I am recounting my spiritual journey in 2017 as I resolve to do better in 2018!
I currently utilize the Verbum Dei Missionaries, Prayer For Living, and the Basilica of the National Shrine’s, Our Lady in Art 2017 Calendar, to stay abreast of the liturgical year.
For 2018, I am will use the Our Lady in Art 2018 Calender from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which provides me a bird’s eye view of the liturgical year on a monthly basis.
In addition to Sundays, I used to frequent daily mass 2-3 times a week in the earlier part of the year. This frequency eventually dropped to just Fridays (on top of Sundays). An unexpected blessing is that my Ecuadorian friend, Elizabeth, started accompanying me to mass at some point :).
I am going to re-commit to a minimum of two weekday masses per week in 2018.
We attend the Sunday Latin Mass celebrated by our chaplain.
I would like to attend a mass at our nearest Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) church as this is a luxury that we will not have once we return home. The only challenge is that the mass timings do not coincide with our child’s naptimes…
I bought my mantilla veil in 2016, and don it whenever we attend a Low or High mass that our chaplain celebrates. The last time I donned it was for the Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption. My child looked at me, intrigued and awed. It was a beautiful moment :).
I have since lacked the piety and courage to veil and would like to continue this humble practice in 2018.
I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation ten times in 2017, seven times with the same confessor. A common advice of my confessors is to be a more loving wife and look to Mother Mary for inspiration.
I need to be more consistent in receiving this Sacrament in 2018. I procrastinate a lot as my scrupulosity gets the better of me. I only go for confession after reviewing all 46 pages of my Examination of Conscience booklet (distributed by the Catholic Spirituality Centre during my Conversion Experience Retreat).
Catholic Studies Course
I enrolled in the year-long Catholic Studies course and I have completed three modules – Natural Theology, Philosophy, and Apologetics.
It was stressful keeping up with weekly assignments (at times, 500-word reflections) and a final examination every six weeks (on top of the weekly assignment).
That said, I learned a lot by going into the deep. For instance, how to read Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and the debates surrounding arguments for the existence of God. I discovered the beauty and wisdom of the writings of apologist William Lane Craig, philosopher Peter Kreeft, and Bishop Robert Barron.
However, I conclude that I am not a theoretical person, and I prefer leisurely spiritual reading to an intensive course that I find difficulty committing to. By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, however, I can better understand the terminologies thrown around in the Catholic sphere.
In 2018, I hope to be more on top of the remaining four courses on Church History, Sacred Scripture, Mariology (this excites me the most), and Moral Theology.
My first woman’s silent retreat in 2016 was highly impactful. In 2017, I attended this same (second) woman’s silent retreat led by our inspiring chaplain and a brother priest.
My spiritual direction session was powerful. I shared with our chaplain my life story and where I am at while choking back on my tears when relating my struggles. I revealed sheepishly that I felt called to be a Catholic writer. He encouraged me to keep writing even if, at the end of my lifetime, only one soul was touched by it as that would be more than enough.
My third woman’s silent retreat is sometime in March 2018 and I am looking forward to spending extended quiet time with the Lord.
I venerated the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in April 2017 and our chaplain enrolled me in the brown scapular that the Carmelites distributed for free. This scapular broke in June though and I am not wearing a scapular right now.
Renewed Consecration to Mother Mary and first Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
I first consecrated myself to Mother Mary in 2016 after utilizing the 33 Days to Marian Consecration guide by Michael Gaitley. I renewed my consecration in 2017 on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I tried to practice as many of the 17 Marian solemnities/ feast days as possible, and would like to continue this in 2018.
My spiritual twin, Regina, gifted me a copy of the Consecration Preparation For the Triumphant Victory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary when I returned home in May. Together, we completed our first consecration (also) on Mary’s Assumption.
I need to be faithful in practicing the gift of the monthly First Five/ First Saturday devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On that note, our chaplain shared at the first woman’s silent retreat that the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion is practiced by priests and it is the most powerful devotion. In 2018, I would like to attempt this devotion as well.
From January to April, I consulted a spiritual director whom I contacted from the Ignatius Retreat house website. Unfortunately, I discontinued our sessions as I felt that she was too liberal as I identify myself more as a Traditionalist Catholic.
In 2018, I will continue to pray for a suitable spiritual director and hope to find one, God-willing.
We recite a short family prayer before our child retires to bed. It consists of the gospel reading of the day, using the Prayer For Living guide. This is followed by one Our Father, three Hail Marys, one Glory Be, one Hail Holy Queen, one prayer to Saint Michael, the guardian angel prayer, and a litany of saints based on our names and needs.
We have grown so accustomed that we mumble and breeze through it although it serves as a ritual for our child who realizes that prayer precedes bedtime.
We will keep this family prayer until our child is older and we can alter this to suit our child’s sensibilities.
I end each day praying the rosary and journaling about my day. At some point, I loosened this commitment and ended up having to play catch up. These two rituals ground me and I feel more at peace if I undertake them religiously.
In 2018, I will pray the rosary and journal, every single day, and not let this backlog destabilize me.
I read way much less than desired.
The first category is books on marriage and parenting: Boundaries, Boundaries with Kids, Boundaries in Marriage, and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
The second category is books on the faith: The Sacrament of the present moment, Lincoln and Omaha sermons, Rediscover Catholicism, Champions of the Rosary, and The Rhythm of Life.
In 2018, I endeavor to write my reflections after each completed book and to complete the ten books piled up on my desk gathering dust.
We attended our second Eucharistic Congress and I wrote about Brandon Vogt’s talk regarding bringing lapsed Catholics back to church.
I attended a couple of Theology of the Body talks by a member of our couple’s group and wrote a piece about the argument against contraception.
My favorite is the Sensus Fidelium YouTube channel, especially videos of Father Chad Ripperger’s talks. I am currently watching his series of talks, “Our Times: Spiritual Preparation“. I am always inspired to live out my faith more fully after listening to him (and getting a kick in the butt)!
I also listen to GTCC Helluva Catholic Podcast especially when it features our inspiring chaplain.
I discovered a Theology of the Body series by our local Dominican priest, Father David Garcia. I also came across the Chastity Project speakers when Jason Evert was invited to speak in my home country and wrote a reflection piece after hearing his wife, Crystalina Evert’s testimony.
I attended free webinars by Dr. Taylor Marshall (“St Thomas Aquinas and natural law”, ” Our Lady of Guadalupe”, and “St Augustine life and theology”), as part of his New Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute initiative.
Spiritual Social Media
I joined a “Catholic mommy” group on Facebook that is 3,000+ members strong. I’m also a member of the “Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, Takes Up At Least 20% of My Hard Drive” and a couple of other Catholic Traditionalist groups.
On Instagram, I discovered and follow a lot of Catholic woman. Some are mothers of large homeschooling families. I am continually inspired and amazed at how they incorporate creative crafts to impart their faith to the littles or manage a household of that size!
In 2018, I need to control my overuse of social media, and adopt some of the suggested Catholic crafts if my toddler is ready!
I started the year with ambitious plans (regarding direction, guest posting, topics etc.) and grew increasingly discouraged with long periods of writing hiatus.
Fidelity to grace is a concept that Father Chad Ripperger talks about, and my goal in 2018 is to write when inspired by God’s graces and providence.
I may guest post and write for other platforms, but for now, I will focus on being God’s messenger through this humble blog. I will commit to a weekly post minimum.
We failed miserably in this aspect (unless you count the charitable deeds for friends).
I joined a pen pal prison ministry initiative which never took off. I wrote one letter and never received a reply :(.
I am on the lookout for realistic service opportunities that we can undertake with a little in tow, this year.
Our chaplain started a couples group which met only once in 2017. At our third and final meeting in March, I completed my homework for the reading assigned and was all ready to discuss the material, only to be met with disappointment when the group of four couples (and five children) decided not to proceed as they needed ‘downtime’.
We have not met ever since; with one couple expecting a baby, and another’s impending move. We did get together for one couple’s baby shower, baptism, and graduation party. We attend mass and Thanksgiving dinner post-mass with another couple who have been a real inspiration and blessing to us :).
In 2016, we frequented the graduate students and young professionals bible study. Ever since our child was born, however, it has been difficult, and currently, impossible to commit as our child is eating dinner, showering, and sleeping, during the duration of bible study.
In 2018, I am open to finding community but this longing is tempered against the practical realities of parenting abroad.
Easter and Christmas
I am very much a Martha and spent these two seasons busy, even obsessively churning out 17 Easter and 50 Christmas cards. I wrote a reflection regarding my Easter 2017 experience.
In 2018, I hope to be more Mary and to spend my Lenten and Advent seasons more prayerfully.
Gluttony (in particular, snacking) is one of my repetitive mortal sins. I need to learn to deny myself in this regard.
Every time we check our mail, we are filled with what I term, “Catholic spam“. These organizations deliver beautiful Catholics goodies that I have used and gifted to family and friends. For instance; Christmas and Easter cards, calendars, medals, and prayer cards.
The organizations we currently support are FSSP, Saint Anthony of Padua Shrine Seraphic Mass Association, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Maryknoll, Miraculous Medal Association, Padre Pio Foundation, and of course, the Georgia Tech Catholic Center.
Please consider supporting their good work too!
In ending, I am always looking for spiritual companions and/ or resources. If you have any suggestions based on what I have shared, please get in touch! God bless you and have a blessed 2018 🙂