Lessons in Spiritual Dryness: From Apple Anticipation to Hopes Dashed

Part 1: The Disheartening News

A few days ago, my wife sent me a text that I never expected. It simply read, “No apple orchard this year😒 ,” accompanied by a screenshot from our favorite apple orchard. The notice from the Orchard explained,

“APPLE UPDATE: An update we are devastated to share…With great sadness, we are not able to offer U-Pick Apples out in the orchard this season. Due to the spring drought and apple thrip pest, our trees just weren’t able to produce the harvest we had hoped for.”

Disappointment washed over me as I absorbed this news. When you spend months looking forward to something the letdown is pretty steep when your hopes are dashed. This experience led me to contemplate the connection between life’s disappointments and spiritual dryness.

Part 2: Understanding Spiritual Aridity

Spiritual dryness, an often-overlooked aspect of our faith journey, cuts to the core of our spiritual walk. We’ve all experienced those profound moments of connection with our faith, those times when the presence of God felt tangible and reassuring. But what occurs when that profound sensation suddenly evaporates? This experience can be overwhelming, especially if it’s our first encounter with spiritual aridity. However, it’s crucial to understand that this arid phase isn’t a judgment on our worthiness or dedication. Rather, it’s a facet of our spiritual journey, a terrain we’re meant to traverse, not an indictment of our faith.

As we explore this intricate topic, let’s take a page from the saints’ playbook. These remarkable individuals, who left their indelible mark on our faith, also grappled with spiritual dryness in their journeys. Amidst their spiritual desolation, they discovered that these periods weren’t indicative of their lack of holiness or spiritual effort. Instead, they realized that God, in His divine wisdom, allows souls to undergo these purgative periods to deepen their relationship with Him. This profound insight serves as our guiding light. It reminds us that our own spiritual dryness isn’t a verdict on our devotion but an invitation to fortify our faith.

When the wellsprings of spiritual consolation seem to have run dry and our souls yearn for the divine presence, let us remember that this spiritual dryness is a natural part of our journey. Draw inspiration from the saints who navigated this arid terrain. We find solace in knowing that these droughts aren’t desolation but opportunities for spiritual growth and a deepening of our relationship with God.

Part 3: Transforming Aridity into Wonder

In an article I wrote for Catholic Exchange, I explored “Three Ways to Turn Spiritual Aridity into Wonder.” Drawing inspiration from saints like St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maria Faustina, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross, I learned that dryness in prayer is not an indictment of our spirituality. Instead, it’s an opportunity for growth. Much like a desert, periods of spiritual dryness can serve as a place of purification and transformation.

Look to the Sacraments as Spiritual Oases

Just as travelers in a parched land seek water with utmost urgency, those facing spiritual aridity yearn for a source of spiritual refreshment. These oases in the desert, are the sacraments that Christ instituted to sustain us throughout life’s various stages. The sacraments, such as the Eucharist and Confession, stand as omnipotent oases, ever-flowing sources of God’s grace.

Living Water: A Promise from Christ

Recalling the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, we are reminded of His promise of living water. While this living water is not the physical water necessary for our survival, it symbolizes the grace found in the sacraments. These sacramental oases never run dry; they patiently await our journey to their wellsprings to receive God’s abundant grace.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1210):

“Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.”

Journey to the Well: The Sacrament of Confession

At the end of a particularly challenging week I recognized the need to address my issues with anger and impatience at home. Seeking spiritual refreshment, I ventured to a nearby Catholic Church to confess my sins to a priest.

In that moment, the priest stood in Personi Christi, embodying the authority to forgive sins through the sacrament of Holy Orders. This power, passed down from Jesus to His Apostlesβ€”the first Catholic priests (John 20:22-23)β€”allowed me to receive the healing graces of Confession.

Armed with this newfound grace, I returned home better equipped to confront the temptations of anger and impatience that had plagued me. Just as travelers in the desert find solace in the oasis, I found solace in the sacrament, knowing that these spiritual oases never run dry, always offering refreshment to those who seek them.

Follow the Caravan

Autumn has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a season when nature’s vibrant hues signal the transition from the warm embrace of summer to the crisp embrace of fall. One of my favorite autumn traditions has been visiting the local apple orchard with my family. There’s a unique joy in wandering through rows of apple trees surrounded by the fragrant aroma of ripe fruit. Last year, we missed out on this experience due to a hectic schedule and an early frost that closed the orchard prematurely. So, this year, I eagerly anticipated our visit. Little did I know, a message from my wife would take me on a surprising journey, sparking thoughts about the connection between life’s disappointments and spiritual dryness.

We’re not meant to walk our Christian journey alone. Just as travelers in the desert rely on one another for support, we should seek assistance from our fellow believers. Building a network of friendships and seeking guidance from trusted individuals can provide much-needed companionship on our spiritual journey.

In my article “Catholic Camaraderie: Unity in Suffering, I emphasized the importance of finding a community to support and uplift us in our prayer life. In our shared faith, we discover the strength that comes from praying together and bearing one another’s burdens. This sense of unity in suffering reinforces the idea that our Catholic faith isn’t just an individual endeavor but a communal one.

As we navigate the spiritual terrain, building connections within the Church provides a support system that extends beyond the pews. Trusted friends and mentors offer guidance, share their experiences, and help us persevere through our own trials. Following the caravan of fellow believers allows us to draw strength, solace, and inspiration from the Catholic community, making our spiritual journey not only more bearable but also deeply enriching. In unity, we find the companionship and encouragement needed to endure the desert’s challenges and emerge stronger in our faith.

Look to Mary in the Dark Night

In times of spiritual aridity we can turn our gaze toward the gentle presence of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Venerable Fulton Sheen poignantly captured the essence of Mary’s role when he said, “The Blessed Virgin Mary reflects her divine son. Without him, she is nothing. With him, she is the mother of men.” This profound statement encapsulates the beautiful truth that Mary, like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, illuminates our path and guides us to her Son, even when we struggle to feel His immediate presence.

Just as the moon’s glow lights the way for travelers in the night, Mary’s spiritual radiance can lead us to her Son, Jesus. Her intercession has been likened to the moon’s light breaking through the darkest night. Through her unwavering love and maternal care, she provides solace and guidance, reminding us that even in the darkest moments of our spiritual journey, Mary is there to lead us to her Son’s loving embrace.

One profound example of Mary’s role as our spiritual guide is seen in her journey from heartache to hope. Just as the moon’s glow dispels the darkness, Mary’s intercession can pierce the darkness of our struggles and lead us to the radiant presence of Jesus. Her enduring love and guidance offer hope, transforming despair into a deep and abiding faith.

Final Harvest: Wrapping Up 🍎🍏

As I reflect on these three ways to transform spiritual dryness into wonder, I’m reminded of the unexpected turn of events this year. Although we couldn’t visit our local apple orchard, my mom surprised us with apples from her city’s orchard. In that unexpected moment of generosity, I found a glimpse of the wonder that can emerge from life’s disappointments. Just as we can find refreshment in the midst of a dry orchard season, we can also find spiritual renewal during our moments of spiritual aridity. It’s all part of the journey.

So, when life leaves you feeling parched, remember, the oasis is closer than you think. Seek solace in the sacraments, companionship with your fellow travelers, and guidance from the Mother who reflects the divine. In this way, even the driest of deserts can become places of profound spiritual wonder.

Thank you for sharing!

From Tax Collector to Apostle: Embracing God’s Unexpected Call to Redemption

God calls you where you are.

For the Apostle Matthew, he was a publican (a tax collector).

What emotions come up when you think of an IRS agent?

What about tax season?

“Unfortunately, you owe X dollars this year?”

Now, imagine if God publicly called a person  to be in his inner circle of twelve??

A man whose job it was to take your hard-earned money and collect it for a corrupt government.

It might stir up resentment, confusion, or dismay to mention a few of a thousand emotions that would likely be going through your mind.

But God’s ways are often mysterious and it may take time before we realize the plan He has for others and ourselves.

I can’t even begin to fully understand what some of Jesus’ early followers thought when he died and later named Matthew to be an apostle.

An unworthy tax collector. Money-hungry, an agent of the Roman Empire. That’s who Jesus called to follow him 2000 years ago.

Now, the name Matthew translates as “Gift from God”. His conversion is certainly a blessing along with his account of Jesus’ life in his Gospel.

No matter where you’re at in life, God will meet you.

You just have to be open to His call. πŸ™

P.S. How has God worked in your life in anΒ  unexpected and merciful way?

P.P.S. Here’s a Holy Haiku I created inspired by the witness of the evangelist-apostle.

Enjoy!

Related Links

3 Similarities I Share with my Namesakeβ€” Saint Matthew

Saint Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist)

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 97

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for anotherΒ Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
Catholicism + Star Wars = awesomeness
A very niche meme but one I had to make.
May the Force be with You.
πŸ™πŸ˜†πŸ™‚
Looks pretty darn accurate! πŸ˜†πŸ™‚πŸ™
πŸ”₯βœοΈπŸŽ™οΈπŸŽ΅πŸŽΆ
Found the perfect meme template for a Saint Joseph of Cupertino meme. πŸ™‚
God: Yes…really do forgive your enemies. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
Oh death where is thy sting??!
When God’s mercy is sometimes more confounding than calculus. But it doesn’t mean it’s not true!πŸ™
Offer it up (the cross of driving behind people who don’t use a signal).
Person 1, Person 2…Person 5000.
πŸžπŸŸπŸ™
πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯ Confidence
Had to share another Elijah meme. πŸ¦β€β¬›πŸžπŸ™πŸ™‚
One of my favorite memes I’ve created. πŸ™‚πŸ˜†
Wow! This scene is perfect for the Peter denial scene.
Let’s end with a kazoo-chicken meme. πŸ¦†

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 96

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for anotherΒ Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

Is it laundry day for you?
πŸ§ΊπŸ‘•πŸ‘—πŸ‘–
Correction: It was Samson. Lol
J/k it was David. πŸ™‚
πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
Amen!
God can change the most hardened of hearts and minds. πŸ™
God definitely has a fashion sense! 🦘 πŸ˜† πŸ™‚
Feminine holiness comes in all different forms. πŸ™
I trust in God’s Providence. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
Found this gem on the Catholic Memes Facebook page.
Cling to Jesus. πŸ™πŸ™‚

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

A 620 Word Interview with the Founder of Catholic Family Crate


Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Elissa Tiprigan, founder of Catholic Family Crate via phone call on September 4th, 2023. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any  integrity of the answers given.


Describe your faith journey:

I’m a cradle Catholic and attended Catholic schools through middle school. We went to youth groups and went to a few Steubenville conferences. My husband and I got married and moved to Denver. We were awakened to the richness of the Catholic Church through the witness of large Catholic families. In my adult life, I learned more about our faith. It’s not just a Sunday experience but it’s a joyful and beautiful and a rich history.

When was Catholic Family Crate created?

We started it in 2018.

What led up to the creation of Catholic Family Crate?

My oldest was two at the time and I was learning more about the liturgical feasts (I knew about Advent and Lent). I felt overwhelmed with wanting to share all these rich Catholic traditions. My sister experienced a Catholic community in Steubenville and I was talking with her on the phone about how to learn about the faith. I started to research saint feast days. My sister suggested a monthly Catholic subscription box. For about a year or two I was hoping someone else would develop a company to create a subscription box for Catholics.

Logo provided by Catholic Family Crate.

Enter in Catholic Family Crate. I formulated a team: my parish priest Fr. Luis Granados, DCJM- our theologian, a few writer friends, and a couple friends who were Catholic Montessori teachers.

Eventually we hired our own artist to help us create more of our own content. At the end of every box we provided a survey. The most popular items our customers selected were the items we created.

I was on a date with my husband at Barnes & Noble and remember telling him how we couldn’t find high quality Catholic products that were affordable. I wanted my kids to have good quality Catholic resources.

After the fourth box, it became apparent we needed to switch to include all our own products.

In 2019 we adjusted our mission statement: to provide high quality and affordable Catholic resources.

Do you have a specialized illustrator for your products?

Yes, since 2019 we hired an illustrator, new writer, and a new theologian.

I didn’t have a desire to be a business owner when I began this journey. It started as a need to fill for my family. I said “yes” to the little “yeses” God sent my way.

How did find your illustator?

We found her through Instagram. We also have had various graphic designers helped with colors and backgrounds when it comes to mass production.

What’s your favorite product you have created for Catholic Family Crate?

Our Pray by Sticker Book. It’s 10 different Catholic images. You match up the stickers with the numbers on the page. At the end you have a beautiful Catholic mosaic. It is an opportunity to keep your child busy with screen-free activity.

Image provided via email by Elissa, Founder of Catholic Family Crate.

I’ve played with your Catholic Playing Cards and enjoyed the artwork and the saints you picked. Describe the symbolism and intention beyond the cards.

We planned to have the Jesus as the King, Mary as the Queen, Joseph as the Jack, and the Holy Spirit as the Ace. We did plan to have a diversity of older and modern saints along with having an equal number of male and female saints.

I could see doing other card themes such as boy and girl saint decks or a Marian deck.

What other products do you have in the works?

A Bingo deck for Catholic-themed party, an oversized activity sheet for the Doctors of the Church, and A Card Ring-Doctors of the Church Edition.

Why should you be Catholic?

Because of the Eucharist.


About Elissa:

Elissa Tiprigan is the founder of Catholic Family Crate. Catholic Family Crate makes Catholic educational resources, games, art, stickers, subscription boxes, and more to make growing in the Catholic faith easy and fun. They are on a mission to revolutionize Catholic resources and make them affordable, accessible, high-quality, and engaging. In her mind, she’s an accidentalΒ entrepreneur, but she’s grateful for God’s wild plan for her life. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and four children.

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 95

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for anotherΒ Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
A powerful image. πŸ™ ✝️
Meme I made inspired by Saint Jerome and my fandom of Batman.
πŸ™‚πŸ˜†πŸ™
P.S. Saint Jerome, patron saint of the irascible and curmudgeons pray for us.
πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
πŸŽΊπŸŽΊπŸŽΊπŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
Meme I made inspired by my love of Saint Michael and the CW show Arrow.
🏹 πŸͺ½
πŸ” πŸ˜† πŸ™
Be a forwarder of the Good News! πŸ™ ✝️
Amen!!!
Not condoning violence but I will defend the Blessed Virgin Mary with my words. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈπŸ™
Share with your parish deacon. πŸ™‚
Some Masses the struggle is real. πŸ˜†πŸ™‚πŸ™

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

A 568 Word Interview with Allie Kintzβ€” The Board Game Mom

Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Allie Kintz via phone call on August 21st, 2023. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any  integrity of the answers given.


Tell me a bit about yourself and your family.

I have two boys (5 and 8) and live in Central Oregon. I love teaching board games to family and friends. Our kids are in a local Catholic school. We live in a unique region of Oregon where there are lots of outdoor activities: snowboarding, hiking, and paddleboarding.

How did you develop a passion for playing board games?

When the rise of Settlers of Catan came about, my husband and I dove headfirst into board gaming as a hobby. We bought all the Catan variants. Then we went into more Euro-games, work-placement games and moved to Pandemic. During Covid we moved, and we spent more quality time playing board games. We expanded our collection to campaign style games. The games were fun, but the experience was different.

Our collection has grown exponentially in the past three years. Learning strategy and teaching games to people we found fun too.

How important is an easy to follow and clear rulebook?

Really, important. I have found video tutorials helpful too.

How many board games do you own?

At least 250 πŸ™‚

What are your favorite games of all-time?

Quacks of Quedlinburg; Space Base (similar mechanic to Catan); Arkham Horror Card Game; Three Sisters; Castles of Burgundy (Deluxe Version)

Describe your Catholic faith.

Cradle Catholic. Both my husband and I were raised by devout Catholic parents. After my husband and I got married, we were thinking about our value system: I went through several bible studies with other women. I heard God’s call and sensed his presence in the decision making. This experienced nudged me closer to trusting in God. Another mini-conversion – occurred when my mom passed away five years ago. We were present for her last rites. Witnessing the last rites, I felt God’s presence. The room was so spirit-filled that no one was afraid. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Do you have a favorite saint(s)?

I love Saint Joseph (as a model for my boys and husband); Saint Therese of Liseux (her life is fascinating, to know in suffering there is a purpose).

Do you find parallels between playing board games and Catholicism?

I’ve been listening to the Catechism in a Year and learned there is a reason for things we do, and a structure for why we pray or believe what we believe. In board games, at the end of a game you take what you were given and the strategies you were given, and the result is good and beautiful (whether you won or lost). Our Catholic faith can be overwhelming just like a thick rulebook in board games. We are given so many wonderful tools to help us grow in the Lord and raise our children.

How do you pass on the faith to your children?

  1. Helping them grow in appreciation for the Mass and the symbolism in the liturgy. Teaching them the why. Revisiting the importance of each major part of the Mass.
  2. Making it a point to put our children through Catholic schools. Being surrounded by catechesis each day is important to us.
  3. Encouraging our children to participate actively in what our church community provides. Giving back to our community and being actively involved. Our older son is currently altar serves.

Thanks for taking time today to chat with me about board games and our Catholic faith!

You too!


About Allie:

Allie Kintz | Board Game Mom
Devout Catholic and tabletop gamer, Allie has been married to her husband Jason for 12 years. They live in Central Oregon with their two boys, ages 5 and 8. When she’s not gaming with friends and family, you can find her enjoying outdoor activities, cooking, and traveling!

Thank you for sharing!