Faith: The Key To Happiness in Married Life

My daily reading of Catholic blogs brought me to this one particularly thought provoking post, “Lack of Faith Can Hurt Marriage, May Affect Validity, Pope Says”. The report made me look into my married life and realized just how much faith has contributed to my wonderful years of marriage.

The strength of a marriage is very closely tied to faith. Two people decide to take on the holy sacrament of marriage with the belief that God has brought them together and will keep them together until the end. It would only be right to think that without Him in the center of the marital relationship, it is bound to fall apart. When you come to think of it, to have no faith in Him who created and blessed your marriage is to have no faith in the value of your marriage at all.

It is true that marriage is vital not only because of its spiritual implications, but because of its role in the sustenance of a healthy society. However, I believe that marriage can transcend beyond all human expectations when it draws its strength and inspiration directly from God.

I also want to say that although I believe that it is advantageous for couples to share the same religious affiliation, I do not think it is the main factor for a successful marriage. Rather, it is the strong belief in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that will sustain a harmonious marital relationship. Common religion without strong faith will do very little for a marriage. It is through our faith in the Lord that we walk in the right path and it is only through His strength and power that we are able to wrestle and overcome temptations, sin, selfishness, and interpersonal conflicts.

Thoughts About The “Cry-Room” at Church

A few days ago, I shared my thoughts about how I admire parents who take their children to Mass. Today I would like to share my thoughts about the “cry-room” (also known as the family room) that most churches provide for mothers or families with young children. My thoughts were inspired by one mother’s experience on taking her kids to Mass alone. (If you want to read about it, here it is: “I Took the Kids to Mass Today!“)

There is no doubt that churches have put up the “cry-room room” with the best intentions–that is, to make sure that worshipers get to hear Mass undisturbed. However, I believe that parents shouldn’t be forced (by anyone) to use the room if they think their kids can handle sitting with the general audience. Of course, they are kids and there certainly will be some minor hiccups from time to time, but I think that as long as a child stays put and doesn’t throw fits, there is no need to use the “cry-room”.

Furthermore, I think that parents ought to train their child to behave well during Mass rather than choose to have them stay in the family room–where no one really gets anything out of the Mass. It is important that we teach our children the right things early on, instead of having them do what they want all the time. It isn’t fun to have to correct their wrong behaviors, but it is the right thing to do.  Lastly, if you happen to sit beside a mother with her kids in the general audience some time soon, please don’t ask them to sit in the “cry-room” and deprive them of the chance to enjoy and worship the Lord fully.

Respect Parents Who Bring Their Young Children to Mass

I respect the families that choose to bring their young children to Mass. Most of the time they are really well behaved, and I think it is important to instill the habit of attending Mass in kids today. Sometimes I see parents struggling to keep their child quiet during Mass, and some people give them annoyed looks. I really dislike when people do this. The parents are simply trying to do something good. Sure, the young children might cry or have an outburst at some point, but can you blame the parents for trying to teach their kids about God? I think we all need to relax and let these parents keep doing what they’re doing. Eventually those little kid will grow up, and hopefully the good habits of their parents will help them grow into future members of your parish.

I read a post that I thought was really cool recently. It was written from the perspective of the youngest child of a family who attends Mass together. The post is titled, “A Letter to Frankie About Mom’s Mass Survival Tips”. I thought it was an awesome post because it describes how this mother has kept her family full of children under control at Mass. Hearing it told from a young child’s perspective was hilarious though.

Celebrating Advent: How to Get the Whole Family Involved

I think the best way to get your family on board with the celebration of Advent is to get an Advent wreath and Advent calendar for your home. Having the calendar in your house is a great way to get kids excited for Advent. Each day a child can open a new window on the calendar and receive a piece of chocolate. The wreath is the more religious of the two, and hopefully if your kids get excited for the calendar you can carry that over for the wreath as well.

If you want to learn about everything involved in having a nice Advent wreath at your house check out this post called, “Reviving Advent” that I found recently. The article goes into how to make your Advent wreath, blessing the Advent wreath, lighting the Advent wreath, and even gives you some ideas for daily Scripture readings that you can use.

How do you celebrate Advent at your home?

Keeping the Saints in Mind Throughout November: Ideas for Your Family

All Saints Day was November 1, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about the saints. In fact, if you have kids I would even encourage you to keep the saint in mind all month long. A recent post on Catholic Family Fun gave me this idea. The post was titled, “Fun for the Month”, and was about ways to keep your family involved and learning about the saints all through November. The author Sarah has some awesome ideas which include having your kids trade saint cards, designing their own saint place mats, feast day cards, family litanies, and other great ideas as well!

What ways will you utilize to teach your children about the saints?

Practicing Catholic in a Fractured World

As  a practicing Catholic, you live in a world that is fractured in so many ways. It’s difficult to remain devoted to Christ and remain “on track” when we face so many diversions, distractions and demons.

Yes, the 21st Century is a challenging time for a practicing Catholic.
But the world was also a very challenging place two thousand years ago.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus tells his disciples “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” and then follows up that doozy with another “…do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Ummm, hold the phone… did He say “setting the earth on fire” and “division”?
I thought Jesus was all about “love one another”?

The “take-away” from this message is: look, buddy, if you want to be a “practicing Catholic” and follow Jesus, be prepared to face some resistance, and some division.  We live in a fractured, splintered world.

Be Prepared: Practing Catholic

Image Courtesy Disney

Not everyone will be accepting of your beliefs. Which should also drive another message to you: a practicing Catholic may face a bumpy road along the way to heaven. Will you worry more about pleasing others around you?  Will you be prepared for dealing with your own personal demons?  What about facing your own distractions and the tests of temptations, and letting  “life” getting in the way for a practicing Catholic?

Yes, Jesus came to walk among us, in an effort to change the world.  And to a certain extent, He succeeded.  The Christian population, and ultimately the Catholic Church emerged from this time.  But was Jesus just crash-landing here to start a new church?

Hardly. He created a “division” that exists to this day for a practicing Catholic.  Not an evil kind of division, but an alternative.  Think about what the world Jesus parachuted into: two thousand years ago, following the words of Jesus was an alternative to the many gods all the different tribes and families idolized.  And He provided an alternative to the “an eye for an eye” approach, by suggesting, hey, maybe we should try to love another instead.  You know, treat your neighbor as you wan to be treated.

And here we are, two thousand years later: idolatry, giving false prophets attention and demons (like the love of money) curse the world to this day.  A practicing Catholic fifteen hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, five years ago lives among others who simply do not see things as we do.  While it is important not to judge others, it is crucial to bear in mind a practicing Catholic faces division, resistance and constant challenges.

In the same passage, Jesus states, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” Certainly He is not referring to a dip in the water kind of baptism, but the human pain of death and the painful human process that death, crucifixion, entailed.  But that was done to show a practicing Catholic  that we should not fear death, but rather, look forward to the day we are all together in heaven.

So, like the tune from “The Lion King” we should all “be prepared!”  Be prepared, as a practicing Catholic, to face a constant test: perhaps from loved ones, from others, from temptations and distractions.  The road to heaven will not be smooth nor safe.

But extremely rewarding.

I was initially surprised to read and hear these words this morning at mass.  But it made sense to me after reflection.
What are your thoughts hearing Jesus talking about coming to “set the world on fire” and “how I wish it were already blazing”? 

Daily Prayer, per Chris Pirillo

Thank you Chris Pirillo for the laugh today!

We Hope No One Hears Us!

Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus

Today is January 3rd, which is the day we celebrate the Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Medal

Holy Name of Jesus

As if we didn’t already know that Jesus is a very holy name. This was the name given by the angel to Mary, before He was conceived in the womb.

But, at Mass this morning, our celebrant spoke about how we have seen so many athletes with unusual names over the past thirty or forty years. What he explained was, at the time “Jesus, the Christ” and also “Jesus the Annointed One” were such very unique and so very special names used to describe Jesus.

While someone can name their child “LeBron” or “Anfernee” it certainly carries special meaning for their immediate families. But terms like “Jesus the Christ” carry so much more meaning — for such a large percentage of the population, not just some family members. It truly IS a holy name: Jesus.

As a parent, we find that our children often try to emulate the parents. So it’s not a surprise to see your kids making the same torturous mistakes and missteps you made. It’s all a part of growing up. For the children, AND the parents! But, besides love, parents really GIVE their kids one thing: a name. Please parents, for goodness sake, don’t mess this up!

To a certain extent, remember, we have all become members in one large extended family. And today we celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus.

More about Silence

I just read a post by a young woman talking about the “quiet” of the Catholic Church as opposed to the Presbyterian church she recently visited in the South.

One of her comments really struck me. She said “I think if we actually believed that Christ was there, all our attention would be focused on Him”. I don’t think she meant this to be a question of Catholic teaching, it was a personal question for us to consider invidually. Our Catholic faith tells us HE is really there. We know this and it’s the reason we offer the sacrifice of the Mass to Him. I admitted I would remember her comment the next time I felt the urge to be “chatty” (see my previous post) in church.

My children attend Catholic Grammar School and families join them for First Friday Mass each month. It’s so exciting as the children enter the church, there are hundreds of smiles, giggles, feet stomping, kneelers falling and a restlessness you can actually feel. There is quite a bit of “Shushing” going on too. The entire Student Body is then reminded that they are in the presence of our Lord and should remain quiet and in prayer. I think that might be what has gotten lost over the years, prayer before Mass begins. Mass was not intended to be a place to “catch-up”. We come to church to give thanks to the Lord and participate in the Eurcharist.

Catholics are often considered “unwelcoming” to other Christians and maybe that’s because we do behave differently while at Mass. It’s wonderful to see the groups of people gathered outside the Church after Mass saying hello, shaking hands even giving one another hugs. We are friendly. We are supportive of each other. I won’t include those that almost run you over getting out of the parking lot to be first in line at the bakery (that’s where I assume they’re headed anyway).

Does your parish have a gathering center that people meet after Mass? My parish hosts Hospitality Sunday gathering once per month but I bet there are some that do this weekly? Would you like your church community to offer something like this?

I’m thankful that I was given this rather gentle reminder to reconsider my reverance while in the church, both before and after Mass. I hope this might be an Advent reflection for you as well.

Silence Doesn’t Always Mean Somethings Wrong

Why, when my husband tells me that when he’s quiet doesn’t mean somethings wrong, don’t I believe him?

So what if my nickname is “Chatty Cathy” and so what if I love to chat? Well what’s wrong, as I’ve come to believe, is that you CAN’T listen and talk at the same time. I am a Master of Multitasking (in my humble opinion) but this one has me beat. To truly be present in silence is the best way to listen for God to speak to you.

Unfortunately I have always been someone who starts a sentence before the person I’m speaking with finishes theirs. Honestly I have only recently realized how often I do this. In my heart I’m not trying to be rude and I don’t think what I have to say is more important than their words, it’s just that I worry that I’ll lose what I want to say. I know that does sound rude, doesn’t it? I’m working on this. I figure if I lose my train of thought, it couldn’t have been worth much anyway. It’s kind of like the saying “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was!. So my ideas, thoughts, comments or whatever… if important, will come back. More importantly if I listen more intently I might not have to think of something else to say, just listen.

I have come to appreciate the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi more when he says “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words”. Whether or not St. Francis actually spoke these words doesn’t matter now, it’s the point. We do not always have to speak to preach the Gospel. It’s in our deeds, it’s in our prayers and most importantly it should be in our hearts. I need to get out of my head more as that what gets my mouth in trouble.

Do you have trouble with silence? Are you able to fully meditate and await what God might be trying to put on your heart by putting it into your head first? I’m trying, please pray for me to accept silence as the blessing is truly is.