Saturday, January 11, 2020

Prayer to Preserve Religious Freedom

Singing in the Face of Evil

In New Jersey, there is a battle raging to preserve religious freedom. Recent legislation is not only threatening our parental rights but making it clear that if we want to continue to live our faith, we must fight. Top officials have said openly that faith has no place in matters of "public good" and "science." We are not alone, this battle is playing out across the country. How do you live your faith, if you cannot live it at every moment in every place?

Where Two or More are Gathered

Protests have been ongoing since December. Mothers, fathers, children, elderly...some from states away. All descending on the capitol square to have their voices heard. There are people from every background and faith. We do not all see the issue in the same light, but we do all see how it erodes our freedom. Once freedom is abandoned, it is seldom, or at least not easily, brought back.

Gathering is a way to show support and distress. We need to come together and fight for what is right. Although we are called to be peacemakers, we are never called to be doormats. Jesus himself turned over the tables in the Temple and disrupted the status quo. He did not accept the will of the government when it interfered with the will of God. To preserve religious freedom, we must come together. We must drop everything, everything that seems important in the moment but has no value in Our Master's Plan, and come together to stand up for what is right. Evil waits for no man. Plowing your field--or cleaning your home, or completing your work--is of temporary importance. The big picture requires action that is swift and focused.

Catechism in Action

We are called to preserve and promote the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Our lamps are meant to be where all can see to shed light on a very dark world. Does that mean that our lamps will protect us from discomfort and criticism? Absolutely, not! Some will try to blow out our lamps. Others will be offended and come against us to put out our lamps. And still others will call us crazy for having a lamp in the first place. Shining our lights makes us vulnerable.

Jesus admonishes us to not deny Him before men. When we hide and "fly under the radar," we are denying Him who gave us the light to shine! Peter denied Jesus with his lips three times. He wanted to fit in. Perhaps he was too tired to handle the jeers and arguments that would follow. Or maybe, he felt that if he just kept his head down this would all blow over and His Savior would be set free!

Will You Be Silent?

This past Thursday, a small but mighty group of Catholics gathered in Trenton to pray and sing. We processed up the block across from the statehouse, sprinkled holy water, and blessed salts on the path to the statehouse door, and prayed for over two hours for each senator, the governor, and the preservation of religious freedom. When organizing this event, I had a much different idea of how it would go. My family left early in the morning for the long, and slow-moving drive to Trenton. My boys have been wanting to see Washington's crossing and several landmarks, but this was not a time for sightseeing. This was an opportunity to put our faith, and civics lessons, into practice. 

My youngest was having a day, a three-year-old day to be exact. Her usually delightful personality was not a happy camper from the moment she woke up. Time in the cold with loud noises from the protesters did not help. As the crowd continued to shout and bang drums, our little band of faithful continued to pray even though it was hard to even hear the person right next to you. And Lovie Lu began to cry. I bounced, I rocked, I rubbed her back and feet...nothing would settle her down. 

So there I sat on a cold, concrete curb, with my back aching and rocked her until she slept briefly. For a moment I was just there with my child and the screams of her agony staring me in the face. As I began to question my parenting capabilities and wonder if really I should have stayed home like a "good mom," a sign caught the corner of my eye.


american flag with rosary crucifix in background

Uncomfortable with Being Uncomfortable

That was it. Emotion caught in my throat. I could not be silent. What would I tell my children if I were and their freedom is stripped away? How could I answer for a future where faith and personal autonomy are banned? How could I be silent? 

My child's momentary distress, which was quickly remedied with a bag of gluten-free pretzels, her favorite doll, and a warm van, was just a distraction. We have grown so accustomed to comfort, we are unwilling to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable. Our parochial vicar recounted his experience walking El Camino this summer, "I realized how uncomfortable I have become with being uncomfortable."

This was what had to be done. Her tears and frustration are but a blink of an eye that she will likely never remember. Living in a world devoid of freedom, she would never forget. Our discomfort was necessary. Clinging to comfort is how the world has gotten where it is. As Matthew Kelly said in The Best Advent Ever, the world is the way it is because too many people have chosen not to do their "small bit." 

