Taking a Break

Happy Thursday, everyone! 

It’s been quiet around here for two weeks. Why? I’ve been [super] busy.

On June 5th, my fiance came down for a visit and stayed for a week. During his visit and since he left, it’s been feet on the ground and running, running, running. This Saturday, I depart for my European river cruise. Eight days after my return, I move to New York City to begin my new job in July. So, you won’t hear much from me around here until early-to-middle of July 2018. Keep me in your prayers as I travel and transition, and I’ll pray for you as well.

God bless you and I’ll talk to you soon.

-Sarah

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post regarding all of the Catholic places I’d like to visit. Sites included the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. All of these places are wonderful, holy sites that can enrich our faith. But, when you live in the United States and hopping a plane to Mexico City or continental Europe on a whim isn’t an option, it’s favorable to check out the holy places in your own backyard.

Below is a list of a few places I would love to visit, especially in the near future when I move to New York City. Certainly, I will miss some worthy places, so drop a comment below and let me know where I should visit.

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

  1. St. John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.
  2. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
  3. Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL
  4. Shrine of St. Therese, Darien, IL
  5. Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, WI
  6. Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, CT
  7. Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, WI (The only Vatican-approved apparition site in the USA)
  8. St. Kateri National Shrine and Historic Site, Fonda, NY
  9. Shrine and Parish Church of the Holy Innocents, New York, NY
  10. Shrine of Our Lady of La Sallette, Altamont, NY
  11. Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Philadelphia, PA

Where are places you’ve traveled? Drop a note below!

When Easter is Ordinary: Times of Slow Prayer

Pentecost Sunday 2018

After the long, tedious haul of Lent, the Easter season is a time of rejoicing in the Risen Christ. In an ideal world, all Christians would by happy and jubilant during this time, full of prayer and contemplation. Nothing would hinder our devotion and we would pray without ceasing during this joyous time.

But, for better or for worse, we live in a different reality that what I described above. 

As a relatively new convert, I have eagerly jumped into many devotional prayers and practices. At first, it was really easy to incorporate new prayers and practices into my life. “This is easy!,” I thought. “I don’t know why more people don’t pray the Rosary everyday and pray all these novenas!” 

Then, bit-by-bit, real life began to creep in. During this year’s season of Lent, I decided to abstain from blogging (except on Sundays) and other social media outlets. After Lent, when the time of fasting was over, I found myself struggling to write again. I found myself lagging also in my prayer and devotional life.

When I once eagerly prayed the Rosary each morning and read a devotional, I did well just to pray something on my own. Novenas? Forget it. Writing in my journal with prayerful overtones? No. Reading the devotions that are emailed to me every morning? Delete.

If you can’t tell, my Easter season has been a struggle.

As we round out the Easter season with the joyous day of Pentecost, I have thought of how I can better reestablish a routine of prayer that helps me grow right where I am. Of course, I know that life happens: Living gets busy and we can’t upkeep the prayer habits of those living in a cloister or monastery.

Thankfully, since January, I have met monthly with a wonderful spiritual director. Often, we talk about habits of prayer and practice. I willingly admit that I want to pray all the prayers and do all the devotions. When I “fail,” I become utterly disappointed and feel like I’m somehow less of a Catholic because of it. However, when meeting with her last week, my director suggested that I make a list of what I would like to do prayer-wise throughout the day.

Though I am a habitual list maker, I never thought to apply the fine art of list-making to my prayer life. Since I began making a list since last week, I’ve noticed that the “slowness” of my Easter season prayer has begin to fall away and I’ve began to notice a renewal in my own practice. I am not overwhelmed nor wracked with a false since of guilt.

Here’s an example of my own “prayer list” that supplements my spontaneous prayer:

  1. Daily Mass Readings
  2. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours (when possible)
  3. One Rosary decade (or full Rosary when possible).

These tasks fit easily within my own life and help me grow closer to Christ throughout my day. Once I complete all of these prayerful tasks, anything “extra” is a bonus. By choosing to make a list and sticking to it, I can already tell that I don’t feel as slothful in my prayer life. I am slowly picking up the energy that I possessed before the Lenten season and I thank God for the wisdom of my spiritual director. And strangely enough, I thank God for this slow, prayerful season of Easter. In a sense, I have rediscovered the joy of prayer.

As we enter into Ordinary Time, what are some ways you can revamp your prayer life if it feels slow? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Let me know below, I’d love to hear your story.

May Our Lord Jesus bless you as you celebrate Pentecost and venture into Ordinary Time.

GUEST POST: Delight Yourself in the Lord by Allison Gingras

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I am excited to present a guest post from another digital friend and fellow Catholic blogger, Allison Gingras. May the joy of the Lord be your strength!

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Well, that seems easy enough. Though, I am not sure which intrigued me more when I first read it?  Whether it was wondering how one delights themselves in the Lord or which desire of my heart I longed to have fulfilled?

Continue reading “GUEST POST: Delight Yourself in the Lord by Allison Gingras”

Myths of a Different Kind: Two Falsehoods I Used to Believe About Catholicism

Solemnity of the Ascension // Our Lady of Fatima // Mother’s Day, 2018

It’s very common for inquirers about Catholicism to arrive in their RCIA classes or local parishes with misconceptions about the Faith. Often warned by well-meaning acquaintances about the dangers of the Catholic faith, those curious about Catholicism often have to work through this emotional and cultural baggage before (and sometimes after) receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.

For those who convert from an Evangelical Protestant background, some “myths” run a common thread across denominational lines. Some of these common myths include the idea that Catholics worship Mary, Catholics must earn their way to Heaven, Catholics believe they can “just go to confession” (and keep on sinning), and that Catholicism rejects Biblical teaching in favor of man-made traditions.

For me, the experience was a little different.

Many Protestant groups teach that one only has to “accept Jesus” in order to secure salvation. Often, it is taught that salvation can never be lost, regardless of what the person does. Other groups teach that salvation is eternal, but if you continue to live a life of sin after acknowledging Jesus, then you probably weren’t really “saved” to begin with. Baptism is often presented as something one does as a sign of obedience after salvation, not as an act necessary for salvation.

Contrary to this dominant theology in Protestantism, my denomination taught the necessity of baptism for salvation and that eternal security is not a Biblical teaching. Since the Catholic Church teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation and the rejection of eternal security, I had no issue with this during my formation period.

However, there were other myths before my conversion that I carried with me into RCIA. Thankfully, these myths were resolved and I was able to understand more clearly what the Church teachers and how she operates in our world. While I’m not a professional theologian, hopefully I can help you untangle these misunderstandings and any other misunderstandings you may have, too.

Myth #1: Catholics Don’t Evangelize. A few months ago, I read an article (title and author I have since forgotten) about Catholic evangelization. Essentially, the author stated that helping  someone enter the Catholic faith was once almost unheard of. He mentioned that inquiring about Catholicism was like if a non-Italian walked up to someone of Italian descent and said, “I’d like to be Italian. Can you help me do that?” In case you didn’t know, you can’t change someone’s ethnicity.

I imagine, that at one time, Catholicism was easily viewed as a family tradition, rather than a relationship with God (which happens even today in all faith traditions to a degree). Often, for those born into a Catholic family, the idea of conversion may seem foreign or even odd. At one time, I thought people only converted to Catholicism because they were going to marry a Catholic. On reason I carried this belief was because I thought that Catholics simply did not evangelize.

However, when I was in RCIA and upon my confirmation, I discovered that this was farther from the truth. For example, the Saint Paul Street Evangelization creates street teams to encounter passerbys in public spaces in a non-threatening way. These teams often pass out medals, rosary beads, pamphlets, and Bibles to those who are interested. On a smaller scale, many Catholic parishes have envagelization teams. For example, my parish hosted a Discovering Christ and Sharing Christ sessions for those interested in telling their story of faith in social settings. Catholic evangelization is alive and well, even if you don’t see it shouted on your local street corner.

Myth #2: Catholics Don’t Care About the Bible. This myth is rampant, especially in some (but not all) Protestant churches. The accusations are varied: Catholics say a priest forgives you. That’s not in the Bible! or Catholics drink blood each Sunday. That’s not in the Bible! or Catholics observe Advent and Lent, plus they baptize babies who can’t consent. That’s not in the Bible! My personal favorite: Catholics don’t even read the Bible. They’re not allowed to! 

Unfortunately, many of these statements about Catholic doctrines not having a Biblical foundation are based on myths within a myth. Perhaps someone had heard a Catholic family member describe a faith practice incorrectly. Or, maybe someone has encountered a former Catholic who is angry with the Church (and is often poorly catechized), and is determined to spread their own understanding of Catholic teaching.

While I don’t have time to delve into the Biblical basis for Catholic teachings, I can say that Catholics have a strong reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God. If you attend any Catholic Mass, you will notice that the Mass is absolutely soaked in the words and story of the Bible. There are multiple readings: the Old Testament, a Psalm, often a second reading from the Epistles, and always, always, always a Gospel reading. That’s a reading from each part of the Bible each and every Sunday! In a three-year liturgical year cycle, a Catholic will have heard the entire Bible read. How awesome is that!

Another example, before receiving the Eucharist, Catholics say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only the say the words and my soul shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). So, each time we receive Communion, Catholics are reminded that though we are not worthy of God, He comes to each one of us in the Eucharist. There are so many ways that Catholics reverence the Bible, just in the Mass alone. In fact, Pope Francis admonished Catholics to carry our Bibles just like we carry our smartphones.

Food For Thought

If you’re a convert to Catholicism, are there any myths that you believed prior to your confirmation? If you’re a cradle Catholic, did you have misunderstandings that were cleared up upon further study? Are you a non-Catholic who may have a misunderstanding? If so, I’d love to hear your stories below. It’s important that we always promote the truth in charity and love. I look forward to reading your comments and stories. Have a blessed Sunday!

 

 

GUEST POST: 15 Sneaky Ways to Live Out Your Catholic Faith

Welcome to Wednesday! Today, I am grateful to have Caitlyn Anderson, a digital friend and fellow Catholic, as today’s guest writer. Caitlyn is a blogger and YouTuber who seeks to glorify Christ in all that she does. I pray you are blessed and find out how you can live a quiet faith in a loud world.

15 Sneaky Ways to Live Out Your Catholic Faith

There are a ton of ways to live out the Catholic faith, especially since the Church is so beautiful and complex. Because of the vast assortment of ways to go share the message of the Gospel with the world, it can get a little overwhelming… and as if it weren’t already challenging enough, society is in a full on spiritual battle with all believers. I don’t know about you, but I get harassed for sharing my love for Christ quite often. It doesn’t exactly make me want to “go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”! However, we are called to “make disciples of all nations” (see Matthew 28:19).

We don’t need to make grand gestures on the regular in order to do that. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”. That’s what this list is all about. These are all small tasks that, when done with love, can be beautiful ways to live out your faith and share Christ’s love with the world.

Without further ado, here are fifteen sneaky ways to live out your Catholic faith:

 

  • Buy lunch for a homeless person.

 

You don’t need to buy a five course meal for someone in need. A quick stop at a deli for a sandwich and bottled water is just as significant. The most important part of this action is taking the time to acknowledge the person and their human dignity. Make eye contact and say a kind word when you give them your gift. Maybe even offer to say a prayer with them. Let them know you see them as a fellow brother or sister in Christ, worthy of basic respect.

 

  • Forgive when someone apologizes.

 

A little forgiveness goes a long way… and Christ tells us to forgive others as He has forgiven us! Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:32. Letting past hurts go and returning the apology with love is a beautiful way to reflect the forgiveness that God gives us to everyone in our lives.

 

  • Smile at a stranger.

 

Small thing, great love. Just acknowledging their presence as they walk past you can make their whole day. As far as you know, your smile may be the only kindness they experience all day. And that tiny bit of kindness can open their heart to an even greater Love.

 

  • Babysit your neighbor’s kids.

 

Even though the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is talking about more than helping your neighbor with their kiddos, helping out the people around you is a great place to start when you take on the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Whether it’s babysitting for date night, helping someone with their yardwork, or bringing dinner to the couple with a newborn, a little generosity goes a long way.

 

  • Pick up trash on your lunch break.

 

I know what you’re probably thinking… How is this Catholic? Well, it all boils down to taking care of the gift God has given us! Pope Francis summed it up perfectly in a 2015 speech: “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family”. So next time you finish your midday meal, take a few minutes to pick up any litter you see lying around on your way to the garbage can.

 

  • Wash the dishes without complaint.

 

I’m going to leave this explanation to St. Teresa of Calcutta (yea, she said a lot of great things!): “Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next”.

 

  • Listen to some faith-based music while you drive.

 

Whether you want to jam out to some Newsboys or blast some Gregorian chant or listen to a choir of nuns, some faith-based tunes coming from your speakers is never a bad thing! Avoiding the nonsense that comes over the radio these days can help you avoid some temptation, which will make it a little easier to continue to live out your faith throughout the day.

 

  • Invite a friend over.

 

Having good relationships with your friends is a great way to evangelize! This is a particularly sneaky way to share the faith. Inviting someone into your home and having fun with them allows them to see the joy and love that comes from having a friendship with Christ! Bonus perk: added opportunities for conversations about faith to come up.

 

  • Volunteer at a retirement home.

 

Being pro-life means respecting the dignity of human life at ALL stages- even the lives of the elderly. Spending a few hours with those in retirement homes or convalescent homes is a wonderful way to spread some joy to those who may be battling feelings of loneliness and to show them that there are people who still very much care about them and their well-being.

 

  • Donate clothes that you don’t want anymore.

 

Clothe the naked, people! Okay, so maybe you aren’t running around looking for nude individuals… but donating clothes and other items you no longer want or need helps those who can’t afford to shop at department stores. Just throwing stuff in the trash is wasteful! If there is still life left in those threads you no longer wear, give someone else the chance to enjoy them. Luke 3:11.

 

  • Support small businesses.

 

Not only do you help someone provide for their family (and all Catholics should be pro-family, right?), but you also get more of a say about where your money goes. Pouring all your money into big companies often means that you are pouring money into organizations that do not reflect your morals and values. Now, sometimes a run to the super-mart at midnight is a necessity… but making the choice to support small business when you can makes a huge difference.

 

  • Put in your best effort at school or work.

 

Colossians 3:23-24, y’all. Use the talents God gave you and do everything for Him!

 

  • Eat dinner with your family.

 

I’m busting out another St. Teresa of Calcutta quote… “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start”. Like she said, it’s not always easy to love those close to us- especially when they know all the right buttons to push to get under your skin! But spending time with your family, even if it’s just one meal a day, gives you an opportunity to reconnect with them and show them some love.

 

  • Wear a cross/crucifix/miraculous medal or a faith-inspired shirt.

 

Okay, so this one is not as sneaky. But it’s still a great way to live out the faith and evangelize! Not only will you be a low-key walking billboard for Christ, you just may inspire others to be more open about their faith or spark a conversation about why you are wearing what you are wearing!

 

  • Pray.

 

This may be an obvious one, but it is SO IMPORTANT. Pray. Pray some more. Add in a few prayers after that. They don’t have to be long, fancy prayers, but lift up others to God. Pray for your family members, the unborn, the elderly, the needy, your postman, your doctor, your politicians, your peers, the cashier at the store, and that one driver who cut you off this morning!

As you can see, these are small tasks that are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. Don’t think you have to go out and do all of them at once, either. Even doing one small thing with great love once a week can make a HUGE impact on the world!

If you can do more- awesome! If you can only start with one- that’s great, too.

Over time, it will become easier and easier to incorporate these “sneaky” ways of being Catholic into your daily routine… All you have to do is start with one act of great love.

Continue reading “GUEST POST: 15 Sneaky Ways to Live Out Your Catholic Faith”

Trust Issues: Divine Mercy for Every Moment

Patience, prayer, and silence – these are what give strength to the soul.

– St. Faustina Kowalska

Trust issues.

Whether you know it or not, you have a trust issue. If you are human and you are not sinless, you have a problem with trust. You may think, “What? I don’t have a problem with trust. I trust my family and my spouse. I trust God, too!” As someone striving for holiness, I often thought the same about myself: I did NOT have a trust issue. In my mind, trust issues were for bad marriages and cutthroat workplace environments.

During Lent, I read Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine MercyDivided into 33 readings for 33 days, Merciful Love not only tackles the wonder of Jesus’s mercy, but it also exposes our own shortcomings as sinners. In the first few readings, Fr. Gaitley claims, in essence, that all of us have trust issues because we sin.

Think about it for a moment.

Origins of Distrust 

Adam and Eve sinned in the paradise of the Garden of Eden. Ultimately, they chose not to trust in the goodness of God and to respond to Satan’s lies instead. As a result, they were banished from the garden and the scourge of Original Sin remains with us even today. In a way, sin is when we decide to trust our own instincts instead of God’s truth. When we sin, we say “I know what’s best for my life and I reject God.” To sin is not only to miss the mark, but also our own way of saying that we don’t trust that Jesus knows what is best for us. Likewise, when we worry and fail to relinquish our cares to Jesus, that’s also a lack of trust. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

I think about my own personal life and issues. At every turn, I work to justify my actions and my sin. I say, “Well, I wouldn’t have done this, had that not happened.” Also, “If I don’t worry about something, that means I really don’t care about the issue at hand.” The hard truth is: I feel like if I don’t worry and fret over an issue, I believe that I have lost all control of the situation. Talk about a trust issue!

Wisdom from Scripture 

Jesus, many times in the Gospels, admonishes His followers not to worry. Here are just a few examples:

  1. “Do not be worried,” John 14:27
  2. “Take courage!…Don’t be afraid,” Mark 6:50
  3. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” Matthew 6:34

In many of the New Testament Epistles, the Christians of the era were also taught not to fret:

  1. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Phillippians 4:6
  2. “Leave all your worries with Him,” 1 Peter 5:6

These are just a few of many examples from the Bible regarding the unnecessary act of worry in the life of a Christian. Yet, so many of us fret and worry each day. We sin, we worry, we lack trust. For many, myself included, it’s a cycle repeated each and every day. I keep holding on to what I imagine I can control through worry and anxiety. I don’t trust that God can actually bear my burdens for me. In fact, it makes more sense for me to worry. In the end, however, my faulty logic fails and I accomplish nothing.

A Source for Developing Trust 

It may seem as if I think not worrying is as simple as saying, “You know what? Today, I’m not going to worry. I’m going to let the Divine Mercy of Jesus wash over my life and relinquish all of my troubles to Him!” 

If only it were that easy.

One way I tackle my own issues of trust and sin is through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. While I won’t go into the history of the Chaplet here, the prayer (often prayed on Rosary beads), is a devotion centered on the infinite mercy of Our Lord. Devotees pray “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” and conclude by saying “Jesus I trust in You” three times.

Pray this with me: Jesus, I trust in You. 

Four powerful words, packed with infinite meaning. To simply pray, “Jesus, I trust in You” is to say that you trust that the King of the Universe can handle all of your cares. It says, “I reject my fear and my doubt, my own abilities, and I trust in God.” There are some days it is much easier to pray this prayer. On other days, it’s all I can do to say it through gritted teeth. But, like exercising, the more we proclaim our trust in Christ, the easier it becomes for us to receive His grace.

Today, and the next few days, I challenge you to tell Jesus that you trust Him with your life. This can be scary. It’s essentially to say, “I give up everything I am to You and I know You can handle it.” Yes, we have trust issues. But, with the grace of Christ, there is nothing He cannot do within us.