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.

 

 

 

The Webster Apartments: A Review

When I was 11-years-old, I made my first journey to New York City with my mother on a school trip. Though I was born into a rural community, I’ve always been city(ish) at heart. Without a doubt, the trip was magical and I was stunned at the big city: the lights, the sounds, and the never-ending hum of activity. Shortly after, I told my mother I was moving to New York. Like many young pre-teens with dreams, I wasn’t for sure I would actually move to the Big Apple. But, after meeting my Long Island boyfriend (now fiance) and securing a teaching job in the city, my long-held dream of living in New York City, specifically Manhattan, has come to fruition.

One of the most daunting tasks of moving to a new city, any new city, is finding a place to live that is affordable, in a great location, and safe. Unfortunately, apartment searchers often have to compromise one or more factors in order to find a place to lay their head. Thankfully, before moving to NYC, I came across The Webster Apartments, a short-term, women’s only residence in the heart of Manhattan. Thankfully, when I applied for a room, there was an opening in early July. After nearly 12 days of living in Manhattan, specifically at the apartments, I want to give you the grand tour of big city life, offering the pros and cons of my new living arrangement.

The Pros

  1. Location: The Webster Apartments are located on West 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan. This is a prime location, just a short walk to multiple subway stations and Penn Station, a hub for travel from New York and beyond. Just down the street is the flagship Macy’s store, alongside a Target and Kmart for your grocery needs. Just a few blocks away is the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and a variety of other attractions. It’s nearly impossible to say you’re bored while living at the Webster.
  2. Affordable: Compared to other apartments in Manhattan, the Webster Apartments is a steal. In your bi-weekly rate, you receive two meals a day, weekly housekeeping service, free wi-fi, and 24/7 security at the front desk (among other services). While this sounds like a recipe for terribly expensive for living in NYC, the rent rates are dependent on how much you make before tax. The minimum a resident can make and live at the Webster is $30,000, while the maximum is $80,000. For reference, I pay around $1400 a month in rent. Some women pay more, some pay less. Thankfully, the Webster understands that starting a new job in the big city doesn’t always accompany a big paycheck.
  3. Safety: The Webster does not take the safety of its guests lightly. All visitors are required to sign in and the front desk is staffed by security personnel 24/7/365. Moreover, as part of her applications, a prospective resident must consent to a very detailed background and credit check. One cannot simply apply to live at the apartments with a criminal record an/or a poor history of repaying debts. And while the Webster does not keep tabs on when its occupants come and go, women are to scan in upon entering the building after a day of work or leisure. Also, for better or worse, no men are not allowed above the first floor. If you want to show your dad or boyfriend your room, you both must be accompanied by a Webster staff member. Personally, I think this is a great policy, as it cuts down on tomfoolery. But, if you have a boyfriend or fiance, he can visit with you in one of the many beau parlors (read: small, decorated rooms with a TV) on the first floor. Finally, any male guests you have can eat with you to the dining room for a small fee.

The Cons

  1. Community is hard to find: Contrary to what you might think, living in the Webster is not like a college dorm. Most women here to work, eat, and sleep. This contrasts with a college dorm, where many young women are eager to make friends and connections to sustain them through the college experience. Therefore, at the Webster, there’s not many guests sitting together at lunch and dinner. Most eat and leave, not saying much to anyone else. At night, you won’t hear loud music or boisterous laughter. Most women are turned in by 11pm. As an introvert, this vibe at the Webster doesn’t bother me. I’m fine to come in, go to my room, and sit in solitude. But, if you’re looking to make friends right away, you may have to work at it.
  2. The Food: Honestly, the jury is still out on this one. The food here at the Webster is unique, has variety, and one has plenty of options to choose from. There’s always two meat-based options and one choice for vegetarians. For example, tonight you can choose to build your own taco and burrito, with a wide range of toppings. Veggies are always available as a side dish and there’s a salad bar once you go through the line. However, I would say that the food is lacking in the flavor department. Maybe I’m just used to down-home cooking where cooks use something called salt to season up their dishes. Here, far north of the Ohio River, it doesn’t seem that they’ve received the memo. Overall the food is edible, but don’t expect Michelin-star quality.
  3. Restricted Appliances: My one reservation about moving to the Webster (though not a deal breaker) was that guests are not permitted to have big appliances in their rooms (mini-fridges, coffee brewers, etc.). I understand why this is a rule: the building dates back to the 1920s and too many extra appliances plugged in to outlets could cause a shortage, or even worse, a fire. But, I had grown attached to my Keurig brewer back home. It pained me to know I would have to leave it behind (a total first-world problem), but I did. Guests are permitted to have a small cooler, which they can fill up with ice from the ice machine on the 2nd floor. While it doesn’t quite function like a mini-fridge, it can keep foods cool as needed.

