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Radio interview, video conference, new book cover

Today I am letting you catch up on some of the things I’ve been doing outside my blog. I’ll be back to posting on the third mansions next week.

First, I had a great radio interview with Tony Agnesi of Finding God’s Grace. It aired in Ohio last week. You can listen to a replay here.

Next, for those of you who are moms, I’m taking part in an online moms conference in March. The Catholic Conference 4 Moms is totally online and you can watch at your own pace. About 25 women and a few men will present talks on all aspects of being a Catholic woman. I am offering my talk on Learning to Trust God. The conference is free, but you can buy a package of the entire conference afterwards if you can’t attend. I encourage you moms to gather a few girlfriends in your living room with Mystic Monk Coffee and decadent treats and refresh yourselves in the faith. It’s a retreat you don’t have to leave home for! Lots of giveaways will be held as well.

If you missed my recent post at, you’ll want to read it. I ask Are there Two Paths to Holiness?

Finally, I just finished designing the cover for my next book, which I hope to publish this spring. Obviously, I will be adding a quote where the generic quote is on the left, once my blurbs come back. If you would like a review copy, send me an email to crossini4774 at comcast dot net. What do you think of the cover?



Connie Rossini

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Merry Christmas 2014

winter castle [преобразованный]

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Dear Family and Friends,

D typed this year’s letter to my dictation. I strained my rotator cuff and I’m not supposed to write much. Ha, ha! That’s practically all I’ve been doing lately.

In July I accomplished what I have been wanting to do for forty years­­–publish a book. Trusting God with St. Therese tells stories from the life of Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) along with memoir of my struggle to trust God. It’s available on Amazon in ebook and paperback editions. If you’d like to buy a signed copy, just call or send me an email at crossini4774 at comcast dot net.

I believe modeling is one of the most effective ways of teaching children. If you want them to form a new habit, model it yourself. My boys are all becoming writers, with little effort on my part. D (12) spends an hour or more each day on his computer–not playing video games, but writing stories. Lately he finished a 90-page book about a war between sharks and eels. We read it aloud in the afternoons. It’s his second story in a year. He is now working on the sequel.

After reading a series of historic “choose your own adventure” books, M (10) wrote his own series for D to read. He tells me he had about 100 story paths that D could take. He has also written many entertaining and informative reports on animals for science class. C’s (8) first written report for school was a few paragraphs on cheetahs. Previously, he gave oral reports. He’s only recently become an avid reader. I hope a joy of writing follows. J (3) is learning to make circles and straight lines. He also enjoys doing mazes. He loves listening to other people’s stories. He’s a fan of Dr. Seuss and P. D. Eastman.

Dan is happy that the Fourth Plan for Parishes is in his past. As director of communications for the diocese he still oversees our newspaper, The Prairie Catholic. The biggest story this year was the dedication of the new pastoral center. He was heavily involved in the project from beginning to end. The kids and I took a tour of the beautiful building where he now works. Dan also edited my book for me.

Since publishing I’ve spent lots of time marketing my book. We traveled back to La Crosse as a family in September. Everyone loved staying in a hotel with a pool and seeing old friends. I sold a few copies of my book and gave away a review copy. Dan ran the review in The Prairie Catholic. A reader came to our door to buy a book while we were writing this letter. He and his wife had read the review.

I’ve been speaking at parish CCWs and book clubs. My sisters-in-law invited me to speak at their parish in Oakdale. It was a successful event. A few days ago I confirmed that I’ll be speaking at the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference in May. I’m so excited about that! It will be my biggest event so far. I hope to have at least one book done before then in the new series I’m writing on working with your child’s temperament, which will be one of the topics I’m addressing in my talks.

It’s been a wonderful year for us, with the promise of more joy to come.

May the Word of God, both written and incarnate, dwell richly in your hearts this Christmas!

Connie Rossini, with love from Dan and the boys

NOTE: I will be offering my Manual for Mental Prayer to all subscribers on January 1 as a Christmas present. This is a compilation of several past posts on prayer exclusively bundled for subscribers. I have not offered it since June and will only be offering it for this limited time this year. Next year I hope to have something new to thank you for your loyalty to Contemplative Homeschool. If you’re not a subscriber yet, please sign up now for th is short-term offer and to receive Chapter 3 of Trusting God with St. Therese free as well.

