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

Category: Jesus Christ

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today…

I have found much comfort and peace in praying the rosary in times of joy, in times of anxiety, and in times of sorrow.  Along with my Catholic faith, the rosary is perhaps the best gift my family has passed on to me.

Have you ever wondered why Catholics like me love this prayer so much?  Are you looking for ways to go deeper with the rosary to truly unlock more peace in your heart and in the world?

Whether you’re someone who has never felt like praying a rosary before, or someone who prays the rosary every day, there’s something here for you.

In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri does an excellent job of covering the basics and apologetics of this ancient prayer, while also taking experienced rosary devotees into a more thorough understanding of the rosary’s many facets and applications to our lives.

The book includes great discussion questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflection or group discussion.  The first half of the book explains how Jesus is at the very heart and center of the rosary.  It addresses many common hindrances to this prayer, including a lack of understanding about its importance and a fear of its beautiful repetition.  The second half of the book takes readers through the 4 sets of mysteries in the rosary that are contained within the Gospels, explaining how we can meditate on each mystery as we pray to truly come to know Jesus more intimately.   At the end, a scriptural rosary is offered and suggested as an additional way to pray through the mysteries of the rosary with renewed zeal.

It’s simple.  If we want to see more peace on this earth, we need to be saying more rosaries.  Why?  Because Heaven has asked this of us through Mary, through the saints, and through the Church Jesus established here on earth.

If you’re ready now to begin praying the rosary like never before, pick up your copy of this book from Franciscan Media here or from Amazon here.

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

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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!

Unveiling a Masterpiece…

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“Wouldn’t it be great if we could give each mother the same image of Mary & Jesus?” Serena asked, as we browsed through prints for sale at our local Catholic Corner booth.

The only problem was:  which one would we pick?  There are so many gorgeous paintings of our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son Jesus.

God took care of that for us.

When Mary Garden Showers opened a chapter at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, OH, we had no idea that a talented Catholic artist was sitting right in the pews of that very church.

Our chapter leaders knew.  They reached out to her about a painting project.

When artist Bernadette Carstensen was asked to paint an image for our ministry, she says:

“The idea for this painting came to me right away, inspired by the way my daughter sometimes plays with me.  So, I decided to pose Mary and Jesus in an affectionate moment, mother and baby playing together quietly.  Jesus is meant to look like He is crowning her with flowers playfully, but also representing what will come when they are both in heaven.  Mostly, I wanted to show Mary as a human mother in love with her child, awed by His beauty and innocence, hoping that a new mom who is feeling scared or worried could look at it and imagine the happiness she will have with her baby.”

A few months back, we shared a progress sketch of the painting that Bernadette graciously sent our way.  Now, we are thrilled to be able to unveil the finished painting that is such a gift and blessing to this ministry…

Purchase your copy here today!  All proceeds go to Mary Garden Showers.  Thanks for your support.

MaryJesusForWeb

 

Amazing, right?  Ms. Bernadette, we are so grateful and humbled that you painted this for the mothers we serve.

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

roasting marshmallows and sanctity…

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My husband is awesome because he loves making campfires.  He’s awesome for a lot of reasons, but every once in awhile, my daughter will ask in her not so sneaky way, “Hey Daddy, how about… we have a little campfire tonight?”

And if it’s a weekend, and my husband doesn’t have to work the next day, and if the girls have been listening well to Daddy and Mommy, and if it’s not raining, and if it’s not too late, we will have a little campfire, and we have a blast.

Last night after we put the girls to bed, the fire was still dying down, and my husband and I sat outside talking.

As I was roasting a marshmallow slowly to perfection, I thought about how it can really take awhile to get the marshmallow just right.

You can’t rush this process of roasting a marshmallow. You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

I thought about how you have to keep the marshmallow close to the flame, but not so close that it burns it to a crisp – unless you’re one of those people who loves burnt-to-a-crisp marshmallows.

And it occurred to me that this process of roasting a marshmallow bore a striking resemblance to the process of becoming holy.

In order for us to reach a higher level of sanctity, we must slowly work at being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  It can take awhile for us to come out just right.

You can’t rush this process of achieving sanctity.  You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

You have to stay close to the flames of Divine Mercy.  You have to stay close to God.  But at the same time, we are not ready to see God in His full glory yet.  God is not ready to fully reveal Himself to us just yet.

Eventually my marshmallow was just about perfect.  I’ll admit I didn’t wait until it was golden brown, and my husband questioned whether I had waited long enough.  But my s’more was wonderful, nonetheless.

I hope I can be a little more patient with myself as I work to become more like Christ.  While I know I won’t be able to really be perfect in this life, I will keep striving for it so that I can continue to be the best I can be.

Jesus doesn’t want us to settle.

I hope that I won’t settle for anything less than what Jesus has asked of each of us: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Let’s just remember: perfectly roasted marshmallows must stay close to the flame.

