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!

There is a Season

Married 8 years. Friendship for 10. Over the course of time, the relationship I’ve had with Gary has evolved in so many ways. In the early days we were friends turned pen pals. Our courtship and engagement were very romantic. The first two years of marriage took a lot of adjusting on my part, and it was much harder than I expected. Most of the depth that grew out of our marriage came during the seasons when we met with moments of great struggle…when it didn’t feel like all sunshine and roses…because there was never an intention to walk away from the hardships. We plowed through them together because that’s what we vowed to one another and to God at the altar. ‘Til death do us part.

Yes, because of my broken past I would admittedly freak out inside for fear that my husband would one day leave me. But I needed to trust that God was present enough in his heart to inspire Gary to choose me and our kids each and every day of his life. And he has. Believe me, I tried to warn him about the mess he was going to marry. And he completely understood the nature of my physical illness as well – even better than I did. He was fully accepting of everything I was because he hoped and prayed that I would also embrace him with all his virtues and vices, too.

It was important that we were totally open and truthful in the beginning. Before we got married, there was nothing hiding behind closed doors. At least nothing major. Except the fact that he absolutely loved food, and I couldn’t cook like he did. He had a vague idea that I wasn’t great in the kitchen, but he did tell me that he ate anything. I think that still caused pretty significant anxiety at first because I felt the need to apologize every time I made a meal. But we weren’t about to break up over my lack of cooking skills. I’m grateful that Gary was patient enough to coach me through and put up with me yelling questions at him during meal prep (which I still do).

Now having 4 kids, we need to make more of an effort to share one-on-one time together, but the teamwork it takes for us to raise our children gives me security that our marriage is solid. Every once in a while we’ll steal away for a date night, and I always appreciate his displays of affection. I did have to let go of my expectations that the frequency of our quality time would equal what it once was before parenthood. Of course that changes. It definitely requires self-sacrifice to persevere through times when demands of responsibility are high. Knowing, however, that we can weather through storms of stress and conflict when they come has consoled my heart like nothing else.

Okay, let’s flip the switch for a second and do some faith integration…

I remember a conversation with my cousin Jaymee when I was still single. Already married with four kids, she said, “Cherish your time in adoration, B.anne. After you get married, you won’t have that luxury anymore of visiting Jesus whenever you want to.”

I held fast to her advice because it was true. Gone are the late nights at St. Dominic Savio’s Adoration Chapel and the hours spent at St. Peter Chanel with just Jesus and my journal. Does this go to say that my family life has diminished my relationship with Jesus? Not at all. Just as the conversations with my first True Love were once upon a time lengthy and uninterrupted, so were the ones with my husband. We could also do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. While I am not able to frequent the Blessed Sacrament as often as I used to, I still take Jesus with me into everything I do and to every single place I go. And I do the same (in a sense) with Gary. I think about him when we’re not together. He’s very much a part of me when I’m with the kids and when I’m meeting with my clients.

So I don’t need to be incredibly disappointed about the limitations within my marriage and my relationship with Jesus. But wrapping up this entry makes me realize that I do need a date with my husband some time soon…and a good long visit with Jesus. 🙂

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To read more about what we all can do to strengthen our marriages, please check out this article, “Keeping It Together: Advice from the Trenches” by Pete Vere

My Portion is the Lord: A personal reflection

As soon as we walked into the rectory, my eyes were welling up with tears. I’m not typically a super-emotional person, but when something special tugs at my heartstrings, it’s hard to hold the waterworks in. This is what made me cry:

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It’s a painting of St. Thérèse and her family. ALL OF THEM. Mom, Dad, the Little Flower, her sisters who became nuns, and her other siblings who died in infancy/childhood. I was so touched to see how the artist honored every single person in the Martin family, especially the little ones…and here we were to speak at the retreat about our own babies who had gone to Heaven.

What a comfort it was to have her so present with us! From the very beginning of my career as a teacher to my own vocational discernment…novena after novena, I would ask St. Thérèse to pray for me, and just as she promised, she showered down roses upon me in so many different forms. This was yet another way of letting me know she was still walking with me…

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Seven and a half years after our first baby died, we described the loss as if it happened yesterday. It was an amazingly beautiful experience…to stand in front of these couples who knew exactly what we were feeling in our grief…to see their tears and feel their pain as if it were our own.

Other stories followed from those who knew similar heartache but were called to adoption and valuable service to the greater community. If we just unite ourselves with Our Lord in His complete surrender at Gethsemane and Our Blessed Mother in her Fiat…how good God is as He opens doors and gifts us with blessings beyond our wildest dreams.

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How we prayed for each one of them…for the husbands and the wives…and also for an openness to share again in the future so others will know that they are not alone. Praise God for inspiring Jack and Katrina Crow to organize the whole day. On so many levels, it was no easy task. I wish there was a retreat like this when we lost Little Gary. Even moving on with our lives can be agony at times…not because I am ungrateful for the four children we do have with us, but because our family is separated. This longing to be reunited with our babies reminds me that this world is not our home…that one day we will be filled with nothing but joy and the longing will be no more. Until then, we set our eyes and hearts on Jesus with the hope that we can live and love as He did in order to make this reunion possible.

When all was said and done, I was so grateful for my husband’s support. Preparing for this talk opened up a floodgate of emotions, and I learned so much not only about myself, but also about Gary. We are definitely stronger because of the sacramental grace God blessed us with when we got married. The ebb and flow of life isn’t always smooth sailing, and things truly do not happen as you expect them to. I am incredibly privileged to journey with this man who knows how to navigate the waters and console me in the storms. Thank you, Gary, for holding my hand through it all…

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UNFROZEN / VALOR come to HFYA Artesia!

Holy Family Young Adults brings you…UNFROZEN_VALOR

UNFROZEN: “Being The One Worth Melting For” by Marianne Soratorio Dyogi (As He Loves Ministries)

Monday, Feb. 10, 2013 @ 7:30pm

Holy Family Catholic Church (JOHN PAUL II ROOM – next to Parish Hall)

18708 Clarkdale Avenue, Artesia, California 90701

All too often we get caught up in looking for Mr./Ms. Right. Without a significant other, we sometimes feel incomplete and devalued as we long for that special someone to come along and sweep us off our feet. Yet even when we have what we want, loneliness and isolation can still set in. Marianne takes the powerful themes of the Disney movie “Frozen” and breaks down the importance of personal dignity, self-love, and sacrifice…all necessary for a fruitful relationship with ourselves, our God, and those given to us to love.

*** SPECIAL NOTE: In order to fully appreciate the lessons in this talk, it is highly advisable to see “Frozen” prior to attending. If this is not possible, please be aware that UNFROZEN will be jam-packed with references that may put a damper on your future movie-watching experience. Can’t say we didn’t warn you…

****if you’re available FEB 24, Mon. please join HFYA for VALOR: “Made for a Mission- To Protect Her, To Love Her, To Serve Her” PART 2 (Gary Rosete Dyogi) talk, same location/same time. Special 2-part series offers understanding from both FEMALE and MALE perspectives.

*For speaker bio, please visit http://asheloves.org/about/marianne-soratorio-dyogi/

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GENTLEMEN! After Marianne’s “courtship vs. dating” talk last year, many of you wanted to hear her husband’s perspective on things?
Well, HERE it is!
ALL are invited to join HFYA for PART 2 (of special 2-part) series.
GOD’S LOVE: Courtship Vs. Dating. Special talk titled:
VALOR: “Made for a Mission- To Protect Her, To Love Her, To Serve Her” by Gary Rosete Dyogi (As He Loves Ministries)

Monday, Feb. 24, 2013 @ 7:30pm

Holy Family Catholic Church (JOHN PAUL II ROOM – next to Parish Hall)

18708 Clarkdale Avenue, Artesia, California 90701

A man’s boyhood struggles can lead to young adulthood challenges in faith, relationships, and self-worth. But from these challenges comes a discovery of his potential to LOVE. From this discovery arises a new beginning in life of being faithful to God, faithful to his wife, and faithful to his family. Through it all, the virtue that keeps him committed to this mission is VALOR.
Learn how faith, love, and chivalry prepare a man to answer God’s call to marriage for a lifetime.

**if you’re available FEB 10, Mon. please join HFYA for UNFROZEN: “Being the One Worth Melting For” PART 1 (Marianne Soratorio Dyogi) talk, same location/same time. Special 2-part series offers understanding from both FEMALE and MALE perspectives.

*For Gary’s bio, please visit http://asheloves.org/about/gary-rosete-dyogi/

There’s Something About Mary

On this feast of Our Lady – Mary, Mother of God – I need to take this time to thank her for her constant prayers and guidance. So much so that I wouldn’t be married without her. See for yourself…

Gary’s grade schools: MORNING STAR Elementary School and STAR OF THE SEA Catholic School in San Francisco (titles for Our Blessed Mother)

Gary’s college: Loyola MARYMOUNT University

Gary’s devotion upon his “prodigal son” return: Daily ROSARY and Mass

Booklet given to Gary by his mom that helped him come back to Jesus:

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My name: Marianne (named after MARY and her mother St. Anne)

The picture that Gary clicked on when he found me on MySpace: (check out who’s behind me and my sisters)

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What attracted me to Gary on the day that we met in person: The ROSARY he pulled out of his pocket

My regular spot at St. Peter Chanel for Daily Mass when I was single: 3rd row in front of OUR LADY OF FATIMA

The first day of our courtship: January 1, 2005 – Solemnity of MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

The place where Gary proposed, where we prepared for the Sacrament of Marriage, and where we got married: St. Peter Chanel staffed by the Oblates of the VIRGIN MARY

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Call it chance or coincidence, but we truly believe that Mary has taken us as her children, woven her way throughout our lives, and tied us together for good. Whatever lies ahead will be covered by her mantle and cradled in her arms…where the joy will be sweeter and the trials easier to bear.

Thank you, Mama Mary. We love you!

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+AMDG+

The Hidden Life…As I Now Know It

A dear friend of mine is currently discerning religious life. The very fact that she has been spending a good deal of time with the Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles has made me reflect back on my own season of vocation discernment over 10 years ago. It was this very same community that I was to join as a candidate until my lupus diagnosis closed the door in March 2003.

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I had given up a long-term relationship to follow the call of Jesus I heard so clearly the year before. I was ready to sacrifice the treasured time I spent with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be able to come and go as freely as I pleased. And my love for eating out? Now that had to go, too. Examining all the attachments I had and asking God for the will to let them go was an incredibly painful cleansing process, but looking back, it was something I had to do in order to prepare me for the ultimate Plan that He had in store for me.

Interestingly enough, the Lord was also asking me to release my desire to be a Carmelite Sister. The one pursuit I had that required me to let go of all else, I needed to surrender into His hands as well.

Why?

Because instead of becoming a bride of Christ, I would marry the man who would love me as Jesus loves His Church.

Instead of waking up at 5am for Morning Prayer and meditation, I would rise at 3am for early morning feedings and diaper changes.

Instead of wearing the brown Carmelite habit as an outward sign of my commitment to Jesus, I would tote my four little children around everywhere I went speaking volumes to the world of openness to life and trust in God’s providence.

Instead of gathering in community with my fellow Carmelite Sisters, I would find fellowship with other women working to build the kingdom of God as homeschooling moms and Creighton Model Practitioners.

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Instead of living a vow of chastity through celibacy, I would develop a ministry dedicated to promoting chastity in the single life, courtship, and married life.

Instead of retreating into meditative prayer, I would find His presence in the hustle and bustle of everyday life…and then go on to blog about it.

Instead of basking in the glorious sounds of harmonious melodies resounding from the choir loft, I would drive through freeway traffic with an SUV full of kids crying at all kinds of pitches…each taking turns to fill the silent pauses…with one child bearing the cross of a fever, quietly praying that the ride home would just go faster so they all can get some relief (which happened today, by the way…ironically on our way back from the Sacred Heart Retreat House).

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THIS IS WHY.

In the summer of 2003, I didn’t understand. Mother Angelica held my hand, looked me in the eyes, and told me to pray. I said to another Poor Clare nun at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery that all I knew was that I wanted to teach. I didn’t know if God was calling me to be a sister anymore, but I couldn’t see how it was going to happen if I was sick. I knelt in the chapel at the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Plock, begging Jesus to help me believe that there was a purpose for my life. “Iesu, Ufam Tobie” (Jesus, I trust in You) became my mantra for the rest of that pilgrimage to Poland.

Now…I get it.

My heart will always be Carmelite. I will spend the rest of my days seeking Him in the desert, but my contemplation will be on the lives of our Lord and our Blessed Mother as they are revealed to me here – exactly where I am planted. This little flower will give God the glory that is due to Him alone for the amazing blessings He has worked so perfectly in my life.

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And I glance behind me, not with sadness, but with a smile…because He has been good to me. So very good…

+AMDG+

My Journey to Bethlehem

Well…I’m not REALLY going to Bethlehem.

On July 13, I began the preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory. I made my very first consecration in 2002 and have renewed it repeatedly over the years, but this time I experienced a much deeper connection to our Blessed Mother because now I am both a wife and mother. I have also switched roles with my husband and become the full-time homemaker. And I’m PREGNANT.

I was expecting my re-consecration day (August 15 – the Feast of the Assumption of Mary) to arrive with this monumental epiphany accompanied with profound revelations about the new and ever-growing responsibilities I have taken on. But, no…it was very quiet on God’s end…probably because it was very noisy on my end.

Being a Holy Day of Obligation, we needed to go to Mass – and we did. However, I had to take the kids without Gary because he had already started work at LMU and was going to catch a Mass in LA. So…we were late. Really late. It was the second week he was working, and these were some long hours he was putting in. I don’t adjust to major changes very quickly, so I was tired…overwhelmed…and spent in every which way possible.

The one thing that helped keep me going was my “FIAT”.

No, not the car.

It was the “YES” I had given to God, to my husband, and to my children to accept wholeheartedly the place reserved for me in the home during our kids’ most formative years. This was a big decision and a huge transition for us to make as a family, and it was something I wanted since I was carrying Meleana in my womb six years ago.

But, let me tell you… This is no easy job. I have a belly the size of a basketball, currently starting my 33rd week with baby Jean-Paul. It is now my job to take food orders throughout the day…homeschool our two girls…change Kali’s diapers…wash dishes…cook meals…clean…do laundry…take them all grocery shopping…run errands for the family…and get myself (still with the 3 kiddos) to all my prenatal appointments. Oh, and of course there are days when they’re sick, and I have to clean up “other stuff”.

On top of all that, it’s HOT.

There would be nights when I was so exhausted, I would cry. I missed having Gary here all the time to talk to and help with the kids. He’s been going through his own adjustments with an incredibly rigorous practice schedule and a trying commute, so I tried to hold down the fort as best as I could without too much complaint.

After a while I couldn’t hold the frustration in anymore, and I needed to find balance for the sake of our marriage…our family…and my own sanity.

The consistency of my prayer routine rooted my relationship with God, and it gave me the courage to be honest with my husband about what I needed. Now that we’re both used to the daily grind, it’s a little easier to carve out the time to check in with each other. Gary has been great about sharing the household duties, as time permits, and taking care of a sometimes fussy Kali when I just need a full night’s sleep after a challenging day.

As much of a roller coaster that the last few weeks have been, I have not once regretted the choice we made to do this. It was time.

It’s always an incredible comfort to know that my husband understands what I’m going through (apart from the pregnancy). He devoted five years to these little ones, and they all truly were his priority. Everything I do now, he did, too. So when he comes home from work and I look frazzled, he knows why. On the days when I share our small victories and lessons that the kids are learning, he is also able to appreciate them all right along with me.

So what does this have to do with Bethlehem?

Around this same time in her pregnancy, Mary hopped herself with her growing belly on the back of a donkey and rode some 100+ miles away from home so that her husband would not have to travel alone to his birthplace for the required Roman census. She did not worry about where or when she would give birth. She didn’t even give a second thought to the discomfort she would endure for the last trimester…again, on the back of a DONKEY.

There was no air-conditioned SUV. No restaurants to stop at. No hospitals in case of an emergency. When they arrived at their destination, there wasn’t even a clean, comfortable place for them to stay.

All the while, she knew that the child in her womb had a very special purpose, and whatever God led her and Joseph to do in each and every moment would play an important part in the Plan for her Son.

It was TRUST and OBEDIENCE at their finest.

Although my own journey does not completely mirror that of Mary’s, I am realizing more and more how close she really is to me as I live out God’s will in these days. I am called to faithfully and prayerfully support my husband. I must put my complete trust in the Lord to care for all our needs. If He should summon us out of our comfort zones, I have to obey Him without fear because His plans are always good and perfect. And should I be graced with difficult moments, I will choose to offer them up so that Jesus Christ Incarnate will reveal Himself to each one of my children, as we teach them about His merciful Love and the eternal Truth handed down to us through His Church.

I will reach Bethlehem. And then I will make my way to Nazareth…Galilee…Jerusalem…and Calvary.

When all is said and done, there will be Heaven…and that will be the final reward.

+AMDG+

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“As for me and my household, we will serve The Lord.” (Joshua 24:15c)