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Here are this week’s must-reads:

+ “If we think about ‘What can I do?’ Well, it’s really quite limited. But, if you really believe that we are instruments of God, to do the work He wants us to do, the whole question is ‘What can God do?’ And are you willing to be part of that journey? Because it could be quite interesting. I think that’s the answer. That’s the right question to ask, ‘What can we do?’ Remembering that God is part of it.” — Dr. Carolyn Woo

+ “When you’ve done everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.”

+ “Can you not see that if Christ himself willed to be physically formed in her for nine months and then be spiritually formed by her for thirty years.  It is to her that we must go to learn how to have Christ formed in us?” — Fulton Sheen

+ ✨ St. John Paul II said Advent is synonymous with hope. But it’s not, “the vain waiting for a faceless God.” Rather, it’s a, “concrete and certain trust in the return of Him who has already visited us.” Every year, I notice that we all could use more of this hope — more of this trust. And those things start with prayer. That’s where our online Pray More Advent Retreat comes in: six speakers, 19 talks, and everything is released on November 29th.

Joining us as speakers this year are: Dr. Edward Sri, Kitty Cleveland, Ryan O’Hara, Ashley Stevens, and Dr. Ken Howell.

Each of them are giving four talks that are 15-20 minutes long each. You can watch them on video, listen to them as an audio download, or read through the transcripts if that’s more your thing. We also have study guides for every talk, so you can work through the materials on your own or with someone else like your family or Bible study. You can look through all the topics & sign up for the retreat here.

+ “To begin is for everyone. To persevere is for the saints.”St. Josemaria Escriva

+ “Why bother to pray, “Thy will be done”? Isn’t it presumptuous, or even redundant? Isn’t God’s will what happens anyway? Why pray for God’s will? It seems like praying for gravity to continue.The answer is simple. When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we do not change or strengthen the will of God, but we do change and strengthen ourselves. Such prayer disposes our hearts to do the will of the Father (cf. Catechism, no. 2611). Our prayer conditions us to say, “Thy will,” when the pull of our nature says, “My will.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus Himself struggling against the natural human instinct for self-preservation, the natural human dread of pain and death. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt. 26:39).

“Earthly life is good, but we must reach beyond it if we want to reach heaven. Our human will is good, but we must reach beyond it if we want to be divine—if we want to be holy—if we want to be saints. And make no mistake about it: Only saints can live in heaven, only those who say, “Thy will be done.” Jesus said, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” — Scott Hahn

+ “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward

+ St. John Paul II’s beautiful prayer to St. Joseph

+ “If we do desire to belong to the Kingdom of God, what are the ways in which this Kingdom of God begins to take root in the human heart? How do reconciliation and peace come about in our innermost self?

The first way, of course, is prayer. This means liturgical prayer in which we join ourselves with Christ the High Priest in the official worship of the Church, and individual prayer, when we meet the Lord alone in our soul. Prayer opens the mind and heart to God. It deepens our longing for his Kingdom. Prayer consciously links us to the Communion of the Saints who support us by their continual intercession.

“A second way of gaining peace of heart is by accepting the Gospel message. Jesus began his public preaching with a call to conversion: “Repent, and believe in the Good News”. The Church continues Christ’s mission by condemning sin, calling people to conversion, and inviting them to be reconciled to God. And in every age, the Church proclaims the goodness and mercy of the Lord. She invites us all to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” and to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”. — St. John Paul II

+ ”Give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light. Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the Kingdom of the Son that he loves.” – St. John Paul II

+ “Ask Jesus to make you a saint. After all, only He can do that. Go to confession regularly and to Communion as often as you can.” — St. Dominic Savio

+ Christ the King: “He did not come to rule over peoples and territories but to set people free from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them to God.”

+ “Pain can isolate us. Suffering can turn us in on ourselves. Heartbreak can leave us feeling alone, disconnected, and misunderstood.⁣ Or, it can do the opposite.⁣ Pain can connect us. Suffering can draw us out of ourselves. Heartbreak can remind us that we are not alone, that our hurt doesn’t make us special; it makes us human. It is what binds us to men and women of every nation, class, and time.⁣” – Emily Stimpson Chapman

+ “This is going to sound strange, but for all the suffering I’ve done, I don’t know a whole lot about pain. I guess there isn’t much to know about it. It just happens. It just is. I do know a lot about how the leafy shadows bounce on my bedroom wall. I do know a lot about how ordinary people save the world—by showing up with soup, by saying, “sweetheart, I am so sorry,” by singing old songs, texting the heart emoji, weeping.

“I do know a lot about joy, somehow, and what it means to breathe. I know that hope always grows back after being poisoned. I know that laughter is the only thing powerful enough to interrupt the speeches I give about resigning to be unhappy forever. I know that redemption can find the tiniest hole in the roof and drip drip drip until I wake up drenched in songs about tomorrow.” — Jane, Nightbirdie

+ Stream Sacred Music: Cassia & Myrrh, Gregorian & Hymns Streaming

+ Spending time in prayer: “How would you react if someone you loved left in the middle of your sentence. And then told you they were leaving because they weren’t getting anything out of the conversation?”

+ I’m constantly in awe of the talent of others who create and share such beauty online! It makes me think of our father in heaven, our creator, who created us all so differently. He breathed into us the strengths we all have… and He did it on purpose. It’s not a coincidence. He wants us to have these unique talents. To share them. To not envy someone else’s but to discover our own. And we all have something — something beautiful to give and create and share. It may take some more time to uncover it but it’s certainly there. ❤️ A piece of His heart in yours.

+ “The advice ‘just don’t lose yourself in marriage’ really misses the mark. The process of becoming one flesh simply will not leave you unchanged. It’s sanctifying and transforming.” — Anneliese

+ Four things that will help your struggling marriage

+ “There is a reason that the Church guides us to pair sexual intimacy with the commitment of marriage: it is intended to guide us to healthy, committed relationships. We make vows in front of our community to ensure that our love is an oath, not a secret. This is not to say that all marriages are healthy, nor that people who aren’t married can’t be committed to one another. But Catholic marriage, as God desired it, is intended to give us the best possible outlet to express our gift of sexuality. We can think of this guidance not as a rule meant to restrict our freedom, but rather a piece of wisdom intended to prevent us from suffering the intensity of pain encapsulated in “All Too Well.” With commitment (marriage), sex can be sacred. But without it, we are vulnerable to be left feeling maimed and hurt.” — Liana Bowery

+ “I know that I can take my sins directly to God and ask for His forgiveness. I do so daily, sometimes hourly. But I am thankful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is healing to say your sins out loud, to hear the counsel of the priest, to hear the words of absolution. I feel the priest’s words, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” rain down over my head and wash me clean. A physical manifestation of God’s mercy pouring over me. Here’s to being aware of my ordinary sins. May my daily struggle make me just a millimeter holier than the day before. May I feel incrementally more dependent on God than on myself. Thank you, God and holy priests, for listening to my litany of the dull and mundane. Amen.” — Cathi Kennedy

+ 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. This week’s reflection is about Christ the King — this title of Jesus, what it means for us, and how His kingship is different from every other kingship we know of.

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