Waiting in Hope: 1st Sunday of Advent 2020

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.

Hebrews 6:19

What is Hope?
Recently, I’ve been pondering what it means to hope. I understand that faith and hope are completely different, but they seem so similar at a glance. After researching it in the Catechism and reading a few articles, I learned that while faith is assurance in things unseen, hope is desiring for something and expecting to receive it.

Hope is the virtue that allows us to desire salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we hope that we’ll enter God’s Kingdom when our time on earth is complete. We don’t expect that we’ll go to Heaven, but because Jesus saved us from our sins, we’re certain that we’ll be with Him forever as long as we spend our lives in a way that prepares us for this Heavenly eternity.

Waiting in Hope: 1st Sunday of Advent 2020
Waiting in Hope: 1st Sunday of Advent 2020

Waiting in Hope for Jesus
We hear at Mass that we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” This phrase reminds me so much of Advent, the beautiful season that we began yesterday. The people of Israel were waiting in hope for the Messiah, and now we wait in hope for His Second Coming and the Kingdom of Heaven. This liturgical season isn’t only about preparing for Christmas. It also serves to remind us that we’re going to die. As grim as it sounds, our world and our lives will end, and we’ll be in either Heaven or Hell forever. While we prepare for December 25, we should also prepare for the unknown date of our death. We know when we’ll celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, but we don’t know when He’s going to come for us. Because of this, we should constantly make ourselves ready to meet Him.

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Preparing While We Wait
Especially during Advent, we don’t simply wait for Jesus. Instead of idleness, we fill our time of waiting with ways of preparing ourselves for Him. While we wait and prepare, we do so with hope. With confidence, we expect Jesus will come for us, and in our waiting, we pray, receive the Sacraments, do penance, and do whatever we can to make ourselves ready for Him.

Stay radiant!

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3 Intentional Ways to Practice Gratitude

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 9:1

An Attitude of Gratitude
How often do you practice gratitude? Lately, I’ve been learning that when you practice gratitude, you’re more receptive to the blessings that God gives you, and when you’re happy with what you have, you recognize the blessings that you already have more often.

My boyfriend, Nathan is really great about being grateful, and he inspires me to practice gratitude often. He often shares what he’s thankful for, and when I’m in a bad mood, he sometimes asks me to count my blessings. Nathan has helped me to be more positive and trust that God has good things in store for me. Because of Nathan, I eventually began making gratitude part of my routine. I thought of a few ways to incorporate gratitude throughout my day, and it made me happier and more receptive of God’s gifts.

As followers of Christ, we’re encouraged to give thanks at all times. We should view everything as a gift from God and always have our eyes open to His blessings. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful every day. In light of the Thanksgiving season, we should count our blessings and have a more intentional attitude of gratitude. Because Thanksgiving is right around the corner, here are a few ways that I like to practice gratitude.

3 Intentional Ways to Practice Gratitude
3 Intentional Ways to Practice Gratitude

1 Journal
If you like to write or if writing helps you to remember things, write down in your prayer journal what you’re thankful for. It’s effective to do this regularly, so you write down something you’re thankful for every day, or at the end of every week, write down ten things you were grateful for from the past week.

2 Talk with Friends and Family
I love to tell my friends what I’m thankful for and share how God is working in my life. I also love hearing what they’re thankful for and seeing how God has blessed them. When you’re catching up with a friend or having dinner with your family, ask them to share something they’re grateful for from the day.

3 Pray in Thanksgiving
Because prayer isn’t just about asking for things, take a few moments in prayer to share your gratitude with God. The Lord delights when we pray in thanksgiving, so thank God for the blessings in your life. Ask Him for clarity when reflecting on your life so that you can recognize the blessings that He gave you.

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Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 22, 2020

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

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Fr. John and I sat together in wicker chairs on a warm March morning. Surrounded by the flowers, concrete buildings, and children of the Diriamba Mustard Seed Community compound, he heard my confession and talked with me for a while. At the beginning of my time on mission in Nicaragua, he gave me a few words of encouragement. He told me that when I go to Heaven, Jesus will tell me “I was in Nicaragua, in all of the children, and you loved me.”

For the next week, I poured my heart out to all of the children. It didn’t matter that I spoke English and they spoke Spanish. It didn’t matter what disabilities they had. It didn’t matter that I only had a few days to spend with them. I loved every child that I encountered and treated each one like Jesus. I truly saw Christ in each child as they were so quick to love me and everyone else on my team. We didn’t do anything to earn or deserve their love, but they loved us anyway unconditionally.

