Monday, April 13, 2015

Join us for a 54-day Rosary Novena?

Hi ladies! Sarah and I discussed last week via a Skype date about the fact that I have never finished a 54-day rosary novena before. So then we the agreed to pray one of them together -- so as to be accountability partners, and wanted to extend the invitation to all of you lovely ladies as well!

We'll be starting on April 20th, so as to end on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, on June 12th. For the first 3 novenas, or 27 days, we'll be praying in petition for our intention (April 20th -- May 16th), and then the following 27 days are prayed in thanksgiving, regardless of whether or not you've seen any fruit from your petition (May 17th -- June 12th).

Our intention for this novena is for our vocations.


Feel free to join in if you wish, and please leave a comment or otherwise contact us so we can pray for you during the 54-day novena! We can also utilize the CYW Facebook page for encouragement and other prayer intentions as we go through the novena - so check back there for updates!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

We Wait While He Suffered

I wanted to share some reflections on Our Lord's Passion while we wait in anticipation of His Resurrection. These were written while I was on my flight home from college yesterday, and are based on a meditation written by Saint Thomas Aquinas.


When Jesus died on the cross He gave us three things to suffer for:

1| He showed us what kind of Passion it was. He endured great spoken opposition to His plan for our salvation. We can look to Him for strength and example when we face opposition in our prayer lives. Jesus calls us to follow in His steps of being persecuted for our beliefs. Because none of our suffering will ever be as great as His Passion. Any persecution we face is at least more deserved, as we are all sinners. He died through undeserving punishment.

2| It was all of us who crucified Him. And yet it was for us that He was dying. How can we crucify Him again and again everyday by our sins and thoughts? When He constantly forgives us and He would undergo His Passion again if it meant that one of us would be saved in His Sacred Heart. Wow. His love for us is so great that it bathes us and drowns us.

3| It was Jesus who suffered. In the beginning He suffered through His members. But now He suffered in His own person. By suffering, He bore all our sins on His sole body. No wonder His cross was so great. But He taught us perseverance to the very end, and a trust that God will make all things new for us.

On these things must we think and draw into our heart, so that we may make a sanctuary within ourselves. We can go to this inner room when the world bombards us with sin and temptation. And it is through a mediation of Christ's Passion that will keep us from growing weary on our own journeys.

"You must not faint at these anxieties your own troubles cause you. You have not yet borne as much as Christ. For He indeed shed His blood for us."
-Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Faith Will Be Shaken

shared from Sweet Wakings at the encouragement of Sarah :)


All week it's been perfect. This spring is perfect. Soft sunlight, greenery, birdsong, and gentle warm beauty. 70 degrees. Not a bit of humidity. Just cool and clean and alive. 

Do you ever wonder what it was like the day Jesus died?

Do you wonder if the birds sang as He suffered, as He bled, as He loved us with His whole life?

Sometimes I do. And then I stop because it frightens me. My imagination comes alive and I stand on Calvary, and I watch Him and keep Him company. 

Or do I?

By grace alone I'm not passing by and jeering at Him. My heart breaks...

...but maybe it breaks somewhere hidden. Maybe my fear was stronger than my love. I weep for Him, but I weep skulking wherever His other disciples ran to. I weep for my shame. 

That's why I stop imagining. It's painful. It's humiliating. 

"I wouldn't be hiding! I would be right there with Him. I love Him. I'm one of the faithful ones."

We love to bluster like that. We all like to think that we're brave and strong. We like to think: "Though all may have their faith shaken in you, mine will never be."

We all know how that turns out. Denial. Three times. And bitter tears. 

Pride and falls. 

Would I be there with Him?

One of His disciples was. John. Quiet and contemplative. 

He shows me the way. 

Because while Peter boasts of his unwavering faith, of how much stronger he'll be than all the others, John is silent. He lays his head against the Heart of Christ. He leans on Him. 

The one who leans on Jesus is the one who has the strength to stay with Him. He draws his strength not from Himself but from the Strongest One, the One who has the strength to bear the sins of all the world. And he is the one who stays at the foot of the Cross. Not the proud one whose belief is in his own faith.

Jesus, I want to stay with You. But I don't have a chance. My fear is stronger than my love. You've watched me deny You again and again these past forty days.

I'm not one of the faithful ones. I'm so breakable. I'm weak. I would run and run and not look back until I found a safe place and then I would sit next to Peter and I would weep bitterly. 

Now You know. This isn't to tell You that I give up, though. It's so You know just how much I need You. Then You can't say no. 

I'm weak. I need Your strength. 

Here I come, like John, to rest against Your Heart, to lean on You. Help me to stay with You. 

Others will have their faith shaken, and so will mine be. Have mercy on me. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holy Week

A year has passed and here we are, again, at Palm Sunday, the day that we cry out with our own voices, "Crucify him!"—reminding us that we bear the guilt for His wounds and death, He who gave himself as a victim out of love.

This year, I spent the Gospel in the mothers' room at the back of our church, nursing a wriggly baby who refused to sit still. Yet the force and meaning of this day—of the palms waving in the air, of the statues throughout the church veiled in purple cloth—was at the forefront of my mind.

Now that I am a mother, I find that I spend a lot of time thinking about which of the countless possible traditions I want to incorporate into our home and family life throughout the liturgical year. Our baby is still too young to know or remember what we do, so I still have time to figure it out, and I want to choose wisely.

This year, we are planning to attend a Tenebrae service on Wednesday night. On Holy Thursday, after evening Mass, we have big plans to visit 7 churches in our city, provided the baby cooperates. Have you ever done the 7 Church Visitation? I didn't grow up with this tradition, but high school friends introduced me to it, and I love the chance to check out some of the beautiful, new-to-me churches in my city of Chicago, which is known for its breathtaking church architecture. On Good Friday we will attend Stations of the Cross and I will probably make hot cross buns for Holy Saturday. Maybe dye some eggs too. Holy Saturday we hope to attend the Easter Vigil, my favorite liturgy of the year, and Sunday will be full of family and feasting at my mom's famous Easter brunch.

I'm curious to know, what are your favorite traditions for Holy Week and the Easter season? How will you be celebrating these holy days both personally and with your community?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Grass is Greener

---by Aspirer

HE > I

Where God is... that's where the grass is greener.

I just want to see His glorious garden.

Right now I'm watering my own little garden, trimming here and there so it can look as much like God's garden as possible. Because I want my garden to be reminiscent of Him. I want people to look at my garden and think, "Wow, you know, her garden reminds me of Someone Else's." So I weed out what's ugly and plant what's beautiful: I'm planting lilies. And pansies. And roses. But sometimes the thorns on the roses prick me and I bleed. However, that doesn't matter since I'll do whatever it takes to get my garden. And sometimes those little episodes are what I need because they make me stronger, more knowledgeable; I'll know that using gloves next time is better, or holding the stem in a certain way keeps me safe from scratches. And the fact that I keep gardening despite these hardships testifies to God that I love Him so much that it doesn't matter if I get hurt. In fact, it proves that my love for His things is stronger because of those hurts.

And maybe some people will uproot some of my garden, or animals will come and eat away what I've planted. But, if I ask, the Master Gardener will notice that I'm struggling, and He'll come over and teach me how to do things right. How to fix those offenses. How to make things truly beautiful. And once my garden is complete, He'll take me to view His own perfect paradise, more vast and more brilliant than anyone's ever seen or heard.

I just have to keep going. As long as I'm faithful to keeping up what I have for love of Him, it'll be beautiful by the time I'm done.

Aspirer is 17 years old, Catholic, and homeschooled with a love for all things pertaining to God's truth and beauty. She considers herself somewhat a tomboy for all her athletic pursuits but certainly enjoys singing, dressing up, and dancing as well. She blogs at Heavenly Aspirations. Join her there with a cup of tea?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fiat: A Meditation on Courageous Trust

---by Holly Sino

Recently I finished...no, devoured the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Father Michael Gaitley. If you have not read this book you definitely should! I was so consoled by this retreat alive with the message of merciful love and trust that I decided to write a reflection inspired by the meditations and words of the work. So take a minute, relax, and allow me to share with you what the Lord has inspired in me.

Slow down, take a deep breath, and Allow yourself to come before the Lord just as you are. Imagine the Lord hanging in agony upon the cross. You want so desperately to help Him but you are suddenly aware that on your own you are empty handed and begin to feel helpless. This is the moment of ecce- coming before the Lord as we are in all of our weakness and brokenness, just like Mary came before the Angel Gabriel, just as she was- a handmaid of the Lord.

You slowly look up and are met with the tender gaze of our Lord. In His eyes you find mercy and an undying, passionate love. But then you look deeper, and you find something else. The Lord is asking you to let go- to surrender everything that keeps you away from loving Him completely.

Turning, you find yourself looking at a gentle woman in blue standing near the cross. As you approach the cross you realize that the woman beckoning you forward is Mother Mary. She lovingly takes you into her embrace and lifts you up to the Lord. There you again encounter the glance of mercy and communicate your "yes" to the Lord through this intimate encounter. This is the moment of our fiat- although the the mere thought attempting to imitate Mary's fiat can seem overwhelming, she being our model of holiness shows us how to live out our own fiat, just as God has called us in each of our own vocations.

As we come down from the cross, transformed by this great grace of our fiat, we contemplate the Lord's infinite love in the arms of our mother, and there we live out magnificat- while praising and glorifying our Lord and Savior.

You see, when we proclaim our own Fiat, the stores of grace fall in torrents from the heavens and transform our souls. In our moments of Magnificat, we are able to praise and glorify God in all that we do by being a living witness to His goodness and Mercy- simply by our acts of humble and courageous trust that are so precious and dear to Our Lord's sorrowing Heart.

And so the journey of faith goes on.... 

Ecce...Fiat...Magnificat
Ecce...Fiat ...Magnificat 

Holly Siino is a college student who loves coffee, writing, books, and Mary and Jesus of course! She currently works at an elementary school and is studying to become a teacher someday.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Sunday of Lent: Repent and Believe

Remember that time when we fasted for particular intentions through Advent last year?  We do, too.  So we thought we might do something similar to that for Lent here at CYW.  Respecting that it is Lent and so it is the practice to give things up individually, we will not be suggesting a thing to fast from; merely an intention for which to offer our fasting.  Please visit each Sunday during Lent for the Gospel, the week's intention, and a short reflection.


Sunday Gospel

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Mark 1:12-15

Intention

Please keep in your prayers this week all those who are homeless, particularly during the cold winter months.

Reflection

As Father made the sign of the cross with ashes on my forehead, he whispered the words: "Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel."  It occurred to me once again that, in order to turn towards something, you must turn away from something else.  Perhaps it's just as important to know what you are journeying away from as it is to know what (or Who) you are journeying towards.

Christ meets us with nothing less than love and mercy.  As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux says, "God, the Creator of all things, is so full of mercy and compassion that whatever may be the grace for which we stretch out our hands, we shall not fail to receive it."  Let us ask the Father for the grace of true repentance, to make a good confession this Lent, and to draw ever nearer and more completely to His Sacred Heart.