Category Archives: Marriage

Giovanna Raphael

I’ve been a bit MIA on this blog for a while, but Kevin keeps telling me to get back into it. I’ve wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure about what to write! I debated whether or not to share what follows, but in the end, I don’t want to hide it – I want to acknowledge it.

This summer has been full. Yes, we’ve been out of the house more and taking weekend/day trips (and I want to write about all of it!), but it goes much further than that. Something big happened, and then something big happened again. And it’s lead to many life decisions, one of which is that Kevin and I will be moving to Duluth, Minnesota in the beginning of September. There will be much more on all of this later, for sure! But right now, I just want to acknowledge the gift (and loss of that gift) that has changed my life, Kevin’s life, and our marriage.

On May 26, 2015, I woke up and decided to take a pregnancy test. This wasn’t exactly anything new as this was my routine for eight months. Eight months of radical dietary changes, Napro doctor support, and lots of prayer. Eight months of people saying, “you’re so young, you have lots of time,” or “just stop thinking about it and it’ll happen” (not very helpful…but that wasn’t everyone!). Eight months of excitement, anticipation, and disappointment. Eight months of intense grace and growth in my relationship with God. Eight months of deepening my love for my incredible husband. I could talk so much more about those eight months, but the point of all this is what came next.

Anyway, woke up, took a pregnancy test, and was SHOCKED…[complete silence]…SHOCKED to see the second bright line. I went back to bed and sat on a sleeping Kevin and whispered “I’m pregnant.” You can imagine his surprise and sort of questioning tone when he said “what?” All that we’d been praying for had happened (the cycle after our pilgrimage to St. Anne’s as well!).

I won’t go into the details right now, but while we were able to experience excitement in the beginning, there were a lot of concerning things that soon arose. The next several weeks were unfortunately filled with much anxiety. There were rays of hope that came, but then even worse symptoms that took their place. Around 4am on July 2, 2015, I woke up and immediately knew what was about to happen. I woke Kevin up and he just laid with me for a while as I experienced the all-too-familiar excruciating pains that would normally signal my period.

A couple hours later, at 9 1/2 weeks, I delivered (would that be the correct term?) our first child. I don’t want to be too gruesome, but to all those pro-choicers out there who would deny the fact that I had been carrying a living human, this was most definitely a child that I held in my hand.

We named our child Giovanna Raphael: “gift of God who heals.” This name had been on our hearts for a few weeks at that point, and it seemed quite God-given. We had already planned a trip back home to PA that weekend, so we took our child with us to be buried. A couple of our best friends, Josh & Ashlie, joined us that weekend with their little baby, John Paul. They were present when we buried Giovanna in our backyard. We wrapped her in the lace from my wedding dress. It was a painful, but beautiful experience. We prayed this lovely prayer from Sister Angelica, and we cried unashamedly at the loss of this precious life.

There is so much I still have to process from all of this. While I know I’m a mother, I don’t exactly feel like one. It’s been less than three weeks since I miscarried, but at moments, it almost feels as if I was never pregnant to begin with. Then there are the times when I just can’t help but cry over what is no longer growing inside of me.

At this point, that’s all I have to share about that. If anyone’s experienced infertility or miscarriage – be assured of my prayers.

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One year!

May 30th, 2015 – our one year anniversary! So much to say, yet how can I say it all? I can’t. To put it simply, I am blessed to have married someone so perfect for me. I literally cannot imagine spending my days and nights with anyone else. Neither Kevin nor I are perfect – we have many flaws. And even together, we have our vices. But we are pursuing holiness and happiness together. And it’s an exciting journey.

This first year has been a whirlwind. Moving into a teeny apartment. Learning to live more simply. Surviving the worst winter of Boston on record (with many days of struggle because of it). Handling multiple jobs and schooling. But it has all been blessed because of the man I’m sharing it with. And the struggles have been outdone by the joys of our first year – our Canadian Honeymoon, Thanksgiving in PA, liturgical living, Christmas in MN, our Epiphany party, growing in love through golden hour walks, building our little Nazareth, our married couples bible study, Quebec, breakfasts together, laughing through Parks & Rec, SUNDAYS, gardening trial & error, and SO MUCH MORE.

I don’t have anything truly grand to say except that I love my husband, and that love goes deeper every day. And I am grateful for all of the people we have in our lives that love and support us in our Vocation. Here’s to an ever better year two!

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Quebec, again.

This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn’t been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good.

We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon – so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be…it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!

The weekend was on and off with the weather – rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn’t really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph’s Oratory – and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. It just feels filled with grace (which it is!). There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles – each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made.  We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.

We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre’s Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It’s probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.

There’s so much that could be said about the Oratory, but…just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It’s amazing – just off the main road being all stunning and what not!

This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it’s usually fine since it’s all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he’s been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness…it’s unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!

There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land – it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees – each step in reparation for Christ’s passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)…uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne’s was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.

The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy – there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts…that I don’t particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac – ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.

I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin’s very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I’ve sold everyone enough on this delightful province!

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Back to the Oratory

A little over two years ago, when Kevin and I had been dating for 7ish months, we took a pilgrimage to Montreal together. We stayed at the retreat house on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Oratory, and a truly special trip it was. There were highs and lows to the weekend, and in a lot of ways, I really felt afterwards that this was it. I would be with this man forever. It’s kind of funny to say that now since there really were some rough patches over those four days. But it was the first time we openly spoke about marriage with one another…and children…and baby names. (That was as emotionally unchaste as we’d get until engagement.) 

 Montreal is a really special place to us (and really just Canada in general). And spending so much time at the Oratory was a truly spectacular experience. St. Joseph has always been a great intercessor in our relationship (hello 30 day novena that ended with a first date), so praying to him throughout that weekend also aided greatly in preparing us for our future. And there is something about the Oratory itself: it’s majestic, but humble. If you’ve been there and stood in the great shrine on top (with no one else around), you’d understand what I mean. For all of it’s simplicity, I could sense my unworthiness in a very real way.   

 There were other great aspects of Montreal that we got to explore outside of the Oratory grounds, and I was continuously stunned with beauty (could have also been the fresh snow). We spent an evening at Notre Dame in Old Montreal and that.church.is.beauty. Anddddd Celine Dion was married there, nobigdealthatdoesntinfluencemyopinionatall

 Anyway, we are going back this weekend and we are so excited. We’re at such a different stage in our life, and since it’s not January spontaneousblizzardseason, we’re hopeful that we won’t get snowed in like last time when we tried to visit the Shrine of St. Anne in Quebec City. That’s another place that we’re so looking forward to visiting. St. Anne is my patron Saint, and we’ve been praying to her in particular for some special intercession in these recent months. I so look forward to bringing our petitions and our love to that beautiful, sacred shrine. 

 And! I just can’t wait to be in French-speaking Canada again! The beauty! The elegance! The romance! The cheese! And the spring time!

Au revoir!

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A little bit better.

When Kevin and I were engaged, we had a sit down with my dad about our finances. My dad is the finance guy, and Kevin and I were (and are) in a bit of a unique situation when it comes to money. But after speaking with my dad, we both were very encouraged. He told us of when him and my mom got married and their humble beginnings. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they had less than $1,000 combined (yikes!). Fast forward 33 years, and they live a very full and beautiful life (with five kids). What he said to us that day has really stuck with me: “We didn’t have much, but we knew that if each year just got a little bit better, then we’d be alright. So that’s what we’ve worked for.”

It’s easy for me to get down about the things we don’t have, or the struggles we have that seem to be a non-issue for others. But the reality is that everyone faces struggle. It might manifest itself in different ways, but it’s not my place to judge or compare. All I can do is try to be grateful for the way God has blessed us in our marriage. And lately Kevin and I have been extremely aware of this. We may not have the resources to do much, but even after just seven months, our situation is starting to get a little bit better. We’re working hard and life sometimes feels like a never ending marathon with what we’re trying to accomplish. But with every day/week/month, our faith increases, our peace and joy grow, our trust builds, our love deepens, and our situation gets a little bit better. We moved into 2015 with such encouraged spirits, and most of all, a deeper appreciate for God in our marriage.

I want to have the mindset my parents had. There’s no way to know where we’ll be 5/10/20 years from now, but we can work to make this year a little bit better than the last. By God’s abundant grace, we’re growing in ways that help our marriage, our faith, our finances, our health, and our time. And by building these skills and cultivating these habits now, it’s going to benefit us down the road. I know challenges lay before us, especially if/when God blesses us with children, but we have great faith that we’re moving in the right direction.

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2015: learning to be present

While in Duluth, Kevin and I were on the way to adoration and chatting about the year to come. We’re super excited for 2015 and all the possibilities that lay before us. Lists and “resolutions” aside, we wanted to think seriously about how we can grow in virtue this year. I’m sure we can all think of a particular vice we have or a certain virtue we are lacking. I can think of a ton for myself. But as the wise Ron Swanson once said, “never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing.” That’s applicable here, right?

I proposed Kevin and I each come up with a virtue the other should work on (which could have gone horribly wrong), but we actually each said what the other was thinking.

Surprise, surprise. I need to work on being present. Big picture: I need to not be continuously planning our future (out loud AND in my head). It doesn’t matter that I enjoy it and that it brings me temporal satisfaction, it can often rob me of the gift of the moment. Not to say that planning isn’t good and necessary, but there’s a line that often goes unnoticed and that I pass by several miles. I have learned time and time again that no matter how much I plan, if God’s plan is different, it will win out (and praise Jesus for that). There is an amount that we can do, but ultimately it has to be left up to the hands of our Creator.

I also need to take care to be present in the little things. I was reading the Popcak’s book “Just Married” about the first five years of marriage. One part struck me about people’s love styles: audio, visual, and kinesthetic (related to the way in which we learn as a child). Being a very visual person, I often find myself unable to relax or enjoy the moment if my environment isn’t to my liking. While there are great things to being visual, I can get so caught up in it that I bypass good time that could be spent with others (or even in prayer).

So a few attainable things to work on:

  • Abstaining from cleaning/preparing when better time would be spent enjoying time with my husband, with others, or in prayer.
  • Learning to enjoy leisure in it’s truest form (there’s lots more to say on this one).
  • Pausing frequently to thank God for the graces of the moment.
  • Be more intentional with prayer time so I’m not looking at the clock or anxious about “the next thing.”
  • Leave the life planning to specific times that both Kevin and I have set aside for it (ie: don’t bring up big decision topics on the bus or over breakfast).

The more I’m able to be present, the more, I hope, I’ll be able to notice God’s subtle movements in my life. Grace is all the time being poured out onto all of us, but we have to receive it. And contrary to what many people may think, receptivity is an active virtue. Also, by being attuned to God’s daily graces, I hope to cultivate more of a heart of gratitude. So in a nutshell, that’s a big thing I’m working on in 2015.

Anyone have any exciting things they’re working on this year?

 

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2014: a year in review

2014 has been a big year for me. Yes, I got married. And that’s probably the biggest thing, but there’s more to it than that. I’ve remarked to people before about how graduating college was always the last thing on my horizon. Not that I didn’t have hopes for life afterwards, but I just had no concept about what was beyond May 2011. I spent my life looking forward to milestones that I could plan. In a sense, I had always known what to expect. And then upon leaving BU, the world was my oyster (as they say). And since then, it literally has been a whirlwind. Life has not slowed down or gotten less exciting, as I would have assumed it would. In fact, the past 3 1/2 years have been incredibly full with high’s and low’s, consolations and desolations, weddings and funerals, joy and sorrow. Now coming into 2014, I had an idea of how it would go since most of it revolved around planning our wedding. But it’s fun to look back on all the moments that have made up this year. So let’s get to it:

I truly can’t remember much that occurred in January except for a really cold winter. Oh…and I read the Hunger Games during a few snowy days early in the year. I still can’t decide if this was a big mistake or not. It probably was. I was bed ridden from these horrifying books for days and it consumed my mind for weeks. One day I’ll have enough clarity to explain what kind of experience I had.

Dear Lonnie was a part of my life. Any close friend of mine knows about Lonnie. The hotel I worked at had a hard time hiring an HR Director for a while, so instead of leaving the office to just me (which would have been just a blast…not), we brought in (for a second time) Lonnie: a retired HRD for the company who does task-force and was born & raised in Minnesota but lives in Sonoma, CA. This woman made so much of my work life bearable. The pair of us had SO many laughs, plenty of cries (you would too if you dealt with some of what went on), and a lot of deep life talks. I can say that I would not have made it through as much as I did in that place without her presence.

Who can forget YOLVO? You only Las Vegas Once…ish. My older sister planned my bachelorette pary in Vegas. This started out as a joke (because I’m not really a Vegas person), but it’s always been my life dream to see Celine Dion live. So off to Vegas we went. My older sister (sorry Kerry, 21’s only), my three best friends from home, and my four best friends from college. I was a bit nervous for this trip, but it turned out alright. Despite Celine being on holiday the one weekend I make it out (sad face x 100), we avoided the craziness of that city and just enjoyed some nice time together away from the negative degree parts of the country.

Jenan became my sister when she married Keith on March 8th. Yes, just two months before me and Kevin. My parents deserve an award. They got married at the same church we did, and it was a truly remarkable time. Lots of joy and some really awesome photos. I love my family.

Moments in Priscilla. Moving into married life, especially understanding it as a Vocation, means a lot of change. I savored the moments with my roommates. Since senior year in college, my roommates have been a big part of my life. It’s always been women I knew from the Catholic Center at BU, and my last house with them is still the home to many women I know. And one of our roommates entered religious life the day after my wedding, so those last few months were ones of big preparation!

In April, I got a new job. Despite the way I might feel about the way work is going, God truly had a hand in this change. Lonnie and I both left the hotel within the same week: her for California to enjoy life back at the winery and me for a new position trying out a different industry. The timing was impeccable as it meant I had off all of holy week, and I’d still be able to take all the wedding time off. And there are a number of other factors that made this a better opportunity now that I’d be getting married.

EASTER IN DETROIT. This was another grace of changing jobs. I had planned a trip to see my dear friend Elise for Easter on a whim one night, since I didn’t envision me and Kevin really making it out there once we got married (and Kevin would be in Duluth for this Easter), and was able to extend it a couple of days. This trip had a profound effect on me. We went to Christ the King parish in Ann Arbour, MI and all I can say is it was powerful. The whole trip was wrapped up in deep spiritual talks, visiting holy places, driving on 8 Mile (obviously), and just enjoying some of my last unmarried time with such a good friend. As we liked to say, we were bringing Easter Sunday to the city of perpetual holy Saturday.

There were a few last events before the wedding that Kevin and I shared with each other and with friends. The marathon in Providence was a festive day with my roommates plus some. Our day trip to Rockport was a lovely last hoorah as engaged people. Random bachelorette and bridal shower things with my friends. Packing up my room and finding keys from my last 3 apartments (oops).

And then I got married on May 30th. More about that here. And we honeymooned in the Canadian Rockies. More about that here. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’ve enjoyed learning the ways of marriage and being a wife. In addition to the big things like growing in virtue and learning to sacrifice more, I’ve also learned how to cook spaghetti squash a number of ways, make my homemade coffee creamer, entertain large groups of friends with my single waffle maker, create a variety of meatless Friday meals that are also super tasty, crochet (sorta), plant an herb garden on our balcony (and endure the failures), and turn our small apartment into a cozy home.

I’ve attended three weddings from August to November (was a bridesmaid in one), and they were all wonderful. It was fun going to a wedding as a married person and being on the other side of it.

