How Couples Can Embrace Gospel Poverty

CARISSA PLUTA

 
PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

This idea of Gospel poverty seems to go against logic for most married couples and families. Surely God doesn’t mean He wants us to actually sell what we have and give it to the poor. 

But He does. 

He might not be asking us to sell everything we own, but He is asking us to embrace simplicity, live in solidarity with the poor, and to give from our need, not simply our excess. 

So in the spirit of St. Francis, whose feast we celebrate today, here are some suggestions for how couples and families can embrace the spirit of Gospel poverty. 

Live simply

Living simply allows you to make more room in your life for your relationship with God and others.

You don’t have to sell your home for a smaller one in order to live simply. There are many small changes you can make to prioritize simplicity in your daily life. 

Put down your phone. Cook good food, share meals, or read a book. Get outside, plant a garden, or take a deep breath. Invest in people and hobbies and find something to thank God for every day. 

Do more of the things that make you human. 

Foster detachment from material possessions

At the heart of Gospel poverty is a spirit of detachment from material goods and viewing our temporal possessions as belonging to God, not to us. 

St. Basil the Great once said:  “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes…” 

When we fill our closets with unused clothes, shoes, household items, and other things, we are essentially withholding them from those who need them more than we do. 

Go through the things you own and donate them to local charities. Or literally sell what you can and give the money to the poor. 

Then before making future purchases, ask yourselves if you really need the item you are buying. Take some time to investigate your motive for wanting that particular item. Is it to gain attention or popularity? If so, pray about going without it. 

Be good stewards

Time and time again we see in Scripture the call to be good stewards of the spiritual and temporal gifts God has given us.  

Stewardship looks differently for each couple, and husbands and wives should take time to pray about and discuss what it means for their particular family during this season of their life.

One of the most common ways to practice good stewardship is through tithing. While the Catholic Church does not mandate a particular percentage, she does make clear that we should return the first-fruits of our labor to the one who ultimately gave them to us to whatever extent we can. 

Take time to talk to your spouse about your physical and spiritual gifts and how you can use them to serve the Church.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Five Ways Catholic Couples Can Practice Hospitality this Fall

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Married couples can offer many unique gifts to their family, friends, and community that are specific to their particular calling, especially the gift of hospitality. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:   ABBEY REZ PHOTOGRAPHY

By creating a home, married couples create a space in which they can invite others in, a space to allow others to receive a taste of the beauty and communion of our heavenly home. 

Couples can practice hospitality in a variety of ways, but if you are looking for some ideas on how to do this in this new Fall season, give one of these a try!

Host a game night

What better way to spend a cozy autumn evening than with a fun game night! 

Game nights are a laid-back and enjoyable way to host old friends or new ones you want to get to know better. You and your spouse might even consider making it a weekly event. 

You can try out a game you’ve never played before, or bust out a well loved party game. You could even ask your board game savvy invitees to bring their favorite game to share with the group. 

Invite local college students for a home-cooked meal

By now, college students may find that they’ve exhausted the dining options on campus and are itching for a home-cooked meal. 

If you know a student or meet them at Sunday or daily mass, take the time to get to know them and then invite them over to share a meal with your family. 

Students will appreciate delicious food, and will also enjoy experiencing life with a family (especially if you have young kids!) 

Pie Tasting

Take this classic Fall treat and make a night out of it. Buy a variety of pies from the grocery store or from your local farmer’s market, and invite your neighbors over for a tasting.

If you wanted to add another layer to this idea, invite your family, friends, or neighbors to partake in a pie baking contest and then vote on a winner. It’s a fun (and delicious) activity everyone can enjoy.

Invite other couples to pray a rosary

The Church has declared October as the month of the Holy Rosary, so there is no better time to light some candles and pray a decade (or five!)

Invite your friends or other couples from your parish over for dinner (or drinks and dessert) and a rosary. You could simply pray it or you could provide some scripture to meditate on in between each decade. 

This idea can help build a community among other Catholic couples and can allow you to build friendships on a strong foundation.

Host an All Hallows Eve party

The night before All Saints Day (October 31st) has long been known as All Hallows Eve. So you and your husband might consider celebrating the communion of saints on Halloween night. 

Invite guests to dress up as their favorite saints or bring a potluck dish that relates to their favorite saint (perhaps Pope Cakes for St. John Paul II or a rose cake for the Little Flower?) You can have a contest for best dressed or prizes for correctly guessing someone else’s chosen saint. 

Get creative in planning this event and encourage your guests to experience the joy the Church (both on Earth and in Heaven) have to offer.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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The Divine Depth of Love

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Earlier this summer, I went to confession with a priest who asked me to spend a few minutes thinking about things about my husband that I am grateful for. 

Easy, I thought as I left the confessional. But as I sat down in the pew with my pen and journal in hand, I found it wasn’t actually as easy as I thought.

I love my husband. He’s an amazing man and I am thankful for him, but putting into words why I am grateful for him felt like trying to hold the whole ocean in my hands. 

