How We Are Observing Holy Week

We are smack dab in the middle of Holy Week! Has this Lent gone by fast to you? It sure has for me – but I LOVE Holy Week, so I am savoring each day.

This year my family and I decided to give up screen time for the entire week. This doesn’t mean that I can’t work, but it does mean our TVs, game systems, tablets, etc. aren’t to be used for entertainment. My kids are actually doing quite well. Our older boys get it, the 4 year old had a bit of difficulty but is doing pretty well.

Instead of watching TV before bed my husband and I are reading – which is fantastic because I have started about 20 books and keep buying more.  It’s a problem, I know! But it’s books not boots so that’s okay, right? It would be one thing if I finished the books but most of the time I don’t. I am happy to report that I have completed one book from start to finish and I am half way through a second (but only because I had already read through half of the book before being distracted by another one). This might be something we need to keep doing, at least a few times a week.

As a family, we have also been listening to Father Rocky’s 5-part Holy Week Mission from Relevant Radio. It’s called Close to Jesus to the Last and is the Passion of Christ in 5 parts. It’s not too late to start listening. It is prayer, reflection, teaching, music – I just love it and it has really enhanced by Holy Week experience over the past couple of years. This is the first year we are listening to it as a family. We listen to the first half during dinner and the last half, 30 minutes before bedtime. In years past we have done something similar, by listening to an audio recording of the Bible that I purchased from EWTN.

Today, is Spy Wednesday and I came across a wonderful reflection on the Gospels reading. You should take a moment to check it out…

Spy Wednesday Offers Conversion To Everyone!

I may hide  30 pieces of silver (quarters) but even as I type this, I am still undecided. I just envision a big fight and something getting broken – but it could be really fun too. We’ll see.

Tomorrow for Holy Thursday, my older boys will be participating in a prayer service, followed by a re-enactment of the Last Supper. I also, for the first time ever, plan to do a small Last Supper/Passover meal. During CCD when I was a child, we did one – and it made a big impression because after all these years, I still remember it. I have read pros and cons regarding doing a Seder Meal, which I do not plan to do, but I think it will be a good learning/discussion time for our family to incorporate some of the foods that would be served during Passover and talk about the meaning behind them. This article has some good information connecting the Last Supper and Passover: How Does the Last Supper Relate to Passover?

The Last Supper is also when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (read: Evidence Christ Offered the Last Supper as a Sacrifice via Catholic.com), so that in and of itself is worth reflecting upon, which is another reason I thought it would be nice to do.

On Good Friday, we fast and abstain from meat. My children have a 1/2 day for Good Friday but in the morning the Middle School students participate in an absolutely AMAZING Shadow Stations of the Cross. It is so well done and something that school families (Catholic and non-Catholic alike), as well as parishioners, look forward to every year. It is a beautiful and emotional experience.  Below, you will find a YouTube video that gives you and idea of what Shadow Stations looks like but it isn’t from the school my children attend. This is a condensed version, less than 5 minutes, and still brought tears to my eyes!

We will attend The Passion of the Lord that evening at our parish and Venerate the Cross.

On Holy Saturday, I may try to make it over to Morning Prayer and later that evening, before the Easter Vigil, the Boy Scouts will build a Vigil Fire. My boys are new to Scouting, so this will be the first time we participate in it. We won’t be attending Vigil Mass because with a 4 year old, it could get a bit uncomfortable. However, when my boys are older I definitely want to start attending those regularly. Instead, we travel to my Mom’s Parish for Mass on Easter Sunday, which is always a wonderful experience.

So, that is how we are doing Holy Week! Nothing too crazy but hopefully starting some new traditions that will make this week even more meaningful to our family.

What are your plans?

May the LORD bless and keep you!

Let Us Love and Encourage One Another!

Yesterday, while picking up a prescription for one of my boys, I overheard an exchange between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Tech.

As the Pharmacy Tech was looking up the prescription I needed, she turned to the pharmacist next to her and said, “So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow? I know your husband isn’t going to do anything for you,” she chuckled, “but how about your mom or your kids are they doing anything?”

“Well, tomorrow is my kids’ end of the year baseball party, so that’s what I’m doing.” She said with a smile, “When you have kids, that’s how you spend your birthday some times.”

With a snarky snort the Pharmacy Tech said, “Yeah! When you have kids, you have no life!”

The Pharmacist paused for a moment and then replied, “I have a life! My kids are my life but I have a life”

“Yeah, your kids are your life.” said the Pharmacy Tech as she moved to the shelf to grab my prescription.

Joy Filled Catholic

Parenting is SO Much More Joyful than You Think it Is! Be positive and tell her, “Spending the day with your family sounds perfect!”

That’s what I wanted to say to the prickly pharmacy tech when she brought my prescription…but I didn’t. The exchange has been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell her that kids are a HUGE joy and she should be an encouragement instead of Ms. “Debbie Downer”! I wanted her to know that when a parent says that our kids are our life, that doesn’t mean we don’t exist anymore – our existence is transformed into something much greater.

My children are also my life! If not for them, I believe that my world would look quite different! I know I would be much more selfish and self-centered. I know, because that’s how I lived for many years. My children and my husband are helping me to become a better person.

I think about those many times when I was so tired, and one of my boys would wake in the middle of the night. I would shuffle into their room, praying as I went, for him to fall asleep quickly, so I could go back to bed. I remember so vividly rocking each of my babies back and forth, while humming a song to get them to sleep. I was forced to slow down, to be patient, and to do something for another person who was completely dependent on me.

It was amazing how the frustration and exhaustion would transform. It was still there but as soon as I looked at that sweet face in the glow of the nightlight and kiss those plump soft cheeks, I could feel myself changing! As I gazed down at my child, you might find tears streaming down my face from the mix of exhaustion and JOY.  If not for my children, I would never experience the juxtaposition of these emotions during such a precious moment.

Joy Filled Catholic

I wanted that tech to be an encouragement – but am I? Why do I sometimes assume the worst about people’s lives?

As my mind begins to marinate on the exchange I just described, I imagine that the lady (without kids, I am assuming) has a picture in her mind of how life sucking having children must be. She probably envisions kids running around wild, breaking vases, the mother screaming, while all the kids are shooting each other with silly string.

Meanwhile, I am picturing how lonely her life must be. Sitting in a darkened room that is bouncing with shadows and flashes of light created by the glow of the television. Each night, I imagine, she nestles in her recliner with a TV tray in front of her, while stroking one of her 15 cats and eating Chinese take-out straight from the box.

The truth is, when we don’t know someone’s life, we can only assume what we do not know, until we do – and even then we still don’t really know. What I mean is, that woman can’t possibly know the joy of parenting and all of the precious moments and love it provides and what it means when a parent says that their children are their life – and in turn, I don’t know how fulfilling all the activities and events she experiences without children truly are. After all, not everyone is called to marriage and family, and there can be extraordinary joy and great satisfaction in those vocations as well! I know, because I have seen it happen for people I know and love.

But do we have to know these things to love and encourage others? I don’t think so. We can love people right where they are and if being encouraging doesn’t come to us naturally, we can ask the Lord: “What can I do to be an encouragement to this person?”

So, what can I do? I can start by thinking positively about the person and their intentions, instead of assuming the worst.

Joy Filled Catholic

 

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Feeling Like an Outcast in God’s Family

www.joyfilledcatholic.com

You know that feeling you get, whether it is a big event, a meeting, or even just a conversation within a small group, when you suddenly think:

“What am I doing here? I don’t really belong. I don’t quite fit it.”

When I find myself in those situations, it feels a little awkward and uncomfortable. It is an unsettling feeling, which usually leads me to excuse myself and head for the door.

Now, let me ask you, have you ever felt that way as a member of God’s family? I know that I have! There are many times I observed other Christians living out their faith or attended church services, and though I desired to have that peace and blessed assurance, I never thought I would ever find it.

I would attend Mass with my mom infrequently. I would say all the things I had been taught to say, I would kneel, make the sign of the cross, and participate – but I felt like an outcast. I mean, I was there, but I didn’t feel like I really belonged – or that I was worthy to belong.

I even tried going to other churches to see how that “felt” but something was always a little (sometimes a lot) off for me. However, I did keep trying to find my place in God’s family. I admit that I didn’t try too hard, but I was seeking.

Once I finally realized that God wanted me back in the Catholic Church, there was no where else to go. Suddenly, I had an insatiable desire to know all about His Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the Bible. It is a fire that continues to burn inside of me today and I pray it will continue for the rest of my life!

What brought me back?

Not what, it was who! It was Jesus pursuing me with His mercy! He was relentless, compassionate, and loving. Every time I said,

Lord Jesus, I am not worthy. I have committed sins too terrible to truly be forgiven. I ignored every blessing you put before me to pursue what I wanted. I chased after all the things I thought would make me happy, complete, and adored. Instead, this pursuit has left me broken, anxious, and despising the person I have become. I can no longer live this way but I am still not worthy to be in your family. Lord, you see me. You know my sins. You know my heart. I think we can now both agree that I am not worthy.

But he did not agree! He did not agree with me at all.

I had a lot of work to do. But when I finally stopped running from him, because I was too ashamed to face him, I ran to Him and my life has never been the same. Once I realized and accepted that I had not ruined God’s plans for my life, everything changed. Yes, I chose a path that was a lot bumpier, and far more perilous, than it could have been if I had made better choices. However, the Lord showered me with graces that have made me the person I am today.

He has used those trials and suffering to bring about so much good in my life and he will surely do the same for you. If you are feeling like an outcast in God’s family, take heart! You are so loved by a Heavenly Father who knit you together in your mother’s womb and He knows you inside and out. He wants to shower you with His grace and mercy.

 

Journal idea: Are there times in your life when you felt like an outcast in God’s family? What changed that feeling for you? Who did God place in your life to plant seeds? How did He guide you back and show you how forgiving and merciful He truly is?

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“God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called!”

My husband gets up early in the morning, so he is usually in bed by 9:30pm. I can’t quite get myself to go to sleep that early, but going up to bed at the same time each night is something that is important to both of us. So while he sleeps, I watch TV or try to get work done from my phone. I should probably be reading instead…I need to start doing that a lot more, actually.

Anyway, I usually turn on Food Network or HGTV. Sometimes I have shows recorded like EWTN’s The Journey Home or At Home with Jim and Joy. However, the other night I decided to turn on the Protestant television channel and up popped a familiar face. I was sure I would only watch for a few moments but the way the woman on the show spoke, really drew me in. Probably because she reminded me a lot of my husband’s Grandma, who I love. No nonsense, kind of serious but throws in some humor every now and again. Her message for the day grabbed me right away and one phrase she repeated a few times, stuck with me:

“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

I have heard this saying before, but last night it stuck with me and I started to meditate on what this means for me and my life. The woman’s message resonated with me. The topic was that we may feel very unqualified to do the work that God is calling us to do. We may be filled with the urging of the Holy Spirit, but perhaps we don’t know where to start and what we are even doing.

I feel that way a lot, which is probably why my blog gets so neglected. On one hand I feel like I don’t really have the credentials to speak about what the Church teaches and why someone should be Catholic. So I lose my confidence and just don’t write.

On the other hand, I spend a lot of time reading, doing research, listening to Catholic apologetic podcasts, etc. and I know that this desire to know and learn is building up to something. I think all the time, “I should do a post about that!” and then I don’t – but I usually write the idea down for a later date.

I mean, I know why I am Catholic. I know why I am raising my children in the faith. I have had a lot of life experience, which propels me forward and qualifies me to speak to others who are going through, or have gone through similar situations. These are the things I can be writing about. Even though it is hard for me to share those experiences, I have to remember that it could help encourage others.

For example, I am a child of divorce. While I cannot speak for every child of divorce I can share my experience and why that makes me an avid defender of life and the family. I had a father who’s battle with substance abuse finally overtook him. I also happen to be a recovering alcoholic, who just celebrated 20 years of sobriety this year. While I cannot speak for every child of a drug addict – or every recovering or active alcoholic – I can share my story of struggle and hope with others. So they can say, “Well, if she did it, through the grace of God, so can I!”

