Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 Ways of Letting Go of Resentment

Resentment is the re-experiencing of past injustices (real or perceived) and old feelings of anger connected to them. Resentments form when people get angry and hold on to that anger. As Catholics, we are called to let go of any resentment we feel, but that’s easier said than done! Praying is the ultimate way out, but you can incorporate some other practices to help you as well:

  • Call your resentment by name. Who or what is it about? Visualize that person or group as a beloved child of God. God loves them; do you want to be apart from them?
  • As difficult as it may be, practice treating those people you have resentment toward with kindness and compassion. Notice what happens when you change how you act toward them; they will often change how they act toward you.
  • Resist the urge to be a channel for the resentment of others. The resentment of others can be seductive; it can have an almost magnetic pull. Don’t buy into it; resist the urge to join in their negativity or participate in gossip.

The stronger the resentment is, the more time you spend thinking about it, the more you’ll re-experience the anger connected to it. This is a form of mental, emotional, and spiritual bondage. Ultimately, the person holding the resentment is the one who suffers most. With God’s help, you can set yourself free!

 

 

 

Image: Trinity Kubassek for Pexels  

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: How Do I Know God Loves Me?

Sometimes it’s easy to wonder. Things can go terribly wrong in our lives, often through events or circumstances outside of our control. The world can feel like an unfriendly place. Where is God in it all? How do I know he loves me?

  • Look around you. We generally see what we want to see. If you expect to see bad things, you will. But if you expect to look around yourself and see God’s presence and love, even in small things, then you will see that, too. The gift of such a crazy beautiful world is a good sign of God’s love.
  • Read scripture. Especially the Gospel of John. The leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the promise of God’s love for every one of us. And remind yourself that Jesus died for you, personally: the greatest indication of God’s love there ever could be.
  • See Christ in others. It’s easy to judge those who are different from us. If you can stop and see Christ in everyone around you, then it will be easier to be Christ to others, too, letting God’s love flow through you and into others’ lives.

God knows every one of us inside and out, far better than we know ourselves. He has promised to never leave us, to never forsake us. Saint Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: How to Love 2020

For many if not most, 2019 was a year of trials, disasters, and fear, and many of us find it difficult to perceive much change in the new year. But as Christians we are called to be a people of hope, and there are things that we can do to bring more light to ourselves and to those around us!

  • In 2020, let’s continue our Advent tradition to #PutJesusFirst. If you start every day with even just a quick prayer, committing the day to Christ, then you’ve changed the whole day already!
  • Don’t look for the pain. It’s all around us, and it can be overwhelming. Make it a point every day to look for the joy in the world and in your life. It’s there!
  • Get over yourself. The best way to find hope is to give it. Volunteer to do something in your parish or community. There is always someone who needs you!

Remember that we are not the first ones to face difficult times, and nor are we alone. Jesus is with us, every day, every step, and our hope is built on his promises and his love. 2020 can be a year of celebration of God’s work in the world—if we make it happen!

 

 

Photo: Moisés Becerra LC for Cathopic

Christmas, Everyday Grace

3 Ways to Banish the Post-Christmas-Day Blues

There’s a lot of work, thought, anticipation, and activity leading up to Christmas Day, and, for many people, the following weeks feel like something of a letdown. The jolly Santa Claus images are looking a little tired; the big event we’ve been waiting for has come… and gone. How do you cope with the post-Christmas blues?

  • Keep the light going. The Christmas season is all about light: leave your nativity set out (and pray to the Infant Jesus), keep the decorations blinking and the candles lit: this is the season that gets us through the dark nights of winter and all the way to the Baptism of Our Lord and on to Candlemas.
  • Take care of yourself. Banish the blues! First of all, there’s a good probability that you gained some weight with all those holiday parties. Second of all, exercise releases endorphins, and that will make you feel great.
  • Reach out. Did you know there’s a spike in calls to crisis centers right after Christmas? Loneliness and depression can move in for many different reasons. This is an excellent time to volunteer with an organization that reaches out to those who are alone, homeless, ill, elderly, or shut-in. And getting you outside of yourself will improve your mood, too!

