Friday, March 19, 2021

Sacrifice? Top 10 Reasons to Sacrifice - Intentionally!

Why Sacrifice?

When considering intentional sacrifice, one might ponder, "Why in the world would anybody ever, ever, deprive themselves of anything that could make their life easier, more enjoyable, and possibly delight their senses?"  Further to that point, "What if doing so causes some discomfort or worse yet, pain?"

There is but one reason to sacrifice, making discomfort truly worthwhile:  Love. 

You retort, "But I love a warm fuzzy blanket, a steamy-hot shower, a second helping of my favorite entrĂ©e, Facebook, Instagram, or a hot and creamy vanilla latte with a dollop of whipped cream. "   

That, my friend is not love.  But I understand. 

Sacrifice is Love

 In the immortal words of St. Maximillian Kolbe:

 


As Christians, we know that love begins with Jesus, and when it comes to sacrifice, He simply cannot be out done. 

Fortunately, Christ has made us partners in His sacrifice, as He calls us to “take up our cross and follow Him.”   He left a perfect example for us to follow in His steps, and He desires to share His sacrifice with us. 

According to Miriam Webster, sacrifice is, "The act of giving up something (what) that you want to keep, especially in order to (why) get or do something else or to help someone (who)."

Let's break sacrifice down in the life of us Christians, because, in our walk with Christ, everything matters – and everything counts.  If Jesus is the perfect example of sacrifice, borne of love, we need to understand the key elements of His sacrifice:


·                  What did Jesus sacrifice?  At times, He sacrificed sleep, food, comfort, fellowship, security, and ultimately, His life.  

·                  Who did He want to help?  You and me.  And to show how radical Jesus’ love is for us, we learn in Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”      




·                  Why did He make these sacrifices?  First, to teach us what love looks like.  And as we learned from our dear friend, St. Maximillian Kolbe, “Without sacrifice, there is no love.” And because of His sacrifice we might have eternal life (John 3:16).  He came “…to give His life as a ransom for many… He loves us to the end… taking on our sins.” CCC 622 & 623.  His sacrifice is the reason we might inherit eternal life, plain and simple.  Can you think of a greater act of love than Jesus’ sacrifice?  Me neither…  



 

Jesus did just that, and it is true that we, as Christians, are His disciples, His students.  We are called to learn from Jesus: to live, love and serve as He served. As the famous rapper, Kanye West sings, we are to become Christlike.

In John 15:12 we read “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 
Yes, we are to love as Jesus loved. 

But how did Jesus ultimately show us His love?   He, being sinless and blameless, took our sins upon Himself for the forgiveness of OUR sins.  He sacrificed His life, that we may live.


I know Jesus' sacrifice is a stark contrast to the type of sacrifice we often consider, but for some of us, putting down our phone or saying 'no' to that vanilla latte is heroic!

St. Paul teaches that we are not to be strangers of sacrifice, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Romans 12:1)



Sacrifice and the Battle
We are made up of both flesh and spirit.  Our spirit is always leading us to the things good, true, and beautiful; that will draw us closer to God. 

Unfortunately, our flesh, our humanity, is drawn toward the things of this world - the things that appeal to our senses, our flesh (I call this “fleshy”).  These things lead us away from God.  These temptations of the flesh, though unseen, but very sensed, make sacrifice feel like climbing a steep, daunting mountain, nearly impossible.      

 “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  MT 26:41


St. Louis de Montfort teaches

… Wisdom is not found in the hearts of those who live in comfort, gratifying their passions and bodily desires, because 'they who are of the flesh cannot please God' and 'the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God.'   If we are to possess incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, we must practice self-denial and renounce the world and self.

Simply put, if we give into the desires of our flesh, we hurt God, but if we fight against it, our reward is Jesus Himself. 


Sacrifice as a Prayer
Sacrifice, in and of itself can be fruitless, but if done for love of Lord and souls, it can be a powerful prayer!   It is not what we do, but why we do it that makes it great.  If we do all things for love of God, then our sacrifices will be great; for the Kingdom, the Universal Church, for our families (the Domestic Church), our loved ones, and for us.    




It is one thing to say, “No” to that hand-full of m & m's in order to fit into that new dress, and altogether another to offer that small sacrifice to God, for love of Him and souls.  If we are intentional with our sacrifices, we can spend our entire day loving God through our decisions – again, everything matters and everything counts when done for love of Him and souls. 


Love is not simply a feeling, it is a gift, and as Blessed Mother Teresa says, “Give until it hurts.”  That is love, Jesus-style. 

