Here are this week’s must-reads:
+ “The highest form of prayer is to stand silently in awe before God.”—St Isaac the Syrian
+ “May we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on God and focused only on the light… May we be open to seeing God’s presence in all things, even steep climbs, hard-fought battles, and darkness that attempts to cast shadows over the light… May we be a model of truth, beauty, and goodness even when the light starts to dims… May we know that faith tells us that no matter where we go, God is already there. May we not be afraid, we never walk alone.” — House of Love and Laughter
+ John Paul II’s father, Karol Wojtyla Sr., instructed JPII in many aspects of the faith. He taught young Karol how to pray and encouraged him to pray to the Holy Spirit often. He taught him a specific prayer, asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As a young man, it’s said that JP II said this prayer daily. He would later attest that this powerful prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit led him to write an encyclical on the Holy Spirit. Here’s that prayer, which we made into a novena.
+ “The great St. Bernard wrote in his rule that whenever the monastic bell rang, the monks were to drop what they were doing and go to whatever they were being called to. In our homes, our monastic bell is all the many things beckoning at us throughout the day…the diapers to be changed, the dishes that need doing, the laundry that needs to be done, etc. We respond to these things right away, even though we many not want to, remembering that these duties are the very things that will make us holy.” — Finer Femininity
+ “Jesus wants to be with us even in the messy places of our sorrow. He wants to go precisely to where we are confused about what has happened, about what God is doing, about what God wants of us. The Son of God wants to be close enough that he can dry our tears, wrestle with us in our wrath, walk through the darkness of our confusion.” — Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
+ “People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.” – Henri Nouwen
+ “Jesus said to Thomas it’s better for those who have not seen to believe… Think of how many people who have experienced a miracle and walked away from God, and not honored Him…. A miracle does not keep you following Jesus — faith does.” — Better Together TV
+ “If you regularly spend some time with God each day, you will find it easy to call upon Him when you need Him. Prayer lifts you above the sordid things of this world. It purifies your mind and strengthens your will. It keeps your soul seeking after God alone—the real purpose of life! — Fr. Lovasik
+ “The secret of joy is Christ in me — not me in a different set of circumstances.” — Elisabeth Elliot
+ “(Mary) endures this extroardinary suffering but she never loses hope because she knows who He is. That’s why we call her Our Lady of Sorrows and not Our Lady of Sadness. Sorrow is deep suffering with pain and hope. Sadness is deep suffering with pain and despair.” — Fr. Eric Cadin, Many Hail Marys at a Time
+ “We must also give praise:”
“Very often, our prayer is a request for help in time of need. And this is normal for man, for we need help, we need others, we need God. Thus, it is normal for us to ask something of God, to look to Him for help; and we must bear in mind that the prayer that the Lord taught us — the “Our Father” — is a prayer of petition, and with this prayer the Lord teaches us the priorities of our prayer; He cleanses and purifies our desires and in this way cleanses and purifies our hearts. Therefore, though in itself it is normal for us to ask for something in prayer, it should not exclusively be so.
“There is also reason to give thanks, and if we are attentive we see that we receive so many good things from God: He is so good to us that it is fitting, indeed necessary, to say thank you. And it should also be a prayer of praise: if our heart is open, despite all problems, we see the beauty of His creation, the goodness shown forth in His creation. Therefore, we must not only ask; we must also praise and give thanks: only in this way is our prayer complete.” — Pope Benedict XVI
+ “We certainly don’t pray to the saints instead of Christ. We pray through the saints to God in Christ. Ultimately, the saints don’t answer our prayers. 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
+ “How is God the Father inviting you to abide with Jesus right now in this present moment? Pray as you can: not as you ought.” — Fr. Josh Johnson
+ “The best marriages are built by two servants. Do something today that puts your spouse’s needs first.” — Stronger Marriages
+ Last week, the Church celebrated the feast of St. Luke. Tradition holds that St. Luke was an artist and he painted the image we all know as Our Lady of Czestachowa. I frequently share this black and white print of Our Lady of Czestachowa, and when you sign up for my Collection on Patreon, you get this downloadable image for free so you can print it anywhere you’d like. 🙂
+ “Luke never saw or heard Jesus. He only heard of him second hand, all in stories from others’ memories. Did he ever feel on the outside of this little band of friends who had known Jesus so intimately? Not quite one of their tight knit company? Not understanding the looks they suddenly shared or the quiet tears they shed at odd moments. Maybe sometimes he felt wistful and alone among them; those who shared a bond not his. Did our Lady notice this and sometimes sit near him at these moments and tell him the best of her heart? Make Jesus come vividly alive so Luke could feel as though he HAD been there? She must have been a masterful storyteller.” — Denise Trull, Theology of the Home
+ “The best dinner parties are the ones you actually have.” I loved this reflection from Paige about using your nice things — your fancy things — the things you usually use for guests and family visiting — for your family at home on a random night. She wrote: “it’s for our life together – we’re not “saving it” for more important guests and more important occasions than a plain old Saturday night.”
I 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 & Catholic home decor. When I’m creating them, I always look up the upcoming feast days and find pieces to complement them so that you can have some examples of how to decorate for the different feasts & Liturgical seasons!
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