The manger was just the first step of our journey of faith, the journey that will take us though to the cross and the resurrection. Keeping that in perspective, and doing what we can to help ourselves and help others, is what will surely beat the post-Christmas blues!

Advent, Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace:How to Wait During Advent

We’ve all spent a significant amount of our time waiting. Waiting for an appointment, waiting for a kid to come home, waiting for an overdue airplane, waiting our turn at the grocery store. No one likes waiting; its very definition is postponement. Postponement of joy, of relief, of getting things done. So why does the Church give us Advent? Why assign a whole season just to waiting? Why not go directly to Christmas?

I’d like to suggest that things happen in the waiting. Waiting is liminal time, time spent between one thing and another, and that is often where the magic happens. Advent makes sure we’re ready for Christmas.

  • Advent waiting is finite. We wait for love and marriage without knowing if it will come. We wait for justice. We wait for healing. The hardest thing about waiting is not knowing when it’s going to end, or even if it’s going to end. The waiting that comes with Advent is fun because it’s finite. We know what’s coming at the end of our wait will be good, and we know exactly how many days we have left to wait for it. You can find stress in waiting, or you can find joy in knowing how and when it will end.
  • Advent waiting is preparatory. We make space for special things—Christmas trees, holiday foods, hidden presents. But we also have to make space inside ourselves, open ourselves to the Child on his way. Our hearts are his home, so they must be prepared.
  • Advent waiting is hopeful. As this part of the world moves deeper into winter, the shortened days and longer nights can feel dark. But there is a Light that shines in darkness: the one who loves, redeems, and heals the world is on his way. We, and our whole community of faith, are the people of hope. Let’s live it fully!

Hold your breath: it is almost here. The waiting is nearly over.

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 Ways to Maintain Your Joy in Advent

We all seem to start Advent with energy. Even if we’re looking at lists with too much to do on them, recipes we have no ideas how to crack, friends arriving at inopportune times… it’s still just the start of the miraculous season. But then Advent II comes along and we recognize the theme is peace and there is suddenly less and less of it around. Our jobs can seem dull; some of us have lost them. Our families are scattered among too many activities. And we worry if we’ve left someone off the Christmas-present list. What can we do” Here are three suggestions:

  • Pray more, not less. It may or may not be St. Francis de Sales who said, “I pray for a half-hour, unless I’m very busy; then I pray for an hour,” but you get the point. In the midst of our busyness, we need God more than ever. It is his son’s birth we are about to celebrate, so let’s spend time with that family as well as our own!
  • Stay close to the story. Those of you who grew up in large families, or have families of your own, you know how arduous the last weeks of pregnancy are. Be with Mary in her time of trial. She is traveling, uncertain, afraid, and very aware that she will soon be giving birth. Stay close to her; say a particular Rosary to be with her in these days and hours of difficulty.
  • Be in the moment, but look ahead. This is the Church’s new year: now, not January 1, is when she liturgical year changes. Why not make this a time to look forward into the next Church year? Are there “resolutions” you can make that will bring you closer to God in this new year? Can you commit to a special prayer, or a new service?

 

Advent is a tricky time, and it’s always more difficult to navigate than we think. Stay open to what God sends your way, welcome it with open arms, and see what the Lord has in store for you today!

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 Ways to Start Advent

Can you believe it—we’re in Advent already! Whoa! How can you slow things down so you can really mark the season?

  • Start with reconciliation. Confession is an important part of preparing your heart for Jesus: it will help you identify any cobwebs you may not be seeing on your own, especially in the bustle of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Start your Advent this year with a clean slate!
  • Prepare for light. We’re entering the darkest time of year, which can be difficult for many. There’s light coming, in more ways than one, but it can feel very far away. If you feel sad or just “down,” consider a “Happy Light” for light therapy. It’s hard to feel joyful when you’re feeling depressed!
  • Bring music into your heart. There are so many beautiful Advent carols and songs, some of which are familiar, some less so. Take a moment every day to use them for reflection with our free book, Angels from the Realms of Glory.

