Holiness is what we are all struggling to attain. In this month’s CWBN Blog Hop, we share a list of different ways to pray in an attempt to get us further along the road to holiness.
Offering Up Some Intercession
Ask God for others. This is where you come to God and bring other people’s joy, concerns, fears, hopes, and struggles. Read about how we used insomnia to be intercessors for others here.
Lord, today I bring you the readers of this blog, the members of our online community; I ask that you be with them today and help them to see you in their day. Help them to grow closer to you, Lord, and hear their intentions. Amen.
Asking for Some Intercession
Conversely, when we’re in need of prayer, we should not be too prideful to ask others to intercede for us. In the Catholic Church, that means fellow parishioners, family members, friends, and the communion of saints in Heaven who have gone before us.
Lord, I am struggling today. You know what’s on my heart. Help me to swallow my pride and reach out to those I love to help me through prayer and assistance. Amen.
Have you ever heard that Bible stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth?” It’s a cheesy thing I saw on a T-shirt one time, but the truth of the matter is that we should be reading the Bible daily. It’s the Word of God, so we should spend time in it, learn it, know it, seek comfort in it, and allow God to talk to us through it.
Lord, I have neglected taking time to spend in Your Word. Help me to delve into this vast resource and be in conversation with you. Speak to me through these words, Jesus. Amen.
Tasks & Chores
In our podcast entitled “Finding God in the Bubbles,” we share about how chores can be acts of love and acts of prayer. Not only can the act itself be a prayer, we can pray while doing them. Say the Lord’s prayer while the water boils. Sing a song of praise and worship while you unload and reload the dishwasher. OR, make this time of doing the chores you really dislike a time to be thankful.
Lord, I am grateful. Thank you for my blessings. The dirty dishes mean that my family has enough to eat and is not going hungry. Thank you. The laundry means we are able to dress appropriately. Thank you. The vacuum cleaner running means I live in a shelter, with warmth and light. Thank you. Amen.
Service: the Hands and Feet of Christ
Sometimes we are able to work at a soup kitchen, bringing food to the hungry. Other times, we have change to give when asked by someone we pass by. We can donate good clothing and household items to charity. All of this is service to others. So, too, however, is calling your lonely neighbor and being present with them. Picking up the phone and inviting the elderly couple from church or the young college student from Bible study over for dinner is also an act of service.
Lord Jesus,open my heart to others. Inspire me to see their humanity and to reach out to them. Help me be a reflection of your light to others. Help me be your hands and feet on Earth. Amen.
This post was written as part of the CWBN Sienna Sisters Blog Hop for the month of May. This month we’re all blogging about different ways to pray. Check out the other amazing Catholic Women Bloggers Network posts
It’s 1:20 a.m. Awakened and unable to return to sleep (thanks, insomnia), I’m in the living room, so as not to disturb my slumbering husband. The neighborhood, silence moments ago, is alive with all four of the neighbor’s dogs barking madly at something. From my daughter’s room, I hear Brahms’ lullaby on repetitive loop.
In moments like these in the past, I’ve tried to count sheep. Who does that actually work for? Once that fails, my mind starts running through the week’s coming days and tasks and responsibilities, and that can be hard to silence.
Tonight, as I sit in the rocker/recliner my husband had to have (and we all secretly love), beneath one of the softest blankets known to man, I’m just offering up prayers.
Not prayers to deliver me from the insomnia, nor prayers for the dogs to be silenced once more. Rather, I pray for the intentions of friends.
For our friend Anna, who’s undergoing a miscarriage of the third child she so desperately wanted. For our friends Christine and Kristin, who both just had beautiful daughters. I pray for friends Alicia and Maria and Anna, who all had very rough experiences on Mother’s Day.
For Angela, who is praying for her seventh child on Earth. For Susie and April and so many others who celebrated Mother’s Day without their mothers. For all women who experienced Mother’s Day with a piece of them missing, whether due to infertility, miscarriage, still births, or a child’s death.
In this sleep-deprived way, I use my time to focus beyond my mini-struggle with sleep to bring these hurts to Jesus for others. And the peace of our Lord, who is listening to these intentions, falls on me, and sleep seems attainable.
I’ll take that over counting sheep any day.
I cannot believe that the Triduum begins tomorrow. Weren’t we just sharing our #HowWeLent goals?! Think about your Lent for a second. Was it rushed? Too full? Mine, too. My days ran into one another. That’s part of the beauty of the Triduum, though. It’s designed to run into the next day, starting with tomorrow’s Holy Thursday service into the wee hours of Good Friday until the mourning period of Holy Saturday is over and gives way to victory and celebration on Easter Sunday. At the same time, it’s designed to slow us down.
I love our Church for many reasons, but one of them is the traditions we have. There’s so much that is ripped from the pages of the Bible and made visible in front of our very eyes during the Triduum, and there’s beauty in the Triduum rituals. The Triduum begins on the night that sets everything for Christ’s sacrifice in motion and ends with Easter Sunday. They are the three holiest days in the Church year.
Tomorrow is Holy Thursday. We’ll see the priest wash the feet of those who are prepared to enter the Church on Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil. It’s an act of service that lowers the washer (both literally and figuratively) in humility to the person whose foot is being washed. Jesus lowered himself in this way, and the reaction from St. Peter was one of near-admonition and shock.
“…he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” John 13:4-9
This reaction of Peter is actually a perfect metaphor for us. You know, who I mean right? I’m talking about the living disciples of Christ who vacillate in our faith. The ones who think we know better than God with our plans. Jesus is telling Peter “This is what I’m doing.” and Peter straight-up says “No!” Sound familiar?
I love when children ask me why we call Good Friday “good” if it’s when Jesus died. They understand the horror of the crucifixion (although perhaps not exactly how gruesome it was) but they fail to grasp how that action translates into our salvation. In that way, aren’t we all children at times? Don’t we all have those spiritual dries where we fail to grasp it, too? Again, let’s look at St. Peter in the wee hours of Good Friday morning.
“After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, ‘This man too was with him.’ But he denied it saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A short while later someone else saw him and said, ‘You too are one of them’; but Peter answered, ‘My friend, I am not.’ About an hour later, still another insisted, ‘Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.’ Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ He went out and began to weep bitterly.” Luke 22: 54-62
So we’re Peter again on Good Friday. Who hasn’t thought ourselves unworthy despite God calling us such? And who hasn’t wept or yelled or had an emotional reaction directed towards God?
Silence. This day is predominantly silent. The church is dark. It’s almost like we’re…in mourning. Let the severity of the fact that Jesus Christ died on that cross then, in 33 A.D., for the sins of your past, present, and future surround you. Overwhelming, isn’t it? That’s a hard one to grasp. Many people turn to writing when they’re grieving or just upset. Do it. Open your prayer journal (or start one!) and begin a written conversation with God on Holy Saturday. Allow the silence to overtake you and listen. It is in silence that you can hear God speak to you.
I am blessed to attend a parish with two wonderful priests and three awesome deacons. I’ve spent time on retreat with our pastor and I’ve dined with our parochial vicar. I’ve been to the homes of two of our three deacons and have had wonderful conversations with the third. This past Sunday, Fr. Eugene, our parochial vicar, said something in his homily. I happened to be taking notes in my prayer journal at the time.
“In the mystery of Jesus Christ, we find the mystery and meaning in our own life.” Fr. Eugene Okoli
If we’re not witnessing the mystery, then we’re not going to find the meaning. He also said that he sometimes feels that modern-day American Catholics are wimps compared to the early Christians who risked their lives (and lost them, in some cases) merely to worship Jesus. He urged the congregation to not be wimps, but to live out our faith and embrace this tradition. That’s what I invite you to do this Triduum.
A blessed Holy Week & a transforming Triduum to you!
Let us know what you think in the comments section. We’d love to hear what you love about the Triduum, how your parish celebrates it, as well as any musings you’ve got on Holy Week. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, too!
I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring you today’s book review. We were fortunate enough to be sent a review copy of Jennifer Smith’s Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband, a 30-day deeply-involved and extremely poignant marriage devotional. It is a perfectly compact marriage retreat in book form.
Jennifer Smith is a Christian wife and mother who blogs at Unveiled Wife. You can also find her on social media. She started out to share her struggles and healings from the early years of her marriage with other Christian wives.
She’s got email lists with daily prayers as well as new blog posts. I love that she’s brutally honest in her posts (and in her books!); for example, she says on her website’s biography page, “The first four years were wearisome, trying, heartbreaking, and even devastating.” To know that that’s where she started gives all the more credence to this devotional. She’s been in the trenches and has come back out the other side.
Did you happen to catch the post from a few Mondays ago, How to Keep Your Marriage Awake (When You’re Overscheduled and Exhausted)? We’re still both exhausted and time is definitely not just magically abundant right now. I know we’re not the only ones. Especially now, in this fast-paced, instant-gratification world, time is a precious commodity.
One of the major draws about Wife After God is that it’s designed to be a month-long, daily devotional. And, hey, if you choose a month with 31 days, you’ve got a built-in day to catch up on anything missed. Moreover, even though each day is packed with richness, the entire daily devotional won’t take you more than 15-30 minutes (depending on how studious, reflective, artistic, or into note-taking you are). I made it a part of my evening routine.
Yes. Yes, I’m fully aware that Catholics are Christian. This is not that discussion. This is that “does it align with Church teaching?” question that frequently arises when we’re handed highly-praised works by our Protestant brothers and sisters.
Though I’m not a theologian, I cannot see anywhere in Wife After God where the explanations and reflections offered by Jennifer undermine or conflict with the Catholic understanding of marriage. In fact, when I was reading the first few passages, I was amazed to see how much she was mirroring (albeit unconsciously, I’m sure) the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. As a Millennial and proud member of the JP II generation, that’s pretty awesome.
While I am not going to give away specific questions for journaling or specific reflections shared from the text, I am going to give you a very basic rundown of what you can expect on a given day.
Each day begins with Scripture (usually 1-3 verses). It’s followed by a reflection that’s simply called “Thoughts.” After that, there’s a prayer. Once armed with this spiritual fortitude, the day moves on to a challenge. These challenges differ throughout the devotional. Some of them are very easy to accomplish and others take a great deal of thought in order to implement. There are then some journaling questions, and nine times out of ten, they’re extremely thought-provoking. The day ends with a suggested social media status update, complete with hashtags. I actually love that part (again, I’m a Millennial!).
Bible journaling is HUGE here in Texas, especially among my Baptist friends in my mom’s group (more about that here). It’s truly beautiful, but we Catholics are still waiting for a reputable publishing company to take up the challenge of creating a New American Standard Revised Edition Journaling Bible. What has that to do with this book? Nothing on the surface.
Except…I am a note-taker and a doodler. I took this devotional time to sit down with my prayer journal and make notes and doodles, similar to the trendy Bible journaling, in my prayer journal. It helped me to connect even more deeply to the words I was reading, as I pondered the specifics of each sentence in order to journal it.
I am grateful for this book. While implementing the challenges and sharing the thoughts I uncover within the text, I noticed a difference in my marriage. I know that as a newlywed, you might be tempted to think that there’s no need for improving my marriage. Newlyweds and young marrieds, listen up: there’s always a need to strive to improve your marriage! Choose not to work on your marriage simply because it’s new or young, and you’re missing a great opportunity for early growth and early enrichment. You’re missing a chance to grow in intimacy and in holiness.
My husband deserves the best of me at all times. He won’t always get that, because I’m human, but daily I will do my best to give him that. There’s no shame in reading and utilizing wonderful, insightful devotionals like this one to help you along the way.
Do it. I’ve read through this book once and have reflected, spent time in God’s Word, and challenged myself. I’ll do it again. And again. I’m smart enough to know that each time will trigger a new reaction or make a new connection or have a different impact on my husband. I challenge you to buy this book today and get started. Not quite ready to take my word for it? You can get more information about Jennifer and the book here.
I am proud to say that I am a wife after God.