Wisdom from a the Patron Saints of Beekeepers & Brewers

If I end up with several sons, it is likely that one of them will be named after Saint Ambrose. Today is his feast day and I've been learning about his life for the first time and it is the sort of story that fills my heart with hope and joy. You can read a little bit about his life here.  It's a good one. 

It was Saint Ambrose that counseled Saint Monica over the heartache of her wayward son Augustine - famously quoted, "the child of those tears shall never perish".  And it was Saint Ambrose who challenged Augustine to change his life and accept Christ as Lord. 

He, along with Augustine, are two of the four original doctors of the Church.(Pause for a minute to take in how cool that is.) Saint Ambrose is the sort of saint that feels larger than life, and his devotion to Christ can feel out of reach for a normal person like me. 

But one thing pulled me back into a realistic type of perspective: he is, among other things, the patron saint of beekeepers. And Saint Augustine, the patron saint of brewers. 

Those are totally normal things! And suddenly they don't feel quite so intimidating anymore. 

This morning, despite my best attempt to come up with an excuse not to go, I brought Augustine (my son, not the saint) to our parish daily mass. During the homily, father Dan said something along the lines of this: Whatever it is that we do, do it for the glory of God.  

A very welcome lesson from the keeper of the bees & the brewer of beers. 

If you keep bees, may you keep them well - for the glory of God.

If you brew beer, may you brew it with love and quality - for the glory of God. 

If you change diapers, if you wash dishes, if you fold laundry, if you sweep floors, may you do so with great kindness and dedication - for the glory of God.

This is why we're here, friends. This is what we were made for.

We are free to choose our own paths in life. We are born with likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations, favorites and passions and ideas of what might bring us joy. Let us pursue these things with fervor and zeal - and let us do it all for the glory of God. 

Saints Ambrose and Augustine, pray for us!

 

Augustine and ambrose looking very cool and scholarly

Augustine and ambrose looking very cool and scholarly

Sts Gervase and Protase Appearing to St Ambrose

Sts Gervase and Protase Appearing to St Ambrose

  Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius I from Milan Cathedral

 

Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius I from Milan Cathedral

A Humbling Sort of Advent

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I had goals of Lenten proportion for Advent this year. I have been feeling just way off and far from the person I wanted to be - spiritually, emotionally, and physically really - and like a brand new liturgical year would be the type of thing to bring myself back in a big sort of way.  I had big dreams and even wrote down my "rules" and felt sure that on that first Sunday afternoon I would experience a wonderful change of heart and this would be so incredibly easy. 

But then Saturday night & Sunday morning rolled around and life kept happening. Business as usual. My husband kept working 80 hour weeks (also, 80 is a low estimate), my kids continued to exhibit their own free will and human nature, Sonic and Wendy's continued to be conveniently located and taste moderately good, and Starbucks continued to get me through the day.  My days were still chaotic and I didn't magically feel like praying the rosary all of the sudden. 

After planning all year for a quiet Christmas at home, last minute changes in plans meant our calendar is instead filled with travel (6 flights this month) - including two weddings! This month is full of joy and family and so many good things, but full nonetheless.  And the change I had been hoping for seemed to be slipping away into the continual mess of my life. 

Yet God calls me to rest. Rest? How can I rest? I have 40 peg dolls to paint, 4 dozen cookies to bake, 5 baskets of laundry to put away, and more. I have shoes for Saint Nicholas to fill and a paper Advent village to build and devotionals to try to remember to read.  How can I rest? It's midnight and the peg dolls are drying. 

This year, Advent will be humbling for me. But not in the ways I planned. Because I just can't build that Advent village. I tried, but this season of life is the kind that stretches me thin & I am learning my limits. "Know thyself," they say. I can barely find non-wrinkly clothes for my family to wear. 

God is calling me to quiet my heart and my home, not by overwhelming myself with too many new traditions or restrictions (although if you're up for it, those are great, but I'm not). But with a gentle softening of my heart. 

He reminds me that He loves me just as I am, but He also calls me to turn from my sins and towards His perfect will. 

He takes my hand in this Advent season and he asks me to walk with Him towards the Father with him. He shows me his mother and he asks her to care for me as my spiritual mother. In this season of life, when I am exhausted and overwhelmed and prone to anxiety, He calls me his daughter and welcomes me into warmth and light. He reminds me of the love I have for my children - the unconditional love, regardless of how many times they may mess up - and He shows me that His love for me is even more than I can comprehend. 

He welcomes me into this season of expectant joy. He lifts my burdens from my shoulders and reminds me that I don't need to do everything or try to be perfect. His love is sufficient, and his grace is saving. If I forget to show them the video about Saint Nicholas or don't get organized enough to make any cool crafts, but I spend this season sharing Christ's love with my children and husband and family (and you!) - then it will have been a good Advent. 

Wishing you a blessed and restful Advent season, friends. Only 18 days until Christmas! 

 

PS I'll be sharing more of our liturgical living type of things on instagram at @liturgyofhome. I'd love to journey with you!  

 

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Happy Catholic New Year + Resolutions

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This morning, the First Sunday of Advent, marked the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church so everything has been feeling so shiny and new, like the first day of a new year should - and I'm writing to tell you Happy Catholic New Year!
It's like a blank canvas, or a starting page, and with that comes such a great deal of hope. It is so fitting that Advent begins our liturgical year because it is so specifically about hope - we walk alongside the expectant virgin mother and her spouse as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! There is so much joy in all of it, but we experience it a more quiet way than the joy of Christmas. During Advent, we try to simplify our lives, to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and to prepare our hearts for Christ's arrival.

With a new year comes resolutions. And while some resolutions may be silly or superficial, setting goals or at least being mindful about our faith life at the start of each new year can truly enrich and deepen our walk with Christ in so many ways.

If we take this day (or this week) to reflect on our lives in the past year, we can begin to see what spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. habits we've developed and what sort of impact it's had on our life in general and especially our faith life.

Here are a few resources to help us reflect & discern which areas we might need to make a change:
 

In this new liturgical year, I've felt that I really need to make more time for intentional & disciplined daily prayer and Scripture study. For me, this is the biggest change I see myself needing to make. I'm going to try to pray the Rosary once a week, to figure out which part of my day I can consistently set aside for prayer and Bible reading, and also try to visit our parish perpetual adoration chapel once a week. I'd also like to grow closer to and better understand Mary and the Saints - I'd particularly like to try to understand what role they play in my life (new Catholic problem). I thought this episode of Coffee & Pearls was inspiring (as always) - Find Your Saint BFF.

Moving into Advent, here are a few of my favorite articles written by fellow Catholic mamas on living liturgically, simplifying, and finding joy (plus a few Christmas gift ideas):

 I'm so thankful for you and I hope you are walking into Advent with a feeling of joyful renewal and hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas!

What are your Catholic New Year's resolutions? Share them in the comments - I'd love to hear what your prayers and goals are for this new year, and I'd be so blessed to be able to pray for you in any way! 

Homemade Seasonings & Spice Mix Playdate

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This morning, a few mama friends and I got together for a spice mix playdate! We chose a time when all of the older kids were in school, so the babies and toddlers ran around the house while we put our mixes together. We used 8oz mason jars and everyone pitched in $3 per mix which covered most of the cost for purchasing the spices in bulk. This would also be a fun activity to do in a smaller group with older kids if you're feeling brave! 

These homemade spices and seasonings are great to keep on-hand, and they also make great Christmas gifts for newlyweds, new parents, or anyone who is human and eats food. ;)

These recipes should make just about enough to fill an 8oz jar (some a little less). Spices can be stored in a sealed container, kept dry and at room temperature. Enjoy!

Homemade Seasonings & Spice Mixes

Download a free printable list of spice mixes & ingredients here

Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 cup ground cinnamon
8 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoon ground allspice


Ranch Mix
6 Tbsp. dried parsley
3 tsp. dried dill weed
4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried chives
1 tsp. salt

To make Ranch Dressing: Mix 1 tbsp mix with ⅓ c. Mayo (or substitute with plain Greek yogurt) and ⅓ c. Milk or buttermilk.

 

Steak Seasoning
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon crushed coriander
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

 

Italian Dressing Mix
2 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoons salt

To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.


Taco Seasoning
4 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon paprika
6 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


Chili Mix
8 Tbsp chili powder
8 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper


Guacamole Mix
4 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried minced onion or onion powder
1 tsp cumin
3 tbsp dried cilantro
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt

To make guacamole, mash two avocados with the seasoning (about 1-1/2 tsp), then stir in 1 chopped Roma tomato. Add 1/4 tsp lime juice to prevent browning. Serve.


Chicken / Poultry Seasoning
4 tbsp ground sage
4 tbsp ground thyme
2 tbsp ground marjoram
4 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp. Nutmeg (*optional)
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper


Cajun Seasoning
4 tbsp cayenne
4 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic granules
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp onion granules
2 tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme


Jerk Seasoning
1 tablespoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Liturgical Living in November 2016

November is the month dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory (corresponding with All Souls Day on Nov. 2). The majority of this month is spent in Ordinary Time (liturgical color is green), but the last Sunday of the month (Nov. 27) marks the first Sunday of Advent (liturgical color is purple)

This November, Pope Francis asks us to pray "that the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity," and "That within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement." 

Major Feast Days for November 2016

I've marked five dates in bold because they're the ones I'm going to try my best to celebrate in a special way. At this point in our lives, five feels ambitious but not exceptionally overwhelming and choosing dates from all around the month still leaves me a little time between each feast. 

Other Resources

Liturgical Living Disclaimer

When you're just starting out, pick one or two feast days per month to celebrate. Once you get the hang of that, add more in one at a time. The liturgical year is rich with tradition and that means it can feel overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that this is meant to be a joy and not a burden. You will not win mom-of-the-year by stressing yourself and your kids out by trying to elaborately celebrate a feast day every single day.  And speaking of being elaborate - you don't have to be. If you find a lot of joy in being crafty or making themed dinners, go for it. But it's not a requirement. Saying a special prayer over dinner or mentioning the day's feast once or twice throughout the day is wonderful and can have a lasting impression on your kids. Or if you can do it, go to Mass! Mass is always a good idea. 

A Trip to the Holocaust Museum & Life Lessons from Eva Kor

     Last weekend, we spent Saturday afternoon at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum here in Terre Haute, listening to Holocaust survivor and Mengele twin Eva Kor speak about her experiences in Auschwitz, her journey of forgiveness, and her passion for making the world a better place.

While the Holocaust and World War II are very heavy things to talk about with young children, I knew I needed to share these realities with Lily - but in a softer and more abstract way while she's still little. Discerning what to teach her about and what to shelter her from has been one of the hardest aspects of being her mama, but I've been reflecting on the reality that children her age (and even younger) were forced to suffer through and feel strongly convicted that she needs to be aware of how prejudice, racism, apathy, and dehumanization can destroy our hearts and our world. 

"prejudice, racism, apathy, and dehumanization can destroy our hearts and our world."

 We had a few conversations about the Holocaust and war over the past couple of days. I tried to reinforce that it happened a long time ago, it was very far away, the Holocaust is over, and she is not in any danger so she doesn't need to worry. And I explained to her that the reason we learn about the Holocaust is so we can make sure it never happens again. My best attempt at a summary fit for a three year-old went a like this:

"A long time ago there was a very big war, and a part of this war was about a group of people - they were called the Nazis, who thought that certain other people weren't good enough or were less important because they were different. They hurt a lot of people, especially a group called Jewish people. This lady that we are going to listen to today is Jewish and her family was hurt during the war."

As she gets older, we'll fill in the gaps for her but this felt like a good place to start in terms of the history of it. We listened to Eva explain her life before, during, and after Auschwitz, and her account was so heartbreaking. (Lily stayed for some of it, but grandpa took her and Augustine to the park to play because they were getting fidgety and it was pretty intense.)

 At the end of her talk, Eva offered us three life lessons that I wanted to share with you, as well. In terms of the "life lessons", I think Lily is perfectly capable, as all conscious human beings are, of taking these to heart:

Eva's Life Lessons:

BE KIND. 

OVERCOME PREJUDICE.

FORGIVE EVERYONE. 

And a few more lessons I took away from her lecture, the exhibit, and the Holocaust in general: 

Each choice we make has importance. 

The Holocaust did not happen in one day, rather it came about very gradually. Evil crept its way into the culture, the legal system, and the hearts of those involved. One by one, choices were made to marginalize, criminalize, and dehumanize Jews and other groups of people. Some chose to participate in evil directly and many chose to remain silent in its midst, until millions of people were left without any choices at all. Choose to do good, and do it now. 

Everyone is important, special, and has a right to life. 

Because we are all made in the image of God, are all equally valuable and no human life is worth more than another's. Regardless of any type of identifying factor (religion, ethnicity, age, ability, orientation or identification, etc.), we are all deserving of the right to life. 

If you see someone hurting someone else, it's your job as a human to help them

While you're young, you can do this by telling a grown-up you trust. And when you are grown, you can do this by being a voice for those who have none, an advocate for those without power, and a helping hand for those in need. Countless Jews and non-Jews exhibited great heroism and through them, thousands of lives were saved. 

Set your gaze upon heaven. In this life there will always be pain and suffering, but in Heaven we will live in perfect happiness. 

Never, ever give up hope.

One thing that stood out to me from Eva's life was that she made a vow to walk out of Auschwitz with her sister, and she kept the image of this in her head until the day they were finally liberated.  Faith may feel foolish, but we must never give up. We must hold fast to our will to survive.

DO ALL THINGS IN LOVE. BE STRONG AND BRAVE. 

May we all seek the good of others & pray for those who persecute us and others. 

 

Happy First Birthday, Augustine Ignatius

Today met me in an overwhelming sort of way that's hard to put into words, but I feel like any parent who has celebrated their child's first birthday would understand. My heart is so full it feels like it's overflowing with joy and gratitude and all manner of happy thoughts like "how is this life really mine?".

And together, I feel like a sort of panic or worry because he's growing so fast and I have so much to teach him and and and and and {insert all of my worry here}. There have been hints of mama guilt that tried to sneak into my heart today as I compared my days with Augustine to how things were when Lily was one, but, for better or for worse, I am about as good of a mama as to him as I was to her, though I know a little bit more. 

I didn't make her first birthday cake because I was so busy with the launch of Lily and Mama that week; I didn't make Augustine's birthday cake because I've been sick all week.

So at least they're evenly mothered, however mediocre (kind of joking). 

There have been many days in this year that I've seriously considered I might not be able to handle any more children - but then there are days when there are 5 other neighbor kids over and nothing goes too wrong and I feel like I can handle anything. 

Highs and lows, comings and goings.

He grows, she grows, we all grow. 

In the past year I've been blessed to watch Lily and Augustine grow to form the strongest bond. Stronger, perhaps, than they have with me (I wonder). And it gives me a sense of great hope for their futures. 

I used to worry about what would happen to Lily if I weren't there to care for her, and now she has her brother (and daddy, of course, and also I still hope nothing happens to me...). The transition from only child to big sister was so natural for her, though there were days of course (and still are, and more to come) when she has struggled with it. But, most days, I am in awe of their love for one another. 

I used to set my eyes at Lily's future and pray for a perfect one, free from pain or suffering.  And now I am ever-aware that those futures do not unfold on earth, but only in Heaven.

And so I pray that they will be strong, be brave, and cling to Jesus. 

---

A few Sunday mornings ago, we were all in our church an hour before Mass for Alex and I to go to confession. I rummaged around in my purse for something Lily and Augustine could play with and handed them a teething rosary. Lily, hyper about spending the morning in the Church nursery, took it and ran and Augustine followed. I leaned against the wall and tried to remember the steps to making a good confession (nervous convert here). 

The next time I looked up, Augustine was holding on to the Cross while Lily, her arm through the necklace, was leading him around the church. Up the pews, down the aisle, past the stations of the cross, and back. 

My heart was so full.

"She's leading him with the rosary," I told Alex. 

Just days before, as I was driving to school to pick Lily up, I had a daydream that spoke so clearly to my heart it felt like a vision (maybe it was). I was listening to the news and feeling incredibly stressed about the upcoming election and the religious persecution around the world. In my mind, I was holding Augustine and Lily in a crowded and dark place that felt like a Subway station, overwhelmed with anxiety. And then Jesus appeared to me, full of light, and handed me a rosary -- and it was like he was telling me, without any words, to give it to my children. I did, and I was washed over with peace. 

And I knew...

These children are in the care of Jesus and His Mother Mary. 

Whatever earthly suffering they may face, I can rest my anxious heart in the fact that they are known and loved by God. He will not forget or leave them. 

---

And so, sweet Augustine Ignatius, on your first birthday, I hope you know how loved you are.

You are named after two great saints and I pray you'll be inspired by their bravery, their heroic evangelization, and their great love. And know, my little love, that they are praying for you. 

You have a daddy who works tirelessly to help others, to help our family, and to lead us all to Christ. And you have a mama who isn't very good at housework or first birthdays, but who prays for you daily and will bring you to Mass and adoration no matter how much trouble you give her. You have a big sister who cares so deeply for you and will help you along the your way. 

You are so loved. Happy first birthday, buddy. 


Am I the only one crying right now?

 

Embrace the Ordinary, vol. 3

In the Church's liturgical calendar, we're coming to the end of Ordinary Time (the weeks between Pentecost and Advent) and we're beginning to prepare ourselves for Advent & Christmas. As Ordinary Time draws to a close, the seasons change, and everything begins to feel a little more special and exciting (and sparkly, and shiny, because... Christmas) I wanted to reflect on our ordinary lives in Ordinary Time

I haven't shared much of our lives lately and it's been intentional (because there are enough mom bloggers & weekend recaps in the world, you don't really need mine, too). But for the sake of memory-keeping and sharing these small glimpses into our ordinary lives, I thought I'd join in with Gina of Someday Saints to share another edition of Embracing the Ordinary.

I didn't realize until putting these photos together how full & awesome our days have been. (Just another reason I'm happy I'm writing this.) Lots of field trips & play dates (especially to the fire house) for Lily, and I was even able to drive up to Bloomington to be a part of my first ever Blessed Brunch. I've even managed to read a few chapters of The Philosophy of Tolkien (you might call it nerdy, but it's so good). 

We've been spending as much time as possible in our backyard - the weather is just perfect right now. Fall in the Midwest is truly the best and I've been realizing everyday that it's my favorite season. We also moved a desk into Lily's room where she works on her "homework", and we've been making peg dolls, pumpkin spice playdough, random fall crafts, and just having so much fun being creative together.

Also, lots and lots (and lots) of playing with the neighbor kids. We spend almost every afternoon running around, jumping on our neighbor's trampoline, or doing some kind of craft on our back patio to keep them all busy. It is exhausting and wonderful and I am praying that I'm at least giving these kids a glimpse of God's love. 

Life feels so busy but empty at the same time with Alex so busy with Residency, but it helps to know that this is just a season (a 3 year-long season, but still) and we can treasure the moments we do have with him.

It's good now. 

What does ordinary (& Ordinary Time) look like in your home? How are you embracing it? 


Inspired by the Embrace the Ordinary link-up by Gina of Someday Saints 

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Celebrating John Paul II

Making Our Homes Strongholds of Goodness

"His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley."
- The Hobbit, A Short Rest

Evil things did not come into that valley.

This quote has been stuck in my head for some time now (as I'm sure you've noticed since I write about it so often), and it's come to mean quite a lot to me. It's the kind of quote I'd like to paint across a giant canvas and hang above the entry way of my home. Evil things do not come into this home.

And of course, we know that evil is not simply an outside force that we must keep out, but there is an inclination in all of our hearts to sin. Even in the noblest of men or the simplest of hobbits or the wisest of wizards, we all face temptation and fall into sin.

But in our daily walk towards Christ, in this lifelong journey of sanctification, we must choose light over darkness. And we must ask God for the grace to walk in His light.

We must embrace love to the point of overflowing, so that our lives will be filled with so much goodness that there will be no room at all for anything evil.  

Elrond and all those who live in the valley of Rivendell are far from perfect, just as the Hobbits and dwarves and wizards and men who visit there. But the difference we see is that there is a surrounding peace -- a safe haven -- which encourages healing and growth, and enables the elves and all who come to Rivendell to set off on their journeys refreshed, nourished, healed, and encouraged.

And it was not enough that Rivendell was devoid of evil things. No, it was that it was filled with many forms of goodness; food, drink, healing, rest, nourishment were all offered freely in Rivendell. It was a place of enrichment.

“His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.”

It's not enough to just not have bad things in our life, we need to have good things. There needs to be an abundance of good things. {and I'm not talking about material "things"}

I like to think of Lily and Mama, our little home in this corner of the internet, as a place like Rivendell (well, more like a quaint hobbit hole). But the idea is that I want this place to be filled with truth, love, joy, and charity. I pray that you will come when you can and leave with a refreshed and encouraged spirit.

We talk about truth here, we talk about motherhood and making home, we talk about the saints and the Church. And when we are steeped in these things, we will grow in wisdom and it will overflow into all of our lives.

We need to steep ourselves in truth, walk toward the light, and be encouraged by the joy of the Gospel.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:4-9

If we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with goodness, if we take care to receive the Sacraments, if we choose to embrace the culture of life -- then the culture of death will have no place in our hearts or our homes.

In Rivendell, we find not a battleground against evil, but a stronghold of goodness.

Christ has already won. He has overcome the world.

In Him, we have peace. 

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

We will have hard days and conflicts, we will be weary and tired, but we are at home in Christ and we can find comfort in the fact that he has overcome all evil.

And so we are strongholds of goodness. 

May our homes be a reflection of this truth. 

May they be reminders of Christ's victory, His joy, His peace. May all who step foot through our doors be met with His love. 

And maybe this is an intimidating idea, but it's not meant to be. And if you think about it, the call to Christianity is also intimidating but we choose it anyway. We are all imperfect and unloving and inhospitable at times, but Christ is perfect and is always with us, and it helps to have reminder like this floating around in my mind and hanging on my walls. 

This is my prayer for our homes (and our hearts).

Wisdom from St. Ignatius of Antioch on His Feast Day

St. Ignatius of Antioch holds a special place in our hearts - his writings (available online for FREE from EWTN here) were influential in our conversion to Catholicism - so much so that we chose Ignatius for our son's middle name. Last year on this day, I was 39 weeks pregnant with him and wishing he would choose this feast day as his birthday (and 10 days later, we finally met our sweet boy). In honor of his feast day, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from St. Ignatius, all taken from the letters (epistles) he wrote while on his way to Rome to face his martyrdom, which happened to be facing the lions in the Colosseum. 
 


His letter to the Symyrnaeans contains the first known example of the use of "Catholic Church" to describe the Church founded by Jesus, though Ignatius' use of the phrase without any explanation implies that it was  already widely understood and used at the time. Ignatius also refers to the Eucharist multiple times, reinforcing the doctrine of the Real Presence that was also already accepted and taught. And the unity of the Church, specifically under the authority of the bishop, is mentioned several times and is clearly very important to Ignatius. Keep in mind that his letters were written in about 107-108 AD and that Ignatius was a disciple of John.

How does the Church described by Ignatius compare with today's Catholic Church?

What can we learn about the Teachings of Christ and the Apostles from the letters of Ignatius? 

"And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God." - Letter to the Ephesians

"I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ." - Letter to the Romans

" Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God." - Letter to the Ephesians

"They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes" - Letter to the Smyrnaeans

" I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life." - Letter to the Romans

"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. " - Epistle to the Smyrnaeans

"It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment." - Letter to the Magnesians

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I See the Saints

 

I tend to see the saints through a glossed page,

         A still, painted image, or in marble stone. 

        Through their canonization, the sainthood attributed to them.

        With little halos I picture above their clean and smiling faces.

Their entire lives summed up in one image, even painted into a peg doll. 

This is easy, this is shiny and beautiful.

And so they are, perhaps, as they have stepped into eternity and dwell with our Most High God.

They are beautiful, they rest in Christ’s victory over sin, they share in His glory.

But in this understanding, I lose sight of the truth of their earthly lives. Those? Those were messy. They were broken. These men and women - even children - were challenged and tempted and faced great sufferings, some even through martyrdom. They made mistakes, they sinned, as all of humanity is known to do…

But they are set apart through Christ’s love.

They were (and are) endlessly loved, like you, like me.

They accepted God’s amazing and powerful Grace. They trusted in His Divine Mercy, His will, His plan - imperfectly, they faltered, they lost hope, they suffered through darkness - but ultimately, they trusted in Him. They loved Him.

Jesus himself reveals to us the path to sainthood in Luke 10:27,  “He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

There will be days that feel impossible, and nights that are darker than we could have ever imagined. But though each day of our lives reveals new trials, temptations, stones to stumble across, God is always with us.

We are all called to be saints; He calls us each by name. Did you know that? We might not ever be canonized or known across the world, and that’s more than okay, because we all have our parts to play - some big, some small, but all important.

We have been created in God and for God, and though the path towards Him is rocky and steep, we are cheered on by the great communion of saints and we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

I see the saints as they were - broken and hurting but trusting in God, and I look to them for intercession as they are now - glorified and eternally happy in Heaven. 

I see my life and the mess of it all and I look forward to the life everlasting.

I see the saints, and they are endlessly praying for us.

I see the path to Heaven, and it is not impossible. For nothing is with God.