered them to God, not for herself, but for others. She left herself spiritually poor and naked. Then she was able to focus, not on her acts of virtue and self-denial, but on the merits of Jesus. She believed that, seeing her with no works on which to be judged, God would apply Jesus’ works to her account. Thus, her confidence was in Jesus alone.

Following St. Therese, when I make a sacrifice, accept the trials and disappointments of my day, or act virtuously, I picture myself handing a plain brown box to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is my gift for the Infant Jesus. Mary takes the package and wraps it splendidly with her  love and virtues. Then she passes it on to her Son, and He distributes it as He sees fit.

St. Therese had countless gifts to give to God for souls. My gifts, on the other hand, are few and small. I cannot outdo Therese. But I am still hoping to match her. I am giving God my widow’s mite, all I have to live on. And who can give more than that?

“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny.  And He called his disciples to Him, and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living'” (Mark 12:41-44).

Connie Rossini

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Fine-tune your spiritual focus for Lent

I want to trust in God like a little child trusts his parents--just as St. Therese did.
J sits on my lap to read. This Lent, I want to trust in God like a little child trusts his parents–just as St. Therese did.

Did you choose a specific virtue to cultivate for a New Years’ resolution? Try making a concrete step in that direction a focus for Lent, which starts tomorrow.

In January, I wrote how I was working on trust this year. I’ve been practicing trusting God when I sin, following the example of St. Therese. It’s becoming routine. I can’t tell you how much freer I feel. When I have a bad day of yelling at my kids or otherwise being selfish, I no longer beat myself (figuratively speaking) over it.  I trust God to take care of it, and even to bless me (not because of my sin, but because of my trust).  My faith is stronger as well.

Now it’s time to work on another aspect of trust. During Lent I will try to accept everything that happens as being part of God’s plan for my life.



The phone ringing during homeschool.

J needing attention when I’m in the middle of disciplining his brothers.

The computer malfunctioning while I’m blogging.

The boys picking up a virus… again.

M complaining about dinner.

D talking back.

C refusing to do his chores.

Dan using the computer when I have plans to work on it.

Falling asleep during prayer.

And everything else that God allows in my life.

I will whisper, “Jesus, I trust in you,” when circumstances are against me. Maybe by the end of Lent I’ll remember to do so most of the time. I hope a new habit will be forming.

What about you? How will you fine-tune your spiritual life this Lent? Share with us.

Connie Rossini