Daily Ways to Sneak in the Rosary

As women, we’re busy.

By the nature of our birth and biology, we are often saddled with the struggles and joys of family life and our careers. As a result, our prayers lives are often inhibited or may gradually disappear as we sink deeper into the secular demands of our lives. It’s easy and I’m sure many of us have struggled with this balance of prayer and everyday life.

Of course, our spiritual lives and our everyday lives are often interwoven. We pray over our meals, place an icon in our work cubicle, pray the Angelus at noon, or keep holy water in our cars. Yet, too often, it’s easy to keep our faith on the shelf as we work about our daily lives. How can we, as modern women with more demands than ever, possibly achieve sainthood in such a hectic world? I believe the key lies in the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

The Power, and Struggle, of the Rosary

From personal experience and from the study of the lives of saints, I am convinced that the Rosary is one of the most powerful prayers that we can pray. In my own devotional practice, I can attest that the Rosary has brought grace and peace that I’ve never known before. It’s no surprise that many Catholics that we now know as saints possessed a great devotion to this prayer.

However, praying the rosary is TOUGH.

Think about it: The Rosary is 53 Hail Marys, over 5 Our Fathers and Fatima Prayers, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Hail Holy Queen. All together, praying the Rosary can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes, depending on how fast you pray. For many busy women, 5 minutes of quiet time, much less 30, is a struggle to find.

I found this to be true when I first began praying the Rosary.

Often, I found myself zoned out after the first decade, especially when listening to a recitation on a podcast or prerecorded track. I found myself looking around the church or at my surroundings, wondering what I could do next. I couldn’t sit still for too long, as my mind started to go to other places between each Hail Mary. It was hard, and I did well to pray the Rosary once a week.

The Benefits of the Rosary

However, in October 2017 I encountered the Chews Life Rosary Challenge. Essentially, the challenge encouraged email subscribers to pray the Rosary everyday for 30 days –  a month. Long-story-short: This challenge rocked my world. Sins I struggled with? The desires fell away. A sense of anxiety? Slowly dissipated.

Now, I don’t say this to prescribe the Rosary as some magical charm. Just because one takes up the practice of praying the Rosary doesn’t mean her problems will disappear or that her mental anguish will fall away. Rather, I do suggest that the Rosary infuses a wonderful grace in our lives that may have been unknown before. This is why I suggest it as a daily devotion for Catholics – especially women.

But, with a prayer as lengthy and repetitious as the Rosary, how can a busy woman possible make time for it?  I also struggled with this – out of the lack of time or from sheer exhaustion at the end of the day. Mistakenly, I thought that a Rosary had to be prayed in one sitting, but it doesn’t. You can pray the Rosary one Hail Mary or Our Father at a time at any time and any place.

Sneaking in a Prayer

Here are just a few ways to sneak in an entire Rosary into your busy schedule. As it turns out, you can pray a whole Rosary while you:

  1. Walk/drive/commute to work.
  2. Wash the dishes.
  3. Change your child’s diaper.
  4. Rake the leaves.
  5. Jog/bike/exercise.
  6. Eat your lunch at your desk.
  7. Bake a cake.
  8. Patch up an old pair of pants.
  9. Stand in line at the bank.
  10. Walk the halls of your workplace.
  11. Run to the supermarket.

The beauty of the Rosary is not confined to silence and adoration chapels. Rather, the Rosary is a reflection of our living faith as Catholic women in an ever-changing world. As you reflect on the mysteries of the Rosary, rather it is the Transfiguration or the Annuciation, you remember the active work of Christ as He walked the earth. Our Catholic faith is a vibrant, living faith, so it only makes sense that one of our hallmark prayers should be one of vibrant love and hope.


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I pray that you were moved by the love of Christ in some way. If you enjoyed this post, please consider liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter or Instagram, or subscribing via WordPress or email, or dropping me a line at sarahquelpart@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from, and connect, with you.

To Jesus through Mary,

Sarah 

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.

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.

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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

Hallmark Mary: Thoughts on the Rosary and Life with Jesus

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This post was intended for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, December 8th, 2017. Two days later, I’m sure you’ll find it still as useful and relevant as ever. God bless!

Do you have a Nativity set in your home?

If so, and you’re nearby, take a look at it. What do you see? More than likely, it’s a very serene scene. Pleasant faces on Mary and Joseph, well-behaved animals, and eager magi. Personally, I own peg-doll nativity scene, with Mary, Joseph, Jesus, a shepherd, and angel depicted as ethnic Koreans in traditional Korean dress. It’s a lovely, homey scene that reminds me of my year living in East Asia. Yet, my own nativity scene that I love depicts a very clean, socially acceptable first Christmas.

Today’s (12/8/2017) Gospel reading is the Annunciation in St. Luke:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

The retelling of the Annunciation is a favorite: it fills Christians with hope and joy, the moment that it was revealed to Mary that she would become the mother of Our Lord. I often think about Mary on that day. What did she do after learning she would become the mother of God’s only son? While we can’t know what she was thinking, we do know from Scripture that Mary did not dawdle to accept her call as Jesus’ mother. After hearing the angel Gabriel’s news Our Lady replied, “May it be done to me according to your word.” While Mary may have been confused about this good news, she did not hesitate to say “Yes” to God. Her one “Yes” or fiat, changed the course of humanity’s salvation history.

Nevertheless, a little over 2,000 years later, Christians (myself included) are often guilty of transforming the stories of the Bible into Hallmark shop renditions. The story of Christ seems so distant from our era, that it’s easy to flip through our Bibles and think, “Yes, how nice!” Often, the Christian art in our homes is pleasant. Our religion, unfortunately, is sometimes reduced to pleasantries.

How can we avoid “Hallmark Mary”? Or worse, “Hallmark Jesus”?

I believe one answer to this question lies in the practice of praying the Rosary. For my Protestant readers, the Rosary is prayer based in Scripture that allows us to meditate on events in life of Jesus and Mary (often using beads). These events are called “mysteries” due to their miraculous and mysterious nature. There are four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous. Despite its criticism from non-Catholics for existing as a “vain repetition” with its over 50 Hail Marys and numerous Our Fathers, the Rosary is a powerful tool that helps us delve into an authentic understanding of the life of Jesus.

For example, in the Joyful Mysteries, the first mystery we ponder is the Annunciation (from today’s readings!). After meditating upon the Annunciation, the next four mysteries are The Visitation (Luke 1:39), The Nativity (Luke 2) The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22) and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41). All of these events are happy, wonderful times in the early life of the Holy Family. We meditate upon Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, and extending all the way to when Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple after frantically searching for him in Jerusalem. When I pray the Joyful Mysteries, especially in the mystery of the Nativity, I like to ask Christ to be “born” anew in my heart each day.

On the other hand, the practice of praying the Rosary also acknowledges that Christianity is not a religion of perpetual, temporal happiness. On Tuesdays and Fridays, devotees of the Rosary pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. These mysteries include Jesus’ Agony in the Garden (Mark 26), The Scourging at the Pillar (John 19:1), The Crowning of the Thorns (John 19), The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:31), and the Crucifixion (all four Gospels). With these mysteries, Catholics can meditate upon the events leading up to Good Friday, while also thinking about how we can unite our own suffering with the suffering of Christ. With Mary, we can stand at the foot of the cross as we pray through each sorrowful moment of Holy Week.

Finally, with joys, sorrows, and everything in between, Catholics are able to use the Rosary to combat the idea that life with Christ is like an idyllic Hallmark cliche. We recognize that yes, while there are joyful mysteries and glorious mysteries to our Faith, there are also sorrows. Luckily, we have Our Lord to carry and guide us along the way. And like our Blessed Mother, we too can say “Yes” to God without fear.

Don’t be daunted by the cross. The surest test of love consists in suffering for the loved one, and if God suffered so much for love, the pain we suffer for Him becomes as lovable as love itself. // St. Padre Pio

Never be afraid of loving Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did. // St. Maximilian Kolbe

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

A Moment for Prayer

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

This summer, I started a prayer project. Using Google Forms, I would collect the prayer requests of my friends on social media. Once in my weekly Eucharistic Adoration session, I would pray for my friends and their needs. If someone provided an address, I would mail them an encouraging card.

However, when school went back in session, my form editing and promotion (unfortunately) fell by the wayside. However, today’s a new day. Though I will not be able to attend Adoration today, I am going to Mass this Friday.

If you are in need of prayer, please use the link below to access the form. From there, you can put your prayer requests, name, and mailing address. Or, you can remain completely anonymous. You may provide as little or as much information as you’d like. After the week is over, I destroy all responses. Everything is confidential.

I look forward to praying with you and for you.

Adoration Prayers Form: https://goo.gl/forms/jG9p2IXHFHCXquAv1