I have felt hopeless a lot in my life. I used to wonder “why” about a lot of things. Why can’t anything just be easy for me? Why can’t things go my way just for once? Why is everything such a struggle? I pray, I beg, I cry out in desperation and nothing…nothing…nothing. Does God even care what I want? Is he even listening?

Perhaps, if I had heard the stories of others like me, and how God delivered them, then maybe I wouldn’t have felt so defeated. Maybe I am supposed to be that person for someone else.

Joy Filled Catholic

Those unanswered prayers really did lead me to greater things. My mistakes have helped shape who I am and what I value and believe today. God really can bring so much beauty from the ashes. During all those dark times people came and went from my life to serve a purpose and seeds were being planted. While I sat there feeling like a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle, completely pulled apart and mixed up, God was working to connect those pieces — and he still is.

I am thankful to now live the life I always dreamed of. Actually, it is even better than I ever dared to imagine. I feel so unworthy of these blessings but I know that I am now called to share my story and experience with others and do as Jesus instructed the Gerasene:

‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you’”
– Luke 8:39

God delivered me from my “demons”, from all the things that were keeping me from hearing his call for my life. I now realize that God has qualified me to do the work he has set before me. He will continue to qualify me as I travel the path of life, so that I may do his will.

Joy Filled Catholic

Journal idea: Are there things in your life that you felt quite unqualified for, but during your journey you gained the experience necessary to qualify you? You could also make a list of the crosses you have had to carry in your life, or mistakes you have made. How has God worked through you, to turn those experiences into something that could help others?

 

 

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When I Met Mary at the Foot of the Cross

The LEnt I met Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Photo Credit: The Joy Filled Catholic ♦ The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

I have a blog post in the works that I will post after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord — and I think it will be a great post to kick off the Easter season!

Today is Holy Thursday. This evening will mark the end of Lent and the beginning of the Pascal Triduum. It is during this time that we should pause to reflect on all of those moments leading up to the crucifixion. All the actions, words, betrayals, tears, and the brutal sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

Even though I grew up Catholic, Holy Week wasn’t really something we took time to pause and reflect on. All of that changed for me several years back.

My husband and I were struggling to conceive, my step-dad, and also a very dear friend and co-worker of mine, were both battling colon cancer. It was through my sadness, disappointment, and grief that I was starting to cling to my Catholic faith – which a few year before, I nearly abandoned. I was praying for the intercession of Saints, praying the Rosary, I went to confession which didn’t turn out as I had hoped (my fault – but that is a story for another day), visited my favorite sanctuary, and started going to Mass more often than I ever had in years.

So, that year, I decided that I would go to Mass on Holy Thursday. I had never been before and I really didn’t understand what was going on. It was long, and there was just a lot happening, and yet sometimes, nothing was happening. It’s even hard to explain that now. I felt like a stranger, somewhere that I typically felt (for the most part) like I knew what was happening and what to expect next. It left me wanting to know more. This was the year I dipped my toe into Holy Week.

Fast forward several years, our twins were almost 6 years old and we were expecting our third son. Two years before, my husband had gone through RCIA, we had our marriage Convalidated, and we became regular Mass attenders. Lent became more and more special each year. However, this Lent was different than any other for me and one which I will always remember. It was the Lent when I met Mary at the foot of the Cross.

I know that may sound a bit strange. Especially, since Holy Week and the Triduum are focused on Jesus, of course. But when I took a moment to look at Mary, I discovered something about Jesus that I hadn’t really thought of before – He is not only our Lord, Son of God. He is not only fully divine — but fully man as well. He is Lord – but he is also Mary’s son.

How often have I seen photographs, painting, or statues of the infant Jesus cradled in His mother’s arms. A tender embrace of love. She fed him, snuggled him, and taught him how to do all those things that faithful, Jewish mothers of her day, taught their sons. There is very little information about Jesus’ childhood – but I can imagine all those moments that they shared together. Many of those things I even share with my own sons.

But Mary had to witness the Passion and death of her only Son. She watched in gut-wrenching, heart-crushing, soul-piercing, horror as her precious baby was dragged through the streets. He was beaten, spit on, ridiculed, and died — all as His mother watched; helpless to save Him.

