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This week’s edition of must-reads:

1. “What we’ve learned is that marital love is a total and complete gift of self. And sometimes the gift of self that you would like to give–that gift of the self that has it together and is in control–is not the one you are able to give. Christ emptied himself on the cross. We are called in marriage to empty ourselves to our spouse, trusting that they will not leave us empty. That is precisely the icon of God’s love that is found in marriage.

So, I became vulnerable before my husband. In allowing myself to be vulnerable, I allowed my husband to be who he vowed to be to me. And I allowed my husband to bring me back to trust in God.” – Jessi

2.  “Now I know that what I see is incomplete. When I look at your life from the outside, I only know part of the truth. I’m tempted to fill in the blanks with my own story, my own life experiences. But your story is different.  Your story has pain and heartache I can’t see. Your story has crosses and sufferings I cannot guess. Whether you suffer from depression or infertility or miscarriage or chronic illness, or some other loss or trial, I may never know. And I’m sorry for assuming. I’m sorry for filling in the blanks. If nothing else, now I sympathize with how misunderstood you feel. Having experienced my own sliver of pain, my heart aches for you… Suffering is Not a Competition It’s not a competition of who hurts more. It’s a journey of suffering together and uniting in compassion. We can hurt with each other. We can hurt for each other. We can come alongside each other in our pain.” – Sara, To Jesus Sincerely

3. My Mass takeaway from Sunday and why the Gospel reading about shaking the dust off our feet is so meaningful to me…

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This part of today's reading: "… leave there and shake the dust off your feet." It's extremely meaningful for me. While I was in college, I had a job where, after a year and a half, I felt like I was contributing to and writing things that I didn't agree with — things that conflicted with my faith. At the same time, I was also going to a holy hour each morning and praying for God to guide me closer to what He had in mind for me. After some time, I realized that meant leaving my job there (I had already had another offer that I thought would be a better fit, too). I finally came around to the idea of leaving when my spiritual director at the time shared this reading with me — the one that was today's Gospel. And she said something like, "It sounds like it might be time for you to shake the dust off of your feet." And that was that for me. I was ready to move on and find something new — something that I could somehow incorporate my faith into. Not too long after that, I ended up praying a Novena to St. Anne, during my holy hour, with the intention to meet a good Catholic man to date. When that novena ended, I decided to cover the local 40 Days for Life campaign for a radio news story, and I ended up getting the contact info for "the pro-life guy" in town. 👌🏻 I scheduled an interview with him, met him, interviewed him, turned off my recorder, and he said, "So tell me about yourself." ❤️😂 #whatagoodline Long story short: 1) I've almost only ever had good things happen after shaking the dust off of my feet. I highly recommend it! 2) The St. Anne Novena starts this Tuesday. Perfect timing. ❤️🙏 #catholicwife #catholiclife #mymasstakeaway

A post shared by Annie Deddens (@catholicwifecatholiclife) on

4.  A great Q & A from a doctor who treats endometriosis (he’s in the Atlanta area):

Q: “Our daughter is 13 and has suffered terribly since her periods began. Our doctor thinks she’s exaggerating, and, when we persisted, offered birth control pills. What do you think?”

A: “I am so sorry your daughter has had to face such misery, both from pain and also from a medical provider who doesn’t believe her. In my opinion, pain that lasts for more than 6 months and not controlled by typical over the counter pain medications needs to be evaluated. I believe that it is poor practice to treat someone blindly with a medicine without first diagnosing the actual problem. It is highly likely that the cause of her pain is endometriosis, especially if her pain is cyclical. A laparoscopic surgery can diagnose the presence of endometriosis and treat it at the same time by completely excising all the endometriosis. In addition, this would keep your daughter from the side effects of the birth control pill. If you and your daughter would like to avoid surgery, I still would not recommend the birth control pill. I believe that hormonal suppression can mask the progression of the disease which can affect future fertility. Instead, I would prefer that she has a consultation with an integrative medicine specialist to see how her body’s inflammatory load can be reduced through personalized diet, supplements, etc. Hopefully with reduced inflammation, pain is reduced as well. I do feel, however, that the most effective way to reduce inflammation caused by endometriosis is to completely remove the lesions themselves.”

5. “Sometimes it feels like I’m not prepared for what life is throwing at me, and sometimes it feels like God has overlooked me and forgotten to prepare me for anything. Sometimes, when it seems like we aren’t prepared for anything, God is, in fact, planning to use us for great things. On His list of things that best prepare us are the things the disciples had in spades: faith and trust. With faith and trust, God has already prepared you to do great things.” – Molly Walter, Blessed is She

6. Don’t You Dare Give Up When God Says No (The Incredible Blessing of Unanswered Novenas

7. “How many times a day do I think about what I need to get done, what I need to buy, what I need to eat, compared to how many times a day I wonder who I should pray for, how I can offer up what’s going on in my life, examining my conscience, and uniting my soul to God? In other words, how many more times a day do I think of the temporary needs of my body and this life ahead of the life of my immortal soul?” – Christy Isinger, Blessed is She

8.  “Jesus, You are my Divine Healer, who heals my heart, purifies my soul, cleanses all my impurities, and places in me the desires of Your Most Sacred Heart. Let Your desires be my own. Use me as an instrument to bring healing to others! Immerse me in the Love of Your Heart always as I, too, need your continual Divine Healing. May every soul know the immense joy and peace that is found by resting in Your Most Sacred Heart! Amen, my Jesus, amen.” – Healing Heart of Jesus

9. How to Pray About Your Wedding Vows Using Lectio Divina

10.  “St. Zélie was no stranger to disappointment, sorrow, heartbreak, or pain. But time and time again, she affirmed her faith in God’s love and His plan for her. She knew there were no accidents. God was with her when running her business felt overwhelming, when her children were being difficult (turns out even Saints misbehave as children—comforting, right?), when she left Lourdes without being healed of the breast cancer that ultimately took her life, and every time God called one of her precious babies to Heaven.

“While the little things of life did sometimes worry her, as she readily admitted, when it came to the big things, the faith she worked hard to cultivate daily paid off. In every case, she trusted God fully. She placed her life totally in His hands. She believed that if she died, He had a perfect plan for the family she would leave behind.” – Lisa Kirk

11. “Let us remember, we only see a portion of God’s plan for us on earth and what may look like “failures” in our eyes, could be the greatest blessing we ever knew.” – Philip Kosloski