By Casey Sprehe
Perform the Works of Mercy, the Church instructs us. Often, in the throes of motherhood, I think, when will I have time to do that? But then, I realize, the moments and opportunities are endless.
When I’m taking care of respiratory issues of my asthmatic child, I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’m comforting the sick.”
I often think as I’m changing the seventh diaper of the day for the baby, “Am I really doing great things for the Kingdom?” Then the still small voice says, “clothe the naked.”
As I’m saying for the fifth time before lunch, “No you don’t hit someone to get what you want,” I hear, instruct the ignorant. As I stand in my kitchen and seemingly continue to dole out food because someone is always hungry, I hear “feed the hungry.”
It’s much easier for me to give clothes to Veterans of America and clothe the naked.
It’s much easier for me to hand the man out of my car window a pack of crackers and feed the hungry.
It’s easier for me to visit a nursing home to comfort those who mourn.
And, while those are all good acts, those aren’t hard for me.
I’m being pruned in virtue in my ordinary life when I perform “works of mercy” within the walls of my home. To the extent that I can see Christ in my husband and kids is the extent to which Christ can answer that I did see Him hungry, naked and thirsty.
By Gaby Smith
During the collection at Mass last weekend, my son saw me put our collection envelope in the basket. He turned to me and asked, “Why do we do that? Why does the church need money?”
I responded saying “It’s God’s money, and today we are giving it to the Church.”
We were in St. John the Baptist. The building is very old and needs a lot of restorations. I pray it is restored and gets a face lift. It’s one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever set foot in. I pointed at the scaffolding and said the church could use money for new lighting and new paint.
It was a little hot in the church that day. Of course, my mind goes to, “Hey the church could use money for a new AC.”
My parents always taught me to tithe and to give back. I think at an early age, it’s important to teach your children the value of giving financially to those who need it.
That day it was St. John the Baptist. It’s important to teach our young ones that the money we receive is God’s money, not ours.
How do you teach your children to handle money God’s way?
By Dawn Cusimano
So many teachable moments happen in the car. Whether it’s carpooling to school or sports practice, packing up the family for a scheduled vacation to the beach, or a less-fun “hurrication” trip out of town, we love to take advantage of the time together to grow closer to God and each other. Some memorable moments include praying the rosary as a family, belting out praise and worship music together or listening to Bible stories at the beginning of our travels.
Of these, my favorite family prayer is the rosary. What better way is there to ask for protection on our journey than by asking for Mary’s intercession?
For my older kids, I like to spend a few minutes explaining each mystery, putting it into terms that are easy to understand and suggesting some points to ponder as we recite the prayers.
For the younger kids, I’ve been anxious to try out a special “rosary trail mix” that will keep them entertained. Cheerios for the Hail Marys and marshmallows for the Our Fathers sounds like a winning recipe!
A close second to the rosary is listening to my kids sing praise and worship songs. While listening to my kids singing pretty much anything makes me smile, when I hear their sweet little voices praising Jesus through song, I’m so happy that my heart could possibly burst.
If your church is blessed to have a parish library like ours is, I recommend downloading or checking out at least one Bible-based DVD for the kids to watch during the ride.
We recently borrowed “Joseph King of Dreams” by DreamWorks and then had a great follow-up discussion about forgiveness. CCC of America also has a great “Saints and Heroes” DVD collection.
What a fun and entertaining way to learn and grow in virtue while simultaneously passing time on the road. It’s a win-win for me.
Have a blessed trip!
By Ana Borden
This past week, I brought our youngest to our neighborhood library for storytime. As I sung along with him “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” I realized more than half of the guardians were interacting with their phones, in lieu of their little ones.
Our ever-so-patient librarian’s voice creeped higher over screams, little fingers kept reaching for the sample art project and a couple of toddlers were climbing over each other. At that moment, it dawned on me that it was a different scene nearly a decade ago bringing my oldest.
So have cell phones changed the way we parent and interact with our children?
My initial response is, “Yes!”
