I wrote this article five years ago, and it was previously published at RealLifeatHome.com. Enjoy it again here!
Putting faith into action isn’t as hard as it may seem. We are all called to be holy and to live lives of grace, but how do we put our faith in Jesus Christ into action on a daily basis? Here are some ideas that may help you get started:
1. Receive the Sacraments. As Catholics, we are so blessed to be able to have guaranteed ways to receive grace. That is the gift of the sacraments. Attend Mass and go to confession. These acts not only bring grace, but tend to lighten any burdens you may be carrying.
2. Limit your TV/screen time. Don’t watch TV that portrays the marriage relationship–or any relationship–in a negative light. When you stop to really think about it, most sitcoms, dramas, and reality TV show sin as normal and even preferable to living a holy life. Ask yourself: Does watching this TV show bring glory to God? If it doesn’t, consider giving it up.
3. Pray for someone who has wronged you. And forgive them. It doesn’t really matter if they are sorry for what they did to you or if they even know they hurt you. God shows mercy to us every single minute of our lives, and it is our duty to pray for and forgive others.
4. Don’t gossip, and stand up for someone. When the conversation with your friends starts veering toward bashing others, sharing juicy details of someone else’s troubles, or anything of the sort, either stop the conversation by standing up for the person or just walk away. I know I have friends in my life who tend to gossip and not listen even when I try to defend someone, so sometimes the best option is to just walk away from the conversation.
5. Donate used clothes, toys, kitchen items, canned food, whatever to charity, and do so with a heart for Christ. We live in a world of constant surplus. I know I have a constant need to de-clutter, and “things” can take over if I don’t keep them in check. Our local Ladies of Charity and food pantries are in desperate need and always looking for donated items. Check to see if your church has a food pantry or a recommendation on where to donate. If you don’t have extra stuff to donate, maybe you can serve God by giving of your time and volunteering at church or at a charity.
6. Read the Bible. This one may seem kind of obvious, but many Catholics are not as familiar with the bible as most Protestants I know. A good place to start is Proverbs. There are 31, so you can read one each day for a whole month.
7. Stop complaining and start thanking God for your blessings. If you are reading this (on a computer or smartphone, with an internet connection), chances are you are in the top 10% of the world’s wealthiest people. Many people in the world today don’t know where they are getting their next meal, don’t have a bed to sleep in or an extra set of clothes. You are blessed physically and spiritually. Be sure to recognize those blessings and thank God for them.
8. Hold your tongue. A big part of being patient is just shutting up. I get along with my husband and am kinder to my children when I take time to really think before I speak instead of just spouting out whatever comes to mind.
9. Organize your house and your mind so that your family receives the best you. I know when my house is a mess and I have a million things on my to-do list, I get stressed and tend to take it out on my family. They don’t deserve that. If I keep the house clean and organized, keep close track of the calendar, and don’t wait till the last minute to get things done, the entire household seems more peaceful.
10. Pray without ceasing. This one’s from the bible. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” As you may have heard before, prayer has four general parts:
- Adoration – Praising God
- Contrition – Confessing your sins
- Thanksgiving – Thanking God for blessings
- Supplication – Asking for things
Adoration is the first because it’s the most important. God is our creator, our savior, our healer, our everything and He deserves to be praised all the time. So don’t just ask, adore Him.
What are some practical ways you have found to put your faith into action?
The actual women’s march was today – the March for Life. You didn’t hear about it on the Today Show, but it’s actually much bigger than any of the Women’s Marches this past weekend.
Feminists claim to support all women, to be marching for the rights of all women, especially those on the fringes of society. The problem many of us have with feminism is that it’s being shoved down our throats that we’re being treated unfairly even though this is THE best time in history to be a woman, in the country where we enjoy the most rights. Everyone has struggles and may experience discrimination in some ways, but are these struggles occurring SOLELY because we’re women? Highly unlikely.
The most frequent puzzling thing I’ve read in the comments sections of these pro-life vs. feminist articles is the claim that pro-life people aren’t really pro-life, they’re just “pro-birth” and don’t care what happens to babies after they’re born or to the women affected, and that pro-lifers want to force women to have babies, etc.
My first thought is, where did they come up with this claim? Where are their statistics to back them up? In an online conversation with a self-proclaimed “feminist”, I asked her those exact questions when she made the above accusation. And her response was that pro-life supporters are opponents of Planned Parenthood, so they’re inherently unsupportive of women and their babies.
Planned Parenthood doesn’t actually provide prenatal care, and NOT supporting Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with supporting women and their babies. Being in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood means that we would love for more babies to be saved from this abortion factory. I’ve heard many claims that Planned Parenthood is the only place for low-income women to receive healthcare, but again, where are the statistics on that? There are thousands of other real health facilities all over the country to provide basic healthcare for men, women, and children.
When pro-choice people say that we’re only pro-birth, they fail to take into account the thousands of Christians that adopt and foster children in their own homes, volunteer their time at soup kitchens and food pantries, donate clothing, toys, household items, and more to charitable organizations that give these things away for free to the needy, and donate BILLIONS of dollars per year in this country alone to help the poor with housing, healthcare, childcare, etc. The Catholic Church and other Christian organizations have done more for the poor in the history of the world than any other organization. For example, Catholic Charities USA (just one of the many, many Christian charitable organizations in the United States alone) was #9 on the Forbes list of 100 Largest US Charities last year. So how does this make us “only pro-birth”?
As pro-life supporters, we are called to a higher form of social justice. When we see that the dignity of the human person is threatened (in any situation, not just abortion), we have no choice but to speak up. We are called to be active in our communities and to help the poor and marginalized in our society. Which is why hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children marched today.
I saw many photos of people and their pro-life signs today, and one sign said, “1/3 of my generation is missing.”
One third. This is completely heartbreaking when you really think about it. I was born a little more than 10 years after abortion was legalized in the United States, so I wonder how many people were missing from my kindergarten class, from my high school graduation, from my life.
The genocide that is abortion needs to stop. We need to be part of the culture of life that supports women in need, supports children and their parents, and truly believes that life is sacred from conception until natural death. It’s our duty and our responsibility as pro-life supporters to show others that this kind of world is possible. What will you do today to show that you’re truly pro-life?
My six-year-old curly-haired daughter is in kindergarten this year, and she’s part of a fantastic class in a fabulous school with loving, wonderful teachers.
On inauguration day last week, her teacher asked the kids, “What advice would you give our new president?”
If this question had been asked to a group of adults, I’m sure the sound of crickets would have followed. Or complicated stances on complicated issues. One or the other.
However, these kids know what’s important in life and prove that the simplest advice can be the very best.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Please follow rules.
2. Always tell the truth.
3. Be nice to people.
4. Love others with your heart.
5. Care about all people.
6. Look at others with loving eyes.
7. Do what God wants you to do.
8. Help the poor.
We will pray for you every day.
Each of us would do well in all aspects of life following this simple wisdom.
They are a super group of kids led by a loving, Christ-filled teacher and learning about what’s truly important in life. Thank you to our teachers for loving and guiding our kids every single day.
It’s that time of year again, folks. Everyone’s busy, but cheerful, and the radio stations are playing nothing but Christmas songs even though it’s not Christmas yet.
But it’s December 1st, surely “Christmas Season” has begun, right?
NO! Traditionally, the four weeks before Christmas day have always been Advent, a Christian liturgical season of penitential preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ as well as for His second coming.In the Catholic Church, we can see evidence of Advent in the priests purple or rose colored vestments, the lighting of the Advent candles, special readings leading up to the birth of Christ, and an empty manger scene. Click here to read more about why Advent is so important to Christians.
Advent can be tricky because all kinds of celebrations are happening all around our kids. Holiday dance recitals, 25 Days of Christmas movies, the Christmas singing program at school, and school Christmas parties all occur during Advent. They see all the decorations and TV programs and hear the Christmas music and obviously assume it’s time to celebrate. That’s what makes this season of anticipation harder for parents to navigate.
Here are 10 things we can do this Advent to prepare our own hearts and our childrens’ hearts for His coming:
1. Light an Advent wreath. If you don’t have one, most parishes sell them this time of year, they can be ordered online, or you can make your own. This creates a special place for daily Advent prayers and shows the progression of the weeks as each candle is lit.
2. Get an Advent calendar. I’ve seen Advent calendars that have a daily ornament, chocolate, beer, Lego figures, toys, pretty much anything. This is especially fun for the kids to be able to countdown to Christmas and ups the anticipation as each door is opened.
3. Set up a Nativity scene at home. Most of us have a Nativity set (or several) packed with our Christmas decorations, and now is the time to get it out and set it up in a prominent place in your home. The trick with this is to take the Christ child away until Christmas morning. I’ve had my Nativity set for years, and I place a pregnant Mary, which is a figure that matches that I already had in place of Mary holding baby Jesus until Christmas morning when they “magically” appear. If placed on a table top, it can be a place for prayer and reading the bible or other religious books.
thejessetree 4. Set up a Jesse Tree. The tradition of the Jesse tree goes back hundreds of years. According to LoyolaPress.com, “We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.” It’s a fun daily tradition that will get you reading a little bit of the bible every day. This will really help adults and kids especially to understand the connections that led to the birth of Christ. I am making these ornaments from ShiningLightDolls.com, which are easy and adorable, and they conveniently have the readings right there on the download. Print the symbols, glue them to these wooden ornament circles http://amzn.to/2gB2G7X , and enjoy journeying through the Jesse Tree this Advent with your family!
5. Receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. This year I have a second grader, who will receive her First Reconciliation with her class this weekend. They have been preparing for months, been practicing, and doing homework for it, and now the time has come to fully receive God’s absolution through this beautiful sacrament. As adults living in the secular world, it’s easy to say to ourselves, “Well, I can just confess my sins to God and be forgiven.” And you’d be right, of course you can, but the sacrament of Reconciliation truly reconciles us with Christ, meaning that we are absolved from our sins and returned to a state of grace. It’s the perfect way and the perfect time of year to get closer to Christ.
6. Go to Mass. And truly be present. Listen to the readings and the homily. Worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Receive Christ in the Eucharist and believe in what is an unbelievable gift to us. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is coming up next Thursday–and it’s a holy day of obligation–which celebrates the conception of Mary completely sinless in her mother’s womb. Which brings me to my next point…
7. Learn a little bit about the Virgin Mary. The Catholic Church is so deep, so rich, and I’m just starting to scratch the surface on Marian doctrine. A book I highly recommend is Meet Your Mother by Mark Miravalle, which outlines each Marian dogma by chapter and will blow your freakin’ mind. Warning: this seemingly short little book has so much information about our mother in Heaven and will help you understand that although we do not worship Mary herself, having a devotion to her can change your eternity.
8. Give something up/make a change. This past Sunday at Mass, Father talked about how we should set a small, achievable goal in our faith life this Advent much like you’d do during Lent. Either give something up to remind yourself to pray and devote yourself to Christ (like when children give up chocolate for Lent) or actively do something to further your faith life. I personally am praying the Immaculate Conception novena and am reading Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism book this Advent.
9. Almsgiving. This is actually a very common thing to do, even among nonbelievers. It’s a merry time of year, and it seems to make most people more cheerful and in a more giving spirit. Your local parish may have a giving tree to provide Christmas gifts to needy families, food banks are always looking for donations and volunteers, several program exist that donate toys and coats to needy children as well. This is another one of my favorite things to do with the kids because they can see tangibly how we’re helping other people.
10. Celebrate the Advent feast days, like the feasts of St. Nicholas on December 6 (shoes by the door), Immaculate Conception on December 9 (get thee to Mass), Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 (pray the rosary), and St. Lucy on December 13 (rolls and cookies and candles for the festival of lights). Many have different cultural traditions tied to each of these feasts, so celebrate with your own cultural and family traditions or look online for ideas to begin some new traditions.
Bonus: Blessing of the Christmas tree. When we get our Christmas tree set up, we’ll be blessing it with this Christmas tree blessing.
Bonus 2: Ditch Elf on the Shelf and Follow the Star instead. A friend of mine recently told me that instead of Elf on the Shelf, she’s hiding a star each night for her daughter to find in the morning that will lead to their Nativity set by Christmas morning. What a cool idea!
We make such a big effort on the holiday of Christmas itself with gift-giving and celebrating, so let’s be sure to prepare our hearts–and the little hearts we’re raising–to really get ready for Jesus this year.
How do you and your family prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Do you have special family or cultural traditions for Advent? I’d love to hear all about it!