Categories
Ink Slingers Martina

Creative Ways to Practice the Pause

Being female, first born, and Mexican American, I have plenty of practice in asserting my opinion – and shockingly enough (because I know this will come as a surprise to those who know me IRL), it’s hard to keep my opinion to myself and, instead, pause at times. Unsolicited advice, opinions, theories, reactions…they’re all in my wheelhouse, friends, lol.

But I heard it put so beautifully the other day when I shared on social media about the seeming uselessness of being angry when compared to the thought of dying the next day. Would that anger really matter in the grand scheme of things? One person commented they were trying really hard to “practice the pause.”

“Gold,” I thought. ABSOLUTE GOLD.

How often do we react when we should listen and thoughtfully respond? How quickly do we react? Do we listen to listen or listen to react? Are we listening so that we can craft a response that builds us up or tears others down? What are some strategies we can employ so that we can be a better listener and respond in a way that invites an authentic discussion for both parties? When we make an honest effort to do the following, it can go a long way in curbing the angry response to others.

HOW TO PRACTICE THE PAUSE

Stay close to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. I know many of us were kept away from the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for a long time due to the shutdown. Staying close to Jesus in the Eucharist is just one way we can ensure our relationships with others are rooted in genuine charity.

Make Reconciliation a regular habit. Once a month is a great goal to have, if not more frequently if you feel God calling you to go more often. Consider going to confession as the pathway to hear the marching orders God has for your life. Kinda hard to hear Him if we’re steeped in sin.

Listen to listen. Have you ever had a conversation with a friend who listened to you? I mean REALLY listened to you? Like…they want to know all about what’s going on with YOU and not just leap in at the end of your sentence to tell you how you should fix your problems.

Extend charity. Especially when you don’t feel like it. Admittedly, this one is hard to put into practice because it requires a lot of looking outside of yourself for perspective.

Remember these are people you are arguing with. This is especially important online when we tend to reduce people to screen names or handles. One good strategy is to ask yourself “would I say this to someone’s face?”

Walk away. Or exit the app or close the laptop. Whatever is robbing your peace, take the wind out of the sails by walking away. That thrill of getting that zinger in will dissipate, leaving you to wonder if you should add that to your confession list – ouch.

Create a list…of things you can do to make walking away easier. Are you at work? Should you be working? If you’re at home, are there chores that you should be doing?

What are some things you would add to this list? Share below in the comments, OR share in a reel on Instagram and tag us – we’ll feature you!

Looking for some similar reads? Check these out:

Categories
Confession Ink Slingers Last Rites/Anointing of the Sick Liturgical Year Maurisa Purgatory Sacraments

Remember Your Death

In the span of one month this past winter, three people I care very much about lost their fathers unexpectedly. The degree to which each was prepared for death varied greatly. Being spiritually prepared for our own or for a loved one’s death is not something we discuss frequently, if at all, and yet it is one of the most important things we can do. In fact, being properly prepared for death can make all the difference when it comes to the Four Last Things—Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.

What can you do to prepare your own soul for death?

  • Remain in a state of grace by avoiding mortal sin, making use of frequent confession, and frequent, worthy reception of the Eucharist.
  • Pray for a holy death, asking for the intercession of Saint Joseph the patron of a happy death and of the Blessed Mother who we invoke with every Hail Mary—“pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
  • Commit to the Nine First Fridays Devotion, availing oneself of confession if needed for worthy reception of communion, attending Mass nine first Fridays in a row and receiving Holy Communion. One of the promises of fulfilling this commitment is the grace of final penitence so that one dies in a state of grace.
  • To the extent that you are able, draw close to your priest and discuss what you desire in the way of a “prepared death.”
  • Make clear funeral plans and plans for Masses to be said after your death. Make sure your family knows in detail your wishes.

What can you do to prepare loved ones for death?

