***This is the first of a three-part post chronicling the spiritual journey of our marriage. Born and raised a devout Catholic, I didn’t take my faith as seriously in college and began dating a pro-choice agnostic. This is the story of how we balanced the yoke. If you’ve ever wondered if a Catholic can marry an agnostic without compromising the Catholic’s faith, read on. Our story may help you discern whether a marriage of “mixed cult,” or between a baptized and unbaptized party, is a good idea.
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of my parents’ six children. My dad worked as an engineer, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. My parents were cradle Catholics, married in the Church, and all six of us were baptized as babies. My dad had attended 12 years of Catholic school, and was well-formed in his faith. Though Catholic, my Mom’s family stopped attending Mass when she was a teenager. As she got older and without a supportive foundation at home, Mom fell away from the Church. My Daddy always went to Mass, even when he was sick. Momma chose to attend a Protestant church, and my brother and I always chose to go to church with her. It was more fun, after all. The preacher sent the kids to “children’s church,” where we got grape juice, goldfish crackers, and talked about God. It was SOOOO much more fun than Daddy’s “boring” church!
When I was in third grade, my dad invited me to attend First Friday devotions with him at his parish. I will never forget those special nights with him. We attended Adoration and Benediction together, and I was mesmerized by the incense, the chanted prayers, the Latin, and the solemnness of this type of prayer. Even though Dad’s church was “boring,” those Friday nights really stirred my soul. Looking at the Blessed Sacrament in the beautiful Monstrance, I was transfixed. I didn’t know it yet, but I was falling in love with Jesus.
I feel like I am already failing at this Lent thing. You know what I planned to do, what my intentions were. You also know that I haven’t consistently done any of the things I set out to do.
Give up all to drink except milk and water? I fell on Day Two when a coworker brought me a fancy drink from Starbucks. Pray a Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day of Lent? I fell on Day One. Really. Ensure that I set aside 15 minutes a day to read Scripture – and then actually do it, reflecting on what I read and prayerfully pondering Your Word? I fell on Day Four, because it was the weekend.
I’ve fallen a lot.
I know there’s still time. I know the season is young. It’s only Day Six (not counting Sunday.) But this, this is the time I usually start to rationalize my failures.
“Well, that penance was really too hard.” “That prayer routine is too unrealistic.” “That self-improvement plan was too intense.” And on I go.
It’s so easy to do this when I fail. To console my ego. To lie to myself.
Remind me, Lord, that on your Way of the Cross, you fell – not once, but three times. And you’re the Messiah, so it makes sense that I fall waaaaay more often. How humiliating, how hard that must have been for You. And yet – and yet you struggled to Your feet, balancing your crushing cross, and You got back up. You kept moving forward.
Sometimes, when I find myself overwhelmed, distracted, and drowning in deadlines and busywork, it’s easy to lose focus of what I should be doing and to flounder along. In these situations, I am usually in over my head and don’t know where to start to dig out of the chaos I’m in. Putting my headphones in and shutting my office door helps, but I often find the most success when I take a two minute break to quietly collect my thoughts, meditate on Christ as the center of my life, and ask my Guardian Angel where to dive in first. How do I do that? Here are five ways that help me – but I’d love your suggestions, too! Continue reading →
*If you visit the Edel Gathering website at http://edelgathering.com/about/, this post will make a lot more sense. If you don’t visit the website, my pitiable summary is that Edel 2014 was a gathering of Catholic women from all over the country (plus two chicks from Canada!) for a unique experience of sisterhood, solidarity, and celebrating the vocation of women in society.*
I’ve deliberately fasted from the Edel recap posts of my favorite bloggers today so that I would be able to compose my own thoughts without the influence of others. Too often I look at life experiences and try to compare them to others’ life experiences to see if I perceived something the “right” way. Too often. Today, my restraint from reading ALL THE BLOGS before authoring my own post is one of many wonderful fruits I hope to see as a result of this weekend.