 


So, now that we understand sacrifice, here are the top 10 Reasons to Sacrifice - Intentionally:


Ten

If sweets, snacking between meals, or refraining from a second helping are our sacrifice, we might lose weight out of the deal! 



The next two (9 and 8) relate to sacrifice helping us grow in virtue.

 Nine

Sacrifice helps to grow in temperance (self-control), which is the gateway to greater virtue.

In his Autobiography, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and founding father, Ben Franklin challenges us, “Be at war with your vices!”  This requires temperance.


Furthermore, he encourages when pursuing virtue, to tackle temperance first, because it produces the “coolness and clearness of head…  necessary for constant vigilance… and helps guard against our bad habits and temptations.” 

To paraphrase, once we can gain self-control (temperance), the remainder of the virtues will come more easily.

How does this apply to us?   One cup of coffee for the day, not three.  Zero or one glass of wine, not two or three.  A quick snack?  Not now - later. Thirty minutes of social media (Facebook, Instagram, News, etc. rather than two to three hours, thirty minutes of video games, not three hours, etc.). 

Refraining from something we desire is sacrifice, and this requires temperance (self-control). 

 

Eight

Through sacrifice we will grow in the virtue of Fortitude by not giving in to our temptations.   We will grow stronger. 

By making sacrifices for love of Lord, we can temper our desires for the things of this world.  Each time we choose to sacrifice, rather than give into our temptation, we strengthen our spiritual muscles, thereby weakening the strength of the evil one (who… by the way… is and has been relentlessly pursuing us through temptation and studying our weaknesses since the day we were born - totally unfair.  I digress...)   

Jesus shared with Catalina Rivas, a Bolivian mystic and stigmatist:

Souls.. give into a whim, enjoy themselves in a passing satisfaction, and surrender… to what their passion demands…  Thinking to themselves, they say, ‘I have already deprived myself of this or that, and that is enough…’  If we do not have the courage to fight our own nature in a small thing.  We will be unable to fight when the occasion shall be greater.

As in strength training, when we sacrifice, or work against our desires, we exercise our spiritual muscles, thereby strengthening them, helping us to resist greater temptation in the future. 


Seven

Through this new discipline gained in sacrifice, we will find freedom.  Not freedom from temptation, mind you, but freedom the things that hold on to us (our attachments or addictions).  Our addictions and attachments will lose their hold on us, giving us greater freedom. 


 
 

Six

The fruit of freedom we gain through sacrifice is peace and her sister – joy. 

 

True peace of heart is found in resisting passions (sacrifice) not satisfying them. - Thomas a Kempis


A life, lived for love of Lord, enables us to live in peace and as a result, experience true joy. As F.B. Meyer encourages, “Joy is peace dancing and peace is joy at rest.”


Five

Sacrifice (fasting) allows us to better hear the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

We know that prayer and fasting together are powerful and fasting most assuredly is sacrifice.  Therefore, this type of sacrifice (fasting) detaches us from this world, our vices, attaching us to the next world. This detachment removes noise from our lives, opening us to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 


Four

By following Jesus’ example of sacrifice, we will grow closer to Him by walking in His footsteps.

We learn in 1 Peter 2:21, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

As we know, Christ dying on the cross was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His sacrifice was a loving act of obedience which forms for us a bridge we must cross in order to obtain heaven.  We cannot cross without "touching the cross"... hence sacrifice is our part of the cross.

 


And

John 13:15, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”    

We are able to gain heaven through Jesus’ sacrifice, and our cooperation with Him, by following in His footsteps.  Again, our journey to Him is made possible by His cross, which He asks us to carry – to sacrifice.  We can’t get from here to there without touching the cross (without sacrifice). 

 

Three
We know that God cannot be outdone in generosity.  Anything we choose sacrifice for love of Him and souls will be returned to us and those we love in the form of grace.  






As our dear friend St. Francis of Assisi affirms, “It is in giving that we receive.”

 


Two:

Our sacrifices help to fill the Church’s Treasury


Our Catholic Church has a tremendous gift in which we invited to participate!  The Church’s Treasury, also known as Treasury of Merit, the Treasury of Grace, or as the Schoenstatt sisters call it the Capital of Grace. 

 The Church’s Treasury is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, consisting of:

  • -         Christ’s merits, setting the whole of mankind free from sin
  • -         The prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God
  • -         The cooperation of the saints through their prayers and good works who have followed in the footsteps of Christ  (CCC 1476 & 1477)
  • -         AND given we were created to know, love, and serve God, to be happy with Him in heaven (to be saints) our prayers and good works also contribute to the Church’s treasury

The Church’s Treasury is a wonderful exchange, wherein the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause.

