Catholic Vitamin P: Plan


As you may have seen or heard already, our guest on this week’s Catholic Vitamins is a Catholic wife, mother and blogger: Cari Donaldson. She writes a blog quite often on this site:  and if you have sense of humor, you’ll enjoy this Erma Bombeck of the 21st century. You can also sign up to receive Cari’s columns regularly from her postings on Catholic Exchange:  

The lovely and charming Mrs. Bombeck… oh excuse… Ms. Cari is also found on Twitter @CariDonaldson . Oh – and if you want to see a picture (a little bit racy for this slightly older deacon) of Cari with a man — go to . I didn’t stop to ask if that was her husband in that picture? Being a Catholic show, I certainly hope so!

And speaking of the man in her life, Cari Donaldson stepped through the looking glass when she married her high school sweetheart in a Presbyterian ceremony back in 1999. Since then, she and her husband have found themselves the parents of six children, and on the corporate gypsy trail, with transfers moving them from the Midwest to the deep South to New England. The most startling developments however, have been the conversion to Catholicism in 2006, and the discovery that blogging provides an excellent creative outlet.

Cari graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in English, has a Masters Degree in Education from Marygrove College in Detroit, and taught 7th and 8th graders Language Arts and Social Studies for six years. She now homeschools her children, spending her days making sure they all know the difference between there, their, and they’re, because it would be really embarrassing for their mother if they didn’t.

A recent post on one of those sites had words from Cari about doing some sort of crazy up and down dance until the baby was born 🙂 I guess she’s ready to foal…

The time spent during our interview had a somewhat serious quest — to speak to the Silent Watcher, the Silent ‘Waiter’ — as in the One Who Waits for us to discover His PLAN for us. Tenderly, Cari led us on her journey to Truth and her conversion to Catholicism.

A part of our conversation included Cari introducing us to The Disciples of Jesus and Mary. That organization had a lot to do with Cari seeing God’s plan for her spiritual growth. And you can find them at

Here are some words from The Disciples welcome page:

Welcome to The Disciples of Jesus and Mary!

On behalf of the Disciples of Jesus and Mary (DJM) family, welcome and we pray that this visit be a blessed and grace filled one!

We live in a world, which is becoming more like a global village; yet there are many who feel lonely and alienated. There is a growing hunger in the hearts of many who desire to be holy but do not know how to. The formation program for “Disciples of Jesus and Mary” is open to all. “The road to holiness is hard and very few find it”; these are the words of Jesus. We are convinced that you are among the few who desire to be holy.

We invite you to join our family and go through this formation program for your own growth in holiness. We have no other agenda in offering you this formation. If you go to the order page you will find all the information you need. If you need to contact any of us please use the contact form. Thanks.

May the Mother of God, fill you with her wonder and praise; so that you too may see the great wonders the Lord is working in your life!

The formation has three parts, Prayer, Discernment and Discipleship. You journey through these stages at your own pace and once formed you are then ready to serve your local Church where you are.


Those who listen to us regularly know we have featured missionary segments from Marianna Bartholomew. From her Holy Week blog found at  we featured a poem and some writing from Marianna. It ties in so beautifully with our theme of God’s PLAN for us. He’s waiting to meet us when we recognize Him. He’s been there all along.

The Nature of Faith (By Marianna Bartholomew)

We shape our lives

by rebellion or acquiescence.

To rebel is to slingshot our identity into the netherworld

where questions stand thick and solid as skyscrapers.

To accept is to ascend the tallest bell tower

with an overview of the city.

Most of us transcend then fall

transcend then fall again

trodding the same worn plot

like a sentry guarding city gates.

Determined to defend what seems unattainable

we guard we know not what until, with faith,

we gain eternal entry.

And from Marianna’s blog column associated with the above:

“Rebellion can either serve or defeat, as can acquiescence. To rebel against status quo in seeking excellence or truth is a great thing. If society tells us to “fit in,” but also to set aside all that is moral or good, than obviously, we need to rebel against that pressure. 

Rebellion that sends us into the “netherworld”  is misdirected, often born of pride. To rebel, but then avoid a sincere search for truth, leads us to that existence “where questions stand thick and solid as skyscrapers.” 



Fine. We are all inclined to rebel now and then, an instinct born of human nature. But do we use this instinct as a catalyst, taking time to really dig for reasonable answers? So often, people fling about in an orgy of experience and disbelief, seeking what “feels right,” instead of filling in the gaps with some real answers born of research and reflection. 

Regarding tough questions about my faith, I’ve learned to launch an investigation, just as I would for any story I write. I explore early Church writers, Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, encyclicals. This kind of rigor is so satisfying when it comes to thinking and praying about life’s great mysteries. In the end, I’ve discovered the beauty of informed acquiescence. 

Rebellion has another facet. Do we rebel against life circumstances? Sometimes, that type of rebellion can be productive, helping us transform a harmful home, school, work or even civic environment — if we initiate change with a healthy respect and consideration of others. But if we are presented a tough circumstance, like a child with a terminal illness or a catastrophic accident, do we rail against that event, or accept and move on in faith?

Rebellion and acquiescence. How do I choose one over the other? God knows, my natural instincts lead me to push back fiercely at times, averse to pain or difficulty. But learning to thrive within certain limitations, builds rich character. To respect ourselves, we must put up a fight — for the good — learning to work optimistically and at peak level within restrictions. 

Who is God calling me to be? Moving blindly through an unexamined life is dissatisfying. Thank God for the light He gives, that turns rebellion into inspired acts, as the soul hungers to accept God’s Will.

As for that “same worn plot,” those old, ingrained sins get tedious after a while! Thank God for the Actual Grace of His sacraments, that frees us and strews flowers along the path. I am no Mother Teresa, who strived through decades of dryness. I’ve experienced time and again how God gifts the weak with consolations, like Padre Pio once fed chocolates to new converts.” 

© By Marianna Bartholomew 2012



Question: Deacon Tom — I’ve been asked to be a godparent for my niece. What are the requirements for being a godparent (sponsor) at Baptism? What duties or obligations will this entail? Sara.
Dear Sara:
You may not know that the Church, its membership, its practices, especially the sacraments – all of these are defined in what is called the Code of Canon Law. To answer the question you raise, I’ve turned to Code of Canon Law 874.1
• One sponsor must be Catholic.
• The Catholic must be at least 16 years old and baptized and confirmed living an upright life no penalties (e.g., left the Church, etc.). Therefore, a Catholic who has left the Catholic Church cannot be a sponsor, and cannot be a “Christian Witness” if they join another Christian communion.
• The godparent cannot be either parent

As to your question about duties or obligations — I would recommend that you understand this to be, first, an obligation of witness. You need to be a good and faithful believer and practicing a life in accord with the teachings of the Church. But far beyond that – I would recommend ‘celebrating’ the baptism annually. Sending an anniversary card on the day of the anniversary… sending holy cards or sacramental gifts or books from time to time… lives of the saints, etc. These actions demonstrate that the faith in you is alive. And it demonstrates your prayer and life oriented to passing that faith on to your godchild.

I hope this helps.

deacon tom


God planned for a beautiful voice and musician in the person of Alicia Hernon. She was a guest on our Catholic Vitamins episode 81, Vitamin U for UPLIFT. Alicia comes from a large musical family, and she and her husband have given birth to a wonderful Catholic family in Steubenville, Ohio. They met at Franciscan University — and husband Michael works there now. At any rate, Alicia Hernon has a great album BELOVED, and we played two songs: CONQUER ME and SCRIPTURE MEDLEY. Thanks Alicia for permission to play your music.

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