In this program we look at the art of giving — specifically, alms-giving this Lent. Together with my guests, Sherry Brownrigg and Lisa Hendey, we talk about the work of almsgiving this Lent through the mission of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its Lenten apostolate called “Rice Bowl”. Both Brownrigg and Hendey recently toured CRS’s mission in Colombia’s coffee country and share their pilgrimage stories and their passion for Rice Bowl as a powerful means of almsgiving and personal transformation.
There are many of us, for very good reasons, who cannot attend the March for Life in Washington DC on January 22, or the ones scheduled in other cities. Yet we yearn to attend. Let us channel that yearning beyond wishful thinking and DO SOMETHING.
Discern on what front God wants you. Catholics have a consistent life ethic. Preventing abortion is a very important aspect of that ethic, but so is caring for those women. men, and families needing support in their daily needs, and those facing the end-of-life. The USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities has four emphases that you should consider. I’m here just to say we all can DO SOMETHING.
Here are three suggestions:
1. Pray and fast. Offer your intentions for the March and the marchers’ witness to life, for families in need, and for women contemplating abortion. Also discern where God is nudging you to act.
Pray as you are able. Pick one or more:
- Go to Mass
- Pray a Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
- Spend an hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Fast as you are able. Pick one or more:
- Fast from lunch, or choose a bread and water fast for the day.
- Fast from coffee, or whatever your go-to beverage is.
- Fast from television, or better yet, your internet connection, for a period of several hours or days.
2. Support and celebrate motherhood.
- Do you know a single mother? Call her today and tell her you are ready to give her one day a month to serve her. She has the hardest job in the world. Make a plan and let this be your private march for life during the Year of Mercy. March on over to her house and get involved. Perform a chore, babysit, pay a bill if you are able, tutor a child, paint a room. You get the picture. And remember to invite her to church with you, and tell her you’ll help with the children.
- This is a very unique idea: Offer to host the 2016 Catholic Conference 4 Moms, themed “Faces of Mercy”, at your church or in your living room during Lent. This is an online conference with videos and support materials — a complete “conference in a box”. Listen to this Among Women podcast for a conversation with the conference organizer, Tami Kiser.
3. Donate your time or your money to those who are assisting women with crisis pregnancies, or trying to find healing from “the after affects” of abortion.
These groups support women and babies:
These groups support women in recovery from abortion, with confidential retreats, counseling, etc.
May the “people of life” constantly grow in number and may a new culture of love
and solidarity develop for the true good of the whole of human society.
– Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, no. 101_
This is a great initiative in anticipation of the 2016 March for Life.
This Saturday I’m planning to complete my five month-long devotion to Mary by making the First Saturdays. Honestly, the biggest problem for me was clearing my calendar to do this faithfully. I had made the 5 First Saturdays many years ago, and was invited to do it again by Fr Andrew Apostoli, after he heard my confession at a conference I attended. I want to thank him for his encouragement to do it, even though it took me a while to follow through. But taming my calendar for the Lord’s business, not my own agenda, has deep benefits.
It’s a great way to start the new year — a way to enter more deeply into the Year of Mercy that began recently on December 8th and will continue through November 2016. If you’ve never made the five first Saturdays, you can begin this week! Here’s a previous post from me that offers the background on the devotion, given to us from Our Lady of Fatima. I write about my previous months here: first, second, third, and fourth.
The benefits are spiritual in nature. This devotion is a call to prayer (via Mass and the Rosary), and a call to conversion and a deeper turning away from sin (via monthly confessions), and a chance to offer reparation for the sins committed against Our Lady’s honor and goodness. The benefits of this devotion is that it calls many Catholics to develop the habit of monthly confession — an important emphasis of Pope Francis in the Year of Mercy — and adds more Masses and Rosaries to their year. That means more graces to live by!
I’ve been garnering support on Facebook and Twitter from friends and peeps who are joining in this devotion with me. You can use the hashtag #5FirstSat4Mary to share the love. Feel free to use my banner photo or the one in this post as well. I created them for this effort. Remember, you can start on any first Saturday. Why not this Saturday, January 2?
Do it for Mary.
The Three Comings of the Lord
We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.
In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself ways: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. There is another passage of Scripture which reads: He who fears God will do good, but something further has been said about the one who loves, that is, that he will keep God’s word. Where is God’s word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.
Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.
Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.
If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all.
Sermon on Advent, Liturgy of the Hours.
Tomorrow is a First Saturday. I hope you’ll join in beginning this 5-month devotion or continue along with me. This is my 4th of 5 first Saturdays. Earlier posts are here: the beginning, the second, and third. The first post outlines the “how-to’s” for the First Saturday devotion.
I’ve learned a few things as I’ve invited people to join me in this devotion.
Not all parishes have a Saturday morning or midday Mass. Of course, there’s a showstopper right there. However, if you can, check out surrounding parishes or shrines. I often go to a shrine church, several towns away, that is affiliated with a religious order. Their Mass schedule and confession schedule is different from my local parish, and often more in line with my work schedule. All I’m saying is that if you have the desire, ask Mary to give you a way to complete this devotion. I also know good friends and family who live in rural areas and this is simply not a viable option — having a Mass within an hour’s drive on Saturday. Might I suggest, then, the First Friday devotion?
Mentioning your desire to complete this devotion to a friend or two helps keep you accountable. It’s been years since I’ve made the First Saturdays when I was encouraged to make them again, (from a priest in confession, and no, it was not my penance, just a pious suggestion). I admit, it took me a while to actually commit based on my calendar, but once I did, the days opened up. Funny, right? It helps to join with a friend to do this together. But if you can’t you can always share it in person, try sharing it “long distance” like I did — with my Facebook and Twitter friends.
Monthly confession is truly a holy goal. The 5 First Saturdays require going to confession. It’s a good thing in terms of the practice and, of course, the graces. But what I’ve noticed is that when I’m committed to monthly confession (even if I’m not participating in the First Saturdays), I have a tendency to do an examen all month long. That is, I begin to make notes of what I want to bring to my next confession. And I do it in a relaxed way, as the Lord brings things to mind in the course of the month. It’s really made confession less stressful, or rather, the process of examining my conscience. I’m a journaling person, so I just keep notes there. And then when I get to go to confession, I’m able to summarize my sins and my needs. This is very helpful for the priest who hears my confession, too. I can be direct and succinct and really own up to sins without a lot of meandering or hemming and hawing. He can zone in on giving me good direction and a penance. Plus this is useful if there is a long line for confession before Mass and you want to be courteous to your neighbors waiting in line behind you.
So, join me, won’t you? Give yourself the gift of a morning with Mom. (Mary is your spiritual mother!)
Do it for Mary. Do it for Jesus who loves when we honor his Mother. Do it for Advent.
Maybe ask a friend?
Share #5First Sat4Mary.
“Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”
-Pope St. Clement of Rome-
(As found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1900)
Since September I’ve been on a quest to make the Five First Saturdays devotion. So tomorrow is my third of, Lord-willing, five Saturdays. Today I’m going to confession in advance of the first Saturday because where I’ll be attending the First Saturday Mass in the morning, there will not be confessions available. So my First Saturdays have been a kind of two-step two-day thing. But going to confession is part of the devotion. So I’m off today to do that.
And here’s another post in-between about Saturday #2.
I’ve been garnering some support on Facebook and Twitter from friends and peeps who are joining in this devotion with me. You can use the hashtag #5FirstSat4Mary to share the love. However, you can start any first Saturday. Why not tomorrow? Do it for Mary.
“Holy Church, our good Mother, after having exalted with fitting praise all her children who now rejoice in heaven, strives also to help all those who still suffer in purgatory, and to this end intercedes with all her power before Christ, her Lord and Spouse, in order that as speedily as possible they may join the society of the elect in heaven.” These are the words of the Roman Martyrology.
Yesterday we contemplated the glory of the Church triumphant and implored her intercession. Today we consider the expiatory pains of the Church suffering and solicit for these souls the divine assistance: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.” This is the dogma of the Communion of Saints put into practice. The Church triumphant intercedes for us, the Church militant; and we, in our turn, hasten to the help of the Church suffering. Death has taken from us those we love; yet there can be no real separation from those who have died in the kiss of the Lord. The bond of charity continues to unite us, enfolding in one embrace earth, heaven and purgatory, so that there circulates from one region to another the fraternal assistance which springs from love, which has as its end the triumph of love in the common glory of Paradise.
The liturgy of the day is pervaded with sadness, but it is not the grief of those “who have no hope” (1 Thes 4,12), for it is resplendent with faith in a blessed resurrection, in the eternal felicity which awaits us. The passages chosen for the Gospels of the three Masses for the faithful departed speak to us explicitly of all these consoling truths, and in a most authoritative way, since they repeat to us the very words of Jesus: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me; that of all that He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again in the last day” (Gosp, 2nd Mass: Jn 6:37-40). Could there be a more consoling assurance?
Jesus presents Himself to us today as the Good Shepherd who does not want to lose even one of His sheep, nor does He spare any pains to lead them all to salvation. As if in response to the sweet promises of Jesus, Holy Mother Church, full of gratitude and enthusiasm, cries out: “For with regard to Thy faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not taken away; and the abode of this earthly sojourn being dissolved, an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven” (Preface). Rather than an inexorable end, death is, for the Christian, a door opening into eternity, a door which admits the soul into eternal life.
— Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy.
Heidi is an author I’ve long admired and I think you’ll be blessed by hearing this conversation. Also in this show, I’m reviewing what we mean when say, “rest in peace”. Plus, our saint profile is the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, St Madeleine Sophie Barat.
Listen to Among Women today!