A Joyful Heart: Advent Week 3, Day 4

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From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

Today’s passages come from tonight’s Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office). For those who don’t know, the Liturgy of the Hours is a series of prayers dating back to the times of St. Benedict. Most religious orders pray the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis. Leah Libresco, author of Arriving at Amen, prays the Liturgy of the Hours as part of her daily commute. During Advent, the prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours take on a joyful tone.

Psalm 126 is a joyful song of captives being set free. These particular verses resonate with me:

“Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap. They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves.” Psalm 126:6

Read the rest here!

The Lord Guides Us To Joy: Advent Week 3, Day 3

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From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

Some of us may find it hard to trust in the Lord.

But as the Psalm says

“those who choose another god multiply their sorrows.”

We may not bow down before statues of cows, but many of us would rather find comfort in things such as wealth, pleasure, power and honor. In this time of year, wealth and pleasure are especially tempting idols. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, we can hold onto our things like a miser. We can also overindulge in shopping or eating too much or drooling over attractive actors. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but none of them will fulfill us the way that God does.

Read the rest here!

Finding Hope, Finding Myself: Advent Reflections Week 1

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When the end of the year comes around, there’s this desire to reflect on our lives. We think about our successes, our failures, and ways that we can improve in the new year. Each year seems to go by faster. Summer seems like it was just a month ago instead of almost half a year ago. In this holiday rush, I want these reflections to be a time for you and me to reflect.

The Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship is doing a Bible study for Advent that you can subscribe to and read here. The theme of the first week of Advent is Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle.”

During Mass, the Psalm for this Sunday’s readings particularly resonated with me.

Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

I feel like the whole Psalm is a microcosm of the spiritual journey I took this year. My trust in the Lord has changed my life in so many ways. He carried me through bad dates and broken hearts. He led me to people who understood my Asperger’s Syndrome and fellow writers who encouraged me to work on my novel. It was through the intercession of the saints and Christ’s wonderful Divine Mercy that I was able to find forgiveness and take another step forward in the process of letting go of all the things that make me anxious.

As the Year of Mercy begins, my intention is to live out the verse from Galatians. This verse is my hope for this new liturgical year as well as the year of 2016.

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:19-20

Today, I want you to reflect on how you think Christ has changed you and how you think you can live out the verse from Galatians. It’s through Christ that I have hope. My hope for this Advent is that Christ continues to live in me.

Lent Day 24: Psalms and Feelings

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection talks about keeping Christ at the center of our lives. Now that phrase “center of our lives” rings a bell. Why? Because there’s a song with that title, called “Center of My Life,” which is often sung at Mass. It’s actually based on Psalm 16

It’s interesting how little people really know about Psalms. Psalms are stereotyped as “praise and worship” prayers, when in reality, Psalms are actually lyrics to a variety of songs, songs that fit whatever emotions we may feel. One of my favorite books is God, I Have Issues: 50 Ways to Pray No Matter How You Feel. Even if you don’t feel like praying, there’s a prayer for that. The chapters are listed in order of emotions and each emotion lists some Scripture suggestions. There’s a Psalm listed for almost every emotion in this book. 

To demonstrate, I will take this idea from Tumblr: What if the Psalms had GIFs?

NOTE: IF YOU HAVE EPILEPSY, PLEASE STOP READING! GIFs CAN TRIGGER EPILEPSY!

Psalm 51: 3-4

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.”

Psalm 22: 2-3 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress.
O my God, I call by day and you give no reply;
I call by night and I find no peace.”

Psalm 149: 1-3

“Sing to the LORD a new song,

his praise in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Israel be glad in its maker,

the people of Zion rejoice in their king.

Let them praise his name in dance…”

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And my personal favorite, Psalm 139

“I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.”

You get the idea.

So the next time you want to pray, pick a Psalm that you feel relates to what you’re going through. Pray it. And if you like it, google “Liturgy of the Hours.” It’s a really cool form of prayer that uses the Psalms (along with other prayers and Scripture readings) as prayers during different times of the day.