  • Discuss all of the above with your loved ones, especially if they are faithfully practicing Catholics. Get a clear idea of their desires and needs when it comes to preparing for death.
  • Pray fervently for the conversion of your loved ones who are outside the faith. You can even offer your Nine First Fridays on their behalf.
  • Get a priest to them as soon as possible if death is immanent or even a possibility. This is a real responsibility. Your loved one’s soul is at stake and as much as we hope they have prepared themselves for the inevitability, nothing can replace what a priest can do for a soul near death.

What should you do after the fact?

  • First of all you should assume nothing—neither canonize nor condemn your loved one.
  • Have Masses said for them.
  • Enroll them in the Seraphic Mass Association or a similar society who offers frequent or perpetual masses for the dead. Have a Traditional Requiem Mass said, if possible.
  • Continue to pray for the soul of your loved one. Our Lady gave the following prayer to the Fatima children. She promised it would be particularly efficacious for the poor souls in Purgatory.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in the most need of Thy mercy.”

This month remember your death. Let us give appropriate time, thought, and prayer focused upon our own mortality and state of our souls. May we meet our death in a state of preparation and grace.


Originally, I had written this post for this past Lent and then the world turned completely upside down. It just didn’t seem to be a truly appropriate time to publish it, especially since many of us were completely deprived of the sacraments and the recommendations I gave in this post are pretty reliant on access to the sacraments. I know there are still many who have limited access to confession and getting a priest into a hospital remains a real obstacle, but much of the information provided is so very important. You may need to forcefully advocate for your loved one with the hospital, your priest, or even the diocese to get what is needed. Just remember, your loved one’s soul may very much depend upon it.

Resources:

5 Things Catholics Should Know About First Fridays

What is the Apostolic Pardon?

Seraphic Mass Association

Memento Mori Devotional

A Prayer for a Holy Death

What Every Catholic Needs to Know About the Four Last Things

On Commendation of the Soul and Expiration

God’s Final Act of Mercy: A Reminder to Remember the Faithful Departed This November

Categories
Ink Slingers Martina Offering your suffering Prayer Priesthood Vocations

10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest’s Father’s Day ROCK!

10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie and Father Jonathan go all the way back! When Father Jonathan left St. William, she, at age 2 – along with her siblings – worked on their interviews for Father J. This made such an impression on him that he taped this up on the wall of his office at his next parish assignment!


You’ve probably got Father’s Day all cinched up right now (hey, I’m just tryna be positive 😉 ), but what about your parish priest? You know, the fella on the altar who consecrates the bread and wine into Jesus – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. What about that guy? He’s your spiritual father! Today, we’re going to cover some quick and easy ways to help your priest feel loved on Father’s Day. Let’s get started! Don’t forget to take a listen (at the bottom of this post) to the Father’s Day homily by Father Michael Sullivan, given on Father’s Day 2016 at my home parish, St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas. 

  1. Find him before or after Mass and tell him Happy Father’s Day! 
  2. Mail or hand deliver an actual Father’s Day card to your parish priest/s. Be sure to let them know you are praying for him and his work in building up the Kingdom.
  3. Have the kiddos draw him some lovely artwork for his office, or you can do a fun interview with the kids to give him. Josie, who is almost eight now, still gets a big kick out of this interview she did for Father Jonathan when she was two!
  4. Does he love Sonic, McDonald’s, or some other fast food place? Pick up a gift card (any amount will do!) and toss it in the Father’s Day card!
❤ SCROLL PAST THE PHOTOS TO SEE EXTRAS TO MAKE YOUR PRIEST FEEL LOVED ❤

10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie and Drew with Father Jonathan on May 20, 2018.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Michael Sullivan with Joshua and Drew on the last day of Conquest. This annual boys camp is always the week following Father’s Day. The two oldest boys have both attended for going on nine years!

