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

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”

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.

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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”

A True 180°

This morning I walked out onto the back porch & faced the sun beams streaming through the trees. I quieted my heart, asking God what the day might hold. I breathed in the summer air, not yet touched by the humidity promised in the lingering haze. I stretched & smiled because I know each morning, each day is another chance.

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I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both

2018 was a purely experimental year for this blog and for my writing but, I knew that I wanted to share relatable and encouraging stories inspired by my life. It goes without saying that my spirituality encompasses and is at the heart of every experience I have and everything that I do. The love of God and the many forms that it takes in my life is always my inspiration. I knew that this truth would come through some in the creative storytelling style of my writing. Maybe in undertones. Maybe even overtones. What I didn’t plan on exactly was God taking over completely.
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If you knew me ten or even five years ago, you may be surprised to see my zeal for God and the Church. Back then I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be a holy water keeping, blessed candle lighting, novena saying, rosary wielding, joyful Catholic.
Continue reading “I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both”

Advent Reflection

We had the first snow of the season here a couple of weeks ago and this year I am determined to change my perspective on the cold and darker months. It really was a lovely snowfall.

My family baked, snuggled and went to bed early. I laid in the dark wrapped in my blanket, basking in the incredible silence that accompanies the flurries. I listened to the flakes piling up and the sound of a plow scraping down the street. The next day I decided to make my Advent wreath and cheerfully clipped and gathered the beautiful things that grow and dwell alongside us in our little woods.

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The Living Word

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not known for my organization! I find it really helpful to have lists and routines for myself and my family. Even if only followed loosely, I find that it helps us not to be so scattered. Some things you can allow to fall off the list and defer it to the next day but others are a must do!

As I was discussing my attempt at a more orderly home with my family I expressed the importance of making time to pray and read God’s Word each day. I told my 11-year-old daughter that she needs some form of the Word to be part of her day, each day whether it’s a devotional, church, music, or Sunday school–That night I suggested we watch a movie about the miracles of Jesus together.

My preteen rolled her eyes and sighed saying, “Mom, I know all of those stories! I’ve seriously heard them a hundred times! I already know everything!” My husband and I chuckled as I sighed and rolled my own eyes with exaggeration. I regrouped and explained to her that none of us will never know it all!

Continue reading “The Living Word”

Finding Time With God

Yesterday was tough. Really tough. It was one of those days. You know the kind. Where it all seems to be falling apart and you can barely keep it together. Where you run on coffee and adrenaline. One of those days that you just don’t stop. I knew there was a lot to do that day and wanted it to start off with some quiet time with God.

Continue reading “Finding Time With God”

Ordinary Days, Extraordinary Love

Ah, Love!

What comes to mind when you hear the word? Is it canoodling in the candle light? A kid-free five-course meal? Long walks on the beach? Champagne and bubble baths? All the mushy clichés of Valentine’s Day?

Though these things are undoubtedly delightful, in marriage love goes deeper than roses and chocolate. When you build and share a life together it is less often ideal than it is real and love is found in the ordinary days and simple moments.

Love is found in small gestures. It’s holding hands in church, arms wrapping around me from behind when I’m busy in the kitchen, a knowing smile across the room, and meeting for lunch amidst a busy day.

Love is found in trust. Never fearing that the hand I hold would strike me in anger or reach out to another for affection, but instead guide me in love, brush away my tears, and gently cradle our newborn’s fuzzy heads.

Love is found in our weakness. It’s talking me down when I panic, convincing him we’ll make it through when finances get tight, him reassuring me if I’m down, and me rubbing his back after a hard day’s work.

Love is found in the trenches of parenthood. It’s tag-teaming dirty diapers, picking up where one left off during an exasperating lecture, throwing our hands up and laughing (instead of losing it) when the kids won’t listen, the dog is barking and the house is a mess.

Love is found in our frustration. It’s kissing each other good night even if we had a bad day, choosing to speak calmly when we might want to shout, serving each other when we’d rather not, and talking it out when we’d rather walk away.

Love is found in our friendship. It’s poking fun at each others small quirks, laughing until our sides ache, saving stories from the day to tell each other later, and feeling the years dissolve when the connection sparks like its still new.

Love is found in our comfort. It’s telling me I’m beautiful in my sweatpants and bun, cuddling in front of our favorite TV show, unashamedly sharing junk food and limbs draped lazily over one another in slumber.

Love is found in our memories. It’s the old inside jokes that still crack us up, the same Christmas ornaments on the tree each year, the milestones we’ve reached together, and the many obstacles we’ve overcome.

Love is found in our futures. It’s the way he looks at our children, when he lets me know that they look up to me, knowing that through all of life’s changes our devotion will remain, and knowing that no matter how old I get he’ll always be two years older!

True love’s path ouside of the pages of a romance novel usually isn’t packed full of breath taking moments and grand gestures but rather punctuated by them. Proposals, weddings, babies, and anniversaries; the rarity is what makes them so special. Yet, the routine can still hold such beauty to enjoy so long as we don’t overlook it!

So, if your Valentine’s Day looks less like a room full of flowers and balloons and more like grabbing takeout so no one has to cook, don’t be upset! Smile at each other between bites and play footsie in your fuzzy socks. Seriously, who needs a 3ft teddy bear anyway? Your ordinary love is extraordinary simply because it is yours!

❤ Cait