No One is Shirking

The prayer, the march, the protest all brought to mind a Dr. Seuss classic, "Horton Hears a Who." With pro-life undertones, the story tell of Horton who discovers a microscopic world that the powers that be wish to destroy. He pleads and pleads but they will not listen, they do not believe the world exists and are not interested in investigating any further.

So, Horton turns his pleas to his miniature friends, the Whos. He asks them to make as much noise as possible so he can show it is true. A cacophony arises, that the officials cannot hear. Once again, Horton pleas to increase the noise, make sure everyone is making as much noise as possible. Still nothing. Finally, he asks if there is anyone "shirking" their duty. The Whos discover one small Who in a tiny apartment who is just sitting quietly. Through some prompting, this shirker lets out a small "yip" and suddenly the officials' ears can hear. The Whos and their world are saved by one small voice. 

What You Can Do to Preserve Religious Freedom

If all who professed Christ as their Savior, and all who enjoy liberty stood up, there would be no room for legislation that goes against the principles of our faith and our constitution! The first thing to do is to make your position known. Sign petitions, attend rallies, share the message that we will not go quietly into the darkness--do not be silent!

Next, you must pray. Gather and pray. Pray and sing. Process and pray. Fast and pray. Prayer is powerful, it is our greatest weapon against the schemes of the devil. We must realize that this all comes down to the battle Christ has already won. Every moment, every incident is a battle for our soul. Will we side with Our Savior or fall victim to the empty promises of the world.

Pray the litanies, the full rosary, a flying novena, or the Divine Office. Commit to praying in a way that is uncomfortable and requires sacrifice. Then sing! Sing in the face of evil. Songs are prayers prayed twice. God's angels sing hymns of praise every moment of eternity. The enemy hates joy and praise. Be a beacon in a very cold and dark world! 

That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops.
Matthew 10:27

Linking up with Kelly for some #7QT!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

5 Reasons to Have Sacred Art in Our Homes

The domestic church is the backbone of society. It is where children learn to pray and follow God. Our homes are spots of everyday worship. Establishing domestic churches rich in sacred art and prayer is critical to our future. St John Paul the Great once said,

“As the family goes, 

so goes the nation

 and so goes the whole world

 in which we live.”

This is why building our domestic churches is something we must take seriously. Our children are only ours for a short time. Where do you want to raise your children? In the Church or in the world? Here are 5 reasons to have sacred art in our homes.

Catholic Church with ornate stained glass windows

Fill Our Homes with Beauty

Our culture is obsessed with how things look. We are glued to our social media and continually staging life so that we appear better, brighter, and happier than we are. The quest for outward beauty drives multi-million dollar industries and leads many to despair. I recently saw that millennials overwhelmingly prefer Italian food, not because they like it but because it photographs well!

This is superficial beauty. It is fleeting and lost. Those Instagram pictures of the lasagna will be buried in hours. True beauty comes from the soul and the Truth. In a quest for social beauty, we have created a very ugly world. However, when children are exposed to true beauty, to the Truth and the Light, it inspires the soul. Medieval cathedrals still captivate us because of their beautiful construction and trappings stir something within us. Our God is one who loves beauty, how else can you explain the intricate wonder of nature?

Sacred Art in Our Homes Brings Hope

Bringing the sacred home gives us hope. When we return from a long cold day, we can recharge beneath the joy of our Faith. A print of Our Lady gently cradling the infant LORD reminds us of the great hope we have in Jesus. An inspiring statue of our favorite saint inspires hope that the Church at Rest is still at work in our lives.

We find true hope in our hearts and our homes when they are filled with peace and joy. If we want more hope for our family, we must turn our thoughts often, and be inspired by the Holy Family. Sacred art is the balm to a very weary soul.

Inspire Prayer

Why do artists create works of faith? How did the art we cling to in our parishes and museums even begin? Far from graven images of the old testament, faith-filled art is meant to inspire prayer. When an artist has no words for the glories of God, he paints a piece that lifts the soul. We all should pray more. We all promise we will pray more. However, how often does that happen?

It is so easy to get distracted by the busyness of life. We rush through our days and fall into bed realizing our prayers went unsaid. Sacred art helps us in this journey. It reminds us of our true goals and home. We are prompted to think beyond our little life and contemplate the wonders of Heaven. If you want to pray more, decorate your home so you meet God and His servants face to face throughout your day.

Focus on God

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where theives break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
Matthew 6:19-21

What are our treasures? What do we strive to provide for our homes? The consumerism of our modern age is consuming. It is so easy to get caught up in the race to have the latest and greatest. We are no longer keeping up with the Joneses, but keeping up with the Kardashians. 

Where should our focus be? While the world seeks to distract us, our sole focus, for the health of our soul, should always be God in the Trinity. How can we serve Him? How can we listen more intently to His voice? What is He asking of us this day?

Our treasures of today will surely attract moths and rust away. All we will bring with us at the end of this life is our soul and our faith. Decorating our homes as domestic churches keep our hearts focused on our true mission. As Father Newcomb said on the Sunday before All Saints Day, "If we do not become saints, our lives are a failure."

This is not to depress us, but to inspire us. No treasure can ever outweigh what awaits us after a good and faithful life.  Let us raise our families surrounded by reminders of God's Promise and Love.

Make Our Faith Our Life

Our faith is not just something we do. It is who we are. It is the sole reason for our existence. Being Catholic should never end at the parish door. We need to bring it home with us and carry it throughout every moment of the day. Do our lives radiate the Light of Christ? Are we set apart not through isolation, but because of how and who we serve? Our homes should reflect this conviction and faith, as well.

Living in a domestic church fortifies our faith. Our homes need to look Catholic. This does not mean spending extortionate amounts of money on every Catholic toy, gadget, and piece of clothing. All of these are good, but consumerism is never justified simply because we are buying Catholic goods. Instead, it should be obvious to outsiders that ours are Catholic homes. Instead of hiding our faith beneath a bushel basket of modern decorating, we should be letting it shine for all the world to see.

Sacred art for your home and family is an investment. Perhaps you can only afford one focal piece, or maybe you can clothe every room in a religious splendor. It is not about how much, but in how intentional you are. Fill your home with beauty, truth, prayer, hope, and God---these are the true treasures we should always seek.

Friday, May 25, 2018

#7QT How to Get Stated with Homeschooling

It's Friday, and it is beau-ti-ful outside my window!! Thank you, Jesus, the sun is shining! How is your day going? Have any great Memorial Day plans?

Before I take a bit of a computer break for the long weekend, I thought I would jump on here to share a litle #7QT post about making the decision to homeschool.  Linking up with Kelly!


So You Are Thinking of Homeschooling!
Are you considering homeschooling? Have you thought of the benefits of having your children home more, having control over their education, and a more manageable family schedule? Are you overwhelmed and don't know where to start?

Don't worry, you are not alone. Truth be told it took me six years to make the leap! Hubby and I began discussing homeschool the day Cowgirl was born. When she turned five I still wasn't ready to commit and had so many reservations. I enrolled her in preschool for three full days a week to stall the process a bit. She had made the kindergarten birthday cut off by mere hours, everyone was okay with that response so that is where we were for a year!

When Cowgirl was coming up on turning 6, Hubby told me that preschool for another year was no longer an option, I needed to make a decision! I jumped in with both feet and 9 years later, we are still going!

Where to Start with Homeschooling
The best place to start is with your "why." Why do you want to do this? Why do you think your family needs this? Write it down. Say it out loud. Paint it on your wall if you want! Knowing your why will solidify your decision because now you gave a vision.

You could do a pros and cons analysis--that is a favorite exercise of mine, but your why is the biggest piece to this decision making process. A homeschooling friend once said, "Write down why you are doing this in August and then take it out in January and remind yourself when you forget!"

Dealing with The "What About...?" Resistance
One of the first questions you will probably be asked when you announce your decision to homeschool will be, "What about Algebra and Chemistry?" 

The second will be, "What about socialization?"

What about them?? If you child is starting kindergarten, the truth is that you don't need to know what you will do about anything beyond kindergarten. No one is asking public school kindergarten parents, "What about AP Spanish?" 

That is years away. The years go quickly but you really only need to tackle this year. 

On to the socialization question...ask them to define socialization, and then proceed. Homeschooling is not some back woods, underground movement. Today, it is as mainstream as charter schools and abounding with opportunities. In fact, most homeschool families struggle with actually being home!

However, even if you are not on the road every day for co-op, classes, meet-ups, and field trips; socialization is the skill of being able to relate to others, form relationships, and interact with those beyond your immediate family. Homeschooling provides more opportunities to interact with people from all age groups and demographics than any other schooling option. Homeschool activities are not segregated by class or geographic neighborhood, there are children from all grades and often several towns, counties, even states in one place, learning together!

Is Homeschooling Even Legal? 
Well, yes it is! Honeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the USA, Canada, and most countries around the world. There are exceptions, however, and you can see a break down of homeschooling laws for the world here

Each state does have it's own regualtions and requirements. Some are more homeschool friendly than others. If you are considering homeschooling, your first stop should be HSLDA to see what your state requires of homeschool families and how to proceed. 

Even in the most rigid states, homeschooling is still a completely viable option. Do not fear that you will have to hide in your basement and use code names to survive. I promise you, no laws are being broken by teaching your child to read!

Are You Qualified to Teach?
Some states do have stipulations on home teacher requirements that need to be met. That said, parents teach their children every day! You taught your child how to dress, how to speak, how to safely go up and down the stairs, how to ride a bike, how to write his name....the list goes on and on. Lesson abound at home. Also, homework turns parents into teachers whether they like it or not. If you are spending hours each night reviewing multiplication, working through essay writing, helping a child match shapes and colors, etc, guess what, you are already homeschooling!

If you do come across a subject that you just can't or won't teach to your children, there are numerous options for online, video, and self guided courses. Being a homeschool parent does not mean you are the only one allowed to teach your child, it just means you are the one in charge of overseeing his complete education.

In fact, recent studies have show that the biggest factor in successful learning is student/teacher relationship! Teachers are being encouraged to get to know students better, and many schools are adopting a "looping" system so students stay with one teacher longer. That just begs for an increase in homeschooling. Who knows a child better than his parents?

Where Do You Find Homeschool Curriculum?
Do you have a library card?  I know that seems over simplified, but back in the day, before textbook companies existed, there were books! Just books! That is how Abe Lincoln learned, and it seems to have worked pretty well.

Of course, you may want more structure, more accountability, more support. In that case, there are an overwhelming amount of homeschool curriculum options out there. Honestly, there are too many! Instead of worrying if options exist, prepare yourself to be overwhelmed with the programs and texts available for homeschooling today!  I will be publishing a guide to finding homeschool  materials this July!

What If I Fail at Homeschooling My Child?
Well, that is a possibility, but so is your house being struck by lightening, you live there anyway, though. The fear of failure holds back the best of ventures. You will never know until you try. Playing the "what if" game is not beneficial to any decision making process.

You are making this decision to the best of your ability today for this year. Take it one year at a time. get through kindergarten without worrying about 4th grade! You are free to change your mind at any time. Children change schools all the time due to moves or school choice options. Don't let the fear of failing hold you back. YOU CAN DO THIS!!   

What is your biggest question about beginning to homeschool?  
Drop it below or send me a message. I would love to help you out! 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Serving the Least With The Most Love

Today I have something a little different for you--a guest blogger! I am busy working on some big things over here---BIG THINGS!!! I promise to share more when I can. I am so excited, I can hardly wait.