Advent is a time of preparation, but doing too many things at once will always make you feel unprepared. Banish those feelings and get ready to welcome the Light of the World!

 

Image credit: David Bartus for Canva

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 Ideas for Finding Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving week, the one day a year we set aside as Americans to practice gratitude. As we look around God’s big, beautiful world, it’s hard to believe that we make thanking God an event only once a year! Here are three ideas for inserting a little thankfulness in our lives—every day.

  • Don’t be picky: appreciate everything! Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Even if it’s as simple as appreciating the clear weather or how quickly your mailman delivered your mail last Friday, don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude.
  • Volunteer: For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others in their local parish or local community. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude. (University of Pennsylvania researcher Martin Seligman found that volunteering is the single most reliable way to momentarily increase your well-being.)
  • Remember that materialism fuels ingratitude. Our culture and greed often lead us into a vicious circle of materialism: The more we get, the more we want. Materialism leads to the “give me” mindset in which “stuff” fills the void of our hearts. It is important to focus on the non-material world where we share our thanks with words of affirmation, kind deeds, and prayers of thanksgiving. This is especially true with raising children. In fact, we do not always need to “reward” them with things, but instead we can affirm them and their dignity as children of God. Consider praying before making a big purchase or a spontaneous one.

We wish you the most happy and healthy Thanksgiving ever, and we pray that we all might be open to and grateful for everything God accomplishes in our lives!

 

image: Pixabay

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 Ways to Find Peace in the Midst of Turmoil

Every day it feels like we’re moving closer to some apocalyptic future, with politics gone awry, climate change threatening our children’s world, and hatred everywhere we look. How do we as Catholics keep ourselves apart from the fray while still living in the middle of it? How to we find peace in the midst of turmoil? Here are three ideas:

  • It’s important to recognize what John 14:27 tells us: he makes it clear where peace is not found. It is not found in the world, ourselves, circumstances, or comfort, all of which we tend to seek for peace. Christ has made it clear in his Word that the peace we seek is bought, assured, and sustained by Christ alone.
  • Remain close to the community of faith. Church community, family, and friendships are all God’s design to bring refuge to those who are troubled. As St. Paul instructed the church of Colossae to remain in fellowship with one another to keep the peace of Christ, so does he instruct us to do the same today.
  • When we don’t know what to do next, we can pray. Why talk to Jesus? Because he understands suffering—not in some distant cosmic way, but in the flesh. He suffered greatly during his time on earth. He understands what you’re feeling.

Our times are difficult, but other times have been just as difficult for those living them. Keep that perspective, keep praying, and keep your faith, and you’ll find peace.

 

 

Photo: Deepu B lyer for Pexels

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace: 3 ways to honor our deceased loved ones

November is a month of precious memories of friends and family who have gone ahead of us into eternity, loved ones we hold in love and prayer. How can you honor your own loved ones this month?

  • Enroll their names in the Daughters of St. Paul’s novena of masses. The sisters’ prayers and suffrages can bring comfort to those who’ve gone ahead of us in death. Pray for your departed loved ones by enrolling their names in these nine masses.
  • Pray with the Memento Mori prayer book. It contains everything you need to connect more deeply with God when you’re grieving.
  • If you don’t have the Memento Mori prayer book, pray all the same. Spend an hour this month in Eucharistic adoration and pray the St. Gertrude Prayer: “Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine son Jesus, in union with all the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”

November is the month in which we remember why we’re here, where we’re going, and those who have gone before us into eternity who still need our comfort and the compassion of our prayers. They are like “angels among us” still, and they remind us from eternity that life is truly about Good News! They know God’s salvation and mercy in a way we can now only hope to understand: that we are loved by God individually, uniquely, and eternally.

 

Image: Thomas Vogel for Unsplash