Tuesday, February 26, 2019

What are you doing for Lent?

Lent is just around the corner! I sit and ponder all the things that I can "give up" and all that I can "take on" but it's probably best to make this very simple.

I ask myself two questions:

What distracts me most from God?
What can bring me closer to Him?

I would answer the first one quite quickly and without hesitation: SOCIAL MEDIA!

The second one? Frequenting the sacraments, with no excuses. Lord knows, that throughout the week I can come up with a million excuses of why "I just can't attend daily Mass."

The baby is fussy.

I have errands to run.

I didn't get enough sleep last night.

I have cleaning to do.

But really, what is more important than the King of Kings? All the rest can wait. 

What are you doing this Lent? Do you have something in the works to lead you through the desert? I purchased the "Blessed is She" Lent Devotional. I can't wait to get my hands on that. 

Don't complicate your Lent, yet go beyond your norm. Do you really have to give up chocolate and pizza again? Just be with Him. Just be still and know that He is your God and He loves you! Move the distractions out of the way and don't make excuses.

Join me on a Lenten journey. Take these remaining days to discern what the Lord is calling you to do this Lent. 

I will be praying for you.

photo courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, February 8, 2019

Reboot your life!

Have you ever felt like you need to reboot your spiritual life, life in general? Have you ever felt that you are just drained and running out of the hope that belongs to all children of God?

Last night I attended Chris Stefanik's Reboot conference. I needed it and frankly, if it's in your area, you need it. It's a spiritual booster shot. Go!

Chris Stefanik is a Catholic international speaker who heads up Real Life Catholic which is a non-profit that is dedicated to spreading the Best! News! Ever! Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just Good news you know, it's the Best News Ever! (MercyMe)

Chris puts into perspective the simplicity of our faith and how absurd the world has it in not believing in the One True God. It's a love story and all those upsets, suffering, disappointments, illnesses...well those are just a page in the Greatest Love Story ever told. And it's not a general love story like God loves the world. No! It's a love story between You and God.

When God created the world, He had You in mind. When God became a man, He had You in mind. When God suffered and died on the Cross, He had You in mind. And when He rose from the dead so that we wouldn't be mere "food for the worms" but true sons and daughters of God who would live in eternity, well, He had You in mind!


God is a passionate lover who only wants your love in return. That's it. So simple.

And how do we love Him back? Well, to be completely honest, it is so simple that I just have to tell you that you can't love Him back unless you allow Him to love you first. 

Allow Him to love you. Then...

Love yourself.


Share the faith.

Build good friendships.

and...Reboot. Deal with your past and know that it's all, (wounds, sins and all), been thrown into the abyss of His ocean of mercy and He has placed a sign there that says, "No fishing". That's it!

We were made for more. We were made for greatness and that greatness can only be found in God. It won't come from a career or a marriage. It will not come from material things nor degrees. It will not come from lovers or even experiences. It only comes from the One who created You. The One who loves you with a perfect love. It comes from the One who gave everything for You and waits for you.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The blessing of Now!

Right now I am waiting for the teapot to boil so I can make a nice hot cup of coffee on this very cold "polar vortex", day number two.  I'm focused on that teapot. I am grateful for that teapot right now because I am struggling today. I am struggling with living in the present moment. Actually, I must confess, this has been a constant struggle.

Do you struggle with living in the present moment? I believe it is a human struggle. A real human problem.  We are persons of hope and so many times we find ourselves confusing longing for hope. Hope is intricately tied to Divine union. Longing away our present and losing sight of the blessings of now is certainly not hoping. God is hope and God is the God of the present moment.

So here are five tips on how to stay in the blessing of the present moment.

1. Contemplate God's name:

We worship a God of the present moment! A God who, although He knows all things, blesses us in the here and now. Tomorrow? Well, that is just up to Him to gift us with or not!

In Exodus, Moses asked God “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?”

And God replied: "I am who I am." And added. "This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you."

If you think about it, God could have said anything to Moses. I mean he is God after all. But He chose to say "I AM".

