"We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us." -Pope Francis

Category: Faith

3 Steps to Mercy for You

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*This article originally appeared on VirginiaLieto.com here.

 

There’s a lot of mercy talk these days in the Church. Why?  Because it’s the time of mercy!

The Church recently celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. If you’re not familiar with this message and devotion, take a moment to learn a little more here.

We should strive to show mercy to everyone we meet. Mercy is a great virtue, no doubt.  But today I want to ask you, how often do you show mercy to yourself?

Are you your own worst critic? Are you hyperaware of your faults and not sure how to actually improve?  Do you ever beat yourself up at the end of the day for not doing a better job at keeping it all together?

I’ve been working on kicking these bad attitudes for a while now, with great success. How?  Divine Mercy!

 

3 Steps to Mercy for You

Here are 3 steps you can take today to help you start showing mercy to you:

 

1. Participate in the Sacraments Frequently

I’m not saying you should get married frequently, nor do you want to take a “collect ‘em all” mentality and start preparing for your last rites, but frequent Confession and receipt of Holy Communion are beautiful ways to stay close to Christ. Mercy is waiting for you in the confessional!  Mercy is waiting for you on the altar at Mass daily!  Show up.  You deserve mercy!

 

2. Educate Yourself

Pick up a copy of the Catechism. Bring questions to a priest.  Read the Bible.  Study up on Divine Mercy.  Learn the works of mercy.  It’s actually an act of mercy to instruct the ignorant, and we’re all ignorant of many things.  Learn all you can to strengthen your relationship with Christ!

 

3. Forgive Yourself

You’re going to fall short. Every day you’re going to fall short of the person you want to be, and the person God is calling you to be.  Pick yourself up.  Forgive yourself.  We talk a lot about forgiving others, but it’s so important to forgive ourselves.  Would you forgive a friend if she apologized to you?  Well you can be that friend who just apologized to you.  Having a healthy relationship with yourself is vital to having a healthy relationship with others, Christ included!

 

So, take some time today to show mercy to you, because you’re worth it. Jesus died for you!

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you… Pass it on!

Our Lady of Fatima: 100 years of stories, prayers, and devotions

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Have you heard the message of Fatima?  Even if you are familiar with Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, I guarantee you haven’t heard the story told quite like this before.  And if you’re skeptical about the whole thing, all the more reason to pick up this book.

Mary wants to lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ.  She wants peace for the world, and she wants us to repent of our sins so we can all make it to Heaven!

There’s no better time to pick up this book than right now, as we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of these apparitions.  In fact, the Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, which is right around the corner.  On this day, Pope Francis will also canonize Jacinta and Francisco, two of the Fatima visionaries, as Saints for the whole world to celebrate!

In this book, author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle takes readers through a century of fascinating stories related to Fatima.  She recounts what occurred in this city back in 1916 and 1917, and the fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies that have taken place since that time.  She also shares things that Sr. Lucia experienced later in her life as she worked to ensure that Mary’s message spread throughout the Church, and that things were completed as Mary and Jesus requested.

In these pages, you will hear remarkable stories you’ve never heard before, and details that you won’t find in other places.  Did you know that Saint Mother Teresa planned a top secret mission in Russia specifically to occur just as Saint John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart?  Did you know she pulled it off?  Do you know about the devotion of the Five First Saturdays?  Do you know why Mary specifically requested five and not six or seven?  Have you heard the Fatima prayers?  Do you know how you can incorporate these prayers into your daily life to make atonement for the sins of the world?  All of this and more is shared in this fascinating book.

Perhaps as astounding as the Fatima miracles themselves, are the personal experiences of the author that she shares at the end of the book.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s unbelievable what this woman endured for the sake of this writing, and the timing of her injuries is absolutely astounding.

In short, I had a hard time putting this book down!  You won’t want to miss this exciting read, especially as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima apparitions this year.

We all must now do our part to make reparation for the sins of this world.  Find out what you can do to live the Fatima message today!

And a note to any skeptics:  With Mary, you have nothing to fear except fear itself.  Fear of Mary will only keep you from Mary, which will only keep you from a deeper intimacy with Christ.  Our Mother Mary who is Our Lady of Fatima, is the Mother of Jesus Christ who is our brother.  Hence, she is our Mother, too, and Jesus also gave her to us on the Cross.  Mary is truly amazing.  She also only wants to do the will of her Son.  She wants to support Jesus as much as possible in the work of bringing all souls to Heaven.  Perhaps you will be able to get to know her just a little better through the words in this book.

This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

Mother Mary, pray for us!  God bless you!

Pray with Your Senses – Color & Sound Sets Make Great Gifts!

