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This makes me think… “Let your heart be an altar…”

Paul says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy. The prophet said the same thing: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop, 5th century.

 

#Fast Friday in Lent …  mid-Lent, midlife…

#Fast Friday in Lent … mid-Lent, midlife…

Here we are, approaching mid-Lent! I was encouraging my bible study students this week that it is never too late to make a good Lent. Lots of folks have a fast start. They get all excited to maintain the practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer and then forget, or can’t maintain the habit, or peter out. Or they get too busy. Or too easily discouraged. Nobody said this would be easy.

But really, even great saints remind us that it is never too late to begin again.

Nunc coepi! — now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty.

-St Josemaria Escriva-

Hit the re-set button. Begin anew. Begin today. Take one small step.

A saint is not someone who never sins,

but one who sins less and less frequently

and gets up more and more quickly.

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux-

It’s not just mid-Lent, for me it’s mid-life. Yet the message is the same. It’s never too late to change and start over — not just in Lent, but in our longing to do good and love the Lord more.

Never give up hope. We can all become saints, even if we get a late start in life.

Grace leads the way.

What Jesus is by nature, we can become through grace.

The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace… in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received…. to live “as becomes saints”…

…that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity…

…they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. (Lumen Gentium, par 40-41, from Vatican II)

Some of the mightiest saints converted and came alive in their middle years.

Great saints for midlife include St Peter, and St Paul. Both met Jesus in midlife — the former because his brother dragged him to meet Jesus, and the latter because Jesus met him is flash of light on the road to Damascus  Of course, St Augustine dilly dallied for quite some time before caving into the love of God, too. Augustine’s conversion deeply affected his mother, St Helena. Then there’s St Teresa of Avila whose deepest conversion — in the “on going conversion” sense — began in her forties, long after first giving her life to Christ as a religious sister. There are so many more. Look into St Margaret of Cortona, St Olga of Kiev, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (AKA Edith Stein), and the later in life convert-to-Catholicism Elizabeth Ann Seton.

(H/T to my author-friend Melanie Rigney, the saint researcher, for our emails about saints with later-in-life conversions.)

There’s an old expression, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.” But my Dad, whom I call a dog whisperer, teaches old rescued dogs things all the time. I’m not calling anyone here an old dog, but the same adage applies. The Heart Whisperer, the Lover of Our Soul, Jesus Christ can rekindle the flame in us, no matter what our age! But especially those of us a little older in years. We might think change is beyond us. Yet it is never beyond grace and mercy.

Who could ever forget Abraham and Moses? They got the call to shift gears and follow God — complete with cross-country moves to new places — deep into their graying years.

It’s only mid-Lent. That means for some of us, we’re just gettin’ started.

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Good encouragement here:

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For Comic Relief: Speaking of St Peter and other saints, Stephen Colbert is fan of Simon Peter…

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Why #Fast Friday in Lent?

#Fast Friday on Confession

 

 

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Advent Journal Entry: Advent Advice from Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another…”

Advent Journal Entry: Advent Advice from Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another…”

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

I’m having a different kind of Advent where I’m trying to walk, not run… think, not speak… fast, not feast…(yet)… be mindful, not forget… Love, not withhold.

So I’m asking Jesus to help me to not only see the whole big picture — the way my theological-analytical-critical-creative skills might drive me — but to see the smaller, particular, personal things he needs me to know, see, and be.

This lone verse comes to us from the longer epistle for the Second Sunday of Advent. My love of St Paul’s good counsel always makes my heart desire to lean in to what he is saying.

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Welcome one another…

Oh, to be welcomed!

…Momma and Daddy welcoming a newborn…

…Kids coming home after school and there’s hot cocoa and cookies and snow day tomorrow!

…A beloved son or daughter returning home from a semester away!

…A husband waiting to meet you for a special date he’s planned!

…A long-distance friend arriving at the airport!

…Your most fun guests arriving at your front door!

…Or like the one you’ve longed for, prayed for, to come back to your family, or to their family, or to the church!

It warms the heart to offer such welcome… to lavish one’s love on the one being welcomed. Or to be the recipient of such a welcome.

What a watchword for me. How’s my welcome? Of Christ? Of others? How can it improve? What does this call me to in terms of hospitality, and generosity?

O Mary, help me with this… help me welcome Jesus and others into my heart, my life, my home, like you.

…as Christ welcomed you…

Yes, this is the Little Child of Bethlehem welcoming his Momma and Poppa into His Sacred Heart… who smiles at angels and the warmth of their song… feels the breath of animals nearby and nods at the shepherds with their sheep in tow… and goos at the holy magi who came a distance. This, too, is Jesus who see us kneel tenderly before the creche in our homes and churches.

Yes, this welcoming Christ really is the One all our hearts long for — that took on flesh… so we would know his face, his touch, and the Father’s heart through His. The same Christ in whose name we merit Baptism — a true welcome into union with God and with the Church.

Yes, this is the same Christ who takes on a living Presence in the Eucharist and welcomes us to an intimacy with God that is beyond our wildest imagining, and our deepest hopes.

…for the glory of God.

It’s true. Jesus has already come. He is already Present. And He will come again. This thrice-Advent welcomes us in!IMG_0308

It’s true, the glory of God lives in us by baptism: “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27)

It’s true, the glory of God is the end of our story.

The welcome we give to others must imitate the welcome Christ bids to us…. and Lord-willing, to foreshadow the welcome we’ll receive in our heavenly home, as we all sit together with Christ at the head of the heavenly banquet.

“I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who is thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the give of life-giving water.  (Rev 22:16-17)

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Bonus Chorus from “The Messiah” (G. F. Handel):

“And the Glory of the Lord will be revealed… and all flesh will shall see it together… for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

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You can read the first journal entry for the first week of Advent here.

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