Catholic Family, Saints

Mary Magdalene: Apostle to the Apostles

Who is your favorite saint? Mary Magdalene is one of mine.

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles. Jesus cured Mary of seven demons (Lk 8:2). Seven! Seven is symbolic that Mary’s life was replete with hardships – demons – as described by the gospel writers. Possibly her demons were mental or physical illness, living the consequences of her past sins, or maybe abusive or difficult family situations. Whatever the exact sources of her demons, Jesus cured Mary body and soul, restored her, and loved her. She loved Jesus so much that she followed him to the foot of the cross.

Jesus trusted Mary to make her the first eye witness and herald of his resurrection. But Jesus doesn’t let Mary merely cling to him and her own experience. Nope! Instead, he inspires her to run with an evangelistic spirit to spread the news of his resurrection. She announces to the disciples on the third day, “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18). In this, she is the Apostle to the Apostles.

I love Mary Magdalene because she shows us how good a life with Jesus can be. No matter how wounded your past, Jesus can heal you, restore you, and send you forth to announce the good news.

In honor of Mary Magdalene, share the message of Jesus with someone who is suffering today. And as a special offering, let that sharing be with someone outside your comfort zone, even if that means talking to a stranger or a person you find difficult to love.

Would you like to talk more about Mary Magdalene and other favorite saints? Join us in the Joyful Momentum online community in our Facebook Group!


Encouragement from 52 Weeks with St. Faustina

I recently reviewed 52 Weeks with Saint Faustina by author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  I have greatly enjoyed leafing through Donna-Marie’s book and rededicating my prayer time to saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the prayer that Jesus gave St. Faustina.

52 Weeks with St. Faustina lends itself to people like me!  I start the year with the greatest intention of completing a 52-week devotional and then fade in dedication and zeal and have to jump back on the wagon numerous times.  Fortunately, since the chapters do not have assigned dates, readers like me can begin the book at any time or retrieve the book and re-join the spiritual exercises with St. Faustina without feeling obliged to skip weeks.

52-weeks-cover-195x300Another thing I love about the book is that the table of contents is thematic.  If you especially need prayers for overcoming fear, there’s a chapter for that!  Grace?  There’s a chapter for that, too!  Forgiveness, doubt, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or obedience?  There are weeks dedicated to these topics as well.  This book meets readers exactly where they are in life.  You can progress through the book week by week or jump around thematically.

My favorite aspect of 52 Weeks with St. Faustina is that Donna-Marie incorporates significant portions of St. Faustina’s Diary into the reflections.  This leaves readers with Jesus’ words to Faustina as well as a flavor of her personality and glimpses of her path to sanctity.  Friends, I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from St. Faustina:

On Patience:

Patience in adversity gives power to the soul.  – Diary, 607

On Staying in the Present Moment: 

Oh present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.  I desire to use you as best I can. – Diary, 2

On Humility: 

Today, as God’s Majesty swept over me, my soul understood that the Lord, so very great though He is, delights in humble souls. – Diary, 1092

For Encouragement:

O my Jesus, despite the deep night that is all around me and the dark clouds which hide the horizon, I know that the sun never goes out. – Diary, 73

On Forgiveness:

We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors. Diary, 1148

Do you have a favorite quote from St. Faustina?  Share it in the comments! As my six year-old says, “Sharing is caring!”



A New Year’s Resolution to Make Haste Slowly

At 12am on January 1, 2019, my family gathered around the TV screen to watch the ball drop in Time Square.  Droves of people, saturated from spending the day in persistent rain, cheered the New Year and its possibilities.  People danced, couples kissed, and Frank Sinatra belted New York, New York, for all to hear.  My family clinked champagne flutes and enjoyed the music.

In those first moments of 2019 I wondered, “What should my New Year’s resolution be?”  I rapidly ran through noble and not-so-noble things I could do:  Keto diet!  No.  Weight Watchers?  Volunteer for the PTA!  Take the kids with me to volunteer!  Leave love notes for my husband more frequently!  Don’t skip my prayers in the morning!  Organize my closet!  Stop listening to naysayers!  The list went on.

In less time than it took the champagne to travel from my mouth to my stomach, I had overwhelmed myself with scads of things I could do.  However, a New Year’s resolution is better if it is something you should do.  A New Year’s resolution should be something good for us and something that we have fidelity to accomplish.  A spur of the moment, arbitrary decision to swear off carbs for a year just because every third ad in my Instagram feed promises that doing so will drastically decrease my hip circumference is probably not a helpful resolution.  Rather than make a snappy decision, I decided to take time to discern what I should resolve to do in 2019.

I found my resolution from St. Katharine Drexel.  During the first week of January, I read a book about her life and work.  I learned that as Katharine discerned her vocation to religious life, people around her urged her to get married, become a cloistered nun, or live a single life in service to the poor.  Throughout her discernment, Katharine’s spiritual director urged her to “festina lente” – make haste slowly.  Festina lente – I found those words encouraging.

Always drawn to serve the poor, in 1887, when Katharine attended a private audience with Pope Leo XIII, she urged that the Holy Father should send missionary priests to the United States to serve the Indians.  He responded, “Why not my child, yourself become a missionary.”  In one sentence, the Holy Father named Katharine’s “should” statement for what it was:  an expression of the vocation that the Holy Spirit had placed into her heart.  But Katharine made haste slowly.  It was not until four years later, in 1891, that Katharine became a missionary and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a religious order dedicated to working with Native Americans and African Americans.

Katharine spent the rest of her life founding missions and schools throughout the United States.  Notably in 1925, while schools in the United States were still plagued by segregation, Katharine founded Xavier University of Louisiana, for African American students.  By 1987, more than forty percent of public school teachers in New Orleans were Xavier alumni.  Had Katharine jumped at all the things that she could have done with her life, she might not have become, as some describe, an “apostle to the poor.”

Meditating on this reading made my New Year’s resolution clear.  My resolution is a prayer to festina lente – to make haste slowly this year – to avoid that instinct to accomplish all the things I could do, and instead, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that reveal the things I should strive to accomplish.

2019 is still new, and as the adage goes, it takes 21 days to form a habit.  St. Katharine Drexel, perfected her vocation of missionary service through over fifty years of active ministry.  I’m going to need more than 21 days and a lot more practice to learn to festina lenta.  Did you plunge head first into an unrealistic resolution at midnight on January 1, 2019?  Have you already abandoned your resolution?  Are you still looking for that perfect resolution?  If so, perhaps you could make haste slowly with me.