Indelible Mark

This weekend has been the Catholic Moms Summit (if you haven’t checked it out you still have time! Hurry over, it’s all free, though if you want to be able to watch what you’ve missed later, as well as have access to the live events they held you will need to purchase the pass). I listened to a few talks, all of which were very good. My absolute favorite was by Beth Sri, Birthing 101. Beth is a Catholic wife and mom of 8. You can learn more about Beth here.

In her talk, Beth talked about the things she figured out after her first four births and wished she had known for them. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details of the practicalities of birth here, you can head over to the Summit if you want that information – it’s worth it, trust me!

One of the things that really left me floored was something she said toward the end about the spiritual aspects of birth. She had a spiritual director tell her, when she would share about a new pregnancy, “Thank you for your gift to humanity!” As Beth says in her talk, this sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it? But no! If we believe what we say we believe, if we as parents are truly participants in creation with God the Father, how could this new little person be anything but a gift?

Beth, of course, understands this also. She concludes her talk like this:

“You’re going to contribute in an indefinite way to eternity. Not only is your little person and your experience going to make a mark on the world, but it is going to make a mark on eternity. Forever, this new soul will exist forever.”

Wow, just wow. Taking this opportunity to announce we are going to be welcoming our 6th gift to humanity in March, I can honestly say I have not considered the indelible mark each of our children will have on eternity. On the world, yes. Ben and I have all of the usual hopes parents hold – we hope our children are faithful, brave, compassionate, truthful and cultivate all the other good virtues. We pray that they follow their vocation, that they listen to God’s Will in their lives and that they discover that happiness lies in self-giving love. But an indelible mark on eternity? I’m rendered a little speechless at that one.

Indelible means “not able to be removed,” or similarly, “not able to be forgotten.” By conceiving our children, heaven has changed forever. Every single child, whether they are born into this world or whether their mark is made only on our hearts, will make a new impression on eternity which cannot be forgotten.

God knows the number of hairs on our heads, even if your babies are born bald like mine. Not a single child is forgotten by their loving Creator, and heaven is all the better for it.

Indelible Mark #6
Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Free Advent Journals 2020

It’s that time of year again, if you can believe it. All the memes about how March lasted for 5 years, the summer was 1,000 days and that this year would never end. Yet here we are, at the end of October. In a way, Catholics get to cheat the system a little bit. We don’t have to wait for December 31, 2020 to celebrate the end of the year. According to our liturgical calendar, the new year begins the first Sunday of Advent – this year on November 29.

This year has been full. Full of emotion, full of questions, full of time. I know so many of us are hoping for some sense of closure to 2020 by the time 2021 gets here. Rather than blocking out the past 9 months, I would like to challenge all of us to use this Advent season to meditate on what God has been speaking to us. What lessons have you learned? How have you grown? What good things will you carry forward into the Christmas season?

Advent, while a festive time secularly, is also a desert time. It is a time where we relearn, each year, how to wait with hope and purpose. Taking time with Scripture is an excellent way to slow down and focus on where the Holy Spirit is leading you for the season.

With this in mind, I’ve created two completely free Advent resources. The first is the classic Lectio Divina journal that I’ve been creating for a number of years now. In it you will find a guide for how to pray following the lectio model as well as daily journal pages. The pages have a Scripture passage selected from the day’s readings and include space for journaling, prayer and reflection. If you would like to choose your own Scriptures, there is a blank page included below as well that you can print off as many times as you would like.

The second journal is both similar and a departure from last year’s reflection journal, for those of you who used it. We are still focusing on the Sunday readings, but in a new way. Beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, each day will have a Scripture focus taken from the Sunday readings. The Scripture is accompanied by a short meditation and reflection question with space to journal.

Now, the techy stuff. There are 2 versions of each journal. One is the normal, in order, print, staple at the corner, you’re on your way. The second, for the brave and adventurous, is set up so that you can turn your journal into a legitimate booklet. You will have to print double sided either by choosing that setting on your printer, or by printing the odd pages, reinserting them into your printer however you need to (every printer is different, I’m sorry I can give better directions than that) and then printing the even pages. I highly recommend do a test of the first and second pages to make sure you have the process down before printing the whole thing.

I hope that you find these journals helpful and encouraging during the upcoming Advent season. I love hearing how they have blessed you, your families and small groups. Please feel free to let me know if you have ideas or suggestions for Lent. I would also love love love to know how the booklet printing goes – it took a lot of brain power to figure out how to get the pages in the right order and I hope it works for you.

Please share this post with anyone who is looking for a quality Advent resource and doesn’t want to wait for shipping! May God bless each of you as the year closes and Advent brings us into a brand new year.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Giving to Caesar

In the Gospel today, religious leaders tried to put Jesus between a rock and hard place. They wanted to know if they could trick Him into upsetting someone, no matter how he responds. “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”

Option A: Jesus says yes. Now the people are upset because Jesus openly admits to supporting the Roman regime which has conquered the area and is ruling the people.

Option B: Jesus says no. Now the officials and those in the community who support the local governance are on high alert. Jesus has labeled Himself as a revolutionary.

Option C: Don’t people know yet there’s always an option C? “Show me the coin,” Jesus says. “Whose image is on it?” Can you hear the mumbled reply, the looks on their faces as they realize just how quickly the tables got turned? Jesus’ definitive response: “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

As citizens of our countries, we have duties and responsibilities to our governments and fellow citizens. One of the primary ways we in America pay back to Caesar is through full and active participation in our elections. I’m not going to begin a political debate or lecture you on which side to vote for. I’m simply asking for your full and active participation in the process. Vote!

Ok, that aside, how do we know what belongs to God? God doesn’t have a coin for us to reference, but Jesus’ measure of what is owed to Caesar can still be applied. If the coin which bears Caesar’s image on it belongs to him, then it would stand to reason that whatever bears God’s image ought to be returned to Him. The question then follows, “What (or who) bears God’s image?”

US! We, His most prized creations, are made in His image. While we live on this earth, and we participate in civic life, social and cultural movements, family and workplaces, we do not owe our lives to the world. We owe ourselves to God. When we place our lives in His care, He generously returns us to even fuller participation in the world He created for us.

I know, it’s a bit convoluted and confusing. Think of it like this: The more you take away from the ground, the larger the hole you’re making will become. The more you dig, the greater its capacity to hold whatever you need it to hold. The more we give ourselves to God, the greater our capacity to do the work in the world He has laid before us.

Picture via Pixabay

As Advent is approaching – yikes! – now is a great time to look at what you give to Caesar, and what you give to God. If you would like to learn more about being a fully active Catholic citizen, take the time to read Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document written last year by the US Bishop’s Conference about public responsibility.

Also, be on the look out! The free Advent Journals are in their final stages and I’m so excited for this year! Be sure you are signed up to receive emails when I post new content so you can get your copies for this year. There’s a new page at the top which has all of the Advent Journals from the previous years in one place.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com