I recently had the privilege of working with these two “Color & Sound” sets for Paraclete Press.  They have paired completely unique, fun, and inspirational, Marian themed coloring books with high quality Gregorian Chant CD compilations.

Set aside your electronic devices and games, and do something with your hands that will free your mind up for prayer.

I wanted to share these with you today just in time for Mother’s Day, but they would also make a perfect gift for a graduating senior!  These books are a gentle way to instill or rejuvenate our Catholic Faith.

You could also use them for prayer time in Adoration, or as a teaching tool for children to help them learn the Rosary and how to meditate on Mary’s many beautiful names.  Children love to color, so teach them also that they can turn their coloring into prayers!  It’s fun to actually pray the rosary as you’re coloring each decade page, too.  I think these also work beautifully as side-by-side adult coloring books for those times you are coloring with young children.

In fact, my daughters love to see my finished coloring pieces, and I enjoy coloring with a picture that stretches me beyond the super familiar shapes of Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty.

So here are two excellent Color & Sound sets for you to consider!  May they enhance your own prayer life, and the prayers of the ones you love.

  1.  Mother Mary – Color & Sound:  An Imaginative Pathway to Stillness and Beauty

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This coloring book has a page for many of the beautiful names we give to Mary the Mother of God.  Each page contains a title for Mary, a powerful prayer or quote related to this title, and a little more info to peak your curiosity about where this title came from, or who Mary appeared to under this title.  The pictures are fun and simple enough for coloring, and the end result is a beautiful picture that might even be suitable for displaying in your home!

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This set includes “The Chants of Mary,” a Gregorian Chant CD sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores Men’s Schola.  I love having this CD on in the background of my day.  It puts children to sleep like a light switch when we play it in the car.  It keeps me calm in the inevitable challenging moments that arise at home with three toddlers.  It is 65 minutes of Heaven on earth.  Brush up on your Latin with the accompanying CD booklet that contains English & Latin lyrics as side-by-side text, along with beautiful full color pictures and images.

  1. The Rosary – Contemplation with Color and Sound: Color and Music to Inspire your Prayers9781612619194_p0_v1_s192x300

This coloring book takes you all the way through your rosary, with a page for each decade of the Glorious, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Joyful Mysteries!  There’s also a page for the Apostle’s Creed & Hail, Holy Queen.  The pictures are whimsical and leave much room for contemplation as you pray along with your coloring.  Enter into each mystery of the rosary a little deeper, and then go back and remember your prayers when you see a beautiful, completed picture in their place.

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This book is paired with “Feasts of Our Lady,” a Gregorian Chant CD by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes.  It also contains a booklet with side-by-side Latin & English text.  This CD is one of my favorite Gregorian Chant compilations.  The music is very vibrant and rich.  The harmonies are solid.  The sweeping melodies lift one’s thoughts to Heaven.  You will not be disappointed!

Purchase these CDs from Paraclete Press or Amazon!  And remember, God loves you & He is merciful!  Pass it on…

2 Beautiful Lenten Devotionals to Bring You Closer to Christ

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The beginning of this week marks the half-way point of the Lenten season.  Are you staying on track with your Lenten promises?  If not, now is a great time to reboot and refocus.

If you’re needing some help, it’s never too late to dive into a great devotional book for motivation!

Here are my thoughts on these beautiful Lenten devotionals that I was privileged to be able to read and review for you.  May God richly bless you in your journey to Easter!

 

  1. Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, by Heidi Hess Saxton

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Join Saint Mother Teresa as she journeys through the streets of Calcutta, caring for the destitute, the broken, the lonely, and the dying.  The wisdom and wit of this saint are so profound.  Author Heidi Hess Saxton pulls many texts together and captures this saint’s spirit beautifully.

In her own unique way, Saint Mother Teresa set out to help one person at a time, and ended up helping the entire world through her example.  We would all do well to more closely imitate this saint, daily placing the needs and wants of others before our own.

Heidi Hess Saxton has penned strong reflections to supplement the words and prayers of Saint Mother Teresa.  She guides readers to understand the relevance of this shinning example in our lives today.

I personally struggled with some of the author’s wording in a sensitive devotion that addressed pregnancy resulting from rape.  If you don’t know what the Church teaches and advises in these circumstances, this will provide you with a great opportunity to look it up and learn more… something all should do more often anyways!

But overall, this was a beautifully written book that will lead many closer to Christ during this Lenten season, or anytime someone picks it up and takes these words to heart.

This book is available for purchase on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

 

2. The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, by Diane M. Houdek

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Who better to turn to for encouragement in our season of Lent than the man put in charge of the Church by the Holy Spirit Himself?

Connect with the words of Pope Francis in this little devotional that is not to be underestimated.