Sheila M. Hupp is a lovely virtual assistant and mommy to some beautiful little ladies. I am so happy to have her here today! Thank you Sheila, this is a treat for me, too. Please show Sheila so me love and leave an encouraging comment! I'm linking up with Kelly who has an excellent series going on the apparitions of Mary for May! Have a blessed weekend!

I have three little girls at home with me every day. Life is never dull with these gals and one (or two or three) almost always needs something. I spend my days hopping like a monkey on fire from one need to the next. As soon as one nose is wiped, another has a booboo in dire need of kissing.

With the best of intentions I will start my day with a fresh attitude and a determination to be a patient and loving mama; but, end up so grumpy I could give Cruella de Vil a good fright. The service that I am called to now as a mama of little people is not easy but these gals are not going to raise themselves.

How I approach this calling can make all the difference in my experience as their mother and their experiences as my daughters. The diapers will be changed, the meals will be cooked, the laundry will be done; but, I have the choice on how I show up to serve my family. Each day I have the choice to show up with love or with contempt.

Mother Teresa once said, "It is not how much you give, but how much you love you put into giving."

Dang. She can throw down some truth that can snap my eyes back into focus. I've been blessed with the three little ladies and it should be a joy to spend my days with them. They need me to teach them, to guide them, feed them, and nurture them. This time I get with them is a blessing and although it doesn't always feel that way, I need the reminder that what I am doing is showing my girls a glimpse of the love Jesus gives to us.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a story that gives indisputable guidance on how and who we should serve. In this parable, he said that the King will divide people like sheep and goats, putting the sheep to his right and the goats to his left.
To the sheep on the right, he will praise them for how well they cared for him. He says that they now have an inheritance prepared by the kingdom long before the creation of the world. The King goes on to say how they satiated his hunger, quenched his thirst, welcomed him into their homes, clothed him, nursed him to health, and visited him in prison.
Confused, the sheep asked him when did they do those things because they had no recollection of being in the King's presence and serving him. The the King told them, "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matt. 25:40).
Could it be that our job each day is to simply open our eyes to see the needs in front of us? Should our prayer be that God would give us the guidance to use our unique skills and gifts to serve others as if we were serving Him? Is it possible to make a difference serving where we are right now?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

One June evening a friend of mine showed up in the best display of love and service. She arrived at my house unannounced with a pot roast in he crockpot. When we were surprised she wanted to bring us dinner and hug our necks.

The day before I called her asking for prayers as my little girl and I were in a bad car accident. The events of the previous day threw my life into a whirlwind and my thoughts were all over the place. That day was spent mostly on the phone recounting the accident multiple times to insurance representatives and police officers, each time reliving the horrific details.

As my friend stood there with an amazing dinner in her hands, my heart burst. What an incredibly beautiful surprise. I had not thought once about how I was going to feed my family, but she did. To her, she was delivering a meal, but to us, she was nourishing our spirits. Completely drained from the chaos, a warm, delicious dinner allowed our family to sit together and be fed.

Our friend Mother Teresa hit the nail on the head when she said, "When Christ said, 'I was hungry and you fed me,' he didn't mean only hunger of bread and for food; he also meant hunger to be loved."
Sisters, we aren't called to the glamorous life but rather to the life that honors God by loving like He loves us.
My prayer is that we have eyes to see where we can be used and open hands willing to do the work. The people we serve may never be able to return the favor and what we do may seem insignificant to us, but to those being served and loved, it could be a front row seat to heaven on earth.

Sheila is a wife, mama, homeschooler, and believer. She and her husband love raising their three girls in the woods and taking each day as slowly as possible. You can follow her on Instagram @sheilahupp.

Friday, April 27, 2018

#7QT Seven Reasons to Take An Adventure with Your Kids

We are just back from our third annual Road Trip with Mom. Well, it's been five days but I'm still catching up. Have you taken any adventures with your kids? Here's seven good reasons to try!

Linking up with rockstar mom Kelly!

