40 Reasons Why: no. 40

no. 40: periods of 40 days

As I close my 40 reasons why series, I’ll end it fittingly with the idea of things in 40 days. There are many instances in Scripture and in the life of the Church where someone set aside a period of 40 days to fast, celebrate, or reflect. Some of these are (and I’m sure I’ll miss at least 40):

  • 40 days of Jesus in the desert
  • 40 years of the Israelites wandering in the desert
  • 40 days of Lent
  • 40 days between Christmas and the Feast of the Presentation
  • 40 days from the Resurrection to the Ascension
  • 40 days of flooding with Noah in the Ark

These times of fasting or celebration help us refocus our lives and world back on the Lord. Taking time out of the year to do so can be transformational.

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40 Reasons Why: no. 39

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no. 39: retreats

The first time I really took my faith seriously was at our 8th grade Heart & Soul retreat. I don’t even know how I got involved in that retreat as a Catholic school student, but it was because of that day that I wanted to get involved in the church when I went to public high school. I also met friends through that retreat and subsequent retreats with our community that have become life-long friends.

Being able to take a moment away from life and focus on my relationship with the Lord has been instrumental to my faith journey. In high school I went to Journey to Emmaus (a summer weekend retreat in our diocese), TEC (Teens Encounter Christ), CLI (Catholic Leadership Institute), World Youth Day Toronoto, and Steubenville Conferences at Franciscan. Retreats were also a huge part of our Campus Ministry Program.

As an adult I’ve been on fewer retreats (unless you count the many I hosted/ran/lead as a youth minister). I had a retreat with Fr. Michael Gaitely on his Consoling Book. I can’t actually think of another one…

But this November a friend and I are going to the Blessed Is She Wild Retreat in Washington DC. I cannot wait!! Since my last retreat of recent memory was in 2011, I think it’s time for another!

40 Reasons Why: no. 38

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no. 38: litanies

I think my first introduction into Litanies was in high school. I can’t remember the first time, but I have grown in my appreciation of them in the last few years. I was once praying the rosary with a friend and she was leading and did the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the end.

I’ve also had a tenuous relationship with the Litany of Humility over the course of a few years. I know I need humility, but I dislike asking for it because it can be painful to really practice that virtue!

The Marian Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort preparation prayers also includes a few litanies … long ones too!

I was most recently introduced to this Litany of Trust from the Sisters of Life. I have found it to be just what I’ve needed lately.

Lastly, I’ve been praying this Litany for the Church in Crisis by my online friend Laura every day at 2:57pm. Praying that on the 1st day of the #sackclothandashes 40 days was the impetus for embarking on this 40 day time of reflection.

40 Reasons Why: no. 37

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no. 37: carpe verbum

A little over two years ago my former roommate and her youth minister friends started this online ministry to try to encourage teens to reach the scriptures more. Carpe Verbum or Sieze the Word is a daily lectio divina through the readings of the day. They have a variety of contributors (I’ve been one for about 18 months) who write a meditation. Their editing team (I’ve been one for about 6 months) adds in prayer reflections, questions, an action to take, and a lock screen to keep the scripture alive all day.

I love this ministry because we need more scripture reading in the Church. We also need tools to help us understand what the scriptures mean and how to dive deeper than the surface. Carpe Verbum does a great job at that!!

40 Reasons Why: no. 36

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no. 36: marian consecration

St. Louis de Montfort was a huge proponent of Marian Consecration. I first heard of this practice at my previous parish in their Women’s Group, but never thought it was for me. Then in Advent 2014 I decided to use the preparation as my daily prayer for the season. My consecration day is January 1st and I was at the National Shrine in DC that day in 2015, so I was able to formally make my consecration in Our Lady’s Shrine!

I used both of these books the first year because I needed to learn more about the consecration (33 Days to Morning Glory is great for that), but wanted a more rigorous prayer plan that that book offers. The St. Louis de Montfort book is very rigorous, so that was no problem.

After I finished my consecration I wanted a way to never forget what I did. I’ve decided to do two things:

  1. I renew each year by doing either or both books in preparation during Advent (Nov 29th to Jan 1st for the 33 days). This is a strong recommendation from St. Louis de Montfort just like we would renew any vows we make to one another or to the Lord.
  2. I read that JPII prayed the long form consecration prayer every day – that seemed a little much for me, but I do pray a longer renewal each morning and a quicker renewal each evening as part of my prayer routine.

Morning:  I, NAME, unfaithful and sinful as I am, today take your hands in mine, and renew and rectify my baptismal promises, renouncing for ever Satan, all his seductions and all his works, and making a total donation of myself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, with the intention of carrying my cross in his footsteps all the days of my life and of being more faithful to him than I have been until now. Today, with the whole court of heaven to witness, I choose you for my Mother and Queen. As your slave, I deliver up and dedicate to you my body, my soul, all my spiritual and temporal possessions, including even the rewards of any good action of mine, past, present or future, with the right to make use of me and what is mine, without exception, as you think best for the greater glory of God in time and eternity. AMEN.

Evening: Mary, my Mother, I give myself totally to you as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God.​

40 Reasons Why: no. 35

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no. 35: godparents

I, of course, have two fantastic godparents. I’ve also been privileged to be a godmother a few times over. The first time I was in high school and my sister asked me to be the godmother for my niece (bottom pic). Now as an adult I’ve been asked by two very good friends to be the godmother to their sons (Shep upper left and Joseph upper right).

What do I do as a godmother?

First, I pray for my godchildren every evening by name. I found this prayer when Shep was born and I just keep adding people to it:

O Lord Jesus Christ, You embrace children with the arms of Your mercy, and make them living members of Your Church; Give grace, I pray You, to my Godchildren NAMES to stand fast in Your faith, to obey Your word, and to abide in Your love; that, being made strong by Your Holy Spirit they may resist temptation, and may rejoice in the life that now is, and dwell with You in the life to come; through Your merits, O merciful Savior, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Second, for the little ones, I give them religious or cool spiritual gifts for their birthdays, Christmas, and baptism days. I’ve done Mass bags, Lego Bible Books, and someone’s getting these books sometime soon! Seven Sacraments Lego Catechism and Saint Rhymes for Modern Times

Oh and I’ve also given Pope Francis plush toys, felt nativity boards, and general fun Catholic books!

40 Reasons Why: no. 34

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no. 34: monks

I attended Saint Vincent College for my undergrad degree, which is in Catholic Theology. The school is an apostolate of the Abbey which has been there since the mid-1800s. So I know a lot of monks. I had them as teachers, priests for mass, friends, dinner companions, post office co-workers, fellow students, and some of my friends became them after graduation.

Like my friend, Fr. Michael (he’s the one in the middle). The priest on the left is Fr. Brian, our Campus Minister from college. I love monks. I love how they devote their lives to the Church and call me to be holier. I need that. We need monks and nuns and religious because we need holiness.