A Roadmap for Prayer

One of the beauties of Catholicism is the embrace of rhythm.

The Church boasts a robust liturgical year filled with silence, celebration, mourning, and remembrance. The Liturgy of the Hours marks the days with the reading of Psalms and the calm punctuation of prayer. The Rosary reminds us to be still for twenty-ish minutes at a time, while the Angelus beckons us to remember the Incarnation of Christ at 6 AM and Noon. Rhythm is everywhere, the order of time surrounds Catholics in an ever-present embrace.

Still, though, our lives outside of Mass are often disordered, or distorted, by time. We struggle to find time to pray (and forget trying to find time to read the daily Mass readings). Often, it just doesn’t seem possible to be as devout as many of us would like. This probably applies to you, as it very much applies to me.

Before moving to New York City, my life was fairly leisurely. I usually didn’t leave for work until 8:00 AM and returned around 3:30 PM. Now, I leave for work at 5:30 AM and return around the same time in the evening. The morning Rosary I once treasured has taken a back seat in favor of more sleep and the Mass readings have slipped to a place before bed. My devotional life has been in a tizzy, and frankly, I just don’t like it.

While I am adverse to New Year’s resolutions, I am not adverse to new beginnings that just happen to take place in the first weeks of a new month. This month (and for the rest of the year), I want to commit to a more ordered devotional life. For example, when I first converted to Catholicism, I wanted to do all the the devotions: prayers, rosaries, novenas, journaling. You name it, I wanted in. Yet, I found myself easily overwhelmed and giving up. Almost two years into my life as a Catholic, I discovered the value of order (and not doing all the things all the time) – much like the liturgical year that orders our own devotional lives.

To make things easier, I decided to pursue one devotion per day of the week and retain some devotions on a daily basis. For example, everyday I want to pray two entries in the Liturgy of the Hours (typically the 6AM and 6PM hours), read the daily Mass readings, and pray the Angelus. For me, this is manageable and can be done almost anywhere, including the subway or as I walk down the streets of New York. For other days, I have selected various prayers and litanies to order, and not overwhelm, my life as a praying Catholic.

A Roadmap for Prayer in 2019

Sunday: Recitation of Holy Rosary

Monday: Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Tuesday: Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Wednesday: Litany of Humility

Thursday: Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Friday: Divine Mercy Chaplet 

Saturday: Prayer for the Intercession of the Chinese Martyr Saints

As I am merely human, I will not fulfill my desires everyday of the week. But, I believe this is a great start to more ordered devotional life in 2019. Do you have certain days that you say certain prayers? Which are your favorite? Feel free to let me know in the comments, as I always love to hear suggestions. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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 

10 Quotes from St. Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Women”

Today, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Pope John Paul II. Like many young Catholics, my first experiences with the papacy included this dearly beloved saint. Though I was not Catholic during John Paul’s pontificate, I did appreciate the impact he had on the world around him. Now as a Catholic, I have admired his Letter to Womenpublished on June 29, 1995, prior to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

For those who argue that the Church is behind the times in matters of gender and sexuality, they would be hard-pressed to find any signs of the oppression of women in this historical document. Rather, the Letter to Women is a vibrant celebration of women from all walks and stations of life. In honor of St. Pope John Paul II, here are ten great quotes from his monumental letter (bold text mine):

  1. “Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.
  2. “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a womanThrough the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”
  3. “Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?”
  4. “We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes its very survival to this gift.”
  5. “The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.”
  6. “Were I would like to express particular appreciation to those women who are involved in the various areas of education extending well beyond the family: nurseries, schools, universities, social service agencies, parishes, associations and movements. Wherever the work of education is called for, we can note that women are ever ready and willing to give themselves generously to others, especially in serving the weakest and most defenceless.”
  7. “It is thus my hope, dear sisters, that you will reflect carefully on what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women‘, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church.”
  8. “The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the “feminine genius” and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth.”
  9. “…from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history.”
  10. “Necessary emphasis should be placed on the “genius of women”, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives.”

St. Pope John Paul II, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

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.

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!

 

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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