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The only legacy you can leave that will last forever is how many souls you helped get to heaven.

Buildings –  even those that have stood the test of time and are iconic to our faith – are temporary.

Intellectual contributions won’t be enough to keep your name on everyone’s lips for eternity. Not even if you’re Plato.

Material riches are as good as dust. Businesses and charities will eventually close.  Bank accounts and treasuries will empty or become worthless.

The only thing you can do to make a permanent difference is help souls get to heaven. That’s it. 

That’s all that matters.

You have 2 jobs: 1) Get to heaven, and 2) get as many souls there as you can.

Love to all,
+Megan

PS – Update on Notre Dame  in Paris:

1- The roof is gone, but the stone arch under the roof is still there.

2- 2 of the 3 rose windows are still in place

3- The main structure is still standing. Notre Dame did not burn down.

4- The relics and sacred objects are safe.

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Thank God you were called in the first place.

Today I want you to simply think back across the last week to a time where you were answering God’s call. Maybe you didn’t even know you were doing it at the time. 

Here’s a few hints as to when that occurred:

1. You choose grace over anger – You know those times where it would be really easy to get upset, (like when they mess up your order at a restaurant, or your child spills their milk across the dinner table) and instead you smiled and extended grace. That feeling of peace and joy? That’s the result of you saying “yes” to God’s call to grace.

That inner experience of peace, joy and energy is Hint #1.

2. You received a sacrament  – Perhaps last week was a rough one and all you were able to eek out was Sunday Mass. That’s a great place to start. You were in the physical Presence of Jesus Christ – Body, Blood Soul and Divinity!  How awesome is that?!

3. You were an example – It’s starting to warm up here, and preparing my garden for plants (which won’t be ready to go in the ground for another 6 weeks) is a large, looming task. This weekend I did a lot of hard work without complaint because I want my daughters to see the joy gardening can bring. No amount of talking or handing over a book to read can replace the examples I set for them.

What examples have you laid out for those around you (including strangers) that “show off” the beauty of your faith? Even something as small as  picking up a piece of litter in the parking lot counts.

****

Sometimes we hear God’s call and don’t respond, sometimes we act on His call without even knowing we’ve been spoken to.  Take just a minute to recognize where you have answered His call this last week, and offer a prayer of gratitude for being called in the first place.

Love to all,
+Megan

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Do you need a little spiritual nudge? Has there been something on your mind that you haven’t had a nice long conversation with God about?

It’s none of my business, I don’t want to know your answer, but I felt compelled to ask.

This week, when the Spirit moves you, stretch your spiritual muscles a bit. 

I have a little booklet you might find some guidance or comfort in. It’s meant to help you  “tune one’s inner attention to the presence of the Lord.” You can find it here.

Love and prayers,
+Megan

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Where’s the FIRE!?

Maybe it’s because we’re setting record low temperatures this week, maybe it’s because our water heater died last night, but I am compelled to talk about lukewarm faith today.

Because then I get to talk about fire (and I’m really cold right now).

I was recently going through a marketing exercise, and asked what the villain is that our company fights against. Obviously Satan is the easy answer. 

But when I dug down to it, what really gets me fired up, is fighting against Spiritual Apathy, aka Lukewarm Faith.

I remember when I first found the term “Lukewarm Faith” when I was praying my first Divine Mercy novena. There’s an entire day dedicated to praying for those suffering from lukewarm faith.

(…and I say “suffering”, but many people don’t know that they are suffering when they’re lukewarm. It’s a paradox.)

It struck me so much because that was me. That IS me. I battle lukewarmness cyclically. 

I am drawn to Catherine of Siena’s famous quote “Be who God Meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Every time I find myself circling the drain of inspiration (Inspire = “In Spirit”) , I start looking around at how I’m using the gifts God gave me, and it becomes pretty obvious that I’m not using my  God-given talents, and instead trying to be/get/accomplish something that is outside what God has planned for me.

