When I sat down to read Hope Upon Impact the world seemed to be in total chaos.
I began this story and was pleasantly removed from the outside (and my inside thoughts) immediately.
I was transported to a backyard battlefield where all hope could have for sure been lost, but because of a family strongly rooted in their Catholic faith, that battle was won in the most beautiful of ways.
Julie Overlease, author and most importantly, mom whose world was completely turned upside down by a tree branch gone down, opens an incredibly deep wound to the world in this book.
Overlease takes readers along memories of the scariest moment of her life, when her twelve-year-old daughter, Evelyn, was struck by a falling branch.
In God’s perfect timing, about a month before I began reading this story, a seemingly small branch fell from a tall oak tree in our backyard. As I stood next to this branch that towered over me, I was in awe of its’ magnitude. I stared down at the piece of earth the branch had deeply severed and remembered about this book I had been wanting to steal time away to read. I thought about this branch bracing its’ fall on Evelyn’s skull and shivers went down my spine. And the thought…how could she have possibly survived?
Hope Upon Impact is a story about Evelyn’s miraculous recovery, yes, but readers leave with much more.
If you have ever wondered “why do bad things happen to good people,” read this book.
If you have ever struggled with faith, read this book.
If you have gone through a traumatic experience and feel alone, read this book.
If you have been craving a faith community, read this book, let it fuel that desire and inspire you to seek (or even start!) a group at your parish.
I will say that my favorite aspect to this story was Overlease’s honesty about her faith.
This is definitely a story about God meeting us where we are in our faith walk and providing specifically for our souls.
The way Overlease lays out God’s orchestration of this event is striking and can’t help but fill you with hope. The smallest details of this family’s life were all brought together to save Evelyn and strengthen faith through a terrible, yet somehow, beautiful event.
Only God, only God.
Purchase this story of hope here! (Affiliate Link)
Text Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2020
The Crumb on the Hand
Tongue or hand?
What a topic in our Catholic world.
It seems that both sides have strong reasons from the Early Church about why their way is the correct way. Judgement and pride seep through as both defend their way, all the while, hearts deep down coming from a place of love for Our Lord in the Eucharist.
The tongue v. hand debate will go on and the question always remains- what is the disposition of the heart? With the Church allowing both ways of receiving, this question is where each person’s answer lies.
During this Covid season of life, we have all been “encouraged” to receive on the hand. A traditional and holy priest said that even though this is “encouraged,” the laypeople of the U.S. still do have an option and will not be acting out of disobedience by receiving on the tongue, he added "people throughout history, during every plague, still received on the tongue.”
At the very beginning of this pandemic I decided to receive Our Lord in the palm of my hand instead of on the tongue.
I knelt, had him placed on my hand and brought my mouth down to Him to take Him under my roof.
I walked back to the pew, hands still folded, knelt and prayed. I then opened my hands, looked down at them and found a Crumb.
And it wasn’t just a tiny speck of a Crumb, not that it matters- the tiniest little particle of the Eucharist is body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord.
Tears of shock rolled down my cheeks with no effort.
You always hear about the possibility of Crumbs, but I always imagined them too tiny to see with the naked eye and not frequent.
This Crumb was the size of a Chick-fil-a crunchy you get excited about after all the nuggets are gone.
I brought Him to my mouth while in shock of how Jesus was still on my hand… and I had no idea.
My thoughts then went to times when we receive Him in our hands and without seeing the Crumbs, the Savior of the World, the King of Our Life, Our Lord of Lords and Prince of Peace…falls to the ground… and we then step on God.
How many times have we stepped on Our Lord while walking back from the communion line, walking out of the Sanctuary, while saying hi to friends in the pew next to us?
The Most Holy and Precious of all Gifts, trampled on.
And if we could see the reality of what we were doing, we would see a Bloody trail.
God knew this would happen, and He STILL desired to give Himself to us. He knew His Crumbs would be falling from our hands, and He still became Bread for our salvation.
His desire for intimacy with us is something that is absolutely unfathomable and deeply beautiful, beyond any beauty we understand this side of the veil.