I don’t know what Mary knew – but I do know she had an unwavering faith. She trusted the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind. However, that doesn’t make having to witness the brutality against her Son any easier to watch.

That day, I believe that a sword did pierce through her own soul…just as Simeon had foretold. (Luke 2:35) I believe it because if I even let myself think for a second, about how I would feel having to watch that happen to one of my boys – it brings me instantly to tears.

When I think of that moment in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, where she and Mary Magdalene are taking rags and soaking up Jesus’ blood that was spilled out on the streets, that also brings me to tears.

I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for her. I can only look at her with my mother’s heart and meditate on what transpired that day. When I do I just want to hug her and hold her. I want to put my arms around her and cry with her…at the foot of the cross.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.    John 16:20


God’s Peace be with you!

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A Reason for the Hope Within Me

The Grotto Portland

 

But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them or be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

1 Peter 3:14-17

For so many years I was afraid of being open about my faith. I was also timid to admit I was Catholic.

Would my beliefs be challenged?

Would I be confronted and have no answers, only to concede that I did not know the faith I professed?

Would one of unbelief have the words to convince me that my faith is in vain?

Would I be ridiculed for the Church’s teachings, many of which seemed to me at the time, to be so out of touch with today’s reality?

I think what I was most afraid of, if I am being completely honest, is that I would not fit in. What I didn’t realize, is that I am not supposed to. I didn’t understand that following Jesus is not supposed to be easy. We are called to seek the narrow gate, even though the way is hard. While others are seeking the easy route; blissfully filing through the wide gate, which unfortunately can lead to destruction. (MT 7:13-14)

I was a coward! I was conforming MYSELF to the world so that the world would love me. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be who the world said I should be and believe what the world professes to be true. I didn’t realize that as Christians, we are set apart. We are called to holiness. We aren’t supposed to do what “they” do, or say what “they” say.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I will ever be perfect. It doesn’t mean that I have not sinned in big ways – I have! But the Lord is merciful indeed and I am so thankful that I now have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The more I reject the ideals of this world, and instead put my trust and hope in the Lord – the greater my sense of peace and joy.

So, where does my hope come from?

It comes from the LORD and it gives me the peace and blessed assurance that I need to confidentially proclaim His truth. This is something I am working on doing more and more – but fear still creeps in sometimes.

Through my deep desire to know my faith and understand what it means to be a Catholic, I made a remarkable discovery. The Church is so wise. Thanks to solid Catholic resources, along with reading and studying the Bible, I now understand the “whys” behind many of Her teachings. Teachings which I only rejected before, because I didn’t understand them. I love, honor and respect Holy Mother Church.

Joy Filled Catholic

What or who has helped me on this exciting faith journey? All glory goes to God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Through a burning desire to know more, I have discovered some magnificent Catholic resources that I highly encourage you to explore:

EWTN TV and Radio

The Journey Home

Catholic Answers Radio

Tim Staples

Trent Horn

Jimmy Akin

Patrick Madrid

Catholic Answers Website

Relevant Radio (I use the App and listen to so many programs)

Go Ask Your Father

The Coming Home Network

Catholics Come Home

Ascension Presents

Blessed is She

These are just a few of the dynamic resources that I found to help me understand my faith! There are a ton of others. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list, just pick one or two to explore. You’ll soon find yourself looking for others though, so keep this list handy!

Let me just leave you with this:

God desires us all to be part of His one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He desires us to lead others to Him and build up His Kingdom on earth and He gives us the grace to do this. He desires us to be holy and dwell with Him forever in Heaven. He desires us to be filled with peace and joy.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to much more than what this broken world can offer us, but while we are here, we must be beacons of light and love for others.

 

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

― Saint Teresa of Ávila

 

God’s Peace Be with You!

 

Why I LOVE Being Catholic ~ Intro

Why I LOVE Being Catholic

So, after having this blog for a year, posting a few things, and writing several things that didn’t seem right, so they didn’t get posted – I have FINALLY been inspired! Praise be to God!

