Assumption of the Blessed Mother

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother and it is a beautiful and important feast in our liturgical calendar. It is also a relatively new solemnity in that the Assumption of Mary was declared a dogma of the Church in 1950.

Assumption of Mary

Image by Peter Paul Rubens (1626) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

What is the Assumption of Mary?

The Assumption of Mary is the event in which God to Mary to heaven – body and soul. When you and I die, our soul will go to heaven, purgatory or hell and our bodies will decay as it waits for the final Resurrection at the end of times. Mary, however, didn’t have to wait. Right now, Mary is in heaven with her soul and body already united.

Some theologians and thinkers believe that Mary was given the grace of not having to die and was assumed into heaven without dying first. Others believe that Mary did die, in imitation of Christ who died for us, but was assumed into heaven shortly after her death. Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter whether you believe Mary died before she was assumed or not. We are required to believe that Mary was, in fact, brought to heaven with her body and soul, not how it happened.

The Assumption is NOT the Ascension.

Many people get the Assumption of Mary and the Ascension of Jesus confused. That’s completely  understandable given that both feasts celebrate Jesus and Mary’s “entrance” into heaven body and soul. Here is the difference: In the Ascension of Jesus, 40 days after His Resurrection, Jesus ascends back to heaven through HIS OWN POWER. You can read about Jesus’ ascension at the end of the gospels in the bible. In the assumption, Mary is taken to heaven by POWER of GOD. Mary did NOT take herself to heaven, nor was she capable of doing so. The assumption is a gift and a grace of God that was granted to Mary.

Why was Mary Assumed into Heaven? 

During her life, Mary had a unique share in the suffering and death of Jesus. She carried him in her womb, she raised Him, and she followed Him in the most perfect way. Therefore, it seems fitting that she gets to have a unique share of His glory. 🙂

The significance of the Assumption.

This solemnity of the Assumption should give us great joy and hope. Mary is in heaven, in her glorified body just like we will be when the time comes. Thus, her Assumption is a peek of our future destiny. When we die, we know that our souls are separated from our bodies. But, this is temporary. When Jesus returns at the second coming, our souls and bodies will be reunited again in our own glorified bodies.

The Assumption reminds us that our life on earth isn’t all there is; we have a destiny. Jesus is our destiny. Heaven is real and it is our destiny. We live in hope that we will be with the Blessed Trinity, all the Saints and Angels in heaven, FOREVER. How awesome is that?!

How can we celebrate this special Solemnity?

1. The first thing you should do is go to Mass. As a matter of fact, the feast of the Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation, so technically you “have” to go. Of course, we don’t celebrate the Eucharist just because we have to, right? We go to Mass because we want to. 😉

2. Pray the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The glorious mysteries include the Assumption of Mary. “Bonus points” if you pray as a family!

3. In times past, most parishes would have a procession in Our Lady’s honor on this day. It’s not that common anymore, however, your (or a  nearby) parish is doing a procession, consider participating in it. If there aren’t any local processions available, you can put do a small procession for yourself and your family.

4. If you have time, you can do some crafts with your kids like this one at crafolic.com or this one at catholicmom.com.

5. You can also make an Assumption themed meal or treat like I found here and here (scroll down to the Assumption) on catholiccuisine.com.

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure with a little thought you will be able to come up with your own way of honoring Our Lady. May your day be blessed!

Resources to deepen your understanding  of this great Solemnity:

New Advent

About.com

AssumptionMary.com

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Tomorrow (August 6) is the feast of the Transfiguration our Lord. In reading the mass readings for today, these verses particularly stand out:

Transfiguration of Our Lord

Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

Therefore, I am going to pray for the grace to be able to hear the voice of Jesus. I am praying for the grace to not let the many cares of daily life from getting in the way of listening to His voice and paying attention to Him. I don’t know about you, but I can easily get into the habit of letting the craziness of life take over me and I don’t take the time for prayer and spending time with God. How about you? Am I alone in this?

That’s why I need the grace to make time for prayer and reading His Word. In essence, am praying for a deepening of my relationship with the Lord.

I am also praying for this grace for each of you, as well. I pray that you have a deepening of your relationship with Jesus and that you grow ever closer to Him with each new day. May all our minds and hearts be transfigured unto Jesus.

How about you? What is your prayer for this beautiful feast?

The Lord is My Rock

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Whew. This has been a challenging summer so far. I was sick with bronchitis most of June, and recently my husband came home from the hospital recovering from pneumonia. Then there as been some financial challenges and other challenges.

The Lord is my Rock

Image by Simon (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

I feel like the Lord is sending me test after test after test. And, I don’t think I am alone. Someone shared with me that she sometimes doubts if God is watching over her when she feels like the world is falling apart around her.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wonder if God is letting you flounder your way through life? It can be frustrating so frustrating.

What is helping me is constantly reminding myself that God does have a plan and a purpose for my life, even when I can’t see what that is. I also try to hold fast to the promise in the above scripture quote. God is my rock. God is my fortress. God is my deliverer. I just have to remember that God’s timing isn’t my timing and I need to remember to trust.

Have you ever heard of putting your name into bible verses? It sometimes gives a new perspective and a reminder that God is a personal God who is look out for each one of us as if we were the only person on earth.

For example:

The LORD is Carol’s rock and Carol’s fortress and Carol’s deliverer, Carol’s God, Carol’s rock, in whom Carol takes refuge; Carol’s shield and the horn of Carol’s salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Now it is your turn. Replace my name with yours. Know that no matter what you are suffering or dealing with God is with you. He loves you and He will bless you in His own unique way.

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Saints Joachim and Anne

Today is the feast of saints Joachim and Anne who are considered to be the parents of Mary, the Blessed Mother.

Saints Joachim and Anne

Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Their Lives

Their names are not mentioned in the bible. In fact, they aren’t mentioned in the bible at all. They are mentioned in certain apocryphal writings, most notably, “The First Gospel of James.” These writings, obviously, do not have the authority of the bible by any stretch of the imagination; however, they do give a sketch of their lives.

So, tradition holds that that Joachim and Anne suffered years of infertility. This was a source of shame for them because at that time, having children was a blessing from God. Still, in their shame, they continued to be faithful to God and His promises and called out to Him in prayer.

Eventually, Anne had the good blessing of having a vision of an angel who announced that she will have a child that will be blessed for generations to come! At the birth of Mary, their joy knew no bounds! Therefore, in gratitude to God, they consecrated Mary to God and she was raised in the temple. (This was normal at that time.)

The Lesson

Whether or not the traditional accounts are real or  not, we can learn some lessons from Saints Joachim and Anne. One that stick out for me, in their sorrow and shame in not being able to have children, they remained faithful to God. They didn’t hide from their pain, instead, they took it to God.

Mind you, they felt the sorrow and shame. The feelings were real. Feelings are not sinful; they are neutral. It is what we do with those feelings that count. Many of us, myself included, tend to suppress our “bad” feelings or use those feelings as an excuse to turn away from God. We (I) forget that God isn’t afraid of our feelings. It is okay to cry out to God, to yell at Him, to be mad at him when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped, expected, or wanted.

How about you? Do you agree with this assessment of our feelings? Do you turn away from God when you get angry or disappointed?

References

Here are some websites about Saints Joachim and Anne:

Catholic News Agency

Catholic.org

Britannica

How to Pray the Angelus (The Angel of the Lord)

Are you familiar with the Angelus? Traditionally, Catholics pray the Angelus three times a day: 6am, 12pm, 6pm. Some Catholics pray the prayer just at noon, which is great too.

How to Pray the Angelus

Image by karigamb08 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

This prayer is so beautiful and would make a great personal novena. If you are looking to sneak in some prayer into your busy schedule, this would be a great prayer to start with.

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace…

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary, full of grace . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary, full of grace . . . 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen. 

Precious Blood of Christ

Yikes! Before July hit, I remembered that this devotion was coming up. Then, July started, and continued, and I just remembered yesterday – nearly halfway through the month – that it is the month of the Precious Blood of Jesus. :/

Precious Blood of Christ

Image by seostar (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

It is such a lovely devotion and it is not too late to participate. Here is my original post about the devotion that offers a little history and some suggestions in honoring Our Lord’s suffering.

“The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive”

“The glory of God is in man fully alive.”  — St. Irenaeus

That quote is from Saint Irenaeus whose obligatory memorial we celebrate today. It is a powerful reminder of what God wants for you.