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Recollection in prayer

Figure Kneeling in Prayer by Marius Abel (Wikimedia Commons).

Today I want to address several things in this post, including answering a reader’s question about the meaning of recollection. I also have a housekeeping issue, want to share a few past posts about Advent for those of you with children at home, and tell you about the first ever sale on the paperback version of my book.

But first things first.

St. Teresa of Avila speaks of two different kinds of recollection, neither of which means “remembrance,” as we commonly use the word. And “being recollected” is an even more basic element of prayer.

We generally call it being recollected when we focus our attention on God.

As we read earlier in Interior Castle:

… if it is prayer at all, it must be accompanied by meditation. If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips.” (1:1, 7)

How do become recollected? When we first go to pray, we make an effort to set aside interior distractions. We might picture ourselves laying our cares and trials at the feet of Jesus. In this way, we acknowledge that we are going to focus on him, not our affairs and preoccupations. Then we try to keep our mind on the Lord for the duration of our prayer time. When we get distracted, we gently bring our mind back to Him.

Another way to begin prayer in a recollected manner is reminding ourselves that God is present everywhere. We can think about His presence surrounding us. We recognize His power and majesty and make ourselves ready to address Him.

We could also remember that the Holy Trinity dwells in our souls. As we study Interior Castle, we can begin prayer by picturing a castle in our hearts, and moving towards the King who dwells in its center, getting rid of everything that holds us back from Him.

Practicing saying one Hail Mary with attention, as we talked about before, is practicing being recollected.


Teresa speaks about two kinds of recollection that are more than “placing ourselves in the presence of God,” as many writers put it.

Prayer becomes simpler as we become practiced in it and in virtue. As time goes on, we should find it easier to be aware of God’s presence. We slowly focus less on “thinking much,” and more on “loving much.” This is called acquired recollection. We will discuss that prayer development more when we discuss third mansions.

Additionally, there is infused recollection, the first type of contemplation. We will look at infused recollection as we discuss the fourth mansions.


More subscribers, less frequent posts

Now, a quick note on the frequency of my posts. I now have over 1400 subscribers, which means that I can only write up to 8 posts per month in order to deliver them to your email box without my having to pay. So I am reducing my posts to once per week, unless I have a post up at or elsewhere to share with you. I’ve been wanting to reduce the number of posts for months, but I feel guilty when I only post once a week! Now circumstances are forcing me to follow through. Doing fewer blog posts means I can spend more time writing books. And I have many, many ideas for books I hope to write!

I will try to post on Tuesdays. This week I got mixed up, because of the Holy Day on Monday.


Past posts on Advent

Speaking of past posts, here are a couple to help you with the rest of Advent.

In one of my first posts two years ago, I wrote how we use an alternative school calendar to help make our Advent more peaceful and prayerful.

This post from last year gives some ideas for Advent activities with your family.


My book and several others on sale for one day only!

And speaking of books, on Thursday, December 11, Indie Catholic Authors is sponsoring a one-day digital Christmas Party and sale. Join us on our facebook event page.

Eight authors, including me, best-selling fiction writer Ellen Gable, and noted suspense author R. B. O’Gorman, are discounting our books from 6 AM Central December 11 to 6 AM Central December 12. The paperback version of Trusting God with St. Therese will be 20% off at CreateSpace for the first time ever. You must use a coupon code, which I will post on Thursday on the facebook page and also on the homepage of Indie Catholic Authors (a writers’ group I created). Join the facebook event now, so you don’t miss out.

My ebook price will be slashed to $.99 on Amazon for 24 hours also.

This is a great opportunity to pick up some additional Christmas presents for your friends and family.

I will be available to answer your questions about my life, my writing, trusting God, St. Therese, and anything else appropriate from 10-11 AM Central on the facebook event page. I will also be giving away a free signed paperback to one attendee. At least two other authors will be appearing to answer questions and giving away books. Please see the facebook event or Indie Catholic Authors site more. for details.

Connie Rossini

Note: The Amazon link is an affiliate link. I get a little more money when you buy my book through such a link.

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A biography of St. Therese (and a Kindle bargain)

Note: In celebration of the feast of St. Therese on Wednesday, October 1, the Kindle version of Trusting God with St. Therese is only $.99 until 8 AM Pacific Thursday. This may be the only time I run such a sale, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the most popular saints in history. Almost immediately after her death, her little way of spiritual childhood began to spread. She was canonized less than thirty later and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.

St. Therese’s childhood

Marie-François-Therese Martin was born in Alençon, France in 1873. Her parents were Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin Martin. She was the youngest of their nine children, four of whom died before age six. Louis and Zelie were committed Catholics. They were standouts even in the Catholic subculture that had grown up in the larger, anti-Catholic culture of their place and time. Both had considered religious life before they met and married. Zelie was a successful businesswoman. Louis eventually sold his business to help with hers.

Therese was a talkative, happy, but spoiled child. She had a strong will, but everyone loved her.  When Therese was four,  Zelie was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. She died before the year was over.  “My happy disposition completely changed after Mama’s death,” Therese later wrote in her autobiography, Story of a Soul. She became shy and extremely sensitive.

The rest of Therese’s childhood was one struggle after another. Her sister Pauline became a substitute mother for her, but left to enter the Carmelite cloister when Therese was nine. Within months, Therese was seriously ill. She probably suffered from a form of post traumatic stress disorder, compounded by harassment from the devil.  A favorite statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her, curing her completely.

Therese had problems relating to the other children at school. She had a slight setback in her health when her sister Marie also entered the cloister. She suffered from scruples. And when she made up her mind to enter the cloister herself before her fifteenth birthday, she was forced to delay.

The second miracle in her life was much more ordinary than the first. On Christmas Eve just before her fourteenth birthday, God completely cured her oversensitivity. In an instant, Therese grew up. This time there were no exterior signs, but a dramatic interior transformation.

Therese took her plea to enter Carmel early all the way to Pope Leo XIII. He told her she would enter, “if God wills it.” After what seemed like an eternity to her, the Bishop of Bayeux spoke with the superior of the Carmelites and gave his permission. She entered on April 9, 1888.

A Carmelite nun

Her sisters Pauline (now Sr. Agnes of Jesus) and Marie (Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart), did not realize how much Therese had changed since they left home. Marie went so far as to oppose giving her permission to enter the cloister early. They both expected to continue mothering Therese. Therese had other ideas. She entered Carmel for love of Jesus, not to be with her sisters. She desired to follow the Carmelite Rule as closely as possible. She wanted no special treatment.

Less than a year later, their father Louis suffered a complete mental breakdown. Family members feared for his safety. They took him to a mental hospital in Cannes where he remained for two years.  Therese only saw her beloved father once more, shortly after his return home. Confined to a wheelchair, he uttered only one phrase, “To Heaven!” He died in July 1894.

As Louis’ health declined, Therese turned more and more to God as her Father. During her father’s illness, a spiritual darkness descended upon her, which intensified as her own death grew closer. Weaned from both earthly and heavenly consolations, she looked for peace elsewhere. God led her to trust in His loving goodness in spite of her circumstances.

Many of the nuns in the convent had trying personalities. Therese volunteered for seven years to help a cranky older nun walk from the chapel to the refectory for dinner. When another sister made annoying sounds during their silent prayer time, Therese offered the noise to the Child Jesus as though it were a symphony for His pleasure. She befriended a nun whom most others avoided, seeking her out during recreation and forcing herself to be pleasant when she felt like doing the opposite.

When Agnes of Jesus was elected prioress, she made the former prioress novice mistress, as was the custom. Then she appointed Therese to be the assistant novice mistress. Therese was patient and persevering with the novices in her charge. She was gentle with their natural faults, but never tolerated laziness or excuses. She taught them that God was merciful. If they learned to trust Him completely, she said, they could go straight to Heaven, even if they had some sins of weakness that they were unable to overcome.

Her final illness

On the night after Holy Thursday prayers in 1896, Therese coughed up blood. This was the first clear sign she had tuberculosis. For the next year she hid her illness, continuing to work and pray with the other nuns. At last she opened up to the infirmarian. She was soon relieved of her chores and moved to the infirmary.

