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Victory in Troubling Times

Victory is a Christian and a Catholic store, just like I am both Christian and Catholic. As a Catholic, I believe that in the Eucharist, receiving Communion and during Adoration… that’s Jesus. So to hear that evil was allowed to run freely within the Catholic Church, it is shocking, sickening, and terribly sad. My prayers go out to all the victims and their families. It should have never been allowed to happen and may it never happen again. I’m also very grateful to God that we do have good priests too. My prayers go out to them as well in this troubling time. For anyone that cannot understand how I could remain Catholic, it isn’t as easy as finding a new building or a new pastor. Those are nice, but they are not what counts. Jesus is in the Eucharist and I will not leave him. -Kelly

Reposted from Facebook @VictoryGiftShop

 

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Path to Humility: Accepting the Truth Part II

“Then he [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”  – Lk 9:23-26

In Part I of Path to Humility: Accepting the Truth, through spiritual reading I realized that humility was better defined as accepting the Truth in totality, accepting both the reality that God created and being fully open to His plans in my life. This means that the first major humbling experience I had on my path to humility was in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).

When Jesus revealed himself to me, I knew that what had happened to me was very serious. Members of my family had converted before, they had already stopped going to church by this time, but from their experience I knew that Catholics were very serious about Baptism. You didn’t just accept Jesus and go and get baptized the next day. You had to be taught what it meant to be Christian. I can only explain the initial conversion and RCIA experience as one where I was going through death and rebirth at the same time. Death to the world I had known and just like an infant in her mother’s womb, I had to grow within the womb of the Church before being reborn. It was not easy and I had to give up a lot of my prior beliefs at that time and take up the beliefs of the Church.

Between my experience with Jesus and starting the RCIA, I had a lot of dreams and one in particular that I held onto. While it may not all be relevant here, I still remember it vividly so I want to share it in its entirety. In this dream, I was standing outside of my house in the sunlight. Only this sunlight permeated my whole being. I was at peace, my thoughts had been suspended as I stood there and soaked it in. Somewhere in the distance, past my hedges and up an on a hill, I could hear an announcer. He was inviting everyone that could hear to attend the wedding that was going on there. I could see a couple walking up the hill to attend and realized that other people were at the wedding (there was no one else around me). I knew I could go, that it wasn’t too late. But then a child, a little boy, ran into my house. This was MY house what was this child doing there? I turned from the light and went into the house in search of the child. The house was dark and it was almost impossible to see anything. I went into the room furthest in the back where I thought the child had gone through a door. Only once I got to the room, there was no little boy and no door. I looked up and saw a mirror before me. The sight of myself was terribly frightening; outside of the sunlight I was nothing but a ghost.

So this dream happened before I read the Bible or knew anything about being Christian, not to mention Catholic. However, I felt that I had experienced a real encounter with God’s true peace so I hung onto the memory of the peace in the sunlight. I wanted so badly to feel that way again that I promised myself I would not turn away from the light now, not even in a dream. I felt that going to the RCIA was a step in the right direction. Little did I know how close I was. Three months into RCIA, we were learning about the Catholic Mass. Towards the end, Deacon said, and also almost as a side note, that the Mass in addition to being the Last Supper is also the Wedding celebration. I could barely speak “Did you say the Mass was the Wedding?” He couldn’t hear me, so one of my RCIA classmates that could tell I was struggling asked for me. “Oh yes yes, the Mass is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb”.

Now, realizing that I was already at The Wedding Feast, there was nothing that was going to keep me away. I became more determined than ever to really consider everything that the Catholic Church believed as The Truth. At one point, we were told something along the lines of, “You can’t slice up the Bible and just believe what you want to believe…you either accept all of it or what was the point in accepting any of it.” The thought being that we weren’t going to understand everything with human reasoning. Some things we were going to have to accept with faith. However, this really hit home for me. If I wanted to be in the light and at peace then I had to be open to and trust the teachings of the Church. After all, this is where I really believed God had brought me and if I didn’t then what was I doing here? Going back to the bleak emptiness I had before just didn’t seem like an option.

During this time, I changed a lot by just being open to accepting a different reality. Some things I came to see the truth in and others I had to accept with faith. Whether or not I actually understood why, I had to deny myself (my previous way of living) and I had to start living in a new reality, one more aligned with the actual teachings of Jesus.

To be continued…
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Path to Humility: Accepting the Truth, Part I

“…we can define humility as the capacity for receiving grace and the gift of final salvation…a willingness to be saved, an openness to God’s action, an assent to the mysterious processes by which God’s plan is realized in the hearts of human beings.”  -Michael Casey, A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility

When I wrote the first post on Path to Humility, I thought I was only just beginning my path. Yet the more I study humility, the more I realize that God had set me on this path the moment I first converted. By being open to God’s plan in my life, I am being knocked completely out of my comfort zone and becoming increasingly reliant on God. It is humbling to rely on God instead of myself (my resources, my abilities, my strengths) so my pride put up an ever-greater resistance.

In my previous post I had referred to Humility Rules by J. Augustine Wetta, but I wanted a more in-depth explanation. I started reading A Guide to Living in the Truth by Michael Casey, and since I can’t ever read just one book at a time, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Thinking that the latter would be off the topic of humility, I didn’t expect that I would be so moved by both books at the same time. However, it turned out that they were both about being able to accept reality.

The Great Divorce is a fictional book where some of the souls in Hell visit Heaven. These souls can stay if they want to, but many of them don’t. Why? Because they want to “Be Saved”, but only on their terms. The souls in Hell just cannot accept Heaven until those terms are met so they consider it intolerable and return to Hell. “There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy – that is, to reality.” C.S Lewis, The Great Divorce.

To go back to A Guide to Living in the Truth, Michael Casey says: “In theory, salvation seems desirable. At the level of feeling, it is different. It is humiliating to be saved.” He’s not talking about that moment where you realize that Jesus died to save you. No, it’s much more than that. Everything Jesus did, he did to save you. He proclaimed the Truth and died for that Truth and many people, even those who had witnessed miracles in his time, could not accept it. When it comes to salvation you have to accept everything that is true, really true, not subjectively true or on your terms true, how you see it true. The real Truth is the reality that God created.

If reality is so hard to accept that salvation is humiliating, then the definition of humility expands. It’s not just being free from pride, but in a much greater sense it’s a total acceptance of the reality that God created and openness for His plans for you, even when he doesn’t tell you every detail.

To be continued…

Featured Books:

A Guide to Living in the Truth: St. Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem by J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.

You Might Also Be Interested In: 

The Rule of Benedict by Saint Benedict

 

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Saint Challenge: List Your Top 3 Saints

The Saints, our powerful friends and intercessors in Heaven, touch our lives in many different ways. Here at Victory, we challenged each other to list our top 3, which is a lot harder than it sounds! With so many to choose from, each of us picked out those Saints that had the greatest impact on our individual journeys.

We want to share with you our stories of their powerful intercession in our lives! Please feel free to comment, list your Top 3 Saints or share how Saints have interceded for you!

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Saint Challenge: Kayla’s Top 3 Saints

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

There are quite a few Saints who have touched my life, and my first experience with Mother Teresa was the beginning.  When I was young, I didn’t pay much attention to world events. But Mother Teresa was an influential figure who sparked my interest.  I remember choosing her as the subject of several school projects. The more I learned about her, the more I realized how important her life’s work was.  I was in sixth grade when she passed away, and I still remember being saddened by the news. Like many, I recognized the faith, hope, and most notably the love with which she lived her life.  Her service to the poorest of the poor, all the while giving God the glory, really resonated with me. Her work inspired me and deepened my faith. Mother Teresa was a faithful servant of the Lord, and He used her to draw me closer to Himself.  Ever since I first learned about the great work the Lord performed through her hands, I have grown much in my faith. He poured out a share of His love to Mother Teresa, and she shared it with those who were in most need.

The more I learned about her life, her interior struggles and her perseverance, the joy of being open to the will of God became something even I could aspire to.  So when my first daughter was born, I honored Mother Teresa by giving her the middle name Teresa. And when my daughter was almost two years old and I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, I chose Blessed Mother Teresa as my patron.  I later realized it was through the intercession of the Blessed Mother that Mother Teresa was one of the first Saints to embrace me as I was welcomed into the Communion of Saints. The Lord still uses Mother Teresa to reveal Himself to me.  Through the Holy Spirit, she has encouraged me to allow God to grace me with an attitude bent towards charity and service. I hope to venerate Saint Teresa of Calcutta with my life, that I might honor her as she points me to God. For the love that the Lord poured out to her is the same love that He pours out to me.  Mother Teresa once said “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” Her message of love, which was a small seed planted when I was a child was now taking root.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Which brings me to the next Saint I would like to share about:  Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. I had never even heard of her until almost two years ago when I read her name in our church bulletin.  Her relics were scheduled to visit, and our family decided to go. I learned a little bit about her life, and her heroic choice which she had prepared for her entire life really touched me.  As we were venerating her relics, my husband took our daughters outside so that I might have a few moments to pray alone. The month before we had experienced a miscarriage, losing Quinn, and I was praying for a baby.  Suddenly my prayer became for new life, and tears came to my eyes. I had an intense feeling of peace wash over me, and I knew something fundamental had changed inside me, that new life was here. So the next month when we found out we were expecting I was overjoyed.  But the month after that we lost that baby too, Arwen. I was so confused; I thought this was the answer to my prayers. But then it finally dawned on me. The new life that had come was the life in me. I was experiencing an ongoing conversion of heart, and becoming truly open to life and to love.  It was not the healing I thought I wanted; it was the healing I needed.

Through Saint Gianna’s intercession, the disposition of my heart has been transformed.  I recognized the old me would have closed myself off, wanting to prevent a similar hurt.  It was only by the grace of God that I was willing to try again. And God’s grace was sufficient, sustaining me throughout.  But I could have easily said no and protected my heart. Instead, God poured His life and love in. Shortly after, we discovered we were expecting again.  We went on a pilgrimage to Saint Gianna’s shrine to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Later we welcomed our son into our family. Saint Gianna spoke the truth when she said “Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light.  We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love.” I am so thankful to be able to experience such love.

Saint Joan of Arc

But what of love without courage?  My relationship with Jesus began to deepen, and the Holy Spirit began to move my heart towards putting my love of God into action.  This brings me to my final Saint: Saint Joan of Arc. I had heard her story when I was in high school, and something about her fortitude had always inspired me.  But as I grew older, I became confused about what my role was as a woman. I didn’t understand how I was to relate to others in the fullest sense. Then finally I discovered the beauty of the feminine genius.  My eyes and heart were being opened to a greater understanding of my own nature and dignity as a woman. I am now able to see myself, my role in my family, community, the Church and the world in a new light. This shift of perspective has made all the difference.

I began helping out with several women’s ministries, calling on the intercession of Saint Joan of Arc.  She is a model of feminine strength and courage. Her love of God led her to desire to do His will, and her passion and bravery have inspired me to step out in faith in my daily life.  Saint Joan of Arc said “I fear nothing, for God is with me!” And as I continue to follow where the Holy Spirit leads, I know that love requires courage. Being called to holiness, I am striving to let the light of Christ shine through in my life.

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See More About These Saints:

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Saint Joan of Arc

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Saint Challenge: Kelly’s Top 3 Saints

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/aka Edith Stein

“God is truth, and whoever seeks the truth is seeking God, whether he knows it or not.”

When I was going through the RCIA, I had a lot of difficulty connecting with many of the Saints. I didn’t even pay attention to them until we were asked to pick a Saint’s name for confirmation. Here I was a single professional woman that was just emerging from leading a life according to secular values and the female Saints tend to be depicted as well… living their whole lives so saintly, flowery and ultra-feminine. So in my search for a patron Saint, the first Saint that I was really drawn to was Saint Teresa of Avila. Even though she had some major spiritual experiences, she was known for being down to earth with a great sense of humor. Plus, she was out there forming new convents like an unstoppable force against the sin that had gotten into the everyday life of Carmelites. I’m mentioning her, because it was through my interest in her that lead me to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein. Edith was also a convert and her conversion was influenced by reading the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, which she read in one night!

