The Circle of Christian Life

Our 7-week-old Stella Maris was baptized on Saturday. It was so beautiful. It was a small gathering of our family and Stella’s godparents in our church’s chapel on the hill that was built in the 1700s.

Attending a baptism is always a powerful and moving thing. There is no question that something “other-worldly” is happening as the stain of original sin is removed from this little soul and she enters into the eternal life of the church. This realization is certainly intensified when the child is your own, when you are personally responsible for guiding her journey here on earth.

I tried to take it all in with fresh eyes, as her forehead was marked with the sign of the cross, her chest and head anointed, and the cleansing waters blessed and poured over her. Finally, her baptismal candle was lit from the Easter candle, signifying the transfer of the light of Christ that has now come into her life and given it new birth. She now carries that light with her on her journey — however long that journey may be.

We had to exit the chapel fairly quickly, because a funeral was taking place right after. As I took Stella’s gown off and packed her up in her car seat, people began filing in and the Easter candle was moved in front of the altar in preparation for the Mass. I was suddenly struck by the circle of the Christian life that was playing out before my eyes with these sacred and sacramental events in close succession. Continue reading “The Circle of Christian Life”

Wonder & Whimsy: “Weekend Coffee”

Now and then I like to share the helpful, enjoyable, and inspirational things that I have come across lately. Perhaps some of these might be just the thing you were looking for…

#1 — Quote from Bishop Robert Barron

I get Bishop Barron’s daily Gospel reflections (which you could sign up for here) delivered to my email. He had a beautiful take on the Transfiguration from Sunday’s Gospel passage:

“The Jesus who is both divine and human is the Jesus who is evangelically compelling. If he is only divine, then he doesn’t touch us; if he is only human, then he can’t save us. His splendor consists in the coming together of the two natures, without mixing, mingling, or confusion.”

#2 — Book Lists!

I am a sucker for a slug line that promises a curated list of books, and I find Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy to have good suggestions and well-organized lists. Ladies, here is one that sparked my interest: “25 Must-Read Classics for Women.”

I heartily agree with many on the list…Little Women, Kristin Lavransdatter, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables… How many have you read on the list? How many are on your TBR list?

#3 — “Weekend Coffee”

So, I love good coffee, but good coffee beans are hard on the wallet, especially if you brew them daily. So I have invented “weekend coffee” for myself. 🙂 I had my husband pick me up a bag of Kenyan beans from a local roaster/coffee shop (Vigilante) around the corner from his school. I think it was probably $20 (!), but I deserve that two mornings a week. My new moto: **parent hard-play hard.** (During the week it’s Aldi organic/fair trade for $5/bag.)

Do you have any favorite finds to pass on to me? Post them in the comments, please!

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey

My Reading Challenge Pick for…”A Book on Catholic Prayer”

Are you participating in the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge? If not, it’s not too late to start — join us! I share my picks for each category about once a month. So far, my choices are spot on for me, and my second read gets a universal recommendation if you want to improve your prayer life…

Category: “A Book on Catholic Prayer”

My Pick: Time for God by Jacques Philippe

My husband had read this book a couple of months ago and highly recommended it to me, and what do you know…it checks off a box on the reading challenge. Boy, was he right; it is good. But apparently everything by Jacques Philippe is great, according to a friend of mine. This was my first time reading one of his books.

Two motivations to read this book:

#1 — It’s really short — about 100 pages.

#2 — It may be the most helpful book on mental prayer that you ever read.

I say the most helpful, not necessarily the best. Philippe references all of the great works by saints who were quite advanced in mental prayer (Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine of Siena, etc.). But sometimes, as Philippe notes, in our modern times we have trouble getting to the root of what these great contemplatives teach us about communing with God.

Philippe’s definition of mental prayer:

“…facing God in solitude and silence for a time in order to enter into intimate, loving communion with him.”

His bottom line:

“Mental prayer is basically no more than an exercise in loving God.”

Philippe was exactly who I needed to read on mental prayer, because he concisely and beautifully gets to the heart of why and how this type of prayer should be a daily habit. He essentially reminds us that silent, mental prayer is all about loving God. There is not a magic “technique” that you can manipulate, he says, because communion with God is a grace, a gift, from God. It is not something that we conjure up. Philippe says that we have to simply come to mental prayer with the intention of loving God, with humility, out of our poverty, and be faithful to continue coming daily.

I think this excerpt from the book puts it well:

“What ensures progress in the life of prayer, what make it fruitful, is not so much how we pray as our inner dispositions in beginning and continuing it. Our principle task is to try to acquire, keep, and deepen those dispositions of the heart. God will do the rest.”

Before this book, I had recently read Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, and I was inspired by his detailed account of the steps of mental prayer, and I wanted to begin this habit in earnest. (Previous descriptions of mental prayer hadn’t be so clear for me.) However, Philippe’s book is just what I needed to read on the heels of that. It helped me develop the correct attitude toward silent prayer, to remember the ultimate purpose of loving God and entering into a deeper communion with him — as he leads.


What did you read for “a book on Catholic prayer”?

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey