As members of the Body of Christ, we are all in this together. Thus, “if one part is honored, all parts share its joy (1 Corinthians 12: 26).” Last week I had the privilege of receiving recognition as one of the recent recipients of the newly circulating Liebster Blog Award. This award is bestowed upon small blogs; those with 200 or less registered followers (trust me, I qualify on that point). To merit this award, recipient blogs are to reflect a certain je ne sais pas: a unique, endearing and beloved (Liebster) quality.
I am always checking for new posts on my dear friend Anne Bender’s blog, Imprisoned in My Bones. I was flabbergasted (and delighted) to read that she had bestowed Liebster Award on Salve Sancta Mater Dei, mentioning also my son Kenny’s blog: God Alone Sufficeth. Anne and I share the unique privilege of mothering sons who aspire to the priesthood. The joys and challenges involved in preparing them to discern and answer God’s call (whether it ultimately be to the priesthood, or to married or single life) are many. Our friendship has blossomed as we rejoice (and commiserate) over the many facets of our God-given vocation.
Anne is rock solid Catholic; a formidable woman of heart. She is Mom to five terrific children, and an aspirant to the Oblates of the Precious Blood. Anne brings Christ’s love to so many, not only through her blog, but also through her work as a certified nutritionist/WIC counselor, and through her work initiating the Roses for Our Lady organization. Imprisoned in My Bones has been an inspiration to me! Anne’s sincere, well-written and witty style is itself endearing. Without her encouragement, I would not have had the gumption to initiate Salve Mater Dei. Thus, I am grateful both for her mentoring and the Liebster Award.
The purpose of the Liebster Award is to recognize noteworthy small blogs, and augment the process of having good readers stumble upon them, identify the nuggets they contain and thereby increase the visibility of these budding sites. The requirement of the Liebster Award is that the recipient is to pass the award on to five blogs they love (including links), in hopes that others will likewise recognize their inspirational value. As this award was bestowed in essence on both Kenny and I, we have collaborated in identifying five terrific blogs we wish to honor.
The first blog we unanimously picked is: Writings of a Boy Discerning God’s Call. This blog is run by Anne Bender’s son, John. This was the first blog either Kenny or I stumbled upon, and the impetus for his (and our) venture into this form of evangelization. Nearly two years ago, when Kenny returned home from the St. Francis de Sales Seminary, “Is it I Lord?” Summer Camp with the enthusiastic request to initiate a vocations blog, I met him with an equally resounding “NO!” No adolescent of mine was going to have a presence on the Web. Not happening. No way. No negotiation. Ne dit jamais jamais. . . .
I must admit my technological ignorance, for at that point I didn’t even know what a blog was. It sounded like some take on Christmas dessert – you know, a yummy Yule cake-roll type of confection. Kenny was undaunted. He patiently showed me John’s outstanding blog, and demonstrated how John’s passion for Christ was subtly supporting his own priestly aspirations. Like Kenny, I became a frequent flyer on John’s blog. I enjoyed his depth, honesty and humor. Through his posts, I found Anne’s Imprisoned in My Bones. One good thing led to another. Over the months, I found myself softening my position with regard to Kenny’s request – especially when he’d announce that he hoped his blog would provide the seeds of his future homilies (words that melt a mom’s heart). It was John’s outstanding blog that propelled our efforts. Now, as John prepares to enter St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and encounters the challenges of rigorous psychological and academic testing we continue to watch in admiration and prayer. John Bender and his Writings of a Boy Discerning God’s Call continue to be an inspiration to us.
The second blog we chose to receive the Liebster Award is The Discalced Carmel – Called to the Royal Road of Prayer, run by Fr. Michael Berry, OCD. Fr. Michael Berry is the Vocations Director for the Discalced Carmelites of the Immaculate Heart Province. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of hearing one of Fr. Michael Berry’s homilies at Holy Hill Basilica, National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, knows the depth of his intellect and the fervor of his devotion. This dynamic, young Carmelite has an uncanny ability to distill the insights of Carmel, and make them accessible to the rest of us. I love his posts on St. Teresa of Avila, as well as his Easter homily. It has been a little while since Fr. Michael posted – like good strong coffee, I’m sure greatness must be brewing. Thus, he is the second recipient of the Liebster award.
It is interesting that three of the five recipients that Kenny and I chose have a role in vocations: one vocations director, and two young men discerning the priesthood. The third Liebster blog is: On With The Motley, by the Licensed Fool. Like the next two recipients, neither Kenny nor I have ever met this young man (who resides in England) however, we both enjoy following his road to Christ. LF began this blog as a journal to collect his personal thoughts as he discerned whether or not God was indeed calling him to the holy Priesthood. After several years of discerning, LF believes he is being called to the life of a Franciscan Friar. This blog reflects the many of same endearing qualities of the other recipients: faith, honesty, humor to name a few. Both Kenny and I thoroughly enjoy following On With the Motley, and hope you will as well.
The Sword of Peter is our fourth choice for recipient of the Liebster Award. This blog, by Jeff B. Harris is unlike any other, and we enjoy it! With the nature of his site, I presume Mr. Harris will have to waive the requirement to pass this award on to five other blogs. Surprisingly, this site does not contain a single cleverly written essay. Rather, every two weeks, Mr. Harris posts an outstanding Catholic cartoon. This is Catholic cultural satire at its finest! Mr. Harris is quite talented, and unabashedly bold about his pro-Catholic position. These cartoons are bound to offend some. They are neither for the faint-of-heart nor the RCINO’s (Roman Catholics in Name Only). Mr. Harris’s cartoons are equally humorous and hard-hitting; not to mention refreshingly politically incorrect. I wish this site were better known – hence the Liebster Award.
The final recipient of the Liebster Award is a site that I recently began to follow: Flos Domini. This site is run by a faith-filled young woman who is attending a state liberal arts college in Virginia. She is passionately faithful to the Magisterium, and candid about the challenges involved in living her faith in a secular, often pagan, college atmosphere. This well written blog is sincere and insightful. The author of Flos Domini deserves kudos and encouragement as she strives to live each day for Christ, and bring the Hope of His Light to her peers. This blog deserves the Liebster Award and the increased visibility that accompanies it.
We are all striving to give the greatest honor and glory God, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the source of every inspiration, the foundation of each effort, and the ultimate goal of all action.
Reflecting on the Reason for every breath we take, together may we pray:
may everything we do begin with Your inspiration
and continue with your saving help.
Let our work always find its origin in You,
And through You reach completion.
We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God , forever and ever. Amen. (Morning Prayer, The Divine Office)
Thanks again, Anne!
Blessings in Christ,
Ad Jesum per Mariam