Awesome Discipleship Program Based on St. Ignatius

Happy Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola! He’s touched my life in many ways through the years. I attended a Jesuit high school for a year and a half, and had my intellect opened to the connections between art, literature, religion, and history during my collegio classes at Seattle Prep. When I moved to Anacortes part-way through high school, a wonderful old Jesuit serving in the San Juan Islands, Fr. Steckler, gave Catechism lectures at my parish. Blew my mind! I had no idea there was such depth and richness, such a coherent, logical system, such beauty, truth, and goodness illuminating the truths of the faith. May he rest in peace. What a great man. At that time, Fr. Spitzer also gave a talk at my parish about Marian devotion. (Before he made it big.) Later, Fr. Spitzer would be the president of Gonzaga University while I was there. Continue reading “Awesome Discipleship Program Based on St. Ignatius”

Wine Out of Water

Photo: Courtesy Carrie Anderson

“We had been craving community at St. Monica [Parish on Mercer Island], just wanting some kind of couple’s group,” Bill recounted. “Father Freitag was talking about the dissolution of marriages. … Divorce after divorce. It was on his heart that we need prayers for these marriages, and they need help. So it was something that was on our heart,” he told me.

Inspired during eucharistic adoration together, Bill and Carrie Anderson gathered a group of six couples from the parish to meet regularly for dinner about two years ago. They share wine, laughter and fellowship. After dinner, they pray a rosary. They meet in the spirit of the wedding at Cana, as indicated by their name, WOW: Wine Out of Water. (see John 2:1-11)

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Couple Prayer: The Ultimate Instant Messaging

Which of the following simple, free, daily activities will: 1) make God smile on you and send you powerful help, 2) connect you even more deeply and build spiritual intimacy with your spouse, and 3) dramatically reduce your odds of divorce?

A) Sit in the same room while you each interact with your respective smartphones.
B) Text each other sweet notes throughout the day.
C) Pick up the towels off the floor.
D) Pray together as a couple.

What did you pick? Let’s look at each possibility:
Continue reading “Couple Prayer: The Ultimate Instant Messaging”

The Power of Couple Prayer

“Praying together is the most powerful predictor of marital happiness that researchers have yet discovered,” wrote the late sociologist Father Andrew Greeley.

One survey found that couples who prayed or read the Bible daily, in addition to weekly church attendance, divorced at a rate of less than 1 per 1,105 marriages. And while 60 percent of couples who pray together “sometimes” checked the box in a survey marked “our marriage is happy,” that number bumped up to 78 percent for those couples who pray together “a lot.” (All research is cited atcoupleprayer.com.) Couple prayer is a powerful means of drawing close to your spouse and blessing your marriage. But how do you do it? Continue reading “The Power of Couple Prayer”

Christmas and January in the Domestic Church

Christmas lasts until Jan. 10 this year.

Though the stores have switched their displays from Christmas décor to weight-loss accessories and Super Bowl gear, if you visit any Catholic Church you will encounter smells like pine, balsam and incense. You will see Christmas trees sparkling with lights and sanctuaries lush with velvety poinsettias. You will hear Christmas songs sung at Mass. And you’ll hear the story of the Nativity over and over again. It is as if we need time to let the grace of Christmas soak in.

By late December, however, our consumer culture is sick of Christmas. It has been celebrating it since November with a glut of holiday products and treats, a frenzy of seasonal activities, and lots of shopping. But the church has been waiting for the Lord through the holy season of Advent with silence, prayer and penance. Now that he is here, the church is ready to revel in Christmas with all her senses!

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Top 10 Ways to Make a Family Rosary a Reality

Praying together doesn’t have to be such a struggle

You know that the rosary is a powerful, Christ-centered prayer, and you would like to pray it as a family to bring its many benefits into your household. You envision a reverent domestic scene, gathering with your children around the family altar. They are purposefully fingering the appropriate beads and reciting the Hail Marys and Our Fathers with devotion. In Latin. Gregorian chant wafts softly in the background. Angels smile.

In reality, the children sprawl in various attitudes of beleaguered exhaustion on the couch and floor. Your tween daughter’s rosary is intricately woven between her fingers as if it were auditioning for a new career as brass knuckles. Whether you have eyeball-rolling teens or couch-acrobatic toddlers, here are 10 creative ideas for incorporating the rosary into your family’s daily routine in ways that are engaging, meaningful and, most importantly, doable.
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Pray Together Stay Together: Fact or Fiction?

Strengthen your marriage and share in the sweetness of Christ’s love

I remember it felt a little awkward the first few times Nathan and I prayed at home as husband and wife when we were first married. It felt so intimate to speak our deepest prayers out loud. Just before falling asleep, we faced the ceiling together — toward heaven! — thanked God for our marriage, and prayed for our family, relatives, friends, the church and the world.

Thirteen years after our wedding, through many major life changes — including children (four), job changes (seven for him, four for me), school degrees (four in all) and household moves (also four) — our nighttime prayer routine has become a familiar habit that strengthens our marriage and draws us closer to each other and to God, the source of all love. Even if I’ve stayed up after Nathan falls asleep, I’ll still snuggle up and pray aloud next to him. I’m often surprised to hear him join in at the end with a groggy “amen.” Continue reading “Pray Together Stay Together: Fact or Fiction?”

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Marriages

This presentation was given at Holy Family Church in Kirkland, WA, on August 5, 2013.

View the Prezi slideshow here.

The Benefits of Marriage:

Why work on strengthening marriage? Husbands and wives enjoy better physical health, quicker recovery from disease and injuries, longer life, greater incomes and household wealth, greater mental health and happiness, and greater satisfaction in their sexual lives than their single, cohabiting, or divorced counterparts. Children growing up with their married mother and father are happier, do better academically, have fewer problems with drugs, delinquency, and early sexual activity, and have more successful marriages of their own than those raised by single, unmarried, or divorced parents. Married households have more resources to devote to the community in volunteer and service work.

Marriages facing serious trouble can find great help in the Retrouvaille program

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Marriages:

1. Develop Good Communication Skills

2. Work Together on Money Management

3. Learn how to Manage Conflict

4. Share Faith and Values

5. Respect the Sanctity of Sex in Marriage

  • Premarital sex and cohabiting are linked to higher rates of divorce
  • They are correlated with higher rates of infidelity in marriage, another big factor in divorce
  • Pornography use is also cited as a major factor in divorce
  • Chastity is the virtue of using sex as God intended: exclusively with your husband or wife to celebrate a total mutual self-giving in a faithful, life-long and life-giving covenant.
  • No matter what choices we’ve made in the past, Christ can always give us the grace to be made new in Him. He can restore our dignity and help us grow in chastity, healing the effects of sin and giving us the power of His own love to strengthen, purify, and elevate the love we share with our husband or wife in our marriage today and in the future.

6. Practice Natural Family Planning rather than contraception to space births when necessary

  • The levels of intimacy, communication, respect, self-control, and mutual responsibility required by NFP draws couples together. Here is a great post about the benefits in marriage of using NFP from the husband’s perspective (he and his wife switched to NFP from the Pill after several years of marriage). And some more testimonies of NFP couples.
  • Some data suggests that couples practicing NFP have a divorce rate of 0.2%. Conservatively adjusted, still less than 5%.

7. Grow in Holiness and Virtue

  • Draw on the power of the Sacraments to connect with the Source of Love (God Himself!).