Category Archives: Gift Guide

Birthday Giveaway!

 

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Sitting in my room is a box.  Inside this box are several copies of my book, Letters From A Young Catholic.  I ordered these copies with the specific intention of giving them away—to friends, to random passersby, basically to anyone I thought might be interested in reading a letter (or 50) from a young Catholic.

Since today is my 24th birthday and since that box is still sitting in my room with some remaining copies to giveaway, I thought I’d take the opportunity for a special birthday giveaway!

Here’s how it’ll work:

Share your favorite post from this blog and tag me when you do so.  Facebook it, Tweet it, or Pin it.  If you’re one of the first 15 people to do so, I’ll contact you for your mailing address and send you a copy of Letters From A Young Catholic—for free!  

Be sure you’re following me on whichever platform you decide to share from, otherwise I won’t be able to contact you! (scroll up and look on the righthand side of this page to find my Follow links).

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If you’re having trouble coming up with a favorite post, here are links to some of mine:

lovemarriage

A Love Letter to the Fallen Away

Why I Don't Post Bikini Pics on FB

Why True Love Doesn't Always Wait

How To Be Happy For Others

 

Love, Marriage, & The Catholic Church
A Love Letter to the Fallen Away
4 Reasons to Re-Think Posting Bikini Pics on Social Media
Why True Love Doesn’t Always Wait
How to be Happy for Other People (in 4 easy steps!)
…Or pick your own!

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5 Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for Young Catholics

Looking for some gift ideas for your Catholic friends who you already gave rosaries to last year?  I’ve got some ideas!

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(1) Letters From A Young Catholic
If you like this blog, why not give it away for Christmas?  I wrote a book this year compiling what I think are my best posts so far, and—I know I’m somewhat biased—but I think it would make a pretty decent Christmas present for a fellow young Catholic.

Book Cover

Like this blog, Letters From A Young Catholic is all about how young people can live out the Catholic faith in the world today.  Everything from prayer life to dating to friendship is covered, and it’s all written from the perspective of me, an early twenty-something Catholic.

You can check it out on Amazon.com, or it’s eStore.

(2) Patron Saint Figurine with Personal Letter francis
Maybe it’s because a small part of me misses getting actual toys for Christmas, but I think small desktop figurines of saints are just the coolest.  Plus, at around $20, it’s not usually a super expensive gift.  Small statues are great either for your nightstand or on a desk at work or in a dorm room.  It’s sort of like having a picture of your friend, and it’s a cool way to remind yourself of your ultimate goal—to be worshipping God with all of the saints for eternity in Heaven.

Add a personal letter and you’ve got thoughtful, practical, and (I think) unique in one gift.

[With this gift you can either go with a saint that you know the recipient has a devotion to, or maybe one that you think the recipient would “get along with” so to speak.  The letter in that case could explain the qualities of the saint that you think the recipient would appreciate or resonate with.]

(3) CatholicMatch.com Membership (But seriously!)
Look, some may laugh, but the vast majority of young single Catholics are looking for their spouse.  And CatholicMatch is one way that many young Catholics have found that person.

Of course, tread wisely with this one.  DO NOT give this to anyone with whom you’ve never spoken with about his or her feelings towards online dating.  DO NOT give this to someone who has not, within the past month, given you explicit reason to know they’d be excited about receiving such a gift.  Basically, only get this for your closest friend in the world who you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, will be excited about it and not the least bit offended.  Seriously.  You could ruin someone’s Christmas if you give this to the wrong person.  So use some common sense 🙂

(4) Register A Friend For a Retreat
I’ve been trying to go on the same Ignatian Silent Retreat since I was in high school. Inevitably, something comes up and I can’t go.  Plus, it costs money!

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So here’s an idea: Foot the bill for a retreat for a friend.  Give them a planner opened to the dates of the retreat and have it marked up as booked (extra points if you’re artsy and can draw cute little retreat-looking pictures to fill in the dates).  If the retreat has brochure-like materials, give them those, too.

**If you can’t afford the whole retreat cost, you could still give away the marked-up planner, and perhaps a Mason Jar labeled: “Retreat Fund.”  Put whatever you can afford in the jar ($10, $20, $50—whatever), and attach a note saying, “I got the ball rolling. I’ll help you find the remaining $$$.” savings

(FYI: If you’re looking for a young adult retreat, 242 Revolution Ministries is hosting one  in Southern California January 3-5.  Registration is open now.  It will be a great chance not only to meet other cool 18-25 year olds, but most especially to encounter Christ and grow in deeper relationship with Him.)

(5) Prayer Journal with Personal Note
Like the saint figurine but even more cost-effective.  I love writing letters to God and have gone through a handful of prayer journals in my life.  What’s a prayer journal?  It’s basically just a journal, except instead of addressing a book you’re addressing a person—the Living God.  It’s a place to give God your struggles, your joys, your doubts, and your longings.

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So buy a cool looking journal and write a note in the first pages explaining what it’s for. (Bonus: buy coffee and a mug to go with it.  Who doesn’t like journaling while sipping coffee?)

[A variation of this gift: Prayer Journals are somewhat commonplace.  What may be less common is a journal intended for your future spouse.  This might make a cool gift for a close girl-friend given with a copy of Katie Hartfiel’s Woman In Love]

 

…If all else fails, buy candy. 🙂

Good luck!

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Logos Bible Software: AKA – Your Next Birthday Present

Quick!  What’s 2 Timothy 3:16-17??