Is the cell phone actually teaching us to communicate and interact less verbally and accept new social norms, for example: not listening, avoiding eye contact and showing disrespect to others?
But do the conveniences of this handheld device, knowledge and connectivity at the tips of our fingertips outway our society’s new social norms?
What are some other positive and negative effects of the digital world?
By Leslie Bertucci
So here’s a crazy thought. God the Father delights in us. He’s crazy, head-over-heels in love with us! Check out this verse from Zephaniah 3:17:. “He will take great delight in you . . . he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Can you imagine God gazing at his precious children, so overcome with joy that the heavens resound with his singing?
Neither could I. Then I became a grandmother.
A poignant experience with my grandson Ollie opened my eyes to this phenomenon.
On one of my frequent visits to my daughter Robin and her precious newborn, I walked up to Ollie and got close enough for his 6-week-old eyes to focus on my face. And, for the first time, he recognized me! His face lit up with a big smile, and his whole body quivered with excitement. It was as if he were thinking, “She’s here! That person I love came to see me!”
And my heart melted.
On the ride home, God revealed to me that this is how he feels about his children when we turn our faces to him, when we lift our hearts in prayer or our hands in worship. He thinks, “They’re here! That person I love came to spend time with me!”
Maybe I should allow God’s heart to be melted more often.
By Kristy Solis
Do you ever feel like you are not present in your life’s story? Every day is the same, rise and shine – What is on the agenda for today?
With each new day, there is routine. It may be prayer or taking care of others’ needs such as children before conquering the agenda for the day. Today on the agenda – a morning meeting to discuss a new endeavor. Another commitment to add to the book of life.
As you hurried to this first meeting, the traffic is motionless, you are late for the meeting. Guess what? The world did not end, and the meeting turned out to be an exciting new chapter to embark on.
Then, you are off to work, there is traffic again. Even though you arrived later to work than anticipated, you did arrive. After a full day of nonstop work, you hurry home to the next meeting on the agenda – a meeting at your children’s school. Once again, there is traffic.
We all have experienced days like this day. Yet, if we notice, the Lord kept pausing the day.
All of us live in such a hurried state that we forget to pause and just be present in the chapters of our lives. Sometimes, we do not even acknowledge that we have moved on to a new chapter in our lives especially with our children: baby, toddler, school age, teenager, adulthood. We need to pause, and we need to pray to the Lord: Give me patience, Lord, as I wait to see the rest of my story unfold.
By Sarah McDonald
As a child, no matter what was going on in our house, at 8:30 my parents turned on EWTN for us to recite the rosary as a family in our living room. I can still see and hear that version of the rosary where people from around the world were represented in the images, and the Our Father and Hail Mary were prayed in their native tongues.
Now, as an adult, I look back fondly on that family rosary time, but I can honestly say, it was not my favorite thing to do as a child.
As a parent, I have even more of an appreciation for my parents’ efforts to teach us to pray and the importance of praying as a family.
My children are little, five bambinos, age 7 and under, so praying an entire rosary can be a bit much for a 4- and 2-year old (and if we are being honest, probably not easy for a 7-year-old boy either).
That said, October is the month of the rosary, so our family goal is to pray one decade of the rosary together as a family daily. If we are successful, we’ll try to add more, but baby steps.
I will try to keep you all posted on our prayer journey and any resources we find to help our children understand and engage in this devotion, but in the meantime, if you have any ideas or resources for helping children understand and pray the Rosary, let us know!
By Dawn Cusimano
We have a new baby on the way, and I’ve been spending a good bit of time contemplating names for this littlest one. With thousands to choose from, I think I may need the whole nine months to narrow it down to the final two (one for a boy, one for a girl).
For a more traditional name, I know I can turn to my good friends, the Catholic saints, for inspiration. Just like our relatives here on earth, we can honor them by naming our children after them.
