Love for Beginners: Recognizing the Dignity in Everyone

“For, by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man.”

– Vatican II

I don’t know if you can remember the first time you struggled with or recognized sin in your own life, but I know I can. Even as a young child, I was often filled with undue pride and arrogance at my self-perceived properness and heightened dignity. Simply, I thought I was better than almost everyone else.

See, I was born into a life that so many would literally kill for. I was raised in home with married parents who were nurturing and supportive. My brother and I get along splendidly and have never one time had an argument or disagreement. By the time I was 18, I traveled to all 50 states with my parents and to the Holy Land with my mother. The little town I grew up in, though insulated, was perfect for raising up children who retained their innocence a little longer than most. In most ways, I lived a healthy, idyllic life.

The Dangers of Privilege 

Unfortunately, an idyllic childhood does come with drawbacks, though it’s few and far between. For me, that drawback was the failure to recognize the dignity in every person I came into contact with. For example, if I scored higher on a test than most of my classmates (which was often), I pondered my own outstanding intellect. If someone participated in hobbies that I found banal (watching and playing sports, not reading voraciously), I determined that person was uncouth and in need of culture. Oh, and people who went to the beach every year for vacation? Get up on my level and go somewhere educational and exotic.

For years, I harbored this belief that I was somehow better than everyone else by the virtue of my family, my behaviors, and my hobbies. I prided myself as someone who would have followed Jesus had I lived during His time on Earth. In reality, I probably would have turned up my nose at the sight of the Holy Family. 

Love One Another

One of the most commonly quoted bits of Holy Scripture is from Jesus when He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). What is originally a profound and deeply influential command is often twisted by our society. It’s turned into a kitschy saying that we decorate our homes with and quip on social media.

But, have you thought to ponder what it means to truly love one another? Jesus does not instruct us to only love those whom it is easy to love. While we are to love those who are the closest to us, it’s also an imperative that we love those who cause our hearts to clamp up in dread. After all, Jesus said that even the pagans love those who are lovable (Matthew 5:47). The simple, yet sacrificial act, of loving those we struggle to see the dignity in is what can change the world.

Love for Beginners

I am convinced that none of us will ever become experts in loving our neighbors, at least on this side of eternity. We have all sorts of hangups: baggage, presumptions, and the scourge of original sin. All of these things distort how we view and love our neighbor. Sin causes us to discard the lowly and to place a preference on our own selves. We fail to see the inherent God-given dignity of those, especially those we don’t like, around us.

Since my conversion to Catholicism, I have grappled more with my own sin of arrogance and judging others. I think this is primarily because, once I converted, my faith became my own and was no longer something I doing just to avoid hell. Often, I thought about Church teachings on the dignity of the human person . Through my journey, I discovered little ways we can learn to value those around us.

Recognizing the Dignity in Others

A few ways to do this are:

  1. Realize that God created each and every person, and knows them intimately (Psalm 139).
  2. Know that Jesus wildly loves each person you encounter. According to Church teaching, every person is assigned a guardian angel. Just think: God loved you and everyone else enough to appoint a supernatural being to protect and watch over you. Knowing that each person has a guardian angel has greatly influenced how I view those around me.
  3. Pray for those you don’t like. This is tough: Easily said but not easily done. Whether you start out with a simple Our Father or Hail Mary for that person, it’s a start. As you progress, watch how God will slowly chip away the barriers in your heart.
  4. Give of yourself. Volunteer for those who are less-fortunate. It’s easy to pity the poor, but the real change is found in working to improve the conditions of those who are the most vulnerable. This very act takes you outside of yourself, and while humbling, it can help you recognize the dignity in others.

Seeing the dignity in others is hard and arduous. It often requires that we step down from our own high places and come face-to-face with the reality of our littleness. Let me know below if there are other ways you recognize the dignity of others. I always love to hear from my readers. May God bless you, always.

 

 

 

Start Acting Like It

This was originally posted on my personal Facebook account. In light of recent events, I believe it’s a timely reflection on the state of the Church and what can be done about this deviant scourge in our midst. 

Some thoughts:

I am currently reading the grand jury report regarding the sickening Catholic clergy sex abuse case coming out of Pennsylvania. I’ve always been of the opinion that when it comes to convicted child abusers, ESPECIALLY sexual offenders, that the best justice is street justice. But, for better or for worse, we don’t necessarily live in that type of society.

