Why We Need the Holy Spirit in Our Marriages & A Prayer We Need to Pray Every Day

The Holy Spirit Novena starts this Friday, leading up to Pentecost Sunday, and as I was getting the novena ready this year, it occurred to me that this is the perfect novena to pray for our marriages — for our husbands, and for ourselves. ♥

There are countless reasons why the Holy Spirit is such an integral part of our vocation as married women…

The Holy Spirit works within us to help us become more like Christ. This is what we are all striving for in our lives and in our marriages.

A married couple — the Christian family — is, “a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2205)

And essentially, the Holy Spirit is the seal of our covenant, and it is “the ever available source of (our) love and the strength to renew (our) fidelity.” (CCC 1624)

The Holy Spirit consecrates our union in matrimony, and we can always invoke His assistance — and ask for His graces in every situation and in every day.

Seeing as how marriage is the path on which we hope to be sanctified on our way to eternal life, the Holy Spirit seems like a huge part of that — if not one of the most helpful parts. Right?

And there’s more: St. Basil wrote, “Creatures do not have any gift on their own; all good comes from the Holy Spirit.”

Recognizing this truth, then, means that we need the Holy Spirit to work in our lives for us to have a good marriage.

So back to the Holy Spirit Novena: each day during the novena, we will pray for a fruit of the Holy Spirit. These are some of my favorite things about the Holy Spirit! They’re just beautiful. And necessary.

The fruits of the Spirit are, “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The ones we cover in our novena are:

+ Charity
+ Joy
+ Peace
+ Patience
+ Kindness
+ Faithfulness
+ Gentleness
+ Self-Control
+ Goodness

Everybody needs these qualities. But looking at these from my perspective as a married woman, I especially see how we need these qualities as wives and husbands.

Charity, for instance: the theological virtue of charity is loving God above all things. Since we hope that marriage is the path to eternity with our Lord, we need to practice charity in our marriage — and to help our husbands do the same. We have to point them to our Lord and gently guide them closer and closer to Him. When they seem far away, we need to bring our Lord to them.

More on this topic here: Being the Face of Mercy to Our Husbands

Joy: This is different than happiness. Joy is something that supersedes all of our circumstances — including those things that are hard, and difficult, and painful in our lives. Joy is the ever-present knowledge that we will be with God in Heaven. And if we live our lives with this sort of joy, our day-to-day lives will certainly look very different. You will notice it, and your husband will notice it — and in my personal experience, those trials & sufferings that you have will become lighter and easier to bear.

More on this topic here: When You’re Struggling to Be A Joyful Catholic.

Peace: When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, an abiding peace will stay with us. This is the sort of peace that so many of the saints exemplified in their lives when they were faced with hardship. It’s the type of peace that is unfailing & unmoving. I think we need this in our marriages. We need this stability and this anchor — for ourselves as well as for our marriages and family life.

Kindness: This is one of the most common pieces of marriage advice I often hear: that you need kindness in your marriage. And we do! It’s very easy — and I’m sure you’ve seen this or experienced it before — that it’s easy to treat those closest to us worse than a stranger. It breaks my heart when I recognize myself doing this… So we need to be kind to our husbands, and to remember that they are beloved and that we should treat them as such.

More on this topic here: Kindness & Hope. And: How to Love the Unlikeable.

Faithfulness: Faith is another theological virtue, “by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.” (CC). Furthermore, and where I see faithfulness play into marriage, is that the disciple of Christ, “must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it.” In life, and in our marriages, hard times will come and go. I know that we will each face hardships that may shake our faith. This is where, ironically, this virtue comes into play. This is where we, the wives, or our husbands, have to help lift one another up in this department and remain steadfast in our beliefs — and gently help the other get back there.

Gentleness: This is often used synonymously with meekness. To be gentle, then, means to not consider yourself to be too good, or above, doing something. It’s practicing humility, really, dying to self, and becoming un-proud. And these qualities are essential when you’re loving and serving another.

Self-Control: This is what we need to say, “No” to all temptations that don’t bring us closer to God. Just as giving in to temptations that are sinful can hurt our relationship with God, they also hurt our spouse. So we need to grow in self-control so that we can love more selflessly & in a more pure manner — in a manner in which, “desire is subservient to reason.” (Arlene Spenceley).

Lastly, Goodness: All of the fruits of the Holy Spirit relate directly to the character of God, and this one stands out most especially for me because God is Goodness. Goodness is when we act selflessly for the good of another. We do this everyday in our married lives — or at least we are called to, and there are countless opportunities to do so, so it’s pertinent to be infused with this fruit of goodness so that we can truly be selfless.

To wrap things up, the Holy Spirit comes from within, and I’m a firm believer that it’s our responsibility to work on ourselves and make changes within ourselves if we want a better marriage and healthier, happier, holier family.

And the Holy Spirit has the power to change our hearts, so if you’d like to join me in praying the Holy Spirit Novena (also called The Pentecost Novena) for your marriage & your husband, you can sign up for that here:

The Holy Spirit Novena

I’ll end with this reflection from Pope Francis:

“Let’s ask ourselves: are we open to the Holy Spirit, do I pray to him to enlighten me, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? And this is a prayer we need to pray every day, every day: Holy Spirit may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day.”

 

 

 

 

A Cup of Coffee & The Reading of the Psalms

And all of a sudden, it’s Monday… ♥
 
Today’s Responsorial Psalm is: “The Lord takes delight in his people.”
 
This is such a good Monday morning reminder for us. God, our Father, doesn’t just love us. He doesn’t just tolerate us… but He also takes delight in us.
 
We (can) bring Him joy. We (can) bring Him happiness. And pleasure — the way a small baby does for so many of us…
 
We are God’s children.
 
Without doing anything. Without needing to accomplish anything today or this week.

Our identity doesn’t change by those conditions.

God loves us regardless of those things — He loved us into our being, and all we have to do today is be. Be with Him. Carry Him with us. And give Him to our loved ones. 

So even though our day of rest, Sunday, is behind us… I think we should still allow some rest to come into our every day and into this Monday — a time that we can sit with our Father, a time that we can bring Him joy, a time that we can get to know Him better…
 
God, our Father in Heaven, Thank you for another day. Thank you for all the blessings that exist in my life right now, especially _____________ . I ask that You help me to accept Your unconditional love, to feel it, to let it wash over me this week. Help me to know who I am to You. Help me to feel Your peace — the peace that I can only receive by seeking You. I ask this through your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mother’s Day & How Mary Stands At The Foot of Our Cross

With Mother’s Day coming up, I have a few things I want to share with you.

Starting with this:

Mother’s Day Isn’t a Celebration for Everyone

For many, it’s actually a very hard day to get through — a day that reminds them of what once was, what hasn’t been, or what may never be…

And so this post is for those women, or for their friends and families, who are hoping and praying and waiting for a baby, or who are mourning the loss of their baby or fertility.

You are not alone.

Please join me in praying for all women & husbands, as well as families, who may have a hard time on Mother’s Day, for whatever reason… for those who struggle with infertility, sub-fertility, for those who are avoiding getting pregnant for grave reasons; for those who have lost their children, for those who have lost their mothers, for those who are estranged from their mothers — for those mothers who are estranged from their children, and for those who have been hurt by their mothers.

You are remembered.

Mary, Mother of God and Mother of us all, please pray for all those who are suffering and hurting… Lord Jesus, please bring them comfort and peace. 

I know for many women that special blessings, prayers or homilies commemorating moms in the parish on Mother’s Day can be hard to sit through. But sometimes, those prayers and homilies are presented in a different way and they celebrate the Mother of God, our Mother.

And so I thought the following reflection on our Blessed Mother by Fr. Steve Grunow of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries was poignant for those who have a hard time getting through Mother’s Day…

He says:

“We make a mistake if we think that because Mary is the Mother of God that this somehow meant that she escaped the more painful experiences of life.  In fact, it is better to think that because of the depth of her relationship with Christ, the sad facts of life were enhanced for her rather than dulled.  She experienced life knowing the full cost of humanity’s refusal to love, and saw for herself the terrible cost in the manner that her beloved Son suffered and died.

“All the while in the midst of the pain-filled way of the cross, she trusted that God was present, even if such a presence could not be felt or offered little in the way of relief or consolation.” (read the rest here)

There have been times I needed to hear this message — this message that our Mother has walked a painful path. And that’s why I wanted to share this with you in case you needed to hear it too, especially with Mother’s Day coming up.

The Blessed Virgin Mary knew many sorrows in her life…. She can relate to you. She sees your pain. And she’s sending her Son to walk with you through it.

C.S. Lewis wrote that friendship happens when one man says to another, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”

This has certainly been my experience with those who have become my closest friends. And it’s been true for my relationship with Our Lady…

Mary responds to our heartaches.

Like our closest friends, she sits across from us and says, “Me too. I get it. I’ve felt it.” She’s not just sympathetic with our hurting. She is empathetic. She is willing to look at our crosses and to stand with us while we hold it today, just as she did for Jesus…

She is at the foot of our cross. She is here to offer us her love, her comfort and her prayers.

I hope that this reminder can help lessen the weight on your shoulders today, this coming week and on Mother’s Day.

You are not alone.


A Prayer for Mother’s Day
Originally written by Amy Young and adapted by Heidi Carrington Heath.
You can read the original here.

“I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Tamar, struggling with infertility, or a miscarriage.

I want you to know that I’m praying for you if you are like Rachel, counting the women among your family and friends who year by year and month by month get pregnant, while you wait.

I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Naomi, and have known the bitter sting of a child’s death.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you are like Joseph and Benjamin, and your Mom has died.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your relationship with your Mom was marked by trauma, abuse, or abandonment, or she just couldn’t parent you the way you needed.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you’ve been like Moses’ mother and chose adoption, trusting another family to love your child into adulthood.

I want you to know I am praying for you if you’ve been like Pharaoh’s daughter, called to love children who are not yours by birth (and thus the mother who brought that child into your life, even if it is complicated).

I want you to know I am praying for you if you, like many, are watching (or have watched) your mother age, and disappear into the long goodbye of dementia.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you, like Mary, are pregnant for the very first time and waiting breathlessly for the miracle of your first child.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your children have turned away from you, painfully closing the door on relationship, leaving you holding your broken heart in your hands. And like Hagar, now you are mothering alone.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if motherhood is your greatest joy and toughest struggle all rolled into one.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are watching your child battle substance abuse, a public legal situation, mental illness, or another situation which you can merely watch unfold.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you like so many women before you do not wish to be a mother, are not married, or in so many other ways do not fit into societal norms.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you see yourself reflected in all, or none of these stories.

This mother’s day, wherever and whoever you are, we walk with you. You are loved. You are seen. You are worthy. And may you know the deep love without end of our big, wild, beautiful God who is the very best example of a parent that we know. Amen.”  

– Originally written by Amy Young, and adapted by Heidi Carrington Heath. You can read the original here.

Mother’s Day Gifts (that you can buy for any lovely lady even when it’s not Mother’s Day & even if she’s not a mom)

Gifts are one of my Love Languages so I really wanted to share with you here some of my ideas for Mother’s Day Gifts — or, really, any-day gifts 🙂

Hope this list is helpful either for you to buy something nice for your mom, your girlfriend — or for you to send to your hubby so he can get something nice for you! 😉

Mint Necklace by Bottle of Tears

 

“Be Still” Wall Calligraphy from thewoodedlane

 

“A Mother’s Love” by Britt Fisk Photography

Cross Bar Necklace by Lisa Leonard Designs

Love & Loss Ring Pair by Lisa Leonard Designs

 

Cuteness by The Bouqs

Indigo marbled ceramic potter set by Jenny Rijke

 

FIAT shirt by Brick House in the City

Cotton pj’s by Hummingbird Nightwear

 

Monogrammed Scalloped Crossbody Bag by Marley Lilly

 

Botanic Candle-lit boxes from Olive & Cocoa

Great Things Notepad

Memorare Poster from Blessed Is She

 

Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day 

“Was It Not Necessary?” Jesus’ Suffering & Ours

What a question, right?