My time in Nicaragua taught me so many things, but most importantly, it taught me to see Christ in everyone. I realized that everyone is my brother or sister in Christ and we’re all connected in His Mystical Body. When I hugged a child in Nicaragua, I was hugging Jesus. This week, try to find Jesus within the people in your own life. Ask yourself how you can serve Him through them. He wants to welcome us into His Kingdom, but first we need to show Him that we love Him, especially through the least of His people.

Stay radiant!

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How to Practice Holy Leisure

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

What is Holy Leisure?
I first heard about holy leisure when I started discipleship in college. Courtney, my discipler was teaching me about six-step planning, and she reminded me to take time for holy leisure. She advised me to save time to do something restful and life-giving as I planned my schedule for each week. We’re often told that self-care is very important, and holy leisure can be likened to self-care from a faith-based perspective.

Holy leisure is a form of rest or light recreation that glorifies God. Our Heavenly Father didn’t create us to be workhorses. While work is part of His plan for creation and His will for our lives, He also wants us to rest. Specifically, He wants us to rest well. Our leisure time should be restorative so that we can slow down to enjoy the life that God blesses us with. When we rest well, we can give from a full cup when we go back to our work, service, or ministries.

What we do during our holy leisure time matters. We should engage our bodies, minds, and souls in life-giving things. Holy leisure is NOT endlessly scrolling on social media, binge-watching a Netflix show, constantly sleeping, or eating because you’re bored. A great holy leisure activity should find a balance of engaging and relaxing your body, mind, and soul. Picture your activity in light of the transcendentals. If it’s authentically true, good, and/or beautiful, then it’s something worth doing.

How to Practice Holy Leisure
How to Practice Holy Leisure: What holy leisure is and 8 fun and restorative holy leisure activities

I wasn’t very good at doing holy leisure in college, but now I’m finding ways to incorporate it into my week. Here are just a few of my favorite holy leisure activities:

1 Reading or listening to a Catholic or Christian book
Curl up on a comfy couch with some coffee or tea and spend an afternoon reading or listening to an audio book. You can exchange favorite books with a friend, or start a little book club. Some of my favorite Catholic books are Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Dr. Edward Sri, and Called by Kevin Cotter, and I’m currently reading Meditations with St. Teresa of Avila by Megan Don.

2 Taking a short nap
A FOCUS missionary that I knew always said that taking a nap is an act of trust in God, which means that you trust that God will help you to get your work done and rest. Get cozy in bed for 30 minutes to an hour for some rejuvenating rest.

3 Making a craft/being creative
Getting artsy is good way to relax and have fun, and when you’re done, you have something special to keep or to give as a gift. There are endless ways to be creative, like painting along with Bob Ross, crocheting or knitting, or even decorating your planner with stickers. God is the divine artist, so He delights when we create beautiful works of art of our own.

4 Going on a run, exercising, or physical activity
Exercise is a great way to take care of our bodies. As long as you don’t push yourself too much, it can be refreshing and a good way to burn off energy. Go for a walk or run around the block, go to a class or do an at-home workout, or put on some music and dance!

5 Watch a movie or an episode of a show with a friend
Watching one episode at a time with a few friends makes binge-watching less likely to happen. Find a show or a movie that’s life-giving and inspiring to enjoy at the end of a long day.

6 Pamper yourself
Spend an evening painting your nails, taking a bubble bath, or doing a face mask. These restorative and relaxing self-care tactics are great ways to take care of the body that God gave you.

7 Listen to a Catholic podcast or conference talk
It’s easy to pop on a podcast while you’re driving to work or cleaning, but you can also have a seat and just soak in the conversation. A few of my favorite Catholic podcasts are The Crunch, Clerically Speaking, and Fr. Mike Schmitz.

8 Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
Having a warm beverage is always fun activity to do with a friend or by yourself. It’s an easy way to take a minute to yourself and step away from your work. You can easily brew a cup of coffee or tea at home, or you could visit a local coffee shop to support a small business.

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What are your favorite holy leisure activities? Which ones are you looking forward to trying? Tips!! Set aside time for it, do something that lifts you up and helps you think of God

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 15, 2020

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability. 
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

“After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five. 
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. 
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. 
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities. 
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents. 
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. 
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. 
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter? 
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

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My very first parish priest was Fr. Andrew Stanko. He presided at St. Stephens, the parish that I was born, baptized, and spent my childhood in. He was the chaplain of West End Catholic, my Catholic elementary school, and he gave me my First Holy Communion. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds me of a homily that he gave during a student Mass. He called three students up and walked them through a little reenactment of the Parable of the Talents. He gave pennies to each student, and told one to put his penny in a plant to symbolize burying it. Fr. Stanko always knew how to engage us and teach us the faith in a way that we could grasp.

Earlier this month, I got a text from my mom. She told me that Fr. Stanko had passed away. When I prayed for him that night, the words “well done, good and faithful servant” popped into my heart. I found peace in thinking that these were the words that Fr. Stanko heard our Heavenly Father tell him. I looked up the Mass readings for this Sunday, and quite providentially, today’s Gospel reading is the one that reminds me the most of Fr. Stanko. Memories of his interactive homily flooded my mind and provoked thoughts, smiles, and even a tear.

With the Parable of the Talents, Jesus reminds us to spend not our money, but our lives intentionally. He encourages us to use the talents, gifts, and blessings that He gave us. Instead of squandering them by hiding them from the world, we have to use our talents to glorify God and serve His children. Fr. Stanko had a talent for giving insightful and thought-provoking homilies. He used this talent well, and I’m confident that when he met our Lord, He told him, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Stay radiant!

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The Weeds in Your Soul

Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Matthew 13:30

Chores with the Community
Living in intentional community is great because we get to do everything together. It’s fun when we get to share meals, watch movies, and play board games together, but even when we do not-so-fun things together, we still manage to find joy. I don’t distain washing the dishes, cleaning the stove, or going grocery shopping because I get to do these things with and for the people who I love.

On a chilly October Saturday, we had our “Fall Cleaning Day.” We spent the morning and afternoon doing some projects around the big old house that we live in and lovingly call “the Casa.” Some of us re-grouted the kitchen tiles, some raked leaves, some replaced the garbage disposal, and some took the compost to the Farmer’s Market. After I came home from grocery shopping with two of my housemates, I helped to pull weeds from the front of the house.

Pulling Weeds
It was fun to pull weeds with a few of the girls who I live with. We had some great conversations about discernment and vocations while we uprooted the weeds and tossed them into big brown bags. When we were quiet, I found myself praying some Hail Marys.

As I pulled the weeds and tossed them out of the way, I couldn’t help but think of the parables in which Jesus talked about weeds. Every time, they symbolize evil and show how it can destroy the goodness that God sows if it overgrows our hearts. The weeds soak up the water and sunshine that are meant for the flowers and plants in an attempt to kill them off.

I found myself contemplating the many weeds growing in my life. There are weeds that I plucked out and continue to keep at bay, there are some stubborn ones that I have to fight to remove, and there are ones that are seemingly here to stay.

The Gone-for-Good Weeds
As I continue to grow closer to Jesus and strive for holiness, I look back on my progress and notice fruitful blooms where weeds once grew. I look back and notice that with sins and bad habits gone, God has more room to garden in my heart. It’s an ongoing process, but as I remove the weeds of sin from my life, there’s more space for God to sow seeds of grace and love. With less clutter, I’m more open to loving Him, to receiving Him in my life, and to wanting His will for my life.

The Weeds in Your Soul
The Weeds in Your Soul: 3 types of weeds that grow in our souls and how we can deal with them.

The Recurring Weeds
Of course, some weeds are easier to remove than others. As much as I’ve grown in avoiding near occasions of sin and of detachment from this world, I still have struggles that haunt me like pesky weeds. My own selfishness prevents me from growing in detachment. I know the importance of fasting and focusing on God instead of this world, but in my weakness, I choose comfort over penance. I’m so bad at the heroic minute and I love food too much. Sometimes I’m able to pull up these weeds, but before long, they spring up again. These weeds are harder to remove and I’ll need a little more time and help from God to get them out.

The Here-to-Stay Weeds
Finally, some weeds just won’t come out. They’re things that I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. As painful as they are, they’re here for a reason. I probably won’t ever get rid of my periods of sadness, the nagging feelings that I’m not good enough, and miscellaneous pain from my past. I don’t know why I struggle with these things, but if they were gone, I wouldn’t be the same. If I were to uproot my ugliest roots, it would cost me my future Sainthood. The sufferings that we endure bring us closer to God and help those who will come after us to grow closer to Him. Because of this, we don’t always get relief, and we shouldn’t always ask for it.

In the Parable of the weeds, Jesus doesn’t let the gardeners pull out the weeds because it could damage the wheat. They have to stay and grow together, but in the end, the weeds will be burned and the wheat will be gathered to him. We can consider these weeds to the crosses that we bear. They’re not pleasant and we want to get rid of them, but we have them for a reason. God doesn’t give us a hard time because it’s entertaining to Him or because we deserve it. He allows these weeds or crosses in our lives because they make us holy. Like Jesus carried His holy cross to Calvary, we have to carry our crosses to make it to the Kingdom of Heaven. When they’re difficult and agonizing, we turn to the Lord and He gives us what we need to grow closer to Him. We receive the grace to trust in His timing. We find His goodness and glory. We gain a way to encounter Him and rest in his presence.

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Reflect on Your Own Weeds
Think of all of the weeds that you’ve encountered in the garden of your soul. What are the ones that have been easier to pluck out? Which ones have you successfully removed? Take a moment to thank God that they’re no longer keeping you from Him. Which weeds are you still working on? What are some weeds that you thought you have taken care of, but have sprung back up? Ask God for patience in pulling these weeds, and ask Him to guide you as you handle them. Which weeds seem like they’ll never go away? Which weeds have you been pulling at endlessly, but their roots are too deep to budge? Turn to God in your frustration. Surrender these weeds to him, and ask Him to reveal to you the ways that they’re making you holy. Ask Him to open your heart and your eyes to the ways that you’re depending on Him and deepening your faith because of these weeds.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 8, 2020

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives us another parable to teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven. He stresses the importance of being prepared to enter the Kingdom by describing five virgins who kept their lamps lit and were ready to enter a wedding feast, and five virgins who let their oil run out and couldn’t enter the wedding feast. Jesus can call us home or come again any time. Because we don’t know the day or the hour, we always stay awake and find ways to make ourselves ready for Him. The Parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us to be responsible for our own relationship with the Lord. We have to be proactive in our faith, and we have to keep ourselves accountable for growing in holiness. This is why the five wise virgins couldn’t give some of their oil to the other virgins. Their individual preparation can’t be lent to others. We wait in hope for the Kingdom of God, but we don’t wait in idleness. Jesus encourages us to always keep his Kingdom in mind, preparing for it in everything that we do.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothes with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Revelation 12:1

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection
The Fruit of the Mystery is Faith
Jesus told his Apostles that he was going to suffer, die, and rise again. They knew all along that this was coming, but after Jesus died, they fell into despair. They seemed to forget that Jesus’ Resurrection was only three days away. When Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the tomb on the first Easter morning, I’m sure they weren’t expecting to hear that their Lord had risen, but when they realized that Jesus was alive again, they knew that his promises were true. Jesus really is the Son of God, and his Resurrection gives us eternal life. On the day that Jesus rose, he laid the cornerstone of our faith. While we should always hold onto it, when life presents struggles and difficulties, it’s hard to keep our faith. Even when we lose faith, Jesus is always near. He finds ways to bring us to him and to reveal his love to us.

The Second Glorious Mystery is the Ascension
The Fruit of the Mystery is Hope
Forty days after Jesus’ Resurrection, he gathered his Apostles to be with all of them in person one more time. He gave them the Great Commission, telling them to make disciples of all nations. After lovingly giving them this mission, Jesus returned to his Heavenly Father. The Apostles watched Jesus ascend into Heaven until they couldn’t see him anymore. In the same way that Jesus ascended into his Kingdom, he’ll come back to earth for his second coming. Contemplating Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven deepens our hope. We wait in hope for his glorious second coming and for eternal life with him.

The Third Glorious Mystery is the Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Fruit of the Mystery is Love of God
Given the mission of spreading the Gospel, the Apostles were probably hesitant, scared, and confused. For ten days, they and Mary stayed together in an upper room, praying unceasingly. Finally, on Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to descend on them in tongues of fire. Now, burning with the Holy Spirit, they received the means to do their mission. God gives each of us a role to play in the Great Commission. In some way, we’re all responsible for making disciples of all nations. While this mission can seem daunting, we don’t have to go forth alone. The Holy Spirit grants us the gifts we need to share the Gospel and to live a life worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we feel overwhelmed and discouraged, we can turn to the Lord, asking him to give us the wisdom, courage, piety, or whatever we need to continue our journey.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery is the Assumption
The Fruit of the Mystery is Grace of a Happy Death
As the Mother of God and the most perfect and precious part of God’s creation, Mary was assumed into Heaven. She didn’t stay on earth to decompose in a tomb. Instead, God brought her body and soul into his Kingdom. I can see why Mary’s death is considered happy, but no one else will die like she did. This reality leads me to contemplate what constitutes a happy death? When we find peace and even joy in dying, we have the grace of a happy death. As we prepare to leave this world, we can rest knowing that Jesus has already conquered the grave. Because of this, at the moment of our deaths, we can rejoice knowing that soon we’ll see the face of God and enter his Kingdom.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery is the Coronation of Mary
The Fruit of the Mystery is Trust in Mary’s Intercession
One of the FOCUS missionaries I knew from Slippery Rock always said that Mary is the perfect example of a perfect missionary. When I think of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, I think of her taking responsibility for all of God the Father’s children as her own. Her mission in life exemplified and continued as Queen of Heaven and earth. Entrusted with all of us, our Blessed Mother constantly draws us closer to her Son. With confidence, we can turn to Mary as our Mother, our Queen, and our model of how to follow God’s will perfectly.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Glorious Mysteries. Check out reflections on the fruits of the Joyful mysteries, the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, and the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 1, 2020

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

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In Catholic elementary school, I learned that the word “Beatitudes” means happy. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes to show us how to be happy. When we hear the Beatitudes, we learn who God blesses and holds close to Him. The Beatitudes are one of the many things that make us counter-cultural as Catholics. Hungering, mourning, and being poor aren’t typically considered happy things, and being meek, merciful, and clean of heart aren’t always the popular things to do. By living the Beatitudes, we remember that we live to please God, not ourselves or those around us. We remember that this life is fleeting and that we should focus on eternal life. As we embrace the Beatitudes, we can rejoice knowing that our reward is in Heaven. Our Heavenly Father will give us unimaginable joy when we enter His Kingdom, and we can live in joyful hope as we wait and prepare for eternal life.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries

Jesus was led away, and carrying the cross by himself, went out to what is called the Place of the Skull. There, they crucified him.

John 9:17-18

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries
The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden
The Fruit of the Mystery is Conformity to God’s Will
After the Last Supper, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was anxious about his upcoming Passion, so he turned to his Father in prayer. Jesus knew that he had to suffer and die so that we could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He did this out of love for us, but in his humanity, he was scared. Just like us, he asked God if he really had to do this. In the end, Jesus said “not as I will, but as you will.” Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. Naturally, we tend to feel afraid, question if we really have to do them, and look for a way out. In these moments, we can turn to Jesus in his agony and remember that he was there first. He accepted God’s will for him, and he can help us to want what God wants for us.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar
The Fruit of the Mystery is Mortification
When I meditate on this Sorrowful Mystery, I can’t help but picture how gruesome scourging is. It’s a sharp, stinging, bloody scene, and it hurts my heart to think of Jesus feeling that pain. It’s almost unbelievable that Jesus went through all of that for us. And then I turn around and assess my own life. I think of my attempts at fasting and mortifications and how I bargain and make excuses. I want to do penance for myself and for the world, but it’s difficult. I look to Jesus, bloody and exhausted from the Scourging at the Pillar, and remember what he endured for our sins, and I ask him to make me stronger so that I can share in his suffering.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery is the Crowning of Thorns
The Fruit of the Mystery is Courage
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, and he did this during the Crowning of Thorns. He didn’t fight back or run away. He didn’t have to stand and take the crowd’s mockery, but he did. Unfortunately, too many people still reject Jesus. The world still mocks and persecutes Jesus, and they do the same to us because we live for him. Regardless, we stand firm in Jesus. When we’re harassed and bullied because of him, we remember his courage. Jesus didn’t back down when he was taunted by the crowd, and the words and threats of those around us won’t shake our faith.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the Carrying of the Cross
The Fruit of the Mystery is Patience
Patience is a virtue that I’ve always struggled with. A few years ago, I learned that patience isn’t about waiting. It’s about keeping a good attitude while you wait. Jesus’ journey to Calvary wasn’t easy. As he carried his own cross and felt the stung of fresh wounds, thorns in his head, and words of spectators, he walked a painful road to the hill where he would die. He wasn’t exactly joyful, but not once did Jesus lose his temper or despair. He encouraged those around him and he showed love and kindness to the people he encountered on the Way of the Cross. In the tedious, difficult, and time-consuming tasks throughout our day, it’s easy to give in and allow ourselves to get irritated and frustrated. Instead, we can take our time. We can find ways to offer it up or to do little things with great love.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion
The Fruit of the Mystery is Forgiveness
By Jesus’ death, we were set free from sin. As he suffered and died on the cross, he took on a debt he didn’t owe. Jesus paid the debt that we couldn’t pay so that we could spend eternity in his Kingdom. We look to the cross to recognize God’s forgiveness as a free gift. There’s nothing we have to do to earn his forgiveness. All we have to do is accept it graciously. In the in the pain of suffering and the ugliness of death, we find the most perfect example of true love within the Crucifixion. The Crucifixion reminds us that there’s nothing that God won’t do to show us his love, so in all things, we can love him in return.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries. Check out reflections on the fruits of the Joyful mysteries, the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, and the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries.

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