Couriers of Grace: My Daughter, the Sacraments and a Surprising Walk of Faith by Nancy Jo Sullivan

Tangible, real signs of God’s love-

these are the children that God gives as gifts to the family.

Tangible, real signs of God’s love as well –

these are the seven sacraments of the Catholic Faith.

Any parent will tell you, as Nancy Jo Sullivan does, that children are our pathways to sanctity.  And inevitably, the ones who present us the most challenges, are the very ones who purify us the most— if we allow God make Himself known through them.

Similarly, for the body as well as the soul, Our Creator has instituted the seven sacraments and has found a way for us to receive His powerful presence in our lives.  At these special times, He intervenes with His grace.

And Nancy Jo Sullivan shows us how the two –

children and sacrament- are together, a great walk of faith.

In Couriers of Grace, My Daughter, the Sacraments, and a Surprising Walk of Faith, Sullivan weaves the beautiful story of her life as a mother, in and out of all seven sacraments.  Sullivan’s firstborn Sarah, is perhaps her greatest professor of love.  Unexpectedly born with Downs Syndrome, Sarah’s innocence and purity of heart, open up new pathways to hearing God speak, even if it means painful struggle and trial.

A lover of fairy tales and the glories of a Kingdom,  little Sarah, the Princess is baptized and saved.  Her mother recalls a near drowning experience of her own as a child, and is given a certain closure in her understanding of dying and rising to new life.

Little Sarah’s stuttering encouragement to “f-f-forgive” bring her mom back to confession, after spending years away. And even when families are broken, (Sullivan experiences a painful break up of her marriage) she sees how they still come together, to celebrate Mass week by week.  It is Sarah’s twirls down the communion aisle,  to receive her Bridegroom Prince that teaches Sullivan and her readers that we are indeed called to be bride!

As sacraments are received through the beauty of ordained priesthood, Sullivan embraces and also struggles with those whom God has chosen for this vocation.  In men who truly are the face of Christ to her in spiritual direction and who treat Sarah with incredible dignity as a person, she is able to reconcile conflicting feelings. Though the Church and even the priesthood itself is not immune from the diseases of sin, Christ is in our midst to heal us!   A lay worker in the Church’s vineyard herself, Sullivan comes to understand her call to “everyday priesthood” – to be priest, prophet and king, living the truth of Christ in her family and in her work.

And even through the painful loss of little Sarah, whose body was created to be here on earth just for a time, Sullivan is given an increase in grace, as God makes Himself known through the tears.  Sullivan witnesses Sarah’s fear of death dissipate as she becomes  certain that she is going to leave earth to see “her Prince”.    She blesses her mother’s forehead-  almost as an “anointing of the sick” for them both, and falls asleep peacefully….only weeks later to rest in peace for all time.

Tangible real signs of God’s love- our children and our Church in her sacraments.  Sullivan shares the beauty of her walk of faith, which comes from them both… and the lessons that emerged as she contemplated their depth.

This book is a gift to any parent raising children, especially in faithfulness to our promises to pass on the Catholic faith to their hearts.

So often we think they will be the only recipients

as we strive to make sure they are covered in the graces the sacraments offer.

But as so often happens in our relationship with God, He surprises us with His generosity and love.

We find we’re the ones who grow in knowledge of His power.

 We’re the ones who are doubly blessed!

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