Divine Mercy and The New “Normal”

DivMrcy1

With everything going on during Holy Week, it often happens that I forget to start the Divine Mercy Novena on Good Friday.  I don’t want that to happen to you this year, so—even though it’s Holy Week— I thought I’d devote today’s post to Divine Mercy.

But first, let us consider what’s at stake:

Recently I was reading in the news a story about a stabbing at a US school carried out by a 16 year old.  Reading on, I discovered that students, staff, neighbors and law enforcement officials were all equally “baffled” that this particular student was capable such violence and aggression. He had no history of mental health issues; he wasn’t an “outcast.”  He was, by all accounts, a normal teenager.

I don’t know this kid. I don’t know his story and therefore cannot make ANY sort of conclusions about why he did what he did. But I have to wonder, when presented with news story after news story in which seemingly “normal” people carry out all sorts of heinous crimes: Could it be that what we have come to call “normal” is in fact causing severe damage to the human person?

Let’s take a look at what “normal” has become—

  • 52% of all marriages end in divorce. This means the majority of children are growing up in broken homes.
  • 1 in 3 children in the United States grow up without the regular presence of a father in the home
  • 68% of young adult men and 18% of young adult women use pornography at least once every week, with the majority of college students seeing nothing wrong with the casual use of pornography.

    “…study after study has found that watching even non-violent porn is correlated with the user being more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs, and alcohol to push women into sex”

When all of this is considered “normal,” it becomes easier—for me, at least— to grasp why it’s becoming increasingly common for such horrible crimes to be carried out by seemingly “normal” people.

But let’s pause here and consider that…

Right now, a mother is reading this whose sweet baby’s father is no longer in the picture. Someone who has been hurt by divorce is reading these words. A person struggling with a pornography addiction. The list goes on, because in truth, ALL of our sins—no matter the scale—have contributed in some way to this new “normal.”

It would all seem like a message of total doom and gloom—were it not for the Divine Mercy of our Lord, who did not hesitate to take on the weight of it all in His Passion and death.

divinemercypin

The message of Divine Mercy is the message of the Cross—that God’s mercy is infinitely greater than our sins, and that—if we are willing to let Him—He can and will transform even our biggest sins into victory.

But will we let Him?

Consider beginning the Divine Mercy Novena this Friday.  But most importantly, consider accepting the mercy that Jesus longs to give you, and sharing that mercy with a world who so greatly needs Him.

mary-sig

Bad at remembering to pray novenas?  Sign up for PrayMoreNovenas.com and get daily reminders to pray (with over 90,000 others!)

VLOG – 3 Tips For Holy Week

Happy Friday!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve begun a weekly video blog via YouTube, and today is the first installment!  Check out the video below and let me know what you think! (if you listen closely you just might hear background baby noises :) )

3 Tips to Keep Holy Week Holy – YoungAndCatholic.net Video Blog

mary-sig

A Full Life With Jesus

I loved this recent tweet by Pope Francis so much that I thought it deserved its own blog post:

“With Jesus our life becomes full.  With him everything makes sense.” 

fullheartspin

No further explanation needed.  No asterisk.  No fine print.  With Jesus, our life becomes full.  That’s it.  He’s all you need.

When I read this tweet, my heart just sort of began to ache.  What do you do when you know the key to a full life and yet feel helpless to share it with those whose hearts are filled with longing?

I guess you continue to pray.  And then write a blog post.  :)

You don’t need that perfect job, or that gorgeous house.  You don’t need to be in a relationship.  You don’t need half of what you keep telling yourself you need in order to feel “ok.”

But you do need Jesus.  You need His love and you need His forgiveness.  You need His presence in your life every day.

He is that missing piece.  He is the one who will satisfy that ache.

mary-sig

 

 

REVIEW: Online Catholic Marriage Prep Class

mministries_review_pin

Marriage Ministries recently gave me the opportunity to demo their Catholic Marriage Prep Class AND their Natural Family Planning Class—both of which are available exclusively online.  Below is my review.

Marriage is easily and often misrepresented in our society today, not necessarily always as something bad, but certainly often as something far short of the glorious elevated status it is meant to have in the Christian context.  Two people professing their love for one another in front of family and friends is a nice gesture, and it may even be a good enough excuse to throw a party; but Christian marriage is meant to be even more than that.  It’s the moment when two people become one, each no longer living for himself (or herself), but truly binding themselves before God from now on to live for the sake of the other—to do everything with the intention of helping the other get to Heaven.

The above excerpt is from a post I wrote a while back on the beauty of the Christian Sacrament of Matrimony.  There is so much more that could be said on the awesomeness of Christian marriage.  In fact, there is so much more that needs to be said, especially to couples preparing for the Sacrament.  For this reason, Canon Law actually requires that couples within the Church be prepared by their pastor:

 Pastors of souls are obliged to ensure that their own church community provides for Christ’s faithful the assistance by which the married state is preserved in its Christian character and develops in perfection. This assistance is to be given principally:

  • …by preaching, by catechetical instruction
  • by personal preparation for entering marriage, so that the spouses are disposed to the holiness and the obligations of their new state…

…It is the responsibility of the local Ordinary to ensure that this assistance is duly organized. If it is considered opportune, he should consult with men and women of proven experience and expertise.
(Canon 1063-1064)

We’ve all heard the horror stories of marriage prep classes.  Unfortunately it is all too common for instructors of these classes to sweep Catholic teaching under the rug as not important, or to sidestep really talking about the important issues altogether.

That’s why it’s great to see that something like CatholicMarriagePrepClass.com is available to couples.

Once signing up, couples are given access to an online course that they can complete in their own timeframe.  Upon completion, you are given a certificate, and they guarantee your money back if, for whatever reason, your priest/deacon does not accept it (though sound advice would be to get their go-ahead before signing up for the program!)

There are a lot of reasons why couples could benefit from this program.  Some couples are separated geographically before their wedding, which makes it hard to attend classes together.  Others have schedules that make it difficult to get to the classes offered by their local parish or diocese.  But the reason I personally am most impressed by Catholic Marriage Prep Class is because it allows couples to attend a class that does not compromise Catholic teaching—which I think is what every couple preparing for a Christian marriage deserves. 

Marriage Ministries also offers an online course on the Billings Method of Natural Family Planning.  It only takes about three hours to go through and at the end you have the option of being connected to a certified instructor who will get you started and help you through the charting process.  The course was wonderfully done and I found it very informative and easy to understand.  If you’re interested in NFP (or if your diocese requires you take a course as part of your marriage preparation), I highly recommend Marriage Ministries’ online course!

Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the courses offered through Marriage Ministries.

Revealing Attire

As they were walking along together, two bishops crossed paths with a scantily clad prostitute.  The first, knowing his own weakness, immediately turned away from the woman, averting his eyes in order not to give into lust.  The second was so astonished by the woman’s great beauty that he was moved to tears.  So touched by the reverence and respect showed to her by the second bishop, the woman’s heart was converted, and she left her life of prostitution and came to Christ.

Which bishop’s response was “correct”?  Actually, both.

Both responses showed a conviction to respect the woman’s body, and neither was willing to give into lust.  The second bishop is able to see the woman for who she truly is—a beautiful creation of God the Father.  And because of his witness to this truth, her heart is won for Christ.  But for the first bishop (like many men today), the woman’s revealing attire proves to be a stumbling block that hinders him from being able to readily view her with the dignity that she is owed.  Rather than use this fact as a pretense for his sin, he turns his eyes because he is aware of his own weakness.

As a mother of a little boy, I pray that God gives my husband and me the graces needed to instill in Tyler Jr. the kind of respect and reverence for women showed by the bishops in this popular pious legend.

But as a woman myself, I pray that women everywhere come to know the conversion of heart of the woman in the story, even to the point of going out of our way to dress modestly— out of care for our brothers and out of respect for the great dignity we’re born with as children of God.

It’s an unbelievably unpopular idea—that our actions or choices could make it easier for others to fall into sin.  But not liking something doesn’t make it not true.  I’m not saying women should wear shapeless bags to hide the form of our bodies “lest our brothers fall into sin.”  I’m saying that in our overly-pornagraphic culture, it is incredibly easy for us women to end up wearing outfits that are far, far below our dignity as daughters of God.  So easy that we often do so without even realizing it.

modestypin.jpg

The bottom line is that it’s 100% true that the way I choose to dress or act does not give anyone else the right to think less of me or to assign me any less dignity.  But it does provide the rest of the world a glimpse into the way in which I view myself.

Blessed John Paul II once said that the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it reveals too little.  I think the same can be said for immodesty.  What do the clothes we wear reveal about ourselves?  Are they befitting of our dignity?

We ought to dress and behave in a way that is revealing in the best sense—in a way that reveals our true dignity and beauty as children of God.

mary-sig