Advent Reading

I love the Christmas season. Like most people, I find it to be super magical and all things lovely. And I’m always headed somewhere for Christmas as well since I don’t live near family, which means there’s always a trip to look forward to (as well as vacation from work). This can make the patient waiting of Advent a bit difficult at times. And since Kevin and I have covered our television with purple cloth, that means no movies or shows or music (except Advent hymns) to pass the time.

So in addition to just spending some quiet time with my husband and taking our evenings slower, it’s a good time for some reading. And not just any reading, but some Christ-centered, Advent reading. I haven’t read much in relation to this specific liturgical season, but what I have read has been beautiful. So allow me to share!

Advent Reading

The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI

I read this last year during Advent, and while sometimes spiritual reading can be something I gotta push myself to do daily, this was quite the page turner for me. I love the way Pope Benedict writes – very simple and straightforward, but packed with such beautiful insight. This book covers Jesus’ origins and nativity to the finding of Jesus in the temple. It helped make the season come alive for me and to focus on our Lord and specifically his birth and childhood.

True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort

This little treasure is about making perfect devotion to Jesus through perfect devotion to our Lady. Advent is a great season to reflect not just on our Lord, but also on the way in which our Lord came into this world: through Mary. By increasing devotion to her, we naturally grow closer to Jesus. This book will aid in that devotion.

Sermons to the People: Advent, Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany by St. Augustine

I randomly came across this book in a used book store many years ago, and since I love St. Augustine so so much, I purchased this one without thought. I will admit, some of the things he writes about are not the most grounded in Church doctrine (naturally, as certain things have only become fully known to us as a Church over time), BUT it is still a fantastic little collection of his homilies and the heart of what he says holds a lot of truth.

These are a few of my favorites that I’ll be revisiting this season. If you have any suggestions for Advent reading, please share! I’d love to venture out into new things!

Getting our retreat on.

A couple weeks ago, Kevin and I (sort of last minute) decided we’d like to go on a retreat put on by the yHope community outside Boston. It’s a young adult group (mainly early 20’s to early 30’s) that we’ve attended before and really love. It’s a lot of authentic people with great hearts. We hadn’t been in since before we were married since we don’t have a car and now live a little farther away. But this retreat seemed like a great opportunity to reconnect.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous at first because I’m still figuring out where we fit as a married couple. It might seem silly, but being in that in between spot of we’ve entered into our Vocation but don’t yet have children can be a little confusing as far as what we do for community (maybe it’s just me). And a lot of talks on this retreat were geared towards discerning your Vocation. But alas, we went and are so grateful we did. We were the only married couple, but I don’t think that deterred from our experience at all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable to be on retreat with my husband.

The theme was “remind me who I am,” and I don’t even know if it was any of the talks that made it sink into my heart, but rather just being there. I haven’t been on a retreat in over a year and a half, and taking this weekend made me realize how much we need that time away, focused solely on God.

I think something that helped the theme hit home for me was the fact that the retreat center was one that I’ve been to many times before, at very different stages in my faith journey. It’s a Pauline retreat center just outside Boston, and I’ve been there four different times with four different communities over the past six years:

In February 2009, our spring undergrad BU retreat was held here. It was a time that I was just really coming into my faith as a sophomore in college. New friends, a new lifestyle, and most importantly, the beginning of a deep relationship with God. In November 2011, the grad group at BU held a retreat here, so a lot of familiar faces. I had only graduated college six months before and was still adjusting to life in the real world. In February 2013, I attended the Pure in Heart retreat on JPII’s Theology of the Body. Pure in Heart is a young adult community in Boston that I was heavily involved with my first couple of years out of school (and also where Kevin and I met). During that time, Kevin and I were dating looking towards engagement. Now we’re in November 2014, and I’m in such a different life state, as I’ve been each time before. I’m now married and, though still fairly young as people point out, my life is focused on vastly different things.

With John & Kev - they've been with me on all four retreats at St. Thecla's since the BU days!
With John & Kev – they’ve been with me on all four retreats at St. Thecla’s since the BU days!

