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Thursday, March 08, 2018
Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Yet, through it all, Jesus was with him, and he would grow up to earn a Ph.D. as well as to become an ordained Catholic deacon who speaks to thousands of individuals each year when he gives parish missions. He has also written fourteen books.
In his latest book, Messages from Heaven, he shares some of the wondrous experiences he has had in his life and the messages that he has been given to share with all of us. He does not claim that these messages are direct dictation from God, but rather mediated experiences that he has had. He writes in a style of visionary literature that was once common but has fallen into disuse in our present time.
The story of the way God has worked in his life is truly amazing and I feel truly fortunate to have the opportunity to help him share his story.
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Monday, March 05, 2018
The Greatest Commandment states that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Lord, You Know I Love You, Jennifer Fitz offers a guided retreat designed for use by individuals or in a group setting. This is actually two retreats in one in that it has sets of questions for both personal and professional discernment and development.
Why should you do this retreat? “Because God loves you, and He wants you to experience the unspeakable joy that comes from living your life utterly, totally, completely given over to Him.” This retreat is designed to help you regroup and prepare for the next spiritual battle you need to engage in.
The “Four Spiritual Food Groups” are heart, soul, mind, and strength. Fitz explores what it means for us to love God with each of these dimensions of our personality. She asks probing questions that lead to deep reflection on the true state of our relationship with God and how we can deepen our love for him.
Her questions for professional discernment can lead to a more God-focused and mission-focused organization as well as a clearer picture of one’s role in that mission.
This retreat has the power to bear great fruit for both individuals and groups.
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Sunday, March 04, 2018
The other day at Mass, a friend came over and told me that she had been inspired by the 40 bags in 40 days decluttering project I had done for Lent a few years ago and now she was doing it. For the record, that was eight years ago (!) and my house could desperately use it again.
My battle with clutter is never-ending. It multiplies when I sleep. Every single person in my house is inherently messy, myself included. When I was young, my desk used to overflow with papers. My high school locker was a deathtrap. So, as much as I know that my children greatly contribute to the “stuff” problem, I know that a great deal of the blame also rests on my shoulders. While I dream of minimalism, I’ll no doubt be battling clutter until the day I die, but the important thing is to keep fighting the good fight. It might just be that more is at stake than just being able to have a clean kitchen table.
Can cleaning your house help with your spiritual life? Mary Elizabeth Sperry makes a compelling argument that it can in Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life (Ave Maria Press, 2018). As Sperry states, “dealing with clutter can help me to deal with some of the barriers that keep me from living as the person God calls me to be.”
Sperry, like most of us, struggles with the clutter in her life. She shares her battle with stuff as she explores the connections between clutter and the spiritual junk in our lives. When we are buried under the weight of all our possessions, we are often also suffering from the sins of envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, and a lack of trust in God. Cleaning the physical clutter can help with our repentance as it goes along with fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (which makes it a perfect activity to do during Lent).
Making Room for God also tackles the issue of a cluttered calendar. How many of us suffer under the weight of a too-busy life? It can be important to remove a few obligations in order to have more time for prayer.
The two goals of this book are to help you have a “clutter-free house and a closer relationship with God.” Neither one of these things happens once and then you are done – they are ongoing processes. Sperry is single so she doesn’t have to struggle with other people’s stuff in addition to her own (although she did work as a nanny and offers some suggestions she utilized in that role). I also wish the publishers had capitalized “God” on the cover. Those minor criticisms aside, Sperry does provide an excellent road map for working on having both a clean house and a clean soul.
And with this book to inspire me, I cleaned out one of my kitchen cabinets this weekend – it’s a start!
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Thursday, March 01, 2018
Novena Prayer to St. Joseph
St. Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you.
I have special confidence in you.
You are powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants.
I humbly invoke you and commend myself with all who are dear to me to your intercession.
By the love you have for Jesus and Mary, do not abandon me during life and assist me at the hour of death.
Glorious St. Joseph, be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I am confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.
Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Friday, February 23, 2018
St. Joseph’s feast day is on March 19th, but any day is a good day to learn about and reflect on St. Joseph. As Fr. Donald Calloway writes in the introduction of his latest book, St. Joseph Gems (Marian Press), St. Joseph “is our spiritual father! As such, he desires to lead us to Jesus, Mary, the Church, and growth in virtue.”
I’ve always heard from tradition that St. Joseph was an older man, possibly a widower with other children, who died while Jesus was still a young man. This book quotes several prominent Churchmen who describe St. Joseph as a younger man in the prime of life, perhaps just a few years older than the teenage Mary. They also have him being a virgin like Mary. While Scripture is silent on this matter, what is definitely true is that St. Joseph was a righteous, just man who played a major role in Jesus’ life.
“Along with his virginal bride, the first to bring the Messiah to the nations, St. Joseph is the second greatest human person in history because he, too, shared in the role of bringing Jesus to souls.” In addition, because he listened to the message of the angel and took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to save the young child from being killed by King Herod, “St. Joseph is the only human person who has been given the title of ‘savior of the Savior.’”
St. Joseph Gems is set up as a daily devotional. Each day of the year features a quote about St. Joseph from a saint, blessed, or pope, as well as an invocation to the saint of the day to pray for us. Each month begins with a beautiful painted image of St. Joseph. The book concludes with the Litany to St. Joseph.
While I do ask St. Joseph for help in certain circumstances, as a woman I tend to focus on Mary as a confidante and role model. However, as St. Peter Julian Eymard states in the quote for May 31st, “Devotion to St. Joseph is something very precious for Christian mothers because St. Joseph is patron of Christian families.”
St. Joseph Gems offers much spiritual food for thought. It is a wonderful choice for anyone seeking to increase their devotion to St. Joseph.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
I first discovered Rachel Hauck by reading her book, TheWedding Shop, part of a trilogy of wedding-themed books. When I saw her latest offering, The Writing Desk, advertised, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. Hauck did not disappoint. I savored every moment of this story.
After Tenley Roth’s father died, she poured her heart into writing a book which went on to become a bestseller. Now, her deadline to write a second book is fast approaching and she is suffering from a massive case of writer’s block. To complicate matters, her estranged mother has called her from Florida, asking Tenley to leave New York and come care for her as she battles cancer. Her decision to help her mother will lead to lasting changes in her life.
A century earlier, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of a rich couple during the Gilded Age. Her whole life is planned out for her, including an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love. She is also a writer, but no one takes her efforts seriously.
The connected parallel stories are both well-written and enjoyable. The Writing Desk is a delightful romance, but even more importantly, it is a moving portrait of two women struggling to share their stories with the world and discover who they are as individuals in the process. Hauck is a talented writer and I am already looking forward to her next book.
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