Edith instantly fascinated me. She was German, Jewish, and Atheist. She served as a nurse during WWI and became a well-known philosopher who went as far in her teaching career as women were allowed at that time. Eventually, she gave it all up to become a Carmelite nun. Her radical conversion caused some family tension, but in the end one of her sisters also converted and followed her into the convent. During WWII, she was sent to Auschwitz with her sister where they were killed in the gas chamber. I’m not really doing this great Saint justice with this brief overview, she was highly intelligent, supported women in professional roles, and she readily accepted the cross when it came to her. The last book that Edith wrote was one of the first Catholic books that I read, Science of the Cross. That book gave me a great respect for some of the more ‘flowery’ Saints, starting with St. John of the Cross, whose poetry I may not have ever read if it wasn’t for Edith’s explanation of it. Her story and writings left such an impression on me that she became my patron and  I took the name of Teresa for my Confirmation.

Saint Raphael the Archangel

“Proclaim before all with due honor the deeds of God, and do not be slack in thanking him” (Tb 12:6)

Saint Raphael came into my life suddenly and unexpectedly last October. I started to see his novena everywhere, I was opening Bibles (different Bibles, different times) and it just opens right up to Raphael in Tobit, and he was even featured on the front page in a supplemental catalog that I received. Now, I work with Catholic items so I could say that some of it was due to that, but he was even mentioned on the radio several times. It was getting a little ridiculous! I just couldn’t get away from him…so I started to pray the novena for his intercession. Nothing major happened, but he didn’t leave either. I read somewhere that like in Tobit, he walks with you and becomes a friend until he does what God sent him to help you with. I can attest to this and still “talk” to him every night and ask him to deliver my prayers to God.

Raphael is the Angel of Joy and his name means “God has healed”. He’s the patron Saint of the blind, happy meetings, journeys, marriage, and is most known for healing. Raphael is often depicted with a fish, the one that was used to exorcise and heal, walking with Tobias and his dog. As a pet owner, I love that the dog is important enough to be mentioned, almost as a reminder that Angels walk with us AND our pets. Before he ascended to heaven he instructed Tobias and Sara to proclaim the deeds of God, bless Him and give Him thanks. This reminds me of the concluding rites of Mass where we are called to just that: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord – Thanks be to God”.  

Mary, Our Lady of Humility

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

Other converts have mentioned that accepting Our Blessed Mother Mary’s role was an  important hurdle for them to overcome, but it wasn’t like that for me. After learning the Hail Mary prayer in RCIA, I readily accepted her protection and guidance. However, it wasn’t until this past spring that her role as Our Lady of Humility became important to me. Our Lady of Humility is Mary at the moment of her saying YES to becoming the Mother of God. It’s a very rare depiction of Mary where she is the sole focus (usually she is with Jesus or the Holy Spirit). Here she is just a young woman looking up and conceiving this new motherhood in her heart. As I’m beginning to learn God’s will for me, Mary’s yes becomes even more fascinating. I couldn’t say a yes like that without reservation and I’m not sure that I know of anyone that could. What is even more fascinating to me is how this moment is known as extreme humility. I realize now that I had thought of her as naïve, but she wasn’t. Mary was humble and perfectly surrendered all of herself to God in that moment.

I really needed Our Lady of Humility because I had such a hard time surrendering to God’s plans. His plan for me only started out with small moments, such as how I might spend my time. He would tell me to go to daily Mass, go to Eucharistic Adoration, and sometimes He told me to stay when I would rather go somewhere else. These moments aren’t as momentous as Mary’s, but I still had to breakdown a resistance to saying yes, after all I had my own plans (I know it sounds awful, but they might have involved doing nothing especially after a long week). So when these moments and others happen, I remind myself of Our Lady of Humility and try to surrender any plans, fears, and worries I have and say Yes to God’s Holy will which always works out better in the end.  

