Reclaiming Joy in the Spiritual Life

Hello friend, welcome to Reclaiming Joy!

I wanted to start off this series focusing on the spiritual life because it is the foundation for all of the other subjects in this series and the key to reclaiming joy!

Joy doesn’t equal happiness

This is an important distinction to make as we discuss reclaiming joy in our lives. Happiness is an emotion that depends circumstance. We feel happy when things are going well. When our finances are looking up, when our children behave, or when we’re indulging in a big scoop of ice-cream on cheat day. Happiness is dictated by outside influences.Joy, however goes much deeper.

At a Mass in 2014 Pope Francis reflected on Christian joy saying: “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. ”

We find joy through peace and we find peace in surrendering to the will of God. Letting go of our expectations and putting our trust in divine providence makes room in our souls to receive the grace of peace. We have joy because we have the love of God, trust in that love, and hope that we will inherit what is promised to us, in this life or the next.

You may be thinking, “Okay Cait, that makes sense from a spiritual angle, but what does surrender have to do with my work, family, home and daily life?”

In short: Everything!

When we’re faced with a challenging circumstance or unpleasant task, we can either resist the struggle, or embrace it. The struggle exists no matter what. If we whine and complain through the challenges we face, we lose the lesson, stunt our growth and get stuck in a funk. Finding the beauty that lies in our trials means we don’t miss out on the merit we can gain from enduring them.

So how do we practice these things? By developing routines, frequenting the sacraments and infusing our lives with prayer.

Reset your routine

Routine is a friend of spirituality. A great example of this is the way those in religious life structure their days. Franciscan Friars, for example follow this Honorarium:

6am Divine Office, 6:30-7:30 morning meditation, 7:30 morning prayer, 7:50 holy Mass, 12pm midday prayer, 5:00 evening prayer, 5-6pm holy hour, 9:15 night prayer and rosary.

This daily schedule isn’t as feasible for those of us in other vocations, but we can certainly learn from their holy examples. Whether it’s early morning quiet time with coffee and your Bible, a midday rosary over lunch, or reading a spiritual book before bed, find a routine that works for you and stick to it!

This approach is valuable when it comes to the sacraments as well. Make Mass as often as you can, confess regularly and visit Jesus in Adoration on certain days of the week. Repetition makes a habit and scheduling time to practice your faith makes you more likely to follow through.

Infuse your days with prayer

It can be tough to stick to set routines when you have a full and busy life. I used to struggle a lot with balancing my spirituality with home making and raising my kids until I learned to blend it all together!

I used to think that I had to sit in a dark, quiet room, away from my rambunctious household in order to pray my daily rosary. I’d get settled and in the zone only to be interrupted by noise or someone else’s needs. I would let weeks pass without a visit to the chapel because I thought that I should go alone. It was frustrating and discouraging.

But one day while running errands, I felt a pull in my heart for Adoration. I knew exposition was happening in a Church nearby and wanted to go, but I had my two littles with me and worried they’d disturb the reverence.

But then I remembered the words of Jesus,” Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it has been to have them there. The other worshippers find their energy refreshing, their expressions of faith, inspiring. Some of my most cherished moments with my children have happened there in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Once I let go of the pious expectations I had built around my spiritual life, everything changed. I began to stress less when my toddler wiggled and giggled through mass. I started praying on my feet, through all the chores and interruptions. I led loud family rosaries and did my reading during nap time. I offered my effort in workouts and walks and I found out this truth; That we don’t need to lock ourselves away in a closet to commune with the Lord in our homes. God meets us where we are. On the treadmill, in the nursery, yup, even over the kitchen sink!

Embrace the Domestic Church

Leading by example is the most powerful tool we have when bringing up children in the faith. As I’ve grown in spiritual maturity and motherhood I’ve embraced the domestic church more and more. Many Christian parents wrongly believe that the Church is responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but the home is the first school of faith.

How do you cultivate your domestic church? Keep sacramentals and sacred images in your home, create a little oratory where your family can pray, start traditions to celebrate feast days and make prayer a part of every day. Your domestic church doesn’t have to look a certain way. Incorporate art that moves you, saints you love and items that fit your taste and personal style.

Pray anyway

Even the best routines and most efficacious devotions can become stale after a while. When the fire inside you starts to fade, look for inspiration. Reclaim wonder and reinvigorate your faith by reading the lives of the saints, listening to a powerful message, going on a retreat or jamming out to your favorite worship song. Summon the holy spirit, ask for help and be open to see the little winks God gives to encourage you along the way. Keep fighting the good fight!

What helps you reclaim joy in your spiritual life? Share the routines and habits that work for you in the comments!

❤ Cait

Reclaiming Joy: A Series

Introduction

Family life and all that comes with it is a happy, busy, mess. There are
so many spinning plates: people to chase, chores to do, appointments to keep and a hundred little fires to put out throughout your day.

Throw in spiritual practice, work, self care, time for your relationships and any other projects and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Intention and attitude is everything while managing family dynamics, home making, school, errands and performing mundane tasks. If you’re not making a conscious effort to find joy in your daily life, it can be easily lost in endless responsibilities that can  feel like drudgery without it. 

I have been crushed by these weights before, of comparison, of
resentment, but I’ve learned to catch on early and pull myself out of the muck before I’m stuck! 2020 was a tough year for many, so I’m excited to share how I recharge, reset and reclaim some of what was lost.   

I don’t mean for this series to be advice or counsel, I’m just sharing the wholistic approach I take to find and maintain balance in all areas of my life (or at least try!) 

Join me each week as we dive in and discuss how we’re Reclaiming Joy

❤ Cait

Natural Christmas Garland DIY + Kid’s Craft!

It’s funny how certain things come back into fashion. When I was teaching my oldest daughter to string popcorn garland years ago I referred to it as Old Fashioned Christmas. I suppose it goes along with the 2020 vibe of quarantine and sourdough starters that handmade holiday decor is back in a big way.

I’ve always loved a rustic aesthetic for the Holidays here in the forest. This year I knew I wanted even more handmade elements included in my decor and gift wrapping-a natural tree deserves as much!

I knew I needed an activity to entertain the littles while we strung the garland, so I included their activity here as well.

Reuniting with the Eucharist

“How did we get here?” I thought as I entered the empty sanctuary of my home Church. I barely recognized it. The doors were flanked by sanitizing stations, the holy water fonts long dry. The pews were vacant with many rows taped off by yellow plastic reading “Caution”. Bright post-its were left where people had touched so others would not; a flag for disinfection.

I cleaned my hands & grabbed a post-it on the way in but I didn’t sit. Instead I went as close to the tabernacle as I could without stepping onto the altar. I dropped to my knees,  genuflecting. Then taking a moment to stare at the small, glistening doors and the flickering candle reminding me of Jesus’ presence therein. I began to pray and before I knew it I was laying flat out on the floor. I put my hands on my forearms, tucked my face into the crook of my bent elbow & tried my best not to think about viral shedding.

At that moment, I handed everything to the Lord. All of my anxiety, all of my pain, all of my uncertainty and my deepest longings. For healing, for light, for change but most of all for Him.

Continue reading “Reuniting with the Eucharist”

Essential Worker Husband, You’re My Hero

When your car pulls into the driveway after work your little fan club gathers at the windowsill, shouting & squishing their round faces into the pane of glass. They wave eagerly when they see you climbing the porch stairs, & jump for joy if they spot the occasional surprise treat in your hand. You open the door slowly, since the dog is always barking happily, wagging her tail at record speed as you attempt to come inside.

You barely squeeze through before the kids take their running leaps into the stronghold of your arms. They giggle & squeal as you lift them up high for big bear hugs. Even our big kid can’t wait to tell you about her latest drawing or video game obsession.

Yeah you’re their hero. & you’re mine too.

Continue reading “Essential Worker Husband, You’re My Hero”

We Are an Easter People

This Lenten season started like any other for Catholics. We buried the Alleluia, celebrated somber Masses & began our fasting. With Churches all over simplifying decor, drawing nearer to Gethsemane. We are making our way through the desert when we hear the news that the pandemic sweeping across the globe is upon us.

Continue reading “We Are an Easter People”

All Things New

Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. -Isaiah 1:18

Daily Mass Reading for 3/10/2020: The day of my tattoo removal

Loving the skin I’m in. I’ve gone through phases with this concept. Over the years I’ve come to embrace my milky complexion, my freckled cheeks, even the silvery stretch marks on my thighs but one thing I always loved was my tattoos. Continue reading “All Things New”

Catholic Books for Younger Kids: 7 favorites on our bookshelf right now!

catholic-books-for-kids-prayersover-the-kitchen-sink

As parents we know that reading with our kids is important & research has shown that even the youngest children benefit from listening to their parents reading out loud. Not only does it aid brain development & refine language skills, it also introduces important concepts to kids in an age appropriate way. I am always looking for ways to incorporate spirituality into our daily routine & faith-based books for younger kids are a great way to do just that!

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up & Easter just around the corner these seasonal picks are perfect companions for chocolate coins & Easter baskets. Without further ado, here are 7 favorite reads on our bookshelf right now (& links to get them on yours too!)

Continue reading “Catholic Books for Younger Kids: 7 favorites on our bookshelf right now!”

See Yourself Through The Eyes of Love

Sunday morning I bundled up the kids & headed to Mass solo while my husband worked his 8th day in a row. I asked my oldest to help me wrangle the littles & prayed that things would go smoothly. Mass has been an exercise in humility lately trying to keep my 18 month old boy from bouncing out of the pews & not having my husband there as usual meant I was on my own this time.

Continue reading “See Yourself Through The Eyes of Love”

Mystical Rose, My Missing Puzzle Piece

The first time I remember praying the rosary as an adult was for a silly, vain intention. My wedding was approaching & I had my heart set on a beautiful, sunny day. My mother has always been close to the Blessed Virgin Mary & had given me a little fold-up card with the prayers and mysteries on it. She told me to pray with an intention and make it something big. That way, if God saw fit to deliver, I would know that my prayers were aided by the devotion.

Continue reading “Mystical Rose, My Missing Puzzle Piece”