Author's Posts

I know the depth and breadth of our Catholic faith can get overwhelming.  There is always something more to learn or uncover.

Prayer, history, Saints, Catechism, traditions… when I stop and think about the mountain of information that faces those coming to our church via RCIA, I have to admire them. Even if these wonderful souls are intimidated by all of that, they press on because of the Eucharist.

The other day I was feeling sorry for myself because I had taken on too much. I was falling behind on serving my customers well and being a great mom to my children because I was being stretched in other directions. 

In the midst of all of this I found myself in Mass on Sunday morning feeling completely disconnected. Noting that I was relying on a feeling (which we’ve talked about here before), I prayed.

I didn’t even know how to start… Should I ask for something? Be grateful? I ended up just having a flow of consciousness prayer – laying it all out there. What was frustrating me, how I was disappointing myself, expectations that were left unmet.

I found comfort in knowing that God just wanted my presence at that moment. I didn’t have to go find another saint to be inspired by, I didn’t have to decipher the meaning of a paragraph in the Catechism or read the writings of St. Benedict.

I just had to be present at Mass.Thank God for the sacraments. Thank God for the grace we receive in Confession and in the Eucharist. 

He’s not adding to my burdens. Our relationship is not meant to be a mental exercise. 

We are welcome at His feast, we can lay our burdens down and find rest in Him.

Love to all,
+Megan

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I like getting a good chuckle at Mass.

This Sunday we had a special Mass for our Confirmation candidates, and Father referred to confirmation as one of the “pickle sacraments.” Once you’ve received it, it can’t be undone.

So I ask you this… Have I been living under a rock? I thought that was hysterical! I’ve never heard that phrase before.

I’ve done a Google search, and nothing came up. I don’t think Google has failed me since 2004. 

Back to the topic at hand… Once you are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, it cannot be undone. The pickle cannot go back to being a cucumber.

God will not leave you. He is Love.

Remember, you wear the His seal.  And thank God for that!

Love to all,
+Megan

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When is the last time you changed your mind because of a sermon?

Does this sound familiar?

I have a bad habit of sitting in Mass, listening to the sermon, and thinking “I’m glad Father is bringing this up, because there are a lot of people in here who need their minds changed about this issue.”

And other times, “Man is he off about that! How dare Father make veiled declarations about politics?”

It begs the question: How open are we to have our minds and hearts changed?

Whether it’s something political, tithing, or simply the importance of saying the rosary every day, sometimes it’s too painful to hear how I’m falling short. So instead I turn the homily outward and look for ways that it’s OK to stay how I am because someone else is “doing it worse”.

It begs the question: When is the last time I opened my heart and mind to change? 

What opportunities do you have to reconcile your ideas to the teachings of the Catholic Church?

I struggle with some church teachings. I’ll be the first to admit that. So my challenge is finding out :

1. What is the Church really saying on this issue? (get clear)

2. Why do I think so strongly otherwise? Why am I resistant to change my mind on this? (what’s driving my resistance?)

3. What little nugget of truth can I grasp that will allow me to put a tiny crack in my current beliefs? (change my perspective)

The next time you find yourself thinking “This doesn’t apply to me”, challenge that voice and search that resistance for opportunities to grow your faith.

Love to all,
+Megan

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It’s important to be curious

First of all… a special thank you to Thomas who replied to last week’s email about recognizing grace by pointing out paragraph 2005 of the Catechism.

(I’m not going to quote it for you here. I’d like for you to get a little curious, go look it up, and maybe even get a little distracted by reading more of the Catechism on your own.)

Reading paragraph 2005 led me to backing up a little bit and reading all of Article 1: Grace and Justification.

Granted – I did not “get it” after the first read through. Or the second. In fact, I’m still re-reading this section over and over so I can wrap my brain around grace and justification.

But the side benefit of trying to intellectually understand these spiritual concepts is a growing curiosity.

You see, I’m a “Try-Hard” (according to my 8th grader, “try-hard” is not a good thing. It’s used as in insult in the halls of middle school.) I keep searching, learning, consuming, trying, asking.

This is all the long way around of saying this: Getting curious leads to learning, and then to action.

So I hope you get curious, learn something new, gain insights you hadn’t had before, and ultimately find yourself in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Love to all,
+Megan

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I don’t remember who told me the first time, but I remember understanding the lesson immediately: Feelings are not reliable. We can’t base our faith on feelings.

So when I talk about recognizing grace, it’s important to put aside any feelings I may have and examine the evidence.

Driving home the other day, I had a recognition of grace in my life. I don’t know why this was different from all the other times I’ve thanked God for the gifts He’s given me, but I had a very sudden realization of the abundance of His grace is my life.

And while, of course, there was a feeling of peace that accompanied this “ah-ha moment”, I felt compelled to examine where those feelings came from.

I’ve been putting a lot of very conscious effort into loving those who drive me nuts – the people around me all the way out to national politicians. As my 18 year-old told me the other day “you have to love them, you don’t have to like them.”

So as I dug into this sudden recognition of grace, it was the realization of how I’ve been able to extend grace to others, and how that ability has been growing steadily over the last few months; how I’ve been able to put aside initial judgement, consider other perspectives, and see the good before being tempted to dig for the bad.

I don’t tell you this because I’m patting myself on the back. Instead, I want to tell the whole world how God has answered my prayers, helped me put in the work and create change in my own life – all in a way that is only possible with His grace.

As I was telling my junior high robotics team last week – if given the chance, extend the benefit of the doubt and give grace to those around you. God will fill your cup right back up to the brim and more.

Love to all,
+Megan

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I find in times of dryness of faith that I lean heavily on Mary.

The Trinity, in these times, seems unapproachable or my utter unworthiness is too heavy to overcome in order to accept the Love of God.

That’s when I find myself going back to books like 33 Days to Morning Glory, and I talk much more to Mary during my prayer time, and ask for her intercession.

That book gave me some insight as to why my natural inclination is to reach for our Mother.

In it, St. Mother Teresa describes a vision of Mary and the role she served as helping us to remember Jesus’ presence even when we can’t see Him.

She states: “Our Lady’s role is to bring you face to face with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified.”

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We are told to “sing joyfully to the Lord!”

That’s really easy to do when big events occur… like a baby being born, or anticipating your child returning from college.

Even at Mass on Sunday mornings when that one special hymn reaches into your soul and shines a light on your heart, it is easy to answer the call to Sing Joyfully to the Lord!

But during our hum-drum daily routine, we are sleepwalking through spiritual opportunities.

Here’s what I’m NOT going to tell you to do: “just be joyful!”

In fact, we’re not asked to BE joyful, we are asked to sing joyfully. This is deeper than just being outwardly happy. This is NOT “fake it ’til you make it.”

Instead, the joy comes from a trust in God. It’s the willingness… eagerness even, to serve Him.

It comes from knowing His love for us is boundless, and His goodness and kindness are infinite.

By making even just a small pause in your day to acknowledge this truth, that is where your song of joy comes from.

So I’m going to give you a minute here to do just that… ready?

 

Go!

 

Have a blessed day,
+Megan

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My house has gnomes. There is no other explanation.

“Mom – I can’t find my <fill in the blank – it could be anything from shoes to sunglasses to homework>!!”

“Have you looked in <insert the most logical place it would be>?”

Yeah. It’s not there.”

Guess where the lost item is found? It magically re-appears in the exact location where my sweet, intelligent child has already looked.

We all know that a physical object like a book can’t become invisible and then reappear – that’s crazy talk, so that leaves gnomes as the only logical explanation.

It could also be that it’s the difference between “seeing” and “looking”.

It struck me the other day when I was driving along, listening to and praying along with the rosary, that I’ve heard the message to “See Christ in others” too many times to count.

And yet, I don’t recall the last time I saw Christ in someone else.

It occurred to me that I’m probably very lazy about the whole thing. I’m expecting Jesus to grab my attention, and not have to actually LOOK for Him in other people.

There’s a huge difference!

“Seeing” something has a connotation of grabbing our attention and causing us to notice it.

“Looking” puts the onus on us to become active participants in our surroundings and how we interact with other people.

Personally, looking for Christ in other people – especially those who really get under our skin – doesn’t come naturally. Even after I contemplated all the opportunities I had that day to find Christ in others, I forgot to look for Him when I came face-to-face with others.

It’s hard to remember to look!

So here’s my action plan to build the habit of looking for him: wearing a reminder on my wrist.

It doesn’t have to be an ugly rubber band that explicitly says “Megan — for pete’s sake you need to remember to look for Jesus. LOOK FOR JESUS.” (In my head the band is yelling at me and is in a frenzied state of frustration at my forgetfulness.)

Instead a simple saint bracelet will do. I don’t wear jewelry very often, so once I placed the intention of it being a reminder, the coolness of the metal and the extra noise clicking on my desk when I put my wrist down was a gentle reminder to see Jesus in whoever I was currently with.

Let us know in the comments: Do you have to remind yourself to see God in others?

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"I'm not Catholic Enough."

This was a core belief of mine for a long time.

I'd sit in church and look around me, and allow myself to be intimidated by those who seemed to know every nook and cranny of the catechism, every mystery of the rosary, and exactly where all the holy days of obligation landed on the calendar.

Not being "Catholic Enough" was quite a heavy chip on my shoulder. I felt I couldn't volunteer as a lector or teach a Sunday school class.

Four years ago when we were faced with the decision as to if we were going to take DiscountCatholicProducts.com on as our own baby, this belief caused me to be scared of my customers.

Some well-intentioned woman would call in and very heatedly describe to me exactly how we were pushing satanic rosaries on our customers (we weren't). My immediate reaction was to take down whatever the offending product de jour was and lose a night of sleep worrying about how much I didn't know.

