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Gospel’s light should shine on Advent

  • November 24, 2023

Take a moment to meditate on the alluring emotional power of New Year’s Day.

Jan. 1 presents a natural opportunity for many to turn the page on a bad year and begin afresh. It may provide hope that extraordinary possibilities are on the horizon.

Rita Taylor, the founder of Fully Integrated Ministries, entreats Catholics to approach Dec. 3, the first Sunday of Advent, with the same vitality. 

“(I hope) people become more intentional with their spiritual lives, recognizing that Advent is a new liturgical year, and almost treating it like it is a new calendar year,” said Taylor. “It’s more than just preparing for Christmas: it is preparing us spiritually not just for the coming year but for our entire lives.”

Remembering our call to live virtuous lives that transmit the light and truth of the Gospel is how to celebrate Advent, said Taylor. She was to impart this message during the Reclaim Conference hosted at the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, Sask., Nov. 24-26. This event featurs presentations, Mass, praise and worship, adoration, quiet reflection and fellowship. 

Night one of the retreat was to centre on gaining a greater understanding of virtue.

“We’re going much deeper than just a behavioural checklist, which is kind of where we have gone as a rule with virtue,” said Taylor, who spoke to The Catholic Register before the event.

“There is this idea that ‘as long as I do all these good things, I’m a good person.’ We’re digging deep to learn what is holding our hearts back from fully engaging with God. In the same way, what is holding us back from experiencing the peace and joy He said He gave us?”

Day two was set to explore “what is blocking God’s graces from being fully active in our lives,” said Taylor, a resident of Saskatoon. These blessings include the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

On day three, Taylor was to work with each participant to formulate a practical plan to live intentionally for Jesus each day — just like the saints. The goal is for these resolutions to persevere beyond the incoming liturgical year to become lifetime behaviours.

Upon completing her Master of Science in Psychology with Divine Mercy University in 2020, Taylor began teaching Catholics to become grounded in virtue through practical education and spiritual formation. She mainly works one-on-one with clients, but she has spoken to large crowds in the Diocese of Saskatoon since COVID-19 restrictions ended.

Taylor’s Fully Integrated Ministries website and YouTube channel feature guidance on how Catholics can grow in virtue, develop the fruits of the spirit and navigate suffering with joy and patience. She first adopted all these teachings into her life and achieved transformative results. 

“This growth in virtue and intentionality has allowed me to experience more joy and peace in my life,” said Taylor. “It has also allowed me the strength to encounter great difficulties like addictions in my marriage, infertility, the loss of my mother and unemployment during COVID-19 — both my husband and I lost our jobs three months after we bought a house.

“(I’ve faced) these incredible difficulties with peace, trust and joy. I did not unravel. Instead, I stood firm in the joy of my faith in God. That is what we want in life. We know life will throw us some punches, but we know it isn’t going to knock us down. We have the strength of God within us.”

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