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)
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
‘Tis the season for graduations, confirmations and first communions, because it’s spring here in the U.S. (and the northern hemisphere). Do you remember your first communion? I’m pretty sure the Apostles never forgot theirs.
The importance of the Eucharist, and the Mass, in Catholic life cannot be understated. You can’t have one without the other. Mass isn’t Mass without Eucharist; it’s just the “liturgy of the word”, and, while that’s lovely, it’s not the source and summit of our lives, as my pastor is fond of saying. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, and our belief that it is just that, is one of the hallmarks of Catholicism.
Maybe the apostles had no idea what Jesus was doing. I mean, sure, he’d said “eat my flesh and drink my blood” (John 6) and they hadn’t fled, like so many had. They’d stayed with Jesus, even though this teaching was hard to so many of their countrymen. But did they truly understand what Jesus was doing in that Upper Room? Do we, 2,000 years later, understand it at all?
Probably not. As my sacraments class professor said, “sometimes when studying, we must fold back the wings of our intellect, and bow before the mystery.” My fellow Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas says the same thing in his great Eucharistic hymns “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” and “Salutaris Hostia”.
We will never truly understand the power, the beauty, of the Eucharist. I don’t think we can, with our finite human minds. But we do need to believe what it is–it is Jesus, come down to us, to be consumed, here in bread and wine. (Or just bread. You don’t need both to get the complete sacrament.) There’s a reason the hosts are handled so carefully, the reason the Precious Blood isn’t poured down a regular drain, but a sacrarium (Catholic trivia of the day: this is a special type of sink that empties into the ground, not the regular water system, so the remains of the sacrament go back to the Earth.). Since we believe it is truly Christ’s blood that is in that chalice, and so we must treat it with respect.
The enormity of the Eucharist, I think, can be lost when we receive it so often without pondering what it truly is. Until the beginning of the 20th century, children couldn’t receive communion. This was changed by St. Pius X, who promoted the early reception of communion once children reached “the age of reason” (about seven or eight), and were able to determine right from wrong. We can receive Christ every day! What an immense gift.
An immense gift, of course, must be treated as such. Our souls should be in a state of grace, meaning we are not conscious of mortal sin. We should have fasted for one hour before receiving communion, and should adopt an attitude of reverence when we go receive. (Like, this is not drive-through communion–no “receiving and leaving”!)
Before Christ began His passion, He gave His Church this sign of his tremendous, self-giving and redeeming love. We may not completely understand the theology surrounding it (although I would definitely recommend reading a bit about it, and the Mass: Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth and Donald Cardinal Wuerl’s The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition are good places to start). But, like the apostles, I think we realize what is happening during the Mass. We realize that something monumental is occurring, and that, like Moses, we are approaching holy ground. Or, rather, we should. As Flannery O’Connor said, “if it’s just a symbol, well then to [heck] with it.”
The Mass, above all things, is what keeps my faith alive. We cannot think to live as Catholics, and grow in faith, without the Mass and the Eucharist. Just as the physical body needs food, so do our souls! In June we will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the Eucharist in all its glory. Perhaps this would be a good time to make a holy hour at a nearby parish, or try to attend a weekday Mass (or two, or three), or perhaps read more about the sacrament? We can never be too informed or too in love with our faith!
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
In iconography, St. Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican, can often be found with a ship on her shoulder, the saint holding it steady as she looks ahead. The ship is the Barque of St. Peter–the Catholic Church–and the papal insignia is often found on the ship’s flag. Why the boat? St. Catherine is intimately connected with the papacy. During her lifetime, she worked to achieve peace among the warring Italian states, implored Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return the papacy to Rome, and encouraged clerical reform. In 1378, she was summoned to Rome by Pope Urban VI, where she worked for the reformation of the Church, served the destitute, and wrote eloquent letters on the pope’s behalf. Because of all the work she did to support the papacy, she had a vision that the Barque of Peter had been placed upon her shoulders, and it was crushing her to death. She was also a recipient of the stigmata and is one of the four female Church Doctors.
In this time of papal interregnum, St. Catherine is a perfect patron saint. Her novena would be a great practice to adopt as we await the beginning of the conclave, and the election of our next Holy Father. No matter how much her work on behalf of Christ and His church drained her physical energies, she never stopped proclaiming the Truth and showing Christ’s abundant love to all she met.
Novena Prayer to St. Catherine of Siena
O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, St. Catherine, because of your extraordinary virtue and immense good which you accomplished for the Church and society, you are acclaimed and blessed by all people. Turn your benign countenance to the Church who, confident of your powerful patronage, calls upon you with all the ardor of affection and begs you to obtain, by your prayer, the favors of peace in the Church, blessings upon our past Pope, and the grace of a saintly Supreme Pontiff.
You, who were a victim of Charity, who in order to benefit your neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and hope of all, you cannot help but hear the prayers of those who fly unto your heart–that heart which you received from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.
Yes, O seraphic virgin, demonstrate once again proof of your power and your flaming charity, so that your name will be ever more blessed and exalted: grant that we, having experiences your most effacious intercession here on Earth, may come one day to thank you in heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with you.
O God, Eternal Shepherd, who govern Your flock with unfailing care, grant in Your boundless fatherly Love a pastor for Your Church who will please You by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Good Morning Ladies! I heard from many of you that the Scripture helps for January’s Scripture Memorization were helpful, so I made some for February.
Here is the Post It Note Template provided by Sugar Doodle. Print this template off. Then place your Post It Notes over each little square. Open the February Scripture memory helps for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (Click on that link and it will download the Scripture formatted to fit on the Post It Note Template). Place your template, with the Post It Notes attached, in your printer and print.
Place these Scripture reminders over the sink, on your computer, in your Bible, on your mirror…anywhere you’ll see them to help as we memorize 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 together for the month of February.
I made some helps for our memorization of Ephesians 4:25-32. Using a Post It Note Template, I typed out the Scripture verses in various ways: all together, each one building on the others and one at a time.
Click on the Ephesians 4:25-32 link below…
This will download a zip file to your computer. You want to right click and “extract all” After you extract these files, open them and follow the directions for printing on the Post It Notes.
Place these sticky notes wherever you are going to see them the most. There are only 8 verses in Ephesians 4:25-32 and there are 12 days left in January (I know!!) so that roughly figures out to a verse a day.
We can do a verse a day!
The Post It Notes are practical, now here is something pretty to help us memorize.