All of this insecurity and fear had backed me into a reactionary mode. The worst part was that I was completely cut off from reaching out to God to build a stronger relationship with Him.

So what did I do? I took a plunge into re-catechizing myself starting with the adult education classes offered at my parish. And on the first night, I stepped into class, looked around, and thought to myself "These are the Catholic-est of the Catholics. I'm the dumbest one in the room."

I swallowed my pride and asked every question that came into my head - no matter how stupid I thought the question. I needed the answers. I couldn't live in fear of the phone ringing and be unable to answer questions about why there are differences in pyx.

And you know what, some of my questions were dumb, but they led to further discussion and opened up doors and windows to topics I didn't even know I had questions about.

Do I know it all now? Oh heck no. And I never will - but I'm comfortable with that now. What I discovered is that the Catholic-est of the Catholics don't know everything either, and even better than that, they are warm, loving, beautiful people that are doing the same thing as me: reaching for heaven.

The feeling of not being "Catholic Enough" has nothing to do with the people who surround you in the pews. It's a level of confidence issue - an inability to articulate exactly why you believe what you believe.

If your parish doesn't have adult education, or you just want to get started NOW on boosting your Catholic Confidence, we can help you with that.

Step 1: Confession - because GRACE!! The grace you receive from confession will help you leaps and bounds in your faith journey.

Step 2: How can you still be Catholic? - This book addresses many of the social issues the Church is criticized for. I admit that I'm not 100% in lock-step with the Church on many issues, but I usually find that those are the areas where I'm not well educated on the Church's true teachings of the topic. This book can help start you down the path of understanding.

Step 3: Pick a devotion or new method of prayer and stick with it for a month. May I suggest a Marian consecration or learning about the Divine Mercy? Both are life-changing.

Confession - Its Fruitful Practice walks you through making a good confession and WHY. This very thorough but small book



How can you still be Catholic? Cradle Catholic Christopher Sparks takes the question head on, addressing an array of controversial issues and offering the same answer given by St. Peter 2,000 years ago: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"



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Last Tuesday I promised you a series on setting spiritual goals. The response I received back was incredible! Thank you so much for sending your comments and encouragement!

If you didn’t see that post, the gist is that we often set goals for ourselves for our finances, fitness, etc, but not for our spiritual life.

So today we begin setting spiritual goals. We want to find the right balance between finding a goal that can really make a difference for you in your relationship with Jesus Christ, and not being so difficult that it gets laid aside after a few days.

Below are 3 methods to finding the right goal for you. Regardless of what you end up with, follow these 2 rules:

  1. Don’t make it too hard or easy.
    On a scale of 1-10, it should be at a level of about 4-6.
  2. Put a time frame on it and commit to it
    We’re going to try on our goal for 2 weeks. So make sure you’ve worked toward your goal in some fashion by next Tuesday.

Method One: Make a List

Start by making a list of what you think you do well in your faith right now. It may be something as simple as saying a 4 word prayer in the morning when you wake up. Or perhaps you haven’t missed a Sunday Mass for 5 years straight.

However small the act of faith, write it down and don’t judge yourself. If the list is only one tiny item long – even if it’s just the desire to do better – that is OK. You have to start somewhere.

The last thing you want to do is to start comparing yourself to others. Even if you think your neighbor is a much better Catholic than you, you have no idea what their relationship with God is like, and frankly it’s none of your business.

You are here to grow your relationship with God, not run a race against someone else.

Now pick something on your list, and multiply it.

Do you say a 4 word prayer when you wake up? Can you expand that into a 30 second conversation with God every morning before your feet hit the floor?

What about Mass attendance? Can you improve from 2-3 times a month to 3-4? What would that take?

Or maybe you haven’t missed a Mass, but you don’t really pay attention during the consecration. Learning more about the rote prayers we say during the consecration can be really eye-opening.

Method Two: Called to do better

Do you have a hunch that God is calling you to do something? Sometimes that calling is a little tickle of a feather, sometimes it’s a 2×4 knocking us over.

Discerning God’s will is perceived by many as difficult, but oftentimes we just don’t want to face the answer.

Don’t wait for the 2×4. What is it you think God is calling you to do?

Method Three: Pick one

Sometimes people like to be told what to do 🙂

  1. Go to confession on a regular schedule
    How “hard” does this rate for you on a scale of 1-10? What is one thing that you can do to make it easier for you to go?
  2. Go to a daily Mass
    Every chance we get to be in Jesus’ physical presence is a gift. Is there a daily mass near you that you can fit in over your lunch hour, maybe just once a month?
  3. Consecrate yourself to Mary
    This calls for more effort than other goals, but if you’re up for a bigger challenge, start with this book.
  4. Start a rosary, chaplet or novena practice
  5. Set aside 3 minutes every day just for God
    Even if it’s just 3 extra minutes in the shower where you thank God for the many blessings in your life and ask Him to be present with you throughout the day.

So set your goal. Commit to it for 2 weeks.

Let us know how you did or if you need help.

Have a bless day!
+Megan

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