We were created, like all of God’s creation, to generate and with purpose—but that does not necessarily mean ‘to do more.’
What if we stepped back…took a deep breath…and decided this Advent instead of doing more—we would just be more?–Click here to tweet this.
Oh please do take ‘be more’ to mean being the woman with the most elaborate gingerbread house…made from complete scratch no less! Or the frantic woman searching for the ‘perfect’ outfit so she can be the best dressed at each and every party she attends this season. Do not fall into the trap of thinking to be more you must spend more: time, money, energy…
Let’s be in the present moment more. That’s where we will find Him, that’s where we will be with Him; you know, the baby–born King we are anxiously awaiting.
Let’s be more aware of God’s ever present presence—for that’s the true gift…His presence. That’s why He came down, to live and move and breath and be among us. That’s why He died, so we could be with Him in heaven and He could be with us every hour of every day, present on every altar in the world. (Stop in and say “Hi” He would love the company.)
Let’s be overwhelmed at the thought of a baby King, coming to bless us with an abundance of His unconditional love to live this earthly life…for the heavenly yet to come.
We do not need more lights, glitter, bows, or garland. We need more Jesus.
We do not need more shopping time. We need more adoration time.
We do not need more presents. We need more time in His presence.
Step outside. What do you see? The bright, warm sun or the twinkling stars? Either one, they shine because God made them to shine. They are only being what God the Father created them to be.
He created us to shine as well. My dear sister in Christ, each and every time you pass something twinkly and shiny this Advent…Thank God for His light, in you, so you can be who He created you to be.
A Catholic Woman’s Advent Devotional: Following Traditional Jesse Tree Readings
There are a number of Jesse Tree Devotionals out there for families, but I wanted one specific for women, Catholic women. This devotional follows along the common Jesse Tree readings.
Our life is made up of repeated moments and the more exposure, all the more likely to be impressed deep upon us. I know the benefit of repeated exposure to the same Scriptures. So if your family celebrates the Jesse Tree, these readings will be familiar to you. We are called to hide the Word of God in our heart to keep us from sin. What better way than to hear the same Word, twice a day, different context.
Thy words have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against thee. †Psalm 119:11
Read these daily meditations in the morning, before you read the family Jesse Tree meditations and ponder the similarities and the differences. Or read it at night before bed, letting the Word soak deep into your mind as you drift off to sleep. Not only are we called to hide the Word, we are also called to meditate up upon the Word, day and night.
Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence: But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night. †Psalm 1:1-2
I pray these meditations, often short, will slow us down, calm us down and bring us into the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. «Tweet that« If our first father had not transgressed, God the Father would not be sending His only Son. Without the sin of man, we would not be preparing for the birth of the God Man. Those thoughts can make us slow down real fast…talk of sin and death in the midst of sparkly. Mention of gluttony amid glittery, and you can lose a room of people fast.
But that’s the reality of the birth of Christ and Advent is a time to prepare, a mini Lent if you will.
So get ready…He’s coming…
Theresa | My Desert Heart
This may be an unfamiliar word to most of you busy moms. But we also need to take a step back and realize how important it is to our spiritual lives to take time for silence…to listen. It is possible for us…God is ready with the graces…we have only to ask. He is not asking for hours of silence as practiced in the monasteries, but only silent moments that we can offer Him during the course of our day. God sees our intentions and our efforts, and that is very pleasing to Him.
The question is “When?” Now I have to guiltily admit that I may have more opportunity for silence that many of you since my three older children are college and high school age and I only have my daughter at home with me. And although she is quite demanding of my attention, it’s not the same as 2, 3, or 4 children demanding my attention all at the same time! So, I will keep this in mind for I believe it is possible for everyone and I believe in the absolute necessity of it.
For me personally, I take time for silence when my youngest is falling asleep (in our room or her room) to light a candle, to talk to God about my day, to do some spiritual reading to initiate meditation, and then taking the time to listen. It’s not always easy to tame the thoughts that are racing through my mind…like what’s still left to accomplish, did I pay that bill yet, what I am wearing tomorrow, what am I cooking this week…you know…really deep spiritual matters! I at least try to calm my mind by doing some deep breathing and repeating the “Jesus Prayer”. Spiritual or scriptural reading is a must for me to refocus my attention on the Lord.
