Today’s post and photos comes to you from our Brand Curator, Madi. A big thank you to her for sharing her experience and reflections with us!
Advent, which began on Sunday, is the beginning of the new year in the church. The word itself means coming. Oh the beauty of new beginnings, the freshness of new seasons. How beautiful is it that we have a church that starts its new year in winter, a season of darkness and nature taking its course to journey to new life. It’s so like Jesus to do that, to give us newness in the old, to come in the darkest night, the darkest time of the year, and bring His dazzling light in the form of a child in a manger in Bethlehem.
One way to prepare this Advent is to dive into traditions and prayer with the family. This season is such a sweet time of traditions, preparation, hope and the chance to start anew.
The Advent Wreath
Our My Saint My Hero Experience Boutique hosted an Advent Experience this past week. We gathered around the table in community to make Advent Wreaths, something we’d love to share with you in the hopes that you too can find renewal in the season with your family. If you wanted to make your own simpler Advent wreath, all you’d need is faux eucalyptus garland around a gold wreath candle holder and Advent candles.
Why Have an Advent Wreath?
Our dear friend, Father Kalu, shared with us the meaning of this beautiful tradition, emphasizing “the family that prays together, stays together” (Father Patrick Peyton). He explained that there are four candles in an advent wreath, one lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Each candle symbolizes the four centuries of waiting before Christ’s birth. On the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent, the purple candles are lit, symbolizing prayer, penance and the royalty of Jesus. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit, symbolizing the joy of the Lord.
The Advent wreath is a beautiful opportunity for prayer as the candles are lit, especially together with the family. You could reflect on Scripture together or pray over a different person each week. Amongst the women that were there, we shared glory stories of the Lord’s faithfulness in prayer within our families – it is hard, vulnerable, and attacked, but the fruits of this prayer together are so worth it all.
Let’s gather together this season, friends, and begin again this Advent season to prepare a way for the coming of our Savior. Let’s light the world up today with His love, especially amongst our families.
Today is #GivingTuesday. The natural response to feeling deep gratitude is to pay it forward. So after a long weekend of celebrating the gifts in our lives, and thanking God and each other for these gifts, it is beautiful to have a day where we stop to think of others. Gratitude is a virtue that grows in the measure it is given away, and the result is happiness.
Each of us is called to be a force of good in the world, and each in a unique and personal way. The Holy Spirit guides our hearts and show us how.
Jennifer shares how she personally felt called to share the gift of a blessing through our Blessing Bracelets. She jokes if she gave them away every time someone complimented her on them, she would have none left. However she does reflect that, “If we have received any of that comfort, then guess what He does? He turns us to another person and then we can be the arms and legs of Jesus to that person during that time…It kind of gives me an idea that when I walk besides someone who is going through an especially difficult time, maybe that’s the time I’ll share it.”
Today is a wonderful reminder and opportunity for us to share, to give this gift of a blessing. Use the promo code: SHAREONE to receive 60% off selected pieces on our website.
Today’s guest blogger is a dear high school friend of mine who is absolutely brilliant in every sense of the word, and like a sister to me. She had the incredible gift of having met St. John Paul II, whose feast day we celebrate this Sunday, October 22, and today, she has generously opened her heart to share her experience of meeting a saint with us.
Touched by a Saint
In January 2001, I had the opportunity of greeting Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. I knelt before him for a few seconds, grasped his hand, received his blessing. I walked off the platform still in a daze. Had I really been blessed by the Pope?
As the Church would later confirm when it first beatified, then canonized John Paul II, I had not only been blessed by a pope, I had been touched by a saint.
In 2001, I was floored that I had been able to meet John Paul II. I was excited and grateful. Over time, I began reflecting more on the significance of that encounter, apart from checking something exciting off my bucket list and having a neat story to tell.
I had been touched by a saint. What did that really mean?
It meant that sanctity was a reality. In real time. I could no longer associate holiness only with far off stories of medieval Europe, or martyrdom and imprisonment. Holiness exists in the world today, in people we can come in contact with. People with likes and dislikes, struggles and hopes.
It meant that I felt challenged. I felt personally connected with someone who had responded to God’s call to journey closer to him. God relentlessly pursues mankind, faithfully, eternally. Some individuals respond by relentlessly pursuing God. They are called saints. Coming in contact with one of them stirred within me the awareness that I too should be relentlessly pursuing God.
