Our Blessed Brunch (& How to Host Your Own)

Our Blessed Brunch (& How to Host Your Own)

Last weekend, I hosted my very first Blessed Brunch! Blessed Brunches are such an easy and beautiful way to bring other Catholic women in my community together through Blessed is She, so I wanted to share a little bit about what ours looked like and ideas for how you can host your own! 

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Like Butter Scraped Across Too Much Bread

Like Butter Scraped Across Too Much Bread

After carrying it as his own for sixty years, Bilbo has felt the weight and the slow-changing power of the One Ring. As he celebrates his Eleventy-first birthday, he has not aged visibly since he was fifty -- an effect of the Ring that leaves his friends and relatives puzzled (and envious).

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Discovering the Sacraments in Middle-Earth: Boromir's Confession

Discovering the Sacraments in Middle-Earth: Boromir's Confession

Boromir confesses that he tried to take the Ring from Frodo and as atonement, he has defended the hobbits against the Orcs soldiers. Although he fought valiantly, he was unable to overcome against their strength and number, and the hobbits have been taken captive by the Orcs…

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At Home in Middle-Earth: The Heroism of Life-Saving Hospitality

At Home in Middle-Earth: The Heroism of Life-Saving Hospitality

To the man who wrote of quaint hobbit-holes and grand kingdom halls, friendship and hospitality were valued in a heroic sense.  He is often quoted, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” And oh, how true it is.

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10 Prayerful Ways to Begin Each Day

"Have you spoken to the Lord today?" An older man asked me, out of the blue, as he passed me along the aisles of Kroger. I thought for a moment, about if I had, and what time it was, if I had eaten and thanked Him or if I had made my morning offering.

"I guess I haven't," I replied, embarrassed that I had been awake for nearly four hours at this point in the day and had failed to acknowledge my True Love, Christ.

But just as cheerfully as he had asked his question, he simply replied, "He'd love to hear from you."

And as we walked away from each other, I thanked him for this sweet reminder and thanked God for this man.

I've been thinking about this man and what he'd said for a couple of days now, and I've been trying to think of ways to be intentional about beginning my days prayerfully. I can't imagine going through my entire morning without checking my phone or talking to my children, yet I tend to forget to even say hello to my Lord and Savior. 

I've come up with a list of ten ways to prayerfully begin your day, arranged in order of simplicity and level of commitment. I recommend picking up new habits one at a time and taking small steps towards holiness. I'll be purchasing a small crucifix, printing off a few prayers, and challenging myself to develop a few of these sanctifying habits. 

  1. Keep a crucifix beside your bed and kiss it as you first wake up. This simple and wonderful idea comes from Matt Fradd of the Pints with Aquinas podcast.  I love this small, olive wood one
  2. Make the Sign of the Cross as you get out of bed. 
  3. Say a simple prayer as you're getting ready: a Hail Mary, or Jesus I trust in You
  4. Pray the Morning Offering prayer
  5. Pray aloud on the way to school or work, especially if you are driving with your children. Thank God for the day, praise Him for something beautiful, and ask for blessings, guidance, and protection as you try to let His will be done. 
  6. Open up the Blessed is She daily devotion (subscribe via email here) before you check your email or social media.
  7. Offer up your least favorite part of the morning for someone close to you.
  8. Make a small sacrifice for your spouse or children by doing something to make their morning easier. I almost always set out my husband's clothes and make his latte and I know it means a lot to him. 
  9. Visit Jesus in Adoration, even if only for a few minutes. My daughter attends a Catholic school right beside our parish, which is blessed to have a perpetual adoration chapel. I don't visit as often as I would like, but when I do manage to spend a few moments in the Real Presence of Our Lord, I leave feeling comforted, nourished, ready to face the day. 
  10. Go to daily Mass. I also don't attend Mass very often in the week, but I never regret it when I do make the time and effort. Being a mother of a little one, wrangling him during Mass is always a struggle and sacrifice - but the gift of receiving the Eucharist is more than worth it! 
"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth..." - Letters of Tolkien, 53

What would you add to the list? I'd love to hear! And if you found this list helpful or inspiring, I'd be so appreciative if you'd take a moment to share it on Facebook or Twitter! 

Wisdom from a the Patron Saints of Beekeepers & Brewers

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If I end up with several sons, it is likely that one of them will be named after Saint Ambrose. Today is his feast day and I've been learning about his life for the first time and it is the sort of story that fills my heart with hope and joy. You can read a little bit about his life here.  It's a good one. 

It was Saint Ambrose that counseled Saint Monica over the heartache of her wayward son Augustine - famously quoted, "the child of those tears shall never perish".  And it was Saint Ambrose who challenged Augustine to change his life and accept Christ as Lord. 

He, along with Augustine, are two of the four original doctors of the Church.(Pause for a minute to take in how cool that is.) Saint Ambrose is the sort of saint that feels larger than life, and his devotion to Christ can feel out of reach for a normal person like me. 

But one thing pulled me back into a realistic type of perspective: he is, among other things, the patron saint of beekeepers. And Saint Augustine, the patron saint of brewers. 

Those are totally normal things! And suddenly they don't feel quite so intimidating anymore. 

This morning, despite my best attempt to come up with an excuse not to go, I brought Augustine (my son, not the saint) to our parish daily mass. During the homily, father Dan said something along the lines of this: Whatever it is that we do, do it for the glory of God.  

A very welcome lesson from the keeper of the bees & the brewer of beers. 

If you keep bees, may you keep them well - for the glory of God.

If you brew beer, may you brew it with love and quality - for the glory of God. 

If you change diapers, if you wash dishes, if you fold laundry, if you sweep floors, may you do so with great kindness and dedication - for the glory of God.

This is why we're here, friends. This is what we were made for.

We are free to choose our own paths in life. We are born with likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations, favorites and passions and ideas of what might bring us joy. Let us pursue these things with fervor and zeal - and let us do it all for the glory of God. 

Saints Ambrose and Augustine, pray for us!

Augustine and ambrose looking very cool and scholarly
Augustine and ambrose looking very cool and scholarly
Sts Gervase and Protase Appearing to St Ambrose
Sts Gervase and Protase Appearing to St Ambrose
  Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius I from Milan Cathedral
  Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius I from Milan Cathedral