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Christ, Our Hope

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For most Catholics, Lent 2020 has been a Lent like no other. We have found ourselves giving up things we never thought of giving up, due to forced quarantines, lock-downs, lay-offs, and perhaps for many of our Catholic Marriage Prep couples, even wedding dates and receptions. The global pandemic, and our response to it, has made us reflect on our own mortality, our faith, and our priorities in life.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

For Christians, there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Even as some parts of our country await the peak of COVID-19 cases and deaths, we can be assured that God continues to hold us in his love. We know this because if God stopped thinking about us for even one moment, we would cease to exist. It is God who is in control, no matter how much we want to be in control. If we learn nothing else from this virus, we need to remember--God is in control, not us. Christians also have assurance that God will cause good to come out of this very bad thing. We’re not being Pollyannas, hoping against hope, wishing on a shooting star. We see with the eyes of faith and we know the Easter story: (spoiler alert!) Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. He has victory over sin and death. Our God, who rose from the dead, is in charge and he always brings good out of whatever bad things we encounter because he is love.

At the time of this writing, it is Good Friday, the darkest day of the Christian liturgical year. In some ways, it feels like the last month or so has been one continuous Good Friday. Still, we know Jesus rises on Easter. We know death has no hold over him.

This virus has caused many of us to confront the reality of death. As scary as death is, we also know it is not the end. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Yes, death will eventually come for each of us. Yes, there is life after death. We are learning how to live and love each day we are blessed to be alive here on earth. That is our first mission; to be holy.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear… (1 John 4:18)

We are an Easter people. Death has no victory over us. Darkness has no place in our hearts or in our homes. We can cast off the darkness and fear and live as children of the light.

Easter is more than a day. In the Christian liturgical season, it is eight full days; the octave of Easter. This solemnity is so great it can’t be contained in a single day, so the Church celebrates Easter for eight full days. The eight days of Easter begin with Easter Sunday and end with Divine Mercy Sunday. As we sing with joy to the Lord for his victory over death, we also celebrate his mercy:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    his mercy endures forever.
 Let Israel say:
    his mercy endures forever.
 Let the house of Aaron say,
    his mercy endures forever.
 Let those who fear the Lord say,
    his mercy endures forever.
(Psalm 118:1-4)

That’s not all. The Church gives us fifty full days of the Easter liturgical season. That’s ten more days than we endured with Lent. Our suffering has been great, but the joy we are promised is even greater.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 14, we read about Jesus instituting the Eucharist, in what is called his “Last Supper discourse.” In the first verse of that chapter, Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faithin God; have faith also in me.”(John 14:1) And in the final verses of that chapter, he repeats his admonition, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

Jesus is our hope and in him we need not fear. This Easter season, may you find hope, peace, and joy in the victorious cross of Christ and in his infinite ocean of mercy.

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In our mission statement at CatholicMarriagePrep.com we say: “Agape Catholic Marriage Preparation invites couples to a deeper relationship with each other and with Christ, one couple at a time.  Online, on-demand instruction rooted in Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, combined with personalized mentoring from a trained married couple, builds a foundation for a strong, healthy, Christ-centered marriage between a man and a woman.”  Who does that best serve?   From the very inception of CatholicMarriagePrep.com serving military couples has always been on our hearts, even offering a military discount.

Tara Brooke
28 June 2022

Wow!!!  Yes, that is the correct word to begin this blog post!  I think I am still in shock!  On the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus our country just experienced the overturning of an almost 50-year-old law regarding abortion.  Roe vs. Wade was overturned!  

One You May Have Missed

Catholic Marriage Prep
19 August 2016
Global
Family Life
Marriage
Spirituality
Parenting
Prayer
Last week we talked about some ideas of how to pray throughout the day individually and as a couple. Today, I want to focus more on how to do this with your kids. The best thing that I can recommend is family prayer time. This time brings you not only closer to God, but to each other. And a family that prays together, stays together!  For us, this is part of our bedtime routine sandwiched between getting jammies on and brushing teeth.  Some families do it right after dinner. The important thing is to do it, and make it a habit! It takes time, but eventually the kids will get used to it! Growing up, there are many family prayer times that I recall and enjoyed. We used to read short devotional stories or age-appropriate reflections. One year we did a saint-a-day calendar, and boy are there some unusual saints out there! One time I even cried because my family had prayer time without me. Nowadays, our kids our young so we try to keep it pretty short, but we’ve been adding to it as the kids get older. We first started with praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. We’ve since added the Glory Be, Angel of God, and St. Michael prayer. We also have everyone say one thing their thankful for (although our 3 year old girl usually says closer to 30) and one thing (or person) they want to pray for and ask God’s help for. We’ve started to also read a few pages from the Children’s Bible with the older two. Here are some other great ideas that other families do during family prayer time: - Pray a blessing for each child - Short bible study, study of virtue, etc. - Lay hands on and pray for a kid going through a particularly hard time - Praying the Rosary (or decade for young kids). - Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet (I love to listen to this beautiful version in song!) - Each person say a short thanksgiving and/or intention - Singing a praise song or hymn together - Read a story about a saint. - Create a sacred space, using candles, liturgical colors, holy images or icons to show that this time is special. Have your kids help set it up, and use your senses to pray with your whole body! Other Great Ways to Pray with your Kids: *Pray when hear siren or helicopter. Children can pray, “God help them!” or “Lord be with them.” You can also say a Hail Mary asking for protection for whoever is hurt or in trouble. *In the car, you can listen to praise and worship, sung prayers, saint stories, etc.  For our kids, we like Cat Chat CD’s, Holy Heroes Glory Story CD’s, and Christian radio stations. *Stop to say a short prayer at a certain time of day, such as the Angelus at noon or “Jesus I trust in You” at 3pm, the hour of mercy. *Celebrate their Baptism Days  - It’s their birthday into the family of God! Recite baptismal promises, have their favorite meal *Celebrate the Liturgical year: - Advent: Create an advent wreath to use during prayer time. Our kids love lighting and blowing out the candles! You can also make or buy Jesse Tree ornaments and add to the symbolism of the tree. - Lent: do the Stations of the Cross either at Church or in your home. We love these Stations of the Cross eggs!). Do sacrifice beads, a crown of thorns, or Lenten Adventure by Holy Heroes. - Easter: Garden Party of the Good Shepherd *Don’t forget to celebrate other feast days throughout the year with parties (and some prayers! Holy Days of Obligation require going to Mass, but there should be some feasting that go along with it!) Here is a great blog from last week on doing just that! In short, there are so many ways that you can invite God into your child’s day and show them how much God loves them, and how He is always present with them. Having a set time for family prayer is very important, but they also need to know that while sometimes prayer is very serious, sometimes it can also be fun! The beauty of using the liturgical year is that there are times of fasting and feasting, which help our kids to enter into a relationship with God in a very real, daily way! Good resources for liturgical living with kids: www.catholicicing.com www.holyheroes.com www.showerofroses.blogspot.com www.catholiccuisine.blogspot.com catholicplayground.com Have a great resource or way to pray with your kids? Or, have a question to ask? Share it with me at: allisonandnathan@catholicmarriageprep.com.

 

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