If you had asked me right after Ben and I met what his best qualities were, I’d have been able to tell you in a heartbeat. He’s handsome, funny, smart, and kind. 

But now, after almost seven years of friendship, five years of being in a relationship, and three years of marriage, these words feel inadequate.

Trying to quantify and define the parts of him I loved felt limiting. I don’t love Ben because he’s handsome or funny or gentle, but because he’s Ben. 

The more time you spend with a person the harder it is to see all of the things that make them who they are. 

The more you learn about them and see who they really are, the harder it becomes to pinpoint all the little qualities that make them lovable. 

You simply love them because they are.

Marriage has opened to me a depth of love that I hadn’t known possible and in doing so made known to me a depth of God I had yet to understand.

A God who loves wholly and without conditions. 

God doesn’t love us because we are capable or holy. He doesn’t love us because of our looks or our sense of humor.

There is nothing we can say, do, or have to earn more of His love and affection. 

He loves us because we are.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Catholic Gift Ideas for the First Five Anniversaries

CARISSA PLUTA

 

I’ve always loved the traditional “themes” that go along with your wedding anniversary and enjoy the challenge of coming up with a gift idea to go along with it.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    HER WITNESS

PHOTOGRAPHY: HER WITNESS

Finding the perfect gift for your spouse isn’t always easy, so here are some thoughtful and uniquely Catholic ideas for the first five anniversaries:

First Anniversary: Paper

Spiritual bouquet: This gift idea is a favorite of mine. This thoughtful idea allows you to physically show your husband your prayers and sacrifices for him. There are several ways you can go about putting your spiritual bouquet together and you can even invite your family and loved ones to join in.

Framed Print: Beautiful Catholic prints and artwork like this St. John Chrysostom Print or this St. Josemaria Escriva print from our shop, would perfectly fit this theme for your first anniversary and fill your home with even more beauty.

More Here: First Anniversary Gift Ideas

Second Anniversary: Cotton

T-Shirt: Cotton shirts make a laid back but fun gift for your significant other. You can buy functional, everyday shirts or switch it up with a cool (and Catholic) graphic t-shirt like the Beloved and All the Days of My Life tees in the Spoken Bride Shop. 

New sheets or a quilt: Your bed shouldn’t just be the place in which you go to sleep each night, but a sacred space. It is where your vows are made flesh and should be adorned in a manner fitting of such a high honor. New cotton sheets or a custom quilt would help turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.

Third Anniversary: Leather

Leather bound Bible or Liturgy of the Hours: I love leather bound books, don’t you? You can buy a leather bound Bible or the set of Liturgy of the Hours for your spouse (and you) to use daily. These sturdy books will hold up well over the years and would make a great addition to your family’s sacred space.

Leather prayer journal: Does your spouse like to journal as a form of prayer? Buy a leather journal for him to take with him to the chapel for holy hour. 

Personalized Leather Tray: A leather tray to hold your wedding bands, keys, or spare change would make another good option for your third anniversary. You can even have it personalized with a meaningful quote or verse from your wedding mass readings. 

Fourth Anniversary: Fruit or Flowers

Custom painting of your wedding bouquet: If you have a photo of the bouquet from your wedding, you can find an artist to make a custom painting of it for your home. It serves as a beautiful reminder of that special day (and would last much longer than real flowers would). 

Marian Garden: Clear a spot in your yard and plants flowers around a statue of Mary. While this isn’t exactly a simple, one-time gift, it gives you something to watch grow and flourish as the years go on.

Fifth Anniversary: Wood

Crucifix: A wooden crucifix would remind you of your call in marriage to self-giving love, and make a beautiful and meaningful addition to your bedroom or sacred space. 

Wood beaded rosaries: Wooden rosary beads are also a good (and spiritually edifying) option for this anniversary. 

The Spoken Bride vendor guide features many talented Catholic artists and craftsmen and can help you find other gift, art, jewelry, and photo options for your upcoming anniversary. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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The Art of the Apology

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Learning how to apologize has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned so far in my marriage. 

I thought I knew how to apologize well. Isn’t that one of the earliest lessons we learn when we reach school age?

However, early in our marriage, I noticed that my apologies (if I apologized at all) often lacked humility.

A genuine apology and a swift forgiveness positively affect the whole dynamic of your relationship with your spouse. 

Take responsibility

Very few marital disputes are the sole fault of one of the parties, so you first must acknowledge your role in the problem or dispute. If you don’t your apology will lack sincerity. 

Step into your spouse’s shoes and see how your words and actions may have negatively affected or hurt him. Show him that you respect how he feels.

This first step takes humility, which can prove difficult for many of us, but will help build trust and love in your relationship with your partner.

Watch your words

Words have power and can affect the sincerity and validity of your apology. 

When struggling to overcome our pride, we often word our apology in a way that places the blame primarily on the other person.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” or “If I offended you, I’m sorry” are not apologies. And instead of reinforcing the connection between you and your spouse, further divide you. 

Use more “I statements” when apologizing like “I’m sorry I said…” or “I’m sorry I…” and use specifics. Show your spouse with your words that you actually know why you are apologizing. 

Ask for forgiveness

Honesty, this is the part I still struggle with. Asking for forgiveness is incredibly humbling often making it the most challenging part of an apology. But I promise, that it will become easier over time. 

You may be tempted to write it out or send it in a text, but it’s important that you verbally ask your spouse for forgiveness. Doing this offers release and closure for both people, and can help you grow in virtues that will benefit your relationship. 

If you struggle with this step, ask yourself why? What is preventing you from doing this? Take it to prayer and allow God to show you where you need to grow. 

Create an action plan

What steps can you take to prevent this mistake from happening again? What steps will you take to change? 

You can ask your spouse what he thinks could be done differently if the situation arises again. 

But don’t just tell your husband your plan, put it into action. Allow him to see your resolve to love him better. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight, so show yourself some kindness as you learn and ask God for the grace to help you were you still struggle.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Creative Ways to Pray for your Spouse

CARISSA PLUTA

 

When it comes to praying for my husband, I’ve always had great intentions.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    VISUAL GRACE

PHOTOGRAPHY: VISUAL GRACE

I imagine myself getting to the adoration chapel for an hour or so and praying perfectly for my husband’s needs.

But in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, intercessory prayer often falls to the bottom of the list, unless of course, it’s a more urgent intention, in which a decade of the rosary might suffice. 

I don’t want to wait until an emergency or crisis arrives to pray for my husband, but carving out time during the day requires me to get more creative with how I do it.

Sacrifice something for him

As Catholics, we believe that our sacrifices and suffering have meaning and can be redemptive. 

In Salvifici Doloris, it says: “...Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

Intentionally making a sacrifice, especially on behalf of another, can bring forth many graces in that person’s life. 

You might consider picking a day where you will offer something up specifically for your spouse. You can start small--maybe by giving up dessert, social media, or breakfast. 

Pray for him as you do chores

My husband and I split up the daily duties and responsibilities in our house, and I’ve found that I can use the time I spend doing them for prayer. You can choose a traditional form of prayer to do during this time, or offer up this valuable gift of your time and energy for your partner. 

Not only can you offer up your daily work for your spouse, but you can get even more creative by praying for specific things relating to the chores. 

For instance, sometimes when I fold laundry, I can pray for the bodily health and needs of my husband. Or when I am cleaning up after dinner, I can pray for his spiritual nourishment. 

You make a gift of yourself to your spouse and to God when you do your duties joyfully, and combining work and prayer can produce so much fruit in your life, your husband’s life, and in your marriage.

Create a spiritual bouquet

A spiritual bouquet is a collection of prayers and offerings from an individual or group for someone else. 

Not only does a spiritual bouquet make a thoughtful gift for your spouse, but it also offers you an intentional way to pray and offer sacrifices for his’ intentions. 

You can do this alone or you can invite friends and other loved ones to contribute. Make a note of how and when you pray for him during the week and then gift him with the note so he has a visual representation of the prayers you offered for him. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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How to Connect with Your Spouse While Postponing Pregnancy

CARISSA PLUTA

 

When using Natural Family Planning, married couples must frequently pray about and discuss their desire and plans for having more children. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:    MADI MYERS-COOK

PHOTOGRAPHY: MADI MYERS-COOK

And in some circumstances, through prayer and discernment, husbands and wives may make the decision to postpone a pregnancy (or another pregnancy). 

Abstaining from sex during periods of fertility can prove challenging for couples, and they may find themselves having difficulty connecting with one another during these times. 

But there are so many ways to feel intimate with your spouse even when you can’t be intimate. 

Communicate

Communication is key for couples trying to avoid pregnancy. Couples should not only remind each other of their “why” for avoiding, but should also discuss the challenges that may arise in doing so. 

But even more importantly, take this time to grow in emotional intimacy. Share your feelings, dreams, and interests with your spouse and actively listen to his.

Prayer

Praying with your spouse during this time strengthens both your individual relationships with God as well as your marriage. 

Prayer fosters humility, vulnerability, and trust. It calls husband and wife to look outside of themselves toward the other and Christ. 

Physical Affection

Just because the night can’t end in sex doesn’t mean you have to avoid all physical contact with your spouse until you’re back in your infertile time. 

Couples should focus on physical touch that affirms each other rather than arouses. Hand holding, hugging, even kissing can help couples feel intimate during times of abstinence. 

But if you have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy, you should know what physical contact you can handle and which will only make the avoiding harder. 

Get creative

You can get creative with how you and your husband can spend your free time together during times of abstinence. 

Carving out quality time with your partner can help you to connect in a new and fun way. Go bowling, play a board game or try a new hobby. Enjoy one another’s company. 

Laughter

Find ways to make each other laugh. Laughter releases tension and can really help couples during times when facing the challenges of abstaining. Not only that, but sharing jokes and laughter will draw you and your spouse closer together. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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