Category Archives: Growing

Reality Through the Lens of Christ (Why I Blog)

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Just over four years ago, a friend of mine complained over coffee that the Catholic blogosphere seemed to be filled with perfect women – women who somehow managed to have immaculate homes, awesome Pinterest pages, ideal marriages, and near-perfect lives of faith, all while dressing their ten children in beautiful homemade clothes and homeschooling those same children in a manner worthy of admission to Harvard.

fifties woman

I realized she was right. While I loved the bloggers I followed, they did, indeed, seem pretty close to perfect. Were they really that awesome, or were they only putting their best out there? Where were the “real women”–women I could relate to and learn from through their mistakes and mishaps?

This is more like it
This is more like it

Since neither my friend nor I could find a single “real woman” in the Catholic blogosphere, I decided to step up to the plate. After all, I am one of the most imperfect people I know! So, being “a few beads short of a rosary,”  I created” A Few Beads Short” to give a little dose of reality to the Catholic mommy blogosphere. My goal was to deal with the realities of life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – openly admitting my shortcomings while also looking at those struggles and imperfections through a lens of love, hope, joy, and trust – the lens of Christ.

The beauty is this: God still loves us, even in our imperfections. And we can learn so much in those times when we screw up royally, if only we’re willing to turn a critical eye towards ourselves.

When we look at ourselves and our actions through the lens of Christ’s love, we will inevitably begin to change, become more like Christ and his Mother, turn away from that broad path of destruction, and walk more securely on the narrow path towards life. (cf Matt 7:13-14)

Honestly, these days, there are other reasons why I maintain this small is the gateblog, namely the inevitable need for promotion that comes with authoring a book, and the desire to update those who have helped and prayed for Ray. But my primary motivation is the knowledge that there are other women out there who struggle as I do, and the hope that, through sharing my ups and downs, my lessons learned and the beauty of Christ’s Mercy and love, I will inspire them to look at their lives and actions through the lens of Christ, and that we can walk the narrow path… together.

 

**In God’s awesome Providence, I’ve discovered that there are many other “real women” blogging out there, and several of them are part of the Sienna Sisters CWBN Blog Hop. Click on over to learn why these women blog!

 

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#WorthRevisit – Savor the Silence

I get it honestly.  Walk into my parents’ home, and you are guaranteed to find the TV in the kitchen blaring with either Fox News or HGTV.  Though she rarely sits down to watch it, my mom just enjoys the background noise.

With four young children running around the house, I hardly need a television for background noise.  In fact, I tend to find it irritating to have that noise in addition to the clamoring of children.  However, I recently realized that I am not completely immune to this need for noise.  I always have the radio on in the car, even when I don’t like the program that is running.  If the kids are playing in the basement, you will assuredly find the TV on or my IPod going while I cook dinner.  Every time I nurse the baby, I either read a book or flip the television on, even if it’s three o’clock in the morning.

I honestly can’t understand why I have this desire to constantly inundate myself with external input.  I like myself.  I do!  I’m not such a bad person to spend time with.  But somehow spending time with just my thoughts for company is a great challenge for me.

So for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to deliberately give myself a little bit of silence every day.  At the suggestion of a friend, instead of watching TV while I fold clothes, I pray.  While folding my husband’s shirts, I ask God to give him the strength to shoulder the burden of providing for our family.  As I collate socks, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide each family member in their walk through life.

Last night, the kids had gone to bed and my husband was working late.  I resisted the urge to turn the TV on while I mopped floors, and instead enjoyed the quiet of the house.  I stopped and listened, discerning the purr of the heater, and gave thanks for a warm house.  I heard the static of the baby monitor, and rejoiced in the health and safety of my children.  When I found myself wishing that the ugly linoleum was replaced by beautiful hard wood floors, I stopped and remembered that I should be grateful for having any home at all.

Taking time to savor the silence has done wonderful things for my Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 12.37.57 PMwell-being in these last few weeks, turning mundane chores into opportunities for spiritual enrichment.  The Holy Spirit clearly felt the need to hammer this point home, and last night I laughed as I glanced at our Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wall calendar.  January is headed with “Called to meet God in moments of silence.”  Here are a few things that Mother Teresa had to say about silence:

  • “In the silence of our hearts God speaks of His love; with our
    silence we allow Jesus to love us.”
  • “We cannot put ourselves directly in the presence of God if we do not practice internal and external silence.”
  • “We too… must learn that ‘silence’ which will enable us to ponder His words in our hearts and so grow in love.  We cannot love nor serve unless we learn to ponder in our hearts.”

Father, please help us to take time each day to turn off the noise of our busy world.  Help us to savor the silence, and to learn to ponder in our hearts your words and your love. Amen.

**This post was originally posted on my “old” blog, www.marthasheart.com, back when I only had four kids, was nursing the fourth, and Mother Theresa was “Blessed,” not “Saint.” It’s lovely to read it again today and recognize how these new practices have now become habits. I hope you’ll be blessed by these ideas for savoring the silence as well!

I’m linking up with other Catholic bloggers for #WorthRevisit Wednesday! Check out this link for other “Best of the Best” posts!

#WorthRevisit – Stepping Out of Safety

As Jesus walked to Golgotha, bearing the stripes of our sins and the weight of our follies, one woman stood watching. Her heart ached to see this man, who only days before had been welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna!”, now beaten down and trudging toward his terrible death.

The story doesn’t tell us whether Veronica had, at this point, recognized Christ as the Messiah, whether she had listened to his teachings or touched his cloak. But this woman, this Veronica, could not stand idly by and watch him suffer. Stepping from the safety of the crowd, Veronica lovingly wiped his brow, his eyes, his cheeks. Knowing that the soldiers might hit her, or kick her out of the way, nonetheless, she felt compelled to move, to help in some small way.

So often, we become comfortable in our lives. At those “comfortable,” safe times, we may need to consider whether, like Veronica, it is time for us to step out of safety. Perhaps “comfortable” is a rest stop before the next thing God is calling us to. Perhaps, though the world may hit us, or try to kick us out of the way, perhaps it is time to step out of safety to serve Christ in some small way.

*Click here to see other author’s #WorthRevisit posts, with Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You!

**This post was originally published on my “old” blog, Marthas Heart, on Sept. 16, 2009.

Surviving and Thriving in 2016

Looking back at 2016, my initial thought was, “Phew. We survived.” However, that by no means does the year justice. Yes, we certainly had our struggles, as Ray continued to recover and we – as a family – attempted to adapt to a “new normal” that is actually ever-changing and anything but “normal.”

Here’s what I can say for 2016:

The kids are still alive

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Photo credit: Courtney Geyer, C-Style Photography

Actually, they’re more than alive. In the past year, I’ve seen them mature far more than children their age should have to. They’ve dealt with and adjusted to having a dad who is so very different than he used to be. They’ve courageously accepted the fact that they can’t have some of the luxuries that other children their age enjoy. They’ve taken responsibility for their baby brother, even as they’ve also taken on more chores. The older ones, especially, have recognized that mom is just one person, and developed a desire and willingness to help out of love and generosity.

They know that they are loved, and we have grown closer as a result of our difficulties. Most importantly, I believe that, as a whole, this whole experience has helped them to develop a deeper faith and trust in God.

My home is not a candidate for condemnation by the state board of health

engelman-family-dec-2017-looking-at-eachother
Photo credit: Courtney Geyer, C-Style Photography

I wouldn’t suggest eating off the floors, but, actually, thanks to requiring more from the kids, my house is in many ways cleaner than it would have been two years ago. If you stop by unexpectedly, will you find toys on the floor, laundry on the sofa, and dishes in the sink? Almost certainly. But I’m happy to report that you won’t find mice nestled in that laundry, or roaches under that dish-filled sink. The sheets are (relatively) clean, the kids are generally able to find clean clothes to wear, and any food you find on the counter is free from mold or bugs. 

 I didn’t lose 20 pounds

Moving that one forward to 2017. (Insert laughing till you cry emoji)

I’ve been incredibly challenged

They do say, “Be careful what you pray for.” I prayed for patience, and rather than miraculously granting me patience, God gave me a situation which would try my patience in every way. All I can say in this regard is, I sure am glad that December 31, 2016 marked a symbolic ending, and not a real one. If it had been the end of my opportunity to grow in patience, I would have to mark it down as a failure. Fortunately, there’s a brand new year ahead, and I will continue to meet this challenge head-on, continuing to pray for the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the help of Our Blessed Mother.

Professionally, God hit it out of the park for me

Even as I was confronted with so many struggles on the home front, God was quietly working behind the scenes to bless me with professional success. A Single Bead became a best seller, went to a second printing, and has received excellent reviews. I heard from speakinginaction2numerous people that reading it led them or their loved one to a greater devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. I was blessed to speak to classrooms filled with young adults who immensely enjoyed my book and had lots of wonderful questions. I officially hit the professional speaker circuit, with several  successful engagements that met with rave reviews and achieved every speaker’s goal -listeners laughed, cried, and were inspired in faith.

I can take little credit for this, other than to say that I followed the call. Three years ago, I felt God ask me to write a novel. So I wrote it. Yes,  there’s been some serious hard work and determination involved, but without the grace of God, and the gifts with which He has blessed me, none of this would have happened. I did the work, not knowing that God would use it months and even years later to bless me (and my family) at a time when we would most need something to celebrate.

My takeaway from 2016

God always keeps his promises.

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One Year Later – The Spiritual Journey

Wow. It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary of Ray’s heart attack and subsequent brain injury.

My goal is to publish a series of posts in the next few days, chronicling at least a little bit of our journey. First, though, I want to share a little bit of the spiritual journey, and brag on our awesome God Almighty.

A few weeks after the life-changing event, I looked back at my prayer journal, to the last entry I’d made before the heart attack. On that day, I meditated on 1 Kings 17:8-16, which is the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. I wrote,

Elijah asks the woman for water, something easy for her to give. She goes to get it, no big deal. Then he asks for bread, but she has only enough to serve herself and her son one last time. He assures her they’ll be provided for. She trusts him and gives him what he’s asked for. And God provides.

I then noted,

I’m giving God what’s easy.

What am I not giving God that’s not so easy?

To which I wrote down the questions to myself:

  • My fertility? [While we followed Church teachings, was God asking us to be more open to accepting another life?]
  • My time? [Was I being called to do more for God, but not doing it, because I didn’t trust God enough to provide the time to complete everything that needed to be done?]

Finally, I scrawled across the bottom:

What act of total trust is God asking of me?

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Little did I know at the time, but the act of trust that would soon be required was that of placing my husband, my children, and myself entirely  into God’s hands and trusting that he would provide for us all, just as he did for the widow.

As I’ve looked back on the past year, and especially those first few weeks, when Ray was so desperately ill, I have continued to be awed by the sense of peace and even joy that I experienced through the very worst of it, and I know that it’s because, like the widow of Zarephath, I trusted. I’ve done many things wrong in my life, but in the moment when I realized that my husband was not breathing, I trusted.

I trusted because of the many mornings I had spent reading and reflecting on God’s promise in scripture.

I trusted because of the countless hours I had spent meditating upon God’s promise revealed through the mysteries of the Rosary.

I trusted because of hours spent in Adoration, loving our Lord, asking him to make me his servant, and to help me to unite my crosses to his.

I trusted because of the graces received through the source and summit of our lives as Catholics, the Eucharist. And, just as we pray in the Anima Christi,

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
Amen

They did, and He did.

He strengthened me, inebriated me, and hid me within his wounds. He gave me the peaceful reassurance that Ray was held within his loving hands, as well. He gave me the joy of knowing that, when we walk through the deepest of valleys, he is with us.

He gave me the joy of the Resurrection.

We’ve been through a lot this past year. But when I come back to this assurance, all I can think is,

My God, you are so good.

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To learn more about our family’s journey this past year, you might like to read:

My First Post After Ray’s Heart Attack

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Ray’s Unexpected Homecoming

 

 

Stress, Neurotics, and a Plea for Help

(Please note: Any self-derision in this article is largely tongue-in-cheek. While I am critical of myself in an mostly almost entirely healthy way, I’m also well aware of God’s infinite love for me and the fact that he wants me to love me too. And I do! I’m only human, but also trying to do better.)

The Story I’m Hoping isn’t Prophetic

Ray’s neuropsychologist shared a true story today of a young caregiver husband who literally passed out from malnutrition, exhaustion, and stress, hitting his head and causing a concussion. I think I’m taking better care of myself than that, but sometimes I do wonder.

The Stressor

So, here’s one major cause of my current stress: keeping my house in “livable” status. Right now, as I write, I’ve finally achieved it. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to last beyond 7:05 tomorrow morning, at which point in time the breakfast-making and lunch-packing mess, plus a toddler pulling out every toy we own, will throw it back into make-me-want-to-puke-or-scream-or-cry-or-maybe-all-three status.

So, we’re in livable status for the moment, but here’s the problem. I’ve been going non-stop since I woke up early this morning, and I just finally got to sit down and “relax” (if writing a blog post counts for relaxation) at 10:30. Livable status was achieved at 10:29.

Further exacerbating said stress is the knowledge that we’re having company Friday night, and Friday day promises to be a crazy mess of two doctor’s appointments for Ray, early pickup for four kids, preschool pickup for the toddler, running two kids allover the city for outings, and – oh, yeah – parent teacher conferences.

The reality is that, by the time our company arrives around 6:30, I’ll be lucky to have that breakfast/lunch/toddler mess cleaned up, let alone have dinner ready to be served.

Yes, I know. I never should have scheduled all of this for the same day. But I like to think I’m SuperWoman… until it becomes so incredibly obvious that I’m not. In my defense, I invited our friends before I knew any of this other stuff was going to happen. I scheduled the doctor’s appointments because we’ve been trying to get in since March and this date opened up. And the kids’ activities were planned by the PTO only a few weeks ago, but since their whole class is going… how can I say no?

My Neurotic Move

So, anyways, I actually pulled the slightly totally neurotic move of cancelling the plans with our friends, largely due to the knowledge that I would be freaking out trying to get the house cleaned. There were other reasons, but when I stopped and was totally honest with myself, I realized that the desire for a “company ready” house was playing a rather large role in my decision.

I know. It’s terrible! I’m an idiot and a social moron. What was I thinking?

I’ve re-extended the invitation, but they may now think that I didn’t really want them to come, or that I’m completely psycho, or both. The former is definitely not the case. As for the latter, well… the jury’s out.

Help, Please!

Okay. So, here’s why I’m writing this post. There are some very wise women who read this blog, and, even if you don’t identify yourself as such, I’m sure you have words of wisdom to help me solve my dilemma. (The dilemma being how to stay on top of my house without working until 10:30 every night, not the dilemma of over-scheduling myself. We can deal with my SuperWoman complex another time.)

The kids are already helping, although I’m sure they could help more. They each have time allotted each night for helping around the house. One vacuums, another mops, one helps with laundry, and a fourth in the kitchen. However, they’re notoriously awful about picking up after themselves or the toddler… so I could use some help there. Seriously, this toddler stage nearly kills me every time.

Given all that, what magical tips do you have that will help an overworked momma stay on top of the never-ending household mess? I’m sure I’m not the only mom struggling with this, so you never know who will benefit from your wisdom. Organizational tips, time management strategies, positive self-talk, you name it.

Please, please, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

(I’d rather not pass out and suffer a concussion – or worse!)

Update with some good news – I think I have carpool arranged for the kids, so there’s one thing off my plate!

The Unexpected Blessing of Being Open to Life

This little guy turns one today, so it seems fitting that I write a post I’ve been meaning to Evan in swingwrite for a very long time.

I’d like to reflect on the fact that, about one year and eight months ago, when Ray and I shared our news with friends and family, the overwhelming response was, “Are you serious?” or, “How could you let this happen?” or, “Raymond, you should have had that taken care of a long time ago!” or even, “You’re killing me!”

Thank God, we were serious. Thank God, we did let this happen. Thank God, Raymond hadn’t had “that” taken care of.

Because, first of all, our family was not complete without Little Man. We had one more seat in the car, a little more space in a bedroom, and tons more room in our hearts. From the moment he came into this world — smiling, I swear! —he has been a blessing to us. He has brought joy, laughter, and endless snuggles into our lives. Everyone who meets him remarks at what a happy child he is. Anyone who sees him agrees he’s one of the most beautiful babies they’ve ever seen. Each person who holds him is instantly wrapped around his little finger, and happier for having had a cuddle.

Evan standing at tableI’ve always thought this was God’s way of showing us how he will bless us when we are open to his will for us. When people would argue with me that Ray should get “snipped,” that surely we couldn’t have more children, I would point to Little Man and say, “But if we had followed your advice, we wouldn’t have him!” 

To me, Little Man was a living, breathing testament to the importance of always remaining open to life.

But then God took it one step further. Because bringing light and laughter and one more person to love into our lives wasn’t enough. If Ray and I hadn’t been open to life, to this life in particular, there would have been no baby to wake up and begin to cry on the morning of November 19th, when Ray got out of bed. There would have been no child to carry out to the family room to nurse at three in the morning. No baby to set down on the floor while I called 911. No baby to remain sitting quietly by as his mommy performed CPR on his daddy.

Evan sitting on floorNope. If we’d followed the way of the world, and the advice of most of our family and friends, there would have been no baby. I would have remained peacefully asleep that morning, and Ray’s body would have grown cold long before I awoke three hours later to find him.

Does every “surprise” baby save his daddy’s life?

No.

But this baby is a reminder that God has a plan for each and every one of us. And that we’ll never know what blessings we’ve kept from the world in the babies whose existence we’ve prevented.


 

If you’d like to see more posts like this, you might check out:

At This Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

and one of my all time favorites:

Ugly, Squeaky, Humbling: 7 Things I Love About Our Little House

 

Let’s Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others

Girls, we are too hard on ourselves.

I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had recently with other moms, who feel that they are inadequate in one way or another. They don’t cook well enough. Their house is a mess. They didn’t knit their kids new scarves for the winter. They haven’t scrapbooked the children’s photos. The costume they made for their son’s saint presentation consisted of a robe and a paper hat.

Seriously, friends, we can’t do it all.

We live in this crazy Pinterest world where everyone is pinning this and posting that, and they all seem so darn perfect.

Guess what? They’re not.

Their scrapbooks may be beautiful, but their closets are probably a mess. Or, their closets are immaculate but they can’t cook for crap.

And you know what? If they’re excellent cooks, their husbands bellies may be fulfilled, but are their husbandsfulfilled” in other areas? (*smirk*)

Let’s just assume that they are downright awful in the “other areas.”

Bottom line is this: Stop judging yourself so harshly. No one is perfect.

Most of the moms I know aren’t just taking care of kids and homes – a full time job in and of itself. They’re also working full- or part-time, chauffeuring kids allover kingdom come, and volunteering for various and sundry things. With all of that, who on earth has time to cook, clean, and scrapbook?

Something’s gotta give, and it’s up to you to decide what that “something” is.

Maybe it’s the nightly homemade meals, maybe it’s the clean house, maybe it’s the scrapbook. Regardless, it’s high time to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to be imperfect in an area – or three, four, sixteen… or countless.

Do you think St. Peter is standing at the pearly gates with pictures of your dirty house, saint peter by rubensweedy garden or fallen cake?

I highly doubt it.

No, when that day comes I’m quite certain it’s your heart – and not your home – that will be judged.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He didn’t say, “Sew costumes for your children as I have sewn costumes for you.”

And, when Martha complained that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping with the serving, he didn’t order Mary to get up and do her fair share. No, he told Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”

It’s a pit we all fall into sometimes, but let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We will almost always come up short, given that most people present their most perfect selves to the world.

Instead, root yourself first in the firm knowledge that God loves you. Then, throw away the picture of who the world wants you to be, close your eyes, and paint a detailed mental picture of the person God wants you to be.

Look at that picture every morning, and keep it in mind throughout the day.

At the end of the day, take another look, think about how you did, and how you can do better tomorrow.

If, indeed, St. Peter is standing at the pearly gates with pictures in his hands, that image may well be one of them.

Now, that’s a picture worth scrapbooking.

 

My Rosary Love Affair – Part I

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary will be here in nine short days’ time. This feast has had recurring significance for me, so to do something special to mark the occasion I’ve decided to write a novena of blog posts. Over the next nine days, by the grace of God, I intend to write nine posts about the Rosary or Our Lady. I figure a good place to start is how the rosary has impacted my own life.

 

When I was a new Catholic, the Rosary seemed weird, repetitive, and overwhelming. But, I figured that, if I was going to be a Catholic, I was going to have to at least give it a shot. Thus, with the aid of a pamphlet that I had been given during RCIA, I tried praying it a few times, and was shocked to find that the prayer was nowhere near as difficult, time consuming, or boring as I’d expected .rosary-1244875-1598x1062

In fact, I actually rather enjoyed it.

I never really got into the habit of praying the Rosary, though, until a few years later. I was pregnant, in chronic pain, tired, my hormones were raging, my feelings were hurt, and I was angry. I knew that I had to face a situation with a family member, but I felt that the solution rested with her. She should admit how wrong and horrible she had been, and beg for my forgiveness.

One of the many beautiful things about the Rosary is that, whatever problems we’re facing, we can place those troubles in the hands of our Mother in Heaven, and say:

Here, Mom. Here’s what’s bothering me. Here’s what I think I need. I know that no amount of worrying about it will help. I know that no advice from an earthly friend will offer a magical solution. And I also know that, if my request is in keeping with God’s Will, you will take it and lay it at your son’s feet, adding your beautiful prayers to my own humble ones.

And then we can just leave our worries in her sweet hands – hands so much more capable than ours– and proceed to meditate, not on our own trials, tribulations, wants and needs (though inevitably those will creep into our meditation,) but instead on Christ, his great gift, his trials and tribulations, and those of his mother. As we meditate on these things, our problems are put into perspective, and we know that God will provide, as he always does.

IMG_0124.JPGThat day, feeling hurt, angry, and confused, I instinctively turned to the Rosary. When I finished praying, having meditated on Christ’s humility and mercy, I knew what I needed to do. I realized that, while my family member’s actions may not have been perfect, neither were my own. I needed to forgive her, and, moreover, I needed to swallow my pride, apologize, and seek her forgiveness.

It wasn’t easy, but my prayer had helped me to see my shortcomings, and encouraged me to follow Christ and his example.

With my Rosary love affair thus begun, I would begin to pray this beautiful prayer every day. Through this prayer, I would find healing, guidance, comfort, and so much more.

I’ll share more of the story of my love affair tomorrow.

The Seven Sorrows Devotion

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In recognizing this day, we remember and reflect upon the sufferings Mary endured because she was the mother of Christ. We unite our suffering with hers, and with Christ’s, and we recognize the value of her intercession, especially as she understands and empathizes with our own sorrows and sufferings.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:Our_Lady_of_Sorrows2

  1. The prophecy of Simeon
  2. The flight into Egypt
  3. Losing the child Jesus at the temple
  4. Meeting Jesus as he carried his cross
  5. The crucifixion
  6. The removal of the body of Jesus from the cross
  7. The burial of Jesus

By meditating upon these sorrows daily, the devout are given seven promises, among them a peaceful home and visible help at the moment of their death. Our Lady also promises to console them in their pains and accompany them in their work.

The Church has so many beautiful devotions, I find myself flowing from one to the other as seasons of my life change. While the Rosary remains the foundation for all my devotions, the Seven Sorrows devotion is one I find particularly beautiful and reasonably easy to work into my days. It takes only a few minutes, and yet gives me valuable time to reflect on Christ’s suffering and death, and the toll that those events must have taken on his mother. I reflect on her Godly response, and how I can respond to suffering in my own life in a manner more like hers. It reminds me to recognize the difficulties in my life as opportunities to unite myself more thoroughly to Christ, to truly take up my cross and follow him.

We are all broken, we are all sinners, and we all face trials and tragedies. There have been countless times when I have responded to those challenges in graceless ways, and there have been some – comparatively, a sad few – where I have responded with love, grace, hope, and even joy. Those times are the result of time spent meditating upon the Rosary and other devotions, such as the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

Whether you are facing trials today or not, I hope you will experience this devotion for yourself. As Christians, we are assured of joy, yet we are also most certainly assured of crosses. Without proper preparation, our hearts will not be able to experience the joys hidden in those crosses.

For more information about the Seven Sorrows Devotion, click here.

For a beautiful Bible study on the Seven Sorrows, by my friend, author Beth Leonard, click here.

**This post includes Amazon affiliate links. If you click on those links, and add anything to your cart, I will receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!**