In spite of all of this, do I plan to stay Catholic? Absolutely.

In no other church do I have access to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus through Holy Communion.

There will always be scandal, there will always be sinners, there will always be passively, polite people who stand by and let bullshit like this happen because they don’t want to disturb the (false) peace. That’s because people are people: that includes you, me, and everyone else kneeling on the rail on Sundays.

But…

You can speak out, stand up, keep going to Mass, keep going to Adoration, keep praying and praying, keep serving your parish, and making your voice heard when something doesn’t seem right. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “[right now on Earth,] Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet..but yours.

So start acting like it.

Another Miracle on 34th Street

One week ago today I moved to New York State and on July 5th, I moved to 34th Street in Manhattan, New York City. Somewhere between the Hudson River and the flagship Macy’s store, I am now home (if but for a temporary time). Because I am not adept at cultural references, the 34th Street name did not strike a chord with me. But, for many friends and family, it did. One favorite response to my newfound address? Look out for miracles! And looking out for miracles, I have surely done.This past Sunday, July 1st, the Gospel reading at Mass recounts the story in Mark chapter 5 of Jesus, a synagogue official named Jarius, and Jarius’ daughter. In short, Jarius begs Jesus to heal his daughter who has been sick for a long period of time. However, in the time it takes Jesus to respond to the desperate father, people from Jarius’s house arrive bearing bad news: The little girl is dead and Jarius should trouble Jesus no longer. However, Jesus turns to Jarius and says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus goes to Jarius’ home, where He informs everyone that the girl is not dead, but merely asleep. Jesus then takes her hand, and says talitha koum, meaning “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”How many times in our lives have we been like Jarius? We’re desperate and at the end of our ropes, only to see the death of someone or something in the form of a dream or hope die. Or, maybe we’re paralyzed by fear and we can’t bring ourselves to believe in the words of Jesus when He says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jarius is a lot like all of us: scared, worried, and troubled by circumstances that we can’t quite understand or comprehend. We can barely function, much less “arise” like Jarius’ daughter.I don’t believe in luck or coincidences, but I do believe that God speaks in mysterious ways. Before I moved on Monday, I was terrified. I wondered if I was making the right decision to leave Kentucky and a life that was calm, even if it was boring at times. Yes, I wanted to move to the city. Yes, I wanted to live closer to my fiance. Yes, I was ready to mix up my teaching career. Everything had fallen into place from the job offer to securing housing right in the heart of Manhattan. Yet, I was very afraid that I had made the wrong decision and that everything would be a sure disaster.But, the Gospel of Mark spoke to me in a profound way during Mass.When reading the Bible, I try to stay away from reading each individual verse as if it’s written to and for me. I understand that Scripture has a context for a time and place. While Jeremiah 29:11 was written for Jews suffering the Babylonian exile, it doesn’t mean one cannot derive some comfort and courage from the verse. Similarly, while I am not Jarius’ daughter, I too can also sense the freedom that Jesus offers when He says, “Little girl…arise!”The day before my move, when I heard this Gospel reading, I was filled with hope. I knew that with Our Lord, I had nothing to fear in my new transition. Will it be tough? Yes, sometimes. Will I sometimes fall prey to anxiety and weakness? Yep. But, each time, I can remember the words of Jesus when he says “Little girl…arise.” It is in Christ that you and me and everyone else can persevere, rise to sainthood, and enjoy the wonderment of Heaven. We just have to rise up day after day and trust that God is always with us – whether we live in secluded cabin or we’re looking for miracles on 34th Street.–Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please consider liking this blog’s Facebook page. Also consider subscribing through WordPress or email. I look forward to connecting with you! 

Back to Basics: Learning More About the Catholic Faith

I have met many Catholics who have said, “I want to know more about the Faith, but I just don’t know where to start.” Or, “I’ve read the Catechism a few times, but I still can’t sort a lot of it out.” Even though I attended and went through a fantastic RCIA program that taught me quite a bit about Catholicism, there are still odds-and-ends questions about the faith I’ve had over the course of this year. And sometimes, when a Google search doesn’t quite cut it, you need a live person to help you sort out any questions you might have.

This is where Twitter steps in.

I’m a frequent Twitter user, and I believe it’s no accident that I encountered Larry Ford, AKA “Joe Sixpack,” a self-proclaimed “every Catholic guy” who just happens to be a Marian Apologist, author, and creator of the What We Believe…Why We Believe It bulletin insert series. Like so many of us, Larry is a covert to the Faith and he has a passion for sharing it with others. However, Larry’s work is not only confined to Twitter. He uses his own apostolate, Joe Sixpack Answers, to evangelize anyone who will read or listen about Catholic teachings.

A Digital Outreach

In a increasingly secular society where up to 80% of Catholics deny the reality of hell around 75% deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, effective evangelization is needful. In my personal experience, Catholic evangelization is often non-existent or it’s weighed down with terms and phrases that complicate already complex doctrines.

As an “every Catholic guy,” Larry’s Joe Sixpack Answers helps eliminate many of the barriers to Catholic evangelization. The most important part of Larry’s work, I believe, is that he makes Catholic teaching accessible to anyone while remaining faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Two Tools for the Sixpack Catholic

  1. One service provided by Joe Sixpack Answers is free webinars each Sunday afternoon. For the past four weeks, I’ve attended each webinar live or I’ve watched the replay on Larry’s YouTube channel. The webinars have ranged from the use of sacramentals by the faithful to the proof of the existence of God. As previously stated, the teachings of the Church are presented in an easy-to-understand, but not watered-down, format. In the event that you reach the end of the webinar, Larry takes and answers anonymous questions. He also answers email after any webinar (and responds quickly!).
  2. Joe Sixpack Answers also has an FAQ page with questions ranging from the morality of contraception, the origins of humanity, and consecration. You name it, Larry probably has an answer for you. If not, an answer is an email away!

It’s also helpful to add that Larry is not just a random guy on the Internet, posting what he thinks the Catholic Church teaches. Rather, he is affiliated with the Marian Catechist Apostolate, an organization under the supervision of Cardinal Burke.

How Can I Help?

Evangelization is tough. It’s even more daunting to think about starting to evangelize your friends and family for Christ. I believe that the first step to effective evangelization is to know what you believe. While many of us, myself included, think we know it all – odds are, we haven’t scratched the surface. It’s important, that when asked, we have an answer to those inquiring about our faith. Joe Sixpack Answers is an excellent resource to help you get started on a path to not only knowing more about Catholicism, but sharing it with your friends and family. Let’s get back to basics!

You can learn more about Joe Sixpack Answers by clicking here.

***

Thanks for reading today! Soon, Ash Wednesday and Lent will be upon us. While I will take time off from social media and this blog during Lent, I will begin work on a new e-book project. The theme will focus on Seven Sorrows of Mary. If you have a story about how the life of Mary has helped you draw closer to Jesus, please email me at sarahquelpart@gmail.com. I may use your quote in my project. God bless! 

back to basics_
Pin me on Pinterest!

GUEST POST: Marian Book Review by Katie Hendrick

Today I am very grateful to have fellow blogger Katie Hendrick as a guest writer. She has reviewed many great titles about our Blessed Mother, which will make for perfect reading this Lent. You can visit Katie at her blog Stumbling Toward Sainthood.

Despite being a “cradle Catholic,” my relationship with Mary is pretty weak. Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to start reading more books about the Blessed Mother (as well as introducing some Marian prayers into my life). In doing this, I have found three books that can help anyone connect with Mary as Christ made clear we are to do.

Mary by Tim Staples

What It’s About: Staples provides “biblical evidence for Marian doctrine and devotion, answers common objections to Catholic teachings, and guidance on how to imitate Christ – which we should do in all things – by loving and honoring his mother.”

The Good: This book draws from a number of different resources (Scripture, Early Church, etc.) and covers a wide array of the common misconceptions about Mary. I also felt what made this book especially beneficial to readers was Tim Staples’ perspective as a Catholic convert. Because he came from a Fundamentalist background, he was able to address the concerns about Mary more effectively than someone who always felt close to Mary.

The Opportunities for Improvement: The only thing I didn’t like about this book was some of the Bible verses got repetitive. Though they were still relevant, I think a simple verse reference would have sufficed.

Why You should Read it: If you want to grow closer to Mary, I think you first need to get rid of all the misconceptions surrounding her. There is so much misinformation surrounding the practice of honoring to Mary, and this book provides clear responses to correct this. If you start turning to Mary with uncertainty or fear fueled by misconceptions, it will be a much more difficult road. Starting by learning will make the path smoother, so this book is a great place to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary/

 Mary: Help in Hard Times by Marianne Lorraine Trouve

What It’s About: “No matter what challenges we may face in life, Mary is always there to help us….Let the prayers and real-life stories of how others have experienced Mary’s intercession open your heart to the care she can provide for you.”

The Good: This is probably the second best book on Mary I have read (only overshadowed by the last book I will recommend). It starts by addressing who Mary is, moves into people’s experiences with the Blessed Mother, and concludes with different practices to connect with Mary. I thought the level of detail was fantastic, and this book was very encouraging.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is such a small criticism, but I did not like the Bible translation they used for The Annunciation because the explanation of it referenced a different translation.

Why You should Read it: If you only want to read one book on Mary, this is the book to pick; it is a good blend of apologetics and devotions. This book was also very practical. For example, when discussing the personal experiences people had with Mary, it didn’t lean heavily on miracles; instead, it focused on how dedicated prayer brought about fruit. It’s also a great starting point for Marian prayer if you have no idea where to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary-help-hard-times/

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri

What It’s About: “Do you struggle with praying the rosary: finding time, fighting distractions, worrying about your mind wandering? In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri offers practical suggestions that come from the rosary’s tradition and, most especially, St. John Paul II. These helpful tips will make the rosary a constant companions through the different seasons, moments, and challenges we all face. These tips serve as easy on-ramps for those who don’t pray the rosary regularly motivate avid devotees of the rosary to go deeper with the Lord.” In the interest of transparency, I want to make it clear that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Good: This book was very intelligently written without being intimidating. Whether you and Mary are BFFs or you just got past the “Catholics worship Mary” falsity, you can find growth from this book. Though the beginning of the book was solid with its blend of apologetics and history, what really made this book special was the beautiful rosary meditations. If you think that the rosary is boring, these beautiful mediations will change your mind. If you fear that the rosary focuses too much on Mary, the explanations of the mystery in the context of Scripture and Christ’s salvific plan will also change your mind. This was my favorite book from 2017.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is an even smaller criticism than before, but there was one graphic in the book that was blurry. I really had to dig to find something wrong with it.

Why You should Read it: This book is just beautiful. It’s hard to articulate how much I loved it. The rosary seems like an outdated prayer, but this book shines the spotlight this amazing spiritual practice. It’s hard to read this book and not feel some kind of change.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-pray-rosary-like-never/ 

***

Getting to know Mary can be intimidating, but these books lay some groundwork. Mary gives you the most basic information you need about our Blessed Mother. Mary: Help in Hard Times reassures you of her love for her children and gives some steps for growing closer to her. Praying the Rosary Like Never Before will lead you to fall in love with this incredible prayer. Though there are many great books about Mary out there, you can’t go wrong with starting with these three.

***

Kate Hendrick lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two cats. She works as an engineer full-time. Kate writes on her blog, Stumbling Toward Sainthood, which discusses the challenges we face as we strive to live authentically Catholic lives. When Kate isn’t sharing her love for Christ and His Church online, you can find her reading, crocheting, or playing nerdy board games with her friends. You can also find Kate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Marian book review
Pin me on Pinterest!

Rosary Reflections: The Sorrowful Mysteries

This is the fourth, and final, installment in a series on the mysteries of the Rosary. You can click the following links to read meditations on the Glorious, Joyful, and Luminous mysteries.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, Catholics around the world pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. These mysteries follow the events in the life of Jesus from Holy Thursday to Good Friday. With the Sorrowful Mysteries, we ponder not only the life of Jesus, but also His divine suffering. The Sorrowful Mysteries teach us, contrary to modern culture, that suffering is intricately part of life and cannot be avoided – even Jesus was not immune to life’s hardships.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony in the Garden: Before His arrest, Jesus goes with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus reveals that He is sorrowful and begs God to “let this cup pass from Me.” Jesus’ disciples fall asleep as He prays and sweats drops of blood, but nevertheless, Jesus says “not My will, but Yours be done.” Though Jesus was fully God and fully man, He was not immune from distress. In the Gospels, Jesus wants to avoid His impending crucifixion, but instead, He submits to the holy will of God. How often do we accept the will of God, even if it is contrary to our own desires? How far will we follow Jesus? Are we brave enough to say each day, “not my will, but Yours be done?” Prayer: Dear God, give me the bravery to always say yes to You, even when my will is weak.
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar: After false accusations are directed towards Him, Jesus is handed over to be scourged. According to historians, scourging was a terrible event: the person was often bent over a single pillar and beat with a whip, which often had pieces of metal or bone on the ends of leather strips. For us, like a lamb, Jesus submitted to this heinous punishment. For our sins, sins He had not committed, He was lashed. When meditating upon the scourging, think about how we treat others. Do we often treat others poorly? Do we ignore those who we believe are not worthy of our attention? How can we better understand that each time we hurt another person, it pierces the heart of Christ? Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for when I’ve hurt others, which hurts You. Help me to understand the love You have for me, which led you to endure scourging.
  3. The Crowning of Thorns: Jesus is asked if He is a King, and He replies that His kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36). In order to mock Jesus, His captors form a crown of thorns and press it upon His head. It was not enough for the soldiers to scourge Jesus, but now, they must submit Him cruel humiliation. As Christians, we are often mocked for our beliefs. Though we may not be crowned with thorns, we sometimes must bear to consequences of not conforming to the world. Like Jesus, do we know that our home is not of this earth? How can we lovingly bear persecutions, minor and major, in our daily lives? Would you willingly bear a “crown” for Jesus? Prayer: Dearest Jesus, give me the grace to understand that this world is not my eternal home.
  4. The Carrying of the Cross: After the scourging and crowning of thorns, Jesus is forced to carry His cross to the site of His crucifixion. Already weakened by blood loss and physical injuries, Jesus appears wearied. Simon of Cyrene is asked to carry the cross, assisting Jesus as He makes His way to Calvary. While some scholars suggest that Simon was chosen to carry the cross because he was sympathetic to Jesus, others say that Simon was forced to carry the cross by the soliders. Regardless of his motivation, the act of Simon is a witness to us today. Do we help others who are bearing harsh trials? Or, do we shy away from consoling the pain of others? How can you help carry the cross of another, and in a way, help Jesus carry His? Prayer: Lord, life is very difficult. I want to help others in their trials. Give me the courage to keep walking down an unknown path.
  5. The Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross and is left to die. Despite the experience of torture and extreme pain at the hands of mortal men, Jesus asks His Father to forgive those who hurt and tortured Him because “they know not what they do.” While on the cross, we see Jesus’ humanity on display. He says “I thirst” and wonders aloud why God has forsaken Him. Even among the pain and jeers from the crowd, Jesus instructs John to look after His mother. After hours of agony, Jesus declares “it is finished” and dies. In our lives, how often do we forgive others who have wronged us? Do we freely offer our mercy and compassion, or do we withhold it? When we feel as if God has abandoned us, how can we cling to hope? How can you die to self each and every day? Prayer: Dear Jesus, I want to die to myself each day. Only with your help, can I do this. May I always run to You.

********************

May God bless you as you pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Sorrwful Mysteries

Ways to Pray: Five Favorite Catholic Devotional Practices

One of the most hidden, but striking, beauties of Catholicism is the many devotional practices available to those in the Faith. For those who are considering conversion, or have recently converted, it may seem overwhelming to pick which “way” to pray. Perhaps you’re a Catholic who is trying to find your way back to the rhythm of prayer.

Of course, you can simply talk to God. You don’t need a method or a formula. But, if you’re like me, you may find yourself at a loss for words when speaking to Our Lord. This is why devotional practices are so important: these written prayers and repetitions often root us in the reality that God became man, died for our sins, and defeated death in the resurrection. Personally, I find that when I have something tangible (a devotion, for example), I am more likely to pray and meditate on the Gospel. For your reference, here are five of my favorite Catholic prayerful devotions.

