ExCo Recs: Catholic podcasts

Looking for some cool podcasts to listen to? Check out these podcasts recommended by this year’s ExCo!

Fr. Mike Schmitz podcast - Fr. Mike's popular Ascension Presents video series in audio form

Ascension Presents Podcasts - A collection of podcast series by Ascension Presents

Pints with Aquinas - Matt Fradd hosts this podcast series based on questions that St. Thomas addresses in his most famous work, The Summa Theologica.

The Lila Rose Show - A new podcast by pro-life activist Lila Rose, which explores questions about relationships, work, health, identity, purpose, and faith.

Learn more about Catholicism:
Catholic Stuff You Should Know | Spotify
Catholic Answers Live | Spotify
The Word on Fire | Spotify

For the guys:
The Catholic Man Show | Spotify
Those Catholic Men | Spotify

For the ladies:
The Catholic Feminist
Girlfriends (A Podcast for Catholic Women)

From America Media:
Jesuitical | Spotify
Deliver Us | Spotify
Inside the Vatican | Spotify

Spiritual Batteries | Apple Podcasts

ExCo Recs: Spiritual Reading

Looking for spiritual reading during Lent? Here’s a list of spiritual reading book recommendations from some of your 2019 ExCo team.

Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe
“I read this book last Lent (2018) and it gave me such a great perspective on what it means to gain inner peace in our lives. It also just helped me center my everyday life on God, and it definitely was a good experience reading this to start my day every morning.” - Lucia, Co-overall

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
“We know what makes us happy, but we don’t always do what makes us happy. Resistance stands between you and happiness, but how do you start choosing happiness again? Through his short, interesting stories, Matthew Kelly helps us recognize resistance and how to conquer resistance to become the-best-version-of-yourself!” - Cecilia, Fundraising

Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe
"This is a short book with a lot of deep insights — if you are dealing with difficult circumstances, this book focuses on the virtue of hope and and offers spiritual guidance to finding peace in a chaotic world." - Melissa, Web Designer

YouCat - Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church by Christoph Schönborn
“This is a great book for those who are trying to identify themselves as a youth Catholic in the modern society we are in right now. Question-answer format, and easy to follow. Definitely a book I would recommend if you have a lot of questions about your faith, or in Catholicism in general.” - Osanna, Promotions

Life Lessons - Fifty Things I learned in in My First Fifty Years by Patrick Madrid
“Has short stories that takes 10-15 minutes to read and I find them to help me see the bigger picture in different scenarios. “Life Lessons is a practical invitation to prayerful reflection on God’s active presence in our lives, especially when and where we least expect to find him!” - Jennifer Fulwiler” - Mark, Operations

Availability by Dr. Robert J. Wicks
“In this book, Dr. Wicks (a psychotherapist and Catholic speaker) talks about what it means to make ourselves available to ourselves, other people, and God. I love how applicable this book is to our daily interactions with anyone in our lives, and I especially appreciate the message he conveys about how to truly be present and love others according to the Christian lifestyle.” - Lucia, Co-overall

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
“A natural follow up to his more renowned Mere Christianity, here C.S. Lewis tackles moral ethics and the dilemma of evil and suffering - a universal and fundamental concern - with all of his customary eloquence, insight, compassion, and wit. Lewis has a wonderful gift of breaking down the complex into the comprehensible without losing much nuance, which makes this a nice primer to basic philosophy and ‘popular theology.’” - Jonathan, Small Group Leaders Lead

Becoming Human by Jean Vanier
“Jean Vanier founded L’Arche, an organization that is dedicated to the creation of homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers and friends. His book is a small and powerful read that explores what it means to be human, what it means to belong, and what it means to open ourselves to others. Top off your reading experience by visiting a L’Arche home near you!” - Helen, Fundraising

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Cardinal John Henry Newman
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.” - Genesia, Designer

New to spiritual reading and don’t know where to start? Get free books from Dynamic Catholic - choose whatever sticks out to you!

Side note: You can use Amazon Smile ( to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. Consider supporting nonprofits by our very own CACCLC campers, like Rosemary’s nonprofit Empathy FX International and Kelly’s nonprofit See The Lord!

What should I give up for Lent?

Every year, Lent seems to sneak up on me…one week we’re wishing each other “Happy Chinese New Year!” and all of a sudden Ash Wednesday rolls around and I find myself in an internal frenzy trying to decide exactly what to do for Lent. This season of penance is a great opportunity to make more room for God in our lives, as we prepare to remember and celebrate the greatest mysteries of our faith: the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

There’s no one “right” way to do Lent, and it’s going to look different for everyone. This is your chance to take a reflect on the areas where you personally struggle, and turn away from sin and towards Jesus through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Here are some basic ideas for each of the pillars of Lent; try choosing one thing from each pillar! Choose Lenten practices that would ultimately draw you closer to our Lord and prepare your heart for Holy Week.


