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Here are this week’s must-reads:

+ “To be sure, the world has darkness and we will always have our share of suffering. But we are called to hope. With God’s help, we were made to transcend it. If you are going through hell, keep going.” — Dr. Tod Worner

+ “In life, there are moments of darkness. There are periods of discouragement. There are times when we lose sight of the beauty of the sky for all the clouds. You may have to bear severe sickness, or deal with tremendous pain, or you may be disappointed in this or that. But remember, whatever difficulty you have to face, it will not last. It is only a cloud. For God has made each of us with a purpose.” — Alice von Hildebrand

+ One of my favorite poems to read each new year — here’s a small snippet:

“Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons—

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.”
(Parker J. Palmer)

What I really love about that short reflection is this reminder that… we are tempted to look at what’s happened in our lives — especially the bad, and ask ourselves why it happened — over and over again, and to dwell on that pain. To “uproot” it and “plow” it for answers. But the Lord, instead, does this work — this plowing — to “plant a greening season,” to bring about something beautiful in the future. I need that reminder constantly. That whatever pains we live with and have endured, He is working with it and can bring about something better.

+ “He longs to bring about the renewal and total transformation of your heart and mind, to set you apart from the world, to see your heart set afire as a living sacrifice to the praise of His glory. All you have to say is “yes.” And yes, and yes, and yes, over and over again, every step of the way.” — The Contemplative Homemaker

+ It’s been a while since I shared a newsletter with you — below is an excerpt from a recent one, and you can click here to check out the entire newsletter, and get an idea of what you get when you sign up for them.

“How can we be more obedient in following Christ? What gifts can we prepare for Him as we try to move closer to Him?  Maybe we can give Him more of our reading time — reading His word or devotionals that help us understand Him better.  Maybe we can give Him more sacrifices throughout our week — more intentional denial of things that don’t bring us closer to Him, more joyfully serving our family & friends.  Maybe we can put something on our daily calendar for Him and not let anything stop it from happening — a 10 minute Divine Mercy Chaplet every day at 3 pm, or 10 minutes of reading the daily Mass readings every morning with coffee.  These can be our little gifts.  And they can add up. 

And like the wise men, maybe we won’t ever fully know the impact of these gifts… but I really believe that an impact will be made if we make the sacrifice to give them — maybe most especially within our own hearts.” — read the entire reflection here

+ “Do the work so God can do the miracle. It’s something a priest said over 3 years ago at a dinner for married couples, and we remember it every time the wedding at Cana comes up (this weekend’s Gospel reading). Jesus told the servers to fill 6 stone jars with water, and each held 20-30 gallons of water. Have you thought about how much work that was? Drawing over 120 gallons of water from the well and bringing them to the wedding feast…because there weren’t faucets back then.  It was only after the servers did all that work that they were able to witness Jesus perform his first miracle of turning the water into wine. They did the work, so God could do the miracle.” — Surprised by Marriage

+ “The Resurrection is the attractive part of the Paschal mystery, but the Passion and Death are an essential part of the healing journey.” — Jake Khym

+ “Every yes to God brings you deeper into divine intimacy. It is so easy to love in theory, but authentic love must be given at the cost of the cross. It must be accompanied by visible, exterior action. Do you wonder whether you are making progress in the spiritual life? Ask those closest to you: did I love you more today than I did yesterday? Am I a different, more virtuous person today than I was this time last year?” — The Contemplative Homemaker

+ “[Jesus] sees in children traits and attitudes that are essential in anyone if he is to gain heaven, and, even in this life, if he is to enter the kingdom of faith. A child is devoid of even the slightest feeling of self-sufficiency. It is in constant need of its parents, and knows it. A child is fundamentally a being in need, and this is what a Christian should be before his Father God, a being in total need. A child lives fully in the present and nothing more. The adult’s less admirable predisposition is to look restlessly to the future, ignoring the here and now, the present moment, which ought to be lived to the full.” — Fr. Francis Fernández Carvajal

+ A Q & A about silent prayer:

Q. “I am an 88-year-old Korean War veteran with a question that is not earth-shattering but one that bothers me almost every day. I talk and pray to God, to Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary out loud — every morning and at night before I go to bed. (I live alone.)But there are also times when I pray silently — just in my head — especially if I wake up during the night. So, what I need to know is whether those prayers — the silent ones — are heard.”

A. “Please relax and be at peace. The Lord (and Mary, too) hears all our prayers, including the silent ones. In fact, the Bible speaks directly to that. The Letter to the Hebrews says: “The word of God is living and effective … penetrating even between soul and spirit … able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (4:12). Even when we are burdened and find prayer difficult, the Lord is there to help us. Paul’s Letter to the Romans says that the Spirit “comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (8:26).So, God can hear our thoughts just as easily as he can hear our words.”

+ The ACTS Acronym for Prayer

+ “When we’re sick, the type of service and love and care that we can show others may be different than the kind that we can offer when we’re well (and I don’t mean to say that one is more valuable than the other — they both have merit) … but one takeaway from today’s Gospel reading, for me at least, is that this life is all about love and serving others. And if and when our prayers are answered, we should remember to stay near to Jesus. There’s sometimes a temptation to forget about Him when we feel like we need Him less… But when He heals us, it’s to bring us closer to Him.” — read here

+ “We certainly don’t pray to the saints instead of Christ. We pray through the saints to God in Christ. They echo our prayers with greater profundity, insight and love. So say the Scriptures: “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”” — Scott Hahn

+ “Every celebration of the Eucharist is a celebration of marriage; the church nuptials are celebrated and the Bride is joined to the Bridegroom in the flesh.” – St. Augustine

+ 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. 

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

You can sign up for the newsletters here 🙂