God wants us (YOU) to be “fully alive!” He doesn’t want you to just get by or to live a reactive life. He wants you to live a life of joy, peace, and confidence. When you live a fulfilling, faith-filled, and joyful life, you give God glory! That doesn’t mean a life without difficulties or challenges, but it does mean that God is with us no matter what.

"The Glory of God is in Man Fully Alive"

Unfortunately, sin exists and robs us of living a life that is fully alive. When we sin or live a life of sin we rob ourselves of God and we rob God the opportunity to shower His grace on us.

Some people thing that the 10 Commandments and the precepts of the Church cramp their style or that they are “good people” so the rules that don’t apply to them. That is completely not true. God gives us the commandments and the precepts of the Church so that we can live in true freedom – not the “I can do whatever I want” kind of false freedom.

But guess what, God loves us so much that when we do sin, we can make things right with Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession the gift where we can confess our sins, receive forgiveness and grace and begin to life a life that is fully alive once more! You don’t have to wait for Advent or Lent to go to Confession either. You can receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on any given Saturday (or by appointment).

I encourage you, if it has been a while since you have been to Confession (or have recently committed a mortal sin), to get to Confession. I promise you, you won’t regret it. 🙂

************

P.S. If you are looking to live a fuller, more intentional life, and can use some accountability, let’s chat to see how I can help you.

We are Half Way Through the Year. How is it going?

Can you believe that we are half way through 2017? I can’t believe it is June 1st already! It is crazy how time is flying by so fast. I think it is a good time to take a look at how things are going and revamp some things.

It is funny how everyone makes goals and plans in January just to abandon them a couple (or few) months later. But, the thing is, every day is a chance for a new beginning – and so is every month or quarter. So let me encourage you: If you have made plans or goals in January that haven’t planned out, take a little time to create new ones or to tweak the old ones. Don’t be discouraged and think that it is all down the drain. It’s not. God gives us the gift of each new day and new chances to start over. He is so good!

Every Day is a New Beginning

For me, this year is definitely not panning out like I had planned at all. In some ways, I feel really behind, but in other ways, I feel like I am growing and evolving, which is a good thing!

My word for 2017 is courage. I thought that meant doing certain things for growing my business but it has turned out to be more personal. It was a tough school year for my son, especially academically, and we had to navigate and adjust to the challenge. It wasn’t easy but we got through it! On top of that, Andrew had a lot of activities and events – as well as other events in our family – which forced me out of my introverted self and into the world a lot of the time. I am learning that challenge (and change) can be a good thing.

Business wise, it has been interesting too. I haven’t spent much time on my writing website like I had expected, but at the same time, I have been growing and changing Simple Catholic Living in ways I didn’t expect. For starters, I joined a coaching mentoring program and I am now beginning to offer personal life coaching! This is definitely out of my comfort zone but also something that has been in my heart for a long time. It is my greatest desire to help women live purposeful and enriching lives (however that looks like for each person) and I think coaching will be a wonderful catalyst for that.

I’ve also created a Catholic Encouragement and Accountability Group on Facebook! It is free, of course, and I hope for the group that it becomes an active and safe group for like-minded Catholic women to support each other in our faith and lives. Now, I have to confess, that I have been absent from the group the last few weeks because I was away twice, finishing up Andrew’s homeschooling, and torn in many different directions. However, now that things are calming down, I plan to do Facebook live videos, challenges, themes, and more. Soooo, do consider joining the group and participating in the fun!

Therefore, even though I didn’t get the writing or publishing done that I thought would have been completed by now, I am giving myself grace. I am doing my best to let God lead and direct me, even when it means my plans go out the window. 😉

Now it is your turn. I would love to hear from you. Is 2017 shaping up the way you expect? Is it better than you expected or have you been thrown a curve ball or two? How will you tweak the rest of the year to make it what you want it to be?

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Memorial Day

I want to thank all our troops (and their families!) who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. During your festivities, please take a moment to say a prayer for them. Don’t forget those who are still mission in action or prisoners of war. May God’s mercy be on them all.

Happy Memorial Day

Should Your Teen Watch “13 Reasons Why?”

13 Reason Why is a Netflix T.V. series based on the book by Jay Asher. It is about a teenager who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of tapes explaining  why she made the decision to end her life.

Should Your Teen Watch "13 Reasons Why?"

Talk about this series has been going on all over the place, online and offline. There has also been some questioning and debate as to whether it is appropriate for teens, and if so, how young is too young?

In full disclosure, I have not personally watched the show, nor do I plan to watch it. It is not the subject matter, per se, that is the problem; it is the graphic nature of the show that keeps me away. Still, I think I have read enough and talked to enough people to lay out some pros and cons so that you can come to you own conclusion as to whether the show is appropriate for your teen or not.

PROS

1. It Explores  Important Topics

Over the last few months, I have been hearing about suicide more and more. It feels like it is becoming an epidemic of sorts. In fact, I recently heard of an eight year old who took his own young life because of bullying. This is heartbreaking. It needs to be discussed and the underlying reasons behind the suicides needs to be addressed. People must learn the warning signs and get those in danger some help!

Each week of this series is centered on one tape and one reason why the young girl decided to kill herself. And in doing so, it touches on other important topics such as bullying, rape, etc. These are things that must be talked about and we must help our young people find ways to deal with them in healthy ways.

2. The Characters?

Truth be told, I had a hard time coming up with another positive, other than the fact that it covers important topics. I decided to add the characters as a “pro” because several people have told me that they found the characters to be relatable, if not stereotypical. Other people have told me that the characters are too stereotypical and not really relatable at all. Go figure. I guess you will have to make up your own mind with this one. 🙂

CONS

1. There is no mention of God

Yes, this world has become so very secularized that God is taken out of almost every area of life, especially T.V. Thus, it is no surprise that it is the same here. I mention it here, though, because faith (or lack thereof) colors a person’s perspective and that is particularly true for people who contemplate suicide.

Life with faith is still difficult but a life without faith is near impossible. God doesn’t promise a perfect, easy life, but He does promise us heaven. And He does promise us a life where He is with us every step of the way. When a person of faith faces difficulties, hopefully he or she can lean on God and get the help to work through those problems.

Therefore, when a person doesn’t have faith, they don’t have that layer of support. They don’t always know who to turn to for help because they feel alone. I know for myself, before I turned to the Lord, when things were hard, life became very, very dark. I turned in on myself and there were times when suicide was an attractive choice. (I do thank God I didn’t make that choice!)  For a person without faith, every little thing can get compounded in the mind and internalized by the person.

I get the sense, from people I’ve talked to, that this is similar to the girl in the show. Even when she went for help she felt misunderstood and there is  no faith baseline to guide the girl.

2. It is Very (Too) Graphic

It shows everything. Many adults that I talked to had to turn their heads during the rape scene and the suicide scene in particular because they were just too “in your face.” One woman I talked to said she wasn’t sure if she was going to watch the last episode or not because she didn’t want to watch the suicide scene.

3. It is one-dimensional.

A couple of moms that I talked to mentioned that, although the show covers important topics, it is superficial. It doesn’t go in depth, especially in regards to the girl who killed herself. One mom in particular said that there is no discussion about the girl’s mental state or any kind of mental illness that came into play in regards to her decision. Apparently, this is also an issue with several mental illness and suicide prevention groups.

My Recommendations

1. Watch the Program Yourself First

Only you can decide whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the nature of this show (or the book). If you do decide to let your teen watch the show, feel free to fast forward during the graphic scenes or skip specific episodes altogether.

2. Watch the Program WITH Your Teen

Even if you think your teen can handle the show without you, please watch it with her. They may have questions, or they may not be able to handle some of the situations as much as you may think.

3. Talk about each episode

Don’t just watch the show and leave it at that. Ask questions. Go deep. Even if your teen is hesitant, don’t shy away from discussing what is going on and why they are going on. Talk about the characters’ reactions to various events. Talk about the mindset of the individuals, especially the young girl who committed the suicide.

One other note: be prepared to let your teen react the way she/he reacts. Your teen may open up and share things that may surprise or shock you. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and allow him to work/speak through you to your teen. Who knows, maybe this series – and the discussions that flow from it – may wind up being a time of growth for you and your teen (and strengthen your relationship with each other)!

Have you watched the series? What do you think about it? Have you let your teen watch the show? Why or why not? Please share in the comments. I am truly interested in other’s opinion about this series. More importantly, I am very interesting in learning how this series may (or may not) help our young people sort out the complicated issue of suicide.

P.S. For the record, my son is 12 so I won’t be letting him watch the show. Of course, that probably doesn’t surprise you. If I’m not going to watch it myself, I am not going to let him watch it. {smile}