  1. The Rosary: Hands down, the Rosary is one of the most recognizable of all Catholic prayer devotions. With meditations on the Gospel and Scared Tradition, the Rosary offers a full look at the life and work of Jesus Christ. In my personal experience, the prayer has served like a security blanket: it helps me pray when I don’t know what to say and it brings me comfort. I offer up my intentions, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work. Amy Brooks of Prayer Wine Chocolate has said that she enjoys praying the Rosary with friends. This is a great way to grow with those in your life. Personally, I prefer to pray alone. Regardless of your prayer group preferences, the Rosary is a good place to start.
  2. Eucharistic Adoration: Eucharistic Adoration, or Adoration, is a beautiful practice. (For a short primer on Adoration, click here). Simply, Adoration is a time of silence, in a church or chapel, where we adore Our Lord in the form of the Eucharist. While in Adoration, worshipers may pray, read, or simply sit in silence. There is no time requirement, though I do suggest an hour. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity to sit in the presence of Jesus and to bring Him your worries, cares, hopes, and fears. Like the Rosary, you can participate in Adoration alone or in a group. Chloe Langr of the Old Fashioned Girl blog attends Adoration on a weekly basis with her husband. For couples, Adoration is a great way to bond and grow spiritually. For anyone, it’s a chance to visit the Lord. For more information, contact your local parish.
  3. Daily Mass Readings: Part of my morning routine includes prayer and the Daily Mass Readings. These are readings from the Scriptures that are read at Mass for that day around the world. Typically, there is an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a second reading from a New Testament epistle, and always the Gospel. You can find the daily Mass readings by searching for the “USCCB Daily Readings.” While reading the Bible may not seem like a prayer in the traditional sense, you can certainly turn it into one! For example, if you know of someone who is sick, you can offer up your reading as a prayer for that person. It’s a beautiful way to learn the Word of God while praying for those around you.
  4. Fasting: Honestly, fasting is not on of my favorite devotional practices. Like most people, I don’t enjoy self-denial or curbing my desires. I want what I want, and I want it now. But why, then, is fasting on the list? Essentially, fasting orients me to the correct frame of mind (and that I do like!) During Lent, when I’m dying to log into Facebook, I say a prayer instead. I use that time I would have spent on social media in prayer. Maybe your distractions are different. Maybe, for Lent this year, when you are craving chocolate, you recite a verse from the Bible. When we deny ourselves, we find that we become closer to and more like Jesus.
  5. The Divine Mercy Chaplet: This chaplet, popularized in the 20th century, focuses on Jesus’ deep mercy and immense love for us. On rosary beads, we ask God to have mercy on us for the sake of Jesus’ “sorrowful passion.” But, we not only pray for ourselves with the chaplet, we also pray for mercy “on the whole world.” In a society that is abandoning Christian values at a rapid pace, we are in deep need of God’s mercy and the message of Christ’s love for us. When we discover that Christ loved us enough to die for the world, we will conform our lives to His.

Of course, these are not the only devotions that Catholics can take part in. There are so many more ways to pray and such little time to write about them all. As I grow in my faith, I would like to learn more about other prayerful devotions. For example, a very popular way to read Scripture is through lectio divina. The lectio allows you to intentionally read Scripture instead of blazing through it (as I often do). This video from Ascension presents the lectio divina beautifully:

Finally, I’ve taken a particular interest in sacramentals. Sacramentals are not sacraments: they do not provide grace, but rather, are signs of grace in our lives (CCC 1670). Sacramentals include holy water, medals, icons, and assorted other items. One of my favorite sacramentals is the Miraculous Medal, which I’ve written about here. Lately, I have read about scapulars: small pieces of cloth often worn under clothing and around the neck. I have a little metal one that I wear around a chain, but not a full blown “real” one. Fr. Nicholas Blackwell, a Carmelite in New York City, talks about the famous brown scapular:

While the Brown Scapular is one type of scapular, there are also assorted colors, such as the blue scapular. Just today, I was introduced to the green scapular by Annie Fulkerson of Salt and Light. The green scapular is often used and prayed with in order to bring about conversions and healing. Please note that Catholics DO NOT believe that the scapular or any object itself can heal or convert someone. Only God can do that. But, He can use these tangible objects to work miracles in someone’s life.

green scapular
The Green Scapular Devotion // Photo: Annie Fulkerson

As we sprint into the new year, I hope that your prayer life is vibrant and growing. If you’re getting back into the swing of prayer, start small. You don’t have to pray a full Rosary every day, start with a decade and move up. Maybe you could make a list of all of your prayer needs and just start talking to Our Lord. Maybe you’re a seasoned prayer warrior, and are looking for something different to add to the mix. I hope that my list can help you. In conclusion, there are so many ways to pray and talk with to Jesus. What are some of your favorite devotions? Share with me below. I look forward to hearing from you, and may God bless you this week.

Thank your for reading and for your support!

 

Ways to Pray