For God So Loved The World…

As we head into the Sacred Tridium tomorrow, I want to encourage you to take some time (even just a few minutes) to reflect on God’s love for you.

For God So Loved the World

It is a powerful thing to realize the deep love that God has for us – for you – and not just in your head but with your heart. GOD LOVES YOU with an infinite love. A love that surpasses all understanding. Jesus suffered horribly and died on the cross for YOU. He wanted so much for you to be with Him, in the Blessed Trinity, for all eternity, that He was willing to do anything to make that happen.

And guess what? It doesn’t stop at the Crucifixion. Jesus rose and has forever conquered death and hell! He did all this for YOU. He wants YOU to have an abundant life! He doesn’t promise that it will always be easy but He will always be with YOU.

May you and your family have a truly grace-filled and blessed Sacred Tridium and Easter!

5 Ideas for Advent

CanΒ  you believe that Advent begins on Sunday, November 27?? That is only 2 1/2 weeks away! That’s not a lot of time to think about how you want prepare spiritually for Christmas.

In the past, I would get so caught up with the material preparations of Christmas that I would get overwhelmed and lose focus on the the meaning of Christmas. I would get stressed, lose sleep, and generally just wish that the whole season would be done and over. (Sound familiar?)

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

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

Then, a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to take stock and make some decisions to help me focus on the purpose of Advent which, of course, is to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The changes made a huge difference for me and so I will follow the same plan.

Now, for me, preparing for Advent (or Lent) isn’t necessarily about adding more things to my schedule. It is about making the most of my current schedule…So here are the 5 things I plan to do this year:

I. Take Care of Most of the Material things early.

Yes, I am one of those ober-organized people who like to do things in advance. πŸ™‚ For Instance, I already have my shopping list and my card list written. I also hope to have my cards ready to send out by the time Advent starts and some of the gifts purchased. If all goes well, I should be done with all my Christmas shopping before the second week of Advent!

As for baking, I plan to do some baking early and freeze it all. Most baking goods, especially cookies, freeze really well. However, for some items, I will have to wait to last-minute so they are baked fresh. πŸ™‚

II. Go to Daily Mass Twice a Week.

In the past, I would commit to go to daily mass and fail every year. It just isn’t realistic for this time in my life. Therefore, for this year, I am going to commit to going to daily Mass twice a week. That is definitely doable.

III. Fast Twice a Week.

Fasting isn’t just for Lent! Technically, Advent is a penitential season and this was especially true pre-Vatican II. In fact, the Church still encourages us to fast regularly all throughout the year even though it is not an official precept of the Church.

There are many benefits of fasting and I have wanted to get into this practice for a while. Therefore, I figure Advent would be a great time to finally get started. I will be fasting Wednesdays and Fridays.

IV. Use an Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe.

Of course, the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe are perfect activities to do with children. I will do the Advent Calendar with Andrew each morning and light the Advent Wreathe candle during each meal as a family.

V. Journal.

If you know me, you know writing is in my blood and I journal regularly. In fact, that is one of the reasons I started creating journals in the first place. It may sound crazy but having my own little space to write out my thoughts, dreams, and struggles is important to my spiritual welfare. Writing is my preferred way of communication and it is how I best “talk” to God. Can you relate or is it just me?!

Last year, I created an Advent journal but it was too late to actually use for the Advent season. So, for this year, I will actually be using the journal I created. What I like most about the journal is that it is simple and has a lot of lines and writing space. Each page has a scripture verse that (sometimes loosely) correlates to the daily Mass readings and then lines for writing. It is not a guided journal but some days I will use the scripture as a starting point for prayer and some days I will just write for the heart. It also includes blank pages for drawing and/or pasting and has a section for prayer requests.

If you are interested, you can find more about the journal and purchase it here. Also, for a limited time, I am offering the PDF version of the journal for only $5 bucks! It is regularly $10 so it is half-price but it won’t last long. The sale ends on Friday, December 2, 2016.

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For more ideas for Advent, here are 10 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful and an Advent Meditation.

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Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover

31 Days of Prayer – Armor of God

My friend gave me this prayer. It is based on the scripture verse Ephesians 6:13-17. It is a wonderful prayer to add to your morning routine.

31 Days of Prayer - armor of God

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

Today I claim VICTORY over Satan by putting on the WHOLE Armor of God!

I put on the Girdle of TRUTH! May I stand firm in the truth of Your Word so I will not be a victim of Satan’s lies.

I put on the Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS! May it guard my heart from the evil so I will remain (tap your heart 3 times) pure, holy, and protected under the Blood of Jesus Christ.

I put on the Shoes of PEACE! May I stand firm in the Good News of the Gospel so Your peace will SHINE through me and be a LIGHT to all I encounter.

I take the SHIELD of FAITH! May I be ready for Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial, and deceit; so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.

I put on the Helmet of SALVATION! May I keep my find FOCUSED on YOU so Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts.

I take the Sword of the SPIRIT! May the two-edge sword of Your Word be ready in my hands so I can expose the tempting words of Satan.

By FAITH, Your Warrior has put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God! I am prepared to live this day in SPIRITUAL VICTORY!

—-Anonymous

You can print out the prayer here (no opt-in required). It is a strong and powerful prayer so I hope you will pray it regularly. πŸ™‚

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31 Days Writing Challenge

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14 the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. I think the following scripture (the 2nd reading from the feast day’s mass) from Philippians 2:6-11 sums up this feast perfectly:

Image by calibra (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

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

Though He was in the From of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.

Rather, He took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men.

He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that He humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!

Because of this, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name above every other name,

So that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father:

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

I cannot even begin to fathom the awesomeness of God’s mercy in giving us His son, Jesus, to suffer, die and rise for our salvation. It is simply mind-boggling. What an amazing love God has for us! What lengths He went to in order to assure our place in heaven and to bring us into relationship with Him!

May we today, and every day, remember that great love, especially when we go through struggles and difficulties. There is no suffering that we go through that will compare to the sufferings of Jesus. He knows the feelings of desolation, despair, and agony. And because of that, He is able to assist us and be with us in our suffering. Let us try to live in trust and hope knowing God will always be there for us!

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Ten Reminders of God’s Love for You

(I am reposting this because I think we all need reminders of God’s love every now and again. When we are struggling or hurting in various ways it is easy to forget that we are not alone. So, if you are struggling, I hope these reminders will give you some hope and courage. God bless.)

Reminders of God's Love

Image by albertobarquin0 (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain:

This post is dedicated to my Aunt Miriam who passed away a few years ago. She was one of the first people to encourage me to read the bible and to dedicate my heart to Jesus. I loved her so much and still miss her dearly. She loved God and understood His great love for us. She also loved to read her bible and did so faithfully. The Bible is God’s love story to us, so if you need a reminder of how much God loves you, here’s ten of them:

1. “O Lord, your love reaches to heaven; your faithfulness, to the clouds.” Psalm 36:6

2. “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” Jeremiah 31:3

3. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, he will sing joyfully because of you.” Zephaniah 3:17

4. “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love John 15:9

5. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

6. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal live.” John 3:16 (My personal, all-time favorite verse from Scripture!)

7. “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37

8. “For I am convinced that either death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38

9. “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the holy ones, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:16-21

10. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet we are.” 1 John: 31

I pray that you are touched by God’s love today. I pray that whatever you are going through you will have the courage and faith to stay strong. Never forget: You are loved. You matter. Your presence makes a difference in this world!

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Come Holy Spirit!

(The Feast of Pentecost is this Sunday – May 15 – so I am reposting this because it is always good to remind ourselves of the greats gifts of the Holy Spirit!)

If you have been following the novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost, you know we have been praying for the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As a sort of conclusion to the novena, and for those who didn’t participate in the novena, here is a summary of the gifts of the spirit and scripture verses to pray over as you prepare for this great feast of the Church.

Holy Spirit Fire Dove

(Image in public domain)

— 1 —

Wisdom. The gift of Wisdom gives us the ability to recognize God in all things around us.

For in her [wisdom] is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, agile, clear unstained, certain, not baneful, loving the good, keen, unhampered…For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.” Wisdom 7:23-24

— 2 —

Understanding. The gift of Understanding helps us recognize truth and how to follow in God’s ways.

Then will you understand the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of God you will find; for the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:5-6

— 3 —

Counsel. The gift of counsel gives us right judgement. We are able to clearly see and understand the difference between right and wrong.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

— 4 —

Fortitude. The gift of Fortitude gives us the courage we need to continue our faith journey, even in the face of trials and difficulties.

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” John 16:33

— 5 —

Knowledge. The gift of knowledge helps us know who God is.

Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.” 2 Corinthians 11:6

— 6 —

Piety. The gift of Piety gives us reverence and respect for all things holy, particularly God and His Holy Church.

Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship, pleasing to God in reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12: 28-29

— 7 —

Fear of the Lord. The gift of the Fear of the Lord gives us an understanding of the greatness and awesomeness of God.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it. Your praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

I pray that each of you filled with every gift and blessing from the Lord on this Pentecost Sunday. God bless.

