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

Category: Prayer

grateful for guilt

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I have struggled immensely with guilt in my life.  Anyone can tell you that.  But I have decided to rejoice in this gift!  Guilt keeps me going to Confession!  It keeps me striving to be perfect as our Father is perfect in Heaven.

We must take care not to dismiss or disregard the guilt of others as insignificant.  There is so much of that in our world today – so much justification of little sins. 

There are so many excuses made for our errors, faults, and imperfections.  One may say, “But God knows this is just how I am!  So it’s okay!” 

Yes, but He overcame the world to give you strength to overcome yourself.

Our guilt is there for a reason.  Namely, that we confess it to God, and move on with a little more knowledge, a little more life experience about how to do better next time. 

Sure, some guilt is unfounded and is the result of sins of scrupulosity.  But that guilt we must give to God, too.  Scrupulous thinking is the work of the devil, no doubt.  It keeps us in a negative spiral so that we think we are not good enough to go to Christ.  I know this all too well.  I know how satan tempts me all too well.  And this is excellent and as it should be. 

satan loses his power over us when we can see ahead of time all the cards in his hand – when we know exactly which card he is going to play next. 

Yes, I am grateful for my guilt.  I am even more grateful for the One who takes it all away. 

 

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

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…

the curse of comfort

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I found this quote in high school and placed it in a scrapbook.  Though I just stumbled upon it the other day, these words have resonated with me now for years.  Do you know the curse of comfort?  Here is the secret of what to do when you feel that comfort seep upon you…

 

“Is thy curse of comfort wasting? 

Rise and share it with another;

and through all the years of famine,

it shall serve thee and thy brother.

Is thy burden hard and heavy?

Do thy steps drag wearily?

Help to bear thy brother’s burden

God will bear both it and thee.”

-Elizabeth Charles

 

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.

roses in heaven

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Every Hail Mary that we say is a rose that will adorn the gardens of Heaven, because it is through these prayers that we can achieve peace on earth.

Peace in our hearts on earth will lead us to Heaven, which will make Heaven more beautiful.

So every Hail Mary is a rose that will adorn the gardens of Heaven.

We will live with Mary and our Triune God in Heaven.  We will live among the saints.  We will live among these gardens of roses.

We are encouraged to care for our earthly home.  Through the Hail Mary and through the rosary, we can express care for our true heavenly home.

We can lift our concerns to Heaven and join with saints and angels in praising God and honoring Mary.

Shouldn’t we want our earthly home to be as beautiful as possible?  Shouldn’t we want our heavenly home to be as beautiful as possible?

Then let us pray for peace.  Let us pray for souls.

Let us together join in praying the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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

a small, light blue, plastic baby shoe

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It was a small, light blue, plastic baby shoe.  Its cash value was likely not more than about 20 cents.

But this woman held it in her hands, looked up at me, and asked, “Would it be okay if I keep this?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Take any of the decorations home that you’d like.  They’re yours to keep.”

She was so grateful.  She proceeded to tell me that she was going to put this little shoe in a small box that she keeps on her nightstand.

“This will be a reminder for me of an answered prayer!  Oh, I prayed and prayed for this!” she exclaimed, as she held the little shoe tightly in her hands, pressing it against her chest.  She looked like she might burst into tears.

She went on to explain that her small box held many memories and special items.  This plastic shoe would be joining their company.

You see, this woman was the Grandmother at one of our Mary Garden Showers.  And because of the crisis situation going on, she didn’t know if she would ever meet her grandson.

But she did meet her grandson.  And she loves him very much.

For this woman, the baby shower that was held in celebration of her daughter and grandson was a complete answered prayer.  It was the icing on the cake of her daughter’s decision to give birth to the gift of her son.

Many of the women we have showered through Mary Garden Showers have politely asked if they could keep the decorations from their baby showers.

This is about so much more than simply decorations.

I can see it in each Mother’s eyes as she holds a little baby shower banner or asks to take home her pink cups and sweet, decorated napkins.

Yes, this is about so much more than the gifts, the treats, the lemonade, and the decorations.

This is about Christ’s mercy.  This is about bringing people back to Him where they belong.  This is about extending Christ’s mercy to absolutely everyone simply because they have dignity and worth as a human being.

And that mercy sometimes is represented to these Mothers in the smallest ways:  a smile from a stranger, the warmth of a friendship, fresh baked goods, a sense of community, sweet lemonade…

Christ’s mercy can even be represented in a small, light blue, plastic baby shoe.

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

A Family Consecration to Divine Mercy

I use the word “try” here because being merciful is not easy. It requires forgiveness, patience, and lots of hope. These are not things of this world, but rather, they are things of Heaven. And so we cannot be merciful unless we are fully dependent on God.

Christ’s suffering redeemed all of creation.  All of it.  His mercy is great enough to redeem every single one of us!  But the problem is, not everyone takes Him up on this offer.

What happens to that rejected mercy?

St. Therese of Lisieux had the courage to ask Jesus for it:  for all of the mercy that others rejected.  In essence, this prayer is what it means to be consecrated to Divine Mercy.  Read the rest of this entry »