Time Goes by Too Quickly

Remember Ferris Bueller? Bueller...Bueller...anyone? (I know, I'm dating myself, so I won't even tell you how old I was when I saw that movie for the first time!) "Life comes at you pretty fast. If you don't stop and smell the roses once in awhile you will miss it." 
I may have butchered that quote but taking an adventure causes you to slow down, unplug, and just spend some time with the kids.

There's More to Life than Laundry And Dishes

I borrowed that from my friend, Theresa! Yes, I am still catching up on laundry, cleaning, and reorganizing after our adventure, but for four days I had no cooking or housework.  Working and teaching at home is a never ending to-do list. Even when business and school tasks are complete, there's the housework, yard work, and hungry kids to feed.
On our adventure, for four days none of that had to be done. Sure there was driving and child wrangling, but it was a break from the endless busyness that takes up so much valuable time.

The Kids Are Growing So Quickly

Like the time flying by, the kids are growing by leaps and bounds.  In high school, Hubby and I were in a production of Fiddler on the Roof (He was Tevya, I was third Jewish girl from the right.) All the parents cried during "Sunrise, Sunset."

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older
When, did, they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they, were, small?
Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
At the time, it seemed ridiculous. It had taken a lifetime to become a teen and days seemed to stretch forever. Now that I am, ahem, official the same age as my mom was, I see how quickly it goes. Blink once and it's eight months later, twice and five years have passed. Get out and have an adventure before they are all grown up and fly away!

Who Needs More Stuff???
We have always valued experiences over tangible gifts. Birthdays have always been celebrated with  family time and gathering with friends, not presents from Mom and Dad. It used to be that each child picked a "birthday trip" for the family to share. However, as the kids have grown, and multiplied, planning a trip for each individual child where all the family is available is near impossible, especially with 3 fall birthdays!
Christmas is pretty simple around here, too. I always enjoy the photos of presents stacked high beneath the tree that circulate the blogosphere each December, but it just isn't our style. Instead we take adventures. Our annual road trip with mom is my big gift to all of them!

Sometimes You Just Need to Be Mom
Raising a family is a monumental task! Homeschooling only ups the ante a hundred fold. There are times the responsibility overwhelms me. It is just SO much!
When running a household and ensuring multiple children are fed, clothed, comforted, AND educated, it is hard to let loose and just be a "fun mom."  I struggle with this because I want to be the kind of mom my kids need and want, I'd love to be one who just sits and plays all day, but  there is just too much to accomplish. My days are packed every second with tasks, if I fall behind, I may never catch up--or at least that's how it feels.
Breaking routine and getting out of the house, gives homeschool moms the chance to remove a whole stack of hats, leave the checklists behind, and just focus on being mom.
There Are Too Many Places We Haven't Seen in This World 
There are so many adventures to be had! We are already planning our next road trip. Originally, the kids almost had me convinced on a 19 hour away destination! Part way through our recent trip, I came to my senses. 
So, while we want to travel across country, I think we will hit some new destinations within the five hours drive vicinity. However, I know we will get there. We started out just taking day adventure trips, and have built up from there. I hope to do a one weeker, in the future, but right now it is nice to dream!
I have always had a dream of owning an RV and taking amazing trips, since I was a kid. Now, my kids share that dream. We would love to do a "roadschooling" extravaganza, take our books and hit the open road. We even have planned out exactly which amenities our RV needs to have for this. Some day, some day!
Even if you don't travel far afield, or even for more than a few hours, there is much to explore related to history, nature, culture, and just plain fun!

Learn to Do Hard Things

It's important for children to see their parents take risks, calculated risks but risks none the less! When I set out with our vans chock full of kids, snacks, and plans, I realize what an awesome undertaking it is. There are definitely bumps along the way. None of our trips are Travel Channel material. We get lost. We sometimes have meltdowns. There are lost souvenirs and destinations that we never find. There's chocolate for lunch and cookies for dinner when the traveling gets tough.  There are mistakes, missteps, and dashed dreams. However, that's what memories are made of!