Therefore, we not only benefit from the sacrifices of Jesus, Mary, and the saints that have gone before us, on our path to sainthood, we can contribute to this rich treasury that other souls may come to know, love and serve Our Lord. 

In short, our sacrifice could be the grace needed for a soul to turn away from sin, or simply open their heart to Jesus. 

 

Number One Reason to sacrifice, intentionally

Through a life of sacrifice, by God’s grace, you can look forward to being welcomed in to an eternal family with the beautiful words,

"Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)

 



Sacrifice may not seem easy, but it is simple if we walk in the footsteps of Christ, relying on His strength, not our own. 




So how do we begin to incorporate sacrifice into our daily life?  In the encouraging words of our friend, St. Francis of Assisi, who has already finished the race, and is praying for us to join him in an eternal family:

 

Start small, start with love.  God will help you take care of the rest. 

Thank you and happy sacrificing!!! 


Sources:

Images in order:
- St. Max Kolbe - Word on Fire
- While we were still sinners - Calvary's Closet on Instagram
- Romans 12:1 - KnowingJesus.com
- Spirit is Willing - Quoteseed.com
- St. Therese, Nothing is small -  Dowym.com
- St. Mother Teresa, With Great Love - Relatably.com
- Give until it hurts, Mother Teresa - Ignatius.com
- Lose weight  - thebigyogi.com
- Through discipline, Aristotle - A-Z Quotes
- FB Myer - Quotefancy.com
- Crossing on the Cross - Theinscribedheart.com
- It is in giving - Christ Church Pensacola
- Treasure chest - Publicdomainpictures.net
- Well Done Good and Faithful Servant - keepcalm-o-matic-co.uk
-  Do Not be afraid, JPII - The Culture Project
- Start by doing what's necessary, St. Franis - Yoddler.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dear Daughter - a Letter About Modesty






"Dear Girls, dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure.  Yes, you'll get attention, but mostly from pigs.

Sincerely, Real Men" (Anonymous)



Dear Daughter,

I know all your friends are wearing skinny jeans at school.  Yes, I know how freeing it feels to wear a bikini and show your midriff in the heat of summer.  And OH! The necessity of short, cutoff shorts – a must have!  I know your body is lovely, indeed it is - a gift!  Why not show it off?  I know.  I know.  I know. Goodness.  I know.  I was a teenager once, too.  

By God’s grace, my vocation (wife and mother) comes with great responsibility.  As my spiritual director advised, as a parent, God has called me, along with your Dad, and God’s grace, to shape character, instill virtues, and affect the world!”  God will affect the world through YOU! 

Your Dad’s and my love for you and your siblings must include moral education and spiritual formation, as well as guiding you toward obedience to the Will of the Father in heaven, teaching you to fulfill God’s Law. CCC  2221 

One the many areas your Dad and I are called to educate you in fulfilling God’s law, inspiring virtue in you, is modesty. 

The Catholic Dictionary defines modesty as “the virtue that moderates all the internal and external movements and appearance of a person according to his or her endowments, possessions, and station in life.”

The Catechism teaches, “Purity requires modesty,” and that modesty protects the intimate center of the person.  It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden…  Modesty is decency.  It inspires one’s choice of clothing.”  CCC  2521-22   

As I have mentioned before, because we love you so much and desire to fulfill God’s law to the best of our ability, your Dad and I take our job (vocation) very seriously.  

A word of warning, this instruction may seem prudish, outdated, and even lame.  I am okay with that, for I live not for the world, and its empty promises, but for the kingdom the Lord has prepared for me, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  I am a fool for Our Lord.  I pray daily for you and your siblings to do the same.  I will also add, that it may seem like this teaching is mean and unreasonable.  That’s ok too.  A very holy priest once assured me that as parents, “Our job is not to make you happy, but holy.”  That does not mean we can’t, with God’s grace, bring joy into your life, it just means we, as parents are called to a standard worthy of Our Lord in helping raise up souls for His Kingdom. 

I will quote somebody who knows way more than me:  Pope Pius XII taught, mothers must “preserve intact the natural instinct of modesty” to protect against impurity.   I will be judged someday on how well these truths are communicated to you, and further, how you have been held accountable to them while you were under my care a tutelage.   No pressure, right? 

“So, Mom, what does this mean for me?” you ask. 

The female body, your body, is beautiful, replete in dignity as well as mystery.  I could write forever on these truths, but few teenage girls would read this letter to completion.  Another time.

Needless to say, Alice Von Hildebrand quotes St. Benedict on body language [dress], and posture and its effect on our souls.  Immodest clothes “are likely to undermine the female aspect of the mystery of her body… by dressing immodestly, we betray our feminine mission and vocation as guardian of purity that is given to us by God Himself.” 

Honor they Father:

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward your parents, “obeying them in all they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family.”  CCC 2217

One way to honor your Dad (and Mom), to honor our family name, is to strive to look presentable in public.  As Colleen Hammond in the book Dressing with Dignity teaches, “We are representing and honoring our family name, and our actions speak louder than words.”  You know that your Dad disapproves leggings worn without a shirt covering your bottom.  If you leave dressed as such, you are showing the world that your dad approves of this immodesty, which he most assuredly does NOT!

Am I saying leggings or pants are bad and forbidden? heavens no!!  I love my jeans (and so does your Dad).  However, I would be remiss in not sharing with you an interesting finding, taken from the book Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond.

Advertising agencies, when looking at the reaction of men to a woman wearing pants, using newly developed technology, found, “when a man looked at a woman from the back, he looked directly at her bottom.  When he looked at a woman wearing pants from the front, advertisers found that his eyes dropped directly to a woman’s most private and intimate area.  Not her face!  Not her chest!” 

 It’s Unfair!

“It’s not my fault!” you protest, “that men act this way!”  This is true.  But you have power to help men avoid temptation.  As women, we know our emotions can be hard to control – hormones help with that.  Colleen teaches that, for men, “Their hormones automatically react to changes in their environment and can be tough for them to control too!  They see a female dressed in a provocative manner and their autonomic nervous system kicks in.  They are aroused.  Not because they want to be, but because their bodies automatically release hormones that cause the arousal.  God has given men this reaction to help ensure the survival of the human race, but they have to control it and use it for the purpose God intended.  Men cannot control the fact that the arousal has happened, but the do have to control how they will respond to it.”

I remember the first time I read these words, I asked Dad, “Does it distract you at Holy Mass if a woman is dressed immodestly?”

He affirmed, “Absolutely!”  

Let’s help men out and not distract them from worship by dressing in such a manner as to glorify God, and reveal our dignity.

In the immortal words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, “For let your modesty be a sufficient incitement, yea, an exhortation to everyone to be at peace on their merely looking at you.”

 Not My Problem

Some girls might argue, “It’s men’s problem not mine.”  This is not true.  Colleen shares that, “Men are by nature more inclined to sensual reactions from visual stimuli, and women who dress in provocative ways bear some of the responsibility if their immodesty leads a member of the opposite sex to immoral thoughts.”

Further, Catholic teaching on modesty has been cited as “unfair” and more demanding on women than men. 

Let’s unpack this, shall we?  Coleen quotes a priest’s explanation: “Just as the woman is the weaker gender in the area of physical power, so the man is the weaker gender in the area of sexuality (in the sense that the male is more prone immediate sexual arousal).  And just as it is wrong for a man to use his physical strength to lord it over a woman, so it is wrong for a woman to rouse the feminine characteristics of her physical body to dominate a man.” 

An absolute norm Pope Pius XII refers to is this: “If a fashion is an inducement for sin to others, it is a sin for us to wear.”  And Colleen further instructs, “To wear the kind of clothing that can arouse unchaste thoughts or desires in others is to present them with a near occasion of sin.” 

 Dress with Dignity

To incent you to dressing with dignity, Colleen instructs, if men “see a woman who dresses with dignity and who carries herself with grace and femininity, they pick up on that.  They take it as a sign to approach her with respect, reverence and the honor a woman ought to have.” 

As a woman, simply how you dress has power to help or hurt a man’s purity. 

Guidelines for Modest Dress

 Here is a quick checklist to see if your choice of clothing reflects your dignity and beauty:

Tops:

  • -        Neckline: no cleavage.  Try to leave no more than two to three inches below the collar bone. 
  • -        Avoid form-fitting clothing
  • A top is too tight if it pulls across the breasts (the trampoline test:  if you push on the material between your breasts, does it bounce back?)
  • -        At Holy Mass, cover your shoulders.  Bring a sweater to wear over your shoulders if your top reveals your shoulders. 
  • -        If top is translucent (see through) there should be camisole or tank top underneath
  • -        Tank tops should have straps that are least an inch (two - three finger widths) wide. No spaghetti straps, halter tops, crop tops or strapless tops. 
  • -        At no time should undergarments be visible
  • -        Clothing should cover midriff

-         Bottoms:

  • -         Leggings are ok if your bottom is covered up (leggings leave absolutely nothing to the imagination).
  • -         At no time should undergarments be visible
  • -        The shortest part of the skirt or shorts should be no higher than 2 inches above the knee.

 

When a woman veils her body in modest clothing, she is not hiding herself from men.  On the contrary, she is revealing her dignity to them. 
― Jason Evert

 In the immortal words of G. K. Chesterton, “Modesty is always beautiful.”

 Because I know you will rush to read more, I will cite some great works at the bottom of this letter for your supplemental reading. 

I love you, more than you will ever know. 

Sincerely, in Christ,

 Mom

 ----------

 Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

 ---------

 +AMDG+

+JMJ+

Resources cited in this letter and to encourage dressing with dignity:

 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Open Letter of Thanks to Priests From Parents

+AMDG+
+JMJ+



This letter was presented to our parish priest, Father Peter, on the Feast of Epiphany, 2021.  The letter has been modified slightly to remind all of the priests God has placed on our path how grateful we are for their daily Yes. It truly matters. 

We have no idea the battles our priests wage for our souls daily. Please pray for your parish priest - all priests, and thank them often. 




-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Father,

Thank you, a truly heart-felt thank you for your daily, “Yes!” I know I say it a lot and will continue to say it – thank you. 

Your daily, “Yes!” opens heaven for my family and me, laying yourself down as a bridge between heaven and earth through your prayers, sacrifices, and the sacraments. Your, “Yes!” draws down grace upon grace for your sheepfold, nourishing us with the grace we need to continue to climb the mountain of holiness. These graces are unmerited, yet through you, God lavishes His love and mercy on our souls.  You give of yourself for our sanctification. And, in the immortal words of St. Mother Teresa, “You give until it hurts.” 

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, this blessed action of Our Lord in our tender children’s souls, the divine life was imparted in them. You are a channel of grace for the Holy Spirit, enriching our children with the new life of sanctifying grace, through the door of baptism, becoming members of His Mystical Body – cleansed of Original sin. 

Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you enrich our understanding of His word, with thoughtful, inspiring, and even challenging truths. You bring Jesus to us in the Eucharist, present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - the Source and Summit of our Catholic faith. Thank you for allowing us to receive Him with reverence. 

Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you allow Jesus to lavish His love and mercy on our brokenness – cleansing our souls in His love and mercy. Thank you for making this available to us frequently. It matters. 

Through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, you are a channel of grace, bringing spiritual and physical strength through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for blessing us with this precious gift. Many sheep in your flock have been blessed by your generous “Yes!” in the Last Rites, bringing many of these graces together, equipping souls as they fall asleep in this world, only to awake in the hope of eternity with Our Lord. And I know this call requires you to avail yourself at all hours of the day and night. You give, and you give, enabling the Lord to bless us through you. Again, it matters.

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, you allow the Holy spirit to enrich our children with a special strength, equipping them to be true witnesses of Christ, spreading and defending their faith by word and deed. Your zeal for God’s grace through the sacraments, and generosity for your flock, is changing the world, one soul at a time, refreshing us on our journey back to Him in an eternal family. As parents to seven of these precious souls, we find ourselves at a loss for words, as your generosity is supernatural and larger than life. 

As you promised at your ordination, you most assuredly “exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely”; “celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation”; and I personally witness you strive to “pray without ceasing”; and “resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, having consecrated yourself to God for the salvation of all”. 

Thank you for living a life of sanctity, striving daily for holiness. Your flock sees and is inspired by your example. Your life in Christ is a witness for our children, should they be set apart and called into the priesthood or consecrated life as you have been. Your example is leading our children’s hearts to openness to God’s call, should this be His Will. 

Thank you for living out your call in Christ’s Church for love of Him and your flock. Again, it matters. 

Sincerely, in Christ, 

Nate & Kristen & Co. 

 -------------------------- 

 Source: Eucharistic Adoration for Priests: Catholic Priests: Bridges Between Heaven and Earth & The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 1

Friday, December 11, 2020

Saying "Yes!" to Jesus - Living our Fiat in Our Home

Do you want to go to heaven, to be a saint?  Do you pray for the same for your family, for your loved ones? 

