Don’t you know you have 4 legs?! Reflections on who we truly are

Well not you specifically of course! But you might be surprised how many times I have said this to our dog, Max, over the years we have had him. Whenever Max gets muddy we try to wipe at least his paws down before letting him back into the house. 1. He is a white dog so the mud really stands out and 2. the kids track in enough, I don’t need extra muddy footprints to wipe up. Nearly every time I have to clean him off he tries to escape around the 3rd leg. This leads me to inevitably complain, “Don’t you know you have 4 legs?! Stand still!”

I was sharing this with Ben a few weeks ago. I said something to the effect of: “You would think that even Max should be able to understand something so integral and basic to his identity. He has 4 legs. Period. Even if he can’t count per say, shouldn’t he at least be able to recognize that not all of his legs got cleaned off yet.”

As I was complaining, a light bulb went off in my head. We are just like Max. Not in that we actually have 4 legs (wouldn’t that be awkward), but that there are realities so basic and fundamental to our existence which we fail to grasp. We are made in the image of God. We have God’s life in us, grace freely given to us at our baptism. We have the opportunity to become living tabernacles, hold Jesus within us and letting His goodness, mercy and love shine through us. But so often we get caught up in the day to day, the sin, the temptation, the hustle, the bustle, the good times and the not so good times. We, or at least I for sure, lose touch with who I really truly am – a daughter of God.

Today is the first day of the new Church year, the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a unique moment in the year where we are preparing for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the most incredible and abundantly generous gift of our loving God, is truly God and truly man. St. Irenaeus teaches:

“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God”

Advent is our opportunity to enter deeply into communion with the Word, with God, so that we might become a son or daughter of God. There are many ways we can enter into communion with God, especially during Advent. We can commit to a daily Mass or weekly Confession. We can carve out time for a Morning Offering or daily Rosary. There are many reflection series, both online and in print, designed specifically for Advent. Advent is an excellent time to explore God’s Word in a more prayerful and intentional way – have you printed out your free Lectio Divina journal yet?

Advent is a time to step back and evaluate who we are in relation to who God is. Who are we, in our most basic and fundamental elements? The Catechism of the Catholic Church professes that we are:

  1. Made in the image of God (355)
  2. Capable of relationship with God (357)
  3. Willed by God into being – both body and soul (362)

This Advent, what are you going to do to help you reconnect with these basic truths about your life? Why are they important? What impact do they have on your life and relationships? And, how will they bring you into deeper communion with God as we await the coming of the Savior?Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A Rosary a Day Keeps the Frustration at Bay

Happy All Saints Day!

A few months ago I read a blog post written by a mom who was trying to find creative ways to curb her frustration with her daughter. As probably every parent can attest to, some days are harder (much harder) than others and kids go through various joyful, stressful, sweet and down right awful stages. The system she that proved effective for her was, brilliantly enough, hair ties.

I’m sure that others have thought of this before. She would start the day with 5 or so hair ties on one wrist. If she lost her temper or became overly frustrated with her daughter she would move one tie to the other wrist. She would try to earn that tie back through extra efforts at patience, kindness and gentleness. The goal, of course, to start and end the day with all the ties on the proper wrist.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, to what I can only a God moment. I have tried to pray the rosary daily on and off for years now (gosh that makes me sound old!) But it’s true! I can remember being in high school and college trying to say a rosary before bed and never making it past the 2nd decade. Or trying to pray them in the car and losing track of how many Hail Mary’s I said. I’ve tried bracelets, the little rings, pocket rosaries, you name it. Then, 2 weeks ago, it hit me. Use the hair ties!

So now, if you see me walking around with multicolored hair ties on my wrists, it’s not because I’m over prepared for any hair emergency. I have 5 thin, colorful hair ties that start every morning on my right wrist. As I say a decade I move one to my left wrist. The goal, obviously, is to have all the hair ties on my left wrist by the end of the day.

I didn’t realize what a game changer this would be. After a few days of this new practice I found myself describing my day in a whole new way to Ben. Here’s what I said, “You know, it’s been a bit of a rough day. But I had enough patience to handle with it, so it really wasn’t a big deal.” What?!? Who is this person who is speaking through me?

Now it isn’t all sunshine and roses of course. But I have noticed a definite change. I am more focused, especially in those moments when I am wondering what to do next. You know, that found time between finishing the dishes and starting the laundry, or the 2 minutes at your desk before a meeting, or waiting in line at the grocery store? Instead of pulling out my phone or aimlessly wandering through my brain, I am saying a decade of the rosary. There is more found time than I thought I had now that I’m on the lookout for it.

In this new practice, I am starting to feel more in sync with St. Paul who exhorts us to

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ. – 1 Thess 5:16-18

So many saints attest to the power of the rosary, here is just a small sampling:

“”The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII

“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” – Bishop Hugh Doyle

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” – Pope Pius X

“Our Lady – he says – is always close to Her children and ready to help when we pray to her, when we ask for her protection… let us remember she is always ready to serve and never keeps anyone waiting.” – Pope Francis

 

Today we celebrate all the saints in heaven, including Mary who is Queen of them all. What a most excellent day to pray a rosary!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Lectio Divina Advent Journal

Can you believe we are already seeing the sign-up promos and reflection books for Advent!?! The years continue to fly by and I guess this year is no different. I’ll be honest, I’m already starting to get excited about the new planners that are going to be out soon. =) As Advent is fast approaching, I began thinking and praying about whether or not to host a series of Advent reflections as I have the past 2 years. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the web is now inundated with these reflections. There are so many, you could probably spend all day just reading reflections and still not get through them all.

The more I prayed, the more I found myself to feel inspired in a new direction. My prayer was informed by two things.

First, the highly anticipated Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal. In case you missed it, here is my promo post from a few months ago. I am thrilled it is almost November and I will soon have this journal in my hands.

Second, I have been mulling over the Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII. This is a set of 10 short prayers or commitments that Pope John XXIII prayed each day. I intend to delve into each one of these in greater detail, possibly even one post for each one. We’ll see. For now, the fifth is the pertinent goal:

Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

So, where was I being called? On one hand, I have this awesome new journal resource that really helps me to focus in on the Mass and Scripture. On the other, I have a challenge to 10 minutes of “good reading.” As the kids would say, “Their powers combined created!” A brand new Bible Journal! I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was so much fun! What I have created is a Bible journal that incorporates Lectio Divina, the practice of slowly reading a short passage or verse and meditating on it. Lectio Divina is one of the oldest prayer forms we have — learn more here.

What’s in this journal, you might ask? Let’s find out!

 

 

  • A reference guide for what Lectio Divina is.
  • How to use the journal
  • One journal page for each day of Advent, including the regular Mass on Dec. 24 as well as the Christmas Eve Mass, and Christmas Day.
    • Each page contains:
      • Date
      • Space for intentions, how your day is going, what are your thoughts before beginning your Lectio
      • Scripture
      • Space to write your Word
      • Ample space for reflecting and praying your response to your Word
      • (My favorite) space to action plan for how to take your reflections into the rest of your day and through the season of Advent.
  • A Scripture verse or passage for each day of Advent, prayerfully chosen from the liturgical readings of the day.
  • An additional blank journaling page that you may print as many times as you want. This way you can choose your own passages for Advent or continue the practice after Advent is over.

Even more exciting than all of that is that I give this as my gift to you this Advent Season. This journal is completely and totally free. It is yours to download as many times as you want, to print as many times as you desire. Pick one, pick both. Print 10 and share them with friends or your small group. The sky’s the limit! Maybe you and your spouse are looking for a way to connect in a meaningful way this Advent season. Maybe you are looking for a way to incorporate Scripture into your daily routine or with your kids over the dinner table. There are so many opportunities awaiting you.

Below are a few more images to let you get a feel for the two styles. One style is a bit more curly and doodly while the other is less frilly, more straight lines. The content is exactly the same in both journals.

 

All you have to do is click on the link beneath the picture of the journal you want below to choose your pdf file. Save it to your computer and print the whole thing, print one page, take your pick.

And in all honesty everyone, I would love feedback on these. The good, the not so good and the what on earth does that mean?. If this is something you love and you found useful, I would love to share that joy. If you liked the idea but it just didn’t work for you this time, tell me why. How can I make this better or different? If, and I’m crossing my fingers here, if this seems to work I am seriously considering making a Lenten Journal as well and who knows, maybe even expand the idea further as we go along.

This is what I felt called to make this year for Advent and I hope and pray that it brings you peace, solace and above all, helps you prepare your heart for the coming of our Savior. Because, dear friends, that is what the whole point is.

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Style 1

Advent Lectio Divina Journal 1

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Style 2

Advent Lectio Divina Journal 2