  • Follow along with a Lenten devotional like the one from Blessed Is She

  • Follow along with Lent reflections via email

  • Reflect on the daily Gospel reading

  • Go to daily Mass an extra day or two outside of Sunday

  • Pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet

  • Pray the Examen at the end of your day

  • Go to Holy Hour or Stations of the Cross

  • Do 10 minutes of spiritual reading each day

  • Lectio Divina

  • Add dedicated quiet time to your schedule each day

  • Start journaling

  • Pray specifically for a different person in your life each day


  • Fast from social media like Facebook/Instagram, or set a time limit on those apps

  • Fast from Netflix

  • Fast from all media including TV, music, and podcasts

  • Fast from your snooze button

  • Abstain from alcohol

  • Abstain from soda/sweet drinks

  • Abstain from meat on an additional day like Wednesday

  • Limit your shower time

  • Limit your phone use at night

  • Fast from filling in silence with music

  • Fast from music with inappropriate/suggestive lyrics

  • Fast from unnecessary purchases

  • Fast from overstuffing your calendar

  • Give up flaking and follow through on your commitments

  • Give up overworking and abstain from checking your work email after hours

  • Give up speeding

  • Give up online shopping


  • Donate to a charity each week

  • Serve at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen

  • Greet the homeless when you see them

  • Spend time with those who are lonely or forgotten

  • Set aside money saved from not buying unnecessary things and donate it at the end to Catholic Charities or another charity

  • Write an affirmation note for someone each day of Lent

  • Write down 3 things you’re thankful for at the end of each day

  • Show an act of kindness to your family or roommates each day

  • Participate in the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge and give up your stuff

  • Give your time and participate in 40 Days for Life

Still need ideas for what to give up and take up?

One word of advice: Make it doable. Often, we can be overly ambitious and commit to way too much. We start with the best of intentions, aiming to become the ultimate spiritual ninja…but when we inevitably can’t keep up, we grow discouraged. When we set unrealistic goals, we may be tempted to give up completely. Keep your commitments modest and practical, and your Lent will be better for it!

Again, Lent is not about getting it perfectly right. Just do your best, and when you fail in your commitments, let your failure be a lesson in humility and just get up and try again the next day. Ask the Holy Spirit how He wants to make you more like Jesus, and then follow that prompting in your Lenten practices.

Fr. Jim's Suggested Reading List

As promised, here are the books that our CACCLC 2018 Spiritual Director recommended in the “Head” talk:

  1. Michael Cameron, Unfolding Sacred Scripture: How Catholics Read the Bible (Liturgical Press, 2015). An accessible introduction that reflections the rich Catholic approach to understanding the Scriptures.

  2. Donald Nicholl, Holiness (Pauline Books and Media, 2005). An introduction to the Catholic spiritual life in conversation with Judaism and Islam.

  3. Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality (Image Book NY, 2014). Another excellent description of growth in the spiritual life.

  4. René Laurentin, Mary in Scripture, Liturgy, and the Catholic Tradition (Paulist Press, 2014). By the dean of Mariology who influenced the thinking at Vatican II, this is a great introduction to the role of Mary in the life of the Church and individuals. Also on Mary: Sr. Beth Johnson, Truly our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints (Continuum, 2002), by a leading feminist orthodox Catholic theologian.

  5. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (many editions and dates). A series of radio talks given over the BBC during WWII; a classic. Also, read his The Great Divorce and Screwtape Letters. The Great Divorce describes people in hell who get a second chance through friends in heaven, and Screwtape Letters are a series of fictional correspondence to a young devil on how best to tempt people to sin.

  6. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation (Templegate Publishers, 1999).  A rich interpretation of every Christian’s call, including those thinking of religious life.

  7. David Matzko McCarthy, ed., The Heart of Catholic Social Teaching: Its Origins and Contemporary Significance (Brazos Press, 2009). A good introduction.

  8. Cardinal Ratzinger, Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief (Ignatius Press, 2006). Some excellent essays in this short book. Also, by Ratzinger, a classic, Introduction to Christianity (Ignatius Press, 2004).

  9. Simone Weil, Waiting on God (Collins, 1950). An extraordinary collection of essays written by a brilliant Jewish thinker who died at a young age during WWII.

  10. Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books, 2014), an exploration by a gifted Hindu American physician on the challenges people in the medical profession face. Also, in a similar vein, Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (Random House, 2016), written by a young gifted neuroscientist who faces a terminal illness.

  11. John O’Malley, S.J., What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard, 2008). The best introduction to the significance of Vatican II. Also, his collection of essays, Catholic History for Today’s Church: How our Past Illuminates our Present (Sheed and Ward, 2015). Superb.