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Schedule God into busy summer family plans

July 14th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

My family missed Mass a few weeks ago. It doesn’t happen often, so my youngest looked genuinely confused when I told him we weren’t going.

“Like at all?” he asked.

If there was ever a time when guilt felt good, this might have been it. Read more »

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Motherhood, a labor of love

May 5th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Few women are prepared for the life-changing experience that motherhood brings. Sure, they may discover new curves in old places after having a baby or even develop a keen knack for multitasking during the toddler years, but these physical changes pale in comparison to the internal ones.

 For it is the living, breathing — and occasionally terrifying — act of raising children that causes the most profound changes. It is in these transformative moments that women become mothers, a vocation unlike any other. Read more »

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It’s Friday during Lent. What’s for dinner?

March 13th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Few things are constant in our home except the nightly debate over dinner. If one kid likes spaghetti and meatballs, then two don’t. Eggs? Yuck, says the middle one. Tacos, lasagna, rice, beans, baked carrots — even pie — there’s always at least one dissenter in the crowd.

No one is starving at our house. But we do tend to obsess over what we eat. Given that, you’d think that Fridays during Lent would be a meal minefield with our house of five abstaining from meat. Read more »

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Going to Mass strengthens our marriage

February 3rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Sunday Mass is supposed to be a time of peace and reflection, an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God and celebrate Jesus through the gift of the Eucharist.

And, of course, it can be all that. But if you are parents of small children, church can feel more like a game of liturgical hot potato, where you take turns tossing off a squirming child and trying not to be the one left holding the diaper blowout at the sign of peace. Read more »

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Our elders root us in our Catholic faith

January 13th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

I got rid of one of my grandmother’s old lamps last week. After years of use it had become more shabby than chic.

I held onto it because it was a tangible reminder of my grandmother, a fiery woman with a head of red hair to match. She worked as a librarian for a magazine at a time when most women stayed home. Read more »

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LOF: The Holy Family knew the struggles of ordinary family life

December 22nd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

            The other day I joked that parenting was a bit like trying to fit one more school photo into the picture frame hanging on the wall. You open it up and find so many wonderful memories inside, then try to squeeze in one more and hope the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down.

            Some days, when the laundry is manageable, the dishes are done and the house is reasonably clean, I feel like we are actually handling life with three kids, two working parents, a dog, a fish and a calendar that magically fills itself. Read more »

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Living Our Faith — Create your own Christmas family traditions

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Catholic News Service

Sometimes I get stuck on how I think Christmas morning should be: namely, me well-rested and with a cup of coffee warming my hands as my children cheerfully take turns unwrapping beautifully wrapped presents from under the tree. Read more »

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How to make a Jesse tree with your family in Advent

November 23rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

This time of year most of us aren’t thinking about the weeds in our garden. But after spending much of the summer battling unwanted vines in our yard, I’ve learned something about the power of long roots. They ground us, pun intended, and connect us to something beyond ourselves. Read more »

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Start a family tradition this Advent

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Catholic News Service

In an age where we can get just about everything we desire in an instant, Advent is wonderfully old-school.

It’s four weeks of pressing pause, which is not like hitting the snooze button. Instead, it’s a chance to re-engage with those we love and joyfully prepare for the Christmas season. It’s taking a breath amid the chaos and seeing what’s really around us. Read more »

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Mary’s Miraculous Medal reminds us to stay close to Jesus

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Catholic News Service

I received my first Miraculous Medal almost 30 years ago. I was 12 years old, and it was a confirmation gift from my mother.

Pope Francis uses incense to venerate an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe during Mass in Ecatepec near Mexico City Feb. 14. While the church has rejected the legitimacy of some Marian appearances, it has not made judgment on most of them. Some appearances, however, have been recognized by the church as legitimate, including those at Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531; Siluva, Lithuania, in 1608; the appearance to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis uses incense to venerate an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe during Mass in Ecatepec near Mexico City Feb. 14. While the church has rejected the legitimacy of some Marian appearances, it has not made judgment on most of them. Some appearances, however, have been recognized by the church as legitimate, including those at Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531; Siluva, Lithuania, in 1608; the appearance to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Petals of gold wrapped around the medal itself, which bore the familiar image of the Virgin Mary atop a globe, her feet crushing the serpent and rays of light descending from her fingers. It had belonged to a great aunt, but now it was mine.

The gift came with a lengthy explanation from my mother about the history of the Miraculous Medal and Mary’s promise of blessings to those who wore it, as revealed by St. Catherine Laboure, who was visited by the Virgin Mary two times as a novice in 19th-century France.

“Don’t lose it,” my mother warned, roping the gold chain around my neck.

I never took it off. But truth be told, I did lose it eventually. When I was about seven months pregnant with my third child, it slipped from my neck, bounced off my belly and disappeared into the water during a vacation in Florida.

The medal itself is gone, but I’ve never lost my belief in the power of Marian apparitions like the one witnessed by St. Catherine.

I believe these appearances over the centuries have provided a needed nourishment of our faith, both on a larger scale and individually. They remind me that even on days when the struggle seems all too real, I have an infinite supply of spiritual support to lean on.

To be clear, I’m talking about Marian apparitions that have been approved by the church, not the random declarations of those purporting to see Mary on their slice of buttered toast.

The way I see it, these apparitions — like those at Fatima, Guadalupe and Lourdes, among others — are a nonsecular shot in the arm for the faithful. They offer a surprise for a world that thinks it already has it all figured out.

Perhaps that’s why many people are quick to dismiss these apparitions. They want something tangible, but faith is rarely that easy. We may believe a groundhog can predict an early spring but dispute the idea that the mother of Our Lord would present herself to someone.

Mary’s appearances may be unexpected, but her message is not, that penance and prayer are powerful antidotes to evil. By all accounts of these apparitions, it’s never Mary proclaiming her own awesomeness.

Rather, she reminds us that Jesus is always the answer to even the most confounding questions. And she offers to advocate for us through prayer.

One of the things I love about Mary is that she’s like the really cool friend who sees a better version of ourselves than we do, and who wants to help us get to where we need to be.

We may wonder what we did to deserve it. It’s simple; we believe in her Son.

That she has appeared to people who are poor, young and disadvantaged — those who lack the traditional trappings of the material world — makes it even more powerful.

As a little kid in Catholic school, I loved hearing the story of Our Lady of Fatima because she appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, children just like me.

For a girl who spent much of the fourth grade wanting to be a saint, I was hopeful that Our Lady might grace me with her presence. (She didn’t, for the record.) But her appearance to children made her more accessible in my mind.

Obviously, I’m the not only one who feels this way, judging by the millions of people who have made pilgrimages to the sites of these apparitions. And that connection to others also can help us grow in our faith.

I remember feeling a kinship with strangers when I attended Mass at the Knock shrine in Ireland on my honeymoon. We all experience our faith in different ways, yet here we were together celebrating Jesus because of what his mother did.

That’s the great part about Mary’s apparitions. They don’t call us to believe in her.

They call us to believe in Christ.

 

Bothum is a freelance writer and a mother of three.

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