Check out our upcoming retreat for Catholic Writers!

October, 2023 at St. Francis Retreat Center, Michigan

Seal of Approval

The following books have been awarded the Seal of Approval for the 3rd quarter of 2023:

  • Firetender by Erin Lewis
  • A Truly Clawful Christmas by Corinna Turner
  • Ashes: Visible & Invisible by Catholic Teen Books
  • A Pilgrim's Crux by Timothy Neboyskey
  • Indian Emily by Jennifer Rengaw
  • Little Saint Stories: Juan Diego by Cassie Herrington
  • Kiss Me Goodnight by Maurice Prater
  • Murder at Penwood Manor by Antony B. Kolenc
  • Bonvida's Awakening by Christopher D. Smith


From Our Blog

  • Are You Man Enough?

    Michael Vassallo
    October 2, 2023 - 6:00am

    Post # 1

    “Gosh, I love Thursdays!”  Tim Biscotti glanced from his Excel spreadsheet to the time displayed at the bottom right-hand corner of his work desktop, smiling.  “Ten minutes to go.”  He tugged at the collar tips of his yellow button-down shirt and adjusted his black tie laced with yellow diamond shapes.

    It was February 2019 in Nassau County, Long Island, New York.  Tim had been planning this night for a few weeks as a belated 42nd birthday present to himself.  After work, he was going to catch up on his novel in the library, eat dinner in that pizzeria that he liked on Route 27A, and then pray the Rosary in the Divine Mercy Chapel at Curé of Ars Church. 

    Tim clicked his mouse and tapped on his keyboard. He peered at the surrounding powder-blue walls on which several flat-screen TVs hung, displaying that day’s closing stock prices. The name of the firm, Thawani Global Benefits, also hung in prominent bronze letters on one of the walls.

    Coworkers hurried past his desk, throwing coats on and bidding him and each other goodnight.

    “See you guys tomorrow,” he returned with a wave, keeping his eyes glued to the Aetna insurance census audit he worked on.

    Just then, his desk phone rang.

    Jolted, Tim viewed the caller ID.  The executive vice president of underwriting’s name and number appeared.

    Tim answered. “Yeah, Albert?”

    “Tim, can you come by my office for a minute?”

    He probably wants to talk about this audit.  “Sure, I’ll be right there.”  Tim hung up and closed out the Excel file.  Then he rose from his desk.  Hopefully, this won’t take long.

    Tim marched down the hall, passing by the open door to his direct supervisor’s office. She sat in there, tapping on her own keyboard as she pursed her lips. That’s strange. If Albert wants to talk to me, why isn’t Phyllis with him?

    The suspicion grew within him as he continued walking, eventually reaching Albert’s office at the end of the hall. He entered, and a petite blonde HR assistant, who sat across from Albert’s desk, stoically raised her eyes at him. If Phyllis isn’t here but Karen, the HR admin is, and that can only mean one thing.

    The tall Asian man behind the desk asked Tim to close the door and then take a seat.

    Tim obeyed Albert as a large lump came to his throat.

    Albert sighed. “Well, Tim. We have some difficult news. We’ve decided to discontinue your position.”

    A charge ran up Tim’s spine. “Why?” he demanded, his voice raised and quaking.

    “You’re not meeting deadlines.”

    Tim’s body trembled like an earthquake.

    The HR assistant stared at him as if to say, “Your personality’s not a good fit here.”

    She’s embarrassing me. “Come on!” Tim pleaded. “This isn’t right. You know how hard I’ve worked here?” This was probably Phyllis’ decision.  We’ve been knocking heads like crazy over the past six months.  “Whose idea was this?”

    “The company’s,” said Albert.

    Tim raked a hand through his short dark hair. “This is not right,” he repeated, raising his voice. “I got bills to pay! You know how much this hurts me?”

    Albert and the HR assistant kept silent.

    “You can’t give me another chance?”

    “The decision has been made. Karen, take Tim to Violeta’s office so that he can get his COBRA paperwork.”

    Tim rose from his chair. Blood rushed to his face and hands. “I’m not happy about this. I just want you to know that.”

    Karen walked Tim out.

    After an equally cold meeting in Violeta’s office, Tim stormed back to his desk, Karen once again accompanying him. He cleaned it out and thrust his belongings into his backpack.

    Karen, standing over him, then called over to the IT guy. “Chuck? Can you come disconnect Tim’s login? Today’s his last day.”

    Geez, can you say it a little louder?

    Chuck came by and took care of business without saying a word. 

    How cold.

    After Chuck left, Karen briskly walked Tim toward the steel door going out. 

    How much more obvious can she make it that they’re in a rush to get rid of me? Tim glanced over his shoulder.

    Across the room, people made eye contact with Tim and sympathetically shook their heads. 

    Thank you. At least someone cares. Frowning, Tim wiped sweat off his forehead and waved to them.

    Karen yanked the steel door open. “Good luck to you.”

    Her insincerity, coupled with her slamming the door behind him, stung him like a slap to his face, but at least he would never deal with her again. Or Albert. Or Phyllis.

    Outside, the evening air enveloped him. Tim exhaled, storming over to his parking space. He slid into his car and slammed the door. With his stomach in knots, he lacked the heart for all the festivities he had planned for himself.

    “Okay, calm down,” he told himself. He called his recruiter friend, taking a chance that she would still be working at 6 PM. No such luck. Tim forced himself to sound pleasant and left her a voicemail.

    His office had only been about twelve minutes from his house, but it felt like forever before he arrived home.

    Tim walked into his kitchen. His two children’s playful noisiness made his ears ring. “Hi, kids,” he said without enthusiasm. Try not to take your frustrations out on them. Remember, they both have autism.

    His wife kissed him. Her long light-brown hair bounced off her shoulders, framing a kind face across which a smile spread. “You’re home early.  I thought you were going out tonight.”

    This is gonna be hard for her. How do I explain what happened?

    Tim sighed. “Hillary, I have some bad news.” He tried easing his way into it, but his stammering made it worse.

    Hillary’s smile dropped. Her eyes filled with fright. “Why?” she shouted.

    “It just didn’t work out,” Tim stuttered.

    Hillary slapped the legs of her black pants in disgust. “This is not good! First, the job at the bank? Now this?” Tears formed in her eyes. “What is going on with you, Tim? What are we gonna do now?”

    I really don’t know where God wants me, but she probably doesn’t want to hear about God right now. “I called Renee, my recruiter. Left her a voicemail. Hopefully, she’ll call me back tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ll figure this all out.” Tim’s voice was cracking.

    Hillary huffed. “You better! Look, I gotta get out of here and clear my head. I’m going to Whole Foods. Keep an eye on them for me.”

    Tim hung his head and avoided eye contact with his kids. What sort of a father am I? How am I gonna provide for Hillary and these kids now?

    His six-year-old son grabbed him by the hand. “Wuh-wuh.”

    “You want water, AJ?” Tim croaked. He sighed. “Okay, I’ll get it.” With his head still hanging, he trudged over to the refrigerator.

    His eight-year-old daughter sat at the table. She clutched her green LeapFrog Academy tablet and glued her eyes to YouTube. “No Wi-Fi?” she suddenly shrieked. She started crying like the baby George on the Peppa Pig cartoon. Angrily, she banged her tablet on the table.

    “Riley, stop it!” shouted Tim. “I’m in no mood for this!” He gritted his teeth, ripped his tie off, threw it, and knocked unopened mail off the counter.

    Riley cried harder.

    “This is all I need right now,” Tim muttered.

    He called a few local churches to see if a priest were available. He could use a man of God’s help right now, but no luck with that, either.

    Gotta cool it. Tim replaced his Samsung in his pocket. The kids are innocent in all of this. ”Riley, I’m sorry I got mad before, honey. Daddy just had a tough day.” He walked over to the table and hugged her. “How was school today?”

    “Wuh-wuh,” his son repeated.

    “Sorry, AJ. Daddy forgot.” He poured AJ some water.

    Unable to think about dinner, he waited for Hillary to return and then asked if she minded him going for a walk.

    Hillary twirled her hair and frowned. “No, go ahead.”

    At least she seemed calmer now. Maybe she realized how bad he felt.

    At around 10:30, Tim returned from his walk. Finally, the house is quiet. He tiptoed into the living room, sat on the black leather sectional couch, and grabbed his powder-blue rosaries. However, with his stomach still in knots, he lacked the motivation to pray. Maybe tomorrow after a good night’s sleep – if he even could sleep. But no way was he sleeping in bed with Hillary that night. He considered himself unworthy of that. His manhood felt shattered, as did his ego, and he doubted himself significantly. He even wondered if Jesus and the Blessed Mother were disappointed in him. 

    I need to listen to some soft, quiet music. Tim clicked on the YouTube app on his cell phone, turned the volume down, and selected Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender”. He still held his rosaries as he listened to the soothing melody, and peace slowly grew within him. His new circumstances would take some getting used to, but the pain he had suffered that day subsided for the night, and he soon drifted off to dreamland.


    © Copyright 2023 by Michael C. Vassallo

    Image by <a href=”″>fashionate</a> from <a href=”″>Pixabay</a>

The CWG Prayer

Holy Family, guide our minds, our hearts, our hands, as we write, speak, illustrate – help our words to live in union with the Word.

Teach us discipline and skill to use the talents God gives us.

Give us also insight and courage to convey God's love through our craft, and humility to be open to His divine will, shaping our lives, in loving loyalty to His Church.

In Christ's name,


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