If we were catering to Catholic stereotypes on this blog (which, of course, we’re not), then we’d conclude that most of you probably couldn’t answer that question because, as everyone knows, us Catholics don’t know our Bibles.  But I don’t like stereotypes.  And, as a student of Biblical Theology (who happens to be Catholic), I particularly do not like this stereotype.

Which is why today’s post is dedicated to Sacred Scripture, to encourage you to dive into the Word, and to tell you about an amazing software program to help you do just that: Logos Bible Software.

Logos Bible Software is a powerful tool available for anyone interested in studying the Bible.  Think Google, only exclusively for Bible Study.  Say you went to mass today, and you wanted to go deeper behind the text of the Gospel (Mark 7:1-13).  All you would need to do is open up Logos, type in the chapter and verse, and within seconds you’d be able to read what Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote about the passage, you’d be able to do a side-by-side comparison of this passage across different translations, as well as see the parallel verses throughout Scripture—and much more.

 

Why is it important to study the Bible in this way?  Besides the fact of it just being flat-out incredible to have all of these resources at your fingertips, this is actually how the Church encourages us to approach Sacred Scripture.  Catholic Bible Study 101: the Church lays out three guides, as it were, for reading the Bible.  They are:

  1. Pay attention to the Content and Unity of the whole Scripture
    (The Bible, though a collection of many books, is also one story–the story of Salvation History.  It’s meant to be read as such.)
  2. Read Scripture in light of the Living Tradition of the whole Church
    (Scripture itself is a result of Tradition.  We don’t understand it fully until we read it as being apart of that Tradition)
  3. Be attentive to the Analogy of Faith 
    (Scripture cannot, and does not, contradict the doctrines of our Catholic Faith)

Logos makes it easier for the faithful Catholic to read Scripture the way it is meant to be read, with these three guidelines in mind.  Not that this software is strictly a Catholic program—it’s not.  But it makes available many of the vast resources of the Tradition so that Catholics can read them side-by-side the verse or passage in question with just the click of a button (minimal digging required).  You have at your fingertips commentaries from the Early Christians on the Scriptures, as well as Church documents.  At the same time, if you want to go back to the basics and study the Bible in its original languages and compare different translations (as the Church has also encouraged the faithful to do), Logos allows you to do that, too.  You don’t even have to know the original languages, because Logos does all of the legwork for you.

And of course, as the generation whose iPhones and iPads are constantly glued to our hands, the software perfectly syncs across your laptop, iPad, and iPhone apps, so whatever you do in Logos on your computer, you open it up to the same place on your iPhone (and vise-versa).

As a student of Biblical Theology, Logos is incredibly helpful to me.  If I’m researching for a paper, I can type the passage, or a keyword or phrase, into the search bar and, in seconds, I am knee-deep in relevant sources that will help in writing my paper (my very own digital research assistant!).  It is also incredibly helpful that I can copy and paste into a Word document and Logos will automatically add the footnote citation for me (doing the citations/bibliography of a paper used to take me an extra hour or two because I’d put off actually typing out the longhand of the footnotes until the end).

There are a number of packages available, and you can find the one that is right for you at Logos.com.  I would particularly recommend this software to any of my readers who attend Catholic universities, or to homeschooling families.  It’s an investment that you won’t regret because it saves time, shelf-space, and money in the long run.  However no matter your background, profession, or field of study, I would recommend Logos because as Catholics, we are all called to study the Bible.  As Saint Jerome has said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.

16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:16-17
(for those of you dying to know the answer to my pop-quiz)

 

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Lukewarm Young Catholic

This post is for all of you mothers, aunts, grandfathers, or loving friends of young (albeit selectively practicing) Catholics.  In addition to getting them those new shoes, or whatever it is they may have wanted, this year, try one of these gifts to remind them of the family they will always belong to in the Catholic Church—no matter their doubts or shortcomings.

A Wall Crucifix
Every young person should have a crucifix hanging in his or her room.  It serves as both a constant reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, and as an invitation to prayer and mediation each time the recipient of this gifts looks at it.  Be sure to have it blessed by a priest before giving it to them.  Bonus: If you are shopping for your son, daughter, brother or sister, they really have no choice but to hang it up (since you’ll obviously see whether they do or not).  Nothing wrong with a little Catholic guilt every now and then 🙂

A Rosary with Special Significance
God knows that we are physical beings as well as spiritual.  Sometimes we need the shiny, pretty, or “cool” material things to bring us to the deeper spiritual significance that we truly long for.  This is why a rosary is often a great gift for the young person in your life who may not know or be so into his or her faith.  Make sure it’s not just any generic rosary, though.  It has to be special and specific to them.  Make one yourself (or pick out the beads you want and find someone who can make it for you).  Again, make sure to have it blessed by a priest and to include a short, clear, guide on how to pray the rosary with it as well.

A Small, Leather-Bound Bible
Today’s young person is constantly on the go.  A compact, portable Bible is a must.  I recommend the Ignatius Catholic Bible – RSV that you can find on Amazon.  It is small and zips up.  Perfect for fitting inside of a backpack, keeping in the car, taking to the beach, or for pretty much anywhere.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Why buy a Catechism for a lukewarm Catholic?  Because it likely answers almost every question or doubt they have about the faith.  Sure, at first it may be little more than a paperweight to them—but at least it is their paperweight.  If you want to give the young person in your life some ownership of the faith into which they were baptized: buy them their own Catechism.

The young person on your heart already have all of these items?  Great!  Stop worrying so much and just continue praying for him or her.  No amount of wall crucifixes or pages memorized out of the Catechism will ever amount to what God’s grace can do as a result of your prayers.