FOREVER: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage (Week One)

Spontaneous date night in the middle of the week. Not totally unheard of in the Dyogi home after our spur-of-the-moment boba date in August, so I figured we could pull this one off. I asked my sister Emeline if she could watch the kids so that Gary and I could make it out all the way to Christ Cathedral for Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel’s book release of their new Catholic marriage devotional. We desperately needed time together and something concrete to keep us connected on a regular basis, as super-busy as we are.

Surprisingly, after eleven years of marriage, connection still doesn’t always come easy for us. At least when it comes to any interaction beyond letting my husband know whether I have a client appointment to go to when he comes home…if the kids ate dinner or not…who wasn’t getting electronics the next day because they were fighting with a sibling. I’ve addressed the importance of actively working on our marriage, but it is definitely a challenge because the kids and work have been our main priorities since our oldest was born. If you ask Gary, he will tell you that we have a good marriage, which I agree with; however, I know that there’s a deeper intimacy that we can share and model for our children.

So yes, I’d bug him every so often about it. And no, I wasn’t planning on letting it go.

Why? Because marriage is incredibly fragile in our society. The sacrament itself in the Church is solid, but with brokenness, concupiscence, temptation, complacency, emotional baggage, etc., etc., etc., the husbands and wives of today need to fiercely nurture the love that God has placed in our hearts for each other.

Hence, down the 405 and 22 freeways in rush hour traffic we went.

It was a beautiful evening, with Jackie and Bobby starting off with a Q&A about their book and their marriage. We appreciated their candid, honest, and grace-filled responses, knowing well the struggles of living as both spouses and parents of young children. Finding their experiences common to our own got us excited about starting the devotional together, and it came at a perfect time as we’d been planning to grow our ministry and start a YouTube channel for it. Lifting up our relationship in prayer during adoration that night led to the beginning of a new journey for me and Gary – one that would teach us more about each other and about God’s plan for our family.

We made this video at Christ Cathedral immediately after meeting Jackie and Bobby and committed to doing the devotional every day for 6 weeks.

We just finished Week One a whole three weeks later because life happened. Between work schedules, kiddos, chores, family events, much-needed rest, and a temporary pause due to issues we needed to work out with each other, it was hard getting the time in to do the daily devotions. Nevertheless, we made it to Day 7. I’m proud of us for even starting this because it’s more than we’ve ever done before, and I’m so grateful to Gary for persevering through it with me.

My favorite Week One challenge was from Day 3 when we had to find time to be alone with God.

A lot went through my mind and heart as I stood in front of the statue of St. Anthony.

St. Anthony statue
St. Anthony of Padua

I knew that if I myself was not abiding in the Lord, it would be very difficult to strengthen my marriage and see my husband with the eyes of Jesus. As I write this, I’m making a mental note to be more intentional with my individual prayer time so that it can then feed into my relationship with Gary and the kids.

The topics in FOREVER do touch on very personal aspects of marriage, and we will speak to these as best we can. Many of the subjects have already been publicly discussed in our talks over the years or shared with my Creighton Model clients at our follow-up appointments. These videos are primarily for our Dyogi kids so that they can witness the beauty of our vocation with all of the hills and valleys. And if there is something others can learn or be consoled by, praise the good Lord.

To get your copy of FOREVER: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel, visit Pauline Books & Media or Amazon.com for the Kindle version. There’s no better time to start than right now!

If you can do it in 6 weeks, that would be awesome. But if you have to take some time working through it like we do, that’s okay! No matter what, you would be building the foundation of your domestic church with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. It’s worth the investment. Your family depends on it. Have fun!

In Search of Me and Finding More of HIM

My goodness…a whole two years have passed! Here is my 2016-2017 update in a nutshell…

I went back to classroom teaching! It was an unexpected but very blessed experience for our family that began in November 2015 at St. Anthony of Padua in Gardena. My children attended school where I worked – a first for the Dyogi kids – and they absolutely loved it. They made so many really good friends, and so did I! I was privileged to serve under one of my favorite pro-life heroes Mrs. Angela Baraquio Grey, principal and Miss America 2001. I came onboard because we shared the same vision and philosophy for Catholic education, and I gained so much as an educator in the SAP school community. The students and their families were amazing, and I couldn’t ask for a better faculty and staff to work with. My favorite moments were seeing my own kiddos running around at recess with their friends, coming up to hug me as we passed each other in the lunch line, and having their teachers share with me the beautiful insights they would volunteer in class discussions.

In late 2015, I was interviewed for “The Catholic View for Women” on EWTN and the episode called “The Vocation Journey” aired this past May. It has replayed a few times already and, thanks be to God, there have been women around the country who were able to identify with different parts of my story. The interview did not include details about my meeting with Mother Angelica in the summer of 2003 which was an integral turning point for my vocation, but it was a great honor to be featured on the worldwide cable network that she founded. Watching the show with my family gave me an opportunity to see my life for the first time through God’s eyes. Mine has not been an easy road to walk, as I’ve had to make some hard choices and reach for the hand of Christ after falling under the weight of my cross. I am realizing more and more that all I need to do is to stay faithful to what is in front of me and depend on the Lord for the grace I need to sustain me every step of the way.

Rosary 10 months

Baby Dyogi #5 joined our family! Her name is Rosary Angelica named after my favorite spiritual weapon and favorite TV nun. She is a very sweet, charming little girl who is turning a year old next month already! I am so grateful that the Lord gave her to us because I can see how she pulls the rest of her siblings together and brings so much joy into our household. The pregnancy was a difficult one for me ridden with horrible panic attacks, but God is good. Rosary is healthy and has a very strong spirit. She has a keen observant awareness about her and already loves so generously. I cannot wait to see how her life’s mission will unfold as she gets older.

We are back to homeschooling! As of last June, Gary and I decided to once again have me stay home with the kids due to some new health issues that came up earlier this year. It was definitely not an easy decision to leave St. Anthony; however, we needed to choose what was best for our family overall. I have since been doing much better physically and continue to see Creighton clients part-time. I am also making a return to the speaking circuit and look forward to the new adventures that await us in the future!

Aside from all the “happenings”, this year in particular has been one of deep searching, healing, and transformation. My 40th birthday last December set me on a very interesting path – one that required a level of openness and humility that I’d never experienced before. I will be spending the rest of 2017 sharing my insights here on this blog, in hopes that my testimony will help someone out there discover the joy and peace that is possible in a life that is sprinkled (or showered) with suffering. As I said, God is ever loving and merciful, and He wants to give us so much more than we even dare to ask for. Because He has blessed me, I know He will bless you, too. Will you join me on the journey?

Be Bold, Be You, Be Loved

Every person longs for acceptance. We want to know we belong somewhere and fit in like pieces of a puzzle. This is why human beings have always sought community and solitary confinement is used as punishment for criminals.

When we don’t feel we quite measure up to the standard held in our families, our workplaces, our social circles, and even our churches, our first instinct is to walk away. The depression and anxiety that stems from deep insecurities lead us into isolation and suffocating interior darkness.

But God desires to love us into freedom. He created us with gifts, talents, and particular temperament that were meant to bless the world. Trying to navigate through a broken society and dealing with our own fallen humanity often makes it difficult to recognize our intrinsic value. Media advertising blares deceitful messages of simultaneous conformity and reckless abandonment.

It’s a challenge to walk the line between compassion and justice. We’re hard on ourselves and hard on each other. At the same time in regards to objective sin, sometimes we’re too forgiving and complacent walking down a dangerous road towards accepting terrible wrongs as normal and acceptable. But St. Teresa of Avila accurately defines humility as truth. If we want to be humble enough to grow authentic virtue, it is absolutely necessary for us to pray for the eyes of Jesus through which we will learn to see ourselves as He does.

What do we do that are “kingdom actions”? What thoughts do we think are “kingdom thoughts”? As I pray through my days, I’m trying to be more aware of the motivations and stirrings of my heart that manifest themselves in word and deed. A recent soul project I’ve undertaken is a greater movement toward authenticity because I can only contribute to the Kingdom of God the person God made me to be.

It’s taken some time to figure out who exactly that is, but I’ve gained great consolation in knowing that the “Me” that I give the world doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s a bit scary because I’m afraid of being judged for my faults and imperfections. Yet I find that even in the daily struggles, my heart is being refined and purified from attachments I didn’t even know were disordered. So while people may misunderstand me or form opinions about me based on the limited knowledge they have, I can still thank God for the hidden work He is doing within me that is taking root in my soul.

He loves me. He loves you, too. He loves each and every one of us so much that He shed His blood so that we might be saved from the hands of the enemy. The devil doesn’t want us to be real with ourselves and with each other. If he can’t get us to physically destroy our own lives, he will deceive us into creating a world of fabricated selves that look nothing like the image that God created us in.

The Lord desires us to be FULLY ALIVE…not the Walking Dead! May we wake up to the reality of God’s good graces and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit that empower us reflect the presence of Jesus in our world.

“We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and our total surrender. Once we really belong to him then he is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases.”

— Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Be Filled With the Spirit

“Brothers and sisters:
Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord. And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Today I pray for:

  • wisdom
  • knowledge
  • discernment

Lord, I would like to know what to say, when to say it, and how Your message needs to be delivered. Please pour out Your Spirit upon my life – not only when I am called to do “big” things, but in the tasks and interactions  that I face every day.

My kids ask me questions all the time. They want to understand the world around them. They’re figuring out how to have healthy relationships with the people in their lives and what actions are good and bad. I pray that I will guide them rightly and most importantly be able to live out an example worth following. Amen.

The Inheritance

“I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”  (Joshua 24:13)

Today I pray for:

  • a deeper awareness of the shoulders I stand on
  • gratitude for the labor of love I have inherited in building up the Body of Christ
  • GUSTO (a.k.a. zeal for souls)

Tonight I was blessed to be in the presence of brothers and sisters in Christ who are very comfortable with tears. I needed to release the heaviness. I had to surrender the crosses I was not meant to bear.

In a recent conversation with a dear friend, I talked about how “edited” our lives end up becoming when we are trying so hard to be strong and hold it all together. This prayer meeting let me offer the “uncut” version of myself and receive the peace The Lord wanted to give me.

I’m grateful for these gatherings…for the authenticity…for the intercession. The healing process continues and the work will not be done until we take our last breath. In the meantime…

“ADELANTE! Onward!” – Ven. Mother Luisita, OCD

 

YOUR PRAYER LIFE

Between Jesus and the soul there flows a current no one can see and a dialogue that no one hears. Form a rich and beautiful tabernacle for Our Lord within your heart and then do not let Him go. In that way you will always have Him within you. Enter within yourself and, meeting Him, tell Him all your experiences. Adore Him within yourself, as if everything were in silence.

How beautiful it is to be in the Hands of God, searching His divine Gaze, in readiness to do whatever He wishes. If you don’t omit prayer, you will find all your answers there. Prayer can do all things. It is our most powerful weapon against the devil and nothing can withstand it or resist it. Therefore, prayer is what will save you from the many dangers surrounding you daily. With courage, trust, and prayer adelante (onward), even if you have to walk among thorns.

Are you becoming a saint? God our Lord has given you a soul for that very purpose. God loves you very much, my child. Correspond to that love, by making acts of humility, especially interiorly. Be truly simple and try to detach yourself from everything that is not God. You’ll be able to do this through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. Don’t doubt it.

(Excerpted from letters written by Venerable Mother Luisita)

My Gift to the World

“Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes.” (Psalm 119:135)

Today I pray for:

  • a greater security in belonging to Jesus
  • a more complete detachment from the world’s attractions
  • metanoia

I’m not being called to mimic or duplicate any other woman. The unique gift of myself that I offer back to The Lord is the greatest contribution I will make in this life. I’m praying with all my heart that it will be enough for me. Because that’s all I can really give…

In the Midst of Us

“Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

Today I pray for:

  • the inspiration to pray
  • to fight the temptation to worry
  • to include my husband and my children as I am praying

Out of my prayer, I realized that:

  • there is so much I haven’t given to God
  • the enemy is actively trying to steal my peace
  • I just need to pray