Mary Undoer of Knots

Christ came to bring JOY;

Joy to children, joy to parents,

Joy to families and friends,

Joy to the sick and elderly,

Joy to all humanity.

In a true sense, JOY is the keynote message of Christianity,

And the recurring motif of the Gospels.

Go, therefore, and become Messengers of Joy!

~ Pope John Paul II

Thursday, July 21, 2011


It has been an interesting couple of months. For many reasons, I have found myself beginning again, not wondering whether I have a call to the religious life, but to which order?

Catholic author and philosopher, Peter Kreeft, wrote a great article on discernment, and I found the following paragraph to be especially pertinent to where I feel my heart is being drawn today:
       Look for the fruits of the spirit, especially the first three: love, joy, and peace. If we are angry and anxious and worried, loveless and joyless and peaceless, we have no right to say we are sure of being securely in God's will. Discernment itself should not be a stiff, brittle, anxious thing, but—since it too is part of God's will for our lives—loving and joyful and peace-filled, more like a game than a war, more like writing love letters than taking final exams.
Wow. I have to admit that I have not had as much peace as I would have expected, given that all I want to do is give everything to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And I have surely had my fill of anxiety in the journey. But now that I am embracing the fact that God may have different plans for me, I find my heart filled with peace in the process of discernment. I am relishing it and grateful for new insights. This comes as quite a surprise to me, unexpected, yet so needed. I thought I was finished with discerning this vocation. Silly girl.

I have long believed that it was God's will that I suffer. After all, it was great suffering that brought me to Him, and my best learning seems to come from persevering through difficulties. I always offer the suffering to Jesus for all the intentions of His Sacred Heart, knowing the great value of redemptive suffering, so I figured it made sense. I know all the great saints suffered, so I guessed the turmoil in my heart was normal as I have waited and wondered and tried to make my way to the convent, to no avail, as my obstacles remain for more than a year now since I was accepted into the order. Since I now believe He may be calling me elsewhere, I am surprised to find the turmoil dissipating and the flow of graces flooding my soul like a long awaited summer rain after a hot, dusty drought. He refreshes my soul. ~ Psalm 23

I am not ready to make any decisions yet, and I am (surprisingly) not worried about the outcome. Maybe for the first time in my journey, I feel myself being led by God in a way that is not based on human feelings, emotions, signs or opinions. I feel like every day is like writing and reading love letters between me and the Lover of Our Souls. I am no longer anxiously trying to finish a dreaded exam. Instead, there is deeper and deeper love, internal and external peace and joy in the freedom that comes from permitting our Beloved to show me the way. It is yet another level of surrender, but unlike many of the other painful layers of surrender I had to learn, this one is pure grace, pure love. It is a gift to trust like this, and I am grateful. There is much to look forward to.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues

As you may know, I like to review books for the The Catholic Company as part of their reviewer program. This time, however, I have been blessed and privileged to review Father Robert Barron’s DVD and Study Guide/Workbook, Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues.

Father Barron’s DVD and the accompanying workbook have been wonderful gifts for me. I would recommend them highly to anyone who seeks more than simple facts and general knowledge, but who also yearns for deeper understanding and introspection.

The DVD is exactly what you would expect of Father Barron --- insightful, interesting and powerful in its ability to give me pause to know more about my faith, my God, my Church and myself. He brings clarity and humor to the virtues and sins, relating all to Dante’s Inferno. I am a regular participant in the graces and healing that come from sacramental confession, and with this DVD, I found a new understanding of my own frailties and sin that I need to work on, a real blessing for my soul, and a blessing for anyone who would listen with a heart open to God and continuing conversion.

The Study Guide/Workbook is the best I have seen of this genre. Unlike other workbooks that accompany DVDs I have owned, this book does not simply get you to regurgitate facts from the DVD, to ensure rote memory. Father Barron, in his great wisdom, inspires you to think beyond what he has taught, and to help you to go deeper into your understanding with assignments to read scripture and relevant passages from the catechism --- LOVE IT!

This set would be great for personal study or as a group. There are so many paths your discussion could take you, I dare say you could do this workbook over and over again, and still find new things to delve into…..A DVD and workbook that would continue to provide new insights as you grow in faith and love with the Lord and His Church. Thank you, Fr. Barron!

***This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. You can visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues CD Bundle . They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.