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Two Amazing Insights on the Visitation

Virgin Mary - The Visitation

I’ve been blown away recently by two key items I’d overlooked with reading or meditating on the Visitation, the moment when Mary and Elizabeth meet and John the Baptist jumps in his mother’s womb.

1) Mary, as the Mother of God — Catholics are often criticized for giving Mary the title Mother of God. It seems other Christians want to see her as only the mother of Jesus. Of course, logically, this is incorrect. Jesus is BOTH fully human and fully God. You can’t separate the two, so if Jesus is God and Mary is the Mother of Jesus, then Mary is the Mother of God.

But, here’s more proof… Did you ever notice that Elizabeth, whom the Bible says is filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary the “mother of our Lord” (Luke 1:41-43)? Sure, you could say that she really is referring to Jesus, who is also called Lord (but let us remember that we cannot separate the Holy Trinity, so that is referring to God, as well). But in the entire passage of Elizabeth’s statements to Mary, she is referring to God the Father. Right there, the Holy Spirit declares Mary the “Mother of God.”

2) Mary as the NEW Ark of the Covenant — Here’s another doozy that really blew my mind when I read it in Denise Bossert’s “Gifts of the Visitation” (Ave Maria Press, 2015). Catholics also call Mary the new Ark of the Covenant, because just as the old Ark of the Covenant carries God, so does Mary with Jesus in her womb. BUT, Bossert points out that there is an Old Testament verse that prefigures the Visitation, which speaks to this even further.

In 2 Samuel 6 (you MUST go read this!), David asks “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” and then is described as dancing and jumping before the Ark. In the Visitation verses in Luke, Elizabeth says, “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) and John the Baptist “leaps” in his mother’s womb. Does that not show Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant? Amazing stuff!

Had you ever thought about these things? Please share your thoughts!

What to do When you Disagree with a Catholic Teaching

As a newbie to Catholicism or as someone exploring the faith, you will likely find one or more teachings that you just can’t get your head around — or flat out disagree with. Oftentimes, these are teachings like the saints, Mary, purgatory or contraception. Don’t worry about this; you are not alone! Most of us struggle with multiple teachings as we learn more about the faith.

Here are some suggestions to help you if you find yourself stuck in this situation:

1) Keep searching – Read, read and read some more. Listen to Catholic radio and watch EWTN. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Find Bible verses about the issue. Ask your RCIA leader or another Catholic well educated in the faith. Keep reading different explanations and really delve deeply into the whys of the teaching, and I promise, you will find one an explanation eventually that makes sense to you. I found that every issue I did not understand I eventually came to terms with. Several issues for me included contraception and purgatory.

Gifts of the Visitation, Ave Maria Press, Denise Bossert2) Write a petition – I just finished reading “Gifts of the Visitation” by Denise Bossert (Ave Maria Press, 2015), a convert to Catholicism, who explores the Visitation (when Mary and Elizabeth meet and John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb) in detail and shares along the way her conversion to the faith. The daughter of a Protestant minister, she felt called to Catholicism after her father’s death, but especially struggled with the Church’s teaching on Mary’s Immaculate Conception. This teaching is that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb free from original sin.

After many attempts to understand this teaching, her RCIA leader advised her to write a petition to Mary, asking her to show Denise the truth. What a wonderful idea! Here’s what she wrote:

Mary, if you are as the Catholic Church says, and if you love me, please answer this petition. I want someone to communicate with me by your inspiration. Mary, I want the message to come from you to the ears of one who could know no other way. Please choose someone who, for me, would represent the universal Catholic Church. Then I will know I am right where I am supposed to be and that the Church’s teachings are all correct, terra firma, especially the teachings about you. Please answer my petition before the end of the year–I know, that’s just two weeks.

Thinking it unlikely she would receive a response, she was surprised that the day after she wrote the petition, she received a letter from a woman she had written to after seeing her on EWTN’s The Journey Home. The letter, dated Dec. 8 had hand written beside it “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.” That was her answer.

While God sends me these types of messages and reassurances quite often — now that I’m looking for them! — I too had a WOW moment after praying to my confirmation saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, for a specific intention. Known for sending roses as signs, as soon as I woke up the next morning and stumbled outside to pick up my paper, I opened it to find giant picture of a rose across the whole paper and a story about decorating your home with roses. Thanks St. Therese!

How did you come to terms with a Catholic teaching you were struggling with?

 

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith @ACatholicNewbie

Did you know there’s quite a lot of amazing Catholic books, tools and more that are waiting for you to order them at either no cost or for a very small shipping fee or donation? These are amazing tools that just might be what you need to light the spark in your faith if it’s started to dim or to make it burn even brighter.

I’ve stumbled across many of these over the last few years and here are some of my absolute favorites. Go order them for yourselves right now!



1) Rediscovering Catholicism – Matthew Kelly and his DynamicCatholic.com organization offer tons of free books and resources on their website. But my favorite is his original book on Catholicism, Rediscovering Catholicism. This is what helped me early on understand Catholicism and its relevance in light of our society today. EVERYONE should read this book. It will bring your faith to life for you! Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

2) The Rosary and Divine Chaplet on CD – The easiest way to start praying the rosary is to order this CD and stick it in your car. Pray whenever you have quiet drive time. If you don’t yet know how to pray the rosary, this is the easiest way to learn. They pray it for you and you can either just listen to them or repeat back as you begin to learn the prayers. Order it here for just a $1 donation. Here are more ideas for fitting the rosary into your busy day.

3) Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary materialsRead my blog on Total Consecration (a process I highly recommend) and if you decide you feel called to make this commitment to Mary, order free materials to help you through process from MyConsecration.org. This practice, made popular by St. Louis de Monfort and Pope John Paul II, can be completed in several ways. If you’re interested in the more classic, prayer-filled preparation from St. Louis de Monfort, order those materials free here. If you’re interested in a more modern interpretation and requires less time, order 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley for free.

4) Flame of Love – Similar to St. Faustina’s visions of Jesus and subsequent diary, Flame of Love written by Elizabeth Kindelmann shares messages she says she received between 1961 and 1982 from both Jesus and Marty. They are similar to those of St. Faustina and other approved Marian messages  around the world. Order your free copy of her book. At the National Congress of The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary movement in Budapest, Hungary, June 6, 2009, Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop President of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary and President, Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe, gave the text his Imprimatur.

5) Mass Journal – Another great free tool offered by DynamicCatholic.com is a mass journal. Bring this notebook with you to mass and write down any messages from God or thoughts that occur to you during mass, so you don’t forget. Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

6) The Conversion of Scott Hahn CD – I recently heard a fellow parishoner, who was a lifelong Protestant, mention this CD as key to her understanding and ultimate conversion to Catholicism. Hahn is a wonderful writer who helps explain the Catholic faith in his many books. He is a former Protestant minister turned Catholic convert. Order for just a $1 donation.

7) St. Therese Novena Prayer Card – Many Catholics have a devotion to the “Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux (my confirmation saint, whom I adore). It is said if you pray her novena for a specific intention, she will send you a sign in the form of a rose. I’ve received my rose (read about my signs from St. Therese)! See if you get yours. Simply order this free St. Therese Novena Prayer Card from the Society of the Little Flower. You can also order prayer cards, even ones touched to a relic, for $.55 or less.

8) Prayer Process Cards – This is a wonderful exercise suggested by Matthew Kelly that you strive to complete daily. It encourages you to prayerfully consider your day from what messages God was speaking to you to what you could have done better to thanking God and praying for others. These cards are a simple reminder of the process to keep by your bedside, on your side table, in your prayer area or wherever. They send 20 at a time with $5.95 shipping & handling, so share with your friends!

11 Ways to Work the Rosary into Your Busy Day

11 Ways to Work the Rosary into Your Busy Day via @ACatholicNewbie
To truly advance in growing into the saint God designed you to be, I highly encourage you to make praying the rosary daily a priority in your life. If you just don’t think you’ve got 20 minutes to sit down and ask for Mary’s prayers as you reflect on the life of her Son, let me find 20 minutes for you :). Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be a contiguous 20 minutes and you don’t have to carry a rosary with you. You have 10 fingers, right? That’s good enough.

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Here are 11 perfectly good ways you can pray the rosary TODAY even on the busiest of days!

1) In the shower – What else do you have to do in the shower? Praying is much better than letting your mind wander. Keep your eyes on the Lord! If you’re not done praying by the time you’re finished, continue while toweling off, getting dressed and even blow drying your hair.




2) While running – Do you go running regularly? Make praying the rosary your activity instead of listening to music. There are podcasts, such as on the free Laudate Catholic app, that you can listen to as you run.

3) In the car – It’s amazing how I can quickly pray the rosary just going to and from the grocery, while getting gas, taking the kids to school and more. A few car trips definitely add up to 20 minutes. I often use a free CD from CatholicCity, which I pray along with. It makes me feel like I’m praying with a group! It’s also a great way to learn to pray the rosary if it’s new to you (because it can be quite confusing to newbies). See other free Catholic resources.

4) While exercising – Try the wonderful SoulCore program that pairs core exercises with the rosary. Purchase the DVD and get two important things checked off your to-do list: fitness and prayer. This program has the approval of Lafayette, Ind., Diocese Bishop Timothy Doherty.

5) While cleaning – Pray away as you vacuum, fold the laundry, mop, dust, etc. And while you’re at it, you can bless those who will reap the benefits of your efforts of a clean home and wear those nicely-folded clean clothes.

6) Taking the dog for a walk – Do you walk your dog everyday? Make that your time for praying the rosary. Again, much better than letting the mind wander. Keep your mind focused and make it a fruitful time!

7) At lunch – Take a daily lunch break and sit quietly to pray the rosary. During warmer months, why not pray outside and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature that God has gifted us with?

8) Try a walking rosary (sans dog) – Once a week, consider praying a walking rosary. You hold the rosary in your hand and walk in rhythm to the prayer. Now, other people may see you doing this, so you have to be a brave and joyful witness. A priest in our parish used to do this in visible spots around town and it was incredibly powerful to see him walking and praying in the public eye.

9) As you fall asleep – I received this once as a penance after confession and what a joy it is to drift to sleep with thoughts of Jesus and Mary on your mind. The only downside to this one is you might fall asleep before you get through the entire rosary! Read Patti Armstrong’s post on what happened when she was too tired to pray the rosary. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I consider it a sign that someone needs prayers and so I’ll pray the rosary until I fall back asleep, offering it for whoever might need it.

10) At church – It’s so powerful to pray the rosary in the presence of Jesus or with others in your parish. Make a weekly date with Jesus to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament or in Adoration to pray the rosary. Or, if your parish has a practice of group prayer of the rosary, join in! Better yet, start your own rosary group!

11) While waiting – How many times do we wait in a day? Waiting in line at the grocery, at the doctor’s office, in the school pick-up line? Work in a decade each time you’re in line and you’ll be done by day’s end.

Any other suggestions for ways to work the rosary into your busy life?

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St. Therese, the Little Flower, Pray for us!