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{SIMPLIFY} Living with less, Taking back family life & more...



Follow 2 | March 2016





FROM THE EDITOR ............................ P.



COVER STORY ................................... P.



Abby Sasscer

REFLECTION....................................... P.



FAMILIES.............................................. P.



SEASONAL NOTES.............................. P.



March 2016 | 3

From the Editor Lent is the perfect time to prune whatever distracts us from the enjoyment of God’s presence and peace. Many self-help experts preach decluttering and simplifying in order to create a calmer and more focused mind. For Catholics, neat cupboards alone won’t really cut it in the spiritual life, but Jesus did ask us to live without unnecessary concerns and belongings.

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There are times and seasons for simplifying our modern homes and lives for the sake of enriching our relationships with God and others. Sts Martha and Mary, pray for us as we prepare to be more attentive to Christ in our hearts, homes, and families this Easter season.

Marilyn Rodrigues

THIS MONTH Mar 2016 Fri 4

St Casimir

Sun 6

Lent 4

Mon 7 Sts Perpetua and Felicity Tue 8

St John of God

Wed 9 St Frances of Rome Sun 13 Lent 5 Thu 17 St Patrick Fri 18

St Cyril of Jerusalem

Sat 19 St Joseph Sun 20 Passion Sunday Thu 24 Holy Thursday Fri 25* Good Friday Sat 26 Easter Vigil Sun 27 Easter Sunday

* March 25 is normally the feast of the Annunciation. As it lands in Holy Week this year, it is transferred to April 4th.

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From By Abby Sasscer

6 | March 2016

to Calm

When our Lord and Saviour entered into this world, he did so in all simplicity, humility and gentleness. He suffered His passion and death in order to set us free from all the forms of bondage our world has to offer.

BUT ARE WE TRULY FREE ? Do we really enjoy this freedom? Or have we allowed worldly distractions, materialism in particular, to creep in and rob us of our freedom‌.freedom to focus on God, to embrace our vocation, to focus on relationships, to live simply and joyfully? What can we do to recapture the simplicity and beauty that our homes so desperately need? Living with less is the answer.

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Three Benefits of Living with Less

Our Home Becomes a Haven


When we have fewer things we don’t have to expend so much time and energy organising and maintaining them. There’s less stress and less chaos.

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There is More Room to Love God and Others Material things are not bad in and of themselves. However, we are called to love God ABOVE all things. Having or desiring too many things can distract us from our relationship with our God and our family. When we live with less, we have... • more freedom to ponder and listen to God; • more time to pray; • the ability to focus on improving our relationships.

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We Practise the Virtue of Holy Detachment When we learn to detach from the things of this world, we also learn to practise holy detachment in other areas of life: • from worrying what we cannot control; • from other people’s opinions of us; • from forming unfounded opinions about others; • from our own self-will that we can embrace our Lord’s Holy will more fully in our lives.

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Seve n s to sim teps p l i home fy our s March 2016 | 13


Offer your detachment project for a higher purpose

Rather than ‘decluttering’ I prefer to use the word ‘detaching’ in the sense of reducing our attachments to the things of this earth. Decluttering then becomes an exercise in virtue rather than a chore. Offer your detachment project for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the conversion of sinners or the conversion of a family member.

2. Declutter regularly Most families need to declutter on a regular basis, at least twice a year. Our family does this during Advent and Lent in preparation for Christmas and Easter.

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Avoid storing too many items for future use

When we store too many excess things, someone else is possibly being deprived of them. Can we share our excess with someone else?

On a deeper level, when we store too many things we’re placing more trust in our storage bins than we do in God.

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Establish limits

Decide on a limit on things such as toys, books and clothes. In our home we keep a maximum of seven pieces of each type of clothing. Toys and books are contained in bins or shelves. Anything that does not fit in the designated bins or shelves goes in the giveaway pile.

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Find strength from Scripture


In the Gospel of Luke, we read, “Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy but his possessions do not guarantee him life.” In the Gospel of Matthew, we also read, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”


Get saintly help

Seek help from the saints if you can’t part with something you think you should. St John Chrysostom wrote: “The soul which is attached to anything, even to the least thing, however many its virtues may be, will never arrive at the liberty of the divine union. It matters little whether a bird be fastened by a stout or slender cord – as long as he does not break it, slender as it may be, it will prevent him from flying freely.”

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Start small but be consistent

If you have a tendency to get overwhelmed, you could start with a drawer, then a desk, then a closet and slowly graduate to decluttering an entire room. Set a realistic goal such as decluttering 15 minutes per day or one drawer per week. Don’t worry if you can’t complete the job perfectly all at once. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said;

“The Lord does not ask us to be successful. He asks us to be faithful.”

About Abby Sasscer

Abby is a wife, homeschooling mother of three, author, and speaker. In 2008, she founded Project Nazareth through which she promotes simple living through books and speaking. Her website is Abby’s latest book Simplifying Domestic Church can be found at simplifying-domestic-church-abby-sasscer-official-page This is an edited version of an article originally published on Reprinted with permission. http://www.

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March 2016 | 19

My Spiritual Work of

Letting Go by Mary Ann Otto

20 | March 2016

I love my Christmas dinnerware! For 20 years I’ve served many wonderful feasts on it. Family and friends have gathered around my festive table year after year to pray, eat, celebrate, and share stories. Our sons have grown up with my Christmas dishes, and now my granddaughter looks for them.

As I was putting my treasured dishes away at the end of this last Christmas season, I wondered if our sons would use them after us. In a perfect world one of them would use them in his home, telling wonderful stories of Christmases past and then passing them on to one of my grandchildren.

It’s a beautiful and comforting scene but not very realistic; my sons and their families have their own tastes and will create their own traditions. The same was probably true for most of the things I had stored from their baby years and their childhoods.

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I am not sure why we store these sorts of things long after they have outlived their usefulness. Perhaps we document our life with them. Maybe letting go of them reminds us of our own mortality. Jesus warns us against storing up treasures on earth. There is a reason:

I find the more I keep unnecessary items, the more difficult it is to be at peace and in solidarity with Christ’s teachings. I realised it was time to be courageous and bid farewell to the things of the past. My first order of business was to eliminate my tendency to procrastinate by setting a non-negotiable date. Then I spoke with my adult children. If they were serious about their childhood items, it was time for them to store them. I reminded them of how any donations they made would benefit others and called with a reminder the day before the deadline.

22 | March 2016

I began my de-cluttering day with a prayer of gratitude and asked for assistance in ‘letting go’. The most difficult moments involved items from my children’s early years.

At the day’s end, I had experienced a small death as well as a sense of freedom. For me, sharing possessions is as important as sharing money and serves as a reminder that all we have comes from our loving Creator. My heart needs to be first and foremost grounded in God. I have made a resolution to continue to de-clutter my life each Spring and Fall as a response to my baptismal call to both let go spiritually and be a good steward of what has been entrusted to me.

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As for my Christmas dinnerware, that tradition will continue as long as I can prepare the feast and set the table. After that, I hope they find a home with someone who will enjoy them as much as I have. It will be another small death, but God has promised that his disciples will be ongoing guests at the banquet to end all banquets. It’s a heavenly the least.

treasure, to say

About Mary Ann

Mary Ann Otto is the Stewardship and Special Projects Director for the Diocese of Green Bay. She has a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies and with her husband Jeff has five adult children and one granddaughter. This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 77, No.1, page 55), under the title The Spiritual Discipline of Decluttering. Reprinted with permission. See the whole article here

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What to keep Checklist by Marilyn Rodrigues

When deciding what stays and what goes you might want to consider the following: Prayer and reflection. Does your family have a place for quiet, spiritually nourishing reading, watching or listening, or prayer? A comfortable chair or beanbag with a nice outlook near a prayer space, family altar or in a quiet corner is ideal

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ook at your Hospitality. L outdoor d n a r o o d in , n kitche as. Are they recreation are for your inviting places to spend s r o it is v d n a family works to time in? What nversation help create co nd what a s s e n r e th e g and to doesn’t?

Atmos phere . Look lightin at g, natu r al and artific ial. Ca n you impro ve it s omeho or ma w ke bet ter use the wa of y light comes into yo ur home?

28 | March 2016

your s e o y. D Utilit e the v a h y ent m famil p i u g, eq n i h t o cl ngs i h t r the gs in n i h and o t ? Are d e d der r o nee g orkin w d o ? Are d go n i f sy to a e d an afe? s s a e are all th

Precious memorie s and legacies. We are up lifted by the sig ht of thing s that have spec ial meanin g to us such as family por traits, special ar tworks or trophies. C lear the cl utter so these s pecial obj ects have a cha nce to stan d out and shine .

March 2016 | 29


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When I suggest to parents that they need to carve out regular time each day as a family to work together, play together, talk with each other and pray together, it is met with an almost existential level of angst. “How are we supposed to find time to do all that!?�

Catholic families have swallowed the secular lie that if our children are not enrolled in 3000 activities on Wednesday evening, then we are depriving them and they will be socially inept. While sports, music lessons, classes and community involvements can play an important role in creating a fulfilling life, when these things threaten the primary work of the family, it is time to make a change. Catholic parents can evangelise the culture - and insist on re-humanising society - by reclaiming our families in three simple (if not necessarily easy) steps.

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Start Small

Ask yourselves...“If we were to carve out a least a little bit of time each day (say, 15-20 minutes) to work, play, talk, and pray together, what would we do?� Come up with a short list of ideas and discuss it as a family.

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Start doing some of those things now - even periodically - so that your family can get used to being intentional about being together.

Family Time Comes First Think of extra-curricular activities - including your own - as secondary to the need to make time to work, play, talk, and pray together as a family.


Growing your family’s relationship is the single most important activity you can do in the course of your week. March 2016 | 33


Set Boundaries

Tell your kids’ coaches that your kids won’t be attending practices or games when they conflict with family commitments– especially your family’s commitment to attend Mass together. Tell the various ministry heads to schedule your family for reading, altar serving, and cantoring at the same Mass.

Make them work around you, not the other way around. You do not need their permission or approval. 34 | March 2016

It’s time to start a revolution for the family. Chances are, the people you have let think they own your children won’t like it. Tough. Revolutions are never easy. But perhaps the best way to create a ‘Culture of Encounter’ that brings Christ to the world is to simply do what Pope Francis says and “waste time with your children”.

About Dr Greg Popcak

Dr Greg Popcak and his wife, Lisa, were featured speakers at the 2015 World Meeting of Families. They are the authors of 20 books including For Better…FOREVER! and Parenting with Grace. Learn more at This is an extract from an article published on Dr Greg’s blog. Reprinted with permission. Read the whole thing here

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Holy Clutter Burial Ceremony Help! I can’t find my Prayer Space anymore! What are you supposed to do with all the broken, damaged, or worn-out rosary beads... CRAFT AND PARENTING

Family Meal Conversation Starters The benefits of family meals are not just due to the superior nutritional intake, compared to the ‘eat on the run’ alternative...


My Family Crest Design a special crest for your family. You could include your parents, brothers and sisters, or grandparents and pets too...

38 | March 2016

Holy week


No Time to Rise! Unleavened Bread Recipe During the Passover, the Israelites did not have time to wait for their bread to rise as they had to escape from Egypt. Try your hand at making unleavened bread for your Last Supper meal... RITUALS & PRAYER

Children’s Station of the Cross Based on a version of the Via Crucis used by Pope John Paul II at the Colosseum in Rome, this worksheet can be used to engage children in the Passion story... LENT & EASTER CRAFT

Make a Family Paschal Candle On Holy Saturday, the Paschal Candle is blessed and lit for the first time. It will be used throughout the Easter season and at Baptisms until next Easter... For more ideas and inspiration visit March 2016 | 39


A special limited print edition for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, MERCY contains a refresher guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, testimonials, Pope Francis’ reflections on God’s mercy and tips for taking mercy into our relationships. Limited quantities. For more information and orders visit

40 | March 2016

CathFamily Mar 2016 | Simplify  

Living with less, taking back family life & more...

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