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Ladybugs from Heaven
Matt and Stephanie Regitz
When my wife Stephanie and I give talks about marriage, we often share that the hardest year of marriage was the year we had our firstborn, a daughter we named Mary Clare. It was no longer just the two of us deciding on a whim what our days would look like and where we wanted to travel next. Now there was this little person who couldn’t make decisions for herself—a new someone we had to think about first and now our plans could wrap around hers.
In comparison, the hardest year of life was the year this same little girl, the one who gave us the names “Mommy” and “Daddy,” passed away suddenly in her sleep at the age of two. It made life almost unbearable; we would have been totally incapacitated if not for the new soul entrusted into our care, a son. He was two-months old at the time, and we now claim he was the main reason we climbed out of bed each morning, because he too could not take care of himself, but he was, in a sense, taking care of us.
While we are now twelve years and three more children beyond our worst year of life, we know that no time and no future children would undo or replace the horrible and gut wrenching tragedy of saying goodbye to our little girl. While people often claim that grief can destroy a marriage, our experience of this together, while grieving very differently, was not divisive but unifying. Our marriage is much stronger—not because of losing our daughter, but because of our faith and God's hand on our healing and recovery. Many things allowed us to get to this place, but it began with a decision to be intentional and to do it together, even when it was hard.
For weeks we attended Mass daily together with our newborn son, Athan. This was a choice in survival, putting one foot in front of the other, not a spiritual duty. Being intentional with our choices even meant stepping into pain if healing was the goal, like creating new memories around the tragedy. Every year on the anniversary of Mary Clare’s passing, we take a trip with our family. We have gone to the beach, to retreat centers, to water parks, and most recently to a beach house on a canal that a family has offered us as a gift. We have chosen special people to share our grief with and allowed them to witness the immense pain and our need to release that pain in a safe and healthy way. We have reached out to others suffering in order to unite with them and allow them to not feel isolated. In isolation, grief can often feel so overwhelming, consuming, and terrifying all at the same time. Reaching out to others during these times took courage and also required others to be willing to accept our invitation to be present. Being present to us often meant just listening, just being in the same space, giving us a distraction, or a combination of all of these.
Ultimately we also had to feel safe sharing these deep emotions of grief with God. A close priest friend counseled us, “God is a big boy, He can take it.” When we were able to do this, more and more healing came. Healing also came in the form of new life. After the loss of Mary Clare we had two subsequent miscarriages before finally welcoming a second son, Becket. His precious life brought more healing than we could have imagined. It also brought old anxieties that we had to face each night as we put him and his brother to bed. They say that “time heals all wounds.” While we can’t speak to all wounds, and the amount of time cannot be predicted, time did slowly bring healing as joy slowly started replacing sorrow, and trust in God was also on the mend. God has also blessed us with yet another precious daughter, Anna Tess, and then again with another son, Kieran. They have added to the joys and the days that continue to heal us with each smile, hug, and peaceful night of sleep, where all of our children wake up refreshed ready to see what God has in store for them and our family.
Each of our children has played a special role in our healing. Becket being our first child after losing Mary Clare, Anna Tess being another girl to love and raise, and Kieran our first spring baby due on Mary Clare’s birthday. They all know and love their sister Mary Clare and have unique ways of both loving her and missing her. We have discovered that Mary Clare sends us ladybugs (named after Our Lady) as kisses from heaven to make her spirit known to us. They rejoice and celebrate every ladybug that they encounter and know that she is still with us. Heaven used to feel like a place so far away that we could think about when we wanted to; it was a dreamy spot to go when life goals had been reached and grandparents would greet us. Heaven is now a place we look forward to going and reuniting with our precious daughter we miss so much. We pray that all of our days before that will be spent telling others about the reality of heaven, how much God wants us to be there, and gathering everyone we know to join us there for eternity. If a precious two-year-old named Mary Clare is there with a man named Jesus, you want to be there too, we promise.
Resources for grieving parents:
If you would like to contact Stephanie or Matt you can reach them at the links below:
Matt and Stephanie Regitz
Matt Regitz and Stephanie Regitz have been married since Saint Patrick’s Day of 2001 and double as parents and ministers at Prince of Peace Catholic Church. Both graduated from Texas A&M University, and Matt worked as a salesman for 5 years in the oilfield before answering a call to trade in his company car for the new and crazy life as a youth minister at his childhood parish. Stephanie was an elementary school teacher before bringing her gifts home to their houseful of kids as a full-time mom. Matt completed a Masters in Theological Studies from the University of St. Thomas in 2009 and has worked as the youth minister at Prince of Peace alongside his brother, Dave Regitz, for the past 15 years. Stephanie started St. Gianna’s Hope Ministry to serve moms who have suffered a miscarriage or infant loss. Their own story of grief and recovery has radically changed the way they view their own roles as ministers and parents. They have four earthly children (Athan, Becket, Anna Tess, and Kieren) and a daughter, Mary Clare, now in heaven. Matt and Stephanie hope their raw and passionate journey of faith will remind people that Jesus loves us to death…and beyond!
by Chris Padgett
Never Stop Peddling
Have you ever wondered why you bother going to Mass? If you are a parent of small children, you may feel so distracted that you are getting nothing out of the experience. Your mind may wander to the argument you had with your spouse before you left the house or the fact that little Junior is wearing mismatched shoes. Your thoughts might drift to the big game awaiting you on television, and you hope that Father keeps his homily short and sweet so you won’t miss the kick off. As you absentmindedly stand for the gospel, you berate yourself for not paying attention. You should want to be here, but you don’t, which makes you feel guilty all over again.
Instead of beating yourself up for your lack of focus, try and reflect on these three things to remind you of why going to Church is important even when you feel like it is a waste of your time.
1. You attend Mass to heal what is broken. What do you do when a light bulb breaks in your home? Do you sell the house? Of course not! You replace the light bulb. As a light bulb is meant to give light to that which is around it, we are meant to bring light to others wherever we go. We cannot do this when we remain broken. Going to Mass heals our brokenness and brightens the areas of our lives that have been dulled.
2. You attend Mass to experience the unseen. We focus so much on what is around us because it is what we know. We rely on our sight to tell us what is real. But, what if you could see what was unseen? During Mass, all of Heaven becomes present. If you could see what was happening, you would be overwhelmed with awe, crying out like Isaiah, “Woe is me! . . . I am a man of unclean lips . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:5). That God, who is so holy, allows us to carelessly come before him is truly a miracle of mercy. God wants you to approach him with faith, believing that even when you cannot see, He is present. God is all around you, inviting you to trust that He is bigger than even sight can contain.
3. You come to Mass with great expectations to experience God’s eternal love. God’s commitment to you is without limit. He loves you, and this is best seen in the Mass. The cross is a reminder that He gave everything for you. If you understood that the Mass is an invitation into the deepest embrace from God to his children this side of eternity, you would come with great expectations. You would expect to be loved and embraced by a God who knows your name, expect to be seen, even when you feel all alone, and expect the unexpected because God unexpectedly gave everything for us at Calvary. The Mass is a reminder that the tenacious love of God is the reason for a hope amidst a time of hopelessness. Don’t give up!
Even if you find yourself exhausted every Sunday, Mass is still worthy of your effort because God is filling you and preparing you to be the husband or wife, mother or father, or daughter or son that you are. If you could see the unseen, you would notice that Jesus is looking at you, even now, and smiling because you came to be with him.
Ditch the Resolution
By Linda Padgett
How have you done so far with your New Year’s Resolutions? Usually by this point, most have quit, that is, if they had even attempted the resolutions at all. Good, ditch the resolutions.
The concept of starting over and setting goals at the beginning of a new year is understandable. Most of us have spent the last few months gorging on food, entertainment, and shopping, only to be left wallowing in regret and exhaustion. Our clothes are fitting tighter and our wallet is emptier. The feeling of lack of control is at the heart of it all. That is the appeal of resolutions. They give us a sense of control. As the calendar rolls to a new year, we feel that we are empowered with super-human strength and a belief that now is the time that we will finally achieve the impossible.
Then comes February.
For years, I have avoided this roller coaster of determination/regret. Instead, I recognized that I do much better with goals and to-do lists. Since 2012, our family has participated in the creation of Bucket Lists. Each one of the family members, who is old enough to contribute, gives me their list of items they wish to accomplish throughout the year. The younger children may only have two or three things, whereas the older ones will come up with ten items. I encourage them to include a variety of activities. Through the years, I have seen lists that include biking a certain amount of miles, running a 5K, reading a certain number of books, trying new flavors of ice cream, going to sporting events, learning a new skill like knitting, and trying something new like water skiing. Wow… we’ve had quite the adventure making as many of these goals come to fruition.
If you wish to try something new with your family, you desire to actually see yourself accomplish a few things this year, or if your marriage needs a little bit of adventure, making a bucket list is the answer.
Before you start writing, here are four things to keep in mind.
1. You want this to be an actual list. Even though my young children may only have a few items, I encourage most individuals to come up with eight to ten items for their list. The benefit is that you may actually manage to accomplish a few of them. In my years of doing this, I have never checked off every box. But I always feel great excitement in the items I did complete. Things may come into your life that prevent you from finishing a certain item, but that’s okay. You have others to do.
2. Choose items that touch on several different aspects of your life. There should be a physical goal, a spiritual goal, and an intellectual goal. All three of these areas need attention to make us better versions of ourselves.
3. As you select your goals, make sure to choose ones that are specific and attainable. Vague goals will not give you a definite mark of accomplishment, but too goals that are too difficult will discourage you. For my 2018 list, I have decided that I want to get back into my great love of cycling. So, I have set a goal of miles to be biked. In order to make this realistic, I calculated how many weeks I will likely bike based on weather and chose a realistic mileage goal. I figured 300 total miles is doable. If I go over, great.
4. Finally, select items that involve other family members. Getting them on board with your goals makes the goals more likely to happen. I have a daughter who wants to hike. Living in Central New York, we have great hiking options that I have wanted to explore since moving here. So, on the list it went. I wrote down a goal that aims at discovering and hiking two NEW areas around us.
There you go. Ditch the resolutions and create your Bucket List. I guarantee 2018 will be filled with more adventure and excitement than you could have imagined.
I sat and stared and tried my best not to think about Elizabeth’s visit. I tried not to think about anything. My phone vibrated again. I’d already ignored a few calls from Elizabeth since she left and a couple from her brother. This time it was my son. I pressed the ignore button and shoved the thing between the armrest and the cushion of my chair. I rubbed my eyes firmly to keep myself from crying. At least Elizabeth had me so mad that I didn’t blubber in her presence. Anger is so much easier than facing the agony of losing Millie. It’s been so long since I’d had an actual conversation with the real Millie that I felt I’d lost her already. Elizabeth had no idea how close she’d come to breaking me earlier. I’d clenched my stubborn nature as if it were my only lifeline.
I needed to get my mind off of all of this. Surely there is a game on TV or something. The damn remote was across the room on my dining table. What in hell was it doing all the way over there? I stared at it as if I could conjure it to fly to my outstretched hand. Nope. A nap. There’s something I could do without having to leave my chair. I leaned back and closed my eyes reaching for nothingness. I concentrated on the whoosh of the dishwasher. Maybe the sound would lull me to sleep. Nope. Instead, Elizabeth’s words echoed in my head. “You really are a jackass, do you know that?” “Mom deserves so much better than this!”
Elizabeth’s face morphed into Millie’s, and it was no longer my daughter yelling at me but my wife. The long ago memory forced its way into my awareness with a distinctness I had not thought possible. I’d been out of town for a few days helping one of my friends on a construction job. Millie had expected me home hours earlier and was less than pleased when I finally clamored into the kitchen.
“You’re late.” Millie’s arms hung stiffly at her sides, her fists tightly clenched.
I gave her my remorseful look. “I’m sorry. Ted and I stopped for a drink and lost track of time.” Actually, we had gotten back in town at two that afternoon. We ended up calling a few other friends and spent the rest of the day drinking and telling stories. I spent the last hour and a half trying to sober up enough to drive home. I glanced at the clock: 8:48 p.m.
Millie took a few steps toward me to get a closer look. Her eyes squinted as she stared into mine. “You’re eyes are bloodshot. You’ve had more than a few drinks.”
“After working my ass off nonstop for three days, I come home to this?” I played a perfect victim. “No ‘Welcome home, I missed you’ from my wife?” I was good, but not good enough.
