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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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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Father’s Day is a time to remember the special bond shared between a father and his family. It should be a day of reflection and thanks.

Father’s Day also provides families with an opportunity to grow closer together in their faith. We’ve compiled a list of gifts to honor dad and continue to grow the special bond of faith shared between a father and his family.

Faith-Building Gifts for Dad

patron saint booklet

A patron saint booklet is an excellent and personal gift for dad this Father’s Day. Consider gifting him one on the saint he chose as his confirmation name.

This Father’s Day, consider getting your father something that deepens his devotion to his faith. Religious gifts for dad are the perfect way for you to show your love for your father, as well as to provide an opportunity for the two of you to pray and reflect together.

A rosary makes for a special gift for reflection. Gifting a rosary to your dad this Father’s Day is a gesture that can help you strengthen your bond united by your faith by praying together.

The Father’s Manual Book includes prayers, thoughts and reflections for fathers and even soon-to-be dads. This guide is dedicated to encouraging heartfelt contemplation through the eyes of a father.

A token or keychain is something that Dad will see every day. They are a small, portable and simple symbol of your love for your father. He’ll think of you every time he sees it. 

Give your dad a gift with special significance this year. A Patron Saint Booklet offers short biographies and prayers dedicated to saints.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to learn more about St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers. Show your love for your father by helping him to grow closer to St. Joseph. Consider giving your father a guide on the saint matching his confirmation name for a truly personal and unforgettable gift.

Necklaces and Pendants for Dad

Trinity Crucifix pendant

A Trinity Crucifix pendant is a subtle and touching reminder of the Father’s role in the trinity.

A Catholic necklace is a great gift idea and one that allows your father to visibly show his devotion to his faith. Pendants can be simple or elegant, from a humble depiction of the crucifix to a detailed interpretation of Jesus Christ. Your father will always think of you when he wears it.

Giving your father a necklace or pendant of Christ is a simple way to show your love and appreciation for your father, as well as acknowledge his devotion. Pendants and necklaces often make excellent confirmation gifts. If your father gave you a special pendant on your confirmation day, why not get one for him this Father’s Day?

Pendants and necklaces can also be worn year-round, and are something that can be enjoyed and appreciated well beyond Father’s Day.

Give Dad the Gift of Scripture

Bible

If you give your father a Bible this Father’s Day, spend some time together reading and reflecting. Bibles can be personalized with heartfelt messages to show your appreciation for Dad.

A personalized Catholic Bible makes for an excellent and thoughtful Father’s Day gift. Having the Bible personalized with your Father’s name and a special, loving message will add to the heartfelt value and sentimentality of your gift.

For a truly memorable Father’s Day, read a passage together for a moment of quiet reflection. Whenever your father reads from his Bible, he will not only think of you but also reflect on the special bond you share together through your Catholic faith.

Spend Time with Dad this Father’s Day

The most important gift you can give Dad this Father’s Day is to express your love, appreciation and thanks for all that he has provided for you. Attend mass together on Father’s Day, or spend a relaxing afternoon together, reflecting and praying.

Father’s Day is an opportunity for you to grow closer to your father, count your blessings and grow in your faith. Take advantage of this opportunity by connecting with Dad and strengthening your bond by spending time together.

Final Thoughts

Demonstrate your love for your father by giving him a gift that strengthens his Christian faith. Rosaries and prayer books make for excellent small, practical gift options, while pendants and necklaces offer an attractive, thoughtful gift that Dad can wear all year long. Express your love for your father through a special message in a personalized Bible.

No matter what you give your father, tell him how much he means to you. Allow Father’s Day to be a day of prayer and thanksgiving for the blessings your father has provided. 

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