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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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Have you ever thought about your spiritual goals?

If you’re anything like me, you may have physical fitness goals, retirement goals, project goals… so many more goals.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you and I probably have the same Ultimate Goal: Get to Heaven. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.)

And, if you’re still a little like me, you may not ever thought of having a spiritual goal you wanted to work on… something you can attain in the next 30-90 days or so.

Why not? We’re taught goal-setting at work and at the gym and at school.

I think part of the issue is that it’s so easy NOT to think about. You don’t see your spiritual condition hanging over the top your jeans when you look in the mirror, it’s not there when you check your bank balance.

It’s deeply personal and easy to hide – even from yourself.

But really, have you ever paused to thing about setting a spiritual goal for yourself and what that would entail?

What is it that I would want to accomplish? Here’s the first 3 things that come to mind for my personal goals:

  1. Better Prayer Habits
  2. Make confession a regular habit, not just Christmas and Easter
  3. Attend Daily Mass at least once per week

In the coming weeks, our blog posts will be dedicated to sussing out the best spiritual goals, and making progress towards achieving them.

+Megan

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100 years later, we can still learn from Our Lady of Fatima

The miracle that took place almost 100 years ago was the largest miracle since biblical times. Over 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing. Newspapers – even anti-Catholic ones – reported on the event.

With that in mind, we have 3 challenges for you:

1. Learn the Rosary

Our Lady emphasized the importance of the rosary. I didn’t take up the practice until about a year ago.

If you fall into the camp of Catholics who don’t pray the rosary because it seems boring or unfruitful, try it again.

Just try it. Even a decade at a time while you’re stuck in traffic or taking a shower. Continue reading Our Fatima Challenge: 100 Years Later, Her Message is Still Relevant!

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Can we take a minute to talk about crucifixes and why Catholics use them so much more often than empty crosses?

A crucifix hanging on a living room wall immediately informs visitors that this is a CATHOLIC house. Why is that so important? What’s the big difference?

“He is risen! Get over it!”

“Why do you Catholics revel in Jesus being on the cross? It’s so negative.”

Do we? Do we really revel in it? Continue reading Why do you Catholics revel in Jesus being on the cross?

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Relevant Radio‘s morning show. It was an absolute blast!

I’m not one to listen to the radio while I work (I get distracted waaaaaaay too easily), so I usually only catch bits and pieces of radio shows in the car.

But for the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Morning Air and what has impressed me the most is the welcoming tone and understanding that we are all broken people. That ought to teach me not to pre-judge 🙂

So here’s a quick list of a few free places for you to go to help you keep God at the center of your day: Continue reading Free (or almost free) Resources for Personal Faith Formation

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Distractions…ugh

They plague me all day, every day. They seep into my morning prayers, they delay progress on my to-do lists, and even steal time away from my family.

I’m convinced the proverbial good intentions that pave the road to hell are a product of distractions. Distractions are harmful. They take us away from bettering our prayer, family and work lives.

Sometimes distractions get so bad I’m distracted from doing something I love (like gardening) by something I really don’t enjoy (like washing dishes). It’s almost as if my brain just wants me to do whatever I’m NOT supposed to be doing at the time, just to be contrarian. Continue reading 5 Ways to Reduce Distraction in Prayer and Everyday Life

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Pre-college, I didn’t really pay attention to the distinct differences among the services within Holy Week. To me it was a week of going to church day after day and I dreaded it. And for years after I was not a regular church-goer.

However, when I returned with vigor to my Catholic roots, I began attending as many of the services held during Holy Week as I possibly could. And with that many questions arose:

  1. Why is there no consecration on Good Friday?
  2. Triduum? What?
  3. Why do we kiss Jesus’ feet on the cross? And some people genuflect. Should I be doing that?
  4. Oh man, I really need to go to confession.

That last one is a statement and not a question, sure, but it was still a concern that arose that scared me to death. So it earned its place on the list.

Why is there no consecration on Good Friday?

The first time in my adult life I attended all services within the Triduum, I was confused when we seemed to leap-frog right to communion without the entirety of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the Good Friday service. Turns out, this is called the Liturgy of the Presancitified.

So let’s back up to the presanctification part.

Actually – let’s back up to the beginning of the Triduum. The Triduum lasts for 3 days, but is really a single liturgical celebration. “Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.” – USCCB

The Easter Triduum celebrates three events – The Passion (Holy Thursday), Death on the Cross (Good Friday, Holy Saturday), and Resurrection (Easter Vigil – Easter Sunday).

The Triduum is actually a distinct liturgical period after Lent. Lent ends and the Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday night.  You will note that there are no closing rites at the end of this Mass or on Good Friday as the Triduum will continue for 3 days.

Highlights of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper:

  • Washing of the feet following the Liturgy of the Word
  • The Gloria is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent. The bells rang during the Gloria will be silent until Easter Vigil. Minimal musical accompaniment, if any, is used only to support the singing and will remain so until Easter Vigil.
  • No Concluding Rite
  • Eucharist is placed in repose (a different part of the church or chapel previously prepared) – not the tabernacle which is emptied and remains open.
  • Altar is stripped and crosses are removed or veiled.
  • Adoration usually available at the place of repose until midnight.

The Triduum continues on Good Friday with a series of 3 events:

  1. Liturgy of the Word
  2. Adoration of the Cross
  3. Holy Communion
  • No Opening Rite (because it is a continuation of Holy Thursday’s celebration, which had no Concluding Rite)
  • Altar is completely bare – no crucifix, no candles
  • Anointing of the Sick and Penance are only sacraments celebrated.
  • Celebrant may completely prostrate himself before the altar (lay face down on the floor).
  • The Solemn Intercessions – The congregation is asked to kneel and pray silently for each intercession.
  • Adoration of the Cross – after which the Cross is then placed at the altar with candles on either side. (Remember all crosses were removed or veiled the night before.) The Cross can be venerated with a kiss, genuflection, or other sign of deep respect.
  • No Liturgy of the Eucharist, as the consecration took place on Holy Thursday – hence “Presanctification”. Move straight to the Our Father and Holy Communion. The priest will spread a cloth on the altar and bring in the Blessed Sacrament from its place of repose.
  • Altar is once again stripped of everything but the cross and 2 or 4 candlesticks.
  • No Concluding Rite

Holy Saturday – We wait at the tomb with prayer and fasting. The altar is still bare and Sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Holy Communion given only to the dying.

Easter Vigil – This is where we shift from waiting at the tomb to celebrating the Resurrection. We move from dark into Light.

  • No Opening Rite
  • Begins after sunset outside the church
  • 4 parts:
    1. The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil (Lucernarium) – Service of Light
      • Blessing of a fire and pascal candle outside the church and a procession with candles is led into the church. The church progressively gets lighter and lighter until all lights are at full brightness at the Gloria.
    2. Liturgy of the Word
    3. Baptismal Liturgy – catechumens and RCIA candidates are baptized and initiated into the faith.
    4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Easter Sunday  – Easter Mass in morning (or afternoon if necessary). Triduum concludes with the evening prayers on Easter Sunday.

 

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Go to confession. Just go.

This is Holy Week meaning there is ample opportunity to go to confession. Even if your parish’s schedule doesn’t mesh well with yours, call your parish office and make an appointment.

I’m saying this as someone who once went 17 years without confession.

Just go. If you’re waiting for a sign, consider this to be it.

Stop procrastinating or making empty promises to yourself that you know you won’t keep. Just go now.

Go to build a deeper relationship with God. Go because you are truly sorry, even if you don’t even want to admit to yourself how wrong you were. Go to repair the damage sin has done.

Take the time right now to either find Communal Penance, a Sacrament of Reconciliation schedule, or call your parish office and make an appointment. You will make your priest’s day.

If it’s been a long time, ask the priest for help. Don’t worry about perfection. Getting it 1% right is a million times better than 0% right. Get the absolution you need and the relationship God so desires to have with you.

Just go. You will be so glad you did.

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Our mission at Discount Catholic Products is to provide the prayer tools that help people grow closer to God. Granted, we have a vast array of items on our site, but there is a core 5 categories that I think are the most important for those who are looking to deepen their faith.

So whether you are looking for yourself or to help a friend along their own faith journey, here is our list of the 5 items every Catholic should have. But remember – the tools only work when they get used.

1. Bible – The Church encourages us to read the Bible as part of our daily prayer lives. Whether you use your bible to practice lectio divina or simply to become more familiar with the text, having and knowing your bible is important to growing your spiritual life.

2. Scapular – “Whosoever dies in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire” – the promise of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock regarding the Brown Scapular. Wearing a scapular is a prayer in itself. It is a way to show your surrender to the protection of Mary. Any Catholic can be enrolled in the brown scapular, the most common of scapulars, by a priest. Children often receive their first scapular with their First Communion.

Wearing a scapular is certainly a test of your faith and devotion when it become inconvenient or unfashionable to wear. It’s not a commitment to be taken lightly, but the promise it bears far outweighs the temporary uncomfortable moments found in our daily lives.

3. Rosary – Mary promises great graces to those who pray the rosary. By meditating on each mystery, we give Mary the opportunity to turn our eyes to her Son. We see Jesus through her eyes.

4. Crucifix – Having a crucifix displayed in your home is an indication of how your family places Christ above all else. It is a statement that you each first belong to Him, and a way to remind yourself of that very same thing.

5. Holy Water Vessel – Whether kept in your pocket, purse, car, or home, having access to holy water is important. Holy water can heal the sick, evoke graces and banish demons. You can use holy water to bless any space including your home, work and vehicle.

 

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones – Ephesians 1:18

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Have you selected what to give up for Lent yet? I made my decision during Mass on Sunday, and as you can tell from the title – I’m giving up worrying for Lent. God asked me to trust Him in this week’s Gospel, and I want to give Him just that – my full trust.

The catch is that trust in Him means that I have nothing to worry about. We’ll see if I am able to keep my end of the bargain.

So in preparation for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, I need to prepare myself for the task ahead. I need a few tools to help me on this quest.

Here’s what I came up with. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
1. Attend Adoration
Eucharistic Adoration can clean a whole lot of gunk out of your brain. Start by finding a way to focus by using a prayer or scripture reading. Allow yourself time to just sit and be still and listed to what God has to say.
2. Tell God about it
Empty yourself of your worrying thoughts by bringing them all to God and laying them open before Him. Hold nothing back. Tell Him everything no matter how trivial you may think it is. Use God as a sounding board. You may be surprised at what conclusions the two of you come up with.
3. Don’t try to force it out
It won’t end well. You could get caught in an ugly cycle of worrying about worrying. Give yourself enough slack to recognize that cold turkey isn’t the best way to stop worrying.
4. Exercise-Run the rosary
Nothing silences the voices in my head like exercise. That may be because I loathe exercise. I really do. I have to constantly talk myself into doing the next rep and concentrate on form. There’s no space in my brain for anything other than getting to the end of a workout. This may also be a good time to start Running the Rosary.
5. Get perspective
We have a wonderful place called The Banquet here in Sioux Falls where we can go serve meals to anyone who is searching for food or fellowship. An evening there certainly puts my worries in perspective. I know my children have a safe place to sleep and food to fill their bellies. It doesn’t mean my worries are any less worthy, but it sure sorts out the ones that are completely unnecessary.
6. Be grateful
This is really an extension of #5. All those little things we take for granted like the blanket keeping my feet warm, hot showers, and a beautiful sunset – when is the last time I took a minute to thank God for those things? What about the people who surround you like the room mom who helped organize the Valentine Party when you forgot the treats, or the priest who prayed made time for you when you needed help putting life in perspective? The list of things we should be grateful for is inexhaustible.
Forty days. Lent is 40 days and this exercise in trusting the Lord will hopefully make me a better Catholic. What are your thoughts on what to give up for Lent?

My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall.
Psalm 62:2-3

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