When we slosh through the traffic, missing road signs, and undoubtedly wrong Google directions, my kids get to see that even adventures have their downsides and that their mom can handle more than she thinks she can.

What adventure would you love to take with your kids?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Please Pray For Her Rescue

Dear Friends,
This is the quickest take there is! I am hopping on and linking up with Kelly to ask for some fervent prayers for a special little girl.

Lily, who is named for Our Lady, is desperately ill and in so much pain.

Her mother explains the situation here:
"Lily was just diagnosed with Macrophage Activation Syndrome. A serious complication of SJIA. Her immune system is attacking her blood cells. We are trying an aggressive treatment at home but may need hospitalization. MAS gets bad FAST and its deadly. It's also heartbreaking because only 3% of kids with SJIA get MAS the fact that she did so soon after diagnosis is not a good sign. It means her case is more complicated than we hoped. She has a more serious case. Lily is hurting." 

Lauren, her mother, says the steroids seem to be helping but this poor baby is still suffering and far from out of the woods.

Lauren and her husband, Erik, have asked for this request to be shared on as many prayer chains as possible. Please pray and share!

The photo above is Lily's twin praying for her! Thank you! 

My heart is so heavy for my friend and her baby, thank you for caring!

Dear Father in Heaven, hear our plea and delivery baby Lily from her suffering!

Do you have an intention in need of prayer? Please comment below so we can pray for each other.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Walk Through Holy Week with Jesus

Holy Week is a busy time in the Church, it is also the best time to live the faith and experience

the catechism first hand.  The eight days of Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter are 

packed with opportunities to follow Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem, Passion, and 

miraculous resurrection.  

This is my favorite week of the year. It can also be exhausting with so many trips to church
 to participate in the liturgy.  However, I have found that the experience of walking WITH Jesus
 through Holy Week, is exhilarating and makes the miracle of Easter that much sweeter.

Each day, walk through the gospels and grow in your relationship with Our LORD, the Christ.

[Linking up with Kelly!]

Palm Sunday--Welcome Jesus to Jerusalem and, with the crowds, celebrate our amazing 
Savior.  Take an active role in the reading of the Passion. Try to imagine what it was like 
amid the crowds of bystanders waving palms and shouting “Hosanna.” When you get home
 from Mass, place your palms in a special vase for decoration for Holy Week and have a 
special meal as a family.  This is a joyous day because the prophecies have been fulfilled, 
the new king of Israel has come to Jerusalem.

Holy Monday-- The day after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to the sound of crowds cheering Him,
He went up to the temple. However, He did not go to teach and pray.  He came to overturn the
 money changers tables and sweep clean those who offended God.

On Monday,clear out your temple. Our diocese has Reconciliation Monday this day and every
 church is open from 4pm to 8pm for confession.  This is a great blessing for sure.

Not everyone will have that opportunity, but if you can, go to confession. Even if you can’t get
to confession, there is cleaning that can be done.  Get your home in order for the great season
of Easter.

Purge the clutter. Do away with useless distractions.  Find ways to come into Easter cleaner,
lighter, and more open so you can be filled with the grace of His Resurrection.

Holy Tuesday-- Before Jesus cleaned the Temple, he cursed the fig tree.  On Tuesday, while
 heading back into the city, Peter saw how the tree had died and marveled at the authority and
 power of Christ.  Through mere words, He could give and take life.

Jesus replies, “Have faith in God. Amen I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Arise, and hurl thyself into the sea.’ and does not waiver in his heart, but believes that
whatever he says will be done, it shall be done for him.”

Today, read Mark 11:12-14, 20-26 with your children.  Eat dried figs as a snack, too.

What are the mountains in your life?   Set aside a time for intense prayer for what seems
impossible. For nothing is impossible with God!  If you have the opportunity, attend the
Chrism Mass with your family and thank God for our priests and the sacraments.

Holy Wednesday-- Halfway through Holy Week! This is called a day of silence because there
 is nothing in scripture about what Jesus did this day.  We do know that He went to Bethany to
spend time with Mary and Martha.  The night before, Mary anointed Him with perfumed oil.  

This is a perfect day to read all the parables that Jesus preached on His last visit to the
Temple.  (You can find them in Mark 12). Then take some time to write out Easter cards for
family and friends. Or send out those emails to loved ones that you keep meaning to write.
Invite over a friend or relative for tea and a chat. Take the time to remember those important
to you in prayerful love.

Holy Thursday-- My beautiful friend, Jessica, who writes at Shower of Roses, introduced me
 to liturgical teas.  So, for several years, on Holy Thursday my children and I have read
through Mark 14. Then, we eat special foods that connect with the story. 
Below is a list of what we usually have on the table for our tea:

  • Palms on the road-- In years past, I have made heart of Palm salad, and eaten the
     whole thing myself. In an effort to economize and simplify, I now just put the palms
     from Palm Sunday in a pretty vase as a centerpiece.
  • Costly Oil--I fill a shallow bowl with olive oil and flavor it with Italian seasoning, garlic,
     and a little onion powder. As a child, this is what we put on bread, never butter,
     of course that was only if there was no tomato sauce left to sop up.
  • Unleavened bread blessed and broken-- We are use broken pieces of Matzo crackers,
     but have also used pitas cut into wedges.
  • The Blessing Cup--I make a special wine spritzer that is mostly grape juice and water
     with a very little bit of red wine. The wine and water represent the blood and water
     that flowed from Christ's side.
  • Mount of Olives--A pile of olives. Any kind will do.
  • Garden of Gethsemane-- Dried figs
  • Sleepy Apostles--Sleepytime ©  tea
  • Thirty Pieces of Silver-- A bowl with thirty dimes that will then be donated to
      Mary's Meals. We have also used rice crackers, slices of carrots, and slices of string
  • Judas' kiss--Strawberries
  • The Cock Crowed Twice--We have used rotisserie chicken, chicken salad,
     and mini chicken pot pies.
  • Peter's Tears--Salted sunflower seeds.  
  • Cloud of Heaven--Garlic mashed potatoes, and yes, I use instant potatoes.
     I simply sauteed some garlic in oil and mix it in. The key is simplicity.

Holy Thursday Mass is a beautiful celebration of the creation of not only the Mass but the
priesthood.  If you are able, attend Mass. Even better, volunteer to have your feet washed.
Then stay after Mass to pray in silence as Jesus prayed in the garden.

Good Friday-- This is the day that Jesus suffered and died.  The earth quaked and the veil of
 the Temple was torn in two.  Take the time to walk the Stations of the Cross at your parish or
 an outdoor station garden.  Physically walking from station to station changes the experience
 and takes you on the journey that redeemed the world.

This is a day of fasting and prayer.  Keep meals simple and try to avoid unnecessary activity.
 Spend time before the empty tabernacle. The emptiness and extinguished flame is striking.
 Stop and contemplate what would have happened if that were the end. 

What would life be like without Our Risen LORD?

 It is easy to take the Eucharist for granted, today is the day to remember that it is a great gift.

Holy Saturday--This is a day of waiting, expectancy, and ordinary life continuing. Just as the
 apostles kept the Sabbath as they did every Saturday, we continue with our lives.  There are
 preparations to be done, but today is not Easter. Keep Easter decorations away until AFTER
 vigil Mass.

You could also make Resurrection Rolls or Easter Story Cookies, but don’t eat them until
 Easter!  Resurrection Rolls are a favorite Easter brunch treat in my house.

Easter Sunday--Alleluia! He is Risen! Sing and rejoice.  Belt out the Alleluia at Mass or sing it
 together as a family if you assisted at Vigil Mass. Remember to  thank God for our Risen 
Savior. Amid the egg hunts and jelly beans, remember to tell everyone the Good News. He is
 risen! He is risen, indeed!

Oh, and don’t forget, Easter lasts 50 days!  While the rest of the world is packing away all
 the pink bunnies, we are just getting started celebrating.

Do you have any Holy Week traditions to share?