Category Archives: Columns

Angelic Sweetness: The Blessed Mother’s Approach to Parenting

by Katie Sciba

I have a spiritual accountability partner (henceforth referred to as SAP). Like many souls, my drive and motivation toward the prayerful life tend to fluctuate and I can’t tell you how this girl helps keep my heart above water. We check up on each other every few weeks and though our discussions frequently stray from the spiritual to the domestic, I’m always inspired at the close of our conversations. We’ve been staying in touch for just over a year now, and it’s certain that God is working through her to move my soul. The other day we were talking about disciplining young toddlers and she mentioned maintaining “the angelic sweetness of Mary” toward both her little ones and husband. Since our conversation, this phrase has been incessantly ringing in my soul. I’ve read that angelic sweetness stems from a prayer life that is constant – a life that is centered on God. What’s particularly wonderful to me personally is that my confessor recently advised me to always stay in touch with God; to bring Him everything – EVERYTHING.

I’m amazed at how God is persistently sending me this message through my SAP and confessor mentioning at the same time. I want to bring God all matters great and simple because I know that without Him, I’m nothing but bad habits on two legs.

Both of my little ones are sick and my infant is especially crabby these days. Though in the midst of his constant crying I know he’s suffering and I try to console him, the wailing in my ear is enough to make me lose my mind when all I want is a quick morning nap for myself. While he’s crying, my toddler begs for breakfast right when the phone rings. I can’t tell you how often this situation hits our house – nearly every morning – and it’s the type of thing I want to have the presence of mind to bring to Christ; asking Him to help me calm my infant with tenderness and serve my toddler sweetly. The whirlwind provides a challenge, albeit less significant than most of the troubles in the world, but knowing that Christ is present in my endeavors strengthens my will profoundly. In bringing Him everything that’s on my heart – each stress and joy – my soul will certainly obtain peace and angelic sweetness. I have long had the desire to be sweet, but could never put my finger on how to go about it. Habitual and ritual occasions of prayer help develop the virtue of constant prayer: it should be breath, always flowing in and out of my soul, receiving the love of God and offering it back to Him in addition to the morning offering, blessing before meals and Sunday Mass.

The more crucial aspect of “the angelic sweetness of Mary” is the Blessed Mother herself. Consider how sweet she is – the Queen of even God’s heart. Consider how earth-shattering it would be to have Christ physically present in your family at all times as she and St. Joseph did. Consider the quality of marriage they had; that’s what I want: to have Christ always present in my marriage and family life and to accept the certain graces He brings. To a certain degree, I’m limited because I wasn’t born without sin like Mary; but if I allow God’s grace in my soul and breathe prayer in and out, I can offer to my family so much more than what I do now. With just one person moving toward a life of prayer and virtue, things change for every surrounding life. My husband is a “man after God’s own heart” and inspires me because he actively pursues to be even more so; and my sons set a great example because they haven’t even sinned yet, so I have to catch up! The truth is that developing angelic sweetness is a feat in itself, but when I do remember to offer Christ the little on-goings of my mind and heart, there is nothing more comforting or empowering than His presence in every nook and cranny of my life. With persistence and the grace of God, this extraordinary virtue can become ordinary for my soul.

Katie Sciba is a writer for the Catholic blog www.truthandcharity.net.

Who Does It Belong to Anyway?

by Mike Van Vranken

My employer provides a car for my use to accomplish the works they have given me to do. The car’s primary use is to perform the tasks my job requires. The company has strict rules explaining how it can be used for both business and personal needs. My responsibilities include keeping it in excellent working condition, not abusing it, protecting it from danger and harm and only using it in ways that respect its purpose. Now, I have the free will to abuse it or even damage it, but any use or care of the car that does not comply with the rules and responsibilities that come with it would be considered negligence and even immoral. The car is not mine; it belongs to my employer.

My God provides me with a physical body for my use to accomplish the works HE has given me to do. Scripture says it gives Him glory when I accomplish those works. (John 17:4).  He expects me to take care of this body, protect it from danger and harm and only use it in ways that respect its purpose. Of course, I have the free will to use it any way I want to, however, any use or care of my physical self that does not fall in line with His wishes would be considered disobedience and even immoral. This body is not mine. It is His.
God gives us clear direction concerning the use of our bodies.  We are called to specifically bring Jesus to the world. He explains how our bodies are to be used for that purpose:

• “…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
• “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
• “…yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
• “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
• “For I know well the plans I have for you…” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Action plans for the month of May:
1. Save this message and read it one time every day in May.
2. Notice key words or phrases (“your spiritual worship”; “you are not your own”; “no longer I, but Christ”; “before I formed you”; “plans I have for you.”)
3. Make a commitment today to never, ever use your body for anything without first asking God His plan.
My God has provided me with a physical body to accomplish the works HE has given me to do.  But this body is not mine.  It belongs to Him!