In the Gospel reading from Sunday, Jesus said to His disciples:

“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

I’ve heard it said before, and I’ve probably said it, too, that Jesus could not avoid the Cross — and neither can we.

Because it”s necessary.

Necessary for our Salvation. For our Redemption.

For our Healing. For our Sanctification.

You see, though, the good news is that the story of our crosses does not end with our crosses. It does not end with our carrying them and our suffering. The story goes on, and it does so because the Writer of our story makes our crosses glorious. On the other side of our crosses is new life! 

“How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.”

– St. Theodore the Studite

Jesus can and does use our sufferings, and our crosses, to shape us more into the holy women he wants us to become.

Sometimes He uses our illnesses, our weaknesses. Sometimes He uses our times of uncertainty, of unemployment. Sometimes He uses our dying to ourselves. Scratch that. He always uses that. Or, He can… 

Whatever our cross is on any given day, though, He uses it for something — when we offer it to Him as Jesus did. 

That’s the catch. We have to willingly give it to Him. Not begrudgingly. Not resistantly. But willingly (lovingly).

I hadn’t thought much about this very line — the, “Was it Not Necessary?” question — in Luke’s Gospel until last year when a speaker for our online retreat gave a talk about it. And when I heard it read this Sunday, this talk popped into my mind and so I thought it would be a great time to re-visit it. This has been one of my favorite talks from all of our online retreats.

You can watch it here:

“Was it Not Necessary? The Story of the Road to Emmaus”

Jesus said to those disciples. “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”… Essentially, Jesus asks, “Was it not necessary?” As hard as it may be, can you begin to understand how God may have allowed certain things to play out in your life because it was necessary — necessary to shape you into the person you were created to become, necessary to bring you closer to Jesus, necessary to sanctify you?”

There’s definitely a part of me that wants to tell you flat-out with no hesitation that I could have become the woman I am today without all the suffering that lies behind me. But that wouldn’t be the truth. 🙂

The suffering I’ve endured of physical illness — chronic illness, among other things I don’t write much about here, has impacted me. It has changed me. It has made an imprint on my heart and in my mind. And while there were many, many times that I did not see how this suffering could have possibly been a gift from God, I see now, in retrospect (thanks, Holy Spirit!) how it has been. 

I see now how the fires of this suffering have purified me — separated what I thought I wanted or needed from what I know I need (Him, always Him). This suffering has lifted me up to God (where I needed to be), brought more healing than I thought possible from an illness itself (ironic, right?), and did exactly what was necessary… for me to become the woman I am today. 

You can read about my experience about that healing here.

I’m praying that you are also able to look back today and see how God has done the same for you.

And if you’re not quite there yet, I’m praying that God gives you the strength to keep walking forward until that place when you can look back and see how He used this time for some good.


If you’re looking for a great read on suffering, I highly recommend this one by Mother Angelica:

Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout

“Mother Angelica provides consolation and advice that only a spiritual mother can provide, helping you to understand the purpose of suffering, how it can be redemptive, and when to know you re allowing your suffering to go to waste.”

I saw another Catholic blogger — Lydia, I think, over at Flourish in Hope, reading it and sharing quotes from it, and that’s when it caught my eye.

Mother Angelica also had a thing for novenas, soooo I think I need to get to know her a little bit before 😉

Check out the book here.

“Sometimes my worst day – one filled with pain and suffering – in the eyes of God, is my best day if I’ve born it cheerfully and I’ve born it with love.” – Mother Angelica


 

p.s. Are you on Pinterest? Follow me and pin away!