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Here are this week’s must-reads:

+ “Society tells us that marriage is about finding that one perfect person. Actually, it’s about perfecting YOU. And this is something that often takes people years into marriage to figure out! When you find someone to marry, you might think that person is God’s healing balm for all your wounds, someone who’ll make all the hurt go away. Listen up—in reality, your spouse is the diagnosing finger of God. They’re going to reveal those wounds to you so that you—and God—can deal with them. And you know what? That’s a good thing.” — Real Life Catholic

+ “Should the Church require more Marriage Prep?” // “Every marriage preparation course should emphasize prayer as a necessary and intimate act for married couples.” — Simcha Fischer

+ “One of the most important questions two people can ask each other before vowing their entire lives to one another on a wedding day is this: “Is there anything you haven’t told me yet that you’re afraid or ashamed to tell me?” Whatever the outcome may be, you will never regret asking this. You will never regret doing all that you can to have everything brought to light before you each decide whether or not you will choose marriage to the other.” — Emily Wilson

+ “Wait. Wait for the good man. Wait for the kind man, the wise man, the gentle man, the humble man. Wait as long as it takes. Life is too full of unexpected complications and exhausting challenges to settle for anything less.” — Emily Stimpson-Chapman

+ Sunday was the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle! We all know him as “Doubting Thomas” but I love to remember that through his doubt, his faith grew. He is now a saint — despite his doubt and any other shortcomings and failings he had. The Lord showed him mercy. My prayer is the same for us all. Here’s a video where I spoke about Jesus showing Thomas His mercy and peace.

+ “Jesus is with me. I have nothing to fear.” — Bl. Pier Georgio Frassati

+ “Saint Thomas has, unfortunately, I would argue, unfairly, been given the nickname: “Doubting Thomas”. But doubting refers to who he was at the beginning of this story, not at the end… He begins unwilling, and we call him “Doubting Thomas”, we remember where he began. But when we acknowledge him as Saint Thomas, we remember where he went: to the ends of the earth, proclaiming Christ as my Lord and my God.” — Kevin Heider

+ Seasons of Pruning and God as our Master Gardener: When God is pruning, it’s not the end. It’s not for our destruction. It’s for new life. Just as St. Catherine of Siena said, “Ponder the fact that God has made you a gardener, to root out vice and to plant virtue.” He works in our lives as a gardener too. Together, we can create something beautiful, but there will always be seasons of pruning here and there before a bigger bloom.

+ “I used to see starting over as loss, but it is truly gain. What I have come to learn is that we only grow out of a change of circumstances. As the saying goes, “nothing changes when nothing changes.” When we face the challenges brought forth by change, the growth builds upon the previously laid foundation from the old normal. It is essential we spend our time well preparing a sturdy foundation so that we can be fortified in adversity. We need to accept the challenges with our face pointed toward the wind as the only way out is through.” — Emily Malloy

+ A Prayer for Letting Go of the Past

+ “Jesus is Lord. He is Lord over these fears. He is Lord over this anxiety. He is Lord over every moment. He is Lord over every intrusive thought. He is Lord over my current panic. He is Lord over all of it.” — Alexis Morgan

+ Accepting Our Weaknesses & Seeing God Shine Through: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness,” (2 Corinthians 11:30) // “When God is our strength, it is strength indeed; when our strength is our own, it is only weakness.” — St. Augustine

+ “Grief is a long letting go of a life you thought you’d have. Most of us are carrying more of it than we realize—or remember when we’re dealing with each other (especially when we’re tearing each other down). Go gentle today. Practicing compassion and generosity of spirit will crack open more of the world and its confounding struggles. You might lose the satisfying clarity you clung to before life broke your heart in complicated ways, but you will find more of God in the messy, maddening middle. I have learned this much from the garden I never planned to plant, from a version of life I never dreamed.” — Laura Kelly Fanucci

+ “Compassion. This is a hallmark of the Holy Spirit. God often invites us to action by giving us a glimpse into His heart for a person… a situation… a people-group. He pulls back the veil for us to see and experience His own love for them. One way to grow in docility to the Holy Spirit is to pay attention to what moves you with compassion. As you walk through your day, notice who catches your attention. Notice if your heart swells as you pass someone. Notice where your love is stirred. And then? Ask the Holy Spirit if there’s an action He’d like you to take — perhaps stopping to pray with them, offering financial help, or simply striking up a conversation. Let His love guide you to reach those who need His touch.” — Catholic Revival Ministries

+ Catholic Moral Teaching & The Church As “Mater et Magistra” (Mother and Teacher) // Pro-Life Replies to Common Pro-Choice Arguments

+ “Saints are often misconstrued as people born with an innate ability to make moral choices without a second thought. The truth is, saints are people who struggled through life, brought everything before the Lord for His assistance, and thus formed their soul to eventually react in such an automatically virtuous way. Though Emilia Wojtyla was a faithful follower of Jesus at the time of her pregnancy, it does not mean she did not experience or struggle with negative emotions and thoughts. Rather, in virtuous fashion, she “took up courage;” meaning she was not necessarily unafraid. Rather, courage is the virtue by which we move forward with the moral choice despite personal fear.” — Grace Bellon

+ Lastly, here’s what’s featured in this week’s Catholic Wife, Catholic Life NewsletterI share these every Monday and they always include: two gluten-free recipes, a reflection & prayer based on Sunday’s Mass readings, and links to budget-friendly fashion & Catholic home decor. When I’m creating them, I always look up the upcoming feast days and find pieces to complement them so that you can have some examples of how to decorate for the different feasts & Liturgical seasons!

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When you sign up, you also get access to all past newsletters. // Monday is the best day to sign up if you’re interested because it’s the only day that the prices of everything featured is guaranteed to be under that $60 threshold.