 

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See More About These Saints:

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein

Saint Raphael the Archangel

Blessed Mother Mary

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Saint Challenge: Christine’s Top 3 Saints

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, of the Child Jesus

Saint Therese

I seem to have a natural tendency towards the little things; as a child I was captivated by the minutest details in pictures, miniature figurines, and the tiniest wildflowers in the field.  Yet as I grew in the world I desired to be big and noticeable in the eyes of others: What can I do to show people that I am worth looking at, that I am impressive, that I’ve got what it takes to stand out more than the rest?  Then, in college, I read Story of A Soul, the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.  Thérèse taught me in words that still speak directly to my heart, that littleness in the eyes of the world is most often greatness in the eyes of God, and that in His eyes the little ones are precious treasures to behold.

The “Little Flower,” as Saint Thérèse is often called, lived a simple, hidden life as a cloistered Carmelite nun in the late 1800s – a life which lasted only 24 years on earth.  Though the whole world minus a few knew she existed at the time, she now basks in the glory of Heaven bearing the name Saint of God (as well as Doctor of the Church!), and to this day she bears incredible fruit for the kingdom of God.  In my life her example is what led me to follow God’s calling to be a missionary overseas, out of obedience to His desires for my life to spread His love.

My current everyday circumstances are more mundane compared to those previous years “on mission.”  Yet even though I spend the majority of my time in the home, mothering my own little one, I know that even the smallest action or movement of the heart done for love of God and others does not go unnoticed by my Heavenly Father; it can even bear great fruit if He so desires it to, much more so than from any impressive or “great” work done for love of myself.  Saint Thérèse, pray for us, that we would totally love and give glory to God as whatever kind of “flower” He created us to be!

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” ~ Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint John Paul the Great

Saint John Paul the Great

Saint Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”  I used to think that being a devout Catholic, a “religious person,” and putting God first would make me the most boring version of myself.  I thought I’d lose the freedom to do what I wanted with my own life, and that my gifts and talents would go to waste. Then when I became a bit more interested in my faith, I was quite impressed with how “cool” Pope John Paul II was (pre-canonization).  Not only was he “cool” to me, but I also saw holiness in a way that I couldn’t understand but found entirely attractive.

Later in my journey I studied a bit of his life as well as his Theology of the Body.  I realized this world-changing man had a deep understanding not only of God and the Church, but of what it meant to be fully human!  He was an actor, a playwright, a philosopher, an avid sportsman, an adventure-seeker, a teacher, a joker, a gifted writer, a linguist, and a dear friend, brother, uncle, and father to countless people around the world.  In all things, Christ was at the center, and it became so evident to me that a life lived for Christ is the best, least “boring”, most adventurous life to be had. Our gifts and talents are not squandered and wasted but instead find their greatest fulfillment in the service of the Lord.  

I have unashamedly fallen in love with Saint JPII, and the more I read of him the more I discover how profoundly in love with Our Eucharistic Lord, Our Blessed Mother, and all of humanity (and in a special way, women!).  I recently studied his Letter to Women and it was clear as crystal that the heart of this saint beat to the rhythm of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I regularly entrust my marriage and family, and those of others, into his paternal care, and I have full confidence that he’ll help us be fully alive in Jesus. Saint John Paul the GREAT, pray for us!

“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” ~ St. John Paul the Great

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

There is no Saint who has been more involved in my life than our dearest Mother Mary, particularly under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  She appeared in Guadalupe, Mexico, in December of 1531 to a lowly, indigenous man named Juan Diego. She showed God’s love through a miraculous image of her as the “woman clothed with the sun” (see Revelation 12), on a “tilma” (or cloak) which to this day remains available for public viewing at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Our Lady came as a young, virginal, pregnant woman of mixed ethnicity and introduced herself as the “Mother of all men.”

It wasn’t until I spent a weekend with the Sisters of Life in NYC that this image and message became very meaningful for me.  At the end of the day, the sisters would stand before a replica of the Guadalupe image with candles and entrust their mission – to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life – to her maternal care.  It was clear to me that Our Lady is indeed the Mother of all, and the Mother of each.  She said to Juan Diego: “Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here, who am your Mother?”  These words are meant for each of her children, especially the most vulnerable.

Since that weekend, her presence and action in my life has been significant. My husband and I spent most of our engagement in separate continents.  At one point I was feeling discouraged when I asked Our Lady to show me somehow that our marriage plans were what God wanted them to be. Shortly thereafter, a box of personalized prayer cards I had ordered as wedding favors arrived.  I had carefully chosen a particular image of the Wedding of Mary and Joseph, thanks to my Godmother, and was excited to see the cards. When I opened the box, I saw a very different image than the one I’d selected for the cards: it was Our Lady of Guadalupe!  I couldn’t help but laugh and tremble for joy. I called the prayer card company and they said they had no idea why that image showed up, since the request was clearly for the wedding image. I knew that Our Lady had heard my prayer, that she was intimately involved in our marriage plans, and that she would remain with us no matter what. “Am I not here, who am your Mother?”

Our Lady of Guadalupe is carrying the unborn Jesus, and thus she is the patroness of unborn children and their mothers.  I continue to entrust my motherhood, mothers in crisis, and their unborn children to her reliable care. I know she will help us build a culture of life and love, and that she will always be with us as our Mother, bearing God’s Life in our own. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of Our Savior and Mother of all, pray for us!

“Do not be troubled… Am I not here, who am your Mother?”  ~ Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

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See More About These Saints:

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint John Paul the Great

Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Path to Humility – What is Humility Anyway?

Definition of humility: freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble 

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Freedom from Pride…

Pride is probably my biggest problem and yet God has His little way of helping me with it. It’s very hard to stay proud when my shoe slips off while I’m walking back to my seat after communion or when I walk into the wall, door, or basically any stationary object as if it just jumped in front of me. A couple years ago, I had the wonderful experience of having my Christmas tree fall on me. I was alone for that one, but I thought I was going to die and was envisioning the news headline… “Christmas Tree Kills Woman on New Year’s Eve While Home Alone, Cats Alert Neighbors.” I’m not saying that God caused this, but that He allowed it to happen. – He also healed my arm, but that’s a story for another day.  

While these situations have helped to humble me, I must fight against my pride and allow God to change me. I’m currently reading Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem by J. Augustine Wetta, a Benedictine Monk. It is a quick and easy explanation of the “Ladder of Humility” from Saint Benedict’s book The Rule.

12 Steps to Humility

1 2 3 4 5

6

Fear of God Self-Denial Obedience Perseverance Repentance

Serenity

7

8 9 10 11

12

Self-Abasement Prudence Silence Dignity Discretion

Reverence

To some, it might sound easy, but for me it’s not. I have to keep going back and re-reading, because really, I didn’t even know what humility was or how far deep my pride had gone. Pride is one of those sins that blinds you to its ways while it feeds other sins or can even make your good works go bad. Saint Paul said “Sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin, worked death in me through the good, so that sin might become sinful beyond measure through the commandment” (Romans 7:13). Therefore, God’s law, which our soul delights in, is going to be in battle against the law of sin, which our human body still dwells in, so much so that even when we are doing good work we must fight against our own sinful inclinations. Specifically, when it comes to pride we have to fight against taking credit for the good work and at the same time not downgrade God’s work in us. After all, it is only by Grace that we are able to follow God’s commandments to begin with.

Speaking of Grace…

Our Blessed Mother Mary had the most perfect and humble response to God’s work in her life: “he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1: 48-49). When we really look at this, Mary doesn’t claim that she was blessed because of anything she did and at the same time, she doesn’t downgrade how important God’s work in her is. In other words, Mary is saying, “I am a lowly servant, but will be forever known for being blessed by God because of the things He has done for me.”

Furthermore, Mary doesn’t greet this potentially dangerous and humiliating situation with fear or worry. After all, Joseph, and probably everyone else, knows he isn’t the father. Here she is facing the unknown path before her which, according to Jewish law at that time, includes the possibilities of being stoned or divorced. Yet, she never concerns herself with avoiding these situations by her own words or actions, only on doing what God has asked her to do. In complete trust, she leaves it to God to change the hearts of others, including Joseph. Mary knows that God is greater than she is. No sense of entitlement, no fear, no worry… just love, joy, and total trust in God. All of this shows what true humility is.

However, the humility shown by our Blessed Mother Mary, who was conceived without sin (see CCC 491), is not natural to the rest of us. We are more like St. Paul, constantly struggling with the inclinations of sin, also known as concupiscence (see CCC 1264).