 

Well!  Today is your lucky day!  After studying scripture, the Catechism, lots of spiritual readings, the lives of many saints, and insightful visits with holy, consecrated souls, I have stumbled upon the answer!  I mean the saints—even Jesus Himself—were in on this little truth. Why not us?  Ready? Here goes: 

 

Fiat Voluntas Tua, Latin for Thy Will be Done.  That is it! 

 

Those are the saving and hope-filled words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion and death, acquiescing to God the Father in chapter 26 of the Gospel according to Matthew.  Those are the same words shared by every saint in heaven both known and unknown.   

 

Saying, Fiat Voluntas Tua / Thy Will be Done, is the same as simply saying, “Yes!” to Jesus.  “Yes, Jesus—Your Will, not mine, be done.”  

  

Even St. Mother Teresa gave this guidance. When she was asked, “How do I become a saint?” she affirmed very simply, “Say ‘yes’ to Jesus!”   

 

How can we apply this simple, yet powerful wisdom to our families?  How can we “Say yes to Jesus” in our homes? 

 

I’d like to unpack living out or “Fiat” our “Yes to Jesus” in our homes through the following areas: 

·        Our Personal Fiat 

·        Fiat in Our Marriage 

·        Fiat in Our Parenting 

 

What does the word “Fiat” mean?   

 

In its most simple sense, “Fiat” means, “Yes!” 

 

Does our daily fiat really matter?  YES!   

 

Let me illustrate: 

 

Quiet your mind and envision a lovely afternoon. The sun is low in the sky, the leaves can be heard blowing through the trees in a warm gust, and suddenly, a brilliant angel appears to a lovely, humble, and fair virgin named Mary.  This brilliant angel exclaims, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High!”   (Luke 1:30-32)   

 

Confused, Mary responds, “Are you sure you have the right Mary?  See, I am betrothed, but not yet living with my beloved.  Um, to be found with child, wellthat would suggest I have committed adultery!  What would the communitymy family, what would they think?  You know the consequence! I would be stoned to death! So, you see, I don’t think you have the right Mary, and if you do, unfortunately, this won’t work for me.     

 

Wait.  Is that right?  NO! 

 

Let us go to Luke, chapter 1, verses 37-38:  Mary, humbly, with faith and trust, acquiesces – she says, “Yes!” to God.  

 

Behold, I am thehandmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

 

This is Mary’s Fiat.  This is her, “Yes” to Jesus.   This is what we are called to do in our homeslive our fiat, to say, “Yes!” to Jesus. 

 

That is all fine and well, you protest.  Saying, “yes” is simple. But it’s not always easy.   

 

I agree, 100%.   

 

The good news? Jesus encourages us, “My yoke is easy and My burden light.” (Mt 11:30) When we say yes to Jesus, we say yes with Jesus.  A yoke is an instrument that connects two animals together to share the load.  When we say yes, we are cooperating with Jesus.   

 

How does this relate to us in our home? 

 

Our Personal Fiat 

 

How do we live out our personal Fiat?  It all starts with grace.   

 

“How,” you protest, “do I gain access to this grace?”   

 

“Grace is a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ for our salvation.”1 More simply, grace is a gift from Jesus to help us say yes to Him—allowing Him to make us saints.  And, in the immortal words of Leon Bloy: “The only tragedy in life is not to have become a saint” – and for us, it starts in our home.      

 

“Well then, how do we obtain this gift, this grace,” you continue?   

 

We obtain grace through prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.1 

 

Prayer 

 

As we are all aware, in our homes, we are called to say yes, ALL.DAY.LONG (and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning).  Indeed, we understand the immortal words of St. Mother Teresa, we “…give until it hurts.”   

 

When our children were younger, there were countless moments when I found myself on my knees weeping, begging our Lord, “I cannot do this!  It is too hard!”   

 

The demands on us are endless and at times can feel overwhelming.   Presently, as we are living amidst unrest and uncertainty, our struggles are even greater, and the demands seem to hurt even more.  Can you relate? 

 

Most assuredly, we cannot do this—alone.  However, we can do all things in Christ Who is our strength (Phil 4:13).   One way we tap into this strength (His grace) is through prayer.   

 

I am sure it sounds overwhelming to add anything to your day, as you likely flop yourself into your beds each night, completely empty and exhausted.  Nevertheless, pray we must!  Pray for our family, our church, our world. 

 

Begin small.  Set your alarm five minutes early and simply pray a Morning Offering.  If you can swing a little more time, start each morning with one passage from the Gospels, or find an online resource with the daily readings.  We personally use Catholic Company’s daily email called “Morning Offering” which includes an inspiring quote from a great saint, daily readings, saint for the day, and more!  Start there. 

 

If you cannot pray in the morning, pray when you are nursing your baby, or during naptime. When our babies were nurslings, my prayer time was 3AM - a beautiful time with baby.  Our vocation has times and seasons; we must be able to adapt.  Prayer at any time is a source of grace.   

 

If you don’t think you can add prayer, ask God for the grace to make time in your day for prayer.  I promise, He desires this time with you.  He will make it happen. 

 

So, grace is the key to our fiat and prayer is a channel for this grace.  Find time each day to lift your heart to our Lord, that you can do all things through Him, who is your strength.     

 

Sacraments 

 

We also receive the grace needed in our fiat through the sacraments.  Whenever possible, we should avail ourselves to the sacraments.  The Eucharist and Reconciliation are the most common in our lives presently.  I stress, go to Holy Mass when you are able.  Do not be discouraged if, because of your duties, you are not able to go to Mass as often as you'd like.  As St. Frances of Rome consoled, “A married woman must often leave God on the altar to find Him in her household care.”   Jesus is in our children and in our husband.  Jesus is in the spills, dishes, homework, laundry, hugs, and yes, even in changing dirty diapers.  When we love and serve our family through our vocation, we love and serve Jesus.   This is our fiat. 

 

Fiat in Our Marriage 

Recall, Holy Matrimony, too, is a sacrament, a source of grace to aid in our fiat.   

 

The Catechism teaches, the “… grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love… help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.’” CCC1641 

 

Further, Christ dwells with us in our marriages, giving us the strength to take up our crosses and so follow him, to rise again after we have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. CCC1642 

 

Therefore, through our marriage, the sacrament, we receive the grace needed for our fiat. 

 

So, what does this look like, practically speaking? 

 

My confessor put it perfectly.  In marriage, each of us brings such different, but complimentary gifts into our home. We, as wives are to respect and honor our husbands judgment in matters of the head. Our husband, in turn, should respect and honor our judgment in matters of the heart.   

 

God works through our spouse as a channel of grace for us, and we, in turn, are a channel of grace for our husband.  Our spouse was hand-picked by God to lead our families to heaven.  If God trusts him, we can, too. 

 

So, if we are called to honor and obey our husband as head of our home; who are we ultimately obeying? To whom are we truly giving our fiat? 

 

Our fiat to our husband is our fiat to God.  

 

“…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:21-33

 

I do want to clarify, we are called to live our fiat, to say, “Yes” to our husbands in all things—except sin.  As I mentioned, marriage is a sacrament, a channel of grace, and its end is heaven.  Living our fiat in our marriage is intended to help each other get to heaven and to help each other, with God’s grace avoid, and God-willing even overcome sin.   

 

An example we can try to emulate is Elisabeth Leseur, a lovely soul whose goodness (with God’s grace) converted her husband from atheist to priest.  In her diary she resolved, “To go from the near duty to the far one.  To set priorities for my actions: duties to my husband first, then all who belong to us…  to my dear husband: tenderness that has not even the merit of duty, constant care to be useful and gracious to him.”

  

“But, what does this look like for me, in my marriage?” You ask. 

 

This can be accomplished in both small and great ways: by greeting your husband with a smile, complimenting his masculinity, thanking him for his hard work, admiring him in front of your children, serving him first at meals, making his favorite meal from time to time, calling out his good traits in lieu of nit-picking his faults, holding your tongue if his mistake is not sinful, and availing yourself to him, intimately, when able.   

 

Fiat in your marriage is your fiat to Jesus—it’s that simple.  And because your marriage is a sacrament, each time you live out your matrimonial promises, you receive the grace needed to continue to live out this fiat.   

 

Fiat in Our Parenting 

 

The Catechism teaches, “The supreme gift of marriage is a human person.” CCC 2378   As my spiritual director correctly put it,As parents, our God-given role, is the highest calling! We are called to shape character, instill virtues, and affect the world.”3   If our children are going live their fiat in their adult years, we will have to guide their souls into a loving, obedient relationship with Jesus in their formative years.  In living our fiat, we guide them into living theirs.   

 

Our first order of business, remembering that the primary sources of grace, the grace needed to live our fiat, is prayer and the sacraments.  We need to guide their little souls into a relationship with Jesus through prayer and the sacraments.   We know Holy Mass is the highest form or worship, if you are able, this is ideal.  If the Lord has you, as St. Frances of Rome suggests, serving Him at home, finding Him in your family, lead them in simple prayer, in your domestic church, receiving the sacraments as often as possible.   

 

When our children were young, we prayed this prayer each morning to help us center our daily activities on love of God: 

 

“Dear Lord, I will work for love you, pray for love of you, and play for love of you.   

My whole day will be a loving prayer.”4 

 

If you can start your day with this commitment: all you do is for love of our Good God, our fiat is easier, everything becomes more meaningful, and even the hard things become simple. 

 

In addition, if you are out running errands, stop by an open Catholic church in the area and simply say, “Hi!” to Jesus – pray a Hail Mary together.  If you are unable to access the church, the parking lot is still close to Him. This only takes a moment, and it demonstrates how accessible Jesus is to us and that you find it important enough to take this extra time.   

 

Furthermore, Our Lady entreats that we pray the rosary—daily.  Holy Heroes has a beautiful, simple set of rosary books to engage your children at a young age to pray, and even enjoy saying the rosary.   

 

In Summary 

 

Living our personal Fiat starts with grace, and we receive this gift of Jesus, this grace, through prayer and the sacraments.   

 

We are assured, when we turn to Jesus through prayer and the sacraments, though our vocation is demanding, that with Him, His “yoke is easy and My burden light.” (Mt 11:30)  

 

Pray often, love your spouse, and lead your little souls, with God’s grace, back to Him in an eternal family.   

 

So, if you can take away anything from this talk:  Our Fiat depends on God’s Grace, and God’s Grace is lavished on us through prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.   

 

When we say yes to Jesus, we say yes with Jesus. Fiat Voluntas Tua. 

 

I prayed and will continue to pray for each of you.  Please pray for me and my family as well.   

 

Thank you and have a blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas! 

 

In the peace of Christ, and His Blessed Mother, 

Kristen & Co.   

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Suggested Resources & GREAT gift ideas! 

 

·                  For Mom: 

o        A Mother’s Rule of Life:  How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your SoulA Mother's Rule of Life | Sophia Institute Press 

o        The Secret Diary of Elisabeth LeseurThe Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest: Elisabeth Leseur: 9781928832485: Amazon.com: Books 

o        33 Days to Morning Glory – A Marian Consecration, if your parish has Formed.org, it’s free! 33 Days to Morning Glory Introduction | The Divine Mercy 

o        Holy Hour / Visits Jesus in the Tabernacle 

·                  For Children: 

·        Little Catholic's First Rosary Book: Bead-by-Bead Picture Prayer Book (4-BOOK SET) -   Bead-by-Bead Picture Prayer Book Set (holyheroes.com) 

·        Read-alouds to children

o   Little Nellie of Holy God – inspiring story!  Little Nellie of Holy God (holyheroes.com)

o   Treasure Box Books – (books 1 – 20) can be purchased individually or all 20:  Treasure Box Set: Books 1-20 (holyheroes.com) 

o   So Many Ways to be HolySo Many Ways to Be Holy: A Child’s Book about Vocations (holyheroes.com) 

o   King of the Golden City – to aid in preparation for First Holy Communion:  The King of the Golden City (holyheroes.com) 

o   The Weight of a Mass – Josephine Nobisso - Great to affirm the gift of Holy Mass and First Holy Communion Prep - The Weight of a Mass (holyheroes.com)

o   Take it to the Queen – Josephine Nobisso – Great to help understand mercy and prep for the sacrament of Reconciliation - Take it to the Queen (holyheroes.com)

o   My Confession Handbook, Jr: AChild'SWorry-FreeHandbooktotheTreasureoftheSacramentofReconciliation Great for Saints-In-Training, Ages 7 - 10, with the Guidance of Parent or Guardian - My Confession Handbook, Jr.: Soley, Kristen M.: 9781490876641: Amazon.com: Books 

o   Lives of Saints Books from Mary’s Books:  Mary's Books Publishing (marys-books.com) 

·                  Resources for Car / travel: 

o        Rosary in the car - Complete CD Set: The Holy RosaryCD Set: The Holy Rosary (holyheroes.com) 

o        Holy Heroes Glory Stories – entertaining, inspiring, and solid!   Glory Stories Complete CD Set (holyheroes.com)

o        Stations of the Cross CD or MP3 Download – One sure way to fall in love with Jesus is to meditate on His passion:   The Stations of the Cross (holyheroes.com)

 

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Resources: 

1.                   St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 

2.                   Jacqueline - https://deeprootsathome.com/dont-read-another-word/ 

3.                   Lori Knuth 

4.                   Treasure Box Books 



 

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