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie along with big brother (and seasoned altar boy of eight years) bring up gifts to Father Dean. She specifically asked for a Sunday to celebrate her First Holy Communion when Father Dean could celebrate Mass.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
She was so excited to share her special day with Father Dean.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche and Joshua had a special bond in the time he was at St. William. Here we said goodbye as he moved on to his next priestly assignment.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche put on a soccer camp for kiddos and Drew participated.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche and my husband played soccer (along with several St. William staff) for about a year. On Josie’s birthday, we found Father Uche and asked him to bless this sweet girl.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
On Scout Sunday, Paige brought up gifts to Father Uche at Mass. Afterward, we grabbed a snap of the two of them.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche gives Josie a ‘hi five’ at Vacation Bible School and then made a beeline to ask me why her name tag said “Mary,” lol. #MaryJosephine

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Drew and Father Michael Sullivan at the end of Conquest Boys Camp in 2015.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Jonathan came over for dinner and Josie always makes sure we take a picture of the two of them, lol. #BUDDIES

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Even when Father Uche is at another parish and he says “I need to speak to your daughter, bring her to Jesus Is Lord” in another city, you know what you do? You throw her in the car and take her to see Father Uche, lol.

Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Drew asked Father Dean to celebrate his First Holy Communion in 2016.

EXTRAS

What else can you do to help your priest know he is loved and appreciated, especially in big parishes?

  1. Invite him over for dinner! Seriously, it doesn’t have to be fancy – pizza will do. Need some inspiration? Check out our Pinterest Food.Meals board!
  2. Ask him if he will celebrate sacraments for your kiddos! In our case, our kids actually request our pastor because there is a level of comfort in that relationship. We have created a priestly culture and our kids know how church works – get there early so the boys can serve, say prayers, and then ask if we can see Father Dean. Every. Sunday. He greets everyone between Masses, so we head to the narthex and join him to say hello, greet folks, and let the littles run around outside to burn off some energy. I may or may not utilize that time to see how his week has gone and if he can pray a little extra over the one kid who acts like he’s never stepped foot in a church before – uh hem. 
  3. Offer to make a meal – fresh or for the freezer. Call ahead of time and find out likes/dislikes and what he prefers. Some priests love to cook and others can’t even look at a recipe card without sweating. 😉 
  4. Send an email (or text if you’re at that comfort level) and fill them in with the latest with your family. Often times, priests only hear about folks problems, which is part of the job, but sharing in some of the highlights of your family life can be a huge blessing. 
  5. In times of distress, ask for their prayers. Additionally, let them know you are offering up your suffering for their tireless work. Priests have a target on their back and Satan does not take a day off. Knowing you are praying for them and offering up struggles for them can go a long way. They definitely need all the prayers we can send their way! When I had an emergency appendectomy, both Father Dean and Father Uche came to see me at the hospital to pray over me and to pray Vespers together. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and it was kind of comical, but I was so glad to have them there with me. Father Dean and his dry, German sense of humor and Father Uche and his Oxford English accent despite being from Nigeria. What made it all the better was listening to the two of them bicker like true brother priests. Another time, right after we experienced our first (of three) miscarriages, our parish priests reached out to me and my family in one of the most pastoral ways. They made themselves available in ways that were unique to their personalities. One priest researched burial logistics and another asked to talk to me because he knew I was suffering. This man – this diocesan priest whose schedule is filled from first light of day until the stars come out and here he was asking if he could call me and talk to me.  These men have and still are treasures to our family.
  6. Has your priest been reassigned? This is the time of year when the diocesan reassignments have been announced. Here’s one great way to help your priest feel the love of the parishioners and it takes very little effort, you’ll be glad to know!

What would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

Check out our boards on Pinterest that celebrate Dads

Dads: We salute You | Vocations: Priesthood

Categories
Communion Faith Formation Guest Posts Parenting Sacraments Special Needs Connection Vocations

Special Needs Mom Reflects: All are Welcome at the Feast

A week after Christmas, after months of preparation, my two youngest children received their First Holy Communion. I had always assumed that while welcome at mass, this particular avenue of grace would always be closed to them because of their disabilities. Jude was born with severe cerebral palsy due to an injury at birth and his older sister, Josie, has profound autism. The actions of a kind nun nearing retirement brought them further into the Church and able to participate in Holy Communion.