Her expression changed from extreme irritation to downright hostility. “You worked your ass off?! You poor baby. Do you want to know what I’ve been doing since you left? Oh wait, I don’t want to overwhelm you. Let me just tell you about today.” She held up her index finger. Uh oh. I was about to get the list. “First, Adam woke me four times in the night: twice because he was thirsty and twice because he had to pee. Four times being woken by Adam and two more times by Elizabeth wanting to nurse. That doesn’t leave much time for actual sleep.” Elizabeth started to fuss from the other room but Millie ignored her.
She held up two fingers. “Then, this morning, Adam colored on his bedroom wall. He tried to tell me that it was Elizabeth, but I didn’t think a fifteen-month-old could spell out A D A M.” I looked past Millie to see Adam grinning at me from the kitchen doorway. “He lied so convincingly, if it hadn’t been for the letters, I would’ve believed him.” She shook her head, sending her red curls bouncing, and her arms flailed around trying to make her point. Freckles spanned across her nose and cheeks that always darkened when she was all riled up. I loved those freckles. They’d faded through the years along with Millie’s temper.
God, I missed that Millie.
Three fingers. “Then, as I cleaned the markings off of the wall, the dog decided to get into the trash. I came out of Adam’s bedroom to find garbage strung all over the kitchen and dining room. And after I took care of that mess, I find that the damn mutt had vomited all over the living room rug.”
Elizabeth began to wail louder. I started toward the sound only to be frozen in place by Millie’s glare. Four fingers. “Neither kid has napped today. So, I have had no sleep and no break since 5:45 this morning and I’m about ready to blow.” Too late, she’d already blown. “I’m so sorry that I didn’t welcome you with open arms and a passionate kiss, but this is as good as I could muster today.” She let out a breath and her shoulders slumped in defeat. Tears cascaded down her face and I knew that for now, the list was finished. It was a good thing she’d only recounted the one day.
I was pretty sure that my wife no longer posed a threat to me and risked gathering her into my arms. She didn’t return my hug but she didn’t pull away either, so that must have been a good sign. “I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough day. I had no idea. I should’ve come straight home.” I kissed her on the top of her head. “Go take a long bath. I got the kids. Take your time.” I watched as she shuffled out of the kitchen.
I raised my eyebrows and smiled at Adam. He grinned widely as I picked him up. “Son, don’t waste your lies on things that can be proved. I mean really, son, you signed your name.” He hugged me tight and giggled into my neck. I spoke from experience. I knew the guys would never give away the fact that I had been at the bar for six hours instead of coming home. We always had each other’s backs. All those guys are dead now. Lucky bastards.
When Millie came out of the bathroom, I sat in the rocker with both kids sleeping on my lap. She smiled and her eyes lit up. “I don’t think you’ve ever been more attractive to me than you are right now,” she said.
I made a point to stare at the towel wrapped around her head then took in her flannel nightgown with the pink flowers that stopped just above a pair of my socks that slouched down around her ankles. “Funny,” I said. “I was just about to say the same thing to you.” Millie laughed, and I knew that I was forgiven. She picked up Elizabeth to take her to bed. “You go on to bed,” I said. “I’m going to just rock him a little longer. He’s getting so big.”
Millie was already sleeping when I went to bed. I used to love to watch her sleep. The way her hair spilled all over the pillow and the peaceful look on her face in slumber always filled me with emotion. I gently brushed her hair off of her forehead, and at my touch a hint of a smile curved at the corner of her mouth. Even in her unconscious sleep, she recognized my touch. Millie lived with passion and gusto but was also the sweetest, most gentle woman in the world. How I longed for her to know me again.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be long in the ground before Millie reached the end of her life. I’d made a deal with God. I was so sure of our deal that when Millie was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I thought that at least my wife wouldn’t have to mourn me if she didn’t know me anymore. Instead, it’s me getting left behind, and I don’t even have the comfort a failing mind. Gee, thanks God. Thanks a hell of a lot.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Obsession of the Month
by Bob Perron
Bob Perron is known to obsess on occasion (okay, almost always.) Once a month he will share one of those obsessions in the magazine. This month it is hearing aids.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard late night talk show hosts, news reporters, and television anchors ask authors or actors questions and felt in the end it was a waste of time. So many wasted opportunities to ask the really important questions. It's like the interviewer has no idea who they are even talking to! What I really want to know is, how did they come up with that idea? What were there influences? Were they ever afraid or worried what someone would think about their art? How long did it take them to write that book or record that song?
I have had some wonderful opportunities to sit with people I respect, authors and theologians, preachers and musicians, successful, sinful, and saintly people, and ask them why and how they excelled in particular areas or endured difficulties with such grace. Those talks helped me to feel motivated and encouraged. I want you to be motivated and encouraged too, and so that is why I wanted to contribute these monthly interviews; to offer you a perspective of what it could be like if you had a chance to sit down and really get to know that particular person. So, I hope you enjoy this series as much as I’ve enjoyed doing the interviews. In case you really wanted to know, that’s the reason why I interviewed . . .
Justin Fatica (Hard as Nails)
I met Justin Fatica what feels like forever ago. I was traveling around in a tour bus with my family, and we were both presenting at a church in Yardley, PA. I remember watching Justin’s presentation, almost overwhelmed by his energy and intensity. We spent a little time together talking later that night, and I figured that would be the end of it as we went our separate ways.
Over the next few years, I kept hearing from Justin. He would call and talk about ministry, and on occasion, he would even stop by my home as he traveled from one event to another. We were introduced to his wife and kids, and found that we had a lot in common. The more time we spent together, the more we grew in our friendship. His love for Christ and conviction to live his faith radically, was powerful, but what I really fell in love with, was his heart for his family. How a minister treats his family reveals whether his or her ministry is truly valid.
In many ways, this family man/evangelist is what convinced me that something beautiful was happening in and through him, and believe me when I say that many people I knew didn’t know what to do with Justin or his ministry. On a personal level, every time I'm with Fatica, I laugh, start dreaming bigger, and get excited about new possibilities. I know when I am with him that I am going to be challenged and even convicted to pick up my game. I love that about our friendship. There’s a lot of people who make quick judgments about Justin because they don’t know him. I've discovered in Justin not only a true friend and family man, but a follower of Jesus Christ above all things. Justin lives in Syracuse, NY, and when he isn’t traveling around the world, he is helping me find parking places so we can go to Syracuse basketball games.
1. How long have you been doing full time ministry?
2. What did you do before Hard As Nails?
I was a mascot for a professional hockey team, the Erie Otters. I worked as a vendor at Chase Stadium for the NY Mets. I was camp counselor, and before I did ministry, I was a professional pagan. I also worked as a ninth grade youth minister at Paramus high school in Paramus, NJ.
3. What motivated you to start this ministry?
What motivated me to start this ministry is that Jesus Christ saved my life. It was the least I could do to lead others to him.
4. You and Fr. Larry Richards go back a long way. What kind of influence did he have on you?
Fr. Larry Richards is my spiritual father. I’ve known Father for twenty-two years. He was my eleventh-grade morality teacher at Cathedral Prep in Erie, PA. Our relationship up until this day has been a blessing because we are both committed to one another as a son and a father. WE enjoy working together at father/son retreats and men’s conferences. I honestly have to say that a lot of the reason that I desire to preach the gospel to the world is that I saw my spiritual father do that, and I wanted to be like him
5. How did the whole HBO show come about?
The HBO show came about because they were doing a film on a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, and Christian to show the differences and similarities for faith in America. I happened to be the Christian they wanted to use for this show. After they filmed me, they took it back to their office in NY City and said, “We can’t use this guy because he’s popping off the screen.” They said, “If we’re going to use this guy, we’ll have to do a feature length screen on his life and scratch this idea. The director David Holbrooke (Richard Holbrooke’s son, the US ambassador to Bill Clinton) decided to scratch this idea and do a feature length film. HBO decided to buy the film.
6. People seem to either love or hate you. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. You’re going to have to ask them. I’m just a witness for Jesus Christ.
7. I’ve known you for a long time and have always appreciated your love for your family. What role do they play in your ministry?
My family is the key to our whole m
inistry. My love for them mirrors my love for the staff. It mirrors the love for the eight staff members, the over forty missionaries we have had, and all of the volunteers across the globe that have helped this ministry. My family helps me keep what’s most important in perspective. Being humble and kind is what my family challenges me to do. Don’t worry; I’m not turning into Cinderella.
8. How did you meet Mary?
I met my wife Mary at Seton Hall University. I was eating popcorn, and she was crying. I asked her why she was crying, and she said she was homesick. I said “You need Jesus in your life and you wouldn’t be so homesick.”
She said, “You need to get out of my room!”
Now we’re married.
9. Was there ever any disconnect or difficulty in your travel ministry and your growing family? Do they always travel with you?
There has always been a challenge between travel and ministry and my family. My family will go on a few trips a year, but most of the time I am traveling with my staff and missionary team. What has helped me is to live a covenant marriage. That means that when I think it’s a good idea to do a trip, I ask Mary what she thinks. If she says yes, then it’s God’s will. If she days no, then it is not God’s will. She is my VOR (Voice of Reason).
10. Talk about your missionaries.
The missionaries have been a huge gift to me as an itinerate speaker and author. Their main focus is to follow up on any youth or families that need extra assistance to get more involved in our Catholic faith. We call them the “Heart of the Charism.” They keep us youthful and give us a greater perspective of what this ministry is all about. The missionaries come with many challenges that they face in their own personal lives, and it’s an honor and privilege for Mary and me, along with our staff, to form them into exceptional young men and women of God.
11. I am very impressed by your infrastructure. How do you know and decide who is right for HAN?
Our infrastructure is solid because every person who commits to working with our ministry makes a commitment to live by our three core virtues: Courage, Authenticity, and Obedience. At our ministry, whether you are the bus driver, the chaplain, the executive director, or a missionary, all are called to serve Christ as missionaries. That is why it works.
12. How many days do you usually travel in a year?
13. I see you do Facebook live events, and they attract people from all over the world. How many people do you reach?
Over 1 million in 2017, and we hope for more in 2018.
14. You do events with and for EWTN, Catholic Family Land, and parishes and schools all over the country. What are people going to experience when they have you come and do an event?
We awaken people to the Power of God’s Love, and the only way to explain it is to experience it at an event.
15. You’ve written a number of best selling books. Which story is your favorite from them?
My favorite story right now comes from the You’re Amazing book that Dynamic Catholic published this year. It was a story that came about in 2010 when we started to use the term "you’re amazing." I gave a talk titled "You’re Amazing" and shared that whether someone does something wrong or something right, that can’t change them. God made them and made them good—in our terms, "Amazing." This football player type young person came up to me after the event and told me that my message was BS.
I said, "Why do you say that?"
He said, "Everyone isn’t amazing. Your message isn’t true. My Dad’s not amazing, he left me when I was a little boy."
I asked him, "Did it hurt when your dad left?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Did you cry?"
He said, "Yes, I cried. Why are you asking me all these questions?"
I answered, "It hurt so bad when your dad left you because he is so amazing."
That message is the key to living out our faith and baptismal calling.
16. What do you want people to know about you?
honored to get one day to bring the gospel. I am so thankful for all those who have helped make this ministry possible. I’m most grateful that my kids and my wife are a part of Team Fatica.
17. How can people get in touch with you, be a part of your ministry, and pray for you?
People can get in touch with us at www.rememberyoureamazing.com.
18. What do you want to see happen in 2018?
We hope to keep listening to people’s hearts daily and help them to know the love of Jesus. WE are really excited to have Fr. Peter John Cameron, who stepped down form his position after twenty years of service as chief editor of the Magnificat to move to Syracuse, NY, to be the director of formation and ecclesial liaison. We are really excited in 2018 to welcome him as a part of our staff.
19. You have a lot of accountability and spiritual direction for you and your missionaries. Why is that important?
When you really believe that what you are doing is gong to make a profound impact on the world around you, you make sure to have other voices to help direct those you lead so you handle it in a prudent and prayerful way. When you know how weak you are as a leader, you make sure to have people give you counsel. That is why Bishop Frank Caggiano, our episcopal advisor, Fr. Peter Cameron, Fr. Joe O’Conner, Fr. Chris Celentano, and Dr. Mark Cheret are very big blessings for our missionaries and staff.
20. You have big dreams when it comes to the impact of HAN: a boy’s school, evangelistic events, and I even heard you talk about a gym. What are you passionate about now?
We have big dreams to build schools, start an order of priests, large events, and much more—monumental tasks that might seem impossible at times. What I am passionate about right now is the moment I’m in, in the present and the people that Jesus puts in front of me. Like the event I’m about to do an hour from now.
21. What question do you wish people would ask when you do interviews?
I don’t really think about what people ask me. As my sons says, "I am a thinker; Dad is a doer." I don’t really think about things before doing them.
22. Your relationship with Jesus is very personal. Why?
My relationship with Jesus is personal because he is there when I'm rejected, when others are sharing pain, and when having fun. He died for me, and the least I can do is die for him. Anything good I have is from Him—my wife, kids, apostolate—all to serve Him. He is the best.
23. What I really want to know is, can you tell the readers if it is true that you have a life-sized cutout of Rocky in your office?
I do have a Rocky cutout in my office. He actually got moved to the gym at my house, but Rocky Balboa pre-evangelized me when I was in the fifth grade.
30 Days of Gratitude and Love -
By Lisa Perron
You will be receiving a gift or card each day for the next 30 days, highlighting just some of the reasons I am grateful for you and love you with all of my heart!
On June 18, 2016, my husband Bob unexpectedly handed me a pink envelope containing a card. Inside the card were the above words, promising me that by the time I turned the dreaded fifty the following month, he would have given me thirty reasons that he was thankful for me. After the initial shock and a few tears, I said, “How will you ever come up with thirty reasons?”
It was a serious question, to which he answered, “I had a hard time narrowing it down to just thirty.”
I couldn’t believe it. After three decades together, romantic gestures by either one of us had become rare; although, Bob has always been much better at these kinds of things than me.
When we’re in the throes of raising children, we are often in survival mode. Just getting through the hours of the day sometimes seems to take every amount of physical and emotional strength we have. We get sucked into the daily routines and forget to, not only see the value in ourselves, but also, perhaps more importantly, see the value in our spouses. We get caught up in what we don’t have, what we haven’t accomplished, or all of the things about our spouses that are irritating. We forget to see the more important and only see the immediate. We take it as a personal insult when we find four pairs of dirty socks scattered on our bedroom floor or that the toilet seat was left up again. We get stuck, and sadly, sometimes this is where many choose to give up. Feeling unappreciated and failing to notice the worth in the other is at the root of the problem.
And here was Bob, reminding me how valuable I was to him.
Whether it comes from your spouse, a parent, or even a child, it’s always nice to be reminded that you are loved and appreciated. I honestly believe that the most important words you can say to someone you love is, “I’m proud of you.” No matter how old I get, those words from Bob, my mom, or one of my kids mean more to me than any gift they could give me. My husband understood that I didn’t need a huge party to celebrate my half-century of life. Big parties, for me, often cause more stress than pleasure.
I think the best part about Bob’s gesture was that it was so unexpected. Sure, it’s great receiving romantic cards or gifts when it is anticipated like on Valentine’s Day or Anniversaries, but to be reminded by my best friend how much I am loved for a whole thirty days was a gift that I will always treasure. And it’s such an easy thing to do. Maybe it’s time we all offer a few words of encouragement to our families—to do the unexpected. Thirty days of cards might seem overwhelming to most of us. But you don’t have to be overwhelmed by the task. Just commit to doing just one unexpected act of encouragement this week, and I promise you that it will make a huge difference.
My thirty cards of gratitude and love sit in a basket on my desk as a reminder. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I pick up a few and read the heart-felt messages, and I am brought to tears all over again. I realize that whatever is pressing on me in that moment is unimportant in the overall scheme of things. It’s time to step back, take a deep breath, and take situations one at a time, knowing that my husband is always there to support me. And I am inspired to try and find ways to do the same for him.
Lighter Side of Life
Dan Reynolds is a well known cartoonist. You have probably seen his comics everywhere even if you didn’t know it. Dan is very humble, truly a man pursuing holiness, and a joy to be around, even if he can get a little out of control with his puns. Dan lives in Central Square, New York and attends Divine Mercy with his family. You can find more about his work at
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