If it is at all possible, I find it a wonderful practice to get up maybe 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the household and sit by the window with a cup of coffee and thank God for the new day He has blessed me with. I decided to try this during a past Lent and since my husband was on a later shift at the time, it worked well. Instead of getting up and going right to the computer, I would take that time to spend in silence with God. I love that time…those sacred moments just as dawn is approaching and the house is silent. The anxious thoughts of the day haven’t quite woken up yet! Unfortunately, I lacked the discipline to continue since an extra 15 minutes of sleep in the morning seemed more heavenly to me than prayer itself! Now that my husband’s shift has changed to early morning, it’s even more difficult to put it into practice. But despite the difficulties, if you can get into this practice, you will be truly spiritually enriched.
If either of the above are not an option at all, think of all those scattered moments throughout the day (or night!) when you can grab a few moments of silence. How about those precious moments of nursing a baby in the middle of the night? Despite our grogginess, we can still offer that time of silence to God and open our hearts to what He wants to tell us. If you ever get the opportunity to drive alone or with a quiet one, don’t turn on the radio. If you get a rare chance to soak in a tub, or shower, don’t let the thoughts and anxieties of the day clutter your mind…instead practice some deep breathing and place yourself in the Presence of God. Do you get some free moments in the laundry room? I find the repetition of folding laundry can induce a quiet state of listening. Nature also gives us wonderful opportunities for reflecting on God’s beauty in creation, so take advantage of those moments during your nature walks or looking out your window.
Exteriorly, we can also maintain a “spirit of silence” by keeping the radio or TV to a minimum or decreasing the time we spend on the phone or emailing (if extended for too long, it can lead to idle chatter).
One of the wonderful and blessed consequences of making an effort to embrace being alone in quiet to become aware of God’s Presence is that we might just discover the One thing that can fill the emptiness of our hearts.
?How do you find time for silence in your day?
*A repost from the archives while I recover.
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
“…to lead a good life a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death…”
- St. Bonaventure
Since today is Halloween, and tomorrow is the Feast of All Saints, it seems appropriate to ponder…death.
I know, I know. It seems like most of us are trying desperately to forget about this whole “end of life” thing. Just recently I’ve seen several magazine covers with teasers about “extending your life” and “how to look 20 years younger”. Facebook friends are saying things like “Death isn’t fair”. (Death is probably the most democratic thing there is–we all experience it)
Since November is the month of prayer for the dead, maybe it’s time to talk about this.
We Catholics shouldn’t fear death. We should prepare ourselves for it with good, frequent confessions, but generally, we should remember that this isn’t our home. Earth is wonderful and God gave us many good things here. But it’s not home–that’s Heaven!
I teach first grade CCD, and we started the year by talking about Heaven and how great it is. The kids’ eyes grew huge as we talked about the good things of Heaven and how happy we will be there. It’s a good thing to remember as adults. Heaven is the place of perfect happiness.
One of the other things we teach them is the old Baltimore Catechism definition of “why God made you.” “He made us to know, love and serve Him in this world, and be perfectly happy with Him forever in the next.”
Perfectly happy with Him forever in the next.
Sounds like something worth thinking about, yes?
I know no one likes to think about death. I’m sort of used to it. When I was listed for a double-lung transplant, I knew that if I didn’t get it, I wasn’t going to see my twenty-fourth birthday. Thoughts of death were pretty constant, not in a morbid way, but in a practical way, because there were things to think about just in case.
Granted, we don’t all need to do this. But we do need to think about our eternal destiny–and our eternal home. Heaven isn’t meant to be a scary thought, and neither is Purgatory. As C.S. Lewis said,
“Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleansed first.” “It may hurt, you know”—even so, sir.” The Great Divorce
Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and the Last Judgment are what Catholics call the Four Last Things. We would do well, in November, to reflect on them. The Mass readings will certainly do that as we come closer to the feast of Christ the King, which closes the church year this month.
Fear of death isn’t something we should have. In fact, it should encourage us to live the best lives we can, right now–to grow as people of prayer, of faith, as Catholics. We should work toward that awesome, eternal goal of being with God forever in Heaven.
So that’s our goal, here: To know, love and serve God on Earth. If we do those things, to the best of our abilities, then we don’t have to fear death. It’s natural to fear the unknown. But a life forever with God? That’s not unknown. That’s what we want here and now, and it’s certainly not something to fear. We were made for God. We were made to be saints.
All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.
-Saint Francis de Sales
Kellie | Faith, Family & Friends
Oh my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee the most precious Blood of Jesus, from all the altars throughout the world, joining with It my every thought, word and action of this day……
This is the beginning part of a morning offering I learned many years ago when I was first enrolled in the Brown Scapular. And while I attempt to make it the first thing I say every morning, I have to admit sometimes it’s later in the morning……sometimes in the car even. This first part makes you step back and think, if just for a moment about what it is exactly you’re saying.
1] Precisely to Whom am I speaking? ‘Oh my God’. I am speaking directly to God the Father…..going directly to God. There’s no middle man here. It’s just Him and me.
2] Am I offering this by myself? ‘In union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary’. I am asking that my prayer be united to hers, the Mother of God. Do you ever ask someone to do a favor for you? Ask someone to speak on your behalf to someone that the other person maybe has more influence? It’s the same thing. God loves His Mother so much that He crowned her Queen of Heaven and Earth! He honors her requests!
3] What am I offering? ‘I offer Thee (God the Father) the most Precious Blood of Jesus, from all the altars throughout the world’. One miniscule drop of the Blood of Jesus would have sufficed to appease God. But He gave not one drop, but all His Blood. He poured out upon the world an ocean of His Divine Mercy, that we may be immersed in His Love. At the consecration of the chalice at Mass, I have a favorite prayer I say. “O Blood of my Saviour, bathe me in the Sweet Liquid of my redemption. Moreover, Lord, drown me in It, that I may live in Thee, with Thee, For Thee and only Thee, for all eternity.”
4] Am I offering anything additional? ‘Joining with It (the Blood of my Saviour), my every thought, word and action of this day’. In other words, I’m offering myself. All that I am and all that I hope to be. This is where it can get interesting. This means that every one of my thoughts, words and actions are being offered to God. Sometimes my thoughts are not very kind. My words harsh. My actions hap-hazardly done. And what’s worse is while others can witness my words and actions, God alone knows my every thought…..even the ugly ones.
But I offer Him this prayer and try to make those gifts worthy of Him. That is what one is called to do. Will I ever wake up and there be no struggles or strife? No. Every day one must make the resolve to do better than the day before. This is the thing we call living. This is the thing we call trying to live in grace. It is only through prayer that one can ever expect to do this.
The rest of the Morning Offering:
O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart! Most Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine!
A grateful heart,
What does your Morning Offering look like?
A repost from our archives.
“Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!”
St. Josemaria Escriva
Good Morning! To celebrate the month of October, dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary…Show Us Your Rosary or Rosaries! This will be so much fun! (I think in my excitement I may be overusing the exclamation mark.)
If you have a blog, link up. If you don’t, send me a picture of your rosary and I’ll post it. I cannot wait to see your rosaries!
Here are mine…(The Lord knew I would have a bunch of monotonous sins and could use a few rosaries in my life!)
For my birthday my sweet Veronica made this beautiful rosary for me. We looked through pictures of rosaries on line and I told her what I liked and didn’t like and she made me a beautiful rosary. The center piece is a heart with seven swords piercing it in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. She attached a blood drop bead to the crucifix to remind me of the blood Jesus shed for me and my sins. The beads are a lovely creamy, cloudy blue.
This next rosary was my first “real” rosary. I was in the beginning stages of my spiritual life and I had begun spiritual direction. My spiritual director at the time asked me who my patron saint was. “Um, I don’t know…don’t have one.” I know! So he handed me a copy of Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux and told me to read it. I did and took the Little Flower as my patron. Without knowing this, a friend presented me with this delicate, purple, antique rosary. She found it at an antique store in a box of books. The center piece is St Therese and the back reads, “I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth.” It also has an antique miraculous medal and I had Veronica add a blood drop bead to it recently. This is the rosary I have held on to during each labor and delivery of my children. It is the rosary that I thought was lost and miraculously survived a parking lot. It is the rosary that I lost recently and one of my children found outside one year later. It is the rosary I clung to during that very difficult time all those years ago. The beads are worn smooth from whoever loved the rosary before me.
This rosary was given to me by my dad’s wife. She was raised Catholic and got this rosary on a visit to Rome as a teen. This rosary was blessed by Pope John XXIII. This rosary usually sits on the bookshelf in the living room and I use it some nights during family rosary.
This rosary is a cord rosary from Real Life Rosary. This is a perfect go to rosary. It cannot break or get tangled. It can be washed and dried. And as you can see, I don’t worry when little chubby hands grab it. Each one of us received a different color one of these rosaries in our Christmas stocking a couple of years ago. You’ll find the living room scattered with these by the end of family rosary with a wandering toddler.
I almost forgot this one! I had to run out to the car to grab it. I keep this one in the car to pray with on long drives or the occasional drive back home at night when I know I’ll miss family rosary. This rosary was made for me by a super sweet and very dear friend.
Time to share your rosaries ladies! Show us a picture if you can. Tell us what you love about your rosary and why. What’s its story?
Simple yet profound, it [the rosary] still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.
