7 Strategies for Experiencing More Peace In Your Life

Spiritual giants throughout the centuries and in our present day agree that God acts in the soul that is at peace. But modern life seems to be hell-bent on keeping us plugged in, stressed out, and too exhausted to even think about how to be more at peace.

book-1210027_960_720When busyness threatens to take over, I have to work hard to search for and maintain peace in my personal and family life. But when I intentionally cultivate peace, God starts to move mountains in my life and in my family. Peace is just that big of a deal.

Here are 7 strategies to help you experience more peace in your personal or family life:

  1. Prayer and worship. When you create intentional space for God every single day, you simultaneously make room for peace.
  1. Leisure. Make time for play, celebration, and relaxation. Work should not be a seven-day, around-the-clock habit. Creation was ordered toward the day of rest! If God prioritized rest and leisure, you should too.
  1. Abandonment to God’s will. Letting things be out of your control and in God’s is a game-changer for maintaining peace in your life. Hand your anxieties to Him, remembering His yoke is easy and His burden light.
  1. Patience with others and with ourselves. Inching closer to sanctity takes a great deal of time and effort. St. Francis de Sales said that “nothing retards progress in a virtue so much as wanting to acquire it with too much haste.” Peace comes when we have patience with the growth process.
  1. The sacraments. Take advantage of the opportunity to receive Jesus—the source of all peace—in the Holy Eucharist, and the chance to recommit yourself to peace when you are far from it through the Sacrament of Confession.
  1. Spiritual reading. If you are serious about cultivating peace, you have to make an effort to learn about how to continuously build on it, and spiritual reading helps you do that. (Here is one of my favorite reads on the topic.)
  1. Living in the present moment. Catholic convert from Judaism Francois-Marie-high-grass-1504289_960_720Jacob Libermann advised, “Be docile and pliable in the hands of God.” To do this, we have to be comfortable allowing God to form us and lead us in the present moment, and be unmoved by mistakes of the past or concerns of the future.

St. Augustine said, “For peace is a good so great, 
that even in this earthly and mortal life
 there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest, or find to be so thoroughly gratifying.”

Peace is worth turning your schedule upside-down for, getting on your knees for, reforming good habits and breaking bad ones for. Do the hard work it takes to bring a little more peace into your personal or family life.

 

How to Amaze Jesus

*This article originally appeared on the IntegratedCatholicLife.org.

We know well the words that the centurion speaks to Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel: “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…” (Matt 8:8). We say them at each and every Mass. But have you ever taken time to reflect on the words following the Roman officer’s remarks to Jesus? Can you remember the words that the Gospel uses to describe Jesus’ reaction to the centurion?
Jesus is amazed (Matt 8:10).

Can you imagine what it would be like to amaze Jesus? Astonishingly, we know that the word “amazed” is used only once in Matthew’s Gospel—this is it. So amazement isn’t a regularly mentioned habit of Jesus in the Gospels. Secondly, God is, well…God. I imagine it has to be pretty difficult to amaze him. But somehow, the centurion did.

From reading this passage we learn that the thing mentioned here that amazes Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the faith of this centurion—a Gentile—an officer in the enemy army! So it is great faith (no matter who exhibits it) that amazes Jesus.

Back to the Mass. Just before our reception of Holy Communion, before we receive Jesus under our own ‘roof’, we repeat the beautiful words of the centurion here in Matthew’s Gospel. Why? I think the Roman centurion is a model for us of how to approach Jesus. He humbly petitions Him, and then has full faith and confidence that Christ will respond to His need in the way that Jesus knows is best. How many times in prayer do you approach Jesus with both a problem and a solution? But what a truly faithful, humble servant does is to present a situation to Jesus and then remain open to His will, His solution. That’s exactly what the centurion does; that kind of faith amazes Jesus.

The Transubstantiation is the supreme way that Jesus amazes us at each and every Mass. But what if the next time you’re at Mass, you think of reciting these words of the centurion and receiving the Holy Eucharist as an opportunity for you to amaze Jesus?

