Novena to the Holy Spirit Begins Today!

Santa Maria della Visitazione in Venice, “The miracle of Pentecost” by Padovanino, visible behind the main altar. Wikicommons

Lovingly called the ‘original’ novena, we will pray as the Blessed Mother and apostles did,

“When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:13-14)

No upper room is required as your living room, bedroom, or outside on the front porch will do just fine.

We all know we need another outpouring of the Holy Spirit – we need healing, direction and grace. And for many of us, we are praying especially that Pentecost will be our return to CHURCH!

Check out:


How are you doing?

Are you doing okay? I just wanted to send some love your way. What we are going through is unprecedented but our God is greater than any fear, anxiety or uncertainty.

There are so many resources out there to help you with family life, homeschooling (we are all homeschoolers now!), and our Catholic faith that I don’t want to add too much to your list but I did want to share just two things that have made life a bit easier at my house. For all of us, we found:

My family has ‘traveled’ to Mass on the Isle of Man, at the Shrine of Knock, Ireland, the Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton right here in Maryland, the Church of St. Joseph in Abu, Dabai, United Arab Emirates (!!) to name just a few. I’ve taken all of you and your intentions with us and we’re keeping track of all the places we go on a list as well as with stickers on our world and USA maps (yes, I’m a nerdy homeschooler with maps hung in our ‘office space’). It is really cool to see lovely churches around the world and hearing Mass said with different accents. The only downside is that you might hear homilies better than you’ll ever hear at your own parish 🙂

And we’ve gotten great words of comfort, encouragement and instruction from Ascension Presents through such recent offerings as this:

Last week, I finally gave in to the repeated request from my kids (one of whom is over 20 but loves a good puzzle) and allowed a card table to occupy the center of our living room. This was #3 and we’re on #4 –

And I’ve been crocheting again:

In other words, we’re doing much of what we’ve always done such as homeschooling, going to Mass and family prayer BUT we’ve also be open to what these look like under isolation as well as adding a few new things. This actually has been an unexpected opportunity to allow God to step into our lives in new and unexpected ways.

What’s up in your home?

A Holy Week On-line Retreat for your older kids (and you!)

If you are looking for a something new & exciting your older kids (and you) this Holy Week, consider checking out what Camp Veritas is offering. They are offering what they hope will be The Best Holy Week ever with help from the CFR (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) and others.

Here’ is the welcome letter –


We at Camp Veritas know what a tough time this is for everyone. Amid the uncertainty and fear we want to offer some hope and support. We know that there are many virtual resources being developed; yet we felt it important to offer some familiar faces with pertinent content to walk alongside you all during Holy Week and so…

We are hosting our first ever virtual Holy Week retreat! It is geared towards our Camp Veritas and Fearless Teens and their families. The retreat will consist of 2 bite-sized talks each day and an invitation to pray various devotions as a family (with resources offered for support).

Presenters will include: Fr. Columba and some of his CFR brothers, Fr. Joseph Gill, Fr. Jeffrey Maurer and more! They will create connections between the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ with the concrete realities we are faced with right here and now!

If you would like to receive emails each day with direct links to the talks please fill out this form

You do not have to sign up to participate in the retreat, this is only if you want to receive a daily email throughout it!

You can directly access the talks each day of Holy Week, starting on Wed Apr 8th, from any of our websites and social media platforms. We ask that everyone who participates subscribe to our (Camp Veritas) YouTube channel – – this will help us potentially be able to Live Stream there and help you stay better connected.

Our prayers for all of you during this unique Holy Week, we invite you (even if you don’t participate in the retreat) to find ways to connect with our Lord during the commemoration of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

God Bless,

Your Camp Veritas Team

Remembering Pope St. John Paul II

Today is the 15th anniversary of his death. Was there ever a more beloved pope in modern times?

My family was traveling to Tallahassee, FL for a family reunion when we heard the news. Our 15 passenger was full of kids, I was pregnant with Grace (#9) and I remember so clearly hearing the coverage his death received on every radio station – Christian, secular and even country music stations! The weather was iffy that day on the East Coast with gray skies and storm warnings; it seemed so perfectly poignant to be saying a Rosary for his soul watching lightning in the distance.

With those memories so clear in my mind, I am so happy to announce – – –

CAMP 2020 – Honoring & Remembering Pope St. John Paul II

While we (Joan and I) will not be attending any regional camps, we know some are being planned and hope you might be inspired to host one. With that in mind, we will be providing you with badge suggestions, craft & game ideas and more. Real content you can use to give your own club or just your own family a day or two of faith and fun.

Lovingly known as St. John Paul the Great, he continues to inspire us and pray for us. We will remembering thru his 100th birthday, recall his long papacy (2nd longest), his many accomplishments, the 15th Anniversary (d. April 3, 2005) and much more!

A quick look at St. JPII reveals:

-He made trips to 129 countries travelling more than 1,100,000 kilometres or 29x around the world!

-First pope to visit the White House.

-First pope to visit Cuba.

-The most widely traveled pope in history.

-Canonized more saints than any other pope.

-Created 232 cardinals.

He was a playwright, poet, outdoorsman and passionate for the mission of Jesus Christ and our Church.

He reminded us at all times – Be Not Afraid! This important aspect of our faith is even more important during these difficult days, so asking him to come camp with us this summer seems just perfect.

Be on the lookout for more information following Holy Week! 

Some JOY! for your day

If the confinement is getting to you and your family – may I suggest you take some time to go visit:

King and Country is a band name of a pair of Aussie brothers, Joel & Luke, who sing some powerful Christian music. Their sister is Rebecca St. James whose music you may also know.

You might not be able to spend the whole 45+ minutes with them, but the first song they do is their powerful “Joy”. It really lifted my spirits. May it do the same to yours!

Prayers from Maryland to all of you!

Happy Saturday! Here’s an easy craft idea for your family or club!

With all this time with our families, and clubs not meeting due to virus concerns, are your kids feeling out of sorts? And how many of you have embroidery floss in a pile at your home? Like this ->>>>>

In the midst of all this ‘staying at home’, my older son got really bored and wanted to do something creative but low-key.

He discovered the method of making friendship bracelets with a ‘jellyfish loom’ or kumihimo loom made from cardboard (he used a cereal box).

Ours measures 4 inches in diameter, with 8 notches, 1/2 inch deep made at equal distance apart – think pizza slices! Make a center hole – be careful and help your little ones.

You then need 7 pieces of floss which we measured to 18 inches. All the same color, or two colors or 8!

You join the 7 strands together with a knot and press the strands through the center hole. You place one strand in each notch, leaving one notch empty. You then begin weaving.

I am not good at describing that process so watch the video below:

Here’s three of our wheels in action!

During one recent evening we had four of us working at the same time, comparing colors and results.

They are really easy to make, much easier than learning of the braiding methods, especially for younger kids. They take less than an hour (my daughter made one in under 1/2 hour going really, really fast just to see if she could).

Consider giving it a try! The results are pretty, your floss stash is cleared out and your kids (and yourself) had some low-key fun.

If you want to be really adventurous there are youtube tutorials on making square looms (!), working with 16 strands (!) and more!

Pray with the Pope today

From – “Join Pope Francis in prayer and receive his extraordinary “Urbi et orbi” blessing and plenary indulgence on Friday at 6pm Rome time.”

It will be available on EWTN, the Vatican’s YouTube page as well as through the Vatican News site.

Please spread the news, this is a powerful time to pray together as a universal Church for relief and healing from the virus as well as gain a much needed plenary indulgence in a time when we are deprived of the sacraments.

Catholic Virtual Virtue Club

In Need of Virtue?

 I don’t know about your household, but we have everyone home from school and work right now and we all need a little bit of practice in one virtue or another!

Whether you have always been a part of the Little Flowers Girls’ Club® and Blue Knights Boys’ Club family or just getting to know us, we want to help your families practice virtue by giving you a free taste of our new program, The Little Way–a Catholic Virtue of the Month Program for Catholic Schools and Religious Ed programs.

We will send out FREE to anyone who signs up through this page (or link below) the pages from The Little Way Student Activity Book for April and May. The activities are varied and fun and take only 5-15 minutes a day. Each week has five different activities perfect for grades K-5 focusing on virtue, scripture, saint’s lives and practical application of the virtue.

Participants can take a photo or video of the completed pages, an activity they’ve completed or the recommended craft and post it on social media with #virtualvirtueclub (or send via email) and receive a free virtue button, and a discount coupon in the mail in return. (plus a secret gift!!)

If you are a Little Flower Girls’ Club or Blue Knights Leader, Catholic school teacher or parent, please send the link below to your club participants, students or children so each one gets to participate. The Little Way Student Activity Book pages will be delivered to their in-box on April 1st and May 1st. If you, or any of the parents, would like to receive the Teacher’s Curriculum Guide for those two months, please send and email to: and it will be sent to you.

Bless you all! Stay healthy and safe!
Joan and Joe Stromberg
Behold Publications, LLC

Virtual Virtue Club Sign Up!

Virtual Virtue Club

Are you making it to church?

Views of Charlestown, New Hampshire
Smithsonian Archives

While we can’t physically be with Jesus due to the current crisis, the site below has been real proof that God can make good out of any situation.

Through this site (and other locations), my family has ‘attended’ daily Mass in Alabama (EWTN), Bishop Barron’s private chapel (thru youtube), the Catholic Information Center, in Washington, DC run by Opus Dei (which they say is the closest tabernacle to Congress).

But we’ve also seen the beautiful St. Mary of the Isle Parish on Isle of Man (!!!). We’re thinking of heading to Knock, Ireland tomorrow morning.

In other words, through this site, youtube and facebook you can be a real part of our universal church. It is both encouraging and edifying to realize there are masses offered almost every 15 minutes around the USA and the world!

Another blessing we have discovered is:

I never even knew this prayer existed! Together with the Spiritual Communion which all the priests (sites) have included and the St. Michael Prayer at the end, our family has been feeling much less isolated.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Felice Giani, Italian, 1758–1823, Smithsonian,

What a day, what a time for us to try to remember Mary and the challenges she faced the moment Gabriel appeared. Her life would never be the same; and at this moment in time, ours is not as well.

She faced the worries of Joseph, perhaps the looks of those in her town and the wonder what birth of the Savior might even look like in a few months time.

For us it is isolation, deprivation from the Sacraments and what will Easter look like in a few weeks time.

‘How can this be?’, we ask, demand and shout into our pillows, at our spouses, at God.

But here we are, in our homes as she was in hers, with an opportunity to repeat her own words, “May it done to me according to your word.”