Seriously, if I didn’t know that it was God’s will for me to put this blog out there for His Glory and for the good of the Kingdom, I would have shut it down months ago. Even through my discouragement and dryness, as it related to writing posts, I knew that I needed to keep praying for clarity, and discern what He wanted me to do.

Joy Filled Catholic

Initially, I think I knew why I wanted to start this blog all along. Or I guess I should say, I had some understanding of why the Lord put it on my heart to start this blog. It is because I LOVE being Catholic! I absolutely love it and I want to share that with others.

In sharing what I adore about our magnificent Catholic Church, I hope to help others – and also spread joy! That is why I named this blog The Joy Filled Catholic. Because that is what I am! In the midst of all the negativity, hate, hurting, and sin that exists in our perishing world – through my faith, the Word of God, Holy Mother Church, and the Holy Spirit working within me, I have an unshakable sense of peace and joy. Something that I NEVER had in my life before I started trying to understand why I am a Catholic.

People have asked me why I am Catholic – and I never really had a good grasp on the why. I would say things like:

“It’s just what I know.”

“I was baptized Catholic.”

“Does it really matter as long as I am a Christian?”

“I like the tradition of the Mass.”

…and on and on. I never had a clear answer though. So I went searching. I decided that if my husband and I are going to raise our kids Catholic and invest in Catholic education, I should probably know the WHY. Why choose Catholicism over being Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Scientologist, etc. It seems like all religious denominations believe they have the answers, or they have the truth. Even non-denominational churches feel like they have it right.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19

The truth is, there is only one true church – and that is the Catholic Church. Jesus says so himself. Don’t get me wrong, I adore our separated brethren and have a lot of respect for the good that they do in the world. Why do I love them? Because they love Jesus and they are seeking to do right in the eyes of the Lord. They are sheep that are still close to the Shepard but have veered off to a nearby path. They have some of the truth, some more than others, but they are not in full communion with Christ’s church. They have been led astray by false teachings or desire to find a church where they can decide which teachings to believe and which ones seem a little too hard.

Jesus never said being a disciple of His would be easy. On the contrary He says:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:13-14

He also said:

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided. Three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law  against her mother-in law.

Luke 12:51-53

No, my friends, it is not easy to be a Catholic – but it is right. It is true. The Catholic Church is the only church that can be traced back all the way to Christ Himself. In the years following Christ’s death and resurrection, Christianity spread like wildfire. This was at a time when travel was difficult and perilous. There was no social media, television, or radio. Against ALL odds Christianity thrived! The Catholic Church has seen the rise and fall of many an empire and yet She still holds firm.

Joy Filled Catholic

My brother’s and sisters, I have so many things to share with you! I invite you to journey with me as we explore all the beauty and truth of Catholic Church.

My hope and my prayer is that I can provide some information that will peek someone’s interest to go on their own exploration of faith to learn about the Catholic Church – even if they are just wanting to do so to prove the Church wrong. I know that anyone who fervently and earnestly seeks to understand the Church’s teachings, will, at the very least gain a new respect for the faith.

Christ’s peace be with you,

 

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“Do not be discouraged. Be Not Afraid!”

John 15 18 19

 

Sometimes I just cannot hide the frustration I feel when it comes to the world view on things like; abortion, euthanasia, gender neutral bathroom and locker room faculties, and other hot button issues. Our culture is so misguided and I often wonder, why can’t they wake up and see how incredibly wrong they are?

The thing is, these people passionately feel that they are right and that I, and people who agree with me, are wrong — but I wonder, if I was still part of that world, would I think they way they do? There is a good chance that, at some degree, the answer would be yes.

When faced with my thoughts on these issues, compared to popular culture, I realize how much I have changed – and that many of my views have changed as well. It is also difficult to keep quiet about my views – and that is a very good thing! None of us should keep quiet. We need to shout the Lord’s truth from the roofs tops, in a charitable and loving way.

So, as much as I know in the very depths of my soul, how wrong and confused the mainstream culture is, I can also see quite clearly how everything in the world has fostered a rich environment for these types of ideas and opinions.

When I was away from the church, living a life contrary to God’s plan, and wrapped tightly up in the culture, I was unaware that I was being brainwashed by what I was seeing and hearing. This was not just happening by watching the news, but also my regular television shows, commercials, song lyrics, etc. As I began to step back from that, it has become so clear and I see things in a way that I never did before.

Have you found this to be true for you?

The verse above perfectly explains what is happening. The more I disengage from the things that our culture holds dear and focus my attention toward Jesus and seek to discern the Lord’s purpose for my life — I belong less to the world and more to Him.

When I live my life in an effort to serve others and focus less on myself, I become happier. The more I learn about the Lord, nurture that relationship, live my vocation and seek Him in all things – the more JOY and fullness I feel.

So, let us all strive for holiness. Let us keep evangelizing. Let us live holy and the seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might. Let us be rebels and not go with what society tells us how — we should be, do, want, have, and think.

People are being lead by false prophets and fake ideas. They are willing to indulge people’s fantasies instead of facing the real problems of this world. They are jumping on and off whatever the most popular bandwagons is at the time.

http://www.joyfilledcatholic.com

Brothers and sisters, we must remain steadfast and not get discouraged by everything we hear and see. As St. John Paul II said — Be not afraid. We must be the voice of reason bringing the truth in this very confused and misguided world. In any way and every way we can — starting of course, with our own families.

God bless!

Catholic Bible Journaling

http://www.joyfilledcatholic.com

I have not always been very good about reading the bible. I’m actually not an avid reader in general, which has always made reading the bible seem like an impossible task. In the past, I would always crack open the bible to the first page and begin reading in Genesis 1:1 and by Genesis 5, where is starts listing the descendants from Adam to Noah, I was pretty much done.

Even though Catholics get a bad rap for not reading and studying the bible, I knew from my Catholic upbringing that during every Mass scripture is read during the Liturgy of the Word.

In fact, each Sunday we read from the Old Testament, New Testament and the Psalms (and during daily Mass there are 2 readings). So I was getting a good dose of scripture, right? Well, not so much. Yes, reading scripture during Mass is important, necessary, wonderful, and all of those things — but I was still missing a lot!

CBJ2

 

I realized that I not only wanted to read, but to memorize and meditate on the Word as well. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to do that, so I hit up Pinterest for inspiration.

Through my search, I discovered bible journaling. Everything I found revolved around using Protestant bibles. In these journaling bibles I found some amazing, creative, and beautiful faith-filled examples — but I wanted a Catholic journaling bible. So I went searching. When I had trouble locating one I emailed the Catholic Company and asked at my local Catholic book store but there were none to be found.

Why did I want a Catholic bible? Well, for those who don’t know, Catholic bibles contain the original 73 books of the bible, and during the reformation certain books were removed that conflicted with their teachings. To learn more about this I recommend:

Also, with some Protestant bibles, certain liberties are taken with the wording which I feel sometimes hampers gaining a true understanding of what the scripture is saying — but that is a post for another day.

The point is, I wanted a Catholic journaling bible and there are none to be found, though I have it on good authority that there is talk of one being in the works. However, it will mostly likely be a few years before one is approved and for sale.

In the meantime, I do have a bible that I love and I write in often but I do it around the edges where room allows. I also hightlight, and make notes in it which helps me understand and meditate on what I am reading.

CBJ

 

The thing I do most often though, is pick a scripture for the day and I create, meditate and pray in a beautiful journal that I got (see photo at the beginning of the post). Some people who journal – use stamps, stickers, tape, and a variety of other things to create some beautiful and meaningful pages.  I have just been using markers, colored pencils, and highlighters – but I’m looking to expand my journaling horizons.

To see a fantastic post on bible journaling in a Catholic study bible, head over to a post at Catholic Icing – Bible Journaling For Catholics- FINALLY An Affordable Catholic Bible Option!!!

I’ll be posting more on this topic soon because it is something I do regularly, and I’ll be leading our MOMs group in a bible journaling discussion and tutorial next week!

 

Want to be part of a group of warm, welcoming, creative women and learn more about Catholic bible journaling? Join the Catholic Women’s Bible Journaling group on FB and take a moment to introduce yourself!