The Jeannie Ewing Collection

How to Have the Greatest Lent of Your Life: Week 1

Filed Under: Lent, Prayer

​Lent.  Most of us dread it.  Many of us enter into the liturgical season with some apprehension and discouragement because of the focus on penance, fasting, ashes, sacrifices, and mortification.  It seems as if the road to self-denial will never end: 6 weeks of suffering, of self-abnegation?  The Resurrection – our resurrection – seems to be so far in the distance that we often lose sight of why we enter into the desert with Jesus.  It seems too long and desolate to be of any real merit.  Here are some ways we can reflect on the permanent lessons that Lent can teach us:

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Do You Know About these 10 Amazing Miracles of Lourdes?

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the most popular and beloved titles of Mary venerated in the Catholic Church and all over the world.  The site of a Marian apparition and a miraculous spring, Lourdes is the destination of millions pilgrims and visitors each year. Read about some of the amazing miracles of Lourdes here.

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10 Unique Ways You Can Show Love Every Day

Filed Under: Living the Faith

Love.  It’s the single-most used word in our modern culture.  We all define it differently, but almost all definitions are based on feelings—passion, excitement, and euphoria.  If we don’t feel it, says the world, it’s not truly love.  As Catholics, we know that love is more than a fleeting feeling, however.  St. Teresa of Calcutta even said, “A living love hurts.  Jesus, to prove His love for us, died on the Cross.  The mother, to give to her child, has to suffer.  If you really love one another properly, there must be sacrifice.”  Not only is this an uncommon and unpopular perspective on the subject of love, but it is really distasteful to many, if not most of us.  Who wants to learn to love by giving up more of him/herself?  Or by relinquishing his/her time?  Yet it is precisely when we empty ourselves of selfishness and learn to love by way of the Cross that we understand, more fully and deeply, that love is far more than emotion—it is a decision.  Growing in love isn’t easy, and we all know that.  For love to be eternal, it must be based on one’s intention to give of oneself daily, even and especially when it hurts.  But only a love that is faithful is worthy of the theological virtue of charity.  Here are ten unique ways you can show your love to someone today.

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Learn 10 New Ways to Be Generous Today

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

Generosity is the brother of the theological virtue of charity.  Recall what St. Paul says in the famous wedding verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “These three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”  Therefore, when we live generously, or charitably, we are exemplifying the highest virtue.  Essentially, we are reflecting God Himself, who is love Incarnate. Living generously means that we live both intentionally and give abundantly.  Wholehearted living, generous living, involves a particular type of leaning into the Holy Spirit’s movements in our lives – which often occur at incredibly inopportune moments of our days.  But when we respond to God’s promptings in our hearts, we learn that generous living actually expands our capacity to give more than we thought possible.  And when we go out of our way to be kind to others, go above and beyond for them, our relationships with others grow. Kindness often begets kindness, so you will likely feel incredible joy sacrificing just a little bit more today than you did yesterday – and you will inspire others to pay it forward.

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Read the Amazing Story of the Life of Joan of Arc

Filed Under: Saints

Among St. Joan of Arc’s most often quoted words are, “I am not afraid.  I was born to do this!”  Indeed, this summarizes the brave young woman’s "fiat" in response to the divine call she received at the age of 13.  Many of the greatest and most beloved saints were poor, uneducated, and simple.  Joan was no different.  Her simple piety allowed her to clearly see and hear God’s mission for her life, which was presented to her by three heavenly saints along with encouragement, instruction, and prayer until her martyrdom at age 19.  We, too, may be strengthened in our resolve to follow God’s call – wherever it may lead us – by reminding ourselves of Joan's motto: “I am not afraid.  I was born to do this!”

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The Most Complete List of Benedictine Mystics

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Mysticism, Saints

Whether consecrated religious, lay oblates, or monks and hermits, each of these men and women offers a portrait of sanctity that is reflected in their deep-rooted mystical spirituality.  Though many of them are lauded in New Age communities, what attracts people to them is their holy way of encountering God – with such intimacy and a supernatural union that far supersedes any sort of human connection available to us. What we can glean from the Benedictine mystics is the fusion of the depth of their love of God, as well as their understanding of Benedictine theology, both of which were lived through their works of compassion, caring for the poor, and self-abnegation. Though most of us will never be called to live in a cave as a solitary hermit, we can still practice many of the ancient forms of monasticism.  We can study the lives of these incredible men and women, reading their books and meditating on the timeless principles they left us.  Their wisdom speaks to us, today and in this modern age, because we are in such dire need of quiet that is conducive to contemplating God’s voice in the recesses of our hearts.

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Here Are the Top 25 Quotes From the Bible On Hope

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Prayer

If there’s one of the three theological virtues that the world needs now, it is hope.  Faith, hope, and charity are all intertwined in such a way that truly, none could exist or thrive without the assistance of the other two.  But in this article, we will hone in on hope, because many of us are struggling with despondency or despair.  We live in challenging times, in which despair is evident through acts of suicide, murder, acquiescence to apathy, etc.  As you ponder each verse, find one or more that speak deeply to your soul and that resonate with you and offer you spiritual refreshment.  Be encouraged by the fact that hope and wait are often used interchangeably in Scripture verses, so God may be calling you to hope in a period of waiting right now.

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10 Amazing New Year’s Resolutions for Your Spiritual Life

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

I think most of us dislike New Year’s resolutions, because we know we will somehow “fail” at meeting our high expectations, and we’re usually right.  Losing a certain amount of weight, working out at the gym more often, cutting out sugar, etc. are usually futile attempts at making ourselves better in some way.  But what if we attached spiritual resolutions to our lives and somehow connected what we do or don’t do with a deeper meaning and purpose?  Whether or not you participate in the culture’s definition of setting goals for New Year’s, you can start anytime – and start over anytime, too.  Here are ten ideas for simple, practical ways you can improve your interior life in 2017 and beyond.  Don’t be afraid to “fail.”  Just keep moving forward and start anew.

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This Is the Most Complete List of Marian Apparitions

Filed Under: Mysticism, Saints

Always as our Mother and our Savior's mother, Mary has appeared under many titles to many diverse peoples in different periods of history. She suffered a sword piercing her heart as she watched her son's Passion and Death, and she is constantly alert to even our smallest sufferings. Our Blessed Mother comes to us when we need her most, with a message and guidance specific to the problems and suffering at hand. Here are 40 beautiful stories of Marian apparitions in countries all over the world to inspire you and remind you of the eternal compassion and counsel which she unceasingly offers to us.

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Everything You Need To Know About Our Lady of Guadalupe

Filed Under: Mysticism, Saints

The title of Mary under Our Lady of Guadalupe is a familiar and beloved one in the Americas and throughout the world.  Most are aware of at least the image of Our Lady, but the revelation and miracles surrounding the image are unknown to many.  Read on to discover the mysteries of St. Juan Diego's famous tilma and be inspired by the incredible beauty of God's works.

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The 10 Most Beautiful Images of Jesus

Filed Under: Living the Faith

Art, though speculative, when done well, is a reflection of authentic beauty.  The artist is often inspired by faith or some glimpse of virtue – through the drama of suffering, perhaps – and we, the admirers of art, are drawn heavenward with sublime thoughts that lead us to meditation and prayer.  That’s what great art does in any form, be it visual art, performing art, or the written word – it leads our souls closer to that yearning and hunger for God to fill the chasm that our temporary residence on earth cannot fill.  Here is a sample of such beauty – 10 depictions of Jesus in various forms of media that will inspire, encourage, and console you on your life’s journey.

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How to Prepare for the Beautiful Season of Advent

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

Though Advent bears the dawn of a new liturgical season every year, most of us dismiss it as a period of celebrating Christmas before Christmas arrives.  We adorn our homes with Christmas lights, decorated trees, tinsel and holly, festive tunes, and the like.  All the while, the intent of Advent – a season of waiting, of silent but joyful expectation – falls by the wayside or perhaps into the din of our premature festivities. The world does not like to wait, and we are not unlike the world in this matter. In Latin, Advent means “coming.”  We know that it is a period of four weeks, during which we prepare for the Christmas season, but we don’t necessarily consider how Jesus might be born in us, in our hearts.  Here are some ways we can make Advent a sacred time of expectant faith, so that we may welcome Christmas Day with overabundant joy.

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Inspiring Saints of November

Filed Under: Saints

Many of us falsely assume that sainthood is attainable only for the holiest of holy people—those who have been canonized and to whom documented miracles are directly attributed.  In November, we remember all of the saints – those canonized and the myriad in Heaven who never will be.  We, too, are among those called to sainthood.  Each of our paths to sanctification is tailored to the journey we must take and the legacy the Lord desires that we leave behind.  For every one of us, there is at least one saint with whom we can identify.  To the young and old, of every race and creed, through all tiers of socioeconomic status, and from varied personalities, we can find a saint who reminds us of ourselves.  The saints give us hope for our own path of sanctification.  We know they long for us to join them and that the supplications we make– for assistance, guidance, and instruction – are heard. 

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The Amazing St. Isaac Jogues and Missionaries to the Americas

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Saints

Our Catholic faith encompasses a deeper understanding of what it means to be a missionary than simply preaching the gospel.  St. John Paul II, in his inaugural encyclical Redemptor Hominis, explained that a “missionary attitude” means we must first be aware of “what is in man” before we teach and preach to him.  He stressed the importance of reaching people at their level, building upon any goodness their spirituality already holds. Authentic missionary work involves a love for the individual persons whom the missionary encounters – getting to know who they are, what they do, and understanding their culture.  Once a relationship is established, mutual trust is built, and the Catholic missionary – who desires to share his or her love of God and the Church with those who have never been exposed to either – can then gradually teach each person to know God.  Here are the stories of 5 Catholic Missionaries to the Americas who maintained a true missionary spirit—some even giving their lives in their martyrdom.

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20 Most Inspiring Woman Saints to Know and Love

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

The saints of the ages inspire and instruct us in how to lead lives of holiness. Men and women should study the lives of these 20 awe-inspiring woman saints.

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15 Awesome Facts About the Franciscan Order

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

St. Francis of Assisi was so moved by a homily on Matthew 10:9 that he decided to take it literally and sell all that he had, and from then on he lived in poverty.  This radical transformation led Francis to beg, wear no shoes and only a tattered brown garment.  After he started preaching repentance, others joined him, including Bernard of Quintavalle (a prominent citizen of Assisi).  Francis’ earliest rule included only rough manuscripts about the Scriptural references to adhering to evangelical poverty. This is how the great order of the Franciscans was started—an order to which many of our beloved saints have belonged. Here are fifteen facts you didn't know about this devout and venerable order.

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10 Most Powerful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

The Little Flower, great saint of charity and Doctor of the Church, teaches us so much in her simplicity, purity of heart, humility, charity, and childlike trust in God.  In theory, her theology seems so easy, but in reality, most of us struggle with becoming more and more dependent on God.  As adults, we see surrender as an act of abdication rather than an act of extraordinary confidence in God’s providence for our lives.  Let us contemplate St. Therese’s words for our lives and how we may grow in these virtues day by day.

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How to Give More with the Amazing St. Vincent de Paul

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

Known as the “Great Apostle of Charity,” St. Vincent de Paul showed interest in the priesthood at an early age, which might account for his most notable virtues of compassion, humility, and generosity – all of which comprise the ultimate theological virtue of charity.  Shortly after he was ordained and assigned as a parish priest, he was taken captive by pirates and enslaved to several different captors.  Eventually, a beneficent master, whose wife was intrigued by Vincent’s exemplary display of virtue in the midst of such horrific circumstances, had a change of heart and allowed Vincent to escape from slavery.  Once back in Europe, Vincent realized that his mission in life was to serve the poor.  He established the “Ladies of Charity” in 1617 with a group of women in his parish. They collected money for missionary projects, established hospitals, and helped ransom slaves from African slave ships. 

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10 Beautiful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Love

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Saints

Known as “The Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux is an icon of simplicity.  Her faith, truly heroic, wasn’t expressed in grand ways.  Everything she did in her cloister was done with magnanimity of heart rather than grandiosity.  That’s quite possibly why she is one of the most beloved saints of all time – because she lived a very ordinary life, yet her soul exuded incredible fortitude, perseverance, patience, and – indeed, charity.  Her love, her heart, has won over the coldest and most calloused of souls.  Let us embrace her wisdom on loving with greater fervor and ardor.

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Read the Most Beautiful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Prayer

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

Our dear childlike saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, knew that prayer was much more than folding one’s hands and reciting something from memorization to God.  Prayer, for her, was an outpouring of her heart, an unspoken act of love and adoration to God that occurred throughout her day.  Prayer can transition from rote, rehearsed Our Fathers to a beautiful gift of our hearts, too.  When prayer changes into love, the heart never ceases its gaze toward Heaven.  Even in the midst of everyday activities, prayer is central to one’s lifestyle.  It is an ever-present, ever-prevailing song to God of gratitude, praise, and lamentation.

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Do you Understand the Spiritual Importance of Rest?

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

It’s overwhleming to consider how magnificent are God’s works, but what strikes me most – always, to the core – is the truth that God rested on the seventh day.  Think about that for a moment: the Creator of the universe and everything in it rested.  Naturally, God didn’t need to do this. So why would He choose to rest?  Rest is important, even crucial, to our wellbeing.  God wanted to set an example for us all to follow by resting on the seventh day.

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Top 10 Most Beautiful St. Faustina Quotes on the Eucharist

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Saints, Spiritual Development

St. Faustina was one of the many saints who held an intimate devotion to the Eucharist, and she frequently expressed her deep love for Jesus in Holy Communion in her writings.  For her, the message of Divine Mercy was intricately intertwined with this sacrament, along with Confession.  When we approach Jesus with the same open heart she had, ready to receive His very essence into our bodies and souls, we embrace the totality of His mercy.  Let us always receive Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with complete gratitude and humility, as St. Faustina exhibited whenever she approached the Sacrament of the Altar.

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The 10 Best St. John Paul II Quotes on Love of All Time

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

In a society that applauds sexual liberty, excuses rape, defends same-sex “marriage,” and promotes contraception and abortion based on the loose definition of “love wins,” St. John Paul II reminds us that love is love only when it is lived through the lens of self-sacrifice.  If we base our idea of love on attraction or other fuzzy emotions, we gravely misunderstand the truth about love.  Here are ten quotes from this beloved pope—and saint of our times—that urge us to live in the freedom which only true, self-surrendering love can procure.

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10 Most Beautiful Mother Teresa Quotes on the Family

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Most people remember Blessed Mother Teresa for her work with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta.  A pioneer in modern implementation of peace and justice, she also spoke openly about controversial topics, such as abortion and the importance of traditional marriage and family life.  In her no-nonsense, yet charitable, manner, Mother Teresa delivered the truth in a palatable and achievable manner.  Her words of wisdom regarding the family are timeless treasures that we can contemplate even today.  Here are ten quotes to help us meditate on the beautiful, mystical potential of the family through which we can imitate the relationship of the Trinity.

