A Novena for our Husbands (Joining Better Than Eden)

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I will be joining Mary at Better Than Eden tomorrow in prayer for our husbands! This seems to have come just at the perfect time, considering I just finished a book all about a wife’s prayers for her husband! Please join us as we pray our way to the Feast Day of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary!

God gave us to our husbands to be their help and support. Remember the story of Sarah and Tobiah in the book of Tobit and let us pray for and with our husbands!

When Sarah’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, “My sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.”

She got up, and they started to pray and beg that they might be protected. He began with these words:

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors; blessed be your name forever and ever! Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever. You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve to be his helper and support; and from these two the human race has come. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a helper like himself.’  – Tobit 8:4-6

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Overcoming Fear and Embracing the Healing of Confession

I have a baby face. That is a fact that supports many people’s assumption that I am in high school. They also take into account that I work in a college town and most of my coworkers are either in high school or college. It’s a natural assumption and I do not blame them. But, that does not mean I don’t get tired of answering the same four questions every time a trainee at work finds out that I am not sixteen, nor am I single. This usually comes with some reference I make in passing about my husband. The conversation usually goes something like this.

(Disclaimer: Sally and Joe are fictional names used to depict real conversations I have had at work.)

Sally: “Wait, you’re married?!”
Hannah: “Yes.”
Sally: “How long have you been married?”
Hannah: “Two years.”
Sally: “Whoa! How old are you?”
Hannah: “Twenty-one”
Sally: “You got married when you were nineteen! I’m nineteen!”
Hannah: “Yeah, I’m one of those weirdos who got married young…”
Sally: “Why?! I’m still dating so and so and we’ve been dating for three years. I’m no where NEAR ready to get married.” (and a strange level of condemnation and respect is bonded in Sally’s mind about me)
Hannah: “My husband and I simply felt that God was calling us to marriage at that time, and here we are.”

But this is a post about confession, right? Good grief, can’t a girl tell a story first?

Living in a section of the Bible Belt, I am often met with a similar situation when a variation of the same two questions are asked after my protestant friends learn that I am a Catholic Convert.

Joe: “I didn’t know you were Catholic.
Hannah: *nodding along*
*Awkward silence follows*
Joe: “So, you’re like, pray to Mary, Roman, Pope kind of Catholic?”
Hannah: *smile and nod*
Joe: “Oh, okay. And you go to confession with a priest?”
Hannah: “Yes.”

Normally, the awkward conversation is abruptly halted by our breaks ending before I am forced to offer terrible explanations of Catholic misconceptions. Like I’ve said before, I am just not very good at explaining things, even if I have a pretty good understanding of them myself. I wasn’t gifted with the talent of words like my wonderful husband, but I am okay with that. I just get nervous when people ask me to explain something deep and I also don’t have a great liking of conflict.

So here I am, offering some thought on Confession based on my own experience, and hoping to shed some light on the subject for those I am normally too shy to open up conversation to in person. But before I do so, I would like to share the Church’s definition of the effects of Reconciliation. The Catechism will always say it better and trump anything I ever try to explain in my feeble attempts.

1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.“73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.”74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God. – The Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Before my first confession, I was petrified with fear. I knew I would be able to get through it, with God’s guidance, but I was dreading it and simply thinking about it the wrong way. I had so many different fears…
The fear of disrespecting God if I didn’t feel the weight of my sin. The fear of experiencing embarrassment and shame in front of my priest and not being able to get out the heavy stuff. The fear of not doing it right!

Would I stand in line in the right spot? Would I not be paying attention when it was my turn and someone would have to actually talk to me in the confession line?! Would they be looking at me with judgement? What if I didn’t remember the Act of Contrition and I couldn’t find a sheet with it anywhere? What if I fumbled over my words – a practice so familiar to me in my everyday life. What if I didn’t categorize my sins the right way? What if my confession is too short? Too long?

Even writing this out to share seems so silly now, but if anyone is reading this with the same kind of paralyzing fear, please take heart! Confession is not a punishment. And none of that stuff matters. So much of it was my own mind building up distractions and walls and preventing me from seeing the truth. Reconciliation is a gift! A gift of Grace, and a gift restoring us to friendship! Think of it like this…

If there was a tie between you and a friend that had been severed somehow, and you knew you were at fault, wouldn’t you want to mend it by asking for forgiveness? If you knew that person wanted to forgive you, and you apologized, would you not weep with joy at gaining the gift of their friendship again? If you can feel all of that for a friend, how much more would you feel at gaining the gift of friendship of the Most High God?

Every time I have confessed, the nerves that precede the Sacrament always dissipate when I walk into the confessional. I know before I even kneel that God knows my heart. A peace comes to me about all of those worries, and I am able to recognize the reality of their existence. Those insecurities exist to keep me from God. I am human, and my mind will find every way possible to justify my sin, to keep me from having to say I’m at fault. My pride gets in the way. Once I recognize those truths, I am no longer afraid, but I am able to make a good confession.

No one is going to look at me in judgement in that confessional line. Every single person is there for the same reason, and we are all trying to restore the bond that was severed! We are all there to say we are sorry, and to receive the gift of Grace! It’s okay if someone talks to me in line, and most likely, they won’t even notice if it takes me a split second longer than normal to drag myself into the room. That’s just not what it’s all about. It’s about repenting to God, repairing the bond, and accepting his grace and forgiveness. It’s about healing (Of the wounds we inflicted upon the Church through our sin and the wounds of our own sin in our hearts). 

If you are like me and you find yourself getting anxious not just about your first confession, but also about the ones following the first, stop a moment and think about why you are confessing. Not what you are confessing, but why. Think about the healing that needs to occur. Rejoice that God is so willing to help us with our dire need of healing through the experience of this beautiful Sacrament.

Thank you for reading, and Peace be with you!

A Chapter in the Life

It’s three days into Lent and terribly quiet on the blog front. I haven’t posted much.

That’s because I’ve been reading…

Lots of reading!

This is my first Lent as a Catholic and I’ve been learning so much still, I just haven’t had much to post. I’ve also been trying to spend more time with God – Adoration, praying and reading scripture. It’s just something I feel Him asking me to do right now. Not to mention reading in general (where I would normally try to pick up an episode of tv, I’m trying to read a chapter of a book). I love reading, my problem just comes from my eyes being exhausted and my brain being mush at the end of my work day. But I really find myself feeling better mentally when I cut the tv and hit the books.

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I’ve come across a lot of really wonderful Blog articles on Lent that were especially thought provoking to me. You should definitely check these posts out and leave them some love. These Bloggers are smart, funny, and awesome and have taught me so much! It’s really quite amazing how such a vibrant community of Catholics are using the internet to share their faith now! It’s as though the Catholic internet is blossoming! I feel so special to get to see it happen at such a new point in my life and faith.

Good Catholic Reading

66 Things to Give up or Take up for Lent – by Catholic All YearThis one really helped both me and Daniel to find the things that are distracting us and that we could definitely use to “increase focus on God,” as Kendra explained. We just chose what was meaningful for both of us (in addition to our own goals we feel that God has given us for this Lent) and wrote them down. Personally, leaving dishes in the sink overnight is a huge problem that I have, and that one really stuck out to me. Still not convinced to give it a read? Well, Kendra has made it even better by classifying each idea in beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels! If you are still discerning how to go about this Lent, this post is definitely worth a read for ideas. 

Why is Lent Forty Days – by Catholic ExchangeIf you were pondering the season of Lent recently, and had this same question, here is a great answer! I had never thought about Lent that way before and after reading this article, I was musing about how God’s use of the number forty is really fascinating.

The Story of Ash Wednesday – by Catholic ExchangeThis post is great coming as an answer to why we use ashes, and an explanation of the history of Ash Wednesday. As a convert who explains things horribly (I’m more of a let-me-show-you than a let-me-explain-to-you kind of person), this was a great read to help me to share my faith with others. 

Our Passion Cross – by Better Than EdenThis is one of my very favorite bloggers. Mary is such an encouraging person and deep thinker (I mean, who else can find such meaning in your living room couch). She has such an intimate and honest blogging style and I have not seen a post I have not loved from her. This is a post that I happened across in her archives. I can’t believe I’ve been following her almost a year and this is the first time I have found it! But that’s one of the things that I love about Mary’s blog, it’s just so full of treasures like this post. Okay, introductions aside, the passion cross she made for her family is such a great idea and I think she executed it well. She said that she’s still figuring out the best way to structure the scripture readings/ornaments into her family’s season of Lent (when they are read and hung), but if you want an activity and visual reminder in your home to help you focus on the Passion, click on over to her post! Daniel even said he was thinking about making a mini cross for our apartment living and was thinking about how he wanted to construct it. (Daniel NEVER wants to add anything to our tiny studio apartment, so you know he loves the idea if he’s willing to give up space for it!)

Family News

We have our niece coming to visit us over Spring Break and are both pretty excited to spend time with her. We’ve promised to use our savage woodworking and sewing skills to construct a doll bed for one of her five American Girl Dolls. She’s been texting me about it every day, and it’s pretty adorable. Before she visits, my parents are actually coming to visit for a late lunch and pictures in the Arboretum. My wonderful mother is even lending me her old camera and lens (and by old, I just mean that it’s her previous camera since she just bought a new one… it’s still a super fancy camera) and is going to teach me a bit about how to use it. I was lamenting to her one day about how I would love to get into photography and invest in a nice camera, but I did not want to be one of those people with a fancy camera (and all sorts of bells and whistles) who took worse pictures than with a simple digital because they did not have the skills to use it. That’s when she offered to let me borrow her old one to learn how to use it before I buy a nice one! I’m so excited.

Becoming a Better Reader

I’m still in the middle of reading Villette but it is slow going. I’m enjoying the story, but I’m getting bogged down in the language (I know, I’m so uncivilized) and keep having to re-read the page I just read because nothing registered in my brain! I’m determined to finish it though, and hopefully fill out some discussion questions for my (non-existent) book club of me, myself, and I. *sigh*

I’m also reading (actually listening to) The Everlasting Man, by G.K. Chesterton based on a suggestion I received from Mary at Better Than Eden when I asked what to start with if I wanted to begin reading Chesterton. I’m loving it so much! It’s become my bath book (or audio, since I’ve been listening).

I finished The Power of a Praying Wife and found myself circling the page numbers in the index of the prayers that I have been praying or found a special place in my heart. It was a very helpful read for me as a wife who tries to pray for her husband and helped me to know what I could be praying for based on situations we’ve gone through.

A Letter to the Weather

Now that I’m freezing and my fingers are frozen from typing, I’m going to go and steal Daniel’s warmth and probably awaken a beast inside of him that hates my guts for making him cold while he’s sleeping. Ah marriage… But seriously, weather, WHAT IS GOING ON?! I live in Texas. Hot, Humid, Normal Texas. Not SNOWING TEXAS. Not 24 DEGREES TEXAS. I’m not made for this weather! That’s why I live here, please get yourself un-lost and don’t ever take the wrong exit again! Or sober yourself up, if you are drunk. I haven’t quite decided which weather metaphor I’m using.

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Signed,

the girl who hates being cold