It is amazing the things that happen by luck, or more fittingly, by divine providence. We attend a variety of masses due to my job as a night shift nurse. We were lucky enough to attend a mass honoring the 50th anniversary of Sister Judy Jones of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, an order that was founded at the very parish we attend. It was there that sister met our children and asked a very simple question, “Have they received their First Communion?” When we replied no, her answer was equally simple, “We will need to fix that.” It was there that they started down the road to receiving First Communion.

We were on a time schedule. Sister was due to retire at the end of the year, and return to the motherhouse in Philadelphia. She made our children her top priority in the time she had left in Alabama. While we thought this wasn’t possible due to our children’s inability to participate in “normal” sacramental preparation, we were wrong. Sister had prepared many disabled children for First Holy Communion, allowing them even greater participation in the Mass. Our preparation consisted of a weekly meeting over a period of six months to prepare the children to receive. They learned more about the mass, Josie learned prayers (Jude is non-verbal), and how to receive. 

When the day arrived, it was not a typical First Holy Communion. The Church was beautiful with Christmas decorations, not the typical spring flowers. It also happened during a regular Sunday mass. Many of the congregants had watched our children grow and I am certain that mine were not the only tears of joy shed that morning. When they received, it completed something that I felt was undone, something that made my children “normal.” For my children, it allowed them to truly experience our Lord in Communion, perhaps not an experience either one of them will ever be able to truly verbalize, but one that they both felt. 

The Lord calls all of us to him, even the littlest, the weakest, and the least able because with him we are strong. He calls others to guide the way for them. We are all called to the feast.

by Melanie Miller

Melanie Miller is a cradle Catholic and registered nurse married 29 years to her husband, Daryl, who converted to the faith 22 years ago.  They have seven children, ranging in age from 9 to 28.  They currently live in Georgia but attend mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Phenix City, Alabama.

Categories
Catechism Confirmation Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary Mary P. Sacraments

Four Myths About Catholicism Even Catholics Believe

As Catholics, we encounter a lot of misunderstanding about our beliefs from people outside the faith. Many think we worship statues, see Mary as a deity, and try to buy our way in Heaven (etc.). But additionally, there are some myths about Catholicism that even many Catholics believe. Let’s face it – catechesis over the last 60 years or so has been sorely lacking. This has created a situation wherein faithful, well-meaning Catholics believe things that are contrary to Church teaching without knowing it. I know first-hand that it can be jarring to realize that something you believe to be authentic Catholic teaching is not quite true. But learning what is true helps us to grow in our faith, and evangelize more effectively. 

The following are some of the frequent myths I’ve heard Catholics espousing, and the corresponding truths of the faith. (I can’t do justice to any of these teachings in this amount of space. So, I encourage you to read more on each topic yourself, including following the included links).  

 
Myth: We can get to heaven by being “good people”/doing good works.
Truth: The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by grace, through both faith and good works.

This means we do participate in our own salvation! Good works are very important! Yet, we cannot earn heaven by being or doing good on our own. Without the help of grace – which is God’s very life within us — nothing we do could ever be good enough to get us into heaven. (The idea that we can get to heaven on our own merit apart from grace is a heresy called Semi-Pelagianism). This is what makes the sacraments of Baptism and Confession so very important. Baptism initiates us into a life of grace. Confession restores us to a life of a grace when we have cut ourselves off from it via mortal sin.

I once had a disagreement with another Catholic over Matt Maher’s song, “Your Grace is Enough.”  She believed it was heretical. But, Scripture says God’s grace is sufficient (enough) for us. It is His grace that transforms our souls, and his grace that enables us to participate in the Christian life. Our faith and good works both result directly from that grace, and dispose us to receive more grace. And the grace itself is what enables us to go to Heaven. Without grace, faith is impossible, and good works are meaningless. 

