Here we are at the beginning of another Lent. I am not sure when my Lenten love affair began, but I can tell you that it is currently in full bloom! I feel energized during this time of sacrifice. The grace of a Christian world praying, fasting and helping others in order to strengthen their relationship with Christ, is exciting! This year, as I contemplated what areas of my life could use a booster shot of faith - 6 ideas came to me. Being the overachiever that I am - instead of picking and choosing, I'm going to do my best to rock all of 6 them!
Prayer with Small Groups
My own reawakening to a life with Christ came about thanks to an amazing small group experience. Finding the right people, material and schedule, provided me an opportunity to connect with God not only on Sundays but also on the night of our meeting (as well as each day I spent with my reading assignments).
The small group gave me something to ACT (Accountability, Community and Teach-ability) upon. While I could always find many reasons not to read for myself, knowing others would be counting on me pushes through all my excuses. Aside from the accountability, I now have a community I am excited to spend time with and that also prepares me to be prepared for our study time. Learning new things also inspired and motivated me; and before long I found I had create daily prayer and reflection habits!
How I Plan to Overachieve in Prayer this Lent
Bible Study with my Parish community: The Gospel of Jesus according to St. John
When St Francis of Assisi had rebuilt a tumbledown little church given to him by the Benedictines he called it St Mary of the Angels. It was here, over 800 years ago that he heard God speaking to him through the Gospels whilst attending Mass. The message was simple – now your time living as a Hermit is over, you and your disciples must go out preaching the Gospel to all, as Jesus had done with his disciples. He so loved this little church, the Portziuncula, that he said it would always be the hub and the home of his Franciscan Family forever. When the first friars landed in America they immediately built a church and called it after that little church that St Francis had built with his own hands. Naturally they called it after their spiritual home, St Mary of the Angels or in the Spanish language that they spoke: - Santa Maria de los Ángeles. The town that grew up around it took the same name, until it came to be known simply as Los Angeles as it is still known today. read on....
It took me years to finally decide to start writing again. I had taken a 30-year sabbatical after leaving university to raise nine children. I just couldn’t seem to start writing, probably because the computer still intimidated me before I started blogging. No wonder- I had written all my university papers on a MANUEL typewriter. However, realistically there was simply too much work running a household for eleven people and helping with the farm animals and our large vegetable garden.
Today is Presidents Day in the United States. On this day, we celebrate the contributions of past Presidents. What we remember most about these men stems from their character – their virtuous values.
Cherishing Virtuous Values
For example, we have the adage of George Washington, “I cannot tell a lie,” leading us to see George Washington as a man of truth and honor. We remember Abraham Lincoln for his fight for justice and peace; where “all men are created equal,” including those of color. Franklin D. Roosevelt said that “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself,” making Roosevelt a man of fortitude and courage. These men possessed virtuous values. Read more...
“Por años aconsejé a mis hijos mantenerse lejos de los
tatuajes, y ahora, a los 81 años de edad he tenido que recurrir a un tatuador
Así habla Christine Nagel de Canada que ha tenido que
recurrir a un mensaje tatuado en su brazo: “No me mates” ante el temor de ser una más de
las víctimas del sistema de salud canadiense que está promoviendo el suicidio
asistido como la forma más digna, además de económica, de tratar a la población
envejecida de su país, donde ya es legal la eutanasia. (1)
In some monasteries, the
new day begins in the middle of the night. "Not long after midnight," writes Mother Mary Francis PCC,
"Sister Sacristan...sets her jaw for what is at once a beautiful and a
grim task: to rouse all the other sleeping nuns. It is a beautiful
task because the sacristan's bell is summoning the community to a midnight
tryst with God. It is a grim business because Poor Clares unfortunately
carry their souls about in the same clay casing found on the rest of humanity..." (A
Right to Be Merry, pp. 115-118)
Out here in the world, I can't identify with bells that rattle me from sleep in
the middle of the ni...
O but wait. O yes. Yes, I can. The nights of many bells were
several decades ago for me now, but some of you are reading these very words
between two such nights. We know what it's like. We're deep into a
sound sleep, having finally fallen exhausted into bed, when the baby
cries. Is it time for her to eat again?... oh, it can't be! We drag
to our feet, get the baby, feed her, and now she needs a diaper change.