The tongue v. hand debate will go on forever and the question will always remain- what is the disposition of the heart? But, I ask you to take this to prayer one more time- how you receive.
When He is placed in your tongue, no Crumbs fall to the ground.
When he is placed in your hand, there are Crumbs and you might not even see some of smaller ones, but they are still Our Lord and they still fall to the ground and we do step on Him.
At the heart of this question isn't a "side" or "position" to defend. At the heart of this question is - how do we want to handle Our Lord when He is placed under our care.
Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2020
The hardest part for me, about this whole global pandemic, has been being cut off from the Eucharist.
I have had such anger in my heart for Pope Francis and all of the bishops that have canceled Mass, canceled adoration...canceled God (my dramatic thought for ridiculous dramatic affect).
I think about the plagues that have occurred in history and how Mass still went on. I think about the faithful who attended Mass - knowing they could be risking their lives for the Sacrament - attending with a genuine desire for the one True Medicine.
And then I just get so pissed.
How dare these bishops cut us off from what our Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the SOURCE and summit of the Christian life” ?! (All caps brought to you by my rage.)
And then I spend the rest of my day depressed, mad and heart-broken for the state of our Church.
...It’s too dangerous, we gotta social distance, it’s for the good of the people, they didn’t come to this decision lightly, this could kill us all.
But...where are the martyrs?! Where are the courageous?!
It’s been an ongoing conversation in my soul that is wreaking havoc in my spirit.
None of the videos, podcasts or articles defending these decisions bring any consolation.
Until, Divine Intimacy, #123 Supernatural Obedience.
If I had kept up my pre-corona prayer life I would have found this ray of hope last week in my daily prayer/meditation book, but I have let this virus infect my prayer life to the max.
So, today I read...
“...I obey because my superior represents God for me...Let us suppose that our superior is wrong and orders us to do something- either good in itself or indifferent- from a less upright motive. God always knows how to make use of him for the benefit of our soul; even his imperfect intentions are utilized by God to make us do what He wants of us. This is certain: God directs us by means of our superiors and they are not independent of Him. He used them as instruments which He employs at His pleasure. Hence we must have recourse to our superior with confidence, since through him we contact God, and we are obeying God when he obey him. Such obedience is entirely supernatural and places us in direct contact with the divine will.”
God’s own “calm yoself” smack down.
I had just told my husband yesterday about my problems with holy obedience when the instructions suck and are stupid.
Now I feel sucky and stupid. Thank you, God. Finally.
This was exactly what I needed to hear to deeply humble myself and be reminded of my place in this situation.
I am not the pope. I am not a bishop. I am not a priest.
I am an extremely judgmental person right now that needs to calm herself...and trust.
Look at all of the families that are tuning into EWTN for the first time ever, or turning on daily Mass, or praying rosaries and talking about God together. The domestic church is alive right now!
There IS beauty in this, dang it. I know it and I see it but I have been too angry and hurt to not let it all sink down in and heal.
The reality is that whether the decision to cancel Mass was right or wrong- it is what it is. We can not attended Mass right now because of the decision of our superiors. And if I trust that God is working through His Church, if I believe that the Holy Spirit is in charge, then I must submit.
But as the title of the prayer meditation goes, this is a Supernatural Obedience.
So God, this one’s up to you.
Please, Dear Lord, send me peace through obedience that only you can place in my soul. I trust in you. I trust in you. I trust in you. I love you. Amen.
Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2020
Sticking it to the culture of death
Today is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Also today my husband and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Sounds romantic, huh?
On January 22, 2005, a young lapsed-catholic-turned-atheist walked down the aisle at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in a white gown to wed a young, un-churched agnostic man. I definitely did not see how incongruent that was at the time. As a wedding venue, the price was right and it was a place I was familiar with. Plus, it was going to make my parents happy, I reasoned.
Fast-forward 15 years and I’m not as young. I definitely can’t fit into that dress anymore. I’m no longer a lapsed Catholic, I practice a lot. My husband was baptized and we believe that Jesus is God and that he became a human and suffered so that we could be saved and have eternal life with him in heaven. We no longer darken the door of the sanctuary because the price is right or out of convenience or because it makes someone else happy. By God’s grace, we are bungling along together towards eternity with hope that Jesus will keep good on His promise and we’ll live forever with Him. When we made our promises to each other at the altar all those years ago, we were sincere, but I think its fair to say that weren’t thinking about God at all and hadn’t given much thought to the weight of our vows or even fully understood what we were committing to (especially the part about lovingly accepting children). But after much sinning and learning and conscience building, we have come to a place where we, at the very least, understand those vows and are committed to living them out. In the subsequent years we have managed to work towards a less selfish marriage and in the process have created 8 new souls, one of whom lives in heaven and one who currently resides in my womb.
Several years ago in an email exchange, a friend, upon learning that our wedding anniversary was coming up said, “Way to stick it to the culture of death!” He was referencing the fact that the Roe v Wade decision came down on January 22, legalizing abortion and I was pregnant with our 3rd child and celebrating a “fruitful” marriage. When I read that I wanted to jump up in my chair with sword raised and give a Braveheart-worthy battle cry. But I was also a little but bemused. Me? Sticking it to the culture of death? But I haven’t even prayed on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood before…
Until that moment I hadn’t understood what an impact I could possibly have on the culture. I didn’t see that my little family mattered all that much. No doubt, that feeling of not mattering or being insignificant is one of the hallmarks of the culture of death. But when I finally saw our family as my friend saw our family, I was astonished at how God worked and how truly significant we all really are.
I am valuable. My husband is valuable. Every single human life is infinitely valuable. You are extremely precious. The baby in the womb, the guy panhandling on the corner, the person spewing vulgarities online about killing unborn babies, the mother-in-law, the cashier. Everyone. And the only way I am really going to “Stick it to the culture of death” is by starting at home, stepping outside of myself and trusting in God’s perfect plan for my marriage. Saying yes to the needs of my husband and children and no to myself, despite how much I don’t want to. Making difficult sacrifices of comfort, health, money and time to lovingly accept children. There are an infinite number of ways. In marriage and family life the opportunities are truly endless. Even if you’re not married you are called to lose your life for His sake. What will it look like for you to “stick it to the culture of death?”
So today, as you pray for the unborn, please pray for my marriage and all married couples, that we can forget ourselves and trust in Jesus’s perfect plan for marriage. That we can faithfully live out our promises and be fruitful witnesses to life.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:24
A Date Night For Your Sanctity
One Friday night my husband and I fed the kids, put them in their cozy pj’s and wished the babysitter good luck as we rushed out of the house in blissful freedom.
We had been eagerly awaiting this date night. Instead of going to a restaurant and overpaying for our meal, we were getting together with four other couples and our priest. To make things extra exciting, Fr. John Peter would be cooking for us that night.
As we walked into the rectory, we saw the table Fr. John had set for us and it tugged at our heart strings. The plates and silverware were formally placed along with the cloth napkins. Over on the kitchen counter was the fruit Father had pick and washed for us along with the bourbon gouda he had placed on a cutting board. My eyes felt the burn and my love for the priesthood grew and stung at the same time. It was like those moments that you see your children so happy it gives you an unexplainable sting. Fr. John looked so joyful in creating this meal for us and having us in his home.
Before dinner, we grabbed our Bibles and rosaries, moved to the living room and began our time together.
It was an incredibly sweet, heartwarming night of sharing our hearts, our love and desire for God along with some accountability and faith formation.
The Domestic Church Lay Movement
The consensus seems to be that anything out of Poland has been anointed.
When you have great Saints like JP2, St. Faustina and St. Maximilian Kolbe praying with deep love for a country, fruitful stuff is bound to happen. The Domestic Church Lay Movement is no doubt one of those Polish fruits.
They have come up with a genius, Holy Spirit given concept of how to run a successful small group.
The movement has been around for 46 years and in Poland there are over 18,000 families involved. It was brought to the U.S. in 2011 and there are now over 450 couples involved.
