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Here are this week’s must-reads:h

+ “The Word who found a dwelling in Mary’s womb comes to knock on the heart of every person with singular intensity this Christmas.” — St. John Paul II

+ I read a beautiful reflection last year about how the wise men, after meeting Jesus, went home another way. Venerable Fulton Sheen said *of course* they went home another way — “No one ever comes to Christ and goes back the same way he came… The whole purpose (of being a Christian) is transformation.” That’s our goal with our online Advent Retreat — a transformation of heart and mind as we prepare for Christmas and the next year. We’re praying for you all as we begin Advent! ✨ The retreat has begun! You can sign up for it here.

+ Here’s the first talk from the Pray More Advent Retreat: Trusting in the Lord During Difficult Times

+ “God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need.” — St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross

+ “It has never been a mother’s job to make childhood so magical that our children don’t see their great need for Jesus, too. Our children do not need a perfect holiday; they need a perfect Savior. Every unmet expectations, every holiday frustration, every tear or argument is a chance to show our children the reason we needed our hearts to be rescued.” — Katie Blackburn

+ “The Incarnation makes it possible for God to weep with you.”

+ “I no longer feel the acute physical and spiritual pain I did a year ago. Just an echo of it. And so, I must encourage anyone currently living under the full weight of tragedy or unexpected pain…this time next year, things will be different.

Do not fully despair. Do not give up on the hope of a future story where your hurt is not the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you remember at night. You will move forward. You will not fully move on or fully forget, but you will move through this chapter and on to the next one. And you will take things from this time and grow something new with it. Cling to this future hope right now when the distant light is too far to see. Hold on. The light will come.” — Hope Heals

+ “What the priest said next changed my outlook. He told us how to face suffering with a supernatural outlook. First step: Pray. In prayer we can humbly ask for the grace to endure suffering. When we place our trust in God, he always comes to visit us. Second step: We must be in constant contact with Sacred Scripture. The Word of God assists us in our suffering as a reminder that God’s consolation often comes slowly. (If you can bear to, reread the story of Job. That was slow.)Third step: Accept suffering as our path forward. We should treat it not as a burden but as a light to understand what God wants of us. Easier said than done, but it works. Final step: Know that suffering is experienced uniquely.

“Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina begins by telling us that happy families are all alike, but “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That’s true for unhappy individuals, too. And because our pain is unique, we own it and can turn more freely to God. It’s ironic that embracing the solitude in our suffering helps us to be more open to accepting help from those around us. But ironic in a good way. I was awestruck. I flipped over the napkin. Father Philippe then spoke about pitfalls. He cautioned against asking why we are suffering. Doing so will only torment us, he counseled. Instead, we must focus on how we will live through the suffering. God will always be able to draw good out of evil. We must let him do so. And many times, our suffering can become good for us; helping us to grow in Christian wisdom. It can make us poorer in spirit by destroying our pride, our desire to control things — a special curse of 21st-century life — and to be self-sufficient. …” — Andrea Picciotti

+”How much of a luxury it is to have the illusion of control. As I’ve been stripped of control I didn’t even think I had, I’ve been turning to the Holy Family again. How often they must have kneeled together looking up to the Heavenly Father and with all confidence, all strength, and all joy prayed together as a family: Father, you take care of it. How many times Joseph must have looked to Mary and vice versa to be reminded of the truth of the God of Israel who always held true to His promises and was never to be outdone in generosity. How dark some nights must have been. Perhaps cold, hungry, maybe even scared. Oh the humility of the holy family to be stripped of everything to be able to receive it all from their Father.” — Big Apple Catholic

+ Some of St. John Paul II’s last words: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.”

John Paul II was so passionate about reaching young people and encouraging them in their faith! But, when I first heard this quote, I didn’t know who he was speaking to. I (incorrectly) imagined that as he lay dying, he saw Our Lord and spoke these words aloud to Him. So, prior to watching that video in the shrine, my interpretation of this encounter really struck me. And even though I had the wrong context, once I learned who John Paul II was talking about, I still couldn’t get over this urgent feeling that I, too, need to look for Jesus if I ever hoped to truly find Him… Advent is such a beautiful time to look for Him, friends. He wants to be found, so let’s take that one step, that one turn towards Him today that He is waiting for.” — Me over at Blessed is She

+ An Act of Holy Confidence for the New Year

+ 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 & home decor. 

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