Every moment before Communion we stand face to face with God, as the centurion did. We, too, have an opportunity to place our petitions before Him, coming to His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and awaiting His answer to our needs. We also have the opportunity to pray: just say the word, Jesus. To possess an unshakeable faith in Christ’s ability to be our solution to all of our needs—perhaps all of us, in this way, can amaze Him, too.

5 Things To Do With Your Catholic Child(ren) Every Day

“So everything that goes on in your home has a good or bad effect on your children. Try to help them with your own good example. Try not to hide your piety from them.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

Here are 5 things you can do with your kids every day to help make faith a more integral part of their lives and to strengthen their connection to Jesus and to you:

  1. Pray. Start the day with prayer, before your usual routine or school time begins. An Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Morning Offering, or a free-form prayer are all good options. In the evening, a decade of the Rosary, a chaplet, the Guardian Angel or St. Michael the Archangel prayers, or prayers of thanksgiving and intercession are powerful and simple prayers to say together after dinner or before bedtime.
  2. Read the Bible. Get a hold of a great children’s Bible (or age appropriate Bible for your child) and read a story from it every day. The Bible has been such a routine part of my 2-year-old son’s day that he regularly requests Gospel stories and spends LOTS of time flipping through the pages himself in his own free time. When children are exposed to the Bible on a regular basis, they come to love it.
  3. Tell them how much God loves them. Make sure you remind your child(ren) every day–if not multiple times a day–how much Jesus loves them. A good time to remember to do so is when you are telling them you love them. “I love you! Do you know who else loves you so, so much? Jesus!” The older they get, the more important this message becomes, as they brave the ups and downs of growing up: God loves you more than you’ll ever know.
  4. Do something nice for someone else. Model for your kids this great practice of doing one simple, concrete act of charity or mercy for someone else each day, and encourage them (or physically help them depending on their age) to do that “something kind” for someone else, too. Ask them about their good deed at dinner or at night.
  5. Spend quality time together/Give your child(ren) your undivided attention. Discipleship comes through relationship building. If you want your children to really learn the faith from you and to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, invest intentional time in them. Make sure that every day, your child(ren) get some of your undivided attention, where you spend time talking with them, reading to them, playing with them, attending their extracurricular activities (and watching rather looking at your phone), cuddling them, or doing whatever connects you with each other and strengthens your parent-child bond.

Bonus one: Take them to daily Mass! It’s pretty much the best way to combine all of the above into one awesome, faith-building activity that you can do together. If you have the ability to go to Mass together on a non-Sunday day of the week, do it. Over time, you won’t be able to live without it! Never underestimate the power of the sacraments to work wonders in the lives of you and your children.

 

10 Mass Tips for Catholic Families

As Catholics, we know that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, and Mass is really the pinnacle experience of Catholic culture that we engage in every week as a family.

So here are some strategies for making the most of Mass as a family:

  1. Review the readings before Mass. This helps the readings “sink in” better when you hear them for the second time at Mass, and reading them ahead of time also gives you the opportunity to learn their context within the greater narrative of salvation history. Reviewing the readings before Mass is also immensely helpful if you have young children who may innocently divert family members’ attention away from the readings or Gospel during the liturgy.
  2. Sit near the front. For some, it seems counterintuitive to sit near the front of the Church, especially if you have a pew full of little ones, but being near the altar is generally immensely helpful in paying closer attention to what’s happening.
  3. If you have little ones, explain the Mass to them as it progressesFor older children and adults, learn about the Mass at home. Little children like to have the Mass narrated to them, so they can feel like they are “in the know” with what’s happening (“Now we are going to listen to stories from the Bible.” “Now you are going to go receive a blessing from the priest, while I receive Jesus in the Eucharist!”). For older children and adults, learning about the parts of the Mass and their Scriptural roots makes the celebration of the Mass even more meaningful and engaging. (Click the links for great learning resources about the Mass!)
  4. Dress for the occasion! Wearing your “Sunday best”
    signals to your family and to others how important the Mass is to you, and sets the stage for better concentration, appreciation, and behavior.
  5. Participate! Sing the hymns, pray the vocal prayers – be engaged! Show your family through your participation how you want to be at Mass, and they will more likely follow your example.
  6. State your expectations and the rewards of going to Mass. Talk to your family about how one should behave at Mass (for example: quiet voices, do not disturb others, stay in the pew…), and why you go to Mass as a family (Here are some great reasons.)
  7. Minimize distractions. This probably looks different for every family, but know what distracts you and your kids and then avoid those things! Some common distractors to all families include chewing gum, food, certain toys, or even bulletins (which are not intended to be read during Mass). My toddler has never needed toys during church (because he’s never had them offered to him), and is usually content with either nothing, or one religious book or a children’s rosary.
  8. Go to daily Mass when you can. When people ask me why my toddler behaves so well (most of the time!) during Mass on Sunday, I respond, “We go to daily Mass; he gets a lot of practice!” Making the Mass a more regular part of your family’s routine is always, always a good thing.
  9. Consider putting something in the collection basket, rather than tithing solely online, if you have kids in the pew. Have them participate by adding in a dollar (or a few) themselves. Watching you tithe is an important behavior to model for them.
  10. Take turns discussing one thing you each learned from Mass that day. You can do this on the ride home or at a meal time that day, but for all who are old enough, share your one “take-away” from either the readings, homily or other prayer time during Mass and discuss how you might use that tidbit of insight or inspiration as you go through the following week.

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” -St. Padre Pio

Head & Heart Supplemental Resources

I’m so glad you’ve decided to read Head & Heart, either on your own, with your spouse, or with a group! It’s a great way for other couples desiring to be strong spiritual leaders of their family to motivate one another and exchange ideas. Here are some resources to help you as you journey through the book with others:

  • Head & Heart Book Recommendation Announcements: designed to be used as bulletin announcements, for diocesan/parish/ministry email blasts, and for social media, these brief descriptions of the book will help encourage others to grab a copy for themselves or join a discussion group.
  • The Catholic Resource Guide for Spiritual Leaders: a great free resource for readers of Head & Heart and others who are looking for recommendations for tons of top-notch Catholic websites, books, audio and video resources to help you better learn and share the Catholic faith.
  • Head & Heart Memes: designed for use in social media to help spread the word to your Head & Heart study group – or even just to your friends or parish community – about the importance of spiritual leadership in family life. Please save and share! Also, follow me on Facebook for more images and articles related to spiritual leadership and family life to share with your networks.

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Head & Heart Book Recommendation Announcements

HH Meme19Share your Catholic faith with your family…more than just on Sundays. Learn how to become spiritual leaders at home by ordering your copy of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family from EmmausRoad.org.

Want to live a more vibrant Catholic life at home? Discover more peace, joy, and meaning in your life and relationships by becoming spiritual leaders for your family. Pick up a copy of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family from EmmausRoad.org.

Are you looking for a resource to help you live your Catholic faith at home? Through inspiring stories, church teaching, and practical action steps, Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family will guide you toward making simple progress to better lead and love your family toward heaven. Get your copy from EmmausRoad.org.

Looking for an inspiring Catholic book? Order your copy of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family from EmmausRoad.org. It’s great for individual reading, marriage improvement, and group book study. Learn to become the “spiritual head” or “spiritual heart” of your family that God created you to be.

*These announcements can obviously be customized to your group, parish, or ministry to include other details. The book is also available on Amazon, and has both print and e-reader formats on both Amazon and EmmausRoad.org.

Your Most Solemn Obligation as a Parent

Without question, parents are the primary influence on the faith lives of their children. Study after study shows that when parents are strong spiritual leaders, and when fathers—yes, dads in particular—teach and witness the faith to their children, the kids are far more likely to grow up and live faithful lives themselves.

What kind of role do you want the Catholic faith to play in the lives of your grown children? That’s the kind of role that faith should be playing in your life right now. You are the primary educators of your children—not the pastor, not the youth minister, not the Sunday school catechist, Confirmation coordinator or Catholic school theology teacher. You and your spouse have the privilege and the responsibility to teach your children about their Christian faith, which also requires that you continually learn about it yourself…

Read more of this article here.