It’s A Matter of Survival…

In my fight against pride, I’ve noticed a certain survival instinct kick in and it makes sense that it would. St. Paul puts it this way “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). To look at it another way the concern of the flesh is survival and comfort in the physical sense (how do I stay alive according to the rules of this world). Its concern is with our physical, mental, and emotional needs that we have because they aid this survival. When we look beyond that, and into eternal life with Christ and the survival of our soul, then we must only concern ourselves with things of God and guard ourselves from worries, fears and other things that lead us away from Him. Therefore, my true survival (eternal salvation) is dependent on God and my cooperation with His Will. Not on anyone else’s opinion of me and definitely not in my actions alone.

Path to Humility…

Of course, knowing this is not enough and moments arise when I stumble. I know what I’m supposed to do, but doing it is hard especially when pride has blinded me to its ways. I’ve found that instead of focusing on rooting out pride it is better to focus on practicing humility which brings me back to the 12-Steps to Humility. So this starts my new adventure on God’s path and in future posts, I’m going to share these moments as I make my way up the ladder of Humility and by God’s grace become free from pride.

 

Featured Books:

Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem by J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, by U.S. Catholic Church

Other Books You Might Be Interested In: 

The Rule of Benedict by Saint Benedict

A Guide to Living in the Truth: St. Benedict’s Teaching on Humility

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Are You My Mother?

One of my favorite books as a young girl was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.  I have always enjoyed reading, and this is a book I like to read to my children over and over again.  I’m not sure what exactly drew me to this particular story when I was younger. Perhaps it was the simple illustrations, the basic words, or the exciting storyline.  In the book, a young bird is searching for his mother. He goes on quite an adventure and ends up safe and sound back in the nest to be united with his mother.

In my life, there have been times when my mother-figures really hit the ball out of the park.  And there have also been times when they really dropped the ball. We all need a mother. And since our mothers are human, they don’t always get it right.  I am fortunate enough to be able to take a look back and a look around and find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to mothering. The humbling part comes when I realize that I also do not always get it right.

It seems that some women are naturals.  Comforting, nurturing, patient, gracious, warm, and all the other qualities we associate with mothering.  But for some of us, these qualities don’t come as easily. Our growth is sometimes slow. At the same time, motherhood is something each of us needs in this life, and something each of us as women are called to.  Whether or not we become biological mothers, we are all called to the vocation of spiritual motherhood. If you’re like me and need a little help sometimes, I have found someone we can turn to.

“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.”  (John 19:26-27) Mary, the Mother of God, is also our Mother in the order of grace (Catechism of the Catholic Church 967-970).  

Growing up Protestant, I rarely gave Mary a second thought save during the Christmas play at church. But when I became a mother, I knew I needed a guide to follow after. It was during my Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults that I finally came to a greater understanding of her role, not only in the Church, but also in my life as well.

During our RCIA session dedicated to Mary, we watched a clip of the video series Catholicism, and in conjunction with our readings and discussion I finally opened my heart to my true Mother.  In his book Catholicism, Father Robert Barron (now Bishop Barron) states “She is the one through whom Jesus continues to be born in the hearts of those who believe.”  This simple sentence changed my entire perspective.  I knew that if I were the only soul, Jesus would still have suffered and died for me. And by a similar token, as the Christ-bearer, Mary would have brought Him forth.  Finally, I had received an answer to the question I didn’t even know I was asking: are you my mother?

Yes, yes, Mary is my mother.  And if the Mother of God is also my mother, then I have found the freedom to aspire to motherhood as well.  Knowing that she is beside me, that I can follow where she leads – which is always straight to Jesus – then I am joining countless others on this journey to true motherhood.  And so I can truly look back and look around, and finally look up to our Blessed Mother, the channel through which the grace of Christ flows. I can take another step forward on this path of mothering.

I have found my mother, have you?