As I said, the theme was “remind me who I am,” and by coming back to this familiar place in which I’ve had so many powerful experiences, I really felt reminded. Yes, my life is not as it has been: I’m battling different struggles, I’m receiving new graces, and I’ve matured in greater ways. But God is still God. He is unchangeable. And going back to the one who is reminded me of who I am, now and always: a beloved daughter of God. Regardless of what is going on in my life at the moment, that fact remains.

I guess the takeaway for me was bringing me back to the basics. My life has come a long way in the past 6 years; I would argue and say it’s much more complicated, but that doesn’t change where all the answers lay. Scripture, sacraments, prayer. All centered around my relationship with Jesus.

 

Preparing for Advent

I’m super excited for Advent. I know we still got a few weeks, but just as it’s good to prepare for Christmas I think it’s also good to prepare well for Advent. Kevin and I have been having many conversations about how we want the liturgical year to look for our family – it’s one of our favorite activities. And we’ve been focusing on Advent and how we want to live the season as a married couple.

Advent

First off, if you want some good ideas on liturgical living, you should check out the book, The Little Oratory, and also head over to Carrots for Michaelmas as Haley writes about it a fair amount.

Like most people, I’ve spent many years celebrating the “Christmas season” from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. Only in the past few years have I begun to appreciate the penitential aspect of Advent . And though it’s penitential, it’s also not a sorrowful season. Rather it’s one of joyful and quiet longing as we wait for the Incarnation of our Savior.

I’m far from perfect when it comes to liturgical living, and it’s certainly an effort to quiet myself amidst all the excitement. So I’ve slowly tried to take active steps in really living the true season of Advent, and here are a few things that have been really fruitful for me: 

+ December 8th, the Immaculate Conception, is me and Kevin’s Marian Consecration date – we renew it each year. It’s a good way to prepare the heart for Advent and develop a deeper relationship with our Blessed Mother, the one through whom our Lord came into the world. To learn more about this, read here.

+ I’m terrible at fasting, but fasting is objectively good and a necessary part of our Christian life. We should try to incorporate some type of fasting into the season, but how we do it is up to us – there’s many good ways to go about this. One cool side note: there’s a company out here, LaVallee’s Breads (owned by a Catholic) and part of their business is fasting breads, which you can order online. Read more here! 

+ Frequent the sacraments.

+ We like to take part in Advent activities going on. For instance, there’s an annual Lessons & Carols Concert at St. John’s Seminary that we’ve attended the last few years and it is beautiful!! The seminary does such a wonderful job putting this on and it really puts you in spirit of Advent. 

+ Pick up a good book for Advent; last year I read Pope Benedict’s “The Infancy Narratives”; it was a beautiful read that drew me into to the season. 

+ Avoid Christmas music to the extent I can (which is easier for me since I don’t have a car). I prefer to listen to Enya’s “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” on repeat, but that’s just me.

Kevin and I hope to continue all of that this year, but we hope to be even more intentional with the season beyond those things that have become tradition. Some examples of things we’ve read that have really resonated with us: 

+ We will get a Christmas tree, but will leave the festive decorating until the Christmas season. The rest of our apartment will follow suit as well. 

I’ll attempt to simplify the cooking and leave the Christmas treats for Christmas (I may make some occasional cookies, though…). 

+ We’ve done most of our shopping for gifts/decorations beforehand so we don’t get caught up in the stores during Advent.

By living a true Advent season, it makes the Christmas season even greater! Fast well, feast well! And what’s even more amazing is that Christmas is not over on December 26th, but continues until the Baptism of our Lord! I’ve read that it’s even appropriate to keep all the decorations up until the feast of the Presentation on February 2nd. Talk about exciting!

Anyone have any Advent traditions they’d like to share? What do you do to make it special? 🙂

A talk, a baby, a wedding, and New England weather.

Talk about an extremely full week. Full of so much goodness! I’ll first let it be known that this New England weather is unpredictable. So last Sunday at the start of the week, we had this:

Snow!

Yes, that was snow. The week went through days of heavy rain and we ended up with this:

Beautiful fall!

So…sometimes ya just gotta wait it out and the goodness will come! Anyway, on Tuesday morning, I woke up and was talking about babies with Kevin when I got a text from my good friend Ashlie letting me know she was going into labor. Ummm, OKAY. NBD. So naturally that’s all I could think about for the entire day. I had the privilege of alerting some friends and it was a funny experience reconnecting with some people via text. I group texted the men, and some of them I haven’t seen/spoken to since my wedding. We had some fun exchanges and great re-bonding occurred while dear Ashlie was bringing new life into the world.

Speaking of that new life…JOHN PAUL was born into the world at 2:06am on November 5th. I won’t say much as it’s not my birth story to tell, but Ashlie is a champ x239408134 and I’m so proud of her. And he is the sweetest, most adorable baby I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with this little guy and I’ve only had snippets of photos.

And still speaking of NU LIFE (get it?), Kevin and I gave a talk Wednesday night at the Catholic Center at Northeastern University (where I also work two nights a week) – their main event each week for the students is called NU Life. We talked essentially about our Vocation stories and the preparation for marriage that was had while being single (or for Kevin – being in seminary) and the beauty of that time. And how you’re not doomed if you don’t find your spouse in college. I’m not much of a public speaker, but the talk ended up going fairly well and we received some great feedback. When I went in to work the following evening, a bunch of the mission leaders there told me about the really fruitful conversations that followed our talk, praise God!

And finally, yesterday was a lovely day for a wedding! One of my former roommates, Emilia, got married to the wonderful Jared and it was a truly joyous celebration. The wedding was at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston and you just have to look up this church because it is STUNNING. It’s always been my favorite in Boston and I was so thrilled to be able to attend a wedding there. Also, Jared had a few connections with some brass instrumentalists in the Boston Pops…sooooo the music accompanying the Mass was entirely brass instruments and it was heavenly. Like, truly.  And Emilia looked like an angel! The two of them have an awe-inspiring joy about them and it was a gift to witness them in this great sacrament.

:)
🙂

The reception afterwards was at Post 390 – a super chic restaurant/bar downtown and it was a blast. We were seated at the table with the Franciscan priests and seminarians (and a couple close friends!) and we loved every second of it. When in doubt, put the Gearnses and Kev O with the religious…a great time will be had by all and there will be much rejoicing. There was tons of laughter, good conversation, and of course, as is with all the weddings, we get to see and catch up with old friends who we’re not around that often.

photo 4

Kevin has said it before and reiterated again today: the deep bond that exists between the BU Catholic community is very unique and visible. There were a number of people there I haven’t seen in a year, maybe longer (some I see all the time), and because Jared and Emilia are four-five years apart, there was a wide spread of CC generations present. It’s a good reminder of the authenticity of our experiences together and how it can unite people across many years, but it’s also just the fact of being a part of the universal Church. Because of this, our community isn’t exclusive. Any Catholic shares what we share. And it only becomes more beautiful when we expand with spouses, children, and new friends. I’m so grateful to be a part of the BUCC community, but what really keeps us connected and growing is Christ and his Church.

So this week was a wonderful time of witnessing our community grow and evolve with a new life and a new marriage! Praise! God! There’s so much to be thankful for.

Great & Holy Men of God!

My good friend Mike is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Boston. He’s the one who got me involved at BU’s Catholic Center back in our sophomore year of college. He’s in his fourth(!!!!) year aka Theology II (I think that’s right?), and has been in Rome since August 2013.  Super exciting, but we also miss him so much here! He’ll come home for the first time next June. He was always the poster child for our diocese because, well…

Mike, full page, in Boston Magazine

Yes, that is him full page in Boston Magazine for an article on the Archdiocese of Boston, actually a really good piece with a positive outlook on the Church here post-scandal. Anyway, Mike is 6’7” (super tall), ran track at BU, was president at the CC, would always serve at mass with the Cardinal, the standard cross bearer (see above). Ya know…future pope and all. And speaking of the Pope…

The Servant of the Servant of the Servant...

