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Here are this week’s must-reads:

+ If it’s been a while since you’ve gone to Confession, if you’re hesitant to go because you don’t know what the process is like — or you’re worried the priest is judging you or disgusted by the sins you confess, this short homily is for you. 💜🙏 In it, our good friend, Fr. Anthony walks you through exactly what he’s thinking & saying throughout the process of someone coming in to Confession. It’s beautiful. I especially love his three-pronged approach — he said: “I have three goals when a person comes in for Confession: the first is to pray for the person, the second is to encourage them, and the third is to identify and eradicate thoughts of shame.” I linked to the exact spot in the video the homily begins — right here.

+ “Marriage gets really real after the honeymoon phase wears off… Let me help the culture out by giving it the keys to a successful marriage as described by the Catholic Church. It is the life-long commitment of a man and a woman who should strive to give of themselves faithfully, fully, and fruitfully. There will be hard times but those are best overcome by the couple leaning into each other and asking God to give them the graces to love each other well. This doesn’t equate perfection, but does equate success. While the world runs around scrambling to understand marriage, Catholic Pilgrims, be thankful that the Church has had the answer all along given to her by Christ.” — Amy, Catholic Pilgrim

+ “Happy Advent! For the duration of this season, with the help of Ven. Fulton Sheen, we will be reflecting on the marriage of Mary and Joseph and the profound impact it had on Jesus, His mission, and our salvation. We will look deeper into the marriage of Mary and Joseph, their Holy Family, and learn how to model their example of Divine Intimacy within our marriages and in our own homes…” — Two Become Family

+ “Friends, Advent is a great liturgical season of waiting—but not a passive waiting. We yearn, we search, and we reach out for the God who will come to us in human flesh. In short, we prepare the way of the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Bishop Barron

+ Why the Our Father includes a prayer for Jesus’ final coming

+ We thirst for more prayer whether we know it or not. I’ve heard it said that it’s as if we were kissed by the Blessed Trinity at our conception and that our souls remember that divine kiss. So we look for what might fill that longing we have for intimate communion — that desire that was inscribed in our hearts. Sometimes we look for & try to fill that part of our hearts with things that just can’t satisfy that desire: relationships, jobs, wealth, health, power. But only God can fill it. It’s Jesus & relationship with Him that we’re constantly looking for, and He is waiting for us.

+ “What am I doing to prepare a manger for Jesus in my heart?… For me, preparing the way is to love more deeply by seeking the hurting, lost, and forgotten. The hardest part is realizing that sometimes they’re my closest family and friends. I need to work on being a better husband, father, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, employer, and business client. Wouldn’t that be the best kind of Christmas present for them and for me?” — Michael Vanderburgh, St. Vincent de Paul Society

+ “I remember worrying we wouldn’t be ready…couldn’t be ready for all that was ahead of us. And of course we weren’t. But God filled in the gaps. He does the same for each of us every Advent, filling in the gaps, adding the grace and love. Hope your Advent journey is going well. And know that we all end up in the same place, at the manger in Bethlehem, regardless of how bumpy these weeks are.” — Rita, Open Window

+ “What if each morning we woke
Not to the world transformed, not yet,
But to a cupboard of clean dishes,
A dry towel hanging by the fridge,
And the gleam of a sink
That Someone took care
To scrub to shine—
What if Love renewed the soul
Each day like that?”

Laura Kelly Fanucci, check out the entire poem here

+ “The household of Jesus, Mary and Joseph became a ‘home away from home’ for the eternal Son of God. It was an outpost of heaven, an image of the Trinity in the world. ‘We may say,’ said St. Francis de Sales, ‘that the Holy Family was a trinity on earth which in a certain way represented the Blessed Trinity itself.’” — Scott Hahn

+ “Housekeeping is a list of chores. Homemaking is cultivating a haven.” — Mrs. Mary Lenz

+ “In his brilliant book, The Divine Pity, Father Gerald Vann wrote, “You need suffering of one sort or another to become adult in love . . .you need it in order to experience the deepest truths and realities” (book here). This is another way of saying that suffering makes us deep.” — Liz Kelly

+ “It seems to me that the attitude of the Virgin during the months that elapsed between the Annunciation and the Nativity is the model for interior souls, those whom God has chosen to live within.” — St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

+ There are many depictions of The Annunciation (I shared a few here) and I appreciate each of their perspectives. Look at the light, look at the darkness, look at Mary’s posture. While we prepare to commemorate Jesus’ first coming at Christmas, I love to start by looking at the Annunciation. 💜 From that, I’m reminded of what my posture throughout Advent (and pretty much all of my life) should be: availability to Christ through prayer & silence, and receptivity to the incoming — and sometimes surprising — Word of God in my life. What are your plans this Advent? How are you preparing for Christmas? How are you making yourself more available & receptive to how the Lord wants to work in your life?

+ I wrote a Blessed is She devotional last week — thinking back on those last few hours of St. John Paul II’s life, and something he’s known for saying then: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.” Before I knew the story of this quote, I imagined JP II saying this to Jesus at the very end of his life… and it makes me want to be able to say it too — that I *looked* for Him. How are you looking for Him this Advent?

+ 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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