“Domestic Church is a Catholic lay movement for Sacramentally married couples who want to grow in holiness together with their spouses and their family. It began in Poland with the help of St. John Paul II and is now available in English in a number of dioceses across the U.S.”
Here are the basics:
You might think, well, those are practices all Catholics are called to do.
Very true, but how many couples are actually committed to fully living out their baptismal promises?
How many of us have an accountability group set up to make sure that we are actually living out our faith the best we can? Not many.
Look at the lives of the Saints, most were not on their own. God raises clusters of Saints because of the innate fact - we need each other. We were all put on this earth together to help each other reach Heaven.
Couples in DC do just that, they are committed to helping the others on their journey Home.
My husband and I have been a part of the Parents Group at our church for some years now. We have made great friends and created a community that feels more like a family than just friends from our parish.
While the kids are in religious education on Sunday mornings, the Parents Group gets together for our own formation. This time and these people enriched our faith life immensely and we began to feel a growing call to go deeper into the heart of God.
Around this time our parish priest asked me to find out more about a new lay movement that was spreading throughout our diocese.
I called Alex Schimpf, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of OKC and one half of the couple that brought DC to Oklahoma.
As he was explaining the movement, I knew I wanted my husband and I to be a part of it, along with couples in our Parents Group.
You see, for a few years we had been trying to figure out how to take our Parents Group (one of the most fruitful groups a parish can have, by the way) to the next level with “small groups” so that couples could have more time connecting as well as a safer place to share and grow openly.
Our protestant brothers and sisters have figured out that this is a great way to grow in faith as adults, so I researched within several denominations. Sadly, I never found a solid formula for a small group. They all seemed to fall short of the end goal.
Until, Domestic Church.
Even though the movement does stand alone, it sounded like the perfect next step for any parish based couple group that have a desire to go deeper, together.
And that was us.
We went on the retreat and could feel the Spirit showing us how this was going to change our life.
Our Domestic Church family is one of the greatest gifts God has given us as a couple.
We have friends that are encouraging us to reach for Sainthood and praying for us along the way, doesn't get much better ( or important ) than that. Both my husband and I have friendships that go beyond every day issues and aren't afraid to get into the vulnerable, hard side of living as a Catholic.
And the accountability side of these friendships is huge. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again, we need each other for Heaven.
Another beautiful aspect to DC is the impact it has on the priests that have joined. Not only is the movement feeding us lay folk, priests are finding spiritual strength through relationships with DC couples. And for the couples, it gifts us the opportunity to walk closely with a priest, something that is so rare and special these days.
“The Domestic Church movement has been a refreshing source of encouragement for my own vocation as a priest. Journeying with families committed to growing in holiness is a great reminder for me that God is continually raising up saints. No matter how dark things can seem on occasion, there are Catholic families committed to Jesus Christ and to sanctifying his Church. Through regular prayer, sacrifice, and thoughtful community life Domestic Church families seek to place our Lord at the center of their lives. This for me is a great sign of hope and impels me to strive for greater holiness in my vocation.” Fr. Alex Kroll, Domestic Church priest
So, moral of the story?
If you want to be a Saint, join Domestic Church. Because it could possibly be, as simple as that.
Want to bring DC to your diocese? Find out how here!
Copyright Text and Image Stephanie Stovall 2019
I climbed into the van hesitantly while dreading the weekend ahead.
Oklahoma State University’s parish had put together a “Nun Run” for young women that felt a calling to a religious vocation.
I wouldn’t say I had heard the call, but I was…
I figured I was only fighting God on this so the only fair thing to do was give it a shot.
The weekend was awful.
Judge me all you want, I found out that trip that I do not like praying the Liturgy of the Hours at. all.
It was its own form of torture.
All of the Adoration time was beautiful, but then you’d go back to silence and work.
No, thank you.
I was counting down the hours for my “weekend of hell” (as I referred to it as the bus drove us from convent to convent) to be over.
At our last convent, during one of the Adoration times, I’ll never forget hearing the voice of God.