Not, He was.
Not, He will be.


Our God is the God of blessing and He blesses us Now!
It is now that we have to count our blessings. It is now that we must choose to live. Not when that addition is finally finished or the last ten pounds are finally lost. When our toddler is finally out of diapers or when we'll have the time to finish that project we started over two years ago.

Contemplate His name. Contemplate how God is good and how his goodness is presently in your life right now. 

2. Count your blessings immediately, right now! 

I do this by walking around my house literally cataloging all the things God has blessed me with. And I am not just referring to the material things. I thank God for my children, relationships, health, experiences etc. But if you want to focus on the present, try to literally thank God for what you are presently in front of, what you are doing, what you are feeling and seeing. Use the fives senses to list all the blessings you are living this minute. 

This is why I thanked God for my boiling teapot. He is a God of details. Yes, He even takes care of those little tiny details like that great cup of coffee as you look out onto the snowy white landscape. 

3. Practice Lectio Divina:

Lectio Divina is a way of reading and contemplating Scripture in the here and now. The great thing about Lectio Divina is you must focus on what God is trying to tell you in the right now.  Basically, there are four parts to Lectio Divina: read, reflect, respond and rest. The steps are pretty self-explanatory. You read the Scripture passage/passages. What grabs your attention? You reflect on what God is saying to you. Respond to God by reading the passage a third time and answering to His message to you (you can also journal your answer). And finally, rest. Read the passage a fourth time and rest in God's Word and God's love through His word. 

There is nothing more grounding than God's Word. His Word is alive! The beauty of Lectio Divina is that today God will say one thing to your heart and then two weeks from now, the same passage will say something totally different. That is because God's word is for the present moment and it is in the present moment that we are living and that is when He speaks. 

4. Beware of Social Media:

Social media has a way of robbing us of the present moment. The dangers of social media are not only a loss of precious time that we will never ever get back again but it also robs us of our gratitude. It has been reported that "those who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media the least. Why do we get depressed when we are on social media too long? Because we are focusing on the edited life and happiness of others and not on reality. Not on our reality. The time we could be spending living the present moment is lost in a world that tempts us to focus on what we do not have. 

Social media in and of itself is not evil, it's how we use it that can become a problem. Many women reported feeling depressed after going on Facebook and Instagram. Let's be vigilant and live more in the moment and interact with those around us rather than getting lost in a virtual world where we are mentally comparing ourselves to other peoples edited lives. 

5. Set more short-term goals:

Goals are great! I love setting goals. Shoot, I am constantly writing up lists of things I would like to accomplish. It keeps me on my toes and helps me to accomplish things I would otherwise put off. But long term goals can get in the way of living the present moment. Although we should have them, we should also focus on short-term goals. I mean short-short term goals, for today. 

These short-short term goals are not a list of chores. It's not a grocery list. It is a goal that I will set for today that I need to accomplish now. Some examples? Pray. Count blessings. Not yell. Offer up the mundane chores for those who need it. To be joyful when my husband walks through the door even though the kids are on my last nerve. Those kinds of short-term goals. Goals of becoming a better you rather than waiting until...whatever it is will make you a better person in the future rather than today.

This is how I try and overcome the temptation of living way out into the future. These are the ways in which I can stay focused in the here and now. The blessing of now is fleeting. The blessing of this moment is all we have from God. He does not give us the grace for tomorrow because He is the God of now. I AM he said to Moses. He is the God of love. He is the God of the present. He is our first blessing. Now. Today! 

Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Transforming our Culture from a Dream (continuation)

You can read the first part here.

Time passed and it was time that was on my side. Our children are still very small and attend a very good school in the suburbs. It is Montessori (a Catholic-based educational method that is student-led) and it is bi-lingual (Spanish-English) which works really well for our bi-lingual family. But the Lord was not going to wait very long to start working on His project.

We scheduled a visit to our community out in Minneapolis in the Summer of 2017 where there happens to be an excellent classical Catholic school that we wanted to check out. It is called Chesterton Academy. We decided to pay them a visit while we were out there. Our encounter with the founder was providential. He ended our very lively conversation with these words "Why don't you open a Chesterton Academy in Detroit?" It's as if the words hung in the air and all of a sudden I was transported back to that evening I sat in the back of the Church asking the Lord what we would do for our kid's future education. "Open a school!" I heard in my heart.

The two events were fused together through God's providence. I knew in my heart that this was the right formula. Chesterton Academy had recently set up a program for parent-led initiatives to open Chesterton Academy's in other parts of the country. It was almost a packaged deal. All we needed was local interest, donors and benefactors and a building. Easy, right?

Needless to say, we returned that summer, I got pregnant and things were put on hold. We picked it right back up in December and started to scout out interest in a Chesterton Academy of Detroit. We had a great turn out and things began to roll. For a bit, it seemed as though we would be able to open the school in the Fall of 2019. But the government has put a damper on our plans. We are not defeated though. Between beaurocracy and an all-out paper-chase, we have seen a recent inspiration of the Holy Spirit in many local Catholic citizens who have forged a great support system for us. I mean, who were we but Mr. and Mrs. Miller with a dream and a lot of desire. It was God who was handling this, we were just his instruments.

Needless to say, the opening of the school has been pushed back to the Fall of 2020 but we are well on our way to making this dream a reality. The dream is not only to provide this type of education for our own children but for countless other families. These families not only wish to provide their children with the right tools to be persons of great faith and service but also so that they may grow into adults who will be able to think and decide for themselves.  We need to equip our young people with the means to exist and thrive outside the suppressive society we are living in. We want to form real ambassadors that lead and forge a culture of change, a change towards hope, freedom, and love.

I must say that this grass-roots effort of Christian homeschool education, hybrid schooling, and Classical education is not a mere coincidence. Many parents are realizing that the public educational system is broken and that our Catholic schools, since after Vatican II, do not have much more to offer. What once set Catholic education apart, the teaching of the faith and the quality of education that surpassed other private schools is now almost non-existent. Parents are waking up and realizing that they cannot leave such a precious aspect of their children's formation in other people's hands. It is the parent who is the first and most important educator of their child.

Please pray for us. We still have many things to iron out but we are very well aware that God is in charge and that He will take care of the details. We move forward in hope and faith.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Transforming our culture from a dream!

For a little over a year now I have not been too consistent with my blogging endeavors. So many times I have a great desire to write but I just cannot seem to carve out the time. I've decided to share with you, dear reader, what is going on in our lives that has caused me to have less time.

Besides welcoming our red-headed princess last spring, we have also decided to open a high school! That's right, you read that correctly. We are trying to open a Classical Catholic high school. But before I can get into the details of that, perhaps I should begin with how this all came about!

I am a Catholic school teacher. I have been involved in education, on and off since I was 19 years old. But it wasn't until right before I earned my second degree in Theology that I decided that teaching was truly my calling. Since 2002 I have been working in some way, shape or form in Catholic education.

I've seen a Catholic school from the inside! I mean, I've really seen it!

It's not pretty!

In fact, it's mostly disappointing!

Since 2002 I worked both at the middle school and high school level. Teaching theology is not for the faint of heart. In the world we are living in today, theology is just completely counter-cultural! I fought against the popular culture every day in my classroom. It was interesting at best, but really it was completely revealing as to what we are up against.

The culture is powerful!

But we are not defeated! Jesus is victorious and I will tell you how we can begin to make headway against the tide of this monstrous, ubiquitous, absolutely seductive culture that has a stranglehold on our young people and even ourselves...


But not just any education.

Real, honest to goodness, old-fashioned Catholic education!

Classical Catholic education.

Classical education is a way of educating young minds through the basics of learning to read, think and speak. Sound simple enough? For centuries this is the way all Catholic schools from the youngest of minds all the way through college taught.

It is called the "Trivium" which is grammar (read), logic (think) and rhetoric (speak).  It allows children to learn according to their developmental stages.

At a young age (elementary or grammar), children are like "sponges" and through repetition and memorization, they soak in everything from phonics, to grammar, to history and poetry and math. The next stage, known as logic (middle school) is when children begin to question everything. As we all very well know, when children become teenagers they begin to rebel and question everything from our authority, faith to why the world works the way it does. This is when we are able to teach them to think deeply and critically. By using the Socratic method, children are not spoon fed their information so that they can then "pass a test". Their questions are answered with more questions and it is the student, not the teacher, that arrives at the truth. Through all the information they have absorbed in the grammar years they are able to access all their learning and come to a conclusion. And this conclusion is always, always hinged on the truth.

But what truth you ask?

Let's get to the third stage first.

Finally, the third stage is rhetoric (high school) and this is where it all comes together and young minds discover ways in which to argue and discuss subjects eloquently. They essentially learn to speak with logic and truth as opposed to emotion. All this is done through the Catholic lens and is centered on the One truth which is Jesus Christ. All truth, goodness, and beauty are acquired throughout the years because the children understand, on their own, that it all comes from the One source: the Incarnation of God in the world.

This, my dear reader, is what will help to transform our culture! The faith they will receive in schools like this and other authentic Christian schools paired with the faith hopefully imparted at home. Classical education will help to release our young people from the grips of a culture that wants to convince them that emotion is king. "Do what makes you feel good!" Authentic Catholic education will help young people realize that they are not slaves to media or to their peer groups. By teaching them how to think and speak, young people will finally understand that anything that is true, good and beautiful in this world comes from God and God alone.

This is what will help bring about a new revolution of love and life in our world.

I began to search for this in our hometown. I found nothing. Sure, we had the typical menu of Catholic schools: the academically centric ones where the faith was watered down at best and the end goal was getting to the best universities across the country. The sports driven ones where boys or girls with money or talent flocked to in order to get that ever coveted scholarship to top State universities.  The all too familiar elite Catholic schools with the well-known name that has graduated generations of families and has a large and faithful donor base but barely anything to be called Catholic. And then there is your run of the mill Catholic school; Catholic on the outside, public school education with a fat price tag on the inside.

I was not impressed! Nor did I ever imagine sending our children to these.

Yet, the only offering of classical education was homeschool programs or the new programs of hybrid schooling: three days at home, two days at school. The programs were excellent but I did not feel up to it, at least not for now.

I felt called to something more. As if God was nudging me to continue to search.

So, I began to pray.

Then one day, during Mass, it all became clear! We would open a school! The thought was crazy! Even crazier because it had come to me during prayer. But it seemed right. I knew it was going to happen. I didn't know how or when, but I felt it in my gut.

(To be Continued...click here to read part II)

Photograph courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Traditions

Those little feet that race down the stairs to see what Santa has left under the tree. How blessed we are to have those little feet!

We start our morning by going to Mass and the children are able to "wait" until after we visit baby Jesus to open their presents. A Christmas miracle in and of itself.

The wrapping paper wizzes through the air and the stockings come flying off the mantel, the squealing of delight replaces the carols that are now mere background noise. How beautiful and thrilling it is to live Christmas through children's eyes. But how do we keep them focused on the real reason why we wrap these gifts and sing Halleluia chorus?

Lest we forget today is a great birthday party? How could we go without singing happy birthday to our Savior and King?

When our children are little we have the great opportunity to start and continue traditions that have been passed down to us. We started one new tradition this year and have continued another, all to remind us why we are gathering and celebrating. Jesus!

This year, for Christmas dinner (the 24th) we decided to bring in a Polish tradition from David's ancestors. This year we shared Oplatki Christmas wafers before we began our Christmas meal. 

This is a moment when the family can "break bread" together using a wafer similar to the one used to for communion hosts only they are embellished with Christmas scenes. We broke the bread and then asked for forgiveness from one another for things we may have done to hurt each other. It is a beautiful way to welcome the child, Jesus. This allows us to clean out our hearts and homes, so to speak, in order to make room for the child Jesus who is to come later that evening.

Forgiveness is essential so that we can welcome the peace and joy of Christmas. Forgiveness is beautiful when done with humility and on the threshold of Jesus' birth.

The next tradition we have maintained for a few years now is that of making a birthday cake for Jesus and singing happy birthday to Him. This is a very simple way to remind ourselves and especially the children, why it is that we celebrate this joyous occasion. Just like any other birthday, we sit around a table and sing happy birthday, lit candles and all, to the One who has given us life and Salvation.

We also consecrated ourselves to the child Jesus before the image of the baby. What is more, fitting than to give your life to the little tiny baby who has come to give us new life?

May baby Jesus bring you all the tenderness, love and hope that only He can bring this  Christmas season. Happy birthday Jesus!

What traditions do you have to celebrate the birth of Our Lord?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Reason no. 28, 29 and 30 of why I remain Catholic

I'm back! Reasons no. 28-30 are the clinchers that I just didn't have time to post. Life got crazy as it usually does with family and littles. But here are my last three reasons why I remain Catholic:

Reason no. 28: Sinfulness. Yes, sinfulness. In the world we live today, anything goes and sin is no longer recognized. "Do what you want" says anyone, as long "as you don't hurt others." But doing what we want has a lot of consequences because not everything we want is good for us and really, we've got to call a spade a spade. We are sinful. We are proud. We are imperfect and believe it or not recognizing sin does not stop at guilt, but leads us to repentance (the purpose of guilt) and the action of asking for forgiveness (confession). Now the idea behind all of this is to seek to do better and not go down that path again. Yes, we might fail again. Or maybe not. But the fact of the matter is because we can recognize that sin exists, as Christians, we can recognize that we are in need of grace and in turn in need of a Savior. JESUS!

Reason no. 29: Beauty. Ok, what does beauty have to do with being Catholic? Everything! In short, to seek the One True God is to seek all that is Good, True and Beautiful because He is the source of it all. It is beauty that pulls us towards Him. The issue is, do we recognize that beauty comes from God and do we allow our hearts to be moved by beauty so that we may praise God? The beauty of a sunset. The beauty of a face. The beauty of the first time you hold your child's hand. The beauty of order. All this beauty comes from the God who is the source of Beauty. It is through the beauty of the Church, and in seeing past the grit and grime of the Church, that I am moved to recognize the majesty of God.

Reason no. 30: Joy. Let's face it, life is tough. Yes, we all want to be happy, but happiness is fleeting. Happiness is an emotion that depends upon our circumstances and can be experienced in varying degrees. Joy, on the other hand, is something that can be lived despite our circumstances. The best example of this can be found in the lives of the saints. Even in the most troubling of circumstances, sickness, persecution, and even, dare I say it, unhappiness, they were able to hold on to joy. This is only possible because joy comes from God alone. Our salvation is our hope and this hope, that is our sustenance, gives us a joy that does not depend on anything finite.

I personally have struggled with unhappiness on and off in my life but when it comes down to what I hold most dear, I can recognize that internally I have a joy that cannot be swayed by any emotion or situation, it is a joy in knowing that God is my hope and my salvation.

In this time of Advent, I pray that you can experience the joy that only the child Jesus can bring to each of us. I pray that each of you are able to prepare the manger of your hearts so that Jesus can come and dwell and give you the joy and peace that you each seek.

Photograph courtesy of pixabay

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reason no. 27 why I remain Catholic: Mission

What is mission? 

Most people conjure images of people in the jungles of Africa or in the deep rainforests of the Amazon trying to communicate the Word of God to the natives. Yes, that is one form of mission. The Church has gone to the ends of the earth, from the time Jesus ascended into heaven, preaching the Good News.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,g and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. Acts 1:8-9

Mission, in its essence, is preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet in our everyday lives. Not everyone can drop everything and go to the "ends of the earth" so we tell others of Jesus Christ and what he did for us personally in the market, on the street, in our schools and workplace.

This is more doable!

But how do I preach if I do not really know what to say?

This is where prayer and formation come in. You do not have to become a theologian. In fact, the best way to evangelize others and live "the mission" is to simply give witness as to what God has done in our own lives. We do not have to complicate things. In fact, Pope Paul VI said it best when he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiaandi" "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."

This is our mission, to give witness and to do it where we are using our gifts and talents.

Yes. You need to know about your faith. Read Scripture. Take a Bible Study course at your parish. Pray. Pray. Pray. Go to Adoration. Watch movies or read books about the Saints. Listen to podcasts. There are numerous ways to acquire knowledge about God, just consider your sources.

But friendship and testimony are probably the most important and the most valuable ways we can go on mission. This only requires our story and our relationship and love for others.

Photo courtesy of RCheaib @pixabay

Reason no. 26 why I remain Catholic: praying for the dead

To pray for the dead is based on Scripture and Tradition. We pray for those who have gone from this world because although they are physically gone, we understand that there is still a communion of souls.

Once a person dies and is in a state of grace, they can go to heaven. If they have rejected God, they go to hell and if they have lived a life of charity and believe in God, but are not in a state of grace when they die, they can enter purgatory.

What is purgatory? 

It is the place people go, who believe in God but need to be purified in order to enter heaven. We are purified in order to prepare ourselves to see God face-to-face but also to undo the damage that we have done through sin. God forgives as soon as we ask Him, with a contrite heart through the Sacrament of Confession, but the consequences of our sinful choices remain. Our fallen state is still there, even if we are forgiven.

Why do we need to be purified? In simple terms, when we are about to "meet the King of Kings" we need to be at our best-perfect. Our sinfulness does not allow us to stand before God so purgatory is the place we go where we can get "cleaned up" and ready for the big event.

How are we purified?

We are purified through Christ's burning and purifying love. We enter into the "anteroom" of heaven and there Jesus Christ purifies us as only the Son of God can. His burning love is like the fire that removes the impurities from gold and silver.

But there is another way we are purified in purgatory that is important to know and a great tradition fo the Catholic Church: praying for the dead. Through our prayers specifically for "the dead" and acts of mercy and charity that we perform for the intention of the "souls in purgatory," we can help to speed up their purification process. No prayer is left unanswered and no act of charity is left unnoticed in the eyes of God.

Through our rosaries, good works, the way of the Cross, pilgrimages, adoration and other devotions we can help a soul or souls be released from purgatory. It is amazing how closely we are connected with those in the next world. We are all in communion as the Church Militant (earth), Church penitent (purgatory) and Church Triumphant (Heaven). We are all in communion through Christ who spans all these places with His love and mercy.

But the greatest thing we can offer up for the holy souls of purgatory is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you do not know of this tradition you can simply go to your local parish office and ask that a Mass be said for the soul of a deceased relative/friend. A small donation should be given. No, you are not paying for the Mass, you are simply helping to support the parish who lives off the faithful's donations.

If you want to know more about this beautiful topic of praying for the holy souls in purgatory you can visit 9 truths about purgatory

Photo courtesy of R. Cheaib @pixabay

Friday, November 2, 2018

Reason no. 25 why I remain Catholic: Spiritual Retreats

So I obviously did not make my deadline, however, I had a pretty good reason. My husband and I were on a spiritual retreat this past weekend.

Retreats, spiritual retreats, are a time to get away from the daily grind and literally retreat. In this case, we retreated to a place surrounded by brothers and sisters of our Catholic community to go deeper into the Word of God, prayer and community life. It is really such a blessing to be able to do this from time to time. I would say, in the faith journey, it is practically impossible to survive without a retreat, at least once a year.

This is a gift from our Catholic faith that can be seen even in Scripture when Jesus would take the time to retreat into the desert to pray and be alone: "but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray."  Luke 5:16

If Jesus, who was God made man, had to retreat and take time to pray, how much more do we need to do this, being imperfect and in need of His grace.

Retreats are essential. Now that I have had my batteries recharged and have caught up on everything since we've been back (life goes on even when you're on retreat) I can set to finish this 30-day challenge.