 

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

a letter to my mom (who says she’s falling apart)

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Dear Mom,

As I take my kids to doctor’s appointments, wipe runny noses, and make lots of tomato soup this week, I find myself realizing why you say you are falling apart. 

If your memory is going, it’s probably from years of remembering when to take temperatures, when to administer medicines, and when to pick us up and drop us off from practices.

If your shoulders are sore, it’s probably from the thousands of times you picked us up out of the crib. 

If your lower back is aching, it’s probably from the awkward position you must assume to get a kid into a carseat and from the strain of bending down each night to pick up big pots and pans to put on the stove. 

If your hips are hurting, it’s probably because you carried us to the potty chair and to bed against our will countless times, sometimes enduring strong kicks and flailing arms.

If you have arthritis in your hands, it’s probably from stirring stews in pots and browning meat for our meals, and mending our clothes, and sewing us beautiful things, and helping us learn to play piano.

If your voice is changing and tired, it’s probably from singing us to sleep and filling our hearts with beautiful songs to give us hope, and something to remember when things are hard. 

If your hearing is going, it’s probably because you spent years hearing baby screams and cries and laughs, and overhearing sibling fights, and maybe eavesdropping on conversations to make sure older kids weren’t getting into trouble. 

If your knees are shot, it’s probably from years of kneeling down in prayer for us, and from countless diaper changes.

If you have stretch marks, it’s because you were open to God’s will, carried children within you, and helped us come into the world and experience light. 

If your face is full of wrinkles, it’s probably from hours and hours spent smiling at our happy baby faces, pouring out lots of love, filling us up with happiness to carry us through a lifetime.

And so it is my sincere hope and prayer, that when I arrive at your beautiful age, I can look at myself in the mirror, and be falling apart every bit as much as you are today.  Because then I can know with confidence, that I gave everything to my children and family, in the way that you gave everything to me. 

“This is my body, given up for you.”  These are the words of Christ. They are also the words of my mother.  How beautiful it is to imitate Christ.  With all of my heart, thank you.

God bless you, I love you forever,

Kaitlyn Clare (a.k.a. Your Angel Bunny)

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.

hush, hush, beautiful is the mother

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Christ is born tell the folk of the village.  Jesus is sleeping in his cradle. Hush, hush, beautiful is the mother.  Hush, hush, beautiful is her Son.

In a few weeks, we too will be invited to peek into the stable to take a look at baby Jesus.  We will begin anew in our endeavors to tell the folk of the village – to tell the people of this world that Jesus is here!

What a gorgeous Christmas carol this truly is, as it invites us to hush.

Hush, hush, be still my soul.  Hush, hush, be still my heart.

And beautiful is the mother.  What a wonderful phrase.

If we truly were to peek into that long-ago and far-away stable, we would see Mary at Jesus’ side.  Perhaps baby Jesus would be in her arms when we arrived.

She truly is beautiful.  Can you see her?  Can you see how lovely she is and how her eyes are fixed on Christ?  Can you see her hair pulled back underneath an ivory veil?  Can you feel the warmth of her tender love?

You see, the beauty of the vocation of motherhood lies in its quiet service.

Mary is the epitome of this servitude.  She humbly, gently, ever so carefully, surrendered over her entire self to God.  She surrendered over her entire self to the process of pregnancy and birth, and she journeyed with her Son all the way to Calvary.

How contrary this is to our culture today that tells women who find themselves pregnant, “You don’t need to serve.  You can escape.”

How beautiful it is to see such virtue, such holiness, such gentleness, and such warmth in Jesus’ mother Mary.  May we bring these qualities to life more fully in our own vocations!

As we journey through these days of Advent, let us hush.  Let us escape from the clamor of the world in moments of quiet reflection.

Let us stand in awe of the beauty of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus is to the world.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus gave us in his mother Mary.

For beautiful is the mother.

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.

find Jesus

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A woman in a wheelchair reached up to take my movie ticket.  She tore off the end, kindly pointed me in the direction of my film, and that was the end of our interaction. 

After the movie, I looked over as I walked out.  A nun had knelt down and taken this woman by the hand.  The nun had a joyful, warm, comforting smile on her face as she spoke to the seated woman in tears.  I have no idea of the cause of their emotions. 

I do know, however, that this scene left a lasting impression on my life. 

How often do we walk by?  How often do we look the other way? 

Let’s look around.  Let’s keep our eyes open.  Let’s make an effort to find Jesus in every room.  Jesus is truly among us! 

And then let’s do the little bit that we can to reach out and provide comfort. 

Where is Jesus?  He is with the poor in spirit, the afflicted, the wounded, the sorrowful, the grieving, the downtrodden, the lowly, and the humble. 

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Find Jesus.  Find Jesus and comfort his sorrowful, sacred heart. 

It is the very least we can do. 

P.S.  God is merciful and He still loves you.