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10 of the Most Beautiful John Paul II Quotes on Prayer

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer

Almost fifteen years ago, I received a refrigerator magnet with an image of St. John Paul II with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the quote, “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.”  Since that time, the magnet has traveled with me throughout several moves and many life changes.  When I glance at it, I inwardly smile and am instantly encouraged.  St. John Paul II certainly had the spiritual charism of encouragement.  The topics he covered, though many, always centered on understanding, respecting, and embracing the human person in every form or stage of life.  Here are ten quotes that focus on one’s prayer life and relationship with Jesus.  When we contemplate this saint’s sage advice, we are necessarily drawn to love God more fully and pray more often.

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These Meditations will Fill Your Day with Peace

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Every new mom is eager to learn about this strange and wondrous new world of navigating diapers, crying spells, and sleepless nights, so she turns to the local advice column in the hopes of finding some timeless insight to guide her. But true counsel can only be found in our beautiful spiritual mother, Mary.  As often as we seek common parenting advice for the modern mom, so should we spend time pondering the sage wisdom that cannot be found in lists or articles.  Mary, a person of few words, teaches us about the true meaning of motherhood – sharing laughter, taking advantage of a few moments of quiet to gaze at her child, spending time to rest with her baby in her arms, and stealing a few kisses along the way.  The time we spend worrying about early childhood education, scheduled nap times, and nursery decorations comes to naught unless we spend time in the search for authentic meaning in motherhood.  Mary paves the way for us, today and every day.  

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What Do You Know About These Inspiring May Saints?

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Saints

The month of May heralds spring and lush, abundant life throughout creation – in the blossoms on trees, vibrant colors of flowers, and songbirds who return to nest after a long winter’s hiatus.  A month largely devoted to our Blessed Mother, May also holds several notable feast days of other saints, many of whom withstood intense trials and false accusations of heresy.  Throughout history, saints have been those who choose exemplary virtue in the face of uncertainty, possible failure, and even death.  If we want to learn about and honor their heroism, we must walk alongside them by pondering their lives and legacies, and beseech their intercession for the fortitude necessary to join them in Heaven. Let us contemplate their trials and their courage so that our spiritual lives may blossom and bear joy this month.

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15 Beautiful Reminders of Your Mother’s Love for You

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Since the beginning of Christianity, saints and sages have venerated the role of Mary in our salvation.  Her unassuming nature, yet bold confidence in God, beckons us who are riddled with sin to approach her heart with confidence and find relief in her motherly love.  As the Protestant Reformation silenced prayers and devotions to our Lady, calling them idolatrous, faithful Christians remained steadfast in their heartfelt supplications to the one who bore our Savior.  Known by many affectionate titles, Mary, the mother of God, is said to be our refuge and advocate.  During this month of May, journey with these fifteen saints who were well-acquainted with Mary and knew how to love her well, so that your love for her may please God and pave the way for mercy at the hour of death.

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Do You Struggle to Forgive those Who Hurt You?

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Let’s face it: Most of us struggle with forgiveness, whether it’s letting go of a hurt someone has committed against us or forgiving ourselves for offenses against others.  As Catholics, we are well aware that it is important, and, indeed, a command, to forgive, yet we still aren’t sure how to forgive well.  Does forgiveness mean we forget someone’s henous act?  Does it mean we ignore the person who has harmed us in the hopes that the wrongdoing will simply vanish? Even if we do realize that “forgiving isn’t forgetting,” we still vacillate in the place somewhere between authentic forgiveness and guilt over our lack of mercy. Here are fifteen quotes from Scripture and the saints to help guide you through the process of learning to forgive.

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Boost Your Easter Season with these 10 Inspiring Saints

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Saints, Spiritual Development

We read about the saints or perhaps learn distantly of their heroic virtue, often noting our own lack of sanctity and the seeming impossibility of our own sainthood. We are all saints in the making.  What’s beautiful about the communion of saints is that they lived on earth in a fleshly body, just as we do, and, throughout the ages, have suffered from various ailments, psychological or emotional torment, temptation, and have learned to overcome their own particular vices, bad habits, and weaknesses.  Now that we are celebrating Eastertide, this is the perfect time for us to take a peek at the lives of the saints we honor throughout the month.  Every April saint you will read about exhibited incredible charity, some to the point of martyrdom, but all to their dying breaths. 

