To the Curious, Doubting, Lukewarm, or Unbelieving Catholic Laity,
When we attend Mass, we are entering a holy place in which a miracle takes place. Not only are we present when the basic elements of bread and wine are transubstantiated to the body and blood of Christ, but those at Mass are transported in a mystical way to a heavenly banquet. Though the reception of communion happens a few prayers after the Canon is complete, it is vital from a theological and catechetical perspective. With Christ present with his church, the Bridegroom has come for His bride.
After commingling of the body and blood the Priest tells those present to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the praise of the angels and those in Heaven as seen in Revelation 19. In Revelation 19:9 and Angel told St. John. “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (NRSV).
At this point in Mass the priest is passing on this wedding announcement from Heaven. Like a groom at a wedding, our Lord calls to us and wants to have an intimate relationship with his bride. He does this by giving himself, his own body and blood, as a way to show his eternal commitment to us. Like a bride we process down towards our groom to be united with him.
In the Eucharist we are united with Christ not only spiritually, but physically. Being united with the flesh of Christ is the most personal thing we will be able to experience (Augustine 469).
The Old Testament book of Song of Songs has very vivid imagery between a man and wife symbolizes the love that Christ has for His church. One passage that is particularly relevant to the Wedding Supper of the lamb is Song of Songs 1:2 which states, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (NRSV)! This is exactly what St. Ambrose says happens during the reception of the Eucharist (Ambrose 354).
The second person of the blessed Trinity has forgiven us of our sin and unites himself with us with his very body. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb is a taste of the heavenly worship that we will experience in eternity and unites us with the church suffering and church triumphant in heavenly praise.
Next time you are at Mass take that extra moment to thank Christ for the very gift of himself. Take the time to realize that we are worshiping the King of the universe alongside those who have gone before us in the faith.
There is much more happening at Mass than meets the eye. It is a place where a true miracle happens, ordinary bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Let us not merely go through the notions, but truly understand what is happening.
Do you want to transform the church? It begins with understanding what is happening at Mass and who we are receiving in the Holy Eucharist. I leave you with the following quote from St. Ambrose for further meditation:
Perhaps you will say “I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the body of Christ?”
And this is the point that remains for us to prove. What evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.
God bless you all!
Your brother in Christ,
About our guest blogger:
William is aconvert to the Catholic faith. Before entering the churchhewas ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary. William liveswith his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults. Check out hiswebsite/blog atwilliamhemsworth.comfor more great and informativeCatholic content!
Augustine of Hippo. “Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John.” St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies. Ed. Philip Schaff. Trans. H. Browne and Joseph H. Myers. Vol. 7. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888. Print. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series.
Ambrose of Milan. “Two Books Concerning Repentance.” St. Ambrose: Select Works and Letters. Ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Trans. H. de Romestin, E. de Romestin, and H. T. F. Duckworth. Vol. 10. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896. Print. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series.
💡💡💡Be authentic. We hear that all the time on across the Internet. Life coaches. Bloggers. Podcasters. Everyone seems to have their two cents on this topic.
If you are like me you probably think: Of course be authentic, but what does that look like specifically?!”
This can be done using the following tips:
1️⃣ Don’t exaggerate your experience. It is good to use engaging language, but if you over exaggerate your story it almost becomes like a tall tale or a big fish story.
2️⃣ Use details in your content.
Over the past few weeks I have been reading Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters”. It is a fantastic read for anyone in the field of advertising or copywriting.
I came across this quote of his that actually inspired me to write this post. “Believability is one of the top most important ingredients of good promotions,” he wrote.
Share the details of your story! Today, my older kids are home from school. It is busier than usual. How did I find time to write this post?
I took my kids to the library and we are in a large playroom with tons of toys (play food and shopping carts) and I let them free play. This freed me up to write and read some of Halbert’s letters.
3️⃣ Share your triumphs AND your trials.
It is easy to filter our social media posts or blogging content to show only our wins. Who doesn’t like a success story?
However, the best stories involve overcoming a conflict or struggle. Those also happen to be the realest. Without showing your vulnerability and weaknesses a you run the risk of becoming unrelatable or stuff—one sided lacking dimension. Embrace the fullness of your life. Share your highs lows, and the in between times as well.
