Archives for March 2014

March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes #8: Lenten Knots & Novenas

It’s almost the fourth Sunday of Lent you say?  Oh Lent where hath thou gone?  
Here are #7QT on what the first half of Lent has brought with it thus far….


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Like good Catholics we properly kicked off Lent without the #ashtag.  Props to my friend Omar for getting this awesome selfie of some of our young adult family after the Ash Wednesday Mass.  You can clearly tell that we were stoked for this forty day journey (some of us more excited than others…).

Forty Days of Thesis Writing

The Johnston Home Office: Where Newlyweds Write Theses
My hairdresser asked me “What do you and your husband do for fun?”  To which I was only able to resond, “Netflix and thesis writing.”  This has been our Lent.  Books, writing, trying not to feel defeated, and taking breaks with Arrested Development.  
The blessing in all of this is that not only are my husband and I in the same graduate program, but our thesis topics are kinda-sorta-not really related.  I’m focusing on   New Feminism and Developing a Theology of Women, and my husband is writing about The Masculinity of God (or why we call God “He”).  Blessed John Paul II, Dr. Pia de Solenni, Dr. Monica Miller, and others have been huge helps in these projects.  My love for JPII and the Theology of the Body just keeps growing… and since our final project is due around the same time as his canonization, I figure we’ve got someone praying extra hard for us in heaven :).  

And we’d really appreciate all of your prayers as well! 
(No really, assault the heavens for us.  We need it!)

Did you know she takes care of knots too?
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!
How have I been Catholic all my life and I am just now hearing about this novena?  This is amazing!  If you’ve never heard of the Our Lady Undoer of Knots Novena, check it out.  My husband and I are finishing up this novena this weekend, and our big intention has been our thesis projects.  That knot is pretty huge right now, but it’s nice to know Our Lady is helping us work through it!
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30 days with St. Joseph

Speaking of novenas, did you know there’s a 30 day St. Joseph Novena?  Neither did I until this past February.  That’s another new prayer that is going on my list of favorites.  I won’t lie … that’s a long novena prayer… there were nights we weren’t sure we’d make it through the whole thing… but we did it!  And we prayed for all sorts of things… our theses, the discernment of our family, family and friends, etc…  St. Joseph is a pretty neat guy… Happy to add him to the list of patron saints for our family!  

It’s already been a year!
The Proposal:  Easter Vigil 2013
March 30, 2013  just a few minutes before midnight my husband asked me to marry him.  A year later, I see how God’s hand has moved beautifully in our lives, and how God’s timing is so much better than my own.  We’ve been married almost 6 months and we’ve learned that marriage is beautiful, humbling, and requires the Cross to be at the center.  Something tells me the next year will be full of even more surprises and hugs from God! ๐Ÿ™‚

Let the Light In
My parish promoted the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent with the phrase “Let the Light In”.  Here’s the video our Director of Youth Ministry made for us, encouraging people to go to make confession part of their Lenten journey.  What do you think? ๐Ÿ™‚
I’m going to the 2014 TOB Congress!!!  
 I don’t even know how I can begin to put into words how excited I am about this trip!  This is going to be one of the highlights of my summer, and a much needed booster shot after graduation.  The speaker list is impressive… we’ll be hanging out with folks like Dr. Janet Smith, Christopher West, Damon Owens, and many others who have had a big impact on my formation.  Theology of the Body has played a key role in my ongoing conversion and it’s a pretty big part of the work that I do in the parish.  
To be honest, TOB saved my life… but that’s another story ๐Ÿ™‚

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
March 5, 2014

Let the Light In!

p a x

At the end of February my husband and I moved into our new home.

We went from a dark apartment covered in 1970s shag carpet (complete with carpet in the bathroom and kitchen) to a duplex with a finished basement, and extra bathroom, and a kitchen with wood floors.  We’re still renting, but this definitely feels like home sweet home!  

My favorite room in this apartment is the family room because it has so much natural light… 11 windows and a large glass door to the backyard.  From the moment we walk through the front door it feels like light just bursts inside.  There’s even a skylight in the kitchen.  Light is everywhere and it makes the place feel a lot more like home.

The Old Apartment
The New Home

I didn’t realize how dark our old apartment was until we moved.  And now that we have a space with lots of natural light, I can’t imagine living in dark “Old Shaggy” ever again.
There are lots of benefits of letting natural light in.  Not only will it keep our energy bills down (hopefully!) but it also feels better.  Light is warm.  It is comforting.  It can put us in a better mood and can even help us appreciate our surroundings.  Light feels like home.

In the midst of completing our move and preparing for the start of Lent, Isaiah 9:1-2 came to mind:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.  
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing…
I don’t know if I’d call “Old Shaggy” the land of gloom… but there’s dramatic difference from where we were to where we are now.  Being in an environment filled with light makes us realize just how dark our last home was, and it makes us more grateful for what we have.  
I think the same thing happens to us spiritually.  Sin loves darkness.  Sometimes we don’t realize just how dark the darkness within us is until we’ve allowed the Light of Christ to break through.  In my own life I can recall moments where darkness had been the norm.  And then at some point, maybe when I least expected it, Christ’s love and mercy broke through and the Light that entered into my life brought joy and rejoicing.  With God’s grace I was able to recognize the darkness that had once existed for what it really was.
Of course, I am human so I continue to make mistakes and fail… but that’s where the beauty of the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist remind me to renew that joy of being in the Light of Christ.

My friend and coworker, David McHugh (Noelle Garcia’s husband) made this video for our parish to help us reflect on how Confession helps us to Let the Light In:  

As we step into the Lenten season and think about what we’re “giving up” or “doing extra” over the next six weeks, maybe the first thing we need to do is ask how does Christ want to Let the Light into my soul?  What’s keeping me from allowing that Light into my life? And once I’ve allowed Christ’s light to pierce the darkness, what happens next?  How will that light make a difference in my personal encounter with the Lord?

I’ve said before that Lent is not my favorite and yet I realize that this is the time of year where the Holy Spirit really does a number on my heart if I’m open to it.  It’s a time of recognizing my weaknesses, but also allowing Christ to transform those things into strengths.  I feel like this year in particular Christ is asking me to let the Light in, so He can make me who I am called to be.  If I can open up my heart even just a tiny bit more, I think I can come to realize just how much I need Christ in my life and how much I want Him to be there.  

When the Light of Christ bursts into our hearts, we realize that it is beautiful.  It is welcoming and it is merciful.  It is where our hearts are at home.   

Lord, this Lent please let the Light into my soul… 
Pierce the darkness, and lead me to you.  Amen.   

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


Jesus I Trust in You!