Like so many women I talked to this weekend, I didn’t think I would really be an Edel attendee. When I saw on Jen and Hallie’s blogs the first few glimpses of what it was all about, I told myself I would likely have to just read about it after it happened. We didn’t have the money in our already strapped budget (and I thought that BEFORE I saw the $200+ price tag), and there was no way I could convince my husband that I should go to a gathering of women I’d never met before. How could he even comprehend I considered many of these women my “friends,” when all we had previously shared with each other had been in the form of Facebook comments, Instagram photos, and Tweets?
I should’ve learned long ago never to underestimate Superman…or the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The day before tickets went on sale, I casually mentioned that there was “this awesome-looking conference coming up hosted by these two bloggers I really love, and I’ve already preordered the redhead’s new book and I would love to meet some of the other bloggers in person and too bad we can’t afford the tickets.” I didn’t even give him the website address. Initially. Later in the day, he told me to send him the link. I figured he was just curious. Valentine’s Day came, and I received my gift – a ticket to what was to become one of the most amazing weekends of my life.
Though I have NOT been grateful for the hateful, ugly, and painful discourses it has ignited on social media, I’m glad for the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week in the Hobby Lobby case. As Catholics, we certainly identify with the Green family’s moral objection to paying for employees’ abortifacient contraception. May God bless them, and may those of us who have friends and family lashing out over this decision remember that we are all in different pats of our spiritual journeys, and that we should respond with love and empathy. Though it may be hard to endure and to not take their insults personally, we must continue to pray for our loved ones and for our nation. The Gospel reading for Tuesday was Matthew 8:23-27. When I read this selection, the day after the Supreme Court ruling, I completely identified with the disciples. I was in the boat, rocking in the wind and waves during that tumultuous storm, and fearing our country would drown. And Jesus is seemingly asleep! But oh how convicted I was by Christ’s admonition:
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
And just like that, my anxiety lessened. He will calm the storm. We are called to great faith.
I’m truly looking forward to celebrating today with some wonderful friends, with whom we’ve spent the last several Independence Days. When it’s all said and done, over 25 kids and 30 adults will gather for bbq, beverages, fruit, desserts, queso, guacamole, and lots of laughter. And…my kids’ favorite part…the monster water slide of awesomeness. What a blessing to be able to share this day amongst our close friends!
Our “Must Make” dessert that we bring to this function every year is the delicious Golden Corral knockoff Banana Pudding. This stuff is so good, we fill an entire roasting pan by quadrupling the recipe…and we never come home with leftovers! It’s not clean eating, but we only do it a few times a year, so…mmmmmmm.
My brother, who recently graduated high school, is passionate about his patriotism. While other seniors quoted Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (I wish I were exaggerating) in their yearbook, he chose a quote from the Declaration of Independence. He shared this video today on Twitter and his facebook page. It’s a great, straightforward reading of the Declaration. If you’ve never read it, or just would like to review, you can find it here:
“A spirit of license makes a man refuse to commit himself to any standards. The right time is the way he sets his watch. The yardstick has the number of inches that he wills it to have. Liberty becomes licenseand unbounded license leads to unbounded tyranny. When society reaches this stage, and there is no standard of right and wrong outside of the individual himself, then the individual is defenseless against the onslaughts of cruder and more violent men who proclaim their own subjective sense of values.”
One July 4th when I was a teenager, my mom suggested that we go as a family to Mass in the morning. We all looked at her strangely. The pool needed to be vacuumed, there were sparklers and firecrackers to purchase, and Daddy had a brisket that needed to smoke for 10 hours. We did NOT have time to go to Mass. Why should we, anyway? Independence Day isn’t a Holy Day. Well, she ignored our whining and my dad’s forlorn stare at his marinating brisket sitting in the fridge, and hauled us out the door. And oh how glad I was that she did! The hymns were all patriotic, and the priest gave a moving homily on how blessed we are to live in a land free of religious persecution. The 4th degree Knights of Columbus were there, and it was a very beautiful Mass. Ever since, we’ve done our best to attend, and I’ve been happy to pass this tradition on to our kids. Do you have a Mass you can attend today? I encourage you to take an hour out of your celebrations today to give thanks to God for this beautiful land He has given to us. Especially in light of the heightened persecution of Christians around the world presently, has there ever been a better time to offer praise and thanks for the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave?