3 ways to increase your trust in God

trusting in god


Do you ever feel stuck in your spiritual life? Are you frustrated with yourself for breaking your resolutions, continuing to struggle with sin while professing to love God? Do you dislike going to Confession? Are you sometimes a bit of a control freak? All these can be signs that you need to trust God more.

Who is in charge of your spiritual life? If you answered, “I am,” think again. Only God can draw you closer to Him through grace. Only God can give you supernatural contemplation, which is necessary to reach the higher stages of the spiritual life. Only God can reach deep down to root out those sins you don’t even know you are committing.

Here are three points to ponder as you work on increasing your trust in Him. Ask yourself if you…

Continue reading my guest post at being Catholic


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Are you making a daily morning offering?


Praying Girl by Heyerdahl (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


St. Francis de Sales is the master of the spiritual life for lay people. His book, Introduction to the Devout Life teaches us how we can grow closer to God while living out our lives as spouses or single people in the world.

One of the practices St. Francis urges his readers to make a habit of is the morning offering. In fact he says, “Never omit this practice.” A morning offering sets the tone for your day. It helps you acknowledge that the day is God’s, not your own. It can give you the strength you need to face trials, peace amid busy schedules, and added grace for unforeseen temptations.

I confess I was never taught to make my own morning offering as a child. We sometimes had family prayer in the morning. At Catholic elementary school we started the day with prayer. But no one told me I should make a private morning offering until I was much older. I found it hard to take up the practice, and even harder to maintain it over the long-term.

If your schedule allows you to take a block of time for personal prayer (aka mental prayer) first thing in the morning, then you are covering two bases at once. Parents of young children, like me, often have to pray later in the day. We should then make a separate morning offering. We should always start the day with our minds fixed on God.

Pre-composed morning offerings

The morning offering can be very simple. The Apostleship of Prayer suggests this one:

“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.”

That is quite a mouthful and will take some time to memorize. There are many simpler alternatives. Parents of young children might try saying this prayer with them:

“Dear God, now that I start the day, I offer you my heart and pray, Guide me in everything I do, And keep me always close to you. Amen.” I found that prayer in the Catholic Children’s Treasure Box series. We open our homeschool with it daily.

A personal litany

I start my own day by invoking the intercession of angels and saints I am devoted to, including St. Michael, the patrons of our family members, and our guardian angels. Then I offer my day to Mary. I ask her to help me imitate her in pondering God’s Word throughout the day. I might name a few special intentions. The whole process takes only a minute or two.

Starting your day with the Lord is very simple. It need not be intimidating. Once you have made it a habit, you will wonder how you lived without it for so long.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: How do you make your morning offering?


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Falling asleep during prayer

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Sleeping Boy by Krylov (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


If you are a parent trying to grow in holiness, you have no doubt fallen asleep in prayer. Among nursing babies, sick toddlers, wet beds, and waiting up for teenagers, parents spend years being sleep deprived. Then we go to pray and find ourselves nodding off, or even dreaming. How should we handle this?

Am I being lazy?

Before reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, I would get mad at myself and feel like a failure when I fell asleep. Of course, if I were to tell the whole truth, I was often at fault. I used to pray mental prayer last thing before going to bed. Even though I’m a night person, this is not a good time to pray. My thoughts are already on sleep. My mind and body are tired, and it feels like I’m giving prayer the lowest priority on my daily agenda. Sometimes I prayed that late due to forgetfulness. (Whoops, I haven’t prayed yet–better do it now!) Other times I was putting it off. But at least I was making some effort.

I find morning is the ideal time to pray, even for a night owl like me. It’s harder to forget and makes prayer my top priority. My mind isn’t racing with the business of the day.  And if I’m too tired, I can adjust the time I go to bed at night until I get it just right.

That’s how I reasoned in my single days.

Or am I just living my vocation?

Today I can’t pray in the morning. I’ll never wake up before the kids on my own, and if I set an alarm, the whole household will get up with me.

My afternoons get shorter every school year, as my boys require deeper instruction.

So I am back to praying in the evenings. However, now I usually pray right after the kids go to bed, instead of waiting until my bed time. I am getting as much sleep as my life currently allows–but it’s short of the eight hours my body requires to function its best. So, I often fall asleep.

I don’t get angry at myself, because I know I am doing the best I can.

Here is what St. Therese wrote on the subject:

“I should be distressed that I drop off to sleep during my prayers and during my thanksgiving after Holy Communion. But I don’t feel at all distressed. I know that children are just as dear to their parents whether they are asleep or awake and I know that doctors put their patients to sleep before they operate. So I just think that God ‘knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.'”

I offer my prayer to God, sometimes with a mischievous smile. He’s almighty, so He can make something of it, whether it is full of yawns, distractions, or gibberish. One of the first lessons I learned as a Secular Carmelite was not to think I have to pray again if I do a poor job. The success or failure of my prayer is in God’s hands.

Thank God!


Connie Rossini

Here are a couple of links you might like:

7 ways to make time for prayer

Why should you pray?

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Homeschool narrations and Christian prayer

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The Good Education by Jean-Simeon Chardin (photo credit: Google Art Project).

Many homeschool families make narrations a part of their curriculum. With a narration, a child retells in his own words what he has read, recalling as many details as he can. Narrations replace comprehension questions and workbook pages. You can read about many benefits of narrations at A Charlotte Mason Education. Here is one I’ve never read anywhere else: preparation for union with God.

Beyond teaching to the test

We want our children to become intimate with the great works of western civilization, especially the spiritual classics. Comprehension questions and worksheets too often focus on isolated facts. We don’t want children to know facts about Narnia, for example. We want them to yearn to go there. The young heroes and heroines should become their friends, not just remain characters they can describe.

Lessons should reach beyond children’s minds to their hearts and imaginations.

Open your mind and heart

My very first blog post was about the need to be open. We cannot be holy unless we are open to God. In fact, I am more and more convinced that openness is the real key to holiness. Likewise, we cannot learn, if we shut our hearts to learning.

Narrations require attentive listening. They require a child to receive a lesson, make it his own, then offer it back. Do you see the parallel with the spiritual life? We open our hearts to receive gifts from God, embrace them fully, then offer them back to Him.

You can use the Eucharist to show your child how this works. God gives us wheat and grapes.  We use them to make bread and wine. Then we offer them back to God, who makes them into His own Body and Blood. The bakers and wine makers make a real, concrete contribution to the sacrament. The rest of us offer our gifts through our tithing.

Narrations are mini-meditations

Narrations also reflect the pattern of Christian meditation. We listen to or read Sacred Scripture, we enter into it with our imagination, then we offer it back to God with our praises, pleas for help, and resolutions. God engages us in conversation, just as the teacher/parent engages her students. We should change and grow through the encounter.

Be sure to do narrations from the Bible often, encouraging your children to narrate the stories prayerfully. Discuss the main idea of the story. What is God calling us to be through the passage? How can we answer Him?

Narrations help our children to digest the food we offer them. Ideally, they help shape our children’s character. You can do that with traditional teaching methods as well, but the task is more difficult.

Connie Rossini

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3 conversions of the purgative way

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Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


Going through old files today, I came across a Secular Carmelite newsletter from 1997. In it our community’s spiritual director wrote about the three stages of conversion in the purgative way. His source was Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development. I am using Fr. Groeschel’s book as a source for the book I am currently writing on St. Therese. The co-incidence made me feel God wanted me to share this with you.

It’s good to know where you are in the spiritual life–not so you can compare yourself with others, but so you my know you’re not alone. It helps me to realize that what I am experiencing is typical of a certain stage. Sometimes it encourages me. Other times it confirms what I have been doing. Still other times it shows me the next step I should take.

3 stages of the interior life

The spiritual life is traditionally divided into three major stages. The first, known as the purgative way, is a time of purification from sin. The second stage is the illuminative way. God enlightens the mind to know His will more clearly and gives the soul the gift of supernatural contemplation. Finally, there is the unitive way, in which the soul is almost constantly aware of God’s presence. Finally she has the power to closely conform herself to His will.

St. Teresa of Avila envisioned the soul as a castle having seven rooms or mansions. Each mansion represented a different stage of the spiritual life. The first three mansions are generally considered to belong to the purgative way, with each of the mansions roughly corresponding to the three conversions Fr. Groeschel speaks of. (Note: souls do not necessarily progress straight through from mansions one to seven, but go back and forth between the mansions. They can even be in two different mansions at the same time in two different areas of their life.)

Moral conversion

The first conversion is from mortal sin  or original sin to a state of grace. We learn the commandments. We try to be good. Fr. Groeschel notes that children, consciously or not, bargain with God. They think if they are good, God will “be good” back to them. But they eventually learn that God does not give them everything they want. They learn that life is full of suffering, even for those who try to follow God. He does not always answer our prayers as we would like or expect.

With this realization comes the opportunity for the second conversion. But a soul could instead choose to abandon the faith, because it is not what she expected. Many people who are hostile to Christianity have left the faith at this stage. They don’t really understand what the Christian life is about. They might think God is unfair. They might picture God as a sort of fairy-godfather that only fools would believe in.

Mature faith

Those who continue on in the spiritual life experience the second conversion to mature faith. They become very zealous for following God. People who have recently experienced this conversion often think they have “arrived” spiritually. They think they’re nearly saints. On the contrary, they are just beginning.

The soul in this stage has a much deeper understanding of God and His ways. She learns that God doesn’t fit into neat human categories. She realizes there are some questions she cannot answer, some ways of God she cannot understand. Yet she believes in Him more strongly than ever. Her prayer moves from childish requests and vocal prayers to meditation and sitting quietly in God’s presence.

Then there is another crisis. Perhaps a loved one dies, or the soul experiences other personal tragedy. Or she has apparent insurmountable problems in her struggle against sin. She sees evil at work in her life or in the world, and she must come to terms with it. Once again, she can leave, she can stagnate, or she can grow.

Perfect trust

Finally, there is a conversion to perfect trust in God. The soul must let go of her anxiety and fear. She places absolute trust in God, even when it seems that everything is going wrong. She realizes that God is in charge of the world and of her spiritual growth. She learns to be at peace among all the storms of life. She abandons herself to Divine Providence as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane.

Can you see yourself in any of these stages? Can you see what God is asking you to do next? Are you ready to press on, to grow and to change?

Wherever you are, you are not alone. Your struggles are most likely common and normal. Do not fight against the working of the Holy Spirit. Open your heart to accept God’s new plans for you.

Connie Rossini

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Read my author interview at Smashwords

File:A woman as the Magdalen writing at a table in an interior.jpg

A Woman as the Magdalen Writing at a Table in an Interior (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

For those of you who are eager to find out more details of the book I’m working on, I have completed an author interview at Smashwords. You will learn what inspired me to write Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. (If you haven’t downloaded your free copy yet, Smashwords offers it in nearly every digital format.) I also talk about my writing process, what I like most about writing, my favorite authors, and what inspires me to get out of bed in the morning.

If you have other questions about me or my work that you would like to see included, add them to the comments here. I will review your suggestions and post an updated version of the interview in the future.

One note of caution about Smashwords–there is a high percentage of junk (i.e., sexually explicit material) offered on the site. I’m a bit conflicted about using it for that reason. Please use discretion when browsing there. I would recommend specific searches instead, especially if you are tempted to sin in this particular area.

Connie Rossini

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4 tips for getting kids to do chores

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The Butter Churn by Ralph Hedley (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

As I mentioned recently, mine is not the neatest house in the world, so why am I giving tips on cleaning with children? I have tried a few things lately that seem to work. Maybe by the time J goes off to college, I’ll be the parenting expert I thought I was when I started!

This list is not for those who have figured everything out already (you’re way ahead of me), nor for those with a natural love of housework. But the rest of you with kids might learn something from it.

1. Reward their efforts

This is the most obvious of the four tips. You may be thinking, “Duh!” But God is in the details (I had to mention God somehow, since this is a Christian blog).

When you homeschool, your house can be a perpetual wreck. Evening clean up once took my boys over two hours. Now they must clean and have their work approved before they can sit down to dinner. Or, if Dan and I are really tired or hungry, before they get desert. Yes, that’s their reward. They clean or they starve. It’s the only thing that has worked well for us. (Only one has ever missed a meal, and only once or twice.)

We do give them a very small allowance each week, just to teach them how to use money wisely and so they can’t complain that they are our slaves. In general, we expect them to help, because families support each other (not to mention that they make most of the work themselves).

2. Never refuse their help

D is saving up for a Tom Brady rookie card. That’s not how I would spend my capital, but he’s suddenly eager to do little chores to earn more money. I am always tempted to say no. Then I remind myself that I will never be able to afford a cleaning service, so why not take what is offered me?

D is watering the garden, watching J, and putting away laundry regularly now–again, for pennies. I am only out about $1 a week and my flowers look like they have a chance of surviving the summer. This is a win-win.

3. Clean with them

I have read this advice regarding toddlers, but just this summer learned that it works well for all ages. During our six-week breaks, we spend an hour every weekday morning reorganizing their books and toys. Yes, it takes that long to get everything neat again. This time we are moving along at a fast clip, because I am working with them.

This morning we cleaned out C’s closet, which was in atrocious shape. It would have taken them 3-4 mornings. Together we did it in 90 minutes. When we work as a team, there is less complaining and much less goofing around. Working on my own project beside them is almost as effective. This is a compromise between getting frustrated and doing the work myself, and relying totally on them. I don’t get as much of my work done, but the reduction in stress is worth it. Especially since D is doing his extra chores!

4. Tailor the chore to the child

C is my phlegmatic son. He is infamous for doing “cheaties” (the boys made that word up themselves)–sticking toys behind or under furniture or in toy boxes where they don’t belong, in order to save time and energy. He also sits around a lot, causing his brothers to yell at him.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that when they were in a hurry to watch a movie on the evenings I allow one, C would help M with his task of unloading the dishwasher. Sudden inspiration! Now C unloads the dishes, a task I can easily monitor to make sure it gets done quickly and correctly. Besides that, he cleans his room, sets the table, and does two other small jobs. D continues to load the dishwasher and M–who always hated doing the dishes–does a greater share of the general cleanup.

Consider your child’s temperament and inclinations when meting out chores. I want all my boys to learn they can be hard workers, given the right job. I also am working on their becoming experts in their various fields.

I hope you find these tips useful. PLEASE share with me the wisdom of your own experience.

Connie Rossini

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Lord, I am not worthy…

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Christ with the Host by San Leocadio (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).


Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

This response at Mass seems to me to sum up the whole spiritual life. It provides wonderful material for meditation.

I am not worthy

On my own, I cannot please God. I can only vaguely know His character. He had to reveal Himself to me through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church. He gave me parents who were loving enough to have me baptized and teach me the faith. He continues to show me His design for my life. All this is a pure gift which I could not merit.

But I have found the Christian life to be a constant battle. I fall every day. I repent, make resolutions to be good, then sin again. God’s purity is so beyond me. His holiness is a burning fire that I would never dare approach.


He says the word

He calls me to Himself, though He knows all my failings. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, ” He says (Matthew 11:28).  My ears perk up, for I am burdened by my sins.

He says, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it.” I have done what the Church requires, confessing any serious sins beforehand. He speaks these words to me. Who am I to protest my unworthiness any longer?

And I am healed

“I have not come to call the righteous,” He said, “but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

He does not call me because I am like Him, He calls me because I need Him. He calls me because I am not righteous, because I am weak.

It only takes a word, a touch, a glance from Him to be healed completely. It only takes opening my heart to His love to be transformed into love.

And so I come, and love Him.

Connie Rossini

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