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(Scripture verses taken from the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition; 1970 by the Confraternity of Christina Doctrine (CCD), Washington, DC)

Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Readings

Well, with all the drama of April, I wasn’t able to get my reflection for April written. I am happy that I was able to pray through the bible study on my own but I didn’t have any computer time the last couple of weeks. However, since this is the year of mercy, and the bible study is on mercy, I am going to have mercy on myself and let April go. πŸ™‚

Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Readings

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

Session 4 is rather long, pages 69-90, and the scripture verses are as follows:

Exodus 20:1-17

Exodus 25:10-26:37

Deuteronomy 27:1-10

Exodus 21-23; 34

Deuteronomy 12-26

Deuteronomy 27-28

Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Joshua 8:34-35

2 Kings 23:1-3

Nehemiah 8

Genesis 9

Genesis 12:1-3

Genesis 15:1-19

2 Samuel 7

Exodus 19:5-6

Exodus 23:22-23

Leviticus 26

Numbers 14: 6-9

Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Deuteronomy 11:13-32

Exodus 33:19

Hosea 2:16-20

Jeremiah 33:25-26

Isaiah 63:7-64:11

Daniel 9:1-19

Sirach 16:24-18:14

There are A LOT of readings for this session and many of the readings themselves are also long; however, as always, read what you can. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of reading. If you don’t get it all done, no big deal!

To make it easier, so you don’t have to keep coming back to this web page or looking into the book, here is a printable list of the readings (no opt-in required).

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Mercy Bible Study: Lesson 3 Readings

Mercy Bible Study: Session 3 Readings

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

We are now moving on to lesson three of the bible study. Here are the readings for this month:

Hosea 14:1-9

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Jeremiah 31:20-33

Ezekiel 39:25, 37:1-27

Zechariah 1:12-17

Jeremiah 25:11, 29:10-14

Isaiah 60:1-22

Judith 13:14-18

Judith 16:1-17

Exodus 15:20-21

Judges 5

1 Samuel 18:7-8

Wisdom 11:1-10

Proverbs 19:18

John 15:1-2

Hebrews 12:7-11

Wisdom 16:1-10

Numbers 21:4-9

John 3:14-17

Wisdom 12:1-22

Genesis 15:16

Leviticus 18:24-30

Deuteronomy 9:1-5

Deuteronomy 12:29-31

Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Wisdom 12:12-21

Again, don’t go crazy here. Read as many of the scriptures that you can but don’t stress if you don’t get them all read. It is better to spend more time reflecting on less verses than it is to rush through all of them. Besides, as you may notices, some of the scriptures overlap and several of them are grouped according the topic.

As usual, I will offer my thoughts and reflections toward the end of the month.

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10 Scripture Verses for Holy Week

(repost)

In just a few days we will celebrate the solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. To help us enter more deeply into these mysteries, here are ten scripture verses to pray over during Holy Week:

10 Scripture Verses for Holy Week

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From this week’s liturgies:

1. Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations”

2. John 13:26-27 “Jesus answered, ‘it is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’ So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him.”

3. Psalm 69:14 “But I pray to you, Lord, for the time of your favor. God in your great kindness answer me with your constant help.”

From the Seven Last Words of Jesus:

4. Matthew 27:46 “And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'”

5. Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.'”

6. Luke 23:43 “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

7. Luke 23:46 “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit;’ and when he had said this he breathed his last.”

8. John 19: 26-27 “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. ”

9. John 19:28 “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.'”

10. John 19:30 “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It’s is finished,'”

I choose these verses because they are very meaningful to me; however, there are many other beautiful scriptures applicable for this sacred week to pray over. What are your favorites? Do let us know in the comments.

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Ten Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

(repost: I thought this would be a good complement to Sr. Christina’s guest post. πŸ™‚ )

We are just on the cusp of Lent, and as I’ve said many times before, one of the best things we can do is read God’s word. One of the best ways to do this is to pray the scriptures that are given to us at Mass. The Liturgy is wrought with meaningful verses to encourage us to deepen our understanding of the Lord’s sacrifice, to open and convert out hearts and renew our commitment to the Lord. That is why I am republishing this post of 10 scripture verses:

10 Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

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Here is a small compilation of scripture verses to help get you meditating on the Holy Word God:

1. “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4

2. “A clean heart create in me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Psalm 51 12

3. “Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” Hosea 14:2-3

4. “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.” Joel 2:12-13

5. “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

6. “He released Barabbas to them, and after having Him scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

7. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:22

8. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

9. “Jesus wept.” John 11:35

10. “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I can’t resist adding these two more:

11. “Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

12. “Judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

What favorite scripture verses do you like to pray over during Lent?

P. S. In case you want to print these verses to pray over them, I created a .pdf file to make it easier for you. You can print it here, no opt-in required. πŸ™‚Β 10 Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

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