Three hours later, this sweet voiced little "bell" rings again.... (click here to continue)
I tried — briefly — bargaining with God when we lost Elizabeth, our youngest child. (October 9, 2016)
When the somewhat one-sided conversation was over, I was accepting the unpleasant realities, and asking for help dealing with them: so I don't feel particularly guilty.
I suspect that some folks say bargaining with God is always wrong because they see it as trying to manipulate God. That's a bad idea: also impossible. The Almighty is just that. I can't make God do anything....
Susanna Wesley, the mother of the famous preachers John and Charles, gave birth to nineteen children and lived in a tiny house. The only place she could retreat to pray was the corner of her kitchen. Her children knew that when she sat there with her face hidden behind her apron, woe betide anyone who disturbed her. This was her sacred space.
The word, sacrosanct, first came into use around the 15th Century. It virtually disappeared from everyday English for a few hundred years, making a comeback in recent times. It is derived from two Latin words: sacro 'by a sacred rite' and sanctus, 'holy.' Read on: susannetimpani.blogspot.com.au
Really. Please don't leave Social Media for Lent. I understand that many people use this hiatus to spend time working on their own personal spiritual growth; and I can completely respect that HOWEVER.... please don't completely disappear for 40 days when social media needs you the most. Okay, I've always had a flair for the dramatic but here's why I am begging you to stay:
'Tis the Season
Lent is a season when many people make a resolution to investigate or rejuvenate a faith life. The internet just happens to be a place many people will turn for guidance and even perhaps seek a community to take the journey with. So, what happens when those who are most likely to post something faith based, could possibly answer questions or would be open to connect as community make a mass exodus off social media during Lent?? There is a risk for missed opportunity to evangelize, catechize and support those seeking meaning through an experience with Christ this Lent.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Columban Fr Rufus Halley (1944 - 28 August 2001)
Father Rufus Halley was one year behind me in the Columban seminary in Ireland. We were close friends. He came to the Philippines in 1969, two years before I did. He spent his early years in the country in Tagalog-speaking parishes in an area of the Archdiocese of Manila south of the metropolitan area, now the Diocese of Antipolo. He was fluent in the language. He began to feel a clear call from God to leave the security of working in an area overwhelmingly Christian and mostly Catholic to a part of Mindanao where Columbans had worked for many years that is overwhelmingly Muslim, the Prelature of Marawi. There he became fluent in two more Filipino languages, Meranao, spoken by the majority of Muslims in the area, and Cebuano, spoken by most of the Christians.
Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life (Servant, 2017) is a compelling, well-written narrative which engages the interest of modern readers while explaining traditional Catholic teaching and history at the same time. Msgr. Peter Vaghi reveals a unique talent to pierce the hearts of modern Catholics with his honest, personal reflections on the core message of the Gospel as well as the words of Pope Francis. His authentic spirituality shines through the entire book, enticing the reader to enter his or her own ‘upper room’, to enrich and develop his own inner spirit. continue reading
A Reflection on the Vatican’s document on New Age Spirituality.
The Vatican document on New Age Spirituality is subtitled, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life – A Christian reflection on the New Age. Published in 2003, it insists that a clear understanding of our own tradition is the best antidote to alien influences that have already led many astray. This is particularly true of the theory and practice of Mystical Theology where ignorance of their own tradition has led “many people to be convinced that there is no harm in ‘borrowing’ from the wisdom of the East”. The document continues by warning that, “The example of Transcendental Meditation (TM) should make Christians cautious.”
In the Western Christian tradition, a mystic is a person who not only knows with the eye of faith that God loves them but one who tangibly experiences that love as it rests and then rises within them to degrees of intensity that are totally dependent on the grace of God. The first Mystic was Christ himself...... read on
Have you ever given it much thought: What does it take to truly be kind? What does it cost you in terms of time, talent or treasure?
Be Kind with Your Time
In terms of time, it can cost you nothing more than a fleeting second to smile at someone. Or, it can cost you all you have to give, to care for someone that you love who is ill. Many acts of kindness run somewhere in between these two extremes.
Be Kind with Your Talent
As to talent, perhaps you are gifted in understanding mathematical equations (I know I am not). Perhaps you could give of your time, as a tutor, one hour a week. Or, perhaps you are a subject matter expert on a given topic. If so, you can lend your life’s work to solving problems for the common good. Odds are that... Read more...
We can often think that God has a Plan A and if we blow it, that's it! We think he will give up on us and we will never be able to be used by him. That isn't true however. God has a way of making straight our crooked paths. He is the God of second chances and limitless mercy! If we mess up our "Plan A", he will give us a "Plan B". If we mess up our "Plan B", he will give us Plan C and so on. Continue Reading @ Beautifulthorns
My new book “Bible People for Young People” (“reviewed” at the end of
this post) shows Zacchaeus on the cover. I thought I’d draw some lessons
today from this man’s story. If you recall, Zacchaeus, who collected
taxes for Rome and pocketed some for himself, was possibly the most
despised man in Jericho. Perhaps as a child you sang “Zacchaeus Was a
Wee Little Man.” If so, you know that he was height-challenged. Lesson
one: When Zacchaeus couldn’t see over the heads of the crowd to catch a
glimpse of Jesus, he climbed a tree. If you lack something, deal with
it. Compensate. If you can’t do math in your head, resort to a
calculator. If you can’t drive a car, become an expert in bus routes. If
you weren’t gifted with good looks, be the best dresser in your family.
If you can’t hit home runs, be a cheerleader. And so on. Click to continue
Hello, everyone! My name is Lori Doerneman. I am new to this amazing association and Melanie invited me to introduce myself.
I live in Goddard, Kansas. My husband, Russ, and I have been married for almost thirty years.
We have eight children and I write to make sense of the crazy!
Our oldest son, Eric, has joined me in a ministry to educate parents about how to talk to their children about porn before first exposure. Sadly, I didn't realize this child of mine had been viewing porn until he was totally addicted to it.
The good news, he is out and is now working with me to prevent other families from going down that road. Because we are entering the territory of satan, we crave your prayers.
I have a daughter playing basketball at a small Christian college (I grow very large children) and a son in his second year at seminary.
I have one son in high school and four in grade school, including a little girl we adopted when she was four.
My son and I spoke on porn at a COLLEGE in January. Their response was tremendous and so I decided to write an entire series on getting out of porn for that age category.
I am in the middle of the six-part series. Here is today's link: Get out of Porn, Part 3: Love vs Lust.
Because my recent subject matter is pretty heavy, I do tremendous self-care! I consecrated myself to Our Lady, I pray the rosary often and I have recently fallen in love with The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows.
I love being Catholic and I am so glad to be part of this group!
Do you ever give much thought to the afterlife? Or do you live in the here and now? Do you know why you live and what you are living for? Or are you oblivious to your purpose for existence? Did you know that you were created by God to live with Him, in Heaven, for all eternity? Do you realize that life on earth is only your temporary home; that your real home is with God in Heaven? Do you live for this world, or the next? If you answered for the next, then the virtue of Hope is your... Read more...
Pick a time, date and location for your small group to meet. My recommendation is to commit to meeting weekly; especially if the group is being formed only for Lent.
Location can be either in your home, a rotation of homes, or at your parish. My advice - weigh the pros and cons to decide which is best for you and your group - then trust your instincts! Some of the cons for a home meeting include having to limit attendees due to space, having to clean for company ((my primary obstacle), or limited parking. Small group size is typically 8 to 10; although 12 -15 is doable especially for a short period of time like the 6 weeks of Lent. If you are blessed with a high response rate - consider creating more than one small group either at the same or various locations.
Pros for meeting in a home include it's often cozier and may be less intimidating for some who do not typically attend church related events. The most important part is remembering the goal of the group to grow closer to Christ. After 10 years of leading Bible Study, I now host one at the parish (yearly and co-ed) and one in my home (seasonal and woman only); finding both can be advantageous. Like me, you may find that there is a place for both in your plans. Hosting at the parish has given me some freedom in the commitment that we can hold the group all year long and my home group has provided opporunity to expand my outreach.
I tapped impatiently on the steering wheel, waiting for the church car park to clear. It had been a long, hot Service and I felt totally washed out. The sermon had urged us to seek an experience of spiritual renewal. There was nothing fresh about my spirit. Physically tired from long shifts, mentally drained from study and emotionally wrecked from house sharing, there was little room for spiritual growth.
In my naivety I didn’t recognize this very place as God's watering hole. My voiceless surrender that my search for Him was way too hard opened a spiritual door.
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales) Gospel Matthew 5: 17-37 [20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37] (NRSV,Catholic Edi) For the shorter reading everything in [square brackets] may be omitted.
Jesus said to his disciples:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement;
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
Entrance Antiphon Antiphona ad introitum
Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvem me facias. For your are my rock, my stronghold! Quoniam firmamentum meum et refugium meum es tu, Lead me, guide me, for the sake of your name. et propter nomen tuum dux mihi eris, et enutries me.
The Marriage at Cana, Martin de Vos
More than thirty-five years ago I spent part of a summer working in a parish near New York City. One day when I was on duty I answered the phone. The man calling gave me his name, which I wrote down. He told me he was living in an irregular situation, having been divorced from his wife. He was asking what the Church could do for him in that situation. I tried to tell him about programmes that the Church had in the diocese for Catholics who were divorced and re-married civilly or living with someone else. The latter situation wasn't nearly as common then as it is now
Have you been praying for the Rosary for years or maybe like me you avoided it because the very idea just screamed tedium. Thanks to some major Holy Spirit moments - I've been able to add this powerful prayer to my spiritual repertoire.
My mind likes to wander, keeping my thoughts on a subject for longer than 15 seconds can sometimes be a challenge. My short attention span wreaked havoc on my ability to complete a Rosary until the Holy Spirit inspired a perfect plan for my brain. The beads on one of my favorite rosaries just happen to slide. As I was fingered my way through the prayers, I thought how it sort of resembled a Chinese Abacus. Suddenly, I thought, “What if I use each bead to as a counter – creating a ‘spiritual abacus’?” Now as I pray my Hail Mary's, I recall a particular person or intention as I moved from bead to bead.
This week I watched a program in which a woman was asked about a
colleague, the actress Barbara Stanwyck. Her response was that Barbara
was unusual in that she made a point to learn the names of everyone who
was working on producing the movie, not just the cast but the whole
crew. By doing so, Barbara established a relationship with them, and
they all loved her. The importance of names came home to me again this
week as I edited a book based on the Gospels. The author referred to the
mother of James and John as just that and never used her name, Salome. I
commented that this was somewhat insulting to this great disciple who
supported Jesus and the apostles, stood at the cross, and was one of the
first at the tomb of the risen Lord. I reminded the author that someday
she might meet this woman face to face and that would be awkward. So
Salome is now named in the book! Click to continue
Dios nos mira siempre con misericordia. No tengamos temor de acercarnos a Él. Él siempre nos perdona, es misericordia pura, es misericordia pura. ¡Vayamos a Jesús!.
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, máxima expresión del amor divino y símbolo por excelencia de la misericordia de Dios: Pero no es un símbolo imaginario, es un símbolo real que representa el centro y la fuente de donde nace la salvación para toda la humanidad.
The Gospel passage today focuses on the problem of evil. It would be a depressing scripture if it were not for the reality and power of the Cross, because evil is so deeply ingrained in our being that we really do not have a clue how to eliminate it from our lives.
After seeing how the Pharisees try to purify themselves, Jesus is very frustrated, “ Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?“ Still today, people foolishly tend to focus on outer rules, prayer and spiritual disciplines to purify themselves just like the religious leaders did in New Testament times. This drive to save ourselves is based on both a fear of God and a desire to impress other people.
In what do you place your confidence? Might it be your own knowledge? Your abilities to conquer any situation? Where does Christ fit into the equation? Do you face this world on your own, or do you place your confidence in Christ?
When we place our confidence in Christ, we are in essence doing the following:
Acknowledging Christ’s omnipotence (all-powerful Being), His omniscience (all-knowing), and His omnipresence (ability to be present everywhere). This requires some humility, acknowledging our own limitations.
Trusting in His promise to always be by our sides, guiding us (Matt 28:20). This requires some faith, acknowledging... Read more...