One of my closest friends, Ashlie & Josh, had a baby in November! Sarah and I were blessed to be able to throw her a shower at Josh’s parent’s home in Albany, NY. It was so great seeing her 8 months pregnant knowing that so soon they’d bring their first child into the world. And now he is here! John Paul! He is adorable. And I just know that they are doing a wonderful job, as hard as it can be not being very near family or close friends.

We enjoyed a Pennsylvania Thanksgiving this year with the whole family, shortly followed by a Philadelphia Eagles football game in DC, and annual tradition that we opened up to extended family this year since so many wouldn’t be home for Christmas. We stayed in my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Alexandria, VA and it was a blast.

And now I am in Duluth, celebrating the Christmas season! It’s been a real blessing being here. I’ve only been once before a year and a half ago, but it was a quick two days with lots of packed events. This time we’re able to take it slow. And we’ve gotten in some good quality time with his mom, brother, and uncle as well as some close friends.

It’s crazy to think that those have been the big things. Kevin and I have experienced quite a bit of life in 2014. God is blessing us abundantly as we continue to find the rhythm of our day-to-day. There have been some trials, but we’re learning to trust the Lord in new ways. We’ve felt an outpouring of grace especially in these last couple of months as we try to look ahead to this next year. I have a feeling 2015 will be just as full of a year, but in a much different way. We will have many big life decisions to make and we pray God continues to be generous to us and that He will guide us to where he wants us. And we hope that we can continue to be generous in return; we truly have so much to be grateful for.

 

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Merry Christmas from Duluth!

A most merry Christmas to you all! Currently, I’m resting in our lovely hotel room right on the edge of Lake Superior (spectacular views). Last night, we attended Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. Kevin introduced me to Bishop Sirba, a real delightful man! And so our solemnity began!

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This is my first Christmas away from Pennsylvania and away from my family (who I miss very much!), but we’re making the most of it and it’s beautiful being here in Kevin’s homeland. I’m really enjoying myself. And my family was blessed with this past weekend together in DC for our annual Philadelphia Eagles game!

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I hope you’re all having a joyous Christmas and that it continues throughout the entire season! I’m sure I’ll be back later with a plethora of pics and updates!

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Getting our retreat on.

A couple weeks ago, Kevin and I (sort of last minute) decided we’d like to go on a retreat put on by the yHope community outside Boston. It’s a young adult group (mainly early 20’s to early 30’s) that we’ve attended before and really love. It’s a lot of authentic people with great hearts. We hadn’t been in since before we were married since we don’t have a car and now live a little farther away. But this retreat seemed like a great opportunity to reconnect.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous at first because I’m still figuring out where we fit as a married couple. It might seem silly, but being in that in between spot of we’ve entered into our Vocation but don’t yet have children can be a little confusing as far as what we do for community (maybe it’s just me). And a lot of talks on this retreat were geared towards discerning your Vocation. But alas, we went and are so grateful we did. We were the only married couple, but I don’t think that deterred from our experience at all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable to be on retreat with my husband.

The theme was “remind me who I am,” and I don’t even know if it was any of the talks that made it sink into my heart, but rather just being there. I haven’t been on a retreat in over a year and a half, and taking this weekend made me realize how much we need that time away, focused solely on God.

I think something that helped the theme hit home for me was the fact that the retreat center was one that I’ve been to many times before, at very different stages in my faith journey. It’s a Pauline retreat center just outside Boston, and I’ve been there four different times with four different communities over the past six years:

In February 2009, our spring undergrad BU retreat was held here. It was a time that I was just really coming into my faith as a sophomore in college. New friends, a new lifestyle, and most importantly, the beginning of a deep relationship with God. In November 2011, the grad group at BU held a retreat here, so a lot of familiar faces. I had only graduated college six months before and was still adjusting to life in the real world. In February 2013, I attended the Pure in Heart retreat on JPII’s Theology of the Body. Pure in Heart is a young adult community in Boston that I was heavily involved with my first couple of years out of school (and also where Kevin and I met). During that time, Kevin and I were dating looking towards engagement. Now we’re in November 2014, and I’m in such a different life state, as I’ve been each time before. I’m now married and, though still fairly young as people point out, my life is focused on vastly different things.

As I said, the theme was “remind me who I am,” and by coming back to this familiar place in which I’ve had so many powerful experiences, I really felt reminded. Yes, my life is not as it has been: I’m battling different struggles, I’m receiving new graces, and I’ve matured in greater ways. But God is still God. He is unchangeable. And going back to the one who is reminded me of who I am, now and always: a beloved daughter of God. Regardless of what is going on in my life at the moment, that fact remains.

I guess the takeaway for me was bringing me back to the basics. My life has come a long way in the past 6 years; I would argue and say it’s much more complicated, but that doesn’t change where all the answers lay. Scripture, sacraments, prayer. All centered around my relationship with Jesus.

 

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Preparing for Advent

I’m super excited for Advent. I know we still got a few weeks, but just as it’s good to prepare for Christmas I think it’s also good to prepare well for Advent. Kevin and I have been having many conversations about how we want the liturgical year to look for our family – it’s one of our favorite activities. And we’ve been focusing on Advent and how we want to live the season as a married couple.

First off, if you want some good ideas on liturgical living, you should check out the book, The Little Oratory, and also head over to Carrots for Michaelmas as Haley writes about it a fair amount.

Like most people, I’ve spent many years celebrating the “Christmas season” from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. Only in the past few years have I begun to appreciate the penitential aspect of Advent . And though it’s penitential, it’s also not a sorrowful season. Rather it’s one of joyful and quiet longing as we wait for the Incarnation of our Savior.

I’m far from perfect when it comes to liturgical living, and it’s certainly an effort to quiet myself amidst all the excitement. So I’ve slowly tried to take active steps in really living the true season of Advent, and here are a few things that have been really fruitful for me: 

+ December 8th, the Immaculate Conception, is me and Kevin’s Marian Consecration date – we renew it each year. It’s a good way to prepare the heart for Advent and develop a deeper relationship with our Blessed Mother, the one through whom our Lord came into the world. To learn more about this, read here.

+ I’m terrible at fasting, but fasting is objectively good and a necessary part of our Christian life. We should try to incorporate some type of fasting into the season, but how we do it is up to us – there’s many good ways to go about this. One cool side note: there’s a company out here, LaVallee’s Breads (owned by a Catholic) and part of their business is fasting breads, which you can order online. Read more here! 

+ Frequent the sacraments.

+ We like to take part in Advent activities going on. For instance, there’s an annual Lessons & Carols Concert at St. John’s Seminary that we’ve attended the last few years and it is beautiful!! The seminary does such a wonderful job putting this on and it really puts you in spirit of Advent. 

+ Pick up a good book for Advent; last year I read Pope Benedict’s “The Infancy Narratives”; it was a beautiful read that drew me into to the season. 

+ Avoid Christmas music to the extent I can (which is easier for me since I don’t have a car). I prefer to listen to Enya’s “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” on repeat, but that’s just me.

Kevin and I hope to continue all of that this year, but we hope to be even more intentional with the season beyond those things that have become tradition. Some examples of things we’ve read that have really resonated with us: 

+ We will get a Christmas tree, but will leave the festive decorating until the Christmas season. The rest of our apartment will follow suit as well. 

I’ll attempt to simplify the cooking and leave the Christmas treats for Christmas (I may make some occasional cookies, though…). 

+ We’ve done most of our shopping for gifts/decorations beforehand so we don’t get caught up in the stores during Advent.

By living a true Advent season, it makes the Christmas season even greater! Fast well, feast well! And what’s even more amazing is that Christmas is not over on December 26th, but continues until the Baptism of our Lord! I’ve read that it’s even appropriate to keep all the decorations up until the feast of the Presentation on February 2nd. Talk about exciting!

 

Anyone have any Advent traditions they’d like to share? What do you do to make it special? 🙂

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