Prayer Life

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?

Read more

"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"

Read more

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

Read more

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!

Read more

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?

Read more

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

Read more

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. 

Read more

Many people are veering toward meditative prayer to seek deeper meaning and grow closer to God. Rather than relying on the old tradition of simply reciting prayers, meditating on scripture has become increasingly popular.

Christian meditation is different from the meditation many are familiar with. In Eastern religions, meditation serves to empty the mind of thoughts and worries to allow for the development of a richer spirituality.

Catholics and Christians, however, meditate on a chosen passage of the Bible. They immerse themselves fully in the story and pray for a more in-depth understanding.

Meditative prayer is also a way of setting time aside for God, much like you would for a friend or family member. After all, if we are to follow Christ, if God is our father, we need to spend time in His presence. When we do, we should try to be attentive and listen, rather than continually seek favors.

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God Bible Scripture Art Typography Design Printable Card with Flower Accents

There are many ways in which we can engage in meditative prayer. Apart from choosing a passage from the Bible or reflecting on the Lectio Divina of the week, we may also use Catholic prayer cards for meditative prayer.

Most prayer cards depict an image of Christ, a Saint or of the Virgin Mary, and each card can serve to inspire a deeper and more meaningful kind of meditative prayer. The special prayer on each of the holy cards can act as a guide or pathway through our meditation.

When using a specific prayer card, you may also ask for the person depicted on the card to help and support you. You will soon experience a joyful sense of support and guidance and come to value the time spent in meditative prayer.

Choosing a Holy Card for Meditative Prayer

Many Catholics purchase prayer cards as a source of comfort and strength. Prayer cards become a part of their daily life. I have several prayer cards in my purse, and at this point, they have dog ears and look well-worn. However, they are very precious to me, and I would hate to lose any one of them.

The selection of prayer cards seems limitless, and most people choose a prayer card with their heart. Perhaps you feel a special connection to Our Lady, or perhaps you prefer choosing a prayer card depicting your favorite saint. Most importantly, choose a prayer card you love, because it will make your meditative prayer more meaningful.

How to Use a Prayer Card for Meditative Prayer

Before you begin, you need to prepare the space. Find a quiet place at home, or maybe even out in nature. If you are planning on meditating with a group, a church or community space may be most suitable. Remove any source of distraction and light some candles. Music and dimmed lighting can also make the space a little more spiritual.

You may also decorate your space with holy statues, flowers or meaningful pictures. Adding personal items can also be an excellent way to make the space special.

Many burning candles with shallow depth of field

Ensure you have a comfortable seat and simply sit down and rest for a little while.

Before you begin, choose the way in which you are going to use your prayer card. You have the following possibilities:

  • Recite the entire prayer once and simply reflect on it by imagining yourself in conversation with the person on the card.
  • Recite the prayer, line by line, pausing after each line and allowing time for reflection.
  • Gaze at the picture and allow it to inspire your meditation.
  • Recite the prayer or repeat the words on the card several times, seeking a better understanding each time you utter the words.

Choose whatever approach comes easiest to you. It’s important to make the meditation as simple and enjoyable as possible. Trying out all the different methods will eventually show you which one suits you best.

Simple Steps for Meditative Prayer

Before you begin, place yourself in God’s unending love and ask for guidance. Also, seek support from the person depicted on the prayer card. Rest and reflect for a while and continue by using one of the above methods.

prayer hands symbol old background

Once you feel fully immersed, simply remain in the space and try to be open to guidance and, most importantly, to God’s love. Breathe slowly, relax your entire body and express gratitude for this special time. If you find yourself getting distracted, read the words on the prayer card or bring your attention back to the image.

Be open and attentive and let God’s love envelop you.

Spending time in meditative prayer can be an enormous source of strength and comfort. All you need to do is give a little of your time and your heart. When you are ready to return to your daily chores, say thanks.

Read more

catholic church cathedral window

Rosary rings are a great option for those who want to be able to pray the rosary when traveling or away from home. Because of their size, Rosary rings are ideal for those on the go.

Although technically a ring, and though some styles can be worn, a rosary ring is usually not meant to be worn continuously like a piece of jewelry. Instead, it is intended to be worn on either index finger when the user is ready to pray.

Rosary rings come in many styles – and because of their size – can easily be kept in a pocket, on a key ring, worn on a necklace or placed in a purse. You can easily keep them on your person, ready to be used whenever you want to pray.

Purpose of the Rosary

The purpose of the rosary is to help remember and observe certain Mysteries in the history of salvation. It is a type of mental prayer, made easier to remember through repetition. There are twenty Mysteries that the rosary was designed to help us reflect upon.

The Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday. The Sorrowful Mysteries are said on Tuesday and Friday. The Glorious Mysteries are usually said on Wednesday and Sunday, and the Luminous Mysteries are recited on Thursday.

By design, the Rosary was meant to create a repetitious practice to harvest contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. Also, the Rosary can be said privately or with a group.

Often, people will pray the rosary with the assistance of rosary beads. Rosary beads come in a variety of sizes and designs, and they can be crafted of numerous materials.

However popular, Rosary beads are not the only option for praying the Rosary. Another popular choice for praying the Rosary is the convenient use of a rosary ring!

Catholic rosary ring

Types of Rosary Rings

Rosary rings come in numerous styles and sizes, meant to fit the needs of all individuals. Many choose a simple metal prayer ring. This Rosary prayer ring is very familiar to most. It can be used by anyone, and is usually rather inexpensive. Because of the metal, these are not usually worn on anyone’s fingers except when they pray.

If you would prefer or can afford something nicer, you may want to consider a higher-quality prayer ring. These Rosary rings are mostly made of gold or sterling silver. Unlike typical metal Rosary rings, these rings are created with a more slender design.

The 10 bumps are more discreet, but critically, still built into the ring. Because of the more streamlined design, these Rosary rings can be worn like regular jewelry rings and are intended for daily use.

Also, there are wooden rosary rings. Like metal rosary rings, wooden rosary rings are quite inexpensive. To some, they may offer a more traditional feel. However, the design and function are the same as their metal counterparts.

Rosary rings come in many designs and sizes. The bands can often be uniquely styled. The balls come in different sizes. Usually, rosary rings are topped by a crucifix shape, but not always.

To keep everyday wear convenient, higher-quality rosary rings usually do not have a protruding top, but rather a crucifix etched into the band. Since meant for use by all individuals, Rosary rings come in many sizes, including some designed specifically for men, women and children.

How to Pray the Rosary using a Rosary Ring

The Rosary ring is meant to be used just about anywhere, whenever someone wants to pray. The first step is to select a Rosary ring that appeals to you and that you are comfortable using.

You begin by wearing the Rosary ring on the index finger of your choosing. You count the beads using your thumb to turn the ring while it sits on your index finger.

Using the Rosary ring to pray the Rosary is simple. Kiss the crucifix and make the Sign of the Cross, touching your fingers to your forehead, then to the heart, then to the left shoulder and finally to the right shoulder.

Begin praying the initial prayers of the Rosary: The Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, three Hail Marys and one Glory Be.

Next, announce the appropriate Mystery on which you’re reflecting. Once completed, then recite the Our Father prayer, touching the crucifix. Follow this with 10 Hail Marys and count using the 10 beads of your rosary ring. Remember to let your thumb comfortably turn the ring.

This is called a decade, due to the fact that it contains 10 Hail Marys. However, a decade also includes the Our Father and, usually, a Glory Be to the Father.

Repeat until you have completed all your decades, and then pray your closing prayers.

Rosary ring in palm

Rosary Rings May Be a Great Choice for You

If you want to explore a new option when praying the Rosary, a rosary ring may be the perfect choice for you. Its small size makes it simple to carry everywhere. Whenever and wherever you need to pray, you can easily take your rosary ring with you.

Read more

At this time of year, I absolutely love to be outside in my prayer garden. I have a great little waterfall, some lovely peonies and pansies and lots of cool shade from my fruit trees. It’s a wonderful reminder of all the blessings God has given to my family and me, and it helps to ground me when I’m feeling stressed or simply disconnected from the world around me.

Are you considering a prayer garden? Do you already have a nice outdoor space that could use something more meaningful and spiritual? Even just a patch of grass can be a lot more with some simple touches.

St. Francis Catholic Statue

By choosing one or two saint statues for your sacred space, you can change the context and bring your faith and God’s love to light. However, the marketplace is packed with great options, and it can be tricky to choose the right one. Here’s how to sort through the myriad of choices.

Start with a Familiar Face

Remember, your space is yours. Even if you only recognize a saint because you saw him in church every Sunday, that’s enough reason to choose that statue. Anything or anyone that helps you feel connected to the Church is a good place to start.

Mary is an excellent choice for any indoor or outdoor space. Her soft face and comforting presence is a welcome sight in any home or garden.

I personally have a lovely granite and blue grotto with a small Mary statue in it that looks gorgeous under the trees. She and I have some beautiful, quiet moments together, and the kids have really taken to her as well because, well, she’s family.

Catholic yard statuary

Just Feel It

In addition to Mary, I also have a Saint Francis statue because I love animals and so do my children. His story was one of the first that truly inspired me. His conversion, dedicated to living as simply and humbly as possible and honoring nature, always struck a very deep chord with me. He’s a reminder that all of God’s creations are worthy of our love and care, and I often offer up my prayers to him.

Catholic statues serve a purpose; they connect us with a higher, invisible force. By surrounding ourselves with certain images and representations of our faith, we help it grow stronger.

So, if you have a particular angel or saint that calls to you, reach for his or her likeness when shopping for statues. You will be much happier to have it in your house and feel better about praying to it every day.

St. Francis Catholic Statue

Heighten Something You Cherish

What is something you celebrate in your home? Is it quiet meditation? Storytelling? Art? Whatever it is, you can almost always find a saint or two to represent it.

Saint Cecilia has a special place in our hallway because of her guardianship over singers. My little girl sings all day and holds St. Cecilia very near and dear to her heart. As a mom, this saint gives me a chance to talk to my daughter about how her love of music can see her through, but only if she honors her practice, stays diligent, focused and doesn’t let distractions get in her way.

She’s a little young for a talk about virginity right now, but St. Cecilia stayed a virgin even through marriage, because she held such a deep devotion to her faith. I feel the lesson there is that it’s important to honor the path that God has chosen for us and not disregard his plans. When it’s time for my little darling to date, then I can build on a pre-existing relationship even more and guide her away from bad choices.

Honor a Memory

After my father died, I purchased a Saint Christopher necklace to honor his memory. Dad always traveled – he went all over Asia and through most of South America. He believed meeting new people and having new experiences were an important part of being a devout Catholic.

St. Christopher’s constant watch over travelers helps me feel closer to my departed father, and I’m currently shopping for a small statue to keep in my room.

When we look to the same sources of inspiration that those around us use, it can deepen our bonds with them, even when they’re gone. My dad would be thrilled to know that I touch the Saint Christopher medallion that hangs from my neck anytime I miss him. It reminds me that he’s never too far away, and I always need to be open to new people and new experiences.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you have an outdoor space like a little garden or altar you enjoy, or if you simply want to see the faces of more saints and angels in your home, one or two statues can be a lovely addition and a great focal point for you and your family.

Read more