She suffered all through the summer of 1897. More than once the doctor declared she would not last through the night. But each time she rallied. Meanwhile, between coughing fits and excruciating pains, she joked with her sisters and the other nuns who visited her. She did her best to comfort them. They wrote down everything she said about her Little Way of Spiritual Childhood. These notes, added to the manuscript Story of a Soul that her superiors had ordered her to write, would later tell the world about God’s goodness and love.

Therese died on September 30, after an agony that lasted for hours. She told her sisters that she would continue working to save souls after her death. “I want to spend my Heaven doing good on earth,” she said. “I will send down a shower of roses.” It wasn’t long before reports of miracles due to her intercession began pouring in to the convent.

Happy feast of St. Therese! May you remain a little child before Our Lord always.

Connie Rossini

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How to suffer like a Christian

Tragic Situations


Suffering. Ever since the Fall of Adam, it’s an unavoidable part of life. We suffer daily in little ways. The alarm clock rings too early. We spill coffee all over our work clothes. The kids are disobedient. We get stuck in traffic. These little things are a reminder that all is not right with the world. Something is out of whack. We have lost the close connection with God we were meant to have.

When we face small trials, we have an opportunity to grow in trust and love.  We can offer our disappointments and dislikes to God in love, asking Him to use them to bring others to Him. We can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” praying that He helps us to accept His sovereignty over our day. Because after all, we were never meant to be in charge of our life. These gentle reminders of that fact can help us reorient ourselves towards God. (As an aside, I am experiencing a little annoyance right now from my kids. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to put into practice what I am preaching!)

What about tragedies?

Every day on FaceBook, someone asks me for prayers. Sometimes, a loved one is seriously ill. Other times, a FaceBook friend faces clinical depression. Prayers for difficult pregnancies and comfort while burying infants or dealing with miscarriage are common.

How should a Christian face tragic suffering?

Sometimes we have the idea that being a Christian means being a stoic. We try to act like everything is okay. We think that sorrow itself is ungodly. We think an aversion to suffering shows a lack of trust.

Here is a quote about St. Therese from my book:

“Therese was not afraid to be weak, even in her sorrow. She saw no shame in admitting that she was grieving and suffering. ‘Therese reread what Father Pichon had taught during the retreat [before Marie’s profession] in 1887. To suffer according to the heart of God, one need not suffer with courage like a hero. It is enough to suffer as Jesus did at Gethsemane’ ” (Therese and Lisieux, Pierre Descouvement, 148).

How did Jesus suffer in Gethsemane? He sweated blood. He repeatedly begged God to remove His suffering. He asked for others to be near Him and pray. And He said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We can’t escape suffering. Although it is natural to desire to, because man was created for joy, not grief, running away from suffering is running away from the Cross of Christ.

So, go ahead and cry. Pray your heart out. Ask others to pray with you. Beg God to help you. Don’t wallow in your suffering, making it, rather than God, the focus of your life. But don’t worry about being a hero. Your life is difficult enough already.

Pray, “Your will be done.” Accept your suffering, if God does not remove it. Accept the death of someone or something that you loved. And cling to true hope of resurrection.

Connie Rossini


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Spiritual reading (and writing) can help keep you on track

File:16th-century painters - Folios from the Mayer van den Bergh Breviary - WGA15811.jpg
Folios from the Mayer van den Bergh Breviary (Wikimedia Commons).


I like to say that almost everything I know came from a book. That’s true even in the spiritual life. Spiritual reading gives me the knowledge I need to do God’s will.

Of course, after I read advice from the Bible, the lives of the saints, or other spiritual works, I have to ingest it. I learn by experience how it applies to me. But I’d be more or less ignorant of the spiritual life if I never read about it.

Writing about spiritual matters also keeps me focused on truth. Having thought about trust so much over the past fifteen months, especially while writing blog posts and my upcoming book, I find it easy to think about God throughout the day.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do His will. I’ve been struggling in various ways this week. Ironically, my own written words help me let go of my fears and frustrations and trust in God.

Here are some of my favorite spiritual books from past posts:

Take time to read spiritual books regularly, especially the Bible. And if you really want to dig deeply into a spiritual subject, write about it–even just for yourself.

Connie Rossini