This tiny but mighty book pulls together Pope Francis’s words to the Church from throughout his papacy, and author Diane M. Houdek makes sure they correspond nicely with each step of our Lenten path. This is certainly a book that can be picked up at any time, but of course it will carry special significance when it is read during Lent.

In each devotion, Houdek provides Scripture for you to look up, words from Pope Francis, an opportunity to take the words to heart, thoughts on bringing the words to life, and a concluding prayer.  Devotionals are short and sweet, but jam packed with great information for you to reflect on throughout the day!

Journey through the rest of this Lenten season with Pope Francis, and you won’t be disappointed!  This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

 


 

P.S. God is merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

in every age…

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In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens. 

Lyrics speak of God’s power and might and unfathomable Divine Mercy.    

Melodies weave through time lifting our thoughts to His amazing grace.

And in every age, voices join the feeble instruments we have here on this earth, to give praise and glory to God.

Now imagine that at the end of our days on this earth, we all come together as one people, one Israel, one nation truly of God.

Can you imagine the songs we will be singing as we journey to Heaven all together?

Can you imagine what it will sound like when voices of people throughout history, throughout time, all join together to give God his due glory?

In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens.

And oh, that glorious day, when we will be able to hear these songs sung all together in harmony!  When from the east and the west, and the south and the north, God’s people sing as one,

walking Heavenward, homeward, together.

 

P.S. God loves you & He is merciful!  Pass it on…

Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God

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Mary’s way can be our way, too!  Judy Landrieu Klein opens her heart in this beautiful book of affirmation, hope, and encouragement for all mothers. 

Klein takes readers through her own personal journey of motherhood, with all of its sorrows and joys.  Just like Mary, we all must bring our children into the world, nurture them, love them, and then let them go into the world to hopefully become the adults God desires them to be!  This is no small feat.  And motherhood is certainly not for the faint of heart. 

Klein had a beautiful turning point in her life when Mary spoke to her heart.  From that moment on, Mary played a large role in Klein’s motherhood.  She encourages readers to trust in the Blessed Mother, and to turn to her for wisdom, guidance, and strength. 

Inside the book, you’ll find a beautiful prayer for consecrating your children and spouse to the care of the Blessed Mother.  Klein explains the significance of this consecration, and how sustaining these prayers have been in her life. 

I recommend this book for all mothers, but especially for any mothers who have adult children – particularly children who have fallen away from the church, or who have fallen into bad habits in their lives. 

Get ready for an awesome testimony to the power of a mother’s prayers! Don’t miss Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God. 

You can purchase this book from Amazon or Ave Maria Press.

P.S. God is merciful & He loves you… Pass it on! 

dear cecile richards

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Dear Cecile Richards,

I realize that I’m a complete stranger to you.  But I’ve seen you in magazines and on TV, and when I see you, I think to myself, “Wow, she has beautiful eyes.”  When I see you, I think, “You know, she and I actually have a lot in common.”

We are both women.  We are both married.  We both have three children.  We both have expressed that our children are the center of our lives.  We are both driven.  We are both hard working.  We are both stubborn.  We both speak from our hearts.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, I believe that we share common passions.  We both love our families and seek to change the world, particularly for all women and families.  I’ve heard people villainize your efforts, but I’m a Catholic, so I can relate.  I truly believe that we share a common passion of wanting what’s best for women and families. Read the rest of this entry »

true love isn’t silent

True love cannot be silent in the face of social confusion. Too much is at stake.

Acceptance and tolerance are major buzz words in our culture today.  People are crying out for others to accept them and for others to be tolerant of their behavior. 

While acceptance and tolerance are paramount to a healthy society, we must be vigilant and prudent about what actions and concepts we accept and tolerate.

How do we do this?  Certainly the Bible provides us with some good framework for what actions and concepts should be accepted and tolerated.  The Catechism does a beautiful job of laying out specifics on some complex issues that require further clarification. 

Yet many do not place themselves under the authority of the Bible or the teachings of the Church.  Even within the Church, confusion, ignorance, and misunderstanding can complicate things.  So naturally we’ll all come to the table with different ideas about what should be accepted and tolerated… if we come to the table at all. 

Let’s be clear, shall we?  As Christians, we are called first to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and second to love others. 

For a beautiful description of the importance of loving God first and others second, please see Fr. Winslow’s article, “The Greatest Lie.”

Loving others doesn’t mean we need to be silent all the time when things are controversial.  Rather, when much is at stake, true love compels us to speak up.

Love does not mean we should just tell people everything they’re doing is okay.  Sometimes what people do is really not okay.  Loving someone then means speaking up, even and especially when it is difficult.  True love will shine a flashlight ahead to show someone they are on a wrong path. 

Love does not mean that we always will agree with others.  Sometimes we will disagree, and if we do this respectfully, seeking to understand one another’s viewpoints, we can grow stronger together.  True love will take the time to listen and will have the courage to attempt to explain. 

Love does not mean that we allow others to expose our families and children to coercion or social grooming that will contradict the morals and values we hold at the center of our lives.  True love will be on guard, standing firm in the faith.

Love doesn’t mean we stand idly by and watch as people walk into abortion clinics and discard lives (or whatever other euphemism people may insert) because they believe it’s their choice.  Love doesn’t mean we stand idly by and watch as people melt away from addiction, anorexia, depression, or pornography.  True love will try to hold someone back who is staggering to slaughter. 

True love cannot be silent in the face of social confusion.  Too much is at stake.   And the most beautiful Divine Mercy is waiting for everyone. 

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you… no matter what.  

the tree of life my soul hath seen

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The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green.  The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green.  The trees of nature fruitless be compared with Christ, the apple tree. 

These gorgeous lyrics of “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” bring us right back to the very beginning.  A very good place to start.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the beginning, there was also a garden with two trees of great significance.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life.

Have you ever walked in a beautiful garden?  I mean a really beautiful one?  Have you ever been in a beautiful garden laid out strategically and lovingly, full of stone pathways, green spaces, patches of flowers, blooming trees, trellises, and little ponds?

Eden was a gorgeous garden, lovingly crafted.  And God provided everything that Adam and Eve needed right there in that space.

He provided a tree of life.  They chose not to take advantage of this gift.

So later on, God sent His only Son Jesus to become our tree of life when he died for us on the cross.  Jesus is our apple tree as this beautiful Christmas hymn suggests.

Are we taking advantage of this gift?

He is our shelter – we can rest in His shadows when we are weary and burdened, just as we would rest under the shade of a large apple tree.

He is laden with fruit – rich gifts of nourishment that are available to us always.

He is always green – always relevant, always fresh, always full of life.

While we may not yet be able to look upon Him fully with our eyes, we can look upon Him with our soul.

Let us look upon this apple tree – this tree of life that is Jesus Christ.  And let us learn from the mistakes of our ancestors.  We are asked to eat only fruit from the tree of life.  Let us for once obey.

The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green.  The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green.  The trees of nature fruitless be compared with Christ, the apple tree.

need to charge more to power on

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As I plugged my phone into the wall, the screen lit up, and a picture of an empty battery flashed at me in the darkness.  “Need to charge more to power on,” it said. 

You know what?  I can relate. 

I need to charge more to power on lately.  Why don’t I take the time to charge?  Is it laziness?  Is it pride? 

For me it comes down to trust.  I need to trust more in Christ.  Trust is what keeps me running through my days.  Without it, I fail miserably.  My compass is off kilter.  My direction is cloudy.  My best efforts are squelched.  It’s really that bad.  

When I pray the rosary, I trust that I am doing what I can to connect myself to the life and sufferings of Christ and our mother Mary.  The rosary allows me to trust in God’s goodness, to revel in the mysteries of His life, and to trust that my life is also intricately planned and ordained. 

Your life is also intricately planned and ordained.  Do we trust that our lives truly have purpose beyond what is seen? 

When I quiet my mind, ask my soul to be still, and listen for the sound of God’s voice in the stillness, I trust that I am doing what I can to make myself available to God’s living word in my life.  A listening prayer exercises my trust in a living God who wants to guide my heart and set order in my days. 

God wants to guide your heart and to set order in your days.  Do we trust Him and let Him lead? 

Through the rosary and through ongoing effort at contemplative prayer, I charge my battery as a wife, as a mother of three children ages three and under, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a neighbor, as a human – as me. 

I’ve had trouble finishing my rosaries lately.  I start and stop, but God knows my heart.  He searches my soul.  He searches within all of us and knows us intimately. 

Graces await if we only begin. 

I’ve had trouble finishing the dishes lately.  I’ve had trouble finishing the laundry lately.  I’ve had trouble finishing a cup of tea lately.  I start and stop, but it’s no matter.  God does not always intend for us to complete all of the work that we begin – certainly not always in the order we think is best, and certainly not when other pressing things clamor for our attention.  Yet God knows my heart.  He searches my soul.  He searches within all of us and knows us intimately. 

What matters is that we are joyful as we go about our work.  What matters is that we give praise always and everywhere to God. 

Graces await if we only begin.

So I would do well to wait until I am at least charged to power on.  I would do well to wait until I am connected with Christ before I even search through my thoughts, before I even open my mouth for the day.  I would do well to trust in Christ more fervently and intentionally. 

As we open our hearts and turn our thoughts toward the coming of Christ in this Advent season, let us begin anew with great fervor and zeal. 

Graces await if we only begin.