Sometimes, in prayer, I feel particularly close to one saint or another, and the choice seems easy. Other times, I ask God to point out an unfamiliar saint for our family to learn more about and ask for intercession. There are other times still when I love a more modern name. If we go that route, we can always pray that, with God’s grace, our baby will be the first saint with that name. Isn’t that beautiful?
The clock is ticking, so ready or not baby will get a name soon enough!
All you angels and saints in heaven, pray for us.
By Gaby Smith
Quiet? That’s unheard of in my home. As a single parent, I’m on the go constantly. I’m the mom, dad, nurse, cook, chauffeur, stylist, hair dresser, the list goes on and on.
In the past I’ve always wondered how I can take some quiet moments to myself. Once 9 p.m hit, I was asleep and exhausted from the day’s activities. I wanted to sleep all the time. Finding quiet time seemed impossible.
Then, one day after spiritual direction, I was inspired to make time. If you have the power to make time, I commend you.
Because of you, I have found that to be my new super power. I make time by waking up very early. Sometimes I wake up about an hour and a half before my child wakes up. I dedicate this time to grabbing my morning cup of joe, praying and catching up on social media.
Praying at 5 a.m. is the best part of my day, because the world is so quiet. I grab my devotional with my coffee cup in the other hand and sit in silence with Jesus.
He’s the first person I talk to in the morning. He’s also my favorite person to talk to in the morning. Jesus wakes up at 5 a.m., too. Try it.
Be courageous, set your alarm and wake up with our Lord. He’s sitting across from you with a cup of coffee too.
What are your morning rituals?
By Ty Salvant
On my confirmation retreat, the priest told us that there were other retreat opportunities in the church as a college student and an engaged couple. The seed was planted.
Fast forward seven years, and our priest gave us the marriage prep options: a day, a weekend or six weekly meetings. I immediately remembered wanting to attend the retreat.
It didn’t take much convincing before Derrick and I were off on a new adventure. Honestly, we had no idea what to expect as we didn’t have friends or family that had been on an Engaged Encounter (EE) retreat.
Derrick and I both came from divorce backgrounds, and we knew that we didn’t want that as an option for us. Initially, we agreed on everything from the possibility of adoption to one deal breaker. But on our EE weekend, we realized that we had placed a condition on our marriage.
We learned that we were called to truly love unconditionally. After lots of prayer, we agreed that we were willing to accept the challenge to mirror God’s love for each other and love each other unconditionally, even if it meant we could be hurt.
Reflecting on the vision we had for our family, we knew this is one ideal we wanted to turn into a value. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
With God’s grace, we have been able to live up to our marital commitments, and our children observe us living out a life-giving Catholic marriage. One of the many gifts we give our children is one of a solid foundation.
By Stacy LaMorte
It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life with three active t(w)eens. Dancing, sports, clubs, and three different schools makes it challenging, not to mention the fact that my husband and I have lives as well.
However, taking the time to be together to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday is not an “if,” it is a “when.”
Our children know that the Sabbath is a priority in our household. So, when we schedule our weekend, we decide, together, whether a Vigil or Sunday morning Mass is going to work best for our family.
Lord knows we have enough Masses in this city that one of them is sure to fit the bill! This is not to say that we don’t have the occasional unhappy camper because we are not going to the Mass that someone wanted to go to!
For the most part, though, we celebrate together at 10 a.m. Mass with our regular “church family.” (Are we the only people who regularly sit in the same pew and consider the people around us as “family”?)
I love that our kids know that God comes first in our lives, and we show that through not only words, but through our actions.
They know that prayer is a priority when we bless our food before we eat, pray as a family before we go to sleep (our dog Polo even likes to have his paw held during bedtime prayers!) or when we ask God for guidance, protection and enlightenment as we go about our day.
It is truly fulfilling when I see one of the kids take time to practice his or her faith through an act of kindness or a quick prayer. It lets me know that our commitment to God is rubbing off on them and that they may just choose to be practicing Catholics when we don’t all live under one roof anymore.
Until then, I will enjoy the fulfillment of sitting with my family together at Mass and bask in the joy of being a Catholic mom.