–Pope John Paul II
I like the sound of “…a harvest of holiness.” So often we do not see the end result of our work. The laundry never gets completely caught up because someone is moments away from taking off dirty clothes. Same with the dishes; just when you think they are done, along comes a cup. We sow deed after deed into our homes and it seems the harvest is always just beyond our reach. And the same with raising children…raising ourselves.
Our thoughts, words and deeds are sometimes better suited for this present moment because the thought of the the eternal moments slip so very easily from the front of our minds. And our prayers? If you are anything like me they seem to get stuck in this present moment as well. “Lord, please help me to keep my patience…find my car keys…get a hot meal on the table…teach my children…love my husband…console my friend…remember the dry cleaning…get to bed on time…not let this cookie settle on my hips.”
But Pope John Paul II makes the point that the prayers of the rosary are “destined…to bring forth a harvest of holiness.” They are destined.
I looked up destined in the Thesaurus and a couple of the synonyms stuck out: intended, meant, ordained.
So let’s plug those synonyms in…
The prayers of the rosary are “intended” to bring forth a harvest of holiness.
The prayers of the rosary are “meant” to bring forth a harvest of holiness.
The prayers of the rosary are “ordained” to bring forth a harvest of holiness.
Wow! They are not just mindless, repetitive, chatter. They were ordained, meant and intended by God the Father to produce a crop of holiness.
I say it’s time to do some sowing; preparing for a harvest of holiness.
Have you grown up praying the rosary?
“The Rosary is a school for learning true Christian perfection.”
–Pope John XXIII
The mysteries of the Rosary, when meditated on and savored, are the Bible in depth in any case; they are of the essence of the Bible.
–Pope John Paul I
I come to another objection. The Rosary is a prayer of repetition? Father Charles de Foucauld said: “Love is expressed with few words, always the same and always repeated.”
Emily DeArdo | A Year of Living Adventurously
Even though I am (gulp) almost ten years out from my college graduation, I still love the back to school flavor of late summer and early Fall. New notebooks, new pencils, new backpacks, new start. We’ve cleared out last year and are ready for a new challenge (said no kid ever, but that’s OK.). As Miss Stacy in Anne of Green Gables was fond of saying, “tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” That’s how I always used to feel heading into a new school year.
Now that I’m no longer in school, I still use the fresh start feeling to re-evaluate my life. I’m not a big New Year’s person. In Ohio, it’s usually cold and snowy, and that doesn’t say to me clean the house and make things fresh. It says hibernate. So this time of year is my back to school revamp time. Some years, not much needs to done. Other years, like this year, it’s sort of crazy. I need to get rid of my excess possessions. I need to revamp my fitness program with a solid exercise plan and more healthy food. But first and foremost, I need to work on making my prayer life an important part of every day.
Mother Teresa said: “Our lives, to be fruitful, must be full of Christ; to be able to bring his peace, joy, and love we must have it ourselves, for we cannot give what we have not got.” Even God cannot fill what is already full. So while I’m divesting myself of clothes and books, I also need to create empty space in my schedule for prayer, lectio, Mass, and other devotions. I need to take time to be still and pray.
So the first thing I’m doing is getting up earlier. Instead of sleeping in a bit, I get up and say my morning offering first thing. (You can find an example of on here.) Then I get dressed and ready for my day. While the coffee’s brewing, I say lauds from the Liturgy of the Hours. As a lay Dominican, saying the office (at least morning and evening prayer), the rosary, and attending daily Mass when possible are part of my responsibilities. I say the office of readings around three, and vespers between 5-6, depending on dinner.
I also need time to say the rosary. Normally I say it before Mass, if I’ve gone that day. When I was doing summer theater I said it on my drive to the theater (the drive was about 40 minutes, which is ample time to get in five mysteries). But I realize that I need to add lectio divina (sacred reading) and I need to devote more time to sacred reading and study, both of which are of prime importance for Dominicans.
So to do that, I need to make space. I need to say no to commitments that would intrude on this time. I need to work prayer in first, not last. So while I clear out my schedule and my home outwardly, I need to divest my interior life of the things I don’t need to do or think about.
If God is truly the most important thing in my life, what I do should reflect that, right? My priorities, what I do with my day, should reflect my love of God and my desire to do his will, and to listen to him in all things. I shouldn’t just give him the crumbs that fall from the table, so to speak. I should give him the best of my self and of my day.
I’m just starting on this road to integrating more prayer into my life. I’m sure there will be bumps along the way as I try to carve out a new schedule that meets all the needs I have—spiritual, physical, emotional. For millennia, monks and nuns have had schedules that meet all their needs, but place God first. I’m sure a laywoman like me can use their wisdom to adapt to my own domestic monastery. (Even if monks probably didn’t attend ballet class once a week)