It wasn’t a loud audible thunder-like voice, but more of a strong thought in my head and heart that I knew wasn’t my own.
“You’re going to be a soccer mom,” are the words I heard.
They completely threw me off because I had been praying for God to open my heart to being a Sister AND then also the whole me not wanting kids thing.
It didn’t make any sense at all, until the peace came.
I knew in my soul that God was not calling me to be a nun.
And I was ecstatic!
I was okay with Him slowly unfolding the rest of that sentence to me in time because I heard the most important thing, my vocation was not in a convent. Hallelujah!
Late into the fall of my senior year at OSU I found myself praying another prayer of clarity.
I met a boy that took me by surprise.
I had already made plans to attend a Catholic missionary school in Australia after graduation and then saving souls while adventuring all over the world. A husband and kids would wait until I hit about 30.
I’ll never forgetting talking to God, “Okay God, you know how much I like him. I feel like I might be falling in love with him, so please, if you don’t want me to be with him stop these feelings and relationship right now. I want what you want. But please be clear.”
The feelings only became stronger and stronger. I couldn’t get this boy out of my head. I kept praying for direction and clarity and John kept filling up more and more of my heart.
As we spoke of marriage and a family three months into our relationship, I had to face the reality that was right in front of me.
Vocation time had arrived.
Did I want the dream of a husband and kids, a cozy home and homemade pies…or the dream of adventure and missions all over the world.
The two dreams played tug of war with me but God had made it so clear and strong in my heart that there wasn’t an actual decision to make.
I couldn’t wait to begin a life with John. I wanted, more than anything, to be his wife and have children one day.
The journey to finding my vocation has shown me the importance of praying for my boys’ vocations.
John and I have prayed for their future possible wives and for their “yes” to God if they are to be called to the priesthood. We pray for our kids to hear God’s call for their lives, no matter where it might take them. We pray that they have a deep love for God and the Eucharist.
There are so many directions this life can take them, I hope our prayers will help them stay on the path that leads them as close to God as possible. I hope our prayers will help lead them to their Sainthood.
Another lesson, that I am still learning and asking God to show me, is about my vocation within my vocation. My spiritual director refers to the two as “your big V and little V.”
Big V= wife/mom, Little V= the other little missions that God has created me for.
A hot topic in mom circles is being “more than a just a mom.”
We all cringe at the “just a mom,” because being a mom is our Big V, our biggest job in this life, besides being a wife.
But, God has given us all kinds of talents and desires of the heart that are between just us and God and meant for the salvation of the world.
The Little V can be a hard thing to discern, many times even harder than the Big V.
I think a lot of times what gets in the way of us with a mom vocation is either mom guilt and just being plain tired.
We’re so busy keeping little humans alive and well, who has time for anything else?!
Every soul is created completely different, so I can only speak for myself, but the times that I let my little humans completely rule my life, I wasn’t at peace. I wasn’t living my abundant life. That totally makes sense, because I was putting aside the other side of who God created me to be.
I see the little vocations as ever evolving. Think, Mother Teresa and her “call within a call.” She didn’t give up on her first calling, she just gave God her yes to expanding on that call. And what came to be was a Saint.
Vocations Awareness week doesn’t solely belong to the young…what’s your little vocation in waiting and is it time for the world to be graced by your own “call within a call”?
Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2019
I Do Believe
For some months now my prayer before the Blessed Sacrament has been “I do believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)Even tho I look up at the monstrance and physically see bread inside, I know it’s Jesus...
.......(eyes move side to side)
Stepping out of my catholic-ness and looking into a Blessed Sacrament Chapel...we’re all insane.
We’ve lost our minds.
So, you’re telling me that little piece of bread is Jesus?
Not only that, but, there are people that sit in front of it for hours and just stare and pray??
We should all be admitted!
“This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60)
But...”Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68)
So, with faith, we stay with Jesus and we believe.
We believe that inside the monstrance is the King of the World, even tho everything that we know tells us there’s no. way. that’s. possible.
Have you ever heard of the Eucharistic miracle that occurred in Faverney, France in 1608?
I read the story to my kids in the beautiful children’s book, Stories of the Blessed Sacrament, and I was bawling.
Total ugly cry, had to put the book down to wipe my snot away, and keep crying, crying.
I just kept thinking....Jesus...that is you. It IS you! Please, help us believe and love you more!
God knows we believe, but He wants to help our unbelief!
He desires so strongly for us to love Him truly present in the Eucharist that He makes the Eucharist fly...or even bleed real blood that has been scientifically tested and proved to come from a 33-ish year old man that has gone through severe trauma!
Jesus is the Eucharist.
How many times do we stop and actually think about this when going up for Communion?
Or sitting for our weekly Adoration time?
We are sitting with God.
And what do we do about it? What do we do with this Truth? With this Reality?
How much are we willing to give of ourselves to a God that is continually coming down from Heaven to give us this IMMENSE blessing?
If we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist....how does that belief...that we say “Amen” to every Sunday, how is that affecting our life?
If we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist...is spending an hour with Him on a Sunday enough?
Does that seem appropriate, even?
One hour a week and that’s it?
“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be spit out.
So Jesus, please I beg you, help me believe more deeply than I ever have before, in your True Presence.
(Read about the flying Eucharist here...it is insane!!)
(Stories of the Blessed Sacrament)
Text Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2019
From Boys, Popularity and Atheism to True Joy: Stephanie’s Conversion Story on Oklahoma Catholic Radio
The day before this interview with Oklahoma Catholic Radio I found out I was miscarrying once again.
I didn’t have the brain power to go through re-scheduling and a part of me just wanted to do this for Him. I wanted to “praise Him in the storm.”
I thought, I do so much God talk and now I have this opportunity to share with people what He did for my life…and I’m going to cancel because I’m sad? No, I wanted to keep the appointment…and prayed God would do the cancelling for me.
That night, Oklahoma was hit with the most random August tornadoes and I was like, dang, God. Impressive.
I just knew the station wasn’t going to have power and we’d have to reschedule.
Even though every single traffic light was out as I drove to OKCR the next morning, the station still had power.
Deacon Larry started the interview and I couldn’t even remember the beginning of my own life story.
I didn’t have anything in me to give. I felt so empty. Physically and spiritually.
I said to God, “I have nothing. Please, Come Holy Spirit. You’re going to have to tell this story for me.”
And it began.
I love this story so much. It is a story about God’s immense love and mercy.
It is a story about how God truly does keep His promises to us. He does bring great joys out of intense suffering, even the worst suffering imaginable.
I came to faith because of a 17 year old girl named Lauren Burton.
It is because of her life that I have the life I do today, with a husband I am in awe of, 5 little boys that drive me crazy 😊 … and three tiny souls in Heaven - along with Lauren, praying us on.
Here is the story of my first ever God moment… 17 years ago…
Text Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2019
On our family’s summer vacation there were numerous God encounters.
When our 10 year old was helping our 2 year old getting in and out of the pool.
Walking into God’s creativity at Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world.
Hearing our children make up silly (and also annoying as heck) games in the car and cracking up with each other.
Walking behind the scene of my husband carrying a kid on his shoulders while taking in new sights together.
These moments touched my soul and made me catch my breath because of one thing they all possessed...beauty.
Beauty is one very real way that God reaches down and pulls our hearts closer to him. Beautiful things and moments are like a sneak peek into heaven for one second.
These moments should be looked for in all things and never taken as anything other than a physical and soulful connection to Our Creator. A moment of him desperately fighting for our attention.
The most powerful God moment I had when on that summer vacation was- cheesy catholic as this will sound- at mass.
We love seeing new churches on vacation and St. Francis de Sales in random little Paducah, Kentucky is now seared into my cherished memories forever.
Just like any old church, the architecture before even walking in lets you know you are walking into Greatness. Into something that will be fighting for your attention. Into something important and something sacred.
We stepped inside this story of our faith and I immediately looked like those kids in Sandlot looking up at the fireworks during their Fourth of July baseball game. My eyes became wide and then my mouth followed in awe.
St. Ignatius of Loyola is big on finding God in all things-and in this moment I was grateful to God for waterproof mascara.
Once we got to the Gloria, man I could have bawled, even ugly cried all the way through.
Hearing this beautiful version that was so reverent and classical took me to the next level and it was as if I could feel all the angels around me praising.
Beauty is powerful stuff. We underestimate its impact on our humanness way too much.
One other thing that I didn’t expect - was a personal choice I’ve just recently decided to add - taking this moment of beauty even deeper and making it more precious.
After much prayer and learning I felt the most gentle invitation from God to begin veiling.
I can not tell you how much I did not want to begin veiling. And why? Because of what people would think. I worried about judgments from all over the place. But, maybe I’ll write more on that some other time. I’ll go on with this time, this one, incredible encounter with God through his beauty in the mass and holy art...I was sitting there with tears and then my veil caught the corner of my eye. And at that moment everything that I had been learning about veiling came together. I understood His invitation.
I felt so beautiful and so loved by God in that instant. All of the ancient reasons for veiling before the Lord came rushing back to mind and my head knowledge shot straight to my heart. It was as if for a moment I saw myself as my Lord sees me...and I felt so incredibly loved.
He sees us all as a part of this beautiful plan.
We are his beauty at its’ finest. And if God, the Creator of the universe went to all these lengths...rivers and mountains, stars and gentle rain...why wouldn’t we give him our love in the same way?
Text and Images Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2019
St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier, bros.
St. Felicity and St. Perpetua, like sisters.
St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, friends.
St. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, pals.
St. Kevin, St. Comgall, St. Columba, St. Cannich and St. Kieran, all buddies (I only recently found out about this Saintly crew on St. Kevin’s feast day and was blown away by the number of Saint friends he was surrounded by!)
As we get to know the lives of the Saints we quickly see a pattern in their chosen way of life.
Saints surrounded themselves with other souls that were striving for sainthood.
Looking at one Saint you find out that they were encouraged and held accountable by friends that understood their deepest desire- God- and they committed themselves to fully living out the faith.
The Bible is full of friendships that we can learn from.
St. Peter and St. Paul teach us about true friendship through genuine accountability, even if things could get awkward.
David and Jonathan are a beautiful example of deep friendship. Fr. John Riccardo has a fabulous talk on male friendship. This is a great listen that challenges you as you reflect on your own friendships.
Looking back at my life thus far, I can clearly see the fruits from Godly friendships and how I allowed other relationships to derail me from my spiritual goals.
Great friends in college helped me to discern situations like how to spend my free time and even who I should or shouldn’t date. These friends challenged my friendship with God and set examples for me that I still strive for to this day.
After college, solid friends were hard to find. After asking God to provide good Catholic friends for me, he definitely delivered. He has provided women that have helped me make the jump from contracepting to fully committing to NFP. God has put women in my life that challenge me in my prayer life and encourage me when I just don’t feel like wasting time with God when there’s so many other things on the to-do list. They have taught me to let go of crazy ideas like- I can’t invite people over if my laundry mountain is still in my living room. These friends have helped sear in my heart the value of my miscarried babies when others were rolling their eyes at my grief.
Now as a wife and mom I have taken up praying for God to provide great friendships for my family. Of course I hope all of our boys have strong friendship within their brotherly love, but I know the friends they make out of our family unit will impact their lives greatly- and that is something that needs serious praying over.
I have prayed for God to bring my husband friendships with men that are holy and will strengthen him in his journey towards becoming the man he was created to be.
Just recently my husband and I became a part of the Domestic Churchmovement and have been so blessed with “couple friends” that are fighting to stay on the same path we’re fighting to stay on.
We were not meant to live this life on our own. We need so much help to stay the course. Finding other souls that are striving for sainthood, that arecommitted to fighting the same temptations, can truly take our spiritual lives to heights we couldn’t imagine.
“Iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Copyright Stephanie Stovall 2019