Lent 2017

 

Have you been lulled into Ordinary Time? Maybe not thinking about the next season? Well, it’s almost here folks, so let’s dig deep and make some plans for Lent. Traditionally there are three practices for the Lenten season: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. The Church does not give us guidelines on Prayer, but does have them for Fasting and Abstinence. As Catholics, we also have a tradition of giving something up for Lent. I’m going to break down each area and give ideas for each. In the end, you should decide what fits within your life and where you believe God is leading you to grow during Lent. And remember, you don’t need to add “all the things”; it’s better to do one or two well than five halfheartedly.
Prayer
One year I prayed the Litany of Humility. I wrote about it here and I will be praying it again this year. It brings into sharp focus what I need to work in to grow spiritually.
Another good prayer to participate in is the Mass. Besides going on Sunday, try to go another time during the week.
You might also choose to pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet; either daily or a few times a week. This can be done on your own or with others.
If you do not go to Adoration or Confession regularly, this is a great time to start. I’ll talk about Confession once we enter into the season.
Fasting/Abstinence
We are asked to fast on two days during Lent. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting (for ages 18-59) is defined as eating one full meal and two small meals not equal to a full meal. In addition, Ash Wednesday and all Fridays in lent are days of abstinence when we (age 14 on up) do not eat meat. More detailed information can be found on the Bishop’s website.
Almsgiving
We are always called to give to others, to help those less fortunate than ourselves and to share the abundance God has given us. During Lent we are asked to more mindful of those in need. There are many creative ways to do this. Donate one item from your household or clothing each day; collect a quarter when someone uses foul language or is disrespectful; eat a few simple meals each week and give the money saved to a soup kitchen. I’m sure you can think of other ways to give to those in need!
Giving up something
In recent years, it has become a trend that instead of giving up something we do something positive for Lent. While I agree with this in theory in practice it defeats the point of Lent. I think it’s good we suffer a bit. Do without our favorite red wine or coffee; give up a favorite food; stop listening to the radio in your car or watching television all night. Here’s the truth, Jesus dies for us. He gave up his LIFE! The small suffering of going without air conditioning in the car isn’t the worst thing in the world. It is a small reminder to be grateful for all that we have and all that we have been given, If we never do without, how will we appreciate it when we have it all? I don’t know what you need to give up. Maybe it’s unnecessary shopping or complaining or wearing makeup or playing Candy Crush on your phone.
It’s time to decide
Spend some time in the next few days praying about what to do for Lent. Ask someone close to you help you decide on a good plan. Sometimes families or couples decide on things to do together. If possible, pick one thing in each area. Ask one person to hold you accountable for your Lenten plans and check in with them each week.

In the next few days, I’m going to post my favorite Lenten books and links to some prayers that will come to your inbox. So be sure to come back or even better, sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss posts.

Don’t forget to hop over to Catholic Women Bloggers page and see what our group has written about to help us all have a fruitful Lent.

Humility

Most people have probably heard the comment, “don’t pray for patience because God will send you trials” but in terms of praying for humility, only one friend has ever made a comment. Her advice, “Don’t!” Maybe there is no quick retort for the virtue of humility because people don’t think much about it. Maybe it seems to humbling or possibly presumptuous to pray such a prayer. Honestly, I was unsure why I needed to pray this prayer. I’ve not considered myself overly prideful yet there are those running jokes about how I am a “snob” in regard to certain things. Of course, my opinion is that I know the way things should be done!
A few years ago, during Lent, I was led to pray for humility. Upon honest reflection, I clearly needed to pray this prayer. And I did. And for a few weeks nothing seemed different. And then one day I went to work and all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam! A few times, it felt more like humiliation than humbling. My knowledge was questioned, not nicely but in a way that quickly made me realize that reason or facts would not help the conversation. Emails came telling me of great news for other people in regard to career and life changes. Events I had planned were canceled because of lack of interest. My insignificance in my own life seemed overwhelming. My ability to make a difference seemingly gone in a few weeks’ time.
Why was this happening to me? Was God humbling me or humiliating me? Was he trying to hurt me? Of course not; first of all, I was willingly praying for true humility. Second, he was pointing out to me in ways that mattered to me, that he is in charge. On my last birthday, a friend gave me a card that said, on the outside, “Once upon a time a very special person was born who was destined to change the world.” On the inside it said, “Calm down. It’s not you. It’s JESUS.” And that, in a funny way, sums up why we need humility!
I am still praying the prayer and will continue indefinitely. Why? Because it puts my needs, my desires, my abilities, my will and all my sins in the proper perspective. Each day as I pray, a different line hits me and I am called to work on that for a day or more. One virtue to cultivate so that I remember that my life is not all about me, but rather is a gift from God and what I do with my life is my gift back to him.
Here is a link to the prayer.

My daily reading

It’s February! I’ve settled into a few daily “must reads” and two of them are based on Ignatian Spirituality. It helps me to focus each day when I start off reading to the day’s Gospel reading. With that in mind, I use the book Sacred Space: The Prayer Book from the Irish Jesuits. Each week there is a focus used for the week. I like this because sometimes it takes time for things to sink in and so the repetition is helpful. It also draws you more deeply into prayer.

The prayer begins time begins with entering God’s presence, leads you to think about your day, and then you read the Gospel. There is a prompt after that to help you begin talking to God about what you have encountered in the reading and then a closing prayer. The length of the prayer time is up to you. You can simply read what has been written and be brief in your personal prayer, allowing the reading to sit in the back of your mind where you can turn to it during the day. Or you may spend extended time praying. I like the flexibility of the prayer and find it useful to help keep me less distracted during prayer.

The other book is an Ignatian book of days by Jim Manney. It has 365 daily reflections based on the wisdom of St. Ignatius. In it you will find an excerpt from an Ignatian source, be it a Jesuit saint, priest, or Ignatius himself. There is a reflection question and my favorite thing of all, space to write in the book!

Both books are from Loyola Press and I highly recommend them to use in your daily prayer!

A good question!

I think the topic this month is an interesting one and I’m looking forward to reading the other bloggers responses to this query, “why do I blog?” I’ve been blogging since February 2007 so just about ten years. It all started after weeks of insomnia and reading other blogs. My first two blogs that I read were Happy Catholic and A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars. I was fascinated by this idea of putting my thoughts out for world, well, whoever wanted to read them in the world would be more accurate. Back in the day, I ranted quite a bit, gave my opinion, wrote book reviews, gave my opinion, talked about Catholic stuff, and gave my opinion. I really had no plan in mind as to what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just liked writing (and venting). Plus, it was something to do when I couldn’t sleep. When I started I actually wrote a short post about why back then, if you are interested.

So why do I blog now? I blog to share the faith. To help make the Catholic faith accessible and understandable to those who stop here and visit. In writing reflections about my spiritual life, trials, the saints, prayer, and what we believe. I hope to teach others, to challenge people to think, and most importantly, to grow in their faith.

My goal: to help Catholics learn about their faith so they can be an Every Day Catholic every day. That’s it, that’s why I blog.

So, if you have any questions I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if there is something you’d like to learn more about. And leave comments so we can engage in conversation with each other. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has something to say!  We can chat here or on my Facebook page, Every Day Catholic.

 

To learn more about the other bloggers who are part of the Siena Sisters head on over to our Blog Hop page!

A Walk in Her Sandals Review

This is a book that combines biblical truth and teachings, devotions, life application, and fiction into one. Each chapter is divided into different sections, each meant to give you a different and unique perspective on the last week of Jesus’ life. What intrigued me the most was the fictionalized, behind the scenes, woman’s take on what was happening during Holy Week. Not to give anything away, but a possible and plausible answer to “who cooked the Passover dinner?” is in there!
A Walk in Her Sandals edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist is part of the Women in the New Evangelization effort and will be the book club read during Lent this year. It will be very interesting to read it during Lent when we are walking with Jesus to his passion, death, and resurrection. What is different about this book is two-fold; first, it is written from a woman’s perspective, for women, which is unique. It takes disparate types of writing, puts them together and makes you think about scripture. Knowing scripture is an invaluable way to know about Jesus. Second, practical ways to evangelize, to reach out to others are offered in each chapter.
One of the sections that people may find particularly helpful is the Lectio Divina section. We may have heard about this way of reading scripture, but here we are guided through the passage after we have learned about it.
This book captured my imagination in a way other books have not. I usually don’t like fictionalized stories about Jesus, but these are beautifully written and engaged me. All the parts of the book are woven together, taking us from Palm Sunday to Pentecost, teaching about Jesus, drawing us into a deeper relationship with him, and guiding us in prayer. All of this with the objective to love him more and to serve him more fully in whatever our role is in our life.
I look forward to reading A Walk in Her Sandals during Lent and I hope you will too!

More information about the book is available here.

This post is just one from the Siena Sisters Blog Hop.  For more posts about A Walk in Her Sandals, hop on over to our page!

 

It’s so Ordinary

Ordinary Time, the color green, this year we are listening to Matthew tell us about Jesus’ ministry and maybe, just maybe it seems a bit – well, ordinary. And it is. And it should be.

But let us not be hasty and confuse ordinary with boring. Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the Incarnation and now we have some time before Lent begins.

What do we do in Ordinary Time? We listen and learn about what Jesus did while with us. We hear the miracles of healing, casting out demons, and calming storms. We try to understand the parables and where we fit in those stories. We spend time learning who Jesus is and how he wants to lead us to his Father. This Ordinary Time prepares us for the next season, Lent.

There is wisdom in this cycle of time. While it may seem like nonstop celebrating is fun, we all know that it isn’t. Just as little children need routine and structure, adults do as well. And so the Church provides it.

If we are trying to grow in our faith, then we will use it to our benefit. Take small steps to incorporate more of the “ordinary” into your daily life. Read the daily readings, pray a rosary or chaplet while driving the parent taxi, listen to uplifting music, and remember to pray before meals and at bedtime.

Live in Ordinary Time fully engaged. Our lives are filled with ordinary moments and some of it can be boring. It is those very things, though, that we work out our purpose in this life and salvation in the next.

What is the one thing you can focus on during Ordinary Time that will help you in the seasons to come?

Mary’s yes

I wonder what Mary thought about the gifts the Magi brought, which were odd for a baby, but not so odd for the Savior of the world.
Did Mary know what they foretold or did she just accept them graciously while trying to make some sense of them. We look now and say, of course: gold for a king, frankincense a sign of his divinity, and myrrh a foreshadowing of his suffering.
What did Mary do with the gifts? Were they sold so the family could live in Egypt? Or saved until Jesus began his public ministry and then given to him as a mother’s blessing?
Before we are told why in scriptures the climate of joy at Jesus’ birth changes to one of distress. Mary and Joseph must take Jesus and flee into Egypt to avoid Herod. The family becomes strangers in the land that was once the home of Israel.
God frequently calls people to another place. He does this to give us a new opportunity or chance to change. The Holy Family had an opportunity to live without fear of Herod’s persecution. So they stayed in Egypt until it was safe to return home to Nazareth.
All of this occurred because of Mary and Joseph’s multiple yeses to God.
So, of course, I wonder, what has happened in my life because of my yeses to God? Some of this may resonate with you and some may not. All of it comes from my deep faith and belief that God has a plan; that we are here in this place and this time, together – as a people who have said yes and agreed to cooperate with God’s plan for our good.
What have I said yes to – believing after prayer and discernment that it is God’s will for my life?
I have been married to John for over 30 years. Our love for each other has been tested, but it is true and real and sustains us both. We have two wonderful children who are currently living out their dreams. They bring us joy and give us hope.
I am able to live out my vocation of service to the Church by working in a parish as my profession. My ministry provides laughter, tears, happiness, contentment, frustration, peace, disbelief, amazement and wonder. My favorite times are when I have the privilege of walking with people on their faith journey and watching God work in people’s lives.
Sometimes, though, a yes can bring sadness. Years ago a new friend walked into the Mom’s Group at St. Peter. We did not have a lot in common at first glance but shared a deep faith and love of family. Later she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We began a journey together into exile; many of us willingly went with her and her family. We all did it out of love. Her death was difficult. Would I have said yes to her friendship if I had known the whole story? Without a moment’s hesitation I would do it all again.
I believe that Mary would have said yes if she knew the whole story as well. Her yes was a gift not only to all of us, but to herself. I’m not speaking here about theological reasons such as being born without original sin or being the Queen of Heaven. I am talking about giving the opportunity to love so fully and completely that it is always about the other.
This is what her yes does – it shows me how much to love. She loved and trusted God enough to listen and obey; to be the first disciple and be responsible for God’s son. It makes what I am asked to do seem simple by comparison. I always keep in mind, though, that Mary had a supernatural grace and lack of sin.
In all our lives, we have gone to Egypt and then been called to the place God has planned for us if we are willing to say yes. It is part of life for people of faith. I pray, that like Mary, we all continue to say yes to God and grow in holiness.