Items such as rosaries, devotional books, and pictures can help us in our spiritual journey - and they make lovely gifts for Confirmation, First Communion, Easter, Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions (or just to show your love).
Contact MaryAl at 403-274-4304 or to see what we have available right here in our own parish.
Going to church is good for your soul, sure, but did you know it may have other benefits, too? There are at least 5 surprising improvements you might experience in a few areas of your life if you attend church services regularly …
Instead of reaching for the Ambien, you might want to think about incorporating daily Mass into your routine. A 2018 study found an association between better sleep and church attendance. According to the study authors: “More religious adults in particular tend to exhibit healthier sleep outcomes than their less religious counterparts.”
Researchers posit that religious involvement may limit an individual’s “mental, chemical, and physiological arousal associated with psychological distress, substance use, stress exposure, and allostatic load,” thereby promoting better sleep outcomes in practicing individuals.
With all of the recent news concerning the suicide of high-profile celebrities and sky-rocketing depression and suicide rates overall, it is certainly worth looking into factors that may help protect against depression and suicide risk. High up on that list of factors is church attendance – especially Mass attendance for Catholics.
In a 2016 study published by JAMA Psychiatry, researchers found that, between 1996 and 2010, “women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide.” And while Protestant women attending weekly services had better protection against suicide risk than the average non-practicing woman, Catholic women were seven times less likely than practicing Protestant women to commit suicide.
According to the Institute for Family Studies, “the couple that prays together, stays together,” that is, couples who practice their faith through regular church attendance together tend to report significantly higher relationship quality than those couples who do not attend services together.
What’s more, attending church together seems to make for sexier marriages, too. According to the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, “Adults aged 18 to 59 in intact marriages who worshiped weekly were most likely to report enjoying intercourse ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ much with their current sexual partner, according to the National Health and Social Life Survey (1992), the most detailed analysis of sexual behavior in America.”
It seems like striving to get to heaven may actually keep you on Earth a little bit longer …
According to 2016 study from JAMA Internal Medicine, women who reported attending religious services “more than once a week had a 33 percent lower risk of dying during the study period compared with those who said they never went.” Women who attended once a week also benefited from a 26 percent lower risk of mortality than their non-attending counterparts. The study did not examine the association between religious attendance and mortality in men, and most of the women studied were Christian. Researchers concluded that “Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.”
A 1998 study found that “religiously active older adults tend to have lower blood pressures than those who are less active.” By “religiously active,” researchers meant those who engaged in frequent church attendance, praying, and studying the Bible. Researchers found that “among participants who both attended religious services and prayed or studied the Bible frequently, the likelihood of having a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher was 40 percent lower than found in participants who attended religious services infrequently and prayed or studied the Bible infrequently.” Interestingly, “those who frequently watched religious TV or listened to religious radio actually had higher blood pressures.”
It makes sense that church attendance would have benefits beyond improving the health of our souls — after all, God doesn’t need us to attend Mass because it benefits Him. And obviously, we shouldn’t just be attending church to get something out of it. But when we do make Mass or worship services a priority, we not only improve our relationship with God, but we strengthen ourselves and improve our relationships with those around us.
Thank you to Cathy P. for organizing our Twilight Retreat at the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre. Attendance was limited due to COVID restrictions; we were spiritually connected even though physically distanced. It seems appropriate to dine "al fresco" at a Franciscan retreat center!
The reflection, “With a Father’s Heart”, was about St Joseph who is the patron saint of Canada. The pope has also declared this to be the year of St. Joseph.
We were asked to reflect on the following:
Mark your calendars for next year’s retreat on Tuesday, June 7.
(Prayer of repentance and solidarity with Indigenous Peoples following Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission)
O God, Great Spirit and Creator,
We praise you for your gifts that surround us –
For the gift of the land that gives us food, shelter and water;
For the gift of the sun that gives warmth and light to all that grows;
For the gifts of the moon and stars which you have arranged for your glory;
For the gifts of language and culture, through which your peoples praise you, and share the most deeply held values you have engraved on their hearts.
Come upon us, O Divine Healer and open our eyes –
To the injustices brought against our Indigenous Peoples, their language and culture in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
Give us repentant hearts –
That ache with sorrow for their violence against First Nations families and their children.
Give us determined hearts –
That refuse to stand by when the dignity of our Indigenous brothers and sisters is trampled.
Give us healing hearts –
That beat with the drum of Jesus’ Gospel, to defend and honour our Indigenous neighbour, their language and values.
Give us flaming hearts –
That burn with love for you, who come to us
… in every human face
… in every language and culture
… in every gift of creation.
Make us stewards –
Of one another’s dignity,
Of one another’s safety,
Of one another’s lands,
Of one another’s right to a cultural identity:
… as unique peoples,
… as gifts to the human family,
… as your beloved children.
Pour out your healing love on all who suffered in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools;
- on bodies, minds and spirits wounded through abuse,
- on hearts wounded through separation and disdain,
- on families wounded through trauma and anguish that still torment over the course of generations.
Jesus – gentle Saviour, forgiving and humble of heart,
Good Shepherd, Divine Healer,
Great Lover of all peoples:
We offer you our sorrow
For the wrongs committed
Against our First Nations’ children in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
We offer you our desire
To walk with our First Nations brothers and sisters;
To journey with them
On the path of truth, healing and reconciliation,
As we share this earthly pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland,
Where every tear will be wiped away
And every sorrow will be turned to joy.
Give us one heart and one mind
To walk forward together along this path
In the love and strength of your Spirit,
In truth, reconciliation and peace.
We make this prayer
In the power of your Most Holy Name.
Source: T. Cosentino Renfrew County CDSB, 2017 (adapted)
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God.
Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).
Psalm 100:4 says “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
In other words, start by telling God what you’re thankful for. Prayer doesn’t have to be asking for something; it can simply be thanking Him from your heart for what He has already done.
If prayer had to be a stiff, formal language—“our most holy and mighty God, we beseech ye…”—first of all, we’d be bored and feel out of our element most of the time. And secondly, we would find it hard to keep that up for an extended period of time. But prayer is simply a conversation. Talk to Him the way you would talk to a friend. Sit down with a cup of coffee and just let the words pour out, casually, simply. Just be real.
Let your everyday tasks become acts of worship by turning them into times of prayer. As you fold laundry, pray for each family member—and then if your laundry piles are as high as mine, and you’re done praying but not done folding, branch out from there. Pray for your child’s soccer teammates, for the teachers standing in front of your children’s classrooms, for the partner who works hard to pay the bills, for health to stay active, for the workplaces where the clothes are worn. Or simply give thanks for the warmth of the home where you relax in those pajamas.
When my first child was in kindergarten, I realized that although I had a pretty good idea what she did at school, I didn’t need to know the details. But when she told me about how she and Jacob played at recess, or laughed as she tried to tell me the story her teacher read that day, it deepened my connection with my daughter. I got to see her life through her eyes and I reveled in her unique perspective. Of course, God already knows what’s in our hearts—but when we offer our thoughts to him, it turns what might be a solitary life into a richer, more meaningful relationship. And I think God delights in this.
Most of us waste a lot of time while we wait for our daily grande nonfat mochas—or whatever. A quick online search reports that we each average two years of our lives waiting in line, and the average commuter spends 38 hours a year in traffic. Turn your car into a prayer closet, or let your mind take you someplace else while the person in line ahead of you buys her drink using four nearly-empty gift cards and then empties her coin purse of pennies.
Transform that “wasted” time into something meaningful—pray for the people you expect to encounter that day or the tasks you need to accomplish. Give thanks for your day, for the job paying for your favorite caffeinated beverage, for the young man working as a cashier to pay his college tuition, for the extravagant blessing of a giant store stocked with more products than we need. Count your blessings—because they’re everywhere—and make those minutes count.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (James 5:13).
Often, we think of prayer as what to do when we need God to fix something or when we’re unhappy. But the Bible encourages us to pray at all times. Remember the idea of prayer being like a radio playing in the background all the time? Make that literal by listening to worship music. As you sing along, offer it to God as your prayer. Or, better yet, make up your own song along the way. Nobody is listening but Him, so don’t worry if you’re out of tune.
I don’t know about you, but I could spend most of my praying-without-ceasing time simply confessing a litany of my sins and failings: I just yelled at my kids; I’m jealous of the perfect little family one my friends posts about daily on Facebook; so-and-so is a real jerk and I don’t like him… and so on. Luckily, when we confess, God forgives us, so we don’t need to dwell there. That in itself is another reason to praise Him.
We’re not meant to worry, and we waste too many minutes doing just that. Next time something weighs heavy on your heart, envision yourself extending it up to God and letting Him hold it for you. Ask Him what your role is and if there is something you need to do; if so, do it. But don’t take back the weight of the worry. Then start thanking God for who He is and what He has already done for you, and you’ll feel the weight lifting off your shoulders as the words come.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).
The number (or quality) of words you use in prayer doesn’t matter, because prayer is about God, not about us. Allow yourself to contemplate the nearness of God. Trust that He is your constant companion. Don’t monopolize the dialogue, but spend some of your time just being, simply sitting and resting in His presence. And keep in mind that the best conversations are two-sided, but you won’t hear anything if you never stop to listen.
Dear Lord, I believe that prayer matters, but I also think that we shortchange ourselves by limiting our definition of prayer. Open my mind to all that it can be. Help me become aware of Your nearness and abide in Your presence. Teach me to talk to You—and remind me to listen. Overflow my heart with gratitude for all that You’ve done and who You are. Let my life become a never-ending prayer to You. Amen.
~ Kelly O'Dell Stanley; https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/how-to-pray-without-ceasing.html
Download and print out your own copy of the League Prayers.
Here are other links that are great resources for prayers and reflections: