Back to Basics: How to Pray

(Happy St. Joseph’s Day!)

“How do I pray,” is a loaded question. Prayer means different things to different people, and God knows there are tons of books about prayer. Even Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.

Back to Basics: How to pray

So, if you really want to learn how to pray, ask Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray! He will teach us to pray, if we keep asking and by showing our readiness by actually taking the time to pray.

Here are three ideas on how to pray to get you started:

1. Liturgical Prayer

The Mass is foremost and central to our Catholic faith. It is so important Mother Church made going to church every Sunday (and special holy days) an obligation. This isn’t to make us feel like “we have to go” to Mass. Mass is the ultimate prayer! It brings us to the Cross, and through the Mass, we sacramentally receive the very body and blood of Jesus. If you want to learn how to pray, take your clue from the Mass and the other sacraments.

2. Devotionals or Prayer books

If you are struggling the pray, going through a dry spell, or just can’t find the words, use a devotional or prayer-book. There are A LOT of them out there, any of which are scripture based. There are many that are written by the saints. Really, there are so many kinds of devotionals out there that one is bound to resonate with you. And, don’t forget the Bible! Praying the scriptures is a wonderful way to pray and I will be devoting a whole post (FB Live) dedicated to Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures.

If you don’t want to use a book, you can pray other traditional prayers such as the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or Hail Holy Queen.

3. Use a Formula

There really isn’t a formula, per se for prayer but you may have heard of the acronym ACTS. ACTS stands for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. If you look at the Our Father, the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, it has elements of these in the prayer. (For the interest of time and space, I will leave it to you to pray through the Our Father Yourself and pick out the elements).

This acronym gives a balanced way for praying. Do you notice that adoration, contrition, and thanksgiving come BEFORE supplication? So often, the majority of our prayer consists of asking for things – things for ourselves and things for other people. But, that should be last.

The majority of our prayer should consist of adoring God and praising Him, showing sorrow for our sins and the sins of others, and thanking Him for all the blessings and graces He showers upon us daily. Only then should we petition Him for our needs.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! Today (Monday), I will expound some more on today’s topic of how to pray and sharing a couple more ways to pray. Be there!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Going Back to the Basics: What is Prayer?

What is prayer? Why is it important?

Back to Basics What is Prayer

If you are new to being a Christian, or more specifically, new to being a Catholic Christian, these are important questions.

If you are long-time Catholic Christian, they are equally important questions!

Prayer is the absolute foundation of the Christian life. It is how we encounter God and allow him to enter into our life.

Therefore, as we are now in the 3rd week of Lent, we are going to start focusing on prayer: the what, the why, the how and when, and even the where.

Today, in my weekly Go Live (in my Catholic Prayer and Encouragement Group) I am going to focus on defining prayer and reminding us on why prayer is important. So join me in the group this morning about 10:35 am EST.

 

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

St. Valentine, Priest and Martyr

Today, many people will be getting or giving candy and flowers and planning delicious meals (or going out to dinner) because of SAINT Valentine’s day. That’s right. Most people have taken off the “saint” part of St. Valentine’s day, and it has been hijacked as a “Hallmark holiday;” however, today is the feast of a priest who was martyred for his faith. Actually, it is believed that St. Valentine’s day commemorates several martyrs.

St Valentine

Image by David Teniers III (1600) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

We don’t know much about the St. Valentine that we celebrate today. We know that he was a priest in Rome who often gave comfort and support to those suffering persecution from Claudius II. He was arrested and sent to the emperor of Rome. Then, when he refused to renounce his faith, St. Valentine was beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14, 270 (or thereabouts).

However, there are other speculations about Saint Valentine. According to Wikipedia, the origins of St. Valentine are not confirmed and that there may have been many saints martyred on February 14:

“Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several (14 in all [2]) martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name “Valentine”, derived from the word valens (worthy, strong, powerful), was popular in Late Antiquity.[3] Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried on the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14, he was born on April 16. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969.[4] But “Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome” remains in the list of saints proposed for veneration by all Catholics.[5]”

Catholic Online gives us the origins of the celebration of “St. Valentine’s Day”

“Historian Jack Oruch has made the case that the traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day”, documented in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, had no such tradition before Chaucer.[18] He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints (illustration above), Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here yet that the bishop was a patron of lovers.[19]”

Interesting isn’t it?  I encourage you to read more about St. Valentine and St. Valentine’s day over at Catholic Online. You’ll notice that none of it has to do with the secular celebration of romance and candy and flowers. etc. (Not that I’m opposed to candy or flowers, or romance, of course!)

BUT, it does have everything to do with real agape love – love of neighbor and love of God, even to the point of martyrdom!

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Tweetable: SAINT Valentine, Bishop & Martyr

Time For a Little Humor!

Okay, enough with the heavy for a bit. The level of craziness in this world is reaching to an all-high-time high and the stress for many is unbearable – especially since the election.

Image by geralt (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by geralt (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Therefore, I thought I would share a little clean and pure humor. It is a joke I have heard before and it gives me a giggle every time I read it. Then, as I was poking around, I found it again on Fisheaters.com:

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: “Take only ONE. God is watching.”

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.

Out of the mouth of babes! I love this and it reminds me of someone I used to know who told me that she hopes that heaven is one big, eternal, never-ending supply of chocolate! I like chocolate, for sure, but not that much!

Take some time to smile and laugh today! The future may be unsure but the power and sovereignty of God is not!

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Tweetable: Time for a Little Humor!

Prayer for the Deceased

Yes, today is Halloween but it was originally celebrated as “All Hallow’s Eve.” All Hallow’s Eve was (is) the day before All Saint’s Day which is the day we remember all the “unsung Saints” who are now in Heaven.

Something not so mentioned (or popular) nowadays is All Soul’s Day. It is a day that we pray in a special way for the souls in Purgatory. The official day All Soul’s Day is November 2 but we can (and should) pray anytime for those dear souls. So, let us do so today:

Image by LoveToTakePhotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by LoveToTakePhotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Receive in tranquility and peace, O Lord, the souls of your servants who have departed this present life to come to you. Grant them rest and place them in the habitations of light, the abodes of blessed spirits. Give them the life that will not age, good things that will not pass away, delights that have no end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”St. Ignatius of Antioch

May all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace!

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Tweetable: Prayer for the Deceased

Hat tip to MyCatholicSource.com which is where I found this prayer.

31 Days Writing Challenge

31 Days of Prayer – Saint Jude

Yesterday was the feast day of saints Simon and Jude. I was going to offer a prayer to Saint Jude yesterday; however, being Friday, it made more sense to do the Prayer Before A Crucifix. Thus, today we are going to pray to Saint Jude now. 🙂

 31 Days of Prayer - Saint Jude


Image by LoveToTakePhotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Saint Jude is one of the Apostles and the patron saint of “hopeless causes.” We can go to him in our deepest needs and he will intercede on our behalf!

Here is a touching prayer to Saint Jude that I found on Catholic Online:

St. Jude, glorious Apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many, but the true Church invokes you universally as the Patron of things despaired of; pray for me, that finally I may receive the consolations and the succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request), and that I may bless God with the Elect throughout Eternity. Amen.”

Saint Jude, pray for us!

(And, let’s not forget Saint Simon. Saint Simon, pray for us!)

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Tweetable: 31 Days of Prayer – Saint Jude

31 Days Writing Challenge

Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

(repost)

Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

I will never forget watching an episode of Women of Grace  on EWTN a while back where the guest speaker said that only 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This statistic shocked me. Belief in the Real Presence is a central and essential doctrine of our Catholic faith. Truly, the Real Presence is part of the foundation of our Catholic faith. In fact, it is a non-negotiable article of faith; to be Catholic one must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However, the doctrine of the Eucharist remains a source of confusion and misunderstanding among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

There are many passages in the Bible that deal with the Eucharist. Most of us are aware of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30 and in all the gospels) and the “Bread of Life” discourse (John 6:22-69). The Catechism of the Catholic Church has whole sections that deal with the Eucharist (See Part 2, Section 2). Additionally, the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been spoken about by many saints. I highly recommend that you take a look at these references for yourself and pray about them. For now, I just want to do is give you, in a nutshell, is what it means to believe in the Real Presence:

Believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist means that at the consecration at Mass the bread and wine is transformed into the very real body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Although the physical appearance of the bread and wine do not change, they are no longer bread and wine but Jesus Himself.

This is hard for many people to accept. That is why so many walked away from Jesus (see John 6:66-67) when He said those words and why many are still walking away from Him in our own time. How is it possible that Jesus can be contained in the Eucharist? How can this happen? Those are valid questions. However, it is a sublime mystery and we trust Jesus at His word. The mystery of the Eucharist is a miracle. It is a gift from God Himself out of love for us. With God, all things are possible – including Jesus making Himself present in the Eucharist!

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Tweetables:

Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

What  Catholics believe about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

Why do Catholics Worship Mary?

(I have had a few emails and questions about Mary and the rosary recently; thus, I am reposting this series.)

Mary

photo credit: Qfamily via photopin cc

May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, so I thought it would be good to talk about our Catholic devotion to her. A lot of non-Catholics, and sadly some Catholics, believe that Catholics worship Mary and that is simply not true.

Catholics HONOR Mary as the mother of Jesus. They DO NOT worship Mary. If they do, they are completely wrong and mislead. Worship belongs to God and God alone.

According to dictionary.com, to honor someone is to show “high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank: to be held in honor” and to worship someone means  “reverent honor and homage paid” or “the object of adoring reverence or regard.”  See the difference? We give our worship to God but we honor Mary as the mother of Jesus.

You see, Mary is who she is BECAUSE of who Jesus is. She was given signal graces because she was chosen to be the mother of GOD. That is why we honor her and love her.

You can also think about it this way: usually, especially those of us who have a good relationship with our mothers, of course we would want others to respect our mothers. How much more would Jesus? Of course he would expect us to honor her and respect her, and so we Catholics do.

Our devotion to Mary is centered on Jesus, and ALL true devotion to Mary leads to Jesus – ALWAYS. If not, then there is something wrong with the devotion. 🙂  Speaking of devotions, if are looking for devotions to honor Mary this month, here are 7 Ways to Honor Mary.

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Have a question about the Catholic faith or confused about some Catholic doctrine or devotion? Contact me and I will do my best to answer your question in a future post. You can email me at carol (at ) simplecatholicliving (dot) com or use my contact page.

photo credit: Qfamily via photopin cc

My Head is Spinning!

Please excuse the mind dump here but it has been a strange week and this is me keeping it real! I feel like I have done a 40 days worth of Lent in just 5-6 days. LOL!

My head is spinning!

Image by DWilliams (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

If you are an email subscriber and opened the email for your private password for the month, you know that my computer crashed on Monday. I don’t know how it happened because I am very careful and have a very powerful anti-virus software. But it did. I think if I didn’t have the software it would have been worse but I it was bad enough! I wound up having to do a complete system restore to bring the computer back to its factory default. 🙁

It literally took all week because I had to do all the Windows updates from the last six years which was 260+ (and those didn’t even include the optional updates!). While updating, there were other problems because it was causing a drain on the computer’s RAM. And truthfully, I haven’t technically finished because I still have to reinstall my printers and some software problems.

On top of this, my poor husband’s work truck (18 wheeler) broke down in California. Not just once, however. Oh, no. It broke down THREE times! And the third time it broke down my husband was on one of the LA airport runways! To make it worse, while waiting for the truck to be prepared he feel and had to go to the hospital. It turned out that he “broke” his back. He chipped his tailbone but there is nothing they could do about it but give him some non-drowsy pain meds (so he can drive) and some other meds for sleeping. I just can’t wait for him to get home!

But, the BIGGEST reason my head is spinning is for a good thing! This weekend was the Catholic Writer’s Guild’s annual writer’s conference and I am SO GRATEFUL to God that my computer was fixed in time (mostly)! The conference went from Friday, 8:30am-10:30 pm; Saturday, 8:30am-10:30pm, and Sunday 12 noon-10:30pm! Each session was about an hour long with a half-hour buffer between. Basically, I sat glued to the computer for three days. 🙂

I absorbed A LOT of information and I have a lot to process. The conference covered everything from time management to social media to book cover design to literary revolution! I hope to share some takeaways soon after I’ve had time to go over my notes and make some order out of them.

Anyway, please say a prayer that Michael feels better soon! Thanks and God bless. 🙂