Life at The Webster Apartments has proven to be a fun, convenient, and exciting way to encounter life in New York City. I highly recommend this living arrangement to any young woman looking to relocate to the city for work or internships. The Webster provides a nice place to live and thrive, and acts as sort of a safety net as you make your way into the hum of the Big Apple. For more information on The Webster Apartments and its eligibility requirements, click visit websterapartments.org.

All the best,

Sarah

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Though my review of The Webster Apartments is favorable, this post or blog is not sponsored or affiliated by the Apartments. 

 

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! 

This Week: April 29-May 5

Love overcomes, love delights, those who love the Sacred Heart rejoice. – St. Bernadette Soubirous

I’ve always liked Mondays. It’s a new week: my emails are answered more quickly, the day is fresh, and it’s everything new. I pray your Monday is beyond blessed and you’re finding the joy of Christ in every moment.

What I’m Reading: At the start of the weekend, I finished Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman’s Guide to Forgiveness by Genevieve Kineke. Gevevive graciously sent me a copy of her book after reading my Catholic Stand article regarding the Feminine Genius and secular feminism.  Her book is a great study about as women, we can learn to forgive offenses from the smallest to the most horrendous. I highly recommend it. This week, I’m working my way through the Take Up and Read Rosary study, Ponder

What I’m Praying: This week, my fiance and I are going to re-start our habit of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The Chaplet is a beautiful prayer with a special focus on the mercy of Jesus. In addition to my daily Bible study and prayers, I try to pray a full Rosary or at least a decade. The struggle has been real lately!

What I’m Wearing: This week’s handbag is the Coach Saddle 23. Dusty rose leather, gunmetal hardware, classic silhouette, and crossbody fit: it’s my new favorite purse. I love you, Coach.

What I’m Hearing: The highlight of my Sundays (or Monday morning) is listening to The Coaster. It’s a fun and lighthearted oasis in the world of Catholic podcasting.

What I’m Writing: This week I’m working on an article for Catholic Stand about St. Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes. In the past, I’ve written about Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Therese, and my conversion experience. During Holy Week, I was featured over at The Catholic Woman. This week, I hope to write a blog post about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Follow These Fine Accounts on Twitter: @DeanAbbott, @CatholicCoaster, @CarmeliteNick

What I’m Up To: Earlier this month, I was hired by a major charter school network in NYC. My new job starts this July and I am looking forward to the change. I will miss my family (especially my newborn nephew!) and wonderful parish family, but I am very excited about the opportunity to work in a new state and to live closer to my fiance.

Where I’m Going: In June, my mother and I are going on the Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises. My last encounter with Europe was 12 years ago on a 12 hour layover in France on a return trip from Israel. Like any 16-year-old, I drank a Diet Coke at midnight at the Eiffel Tower and thought I was very cosmopolitan. This cruise will take us from Switzerland to Amsterdam and I’m so excited!

Stay tuned and may God bless you this week!

 

For Everyone New: An Introduction

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the regularly scheduled programming.

At the beginning of Lent, I had a great idea. I thought that I would abstain from all social media, including blogging. In my mind, I imagined that this time off would help me recharge and revamp my writing ministry. As it turns out, the idea to fast from writing was not one of my brightest ideas. Since Easter, I’ve sluggishly turned to my keyboard, only to find myself staring at the blank screen. As it turns out, writing is a lot like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier, and better, it becomes. Conversely, the less you write (or exercise), the more difficult the task is. So now, eight days after Easter, I’m finally writing to you.

Surprisingly, during the Lenten season, I picked up a few followers not only here on WordPress, but also on Facebook and Twitter. This post is for those who are new to Quelpart. However you ended up here, I am grateful. I hope my writing brings you the joy of Christ in your daily life.

What’s a “Quelpart?”

You can read more about the story behind my blog’s name HERE. In short, Quelpart is the French name of the island I lived on while teaching in Korea. But, the name means much more than that.

About Me

I’m Sarah. I was born, raised, and educated in Kentucky. I worked and lived in South Korea for a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved looking at and reading maps. My heart is always in East Asia. In the early morning, I rattle my rosary beads. By day, I’m a teacher. At night, I read books, write, and drink coffee. When I’m not working or reading or praying, I collect designer handbags. The wildest thing I’ve ever done is travel to Tijuana, Mexico for bariatric surgery.

If I’m not jetsetting or scouting New York City’s Flushing Chinatown with my Long Island fiance, you can usually find me at my parish’s adoration chapel. I’m a convert to Catholicism, and my only regret is that I wish I would have done it sooner. I love the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy. I am devoted to our Blessed Mother, especially under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

About This Blog

Around here, I blog almost exclusively about the intersection of the Catholic faith and “real life.” Occasionally, I may mention my travels. But overall, this is a blog fascinated with the wild and sacred adventure of life with Jesus. I try to blog twice a week: sometimes more, sometimes less. Regardless, I pray you’ll stick around and keep reading.

to Him through Her,

Sarah

 

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.

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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! 

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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/ 

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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.

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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.

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Quiet: The Sunday Revolution

Growing up in rural Kentucky, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. On Sundays, the pace of an already slow world nearly came to an absolute stop: we went to church, ate lunch, and then took naps. That was my Sunday schedule for the better part of the first eighteen years of my life.

What irked me, though, was a precept my parents held for Sundays: no shopping, no going out to eat, no spending money.  This wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but 90% of the time, it held up (unless our proverbial ox was in a proverbial ditch). And I HATED it. When everyone else was going out on Sunday afternoons, having lots of fun that I wasn’t having, I was stuck at home, looking at four walls. On the rare occasion that we did have to make a Walmart run or out to a restaurant, I felt like I was finally liberated into proper society.

Growing in Wisdom

Now, that I’m much older, I understand why my parents were so serious about Sunday rest. The seventh day (our Sunday) was set aside by God as a day of rest from the very beginning. After laboring over creation for six days, God takes the seventh day, and makes it holy (Genesis 2:2). Even God, creator of all that we can fathom, took the time to rest. Yet, my younger self saw no need in rest when there was a perfectly open day to fill with activities. I failed to see that if God rested, and even commanded it to the Israelites, that I certainly was not exempt.

But, to paraphrase St. Paul: When I was a child, I thought and acted like a child. Literally.

As an adult, I too often see the empty parts of my schedule quickly filled to capacity. As they say, nature abhors a vacuum. If I’m totally open during one evening of the week, you can bet that by the time that day rolls around, I have some type of commitment in my schedule.

Sundays, too often, aren’t much different.

Near the end of Mass each Sunday, I’m often thinking about my grocery run to Walmart. Not only the groceries but, How can I get a good parking space close to the door? Did I remember my coupons? Should I get my hair trimmed? Should I grab a bite to eat before heading back home? All of this is going through my mind before the announcements have ended. I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation, your mind thinking of everything but the miracle of the Mass. You’re definitely not alone.

24/7/365

In the midst of our rushed society, it seems so difficult to turn off. We’ve gone from laws in place banning any business on Sunday to it as just another day of the week. I remember, before my brother was born, my mom used to work part-time at a Walmart in the next county over. On Sundays, the store would open at 1:00 PM. Yet, as time went on, the time became earlier and earlier. If it wasn’t 1:00 PM, it was noon. Noon soon faded to 10:30, and 10:30 faded into 24/7/365. This was in 1995.

Perhaps one of my favorite stories from my mom’s Walmart days is one I’ll call “You’re Going to Hell.” On a rare occasion, my mom would have to work at the store on Sunday afternoons for a few hours. This day, my mom was approached a young boy who informed her that “my daddy is a preacher.” Well enough.

What happens next, though, has gone down into clapback history.

The little boy proceeds to tell my mom, “My daddy says you’re going to hell because you’re working on Sunday.” 

My mother, not one to be schooled by a child, immediately responds with “Well, if your mom and dad weren’t out shopping today, I wouldn’t have to work.”

Point taken.

The Sunday Revolution: A Brief How-To Guide

My mom’s story is in possession of a truth nugget: If we keep Sunday holy, we allow other people to keep it holy as well. In the words of St. Mother Teresa, we must “live simply so others may simply live.” Even more, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds the faithful to avoid any unnecessary work on Sundays, especially if it hinders the worship of Our Lord (CCC 2184-2186).

Often, as I stand in the checkout line at the supermarket, I wonder how many people were unable to attend worship services due to my choice to shop for groceries on Sunday. Sure, I’m only one person. But, one person plus one person after time can add up to a society that disregards the holiness of Sundays. And as I write this, I am speaking to myself as much as I am you, my attentive reader.

I am not asking you to immediately forego your weekly family lunch at Cracker Barrel, nor am I seeking to induce guilt because you have to run into the local Save-a-Lot for a gallon of milk. Rather, I am asking all of us to change the way we think about Sundays.

Consider this:

  1. Shop for groceries on Saturday or another weekday.
  2. Host a meal at your home, as opposed to a restaurant.
  3. Block out a segment of time on Sunday afternoons solely for rest: don’t engage in any weekday-related work. Just rest.

I firmly believe that once we change our thoughts about Sundays, ultimately, our behaviors will change. I challenge you, next Sunday, to engage the quiet holiness of the day. Make one tiny change this week, and then next week, make another tiny change. You and I may be surprised at the differences we can make in not only our lives, but the lives of others.

May God bless you as you engage in the Sunday revolution.

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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.

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

Sorrwful Mysteries

Rosary Reflections: The Glorious Mysteries

This is the first post in a four-part series of meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. I pray this helps you in your prayer life and practice.

On Sunday and Wednesday, Catholics around the world pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. While not a required prayer of the Faithful, the Rosary is a powerful tool that assists Catholics in reflecting on important events in the earthly life of Jesus.

For those who are unfamiliar, I’ve heard the Rosary described this way:

Imagine that you’re at Jesus’ house for a visit and Mary is eager to tell you all about her Son (like any good mom). If she lived in an later era of history, Mary might pull out a photo album and tell you about the pictures. “Oh! This is when Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana. It was such a great day to begin His ministry. If He can change water into wine, think about how He can change you!” When we say the Rosary, with its 53 Hail Mary recitations, we’re journeying through the life of Jesus with His mother as a guide.

And like many, you may find yourself wandering to the outer recesses of your mind when praying. I do that, too. It’s easy for me to say “The first Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection of Jesus,” and then move on my merry way without another thought of the first Easter Sunday. My goal for the meditation questions and prayers below is to help both you and I to draw our hearts closer to Jesus through the recitation of the Rosary.

The Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection of Jesus: When the apostles and disciples thought all hope was lost, they were dumbfounded. Just as He said He would, Jesus conquered death and destruction. More often than not, we are like the disciples: We sometimes don’t believe what Jesus claimed about Himself. It’s easy to doubt when our lives are marred by sin. Try to contemplate your own sin; it’s not easy. How can you hand your shortfalls over to Christ? How can you let His resurrection transform you? Do you believe that Jesus conquered death so that you may one day resurrect into His kingdom? Prayer: Jesus, help me to trust in Your saving power.
  2. The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven: Before His ascension, Jesus told his disciples to go forth and to spread the Gospel to all nations. The Creed, which we recite at Mass, tells us that Jesus “sits at the right hand of the Father [and] from there, He will judge the living and the dead.” Do we live with the knowledge that while Jesus is our King and Savior, He is also our judge? Does this change the way we live? How do we honor the Ascended Christ with our lives? Do we strive to serve as “little Christs” here on earth? Prayer: Jesus, give me the grace to be a “little Christ” to everyone I meet.
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit: 50 days after Easter, the Holy Spirit alighted on the apostles and other followers of Jesus. Many consider this the birthday of the Church. Since then, the Catholic Church has reached every corner of the globe with the good news of Jesus. Today, how do you discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you ignore His presence or embrace it? If you ignore the nudgings of the Holy Spirit, why? How can you live out the work and mission of the Church with the help of the Spirit? Prayer: Lord, help me to discern Your will with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven: The Church teaches, using Sacred Tradition and Scripture, that at the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven. This is the goal of every Christian: to reach Heaven and to obtain the most intimate union with God. Some say that because Mary loved her Son so much, and Jesus’ love for her was even greater, this great love is what assumed Mary when her life was over. It was not done by her own power. How much do you love Jesus? What would you give up for His sake? Does your love for Jesus attract others? Prayer: Jesus, help me to love You as Mary loved You, so that I may, at the end of my life, join you in Heaven forever.
  5. The Coronation of Mary: Because of the merits of her Son, Mary is often referred to as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Mary is not divine, she is only a creature of God. Yet, as His mother, it is safe to deduce that Mary has a very special place in the heart of Jesus, her divine Son. As Catholics, we recognize Mary as not only a premier role model of the Faith, but also as our spiritual mother (John 19:27). Do you honor your family, just as Jesus honored Mary and Joseph? If not, how can you take steps to mend these gaps? How can you promote peace in your family and in the world? Prayer: Lord, fill me with your grace and help me to understand that true peace and healing only comes from You. 

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May God bless you as you meditate on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

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