I have a few different remedies I turn to:

1) Brute Force – This is where I set aside a half hour in my day, bust out my rosary, and follow that with a conversation with God. Ending with 5-8 minutes of just listening. 

2) Seek Knowledge – The wealth of tradition and history of the Church ensures there are always books I haven’t read, whether about a saint I can relate with.

3) Confession – I’ll be hounding you about this all Lent 😉

4) Lectio Divina – Digesting a specific passage of the bible prayerfully.

What do you do when you find yourself getting spiritually lazy?

Love to all,
+Megan

Maybe it’s because we’re setting record low temperatures this week, maybe it’s because our water heater died last night, but I am compelled to talk about lukewarm faith today.

Because then I get to talk about fire (and I’m really cold right now).

I was recently going through a marketing exercise, and asked what the villain is that our company fights against. Obviously Satan is the easy answer. 

But when I dug down to it, what really gets me fired up, is fighting against Spiritual Apathy, aka Lukewarm Faith.

I remember when I first found the term “Lukewarm Faith” when I was praying my first Divine Mercy novena. There’s an entire day dedicated to praying for those suffering from lukewarm faith.

(…and I say “suffering”, but many people don’t know that they are suffering when they’re lukewarm. It’s a paradox.)

It struck me so much because that was me. That IS me. I battle lukewarmness cyclically. 

I am drawn to Catherine of Siena’s famous quote “Be who God Meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Every time I find myself circling the drain of inspiration (Inspire = “In Spirit”) , I start looking around at how I’m using the gifts God gave me, and it becomes pretty obvious that I’m not using my  God-given talents, and instead trying to be/get/accomplish something that is outside what God has planned for me.

I have a few different remedies I turn to:

1) Brute Force – This is where I set aside a half hour in my day, bust out my rosary, and follow that with a conversation with God. Ending with 5-8 minutes of just listening. 

2) Seek Knowledge – The wealth of tradition and history of the Church ensures there are always books I haven’t read, whether about a saint I can relate with.

3) Confession – I’ll be hounding you about this all Lent 😉

4) Lectio Divina – Digesting a specific passage of the bible prayerfully.

What do you do when you find yourself getting spiritually lazy?

Love to all,
+Megan

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The beauty of Advent.

We had an advent wreath for years that sat as a decoration on our dining room table, but we never lit the candles. Don’t let this happen to you!

Advent wreaths are meant to be used! And here’s how:

At the dinner table after you say grace is when the advent wreath is traditionally lit.

(Remember to have your advent wreath blessed by a priest or deacon.)

Each evening following, begin by praying over your food, praying the advent prayer, and then light the appropriate number of candles. (The candles stay lit until the meal is over).

Week One: 

Leader: O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come, That by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Week 2

Leader: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Week 3

Leader: O Lord, we beg Thee, incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Week 4

Leader: O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy Grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

So gather the family together and make the Advent Wreath part of your Christmas preparations. It will help you quiet your heart, regain peace amid all the festivities, and focus on the real meaning of the season.

Have a Blessed Day!
​+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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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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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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Guide to Planning a Traditional Catholic Wedding

An engagement and the planning of a wedding is an exciting time for all couples. This is also a time for couples to decide in what ways they want God and their Catholic faith to be present in the ceremony. This is the service that, for many couples, will set the tone of how their faith will be a part of their daily lives.

First and foremost, you need to determine if you are eligible to get married in the Catholic Church and, if you are, determine the next steps to take in planning your traditional Catholic wedding.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Before You Start: Are You Eligible?

Many Catholics find themselves wanting to include their faith in the ceremony that will begin the next chapter of their lives. After all, marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic faith and adhering to Catholic tradition can create a unique bond between a husband and a wife. However, before two people decide to be joined, not only legally but spiritually, they must meet some standard criteria.

While both people who are going to be married do not have to be specifically Catholic, they are required to be a baptized Christian. One partner, however, must be Catholic, and they both need to be free to marry. If you were or your partner was previously married, and then divorced, you are ineligible to be married in the Catholic Church. However, if either of you has been married and had the marriage annulled or your previous spouse has died, you can continue to move forward with your faithful marriage plans.


Alter at Catholic wedding ceremony

There are additional criteria when it comes to whom you are planning to marry. To be married in the Catholic Church, you and your partner must be of opposite genders. While this newer form of marriage of same sex couples is constitutionally legal, and members of the Catholic Church are condemned for acting in hatred toward homosexuals, homosexual marriage is not viewed as a sacramental marriage in the Church.

If you have a question about your ability to get married in the Catholic Church, ultimately it is best to consult your parish priest. He will have an excellent understanding of the criteria necessary for a sacramental marriage, and he will tell you what needs to happen if you and your partner do not meet these criteria.


Traditional Catholic Couple

So, You Are Eligible: What’s Next? The Engagement

Set up a time to meet with the priest who will perform the ceremony well in advance of the date you are planning for your wedding. There are many pre-marriage phases you must take before walking down the aisle, and you want to ensure you have plenty of time to complete those steps.


Couple completing pre-marital inventory

First, you and your partner must complete a pre-marital inventory. This is essentially a discussion with a facilitator to make sure you and your partner have talked about important issues that might arise during your marriage. You and your partner each answer the series of questions separately, and then you see whether your answers match up. Some examples of pre-marital inventory topics include parenting, lifestyle, finances, and the in-laws. A facilitator, who is likely to be the priest that is facilitating your wedding, will lead these questions.

You will need to complete some additional in-person marriage preparation steps to be able to be married in the Church. This includes meeting with the priest as a couple. This is a great way for him to get to know what your relationship is like, as well as make sure you are both there for the right reasons. It will also aid in making sure your wedding has a personal feel.


Pre-Marriage Requirements

Couples will also be required to attend a marriage preparation program, otherwise known as Pre-Cana. This can take shape in many different forms depending on your dioceses. Through this, couples will engage in thoughtful conversations about issues that might arise in their marriage, similar to the pre-marital inventory.

However, this is also a course that ensures couples go into more detail and discussion. These programs can take place online, in the form of a weekend retreat, in weekly classes, or in one daylong program. Additionally, it is suggested you complete a Natural Family Planning course. Consult your parish priest to determine what option is available to you and exact details about what is required during your marriage preparation program.

Finally, the priest will also need to see documents as part of your marriage assessment. In addition to your pre-marital inventory, you will need to provide the priest with a recent baptismal certificate. This certificate can be retrieved from the Church you were baptized in. You will also need to supply a form from the parish that states you and your partner are free to marry.

If you are intending to marry someone who is a baptized, non-Catholic Christian or a non-baptized person, or if you wish to marry in a venue that is not a Catholic church, you are required to complete a dispensation form. The local priest or Diocese who handles the paperwork will have this form. Most parishes take about a month, on average, to grant dispensation. Most routinely grant dispensation requests.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Choosing Your Wedding Date

While setting the date may seem like something only you and your partner should be concerned about, there are specific dates you will be unable to marry in the Church. It is best to know these dates ahead of time so you do not conflict with other church programs when trying to schedule your wedding date.


Calendar with date set for Catholic Wedding

There are certain Liturgical seasons discouraged for wedding ceremonies. These seasons are Lent, or the period that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter, and Advent, or the period that begins on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas and which ends on Christmas Eve. While weddings are not technically prohibited during this time, many parishes suggest you do not celebrate a wedding during a time that is for preparation and penance for an important Liturgical holiday.

Additionally, while certain days may not be off-limits for weddings according to the Church at large, there are days and times your parish may not allow weddings. It is imperative you double-check with your parish to make sure the date and time you want the church and priest for your wedding are available before you make other plans.

Finally, there are days during the Liturgical calendar that are not off limits for weddings; however, they are off limits for choosing your own readings. The days that require you to use specific readings are Sundays and Saturday evenings, as well as feast days. So, if you are set on specific readings for your wedding Mass, you will want to make sure you avoid these times.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Mass or No Mass?

While the traditional and preferred method for a marriage in the Catholic Church is performed during a celebration of the Eucharist, there are instances where couples may choose not to marry within the context of a traditional Mass. This decision is based on whether only one or both partners are Catholic.


Catholic Church alter with chalices

If you or your partner is not a Catholic, you must obtain your priest’s permission to have your wedding performed within the context of a Mass. However, since the non-Catholic partner would not be able to partake in communion, this is not generally encouraged.

If both you and your partner are Catholic, you can choose whether you would like to celebrate your wedding during Mass with the Eucharist or if you would rather have a Liturgy of the Word service. The Liturgy of the Word service is similar in style to the Mass; however, it does not include partaking of the Eucharist. While the Liturgy of the Word service is typically shorter than a full Mass, the inclusion of the Eucharist does not add significantly more time onto your service and can start your marriage on a special note. If you decide to include the Eucharist, you might want to think about how to address non-Catholic guests who may not partake of the Eucharist at your ceremony.

Consider having your priest make an announcement with an explanation or including a clarification in your program. It is ultimately up to you and your partner to determine which service is the best fit for your personality and ceremony.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Decorations and Photographers

When planning the decorations, it is best to consult your parish. However, there are some basic guidelines you can expect to follow. The general rule is you do not want your decorations to distract from the Mass or from the overall nature and structure of the church. In fact, you can use this to your advantage by heightening the natural beauty of the worship space with simple decorations while still maintaining the celebratory effect. This will enable you to cut costs on wedding decorations without sacrificing a beautifully decorated wedding space.


Madonna and Child Statue

Another thing to consider when planning decorations is what your flower girl and guests will be tossing. Consult your parish to find specific guidelines. Many parishes disallow flower girls to toss flower petals or for guests to throw rice when you and your partner leave the ceremony due to the difficult cleanup. If your parish adheres to these rules, there are other options to keep your exit festive. For instance, try giving your guests strands of ribbon to wave or sparklers to hold as you and your new spouse make your entrance into the world as husband and wife.

Many couples want to capture their special day with pictures or videos. Photographers and videographers are typically allowed in the Mass; however, they must adhere to some general guidelines. They must not disrupt the Mass, get in the way of your guests, or enter the sanctuary space. If they follow these rules, you will still have beautiful documentation of your ceremony without ruining the special significance of the service.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Music and Musicians

Most churches do not require you to use a specific band or set of music. This gives you the freedom to choose a musician with whom you have a close relationship or one who fits your style and budget.


Dancing legs at Catholic Wedding

However, there are guidelines to the type of music you can play during your ceremony. Since the songs you pick will be sung during a Catholic service, they must maintain a religious nature and honor the Lord. It is also typically recommended you choose some songs that can be sung by the musicians, as well as you and your guests, as an act of praise and prayer. Many parishes require you to send in your music choices to be approved for a liturgical service.


Traditional Catholic Couple

Catholic bride and groom dancing

Final Thoughts

While planning a traditional Catholic wedding may seem tedious and like it would be significantly more time-consuming than planning a secular wedding, a Catholic wedding has its major advantages. It is important for Catholic couples to understand that a wedding is not only about the one day your ceremony takes place but about setting you up for a committed relationship with your life partner. When couples take this into account, the strict pre-marital actions and longer service are worth the investment of time.

The Church does not make couples participate in Pre-Cana because it can but, rather, it is intended to make sure a couple is better prepared to withstand the difficult times that come along with the joys of marriage. Couples can consider this a type of pre-marriage counseling which will strengthen their relationship in a time that is often stressful for an engaged couple.


Priest consecrating the Eucharist

Including the Eucharist and the liturgy in your ceremony sets the precedent for your marital relationship being centered on Christ. This will make it much more natural for you and your spouse to continue reinforcing your relationship with each other and with the Lord through weekly Mass attendance.

Similarly, it will likely increase your drive to raise your children in the Church, which will enable you to strengthen your family and set your children up for a positive, faith-filled life. Remember, when in doubt about anything concerning planning, your parish priest is your best resource.

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