It meant that I had to figure out what holiness actually means. Holiness isn’t something we can accomplish or produce. We can open our hearts to it, but we cannot command it. I finally found a description of holiness that resonates with me (thank you, Benedict XVI!), and that I return to from time to time:
Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness. (…)Consequently, it is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints. And we can all learn this way of holiness. (Pope Benedict XVI Jan 31, 2007).
I appreciate Benedict XVI’s emphasis on the importance of ongoing conversion and forgiveness. Holiness is not something we attain, but a way of life that we strive for anew every day.
It meant that life would be OK. I was 15 when I met Pope John Paul II; he was 80. His wrinkled hand, blessing my forehead, caressing my cheek, was the same hand that had rescued a starving 13 year old Jewish girl during the holocaust. John Paul II saw more of life than most of us ever will. He understood human experience, deeply, and he lived in hope. Without knowing what my own life would have in store, as I clasped that hand, I instinctively knew that life was worth living.
Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us.
Ellen Mady lives in Pittsburgh, PA, where she spends her time working for the local Church and raising her three crazy and adorable children. She enjoys writing on faith and family topics when she has some downtime in the evenings.
Today’s post comes to you from a reflection by Sarah Erickson. We asked her what “be the one” means to her. Below is her answer. Thank you for sharing, Sarah!
My recent conviction of “be the one,” when I think about the one person, the one collection of human beings in the world that needs this love that doesn’t have bounds, conditions or strings attached is young women. I don’t see a more broken group of people.
I see, being in college, young girls looking to be known and loved in their relationships with men. Our culture pushes this need to be in a relationship, to always be pursued to be in that picture perfect relationship that is, in today’s terms, “goals.”
Therefore I am so convicted that I need to love them through sisterhood and remind them of the greatest pursuit: that of the man on the cross. We are so broken and we crave the affection of a father, the affection of that man on a cross who romances us through His blood.
So I think, when I hear, “be the one,” the first thing that comes to mind is to be the one to stand by those women who may be held captive, whether they know it or not. Their femininity is most treasured when it is centered at Calvary, with Mary, hand in hand in front of the Lord: the King of kings who is bleeding out for that woman.
So that is the image I keep getting, to bring those girls back to their roots, back to the beginning, back to where their freedom comes from, to where their salvation comes from. Because it is there where we can see glimpses of the Father’s love and know the greatest man’s affection. We don’t have to earn it. It was within us when we were born into the world.
Madi, our newest team member, shares her experience and reflections from the LA Prayer Breakfast that took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles, this past Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Many team members of My Saint My Hero were blessed to attend this event and be part of this beautiful movement of unity! We were proud to help sponsor this event by donating over two thousand One Nation Under God United in Prayer bracelets to everyone who attended.
Before the sun rose Tuesday morning, My Saint My Hero gathered with about two thousand other people of the church -from families to students, priests, sisters, bishops, normal people like you and me -to pray for our city and our country.
One Nation Under God United in Prayer Bracelets on those who attended.
We were welcomed by the angels and saints at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in the middle of Los Angeles, a place that, as you walk around, has you surrounded by the presence of the angels and the saints. And as one nation, one church, one family on earth and in heaven, we worshiped and interceded for our city & our country. We were encouraged by a great theologian and leader of the church, Dr. Scott Hahn, who led us deep into the heart of the Father with such a simple message: He is a good, kind Father.
United in prayer and blessing.
It is so easy to hear that and then just move on with our lives, for our mind to accept it and move on to the next worry, the next thing on the to do list. But do we let it reach our heart?
You are loved more in this moment by the Father than any other person could love you in an entire lifetime.
The love He has for you has nothing to do with your performance, your goodness, your success, how much you get done today. It has everything to do with His goodness, with His never-ending grace. Some of us may have bad experiences and views of our earthly fathers. But our Heavenly Father is unlike any flawed human father, some who may at times hide or run when things get hard. In contrast, He gives His whole heart to you at each moment. He holds nothing back.
So I encourage you today to rest, find yourself held by the Father at his throne. Let that love sink in into the deepest places of your heart to heal the wounds of this world.
In honor of Grandparents Day which we celebrated this past Sunday, we asked one of our team members who has been blessed as a grandma twice now, to share with us her insider, personal experience of the grace of being a grandparent.
Tina with her daughters and grandchildren.
Meet Tina: My Saint My Hero’s CFO and Much More
My name is Tina Ferrigno and I am a mother of four amazing adult children and I have worked for My Saint My Hero since 2011. My two oldest children are both married. My son and his wife are expecting their first child, and my daughter is expecting her third. When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, Emma I prayed that I could find my way into the hearts of my grandchildren. This is how “Fridays with Emma” was born. Thankfully, I could begin a flex 40 work week so I could spend every Friday with Emma. Now I spend most Fridays with Emma and Michael! Soon there will be “Four on Fridays”! I am so grateful and incredibly blessed.
Let me begin with two golden rules that every grandparent should follow:
Keep my opinions to myself and just be a grandparent, my job is not to be a parent.
What happens at grandma’s house stays at grandma’s house (my personal favorite!).
Can you share your experience of the role as a grandparent? How do you find it different from any other role such as mother, aunt etc?
Every time I see my grandchildren, I am reminded of God’s beautiful graces that He has blessed me with. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to make a difference in my grandchildren’s lives – and I am grateful for the joy that they bring to my life. As a grandparent, I like to be a little bit of a parent, a little bit of a teacher and a little bit friend to each of them in a unique way. These attributes get better with age because I like to think we grow in wisdom which help us become better parents, better teachers, and better friends. For me, to be able to share that with my grandchildren, is in itself a gift.
What is your greatest joy in being a grandparent?
Seeing the world through their beautiful pure eyes is the greatest joy. I think when I was a parent I may have been just managing or dictating our lives: clean, feed, change and repeat. But these responsibilities are different from a grandparent’s perspective. Parenting is much more stressful than being a grandparent and I love it! I have a second chance to do it all over again, but better.
How do you find the role of grandparent to be important in today’s society, in the life of your children/grandchildren?
Being a grandparent is very important in today’s society. Most families today are a two-parent working home, and life becomes a flurry of activities. Besides Fridays, I try to relieve mom and dad when I can. But more so, sharing the bond of motherhood with my daughter has given me a new friendship with her I have never experienced before. In a society where family is often disjointed or blended, watching my babies having babies has brought our entire family closer.
How has grandparenting been a blessing in your life?
This is a great question because my daughter and her husband have things well under control, in many ways, more so than I did as a young mother. The truth is those babies give more to me than I could ever give to them. To see the challenging world through the eyes of God’s most precious life, is invigorating and awe inspiring. It literally brings so much joy. This journey of being a grandparent is a beautiful chapter that God has written for me and I am very grateful.
What is your favorite My Saint My Hero blessing piece and how does it affect your life and thus your role as a grandparent?
I have so many! However, I love the Divine Blessings bracelet for several reasons. I can say my rosary anytime anywhere because it is a decade, and God knows the power of a grandmother’s prayer! I love giving the gift of being my grandchildren’s prayer warrior. This piece is a daily reminder to do good with my hands. The Swarovski pearls remind that we all have a light that shines from within because they all begin with a crystal in the center. Layers are then added, like each of us!
Thank you, Tina, for opening up your heart and sharing these beautiful reflections with us!
Today’s guest writer is a Catholic speaker with a great love of working with teens and a passion for bringing Christ to the world through the media. John Yep was a seminarian for over 10 years and holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum in Rome and a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, CA. With a gift of sharing God’s love and theological reflections in an easy to understand and engaging way, he’s written this piece on St. Joseph’s pure heart and what a beautiful and integral role it played in the life of Jesus.
“Like Father, Like Son”
This expression applies in a special way to Jesus and his dad. While volumes have been written about the relationship of Jesus to his heavenly Father as the first person in the Blessed Trinity, it is not so common to draw out the relation with Jesus and his earthly father Joseph. We must work harder to see the relation of Joseph to Jesus because of the dearth of information afforded to us by the holy writers of the Bible.
So what was the heart of Joseph like? Why was it that this man was chosen to be the one who raised Jesus? The secret to Joseph was his heart. It was a pure heart; pure as an unblemished lamb!
Wear the protection and inspiration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Pure Heart of Joseph with our Holy Family Cuff.
The Lamb of God
We know that one of the most important titles of Jesus is, “The LAMB of God who takes away the sins of the World.” It would be fair to say that Jesus learned to be a lamb by watching his father Joseph. Joseph was pure, gentle, but strong; just like a lamb. His silence in the Gospels has never ever been taken for weakness. He was a man who lived his life in complete acceptance of the will of God.
He was in his own way a lamb who helped to take away the sins of the world. He didn’t do that as the primary lamb, a role reserved to his son that was God. Rather, he did so as a co-redeemer, much the same way that any of us can help Christ in saving souls through our free cooperation with grace. By the constant unwavering yes of Joseph to the will of God, Joseph became a lamb who helped take away the sins of the world. And the way that he did it spoke volumes to his son who would follow suit. Joseph opened not his mouth. He was a silent figure in the background whose humility and service constantly taught Jesus what it meant to be a lamb of God.
God’s Chosen Father
God doesn’t make mistakes. He chose this man Joseph to be the model of masculinity for his only beloved Son, Jesus. He saw Joseph as capable of teaching his son everything he would need to know to be that man of quiet strength that would carry love to its extremes on the hill of Calvary. It’s no wonder that thousands of Catholic men down through the centuries have turned to Joseph for help as the Caelitum Joseph, decus atque nostrae!…….Joseph, the praise and glory of the heavens!
He possesses that pure heart which wants to shower graces upon us here on earth as we fight to reach our eternal goal. As we fight for that pristine virtue let us look no further than to the pure heart of St. Joseph. He was there for Jesus; he’ll be there for us!
Today’s guest writer is a fashion blogger on fire for changing culture and she’s sharing her article on the beauty of femininity through Lauren’s “yes”. Lauren is the daughter of one our own team members, Maria, and we are so proud to call this beautiful young lady a part of our MSMH family.
Going His Pace
Lauren Franklin: University of San Diego Graduate and future Colorado Vincentian Volunteer
Lauren Franklin has been more of an abstract concept in my life than a real person. She would float into my graduation party and give me the sweetest gift that was more me than any other gift and then reappear again when talking with other girls about women we look up to. Yet again I had let myself create this image of “perfect” femininity that we all do so often when faced with beautiful Christian women we barely know. But, when we finally found the time for me to feature her she joyously entered my life and crashed every single one of those lies. As I had imagined, she was grace-filled, kind, and full of the Holy Spirit… but she was also incredibly dorky, a little nervous, and a woman curious about her future just like me. She was refreshing, real, and so authentic and I am so excited to share her words with you.
“It’s been a Yes for me in choosing to say, ‘well the whole world is going to tell me this but God has always had me where He needs me at His pace.”
As an English major, Lauren has grown to truly love words and understand how impactful every single one of them can be. She’s had a word for every season of her life, one that keeps her grounded and reminds her to always look to Christ. Finishing up senior year of college was a hectic time and so it makes sense that as she prayed about what this season would be the Latin root PACE would come to mind. “There are a few meanings for it, one is ‘with peace’ and the other is ‘As so and so wills’ and I like to think of it as ‘As God Wills’. And I’ve learned pace… like Lauren goes at her own pace.” As Lauren entered the world it was hard to recognize that while the whole world may be saying one thing God had intended something so much greater for her. “I’ve felt pressured to go at other’s pace, especially in dating, in my vocation (career) and in potentially being a wife and a mother one day. I have to decide what I, and God, want to do with all the little days in my life and so that’s been really convicting for me. It’s been a Yes for me in choosing to say, ‘well the whole world is going to tell me this but God has always had me where He needs me at His pace.”
So, what does His ‘pace’ look like in her life? “I was offered a job at a faith based writing company and it was such a blessing and it made me really fired up in the moment but the excitement wore off pretty quickly.” It seemed like a perfect opportunity for her and yet it didn’t feel right, so instead of ignoring that feeling and keeping it hidden she went out and sought help. “I talked about it with people who I trust and they asked me if I was excited to work for this company and I knew that my heart was growing duller and duller and duller thinking about it.”The same week she was offered this job she found out she was also accepted into a volunteer program, Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, and her heart was torn as she struggled to discern God’s plan for her. “I prayed with a lot of people, because I was having a hard time praying alone, and talked to a spiritual director, and prayed for complete clarity.” And, God did… As she looked through her possible volunteer sites with CVV she came upon a high school for low-income students, “I KNEW that was where I needed to be.”
“God’s plan for us doesn’t call us to be constantly on our game, evangelizing and on fire 24/7… sometimes, He just wants us to rest in our loving Father and that is good and beautiful.”
It’s all about trusting in His plan for you, as His daughter and servant, even when it seems impossible to do so, even when you don’t feel His love. “Sometimes I forget that I’m a daughter of Christ, and my heart always breaks when I do.” When everything seems crazy and it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day it’s so hard to remember this ‘amazing’ plan God apparently has for you. “This semester I was really busy and it was hurting my soul and just draining me. I knew I needed to make time for Him, and myself.” So, when her babysitting job was canceled one night she finally had time alone, “I pulled up to the cliffs and sat in my car and… slept… and I felt so loved. Like God wanted that for me. Christ wanted to protect my rest and offer that to me.” She didn’t do anything crazy or go to adoration, she slept. She took care of herself and restored her soul in the simplest of ways and I think a lot of the time we all forget how important something like rest is. God’s plan for us doesn’t call us to be constantly on our game, evangelizing and on fire 24/7… sometimes, He just wants us to rest in our loving Father and that is good and beautiful. (Naps are totally at God’s pace).
When it comes to her fashion Lauren strives to truly be a free expression of herself. “It flows out from who I am, and sometimes I get hindered and think ‘oh what will people think of me when I wear this’ but I like to feel that what I’m wearing is fun, will bring a lightness to life, allows me not to take myself to seriously, and will celebrate that I am a woman. It’s a celebration to put something on in the morning that I like.”
“It’s a celebration to put something on in the morning that I like.”
This blog has always been tips on dressing modestly but Lauren represents the other side of the population. The side that, in the process of dressing modestly, forget to show their feminine beauty. “Sometimes it can actually be more hard to show that I am a woman in a tasteful way. It’s hard to be confident in my curves.”This is such a true statement that a lot of women aren’t talking about in the modesty debate. God wouldn’t have made our bodies so beautiful and so good if He wanted us to just hide them away. We were made in His image as women and while we need to remain dignified in the way we dress it doesn’t mean that we should hide the fact that we are women! For Lauren, modesty is more than just a comfort thing; it’s a way to dignify herself and prepare for her future. “I honor my womanhood by allowing myself to wear fun things and to do that in a way that honors my Father who cares about me and has a plan and a pace for my life. It makes me look forward to my wedding night one day. I can’t wait to have my heart prepared where I’m ready to be completely vulnerable with somebody else.”
“There are as many images and definitions of femininity as there are women in the world. You’re an image of femininity by being a child of God who is made in His image.”
Lauren may have crushed this “perfect” image of her that I had created but the real Lauren was so so much better than anything I could have ever imagined. It was like when we make a plan that we think is perfect but God comes in, asks us to trust Him, and then shows us a plan so much greater than anything we could have imagined. The best part is she has taught me a new way of seeing femininity, “There are as many images and definitions of femininity as there are women in the world. I want every girl to know that and that it includes the whole scope of her story. Don’t stop seeking God. You’re an image of femininity by being a child of God who is made in His image.”
Find the Original post here and follow Lizzy’s blog, My Yes.
Lizzy Rich, daughter of Christine Rich (co-founder of MSMH) is a Fashion Blogger dedicated to changing the narrative of our modesty to one of dignity, beauty, and self-love through the eyes of our Father.
One of the many gifts that comes with being part of the My Saint My Hero family is meeting like-minded, God-loving, mission-driven people with incredible stories. We teamed up with Josh Blakesley, a talented musician who is on a mission to spread God’s blessings, to create this Signature Limited Edition Breathe Blessing Bracelet inspired by his song, Beautiful is Your Love. Each card is signed by Josh Blakesley with a special message from him on the back. We invite you to let Josh’s music move you to prayer just as our wearable blessings remind you of God’s blessing present in your life and inspire you to pause, to breathe and remember His love and His promise of fidelity.
A Personal Note from Josh
My Saint My Hero is a far-reaching ministry that beautifully compliments the work that I do as a traveling singer-songwriter. In the travel and days away from home, prayer is the key to survival for me, the band and our families. My Saint My Hero creates accessories that aid in prayer and offer reminders of our faith. So, we have teamed up together to bring you a product inspired by my song, Beautiful is Your Love. When I wear mine, it reminds me of Christ’s perfect sacrifice and helps lead me to peace, prayer and a deeper devotion to our Lord. My greatest hope, for this unique gift, is that it will do the same for all who wear it. -Josh Blakesley
Each of us is on our own journey as we walk this earth. Our goal is to find the path that leads us to perfect union with God and we are thankful for the saints that have gone before us to show the way. They exemplify the beauty of the diversity with which God has a personal relationship with each one of us. He knows how to meet us exactly where we are in every moment of our lives and we are grateful to those like Josh that are open to sharing their story.
“Lord, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person.” St. Therese of Lisieux