General

A New Perspective on the Weather.

As a South Dakotan, we probably get 3 perfect days a year… 72 – 76 degrees, sunny, no wind, no bugs. 

Three glorious days where no one is complaining about the weather.

Today as I look out my office window and remember I have no reason to be outside in the 13 sparse degrees allotted to us, I get to enjoy the sun.

It’s gloriously bright outside. A fresh layer of white snow is causing me to squint against the abundant light streaming in from outside. The indoor lights are useless today.

Thank you God for this sunny day! I haven’t thanked you for the weather lately. The sun today is heavenly, and for that I am grateful! 

I hope you can always find something to be grateful for.  On the dark rainy days we get to put off mowing one more day. On bitterly cold snowy days we can curl up with a family member and a book. 

It’s the stark contrast of the bad days that make the good ones so much sweeter.

And on those rare, perfect days we can just be in awe.

Love to all,
+Megan

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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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Am I wasting God’s gifts?

In this week full of Thanksgiving, I wanted to give you some food for thought in regards to how we sometimes waste our God-given gifts.

This isn’t about guilt or our shortcomings or “should-ing” on ourselves.

Instead it’s about finding the motivation to do better.

We know when we’re falling short. Just today I procrastinated on this email and didn’t use the gift of time wisely. I fettered away hours with distractions.

The strength to overcome my own bad habits and shortcomings doesn’t come from myself.

It’s the sames reason we shouldn’t be prideful when we fast. It’s not about what I can do alone for myself. It’s the opposite.

God gives us this strength. I find that so comforting  that I don’t have to rely on myself. He is with me.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Love to all,
+Megan

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I love old hymns (“old” meaning what I grew up with in the 80’s)

This weekend at Mass the music ministry brought out an oldie-but-a-goodie: Glory and Praise to Our God.

I haven’t heard that song in years, and it’s been traveling through my brain ever since.

We’ve all heard the phrase “like gold that’s tested in fire” a hundred times.  This time it really stuck out at me.

“In His wisdom he strengthens us, like gold that’s tested in fire.”

In that moment, I understood that the trials in my life are meant as exercises in becoming stronger and sloughing off the weaknesses and sin that keep me from a closer relationship with Him.

How often do I cling to what is meant to be burned away – hold on to my weaknesses as if they’ll protect me from ridicule and failure?

I think it takes a bit of courage to let them burn away. Courage is never easy. If it were easy it wouldn’t be courage.

Love to all,
+Megan

P.S. Way back in the 80’s we had a hymnal that had an orange sunset on the cover (maybe… my memory might be failing me – I just remember it was orange).  It was volume 2 or something like it. I was about 6 years old and I would go to CCD with my mom because she taught it. 

A woman there would play songs from this book on her guitar and we’d sing along.  There was one song in particular. I can’t think of it and it’s been bugging me for a few months now. 

Does anyone know what hymnal this may have been and where I can get my hands on a copy?

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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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