This happened last weekend. Mike served at mass with the Pope. No surprises there. He called me the day before to let me know it was happening (knowing that if I saw a photo like this after the fact, I’d yell at him for not preparing me). Such a great man, really living it up over in Europe! Having a close friendship with a seminarian is a beautiful thing. I’ve just entered my Vocation and he’s preparing for his. Different callings, but the Church needs both of them. And witnessing his journey continuously calls me on to be better. Kevin and I are building our domestic Church here at home, and that looks different than life as a Priest…but we are still called to be Saints, just as the religious are.

Please pray for Mike and for all seminarians! The Church needs great, holy men answering this incredible call to Priesthood!

Day of Rest

Ever since senior year of college, Sunday’s have been my absolute favorite day of the week. In learning to enter into the [new] Sabbath, the day is greatly enriched. It started out simple, but even four years ago, I think my heart really got it. It was the day of rest, the day to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection, and the day to be in community. And our community at the BU Catholic Center really demonstrated the beauty of the day, whether or not people realized it. The Catechism, which answers most my questions when I go looking, says, “The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.” [CCC 2184]

Sundays

Leaving college, I began a more routine way of life, which is a great thing for me, personally. And Sundays  continued to be similar in heart, though the community aspect was different. I still relished it where I could, and tried to explore how to best live this day. Fast forward to married life, and the Sabbath has just gotten even better.

Being together every weekend has been a blessed adventure, and we’ve both taught one another different ways to truly enter into the Sabbath. For instance, Kevin has really helped me to see the value in not working on the Sabbath. Now, I’m not just talking about not going into the office, or not doing homework. I mean no work. No big projects around the apartment, no shopping, no serious life planning (ie: budgeting, travel plans, etc.). This part is the toughest for me as I always feel I have something to do, but it also really sets the day apart. I now understand what it means to work for six days and to rest on the seventh. My Saturdays have become busier with chores, errands, and miscellaneous work, but it makes our Sundays truly great. And in a way, I feel like I’m able to glorify God more with my six days of work and one day of true rest.

What’s even better, though, is that our Sundays are by no means a lazy. We would both have a hard time enjoying our day if we felt it was a wasted day. It’s filled with Mass, homemade brunch, nice long walks, prayer, a well-prepared dinner & dessert, time for reading or watching something together, and just good quality time with one another. That may vary a bit, but that’s the gist. It’s also nice to have a day to enjoy the clean and tidy apartment after the work has already been put in. And we try to incorporate community (outside of Mass) where we can. The Sabbath should be celebrated with people, it’s a day to nourish our friendships. 

Each Sunday, we find we appreciate  the Sabbath more. We love what it does for our souls, we love what it does for our marriage. We’re still very much learning what it means to enter into the Sabbath: to celebrate the resurrection, the fulfillment of creation, and the day of rest. And I’m sure when our family grows, how we celebrate Sunday will evolve, and we’re so excited!

 

The Feast of the Assumption

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What a beautiful solemnity it is! The image above is one that I had taken nearly two years ago at our parish, I think (when I first got my iPhone). It was my lock screen image for a looong time (until pics of Me and Kevin became a normal thing). Then a few weeks ago my phone did this reset thing and erased all my content from the past year (thank goodness I had uploaded any and all wedding/honeymoon pics shortly before that), and brought me back to July 2013. And this became my lock screen again. Even with all my frustration at the iPhone, it made me smile to see this image again.

Thank you, Mama Mary, for always looking out for us. We offer everything to our Lord through your loving hands.

Weddingness: Part II

See part one here.

Friday, May 30th. The day on which I became a wife! I have to tell you, it was relaxed.com. The morning was beautiful – the family hung out by the pool, played some games (as is their way). The rest of the bridesmaids came over around 8:30am, and joined the gang. 

Katie and Kevin Wedding (62)

Everything felt very natural and peaceful, something I had prayed for. My dad and I took a few minutes to practice our father daughter dance (obviously it was Celine…), and then the hair/makeup ladies came over and got things started! Emily’s husband, Ted, showed up with Starbucks drinks for everyone, a generous touch to the day. And when our photographer, Meg Brock, arrived in the afternoon, we were all ready to get things started. I’ll admit, it was a bit surreal and kinda odd to change into a wedding dress in front of everyone, but Meg was great. All of the bridesmaids were beautiful, and Denise did a fabulous job with the bouquets. At 3pm, the shuttle came by and we were off to the Church! 

Katie and Kevin Wedding (50)

Waiting in the gorgeous bridal suite at St. Bede’s was probably the hardest part, since it involved just simply sitting there. But the bridesmaids prayed over me, which was beautiful, and then Meg called me out so that Kevin could give me a little gift. We didn’t see each other, but were standing around a corner from one another. Before he gave me the gift, we held hands and prayed together. Soon after, it was time to begin! Kevin pro-cessed in with the priests (followed by groomsmen & bridesmaids) to a beautiful song, written for the Bishop of the Duluth diocese. It is played at their ordinations, and it also played at Kevin’s father’s funeral 4 1/2 years ago. We were very grateful to the Bishop for granting us permission to use it for our wedding.

Katie and Kevin Wedding (177)

Katie and Kevin Wedding (225)_2

Walking down the aisle with my dad was an experience – mainly because my dress was FAR too long (alteration lady didn’t want to hem it cause of the detail at the bottom), so I essentially hopped down the aisle trying to avoid tripping on the fabric. There’s absolutely no way for me to put into words how incredible the Mass was. Being up on the altar with with my beloved, Kevin, those holy priests, our amazing wedding party. Everything was powerful. I could not stop laughing…I’m a huge weeper in life, yet when really big things are happening to me (and people are awaiting my reaction), I can’t seem to cry. At all. And that’s fine, Kevin cried for the both of us (and that man never cries). It was beautiful.

Katie and Kevin Wedding (256)Katie and Kevin Wedding (244)

I’m a huge fan of the readings we chose. Jeremiah (JER 31:31-32a, 33-34a), Revelation (REV 21:1-6), and John (JN 2:1-11). All of them carry the theme of new things. In Jeremiah, he is speaking of the new heaven and that “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” In Revelation, it’s very similar, and it has one of my favorite lines of “Behold, I make all things new.” And then the Wedding Feast at Cana…gosh, what a phenomenal passage. The new wine. We thought these readings worked very well for us. We look forward to heaven so much, and strive to do all we can to get there. Our marriage is a big part of that. It brings with it many new things; WE are new through it. Father Seth gave a great homily (I wish I could remember some specifics of what he said…alas, I could only retain so much from the day).

Katie and Kevin Wedding (350)

Katie and Kevin Wedding (396)

And there were a few particularly beautiful parts. During the preparation of the gifts, the song “10,000 Reasons (bless the Lord)” played, and it was so moving. It felt very heavenly. And I saw both of the parish priests peeking in from the sacristy (made me giggle). After communion, we were able to pray to Mary, and at the same time, Kevin’s brother took some flowers to the Saint Joseph statue in remembrance of their father. After Mass, it was quick photo time.

Katie and Kevin Wedding (421)

Katie and Kevin Wedding (428)

We took the [now party] shuttle with some champ to Tyler Park (in between church and reception venue), and this is where I was most impressed with Meg. We had very limited time (Friday weddings tend to be more of a cramped schedule), but she did it all. We got awesome photos of the wedding party, me and Kevin, just groomsmen & Kevin, just bridesmaids & Katie. And we hit up several places in the park. I have to say…you know those beautiful pinterest photos where the couples in the middle of a cornfield and you’re like “I WANT THAT PERFECT MOMENT”? What they do not tell you is the struggle that comes with it. The ride to the venue consisted of everyone searching through my dress removing the FLIES that somehow got stuck in EVERY layer (and there were a LOT of layers). We also found…a wood tick. UGH. Pictures are beautiful, but it came with a price. I had to strip down at the winery and my dear Emily searched me for ticks. That’s what bridesmaids are for, right? As they say, all’s well that ends well. 

Katie and Kevin Wedding (463)

Katie and Kevin Wedding (551)

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Also, who can forget the time my dad gave a toast in Latin? He wanted to impress the priests and all the the BU/Minnesota Catholics in the room, so he had asked one of Kevin’s groomsmen the night before to translate something into Latin for him. It was super funny and awesome. And then he sat down…without telling the crowd what he actually said. Bob’s the best. 

One thing that was important to me was playing wedding songs of all the people that I had been in the wedding for. So we played songs for Kristen & Jamie, Keith and Jenan, Emily & Ted, Sarah & Javi, and Ashlie & Josh. It was beautiful seeing them dance to their songs again! And then…the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life happened. The DJ played Celine Dion “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” – the greatest song of all time that I’ve forced all of my friends to get used to and love over the years. Whenever it’s just the ladies, we almost always have a Celine jam session and do some weird interpretive dance. And that’s what happened. All the ladies who know and love me put their best Celine forward. And it happened. It was true fulfillment of years worth of dreaming. (Also, the DJ told me he’d never seen anything like that before and asked if he could play it again later on haha.) 

We had such a blast. I can’t possibly describe the joy that was pulsating throughout the room. All those beautiful people. Me and Kevin – MARRIED. There were so many amazing moments, and when “Shipping up to Boston” came on later in the night, I literally thought the floor was going to shatter. No joke. And our final song was Coldplay’s “Charlie Brown”. If you’ve never heard it – listen to it. Maybe you’ll understand why Kevin and I listen to it at least 4x a week to remind us of the awesomeness of our wedding. 

That’s more than enough for a blog post, not nearly enough to capture it all. But the wedding was all we hoped for and more! God is good! Amen!

 

 

Weddingness: Part I

Alright. The time has come. I now have wedding photos in my possession (hoorah!), I’ve had time to reflect, and I’ve enjoyed 2 full months of married life! So how did it all go down?

The months leading up to the wedding were such an interesting time of life. It felt similar to my last semester of college – leaving something beautiful for something [hopefully] greater. There was my bachelorette party in Vegas (yup, that happened), my bridal shower in PA, a little bridal shower brunch in Boston, another bachelorette night of fun with my roommates, random nights of happy hour or taking advantage of time with friends before transitioning into marriage. It was a joyous time.

Vegas with my ladies :)
Vegas with my ladies 🙂

I took off work the entire week before the wedding, and the first big event was a family weekend in Hilton Head, SC. We’ve been going to Hilton Head for 20 years or so, and my parents bough a house there several years ago. It’s a beautiful place and we love it. It was the first time my entire immediate family (plus my older brother’s new wife) had been there together in YEARS. So it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quality time together like we used to. That meant of course the beach, ultra-competitive miniature golf, Giuseppe’s pizza, nighttime scene-it, and some more beach. A lovely time was had by all! As excited as my parents are for grandkids with three of us married now, I think they’ve been trying to soak up as much time with us as possible before that happens.

Family
Family

I flew back directly to PA Monday night, and the next morning things kicked off with my hair trial appointment (a super awkward time – I’m just no good in those situations). Then it was right to the Philly airport to pickup three of my bridesmaids – Sarah (Boston, MA), Elise (Detroit, MI), and Ashlie (Grand Forks, ND)! It meant so much that my friends would come a few days early to just be with me before the big day. Meanwhile, Kevin had arrived Tuesday morning, but went to the hotel with 2 of the 4 priests con-celebrating our wedding (all the way from Duluth, MN; all of them were seminarians with Kevin in college). They came over for dinner that evening to enjoy some fine delicacy (aka CHICK-FIL-A). I had only met these men once at a Duluth ordination right after Kevin and I had gotten engaged – so it was so beautiful to have them now in my home!

Wednesday morning, bright and early, I picked up another bridesmaid, Emily (Tempe, AZ), and a groomsmen from the airport. The ladies and I spent the morning at Pat’s Colonial Kitchen (my favorite breakfast place in Newtown), and they generously wandered in the rain as I gave them a tour of the land (of course I showed them the Newtown Theatre – oldest running theatre in America)! When we all left BU, we had high hopes of staying friends for life, but with everyone spreading out all over the country, we thought our best bet for all being together again would be a 5 year reunion. As God would let it happen, 4/5 of us have gotten together over 7-8 times (with 4 of those times being ALL of us) in 3 years! Such a gift.

Pat's Colonial Kitchen!
Pat’s Colonial Kitchen!

Tuesday and Wednesday were such odd days. They were truly beautiful, but it was odd in the sense that I didn’t feel like this big, heavy thing was approaching. It was just as if my best friends came to visit my hometown, and I was their happy little tour guide! Wednesday evening, Kevin’s family arrived from Duluth and came over for dinner – his brother, mom, and uncle. It was so wonderful to have our families meet for the first time in a relaxed environment.

Thursday is when things got REAL. Real in the sense that everyone else started arriving, we were dropping things off where they needed to go, checking people into the hotel, getting ready for the rehearsal…a whirlwind. But it was all SO GOOD. It was so surreal that it was happening, but it brought so much joy. The rehearsal went smoothly (except for that beginning part where the church was locked…), and being up on that alter was a crazy feeling. Immediately after the rehearsal, we went down into the lower church for our holy hour. Best.Idea.Ever. All four priests were available for confession, which many people took advantage of. And just being in front of the blessed sacrament the night before our wedding with all these people we loved from all parts of the world…there are no words.

At the Winery
At the Winery

After adoration, we went up to the main church for Mass (it was Ascension Thursday), and once again…I’m speechless for the love I experienced. The Minnesotan priests [unexpectedly] concelebrated, and the Monsignor at my parish welcomed Kevin and I in front of everyone, thanking us for our witness. It was a heavenly joy. I’m really big on heaven. Like, I’m super excited for it and think about it often. And there’s many moments in life where I’m just like, “yup – this is a taste of what’s to come.” It tends to be in community for me – all of us together experiencing great joy, with the focus being on our Lord. Love it!

Following mass was our open rehearsal dinner at my house. Kevin and I wanted this to be an open event, since so many people had traveled so far to be with us. So everyone came over, Father Drew blessed the bar, and the festivities began. What a night to remember. My friends have always meant the world to me, and to physically have them in my home, the place where I grew up, I just cannot fully communicate the beauty. Everyone had a blast (I mean, it was a Krouchick party, so people expected nothing less from Bob & Helene – my parents). My siblings each gave a toast, one including a hilarious slideshow. And the floor was opened up to anyone who wanted to say a few words. People were funny, touching, loving, emotional, everything and more. It was such a gift to Kevin and me. We gave our thanks as best we could, and everyone continued the fun.

Men of God. Our four wonderful priests from the Duluth Diocese!
Men of God. Our four wonderful priests from the Duluth Diocese!

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At the end of the evening, Kevin and I stole a moment upstairs just to be present in the fruits. Both of us just felt so loved, so grateful, so humbled, and so ready for what was to come. Neither of us could have imagined a better entrance into our wedding day. The Holy Spirit was truly present. From what I’ve heard, the days surrounding your wedding can sometimes seem like a blur looking back, or even while in the midst of it. I have to say, I felt completely present able to enjoy it. Such a grace. Even looking back, it’s so fresh in my mind. I’m give thanks to God for allowing me to live fully in those moments. And it only got better the next day…!

See part two here.

Much love for St. Martha

Today is the feast day of St. Martha, a woman who was a friend of Jesus (along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus). I have a special place in my heart for her as she is patron saint for many things hospitality. I majored in hospitality, and since high school have made my way through working in restaurants and hotels, to making hospitality an ingrained part of my life. 

I strive to “be hospitable” as 1 Peter says, and I look to St. Martha for intercession. I ask for a good balance of serving our Lord and serving others, while also being at peace with simply sitting at the feet of Jesus.

 

St. Martha

This painting above by Henryk Siemiradzki is my favorite depiction of St. Martha, looking at Jesus and her sister Mary. I first encountered this image on my 22nd birthday (which also was Easter my senior year of college – a truly wonderful day in my life). Two friends of mine framed the novena to St. Martha with this image, and it has stuck with me ever since. 

I can’t quite explain why it moves me so much, but just Martha’s gaze on Jesus as she takes a brief pause from her work lifts my spirit. It reminds me that all we do must be rooted in our Lord. I can often forget this. But without being filled up from the one who is the source of all life, we cannot hope to achieve much good in this world. 

St. Martha, pray for us.