On keeping a good Lent: 10 Helpful Reading & Resource Links:

On keeping a good Lent: 10 Helpful Reading & Resource Links:

“God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us.” – Pope Francis

1. Read Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2015. (The quote above comes from it.)

2. Sign up for Fr Robert Barron’s daily Lenten Reflections.

3. Book Review by Barb Szyszkiewicz: 40 Days, 40 Ways, A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D’Ambrosio –one of my favorite writers!

4. Amazing Catechists offers 6 Ways to Pray Your Way Through Lent by Karee Santos. Also some great suggestions on Getting ready for Lent by William O’Leary.

5. Enter Lent, Insert Apps: three Lenten apps to consider by Sarah Reinhard. We technology users need all the help we can get!

6. Read Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son (one of my all time favorite books) and join an online book club here.

7. Live The Fast – on doing bread and water fasts. Plus you can order bread! (Bonus: Catholic Cuisine has a recipe for fasting bread. Plus other cool recipes for the season.)

8. The Restore Workshop — This “at home” retreat is led in part by Elizabeth Foss. This promises to be rewarding, especially for Moms suffering from burnout. But even if you are not, sign up and make a retreat at home and nurture joy in your life.

9. Browse the USCCB website’s Lenten offerings, including the daily printable calendar. The theme this year is “Raise up, sacrifice, and offer.” From the website: “This Lent, you are encouraged to raise up the needs of the world in prayer, to sacrifice, by giving up food and material wants, and to offer your time, talent and treasure as good stewards of the gifts God has given you.” Lots more here.

10. Finally, if you live in the Archdiocese of Boston, The Light is On For You means that EVERY church is open every Wednesday night during Lent from 6:30-8pm for Confession. Find out more here. If you’ve been away from the sacraments, please read and listen to the advice on this page.  (Other dioceses are participating, so check out confession times in your area.)

 

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Photo credit: Your truly shot this at the Mission in Carmel, CA. Junipero Serra will be canonized by Pope Francis soon. I think this quote is appropriate for Lent.

50 Shades’ ain’t sexy… forget the movie — try a virtual marriage retreat during National Marriage Week

50 Shades of Grey, the movie version of the best-selling novel, is hitting theaters this weekend. Lots of commentary about the film’s negative attributes is floating around the blogosphere. Matt Fradd, author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity, has a video up at Covenant Eyes:

Fradd’s points would make good conversation fodder around the dinner table for parents and teens. So would this article. 

Certainly, from a spiritual standpoint, one might be very wary of the film  but even some secular reviewers have panned this movie, calling it 50 shades of Nay! (<– salty language alert) but kudos to those brave enough to call out the abuse of women this movie glorifies.

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Here’s an idea for married folks: Forget going to the movies for Valentine’s Day, this is National Marriage Week!  

Why not try a virtual marriage retreat with your spouse?

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Finally if you want to do a bit more reading, you might enjoy this excerpt about respecting human dignity, with a focus on the feminine genius. Fortunately, Jesus, in the Gospels, led the way. St John Paul II unpacks some of Jesus’ groundbreaking respect for women in Mulieris Dignitatem:

In all of Jesus’ teaching, as well as in his behaviour, one can find nothing which reflects the discrimination against women prevalent in his day. On the contrary, his words and works always express the respect and honour due to women. The woman with a stoop is called a “daughter of Abraham” (Lk 13:16), while in the whole Bible the title “son of Abraham” is used only of men. Walking the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha, Jesus will say to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me” (Lk 23:28). This way of speaking to and about women, as well as his manner of treating them, clearly constitutes an “innovation” with respect to the prevailing custom at that time.

This becomes even more explicit in regard to women whom popular opinion contemptuously labelled sinners, public sinners and adulteresses. There is the Samaritan woman, to whom Jesus himself says: “For you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband”. And she, realizing that he knows the secrets of her life, recognizes him as the Messiah and runs to tell her neighbours. The conversation leading up to this realization is one of the most beautiful in the Gospel (cf. Jn 4:7-27).

Then there is the public sinner who, in spite of her condemnation by common opinion, enters into the house of the Pharisee to anoint the feet of Jesus with perfumed oil. To his host, who is scandalized by this, he will say: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (cf. Lk 7:37-47).

Finally, there is a situation which is perhaps the most eloquent: a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus. To the leading question “In the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”, Jesus replies: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. The power of truth contained in this answer is so great that “they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest”. Only Jesus and the woman remain. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. “No one, Lord”. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (cf. Jn 8:3-11).

These episodes provide a very clear picture. Christ is the one who “knows what is in man” (cf. Jn 2:25) – in man and woman. He knows the dignity of man, his worth in God’s eyes. He himself, the Christ, is the definitive confirmation of this worth. Everything he says and does is definitively fulfilled in the Paschal Mystery of the Redemption. Jesus’ attitude to the women whom he meets in the course of his Messianic service reflects the eternal plan of God, who, in creating each one of them, chooses her and loves her in Christ (cf. Eph 1:1-5). Each woman therefore is “the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake”. Each of them from the “beginning” inherits as a woman the dignity of personhood. Jesus of Nazareth confirms this dignity, recalls it, renews it, and makes it a part of the Gospel and of the Redemption for which he is sent into the world. Every word and gesture of Christ about women must therefore be brought into the dimension of the Paschal Mystery. In this way everything is completely explained.

Read Mulieris Dignitatem for more.

 

The F.U.N. Quotient… or, the heavens declare the glory of God.

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

-Psalm 19:1-

NASA released this video of our closest galactic neighbor. Pretty startling how small we are in comparison to the cosmos. It’s also pretty startling that the God of the Universe sent his Son to redeem us on this tiny blue planet. That’s a God who really cares for us.

The F.U.N. Quotient… in which Fr Darryl autotunes the Church & Pope Francis (very fun & energetic!)

Fr Darryl is one of the many podcasting priests around the world. Here’s one of his latest video creations.

Follow Fr Darryl Millette at SaskaPriest.

Got 5 mins? Watch this great video about St Gianna Beretta Molla – a 20th century saint!

Preparing for the World Meeting of Families, Salt and Light  of Toronto produced this video about this heroic saint. To me, St Gianna exemplifies the feminine genius. You might want to listen to my Among Women podcasts that profile her life, listed below. But for now, enjoy this!

St. Gianna Molla – World Meeting of Families 2015 from saltandlighttv on Vimeo.

Among Women 161: Catholic Pediatricians Make a Difference

Among Women 11: Hear one of the earliest AW podcasts featuring a bio of St Gianna Molla

This makes me think… about who we are…

Will there be times when the Lord still reveals areas in our lives that need to change? Yes, of course. But His conviction is about what we do, not about who we are.

-Holley Gerth-

This makes me think… about qualifying my alone moments

Finding Solitude

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

-Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey-