We are in full transition mode in my home. Gone are the days of relaxed schedules, chlorine-smelling hair, hands stained with sidewalk chalk, and flip flops all over my entryway. Our dining room table is full of uniform kilts and pants that need to be hemmed, piles of school supplies, and rolls and rolls of contact paper just waiting to be opened.
With this transition in our home, a burst of excited energy enters my heart. The start of the school year brings with it the fall launch of the Walking with Purpose program at my parish. I have missed this community.
I have missed the warm and welcoming smiles. I have missed walking into a room and feeling confident that the women meeting me there are rooted in the love of Christ. There have been many lessons learned in these past 18 months of lockdown procedures, virtual school, remote work, and live-streamed Mass. But one is ever present in my heart as summer comes to a close: nothing can replace the joy found in a fellowship of women that come together from all seasons of life and faith journeys to bear witness to the Word of God.
What I think I have missed the most is the order and organization my spiritual life takes on when I am around these women. How we desperately need the fellowship of like-minded women running the race of life together!
We find ourselves in a world that is broken and fallen, and it is all too easy to be consumed by the world’s empty promises. This world easily invites us to forget about ordering our life toward Christ, and instead pushes us down an alluring rabbit hole of individualism, self-absorption, and pleasure. Do what you want to do, it whispers, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it. And no matter what it’s okay, because it’s your truth. Our world has forgotten that there is one truth, there is one authority. We have forgotten what our Catechism beautifully reminds us, “The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and idolatry of the world.”
When we get caught in the rabbit hole of worldliness, we need our community to reach out to us and lead us back to relationship and unity with our Lord. Scott Hahn masterfully tells us in his book, It is Right and Just, that “it is in recognizing and living out the truth of the uniqueness of our relationship with God that we bring ourselves into right order with Him and all of creation.”
Right order. This is what WWP does for me and for thousands of women across this country. This community of women believers—standing together, praying together, and yes, breaking bread together (in the form of casseroles, cookies, and other sweet and savory treats)—helps me to rightly order everything. My WWP community reminds me of our early Church forefathers and mothers. They too found themselves in a world saturated with false idols, corruption, fear, anxiety, and persecution. They knew just how vital and necessary building a community was to combat the pressures of the world around them. They ran their race together.
They lived together, ordering their daily lives around prayer, worship, and caring for each other. They lived counter to the culture they were immersed in and bore witness to the belief in a purpose higher than themselves—to give glory to God. “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32). They lived for the good of the community, not seeking individual pleasure. “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to the breaking of bread in their homes” (Acts 2:46). Did you catch the order of what they did? Worship first. They worshiped together, praising God, grateful for His presence among them. The order was God first, community second.
“There was not a needy person among them because each person shared their possessions for the good of the community” (Acts 4:34). They lived by the two greatest commandments spoken by Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). The commitment to the authority of Jesus Christ and confidence in His Word and promises led them to live life differently.
Each Christian made the choice to order their lives around the Lord. And the joy that followed this choice and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phillipians 4:7) was seen in their faces and appealed to those around them. Thus, the early Church exploded and spread rapidly amidst a pagan and morally destructive culture. How we need a similar explosion of truth today!
Where can we light the match of truth? How can we fan the flame of faith and hope?
Through community, sisters.
The noise of the world is LOUD. And the sway of worldliness is so strong. But we have something stronger. We have the might of the heavens in our corner. Communities of faith, like Walking with Purpose, encourage us to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).
Communities of faith offer us what the world cannot—hope. Hope that it is not all up to us. Hope that we are not alone in our suffering. Hope that we are seen and loved just as we are. A drop of hope goes a long way to soften a heart that has been hardened by the brokenness of the world. Softened hearts allow space for movements of grace. And grace changes everything. Grace—this free and undeserved gift from God—helps us to live a life rightly ordered to Christ.
Sisters, it is time to remember that we too are counted in the commissioning of Christ, to “go out and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 18:19). It is time to act with the gift of grace and, through the choices we make (big and small), model the love of Jesus Christ to others.
 Catholic Church, “Life In Christ,” Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995), 2097.
 Hahn, S. & McGinley, B. (2020) It is Right and Just: Why the Future of Civilization Depends on True Religion. Emmaus Road Publishing.
The kids are off from school and summer is here-although it has been raining forever, but nonetheless, so I am told... summer is here. And quite honestly, it can rain for as long as it wants and I will be okay, because I do not have to pack any school lunches for another two months. Can I get an Amen?!
Packing lunches is not my thing, mainly because eating what I pack is not my kids' thing. I'm not sure what fine culinary experience they are expecting to find in a small brown bag. Salad nicoise? An all you can eat sushi buffet? Blackened grouper on a bed of wilted greens? But let us not think of such things! Because glory to God in the highest, school is out and packing lunches are a thing of the past. Hey kids, you can make your own disappointing lunches now! It's summer!
If you follow Walking with Purpose on Instagram, you might have caught my “stories series” on how to have an intentional summer; practical tips on what not to do, or what to do, to refresh and relax without taking a vacation from Jesus. That was my most favorite week with all of you! For those that couldn't join me, Tip #1 was encouragement to women to not sleep in. Not only that, but to get up early; rise with the sun and start each summer day with praise. So I have been taking my own advice, and what I have discovered is that with the hideous chore of packing lunches removed, I actually have more prayer time than ever. This, my friends, is great news… unless you are a recovering perfectionist and overachiever like me. Because once I realized how much more time I was gifted with, do you want to know what this girl thought? Exactly how much more can I cram in?
You see, all too often I approach my spiritual life like my daughter does a blank canvas. At her art school graduation two weeks ago, her creative voice was described by her teachers as “more is more”. As the years unfolded, blank canvases grew larger, paint application thicker, and the more acrylic she applied - always by hand, never by brush - the more she would step back, examine, and then lean into the canvas to add just a little bit more. On a busy sidewalk of New Haven, as I loaded five enormous paintings that barely fit into the back of my car and weighed more than all of Texas, I realized something about my spiritual canvas. I am trying to pray like she paints.
But you want to know the difference between my daughter's paintings and my prayers? Her finished product is a masterpiece because each stroke and design is intentional and executed with extreme devotion to her ultimate vision. She never rushes a project, and always steps back and away, allowing the space to speak and inspire. And my finished product? Well… it isn't even worthy of hanging on the fridge. All too often what I offer my Lord is a litany of memorized words with no meaning, mixed up and thrown together in the hopes that when finished, a beautiful vision will be revealed to me. There is little devotion because of all those distractions, and plenty of frustration because of all those interruptions. Just because your canvas is covered, it doesn't mean it is worthy of hanging on the wall.
And I don't want to be the kind of woman who prays this way-distracted because I have piled on too much; irritated by life's interruptions, that just so happen to be my FAMILY. (Um, remember Laura… you are a wife and mother; NOT a cloistered nun.) I don't want my desire for personal holiness to be fueled by anything other than pure love of God.
Distraction in prayer is a common struggle, and in my attempt to concentrate and free my mind of all the things that pull me away from where I desire to be, I have learned something. You don't wipe a plate clean of distraction by adding more things to your plate. I heard Matthew Kelly say once, “there is genius in simplicity” and well, I have to agree. Of course, he can say anything in that adorable accent and I will agree. But seriously. What if the key to personal holiness has nothing to do with what we add to our life, and everything to do with what we remove from it?
A few months ago, I added Saint Louis De Monfort's True Devotion to Mary to my early morning prayer routine. With Our Lady's hand gently guiding me, I have slowly removed every other practice and prayer, only focusing on this one book, morning, noon, and night. I have fallen deeply in love with St. Louis De Monfort's Prayer to Mary; a prayer that promises to not only give myself wholly to Jesus through her, but one that begs to have “anything which does not belong to thee”¹ be taken away. My hours of mechanical prayers and distracted readings have been condensed into one heart felt, intentional plea, “Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God, root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee.”²
As my daughter applies more paint to tell her story, I am asking the Lord to peel my paint off so I better know His. Perhaps this gift of a little more time is not about how I can fill it with God, but how God can empty it of me.
Here is to a summer of blank canvases, peeled off paint, and rooting up all that gets in His way.
Your Sister in Christ,
P.S. The only thing I love more than blogging for WWP, is sharing my days with you on WWP Instagram. If you are not a follower yet, what are you waiting for?
¹ True Devotion to Mary with Preparation For Total Consecration, Saint Louis De Monfort, Tan Classics 2010, p.219
² True Devotion to Mary with Preparation For Total Consecration, Saint Louis De Monfort, Tan Classics 2010, p.219