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Do You know How to Live the Resurrection?

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

We are a Resurrection people.  Sometimes we forget that simple but poignant truth, especially as we scurry about in the midst of alarming news concerning modern-day martyrdoms, suicides, natural disasters, economic crises, and political upheaval.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in fear, which ultimately distracts us from remembering who we are as people of hope. Lent is about the metamorphosis of the Resurrection.  Now that Easter is upon us, regardless of how your Lent turned out, you can and should continue your Lenten practices and intentions for change and spiritual growth during Eastertide. Read on to learn how we can live as people of the Resurrection every day of our lives.   

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Learn How to Really Pray Effectively with These Tips

Filed Under: Prayer, Spiritual Development

Prayer is the foundation and life source of a thriving Christian life.  Without it, our faith withers and eventually vanishes, yet so many of us today struggle to understand prayer or carve out time to incorporate it into our daily, frenzied lives. Here are some tips on establishing and maintaining a daily prayer life that will enrich your relationship with God and deepen your love for Him.

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Do you Need Inspiration? Turn to these Amazing Saints

Filed Under: Saints, Spiritual Development

Each month offers an opportunity for us to become acquainted or reacquainted with some well-beloved and lesser-known canonized saints.  These fourteen March saints all exemplified extraordinary charity in their various apostolates.  While many are known for founding monasteries or living austerely, others are recognized for their decision to abandon luxurious lifestyles in favor of religious life serving the poor, orphaned, uneducated, sick, and minority groups. Perhaps we may follow in their footsteps, requesting their aid during this remaining time we spend in reflection for Lent.

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Get The Most Out of The Stations of the Cross

Filed Under: Lent, Prayer, Spiritual Development

We begin the journey to Calvary with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, yet the Stations of the Cross place us with Him in front of Pilate as He is condemned to die – cruelly and unjustly. Meditating on the Way of the Cross helps us understand the depth of God's love for us--the immense suffering He endured for our salvation. Here are meditations to help you get the most out of the Stations of the Cross. 

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14 Important February Saints You Should Definitely Know

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Mysticism, Saints, Spiritual Development

February is that month of dormancy, if not when we hibernate in our homes, then when we retreat into the sanctuary of our heart.  Winter months invite solace and solitude, a time of rest and rejuvenation for the bustling spring and summer months ahead.  What better way to prepare ourselves for Lent (which arrives early in February this year) than to ponder these inspirational saints whose feasts we celebrate this month?  Perhaps we may find a kindred spirit in one or two of them and adopt their intercession throughout the year. Here are 14 important February saints you should definitely know.

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19 Wonderful, Inspiring Bible Quotes Women Really Should Know

Filed Under: Prayer, Spiritual Development

Like many women, I am an avid fan of nonfiction, and of that, my favorite are short devotionals that revolve around inspirational Scripture verses.  Women tend to master the art of multitasking, so it’s important that the encouragement we receive on a daily basis be focused and uplifting.  Naturally, the Bible is a treasure trove for such inspiration, and women can be certain that they will glean strength and hope from some of the most beloved of verses (and some lesser known quotes, as well).  Here are nineteen of my favorite quotes from Scripture, all of which have been instrumental in my personal journey toward sanctification.

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How to Celebrate the Advent Season: 5 Awesome World Traditions

Filed Under: Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

Various Advent traditions are celebrated throughout the world today.  In our western way of life, we can adopt some of these vibrant and rich Advent celebrations from our brothers and sisters around the world.  Many of these customs are available in parts of our nation with a large population of a particular culture, but even if we do not have access to a live representation of them, we can recreate them in our own way and install a new family tradition that is sure to be beloved for generations.

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10 Practical Ways to Celebrate Advent This Year

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

Mary and Joseph's Advent Journey

Though we have officially entered the third week of Advent with Gaudete (“Rejoice”) Sunday, there are still nearly two weeks remaining before the Christmas season begins.  I am always aghast that our world begins celebrating Christmas shortly after Halloween ends, and then on December 26, it’s as if the holiest of seasons has suddenly vanished.  My dear Christian brothers and sisters, let us remember that Advent is such a beautiful gift for us, especially in this frenetically paced culture.  Our Church reminds us to enter into the quietude, not only in the simplicity of our decorating and celebrations at Mass, but also into the solitude of our hearts.  Here are ten ways you can celebrate Advent, starting today.

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12 Inspiring Thanksgiving Quotes from Catholic Saints

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Gratitude is one of the most overlooked and underutilized virtue in our post-modern society, which is filled with narcissism and cynicism.  Unlike these worldviews and lifestyles, gratitude springs forth from charity and humility, both of which naturally extend our hearts into a spirit of thanksgiving – for what we have been given, for who God is, and mostly for His love and mercy.  The saints, of course, knew this well.  Most practiced gratitude on a daily basis as it pertained to their state in life, but many also spoke about it, perhaps because it was so seldom expressed to the God of all creation.  As we approach the American feast of Thanksgiving, we pause to consider why we are grateful and to whom that gratitude is owed.

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11 Awesome November Saints That You Really Can’t Miss

Filed Under: Prayer, Saints, Spiritual Development

November Saints

November is a fantastic month for devotees of several well-known saints in our Catholic tradition. Even for the recent convert or interested skeptic who wants to learn more about the lives of these incredible diverse people who eventually became canonized, this list (while not comprehensive) provides a fantastic foundation for further reflection.  These men and women are certain to both inspire and encourage us on our faith journeys, and we can strive to imitate their virtues that led them to Heaven as we hope for the same.  Perhaps one day we will join them in the Heavenly realm, whether or not we are canonized saints.

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How to Pray for Healing When Suffering

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Jesus Heals the Blind Man (El Greco)

Humanity is plagued with brokenness, sickness, and death.  We see evidence of this everywhere, through sin (both personal and social), diseases, socioeconomic variances, social injustice, and natural disasters.  The consequence of the first sin sometimes whispers but more often shouts to us as a reminder that suffering is inevitable and universal. Despite this truth, God still longs for us to be healed through Him. This article will discuss our relationship with suffering, with God, and where and how we find healing. 

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Here Are 6 Of The Most Inspiring American Women Saints

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Saints, Spiritual Development

Great Women Saints of the Americas

Throughout history, many women have left behind notable legacies that eventually end up in history textbooks.  But many of the most heroic women, steeped in virtue, remain unknown by the general population and even perhaps on the periphery in the minds of faithful Catholics.  These five American women saints all carried a torch of charity in their hearts that was translated into educating the oppressed and minority groups, caring for the sick and dying, and establishing places of prayer and homes for orphans.  They epitomize and personify every corporal and spiritual work of mercy, and because of them, every American has access to health care and education.  For this and many innumerable hidden deeds they performed, these women should be lauded and invoked for guidance. 

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How to Deal With Grief as a Resurrection People

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Our Lady in Mourning (Carracci)

In a society that values personal happiness above all else, is it possible to authentically express sorrow without burdening others unnecessarily?  Perhaps the greater question is, should we burden others or even be burdened ourselves by suffering in solidarity with people in crisis, pain, and grief? Read on for a better understanding on the answers to these important questions.