 

Featured Books:

Catholicism, by Fr. Robert Barron

Catechism of the Catholic Church, by U.S. Catholic Church

Other Books You Might Be Interested In: 

Meet Your Mother, by Mark Miravalle

Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God, by Scott Hahn

Walking With Mary, by Edward Sri

Mother Mary, Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

More on Our Blessed Mother: Show All Books

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Welcome! Allow Us To Introduce Ourselves

We are so glad you’ve come to join us! We hope that through this blog, we can all come to a deeper encounter of the One who has won for us the fullest, most abundant life. We, the authors, are no experts in theology, and we don’t pretend to be. We are simply lay women who have encountered the saving love of Jesus Christ through the Roman Catholic Church, and who strive to live out the calling to which we have been called: to be holy, to be faithful, to be missionary disciples, to be fully alive in the Holy Spirit and faithful to the Lord and His Holy Church. Above all, we are seeking to be transformed in LOVE, which is our highest calling.

We will offer through this blog our personal reflections, experiences, and testimonies of living in the world but being not of the world (see John 17:15-16). We might share about the Bible, the Sacraments, the Saints, our prayer lives, good books we’ve read or lessons we’ve learned in our unique journeys of faith. Our prayer is that the Lord accomplishes His Will through this blog and touches the heart of each reader. May we all have the grace to live in the glorious and ever-present victory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

∼ † ∼   CHRISTINE   ∼ † ∼ 

Hi, I’m Christine!  I was baptized into the Catholic Church as an infant and educated in the Catholic faith throughout my entire childhood.  There were wonderful people in my life who demonstrated the goodness of God to me, and I always believed that Jesus was God and that He died on the cross for us.  I had a Bible that was very precious to me, although it wasn’t until I went to college that I really began to read it with a hungry and open heart for God.  Over the course of a few years, I became hungrier to know God and to know His Will for my life.  It was then that I discovered that prayer is not a one-sided thing; rather, in the silence of the heart God speaks!  I suppose you could say that it was during this time that I began to “fall in love” with Jesus Christ, who no longer was a distant image in my mind but a very real, living Person who lives and speaks to my heart in the most intimate of ways.  Primarily, He “wooed” me through the unfathomable gift of the Holy Eucharist, in which He is ever-present and waiting to love and be loved. 

As my relationship with Christ developed in college, I gave Him my life and decided to follow wherever He called me. He led me to do ministry I never thought I would or could do. Through it all, God revealed a beautiful vocation to married life to a wonderful man from the other side of the planet.  Currently I am striving to live fully the call to be a missionary disciple of Christ and the Catholic Church, while continuing the journey since my baptism, now as a wife and mother.  I pray that the Lord would be encountered by all who hunger to know Him, and that this blog plays a special part in that mission.  Peace be with you!

∼ † ∼   KAYLA   ∼ † ∼

My husband and I were established in our careers and were beginning our family when we began to feel the Holy Spirit tugging on our hearts. Things were going great, but we were missing something. We were looking for a spiritual home base for our family. I had been raised Protestant, but wasn’t sure I wanted to return. Then we attended a Catholic Mass, and that’s when everything changed.

I entered the Catholic Church in 2015 after completing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults alongside my husband. I had finally found truths I didn’t even know I was looking for. I found forgiveness in the cross of Jesus and I am still amazed at His mercy. God has given me a new heart, filling it with His life and love. I have been set on a new path, learning to trust in His providence and seek His will in my daily life – in my family, with friends, and women’s ministry. God continues to draw me closer. And through God’s grace we are raising our family in the faith.

  ∼ † ∼   KELLY   ∼ † ∼

I am a new Catholic. I had a major conversion experience in Spring of 2016 where I came to accept Jesus as not just a man who lived once, but also as God who loves us immensely. Going through the RCIA was a very special time for me where under wise direction I came to know God and His church better, but I also became very aware of the spiritual battle. For me, I “woke up” with a new understanding of the world and to the realization that there was in fact a battle and more than just my soul at stake. I could not sit idly by and do nothing or go about as if everything was the same as before.

God has and is still calling me to radically change both myself and my life. In many ways, I feel like a blindfolded tightrope walker that has been stripped of a safety net, but He has promised that I will not fall if I follow Him. He is providing for me, protecting me, healing me, and guiding me.

While I may not have great theological insight, I hope to share more of my personal experience of this radical transformation with everyone.