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!

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

Cheerful Giving

“Brothers and sisters: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:6-8)

Today I pray for:

  • a deeper appreciation for the mission I have been given to preach the truth 
  • the ability to recognize the abundance of grace from which all of my work flows
  • more cheerfulness, especially when I am tired

I gave the first of these two talks at the Holy Family Young Adult prayer meeting tonight:

  

I definitely felt the weight of responsibility addressing such a heavy topic, but I hope that the beauty of authentic self-giving love will be embraced and shared by all who understand how desperately the world needs it.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…we love you, save souls. Amen.

Imitation of Christ

“Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. 

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 4:30-5:2)

Today I pray for:

  • the ability to imitate Christ
  • the courage to live in love
  • the willingness to offer myself as a sacrifice to God

I understand that there is only so much of me that I can give to other people, so I am discerning and prioritizing for the sake of survival. It is possible to love many people, but I cannot realistically serve them all outside of the prayers I offer for them.

I do know my heart has a yearning for more authentic friendships, and I am trying to focus my efforts on those relationships that are most fruitful. 

It grieves me to realize that certain ties are not as strong as they once were, but it’s something I just need to accept so I can move forward. One day, they will know how much I love them. It may not happen in this life, and I just have to be okay with that.

  

And then there are my kids, who truly need me more than anyone else in this world. This audio of me and Kali was made a year ago, and my heart broke when it dawned on me that time is passing by way too quickly for us.  

 
My little ones are not so little anymore and the moments with them are fleeting. This is really where my focus should be. With a million and one things going on in my life, they deserve more of me than they’ve been getting. And this is where I need to start. Right now.