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Conversion is Never Easy: It can be Painful but Beautiful

Filed Under: Conversion Stories, Living the Faith, Spiritual Development

One month, my monthly Lighthouse CD entitled From Atheism to Catholicism, which featured Jennifer Fulwiler’s honest and candid conversion story.  Naturally I was intrigued, but even more so when I saw on the back of the CD jacket a teaser for her upcoming memoir, Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It. I ended up purchasing the book the next day. Little did I realize just how enraptured I would become by her gift for storytelling. Read my thoughts in this latest post. 

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What is the Role of Godparents in the Church?

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

The Important Role of Godparents

It is important for Catholic familes to understand the role of Godparents and how to prudently select holy, spiritual role models for their children.  Regrettably, it’s very difficult in our modern day to find two practicing Catholics, both male and female, who we confidently believe would attend to our children’s spiritual development in our absence.  So what exactly is a Godparent supposed to do or be?  How can we discern a good fit for our children, and why do we have Godparents, anyway?  This post will explore the answers to these questions as foundational information about the value of Godparents and their beautiful role in our children’s lives.

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5 Ways To Nourish Your Spiritual Life Today

Filed Under: Learning the Faith, Living the Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Development

Nourish Your Spiritual Life

In our post-modern Information Age, even those of us with fairly subdued lifestyles increasingly find ourselves wondering, How can I grow in my faith?  How can I hear God’s voice? Why is life so chaotic?  We dance in this sort of catatonic flurry of activity and yet, at the end of the day, we have no idea what we accomplished, much less feel truly grounded and centered on the One who is unchanging.Without presenting a fluffy treatise on simple ways you can possibly add more time to your prayer life and grow in your faith, I’d like to offer something rather substantial.  And, yes, it will take a lot of time, practice, and self-discipline.  It’s difficult – even cumbersome at times – but the fruits of a life deeply rooted in our Catholic faith will multiply exponentially.  

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Consider the Lilies

Filed Under: Prayer

Consider the Lilies

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? (Matt. 6:25-26)

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Stations of the Cross: Praying Stations Five through Eight

Filed Under: Lent, Prayer

The Way to Calvary (Domenichino)

Stations five through eight focus on the people of the Passion.  These include Simon the Cyrene, Veronica, and the women in Jerusalem.  Each has a unique vantage point of the Passion of Jesus, and each is moved to assuage His agony in a different gesture of compassion.  In a paradoxical twist, as each person was inspired to reach out to Jesus, each was also profoundly and unexpectedly transformed by their suffering Savior.  Even during His Passion, Jesus healed.

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Watch and Pray: Making Time for God

Filed Under: Prayer

Consolator, Carl Bloch

"Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NAB).

Vigilance in daily prayer is difficult at best, but more often cumbersome, for the vast majority of modern Catholics.  It is a practice that requires discipline, and in order for us to grow in this discipline, we must rely heavily on Divine Grace for consistency and constancy.  Today Jesus’ words haunt me as I ponder their weight.  These words seem so foreboding, spoken millennia ago to weary and naïve apostles while Jesus’ Passion began in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We often perpetuate a similar complacency in our daily lives, and so it is of great benefit to our personal path toward sanctification that we meditate – often – on what it means to watch and pray.

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Conversion Stories: Venerable Matthew Talbot

Filed Under: Canonization Process, Conversion Stories, Prayer, Saints

Venerable Matthew Talbot

The life story of Venerable Matthew Talbot is one of many conversion stories that speak to all of us about our need for God's mercy and grace and the sanctity that comes with the virtue of humility. 

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Introduction to Christian Mysticism

Filed Under: Mysticism

John of the Cross, Padre Pio, and Therese of Lisieux

The topic of Mysticism is one that has fascinated peoples of all ages and religious beliefs; in our modern milieu, it is one that has garnered much attention due to the increasing influence of the New Age Movement and eastern religions. How can one discern rightly the difference between a very ethereal and general mystical experience of “consciousness” versus an authentic encounter with the Living God? This article will attempt to  present how the Catholic Church specifically defines mysticism in terms of both Public and Private Revelations, as well as a few criticisms of the notion of Mysticism in general.

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