These simple tips will lead to being more authentic.
Do you agree with these tips? Let me know in the comments.
“What matters isn’t storytelling. What matters is telling a true story well.” — Ann Handley
💡The most engaging content I have written does not include the best grammar, language, or most philosophical ideas.
💡A common thread I noticed about posts that get more comments, likes, and views are about actual events in my life.
💡Truth. What is truth? For me it is something that matches reality.
💡The truth about me is that I am a devout Catholic, husband, and father. I enjoy writing (this should not be a shock to anyone 😊), running, reading, and geeking out over comic books and anything Tolkien.
💡The truth is my work schedule is not ideal. My wife and I get only a few times during the week to talk, actually talk about our day, hopes, and dreams.
💡 I have wanted to give up or at least take a long time off from my work as a writer. In hindsight, I know that it was sleep deprivation talking.
💡The truth is I am grateful. On my worst days I am at least grateful for my faith, family, and friends. On my best days I see literally everything I encounter as a blessing. We are blessed to have the ability to use blogging and social media as a platforms to share our truths with others.
📦📦📦Think outside the box! Don’t box yourself inside the walls of your situation. But what if you thought ABOUT the box itself??
I found an empty cardboard box 📦 at work last night—I work part-time a grocery store so I see hundreds of boxes daily. Two things made this box different:
The box was not for me it was for my six-year old daughter. Her favorite class is art and she has made countless cardboard creations at home. My favorite and the one I think was the most creative was a “living room” out of an empty shoebox. She made a TV, remote, couch, and food area for her stuffed animals. Boxes have overtaken sticks and rocks as the new favorite toy in the Chicoine household.
This box was uniquely shaped. Still rectangular it contained an opening on the front and extra cardboard pieces (they were used as dividers to separate the different flavors of the cereal).
Don’t Over-analyze Creativity
Thinking about the “box” or situation before you can actually help to generate creative or outside the box ideas. Boxes generally carry (no pun intended) the connotation of conformity, uniformity, or sameness. People want to stand out. Be unique. Individuals. It is just part of human nature.
The times I most often struggle with creativity are when I box myself in. I believe I have to re-invent the wheel (or box). Desiring to develop a 100% brand new idea without reference to others is not only ambitious it is selfish. Ideas don’t occur in a vacuum. Every thought, idea, project, or endeavor was influenced by someone: your parents, children, spouse, friend, boss, society, books, music, or the information sea of the Internet.
Who Influenced You?
My daughter was that influence for me in picking up that box. As I passed by the cardboard box I asked my co-worker who was stocking items for Aisle 8, “Hey, it is alright if I take this box? My kid loves creates things from cardboard.” He replied, “Sure! It is good to know there is creative people. That is what we need more in school individuals going against the grain. Thinking for themselves.”
💭 How have you fostered creativity in your work and hobbies recently?
💭Have you thought about the “boxes” in your life? Why or why not? If you, what did you learn?
💭What type of cardboard creation do you think my daughter will create with that box today?
Empty boxes provide us opportunity to examine our situations from multiple perspectives: internally, externally, and even simply neutrally about life. Give yourself time this week to be reflect on your goals. You will be surprised how creativity will spring forth!
Life is going to throw you curve balls. Be prepared to adapt. But what if life sends that elusive knuckle ball? Preparation can only go so far in these types of situations. Today, I felt like a hundred knuckle balls were aimed at me. I had a bunch of tasks I wanted to accomplish. So far, I have missed. There was a thunderstorm last night. This woke up and scared my three-year-old and nine-month-old kids.
Working the night shift, I did not expect to get much sleep anyway. To make matters a bit more complicated was finding out my five-year-old was running a fever. 1 sick kid + tired 2 kids + 1 tired sad = a knuckle ball kind of day. So far, I have found a way to make through the morning (and hopefully the rest of the day) with in the most graceful way possible for me.
This post is the compilation of 10 tips for content creation in 10 days. Originally, I posted these content strategies on LinkedIn, but I figured why limit myself to one platform when other content creators would benefit from some of the tips that worked for me.
💡Tip #1—Complete tasks using chunking, micro-chunking, or nano-chunking depending on your schedule and ability for the day
Breaking up a task (writing, reading, email follow-up, lead research, etc) into manageable bits of time helped get me to achieve something. Something is better than nothing.
I pause many times or step into another room to center myself whenever parenting gets too stressful. It actually took me at least 3 Nano chunks (1-2 minute time segments) to complete this first tip! Placing a time barrier between you and the overwhelming into definitely helps.
💡 Tip #2 Focus on one goal or group of goals at a time
Some weeks or seasons of your life are more challenging than others. Maybe you left ended such a season in your own life. Perhaps you are in the calm of the storm. All I know for certain is that you will encounter resistance again in the future. I am in the middle of the stress tsunami.
Sharpening my focus to specific areas of my work has helped prepare me to better weather this storm. Below are just a couple examples of my focused goals for today and the rest of the week:
Post at least once a day on social media
Do creative/free form writing for at least 30 minutes sometime this week
Read at least 5-10 minutes a day
Begin to carve time in my schedule to listen to podcasts about marketing
I know I cannot achieve all 4 goals every single day, but my goal is to focus on and name the specific goal and at least be consistent in my approach to working towards it. Consistency is an investment that you rarely see a return on in the present. What tools/resources/advice have you implemented to help you focus your goals?
💡Tip 3—It is okay to adjust your goals
Earlier this week, I mentioned this has been a ‘knuckle ball’ type of week. Challenges kept coming at me, yet there was no pattern to them. Monday and Tuesday, I kept swinging and missing. I almost gave up and shut down for the week.
Instead, I adjusted my productivity goals. Dealing with sick children and an erratic work schedule I realized this was going to be a less productive period. I maintained consistency but limited the frequency of content produced. See it is easy to give up when life sends you knuckle balls. I used to have an all or nothing (home run or strikeout) mindset.
If you can’t give it 110% everyday what is the point in trying? Realistically it is not always possible to be at or over 100%. You may get sick. Family obligations supersede work goals. That balance may not happen all the time.
Consistency is what will help weather you through these trials. Hit for average not power: Are you more of a power hitter with your work goals or a person who shoots for average/consistency? How have you endured a ‘knuckle ball’ week?
💡Tip 4—Rest is Necessary in order to improve productivity
I have started taking off most of the weekend (starting last weekend) from social media. I am realizing more and more that it is not realistic for me to post daily and comment often on others’ posts. I am a parent to special needs kids first.
This week drained me of all my mental stamina. It was a week of regression for my three-year-old. I know a lot of people only post the positive stuff and shy away from the real challenges of life. But I am not your normal connection. I am being honest here.
Don’t give into the pressure to create content like a machine. Rest. I am going to cut back on my overall social media a bit as I rest and strategize how I can be more efficient with creating content and still focus on my family.
Have you ever been so worn down from life’s challenges that you had to limit or eliminate your social media activity?
💡Tip #5 Clear and consistent communication overcomes the toughest of situations
Whether you work remotely, in the office, or odd hours it is important to keep your boss and peers at work in the loop. Any transition point in a project or process requires extra diligence. Find how your co-workers prefer to receive information (email, text, in person, phone call etc) and flex to their preference.
Communicating in a variety of ways not only allows you to work well with others but shows your ability to adapt. Always provide a short recap of the main points of a meeting of phone call. Ask clarifying questions to check for understanding especially if you are working on a complex process.
💡Tip #6—Dedicate time every work to work on your craft
Carve our 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Whatever time segment works with your schedule make that the goal you aim for. Call this your “base goal” a non-negotiable on the absolute minimum amount of time to work daily. With my topsy-turvy work schedule and raising young children my base goal is 5 minutes daily.
Make a stretch goal on days you have more free time. What I mean is add extra “x number of minutes” to your base goal these days. Ex: Wednesdays and Saturday’s I don’t work any of my part-time jobs. So, I up my stretch goals a lot—to an hour.
Not hitting your stretch goals should never cause you worry or anxiety. This is bonus time. Achieving stretch goals should invoke gratitude.
Do you set daily or weekly goals? If so, why do find it helpful? If not, what is stopping you from setting up goals?
💡Tip #7—Getting feedback from your audience will help improve your content
You could be a superior writer interweaving complex ideas together in a beautiful way, but it you are not generating content that resonates with your audience it is ultimately a selfish and futile work.
J.K. Rowling began her Harry Potter series not for herself, but as a bedtime story for her children. She know the kind of content that would be easily picked up by kids. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired to Roverandom to entertain his son after losing his favorite toy. Selfless acts of creation blossomed into classic tales that continue to give joy to readers today. One way to get feedback is to simply ask.
What kinds of questions do you have about content creation? Do you prefer standalone posts, or would you like to see a content series based on a theme? What prevents you from engaging with certain content on LinkedIn?
💡Tip #8—Getting feedback from your audience is only as important as your consistent execution of that feedback into content
It is important to listen. That often involves follow-up questions or noticing the engagement on the content you implement will go a long way towards fostering a solid relationship between you and your audience. I did get feedback on whether people wanted to see a series based on a theme or standalone posts. The verdict was it was a bit of both. I plan to continue the unique posts but will be creating more of a themed content series broken up in the course of a few days or a week.
What are some of the obstacles in your way of implementing the feedback once you got it from your audience? For me it is time and family obligations—my nine-month-old is teething still and having trouble sleeping through the night. What are some strategies or tools that helped you implement feedback promptly and consistency?
💡Tip #9—Higher priorities will bump your content goals down the queue sometimes and that is normal
Full disclosure: My 10 tips in 10 days has been a misnomer as a couple days I had to miss because of dealing with regression in my autistic son’s progress. Yesterday, was challenging as we painted our living room (thankfully we had some family come up for help). But any deviation from our schedule big or small incites a meltdown unless we uber-prepare him. The latest meltdowns were like wrangling a squid with the tenacity of a wolverine and the sound of a jet engine. Some days it takes me entire mental stamina to maintain a sane semblance of composure. I was 100% drained.
Don’t get down if you miss a day so long. Consistency does not always mean creating daily, but generating, on average, a repetitive and predictable schedule. The weekend often mean family comes first and this was the case yesterday.
How have different and higher priorities impacted your content creation and productivity of your work recently?
💡Tip #10—Content is versatile across platforms
There are so many different types of social media and communication platforms today to publish your material. Audio, written, and video. As I previously mentioned, originally these tips were created for LinkedIn, but realized I was limiting myself to only a single audience if I kept this content solely on one platform.
Combining the ten tips did not take up too much time. I basically had to update the format to read as a blog article (I included headings and ensured I broke up the paragraphs in a readable fashion) and proofread for consistency. Finally, I added images to help break up the text and improve reader experience.
Creating content can definitely be daunting at first. The key is dedicating time daily,a even if it is only 5-10 minutes, to work on your craft, develop a consistent schedule, implement chunking or breaking up tasks throughout the day, reassess your goals often. Learn to love the process of creating content as this will help you greatly in achieving your end goals!
If you need engaging content for your website to improve traffic and boost your brand please send me a link to your website in the comments below along with any questions you have about content creation. I will randomly select three comments to set-up a free content creation consult call! The deadline for comments to be included in the drawing is November 15th.
I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to receive the news that my blog The Simple Catholic was recognized by Feedspot.com as one of the top 120 Catholic blogs for 2019 (#102).
Thank you to all the people who helped me with encouragement, writing guest posts, and engaging with my content on this platform. You my readers are the reason I write. I humbly use this platform as a means to inform and entertain you about the Catholic faith and my journey as a parent with special needs children.
Special shout to my wife Jennifer she was instrumental to my success: she proofread my articles, gave me time to write, and listened to me brainstorm my ideas 💡
It is also her birthday and I had a unique and cool surprise for her—stayed tuned later as I will reveal that later today. 😊
Thank you to William Hemsworth M.Div, Orlando U Javien Jr., Andrew Garofaloand Megan Naumovski for your guest posts and to Keith A. Little for your future content on my site. Please visit the Guest Posts page to read these stellar works by these gifted writers.
Thank you to Pete Socks for reaching out to me with help in promoting visibility of my writing services.
I am a blessed man. I am nothing without your help and ultimately the grace of the Holy Trinity.
Here is a link to the top Catholic blogs if you are curious about the list. There are excellent blogs to follow so please check those out. 👍