This means that our beliefs about salvation don’t differ quite as drastically from Protestant beliefs as we often think. We all believe God’s grace is what saves us, and that we can’t work our way into heaven.

(Learn more about this topic here, here, and here).

Myth: The Sacrament of Confirmation is for a child to choose for him/herself to be Catholic, and become an adult in the Church.
Truth: The Church teaches that Confirmation is for completing baptismal grace and being sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Confirmation is a Sacrament of Initiation along with Baptism and the Eucharist, thus belonging close to the beginning of our faith journey. When we receive Confirmation, the Holy Spirit marks us as ones belonging totally to Christ. The Spirit pours Himself out over us in a special way, and bonds us to the Church more perfectly. It does not exist because a child needs a chance to officially agree to what his parents chose for him at Baptism. 

At Baptism, we are changed metaphysically. This change cannot be undone. We don’t need to receive another Sacrament to accept the change or make it permanent. A person can choose to stop practicing the Catholic faith, but they cannot choose to stop being a Catholic. The Catechism says, “Although Confirmation is sometimes called the ‘sacrament of Christian maturity,’ we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need ‘ratification’ to become effective.” (1308)

Many Catholics are confused about this topic because even Church leaders have been perpetuating the above myth for years. One way they do this is by withholding the sacrament until the teen years. Canon law says that the normal age for Confirmation is the age of reason (around 7), and even babies can be confirmed if there is a danger of death. (Eastern Rite Catholics receive Confirmation as babies). 

Myth: The Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus’s conception by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Truth: The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary’s conception without sin.

“Immaculate” means very clean. Mary was conceived with a soul that was spotless, unlike our souls that are stained with original sin. This is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Of course Jesus was also conceived without sin. However, his conception by a virgin is “miraculous,” not “immaculate.”

A few years ago, I realized that the Gospel reading for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the account of the Annunciation. No wonder people are confused about the meaning of this feast! But, I think we read the Annunciation story because it talks about Mary being “full of grace,” or “highly favored.” This points to her status as one who was preserved from any type of sin.

While we’re on the topic, it’s important to realize that Christ was still Mary’s savior (as she herself proclaims). As God is outside of time, he could apply the salvific work of the crucifixion to Mary before it happened in history.

Myth: The pope speaks authoritatively every time he speaks publicly, and we must give unquestioned assent and support to all of his statements.
Truth: The Church teaches that the pope is infallible in very limited circumstances.

The pope can make mistakes in his conduct and his theology. Of course, as the highest Church authority and Christ’s chief representative on Earth, the pope deserves our allegiance and respect. We should be very humble and cautious when we evaluate and discuss his words. However, we don’t have to agree with or defend everything he says.

 Sometimes, popes are expressing mere opinions, which might differ from our own. Sometimes, they sincerely believe they are expressing Church teaching, but are actually in error. There have even been popes who were wicked men not living according to the teaching of the Church. The Holy Spirit prevents the pope from authoritatively teaching a falsehood as truth. However, he does not prevent the pope from all errors in thought, word, judgment, or conduct. We always should evaluate and understand all of the pope’s words in light of the constant and historic teaching of the Church. 

On a related note, some believe that the Holy Spirit actively chooses every pope. But as Pope Benedict XVI said, this isn’t quite correct. The Holy Spirit guides the process of papal election, but it’s up to the College of Cardinals to listen to him. They could ignore that guidance in favor of their own human judgment. Luckily, if that happened, the gates of hell still would not prevail against the Church. 

 

Catholic Sistas foundress, Martina, often says that learning about Catholicism “is like eating an elephant.” There is so much to consume and digest that it can only happen fully over a long period of time. What’s more important than knowing the ins and outs of every teaching of the Church is having a heart and a mind that are open to the truth when it is presented to us.