Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The most wonderful time of the year!

You know the tune...

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With fish fries a smelling
and everyone telling you "try giving up beer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the pray-prayingest season of all
with weekly prayer meetings
and mission priest greetings
out in the church hall
It's the pray-prayingest season of all

There'll be stations for praying
and rosaries saying
And lovely desserts to forgo
There'll be sacrifice stories
and tales of the glories of
Lenten times long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much ashes showing
on bald heads that are growing
much thinner each year
It's the most wonderful time of the year

There'll be folks a wondering
do we fast on Sunday
or is it a day to let go
There'll be lots of almsgiving
with rice bowls a jingling
heavy with pennies we know

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be lots of confessing
and altars undressing
when Holy Week nears
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most prayerful time
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Should I be this cheery going in to Lent?

- Matthew 6:16 - "When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lenten Reading Suggestions for 2017

Every Lent I like to find a spiritually challenging or enlightening book to read and meditate upon. Seeing the Lenten begins March 1st I thought I would share with you some of my favorite titles for Lent.  Feel free to share yours as well.

The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion
Louis de Wohl is by far my favorite Catholic author. The Spear takes the reader through the events surrounding the Crucifixion of Our Lord from the perspective of Cassius Longinus, the man who thrust the spear into the side of Christ.  We've read this story aloud during Lent to our family and everyone loves it.

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
This book is a retelling, in detail, of the Lord's Passion as seen by the Anne Catherine Emmerich herself through various visions. It is a fascinating book and was drawn heavily upon by Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ.

Life of Christ
Life Of Christ has been hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton Sheen's writings, the fruit of many years of dedication and research. Filled with compassion and brilliant scholarship, his recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ is as dramatic and moving as the subject Himself. Here is a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and most of all the Savior whose promise has sustained humanity for two millennia.

In Conversation with God: Vol. 2: Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide by Francis Fernandez.
Man's highest aspiration is to be able to converse with Jesus - to pray. In Conversation with God helps the reader to pray with piety and with confidence. It is aimed not at the 'specialist' but is for the ordinary person - for the housewife, for the teacher, for the secretary, for the shop assistant... This book is a great spiritual gift for Lent with daily meditations to contemplate throughout the day.

Lent and Easter Wisdom from Fulton J. Sheen
Timeless words from the pen of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen inspire the heart and imagination as readers embark on a Lenten journey toward a better understanding of their spiritual selves. Covering the traditional themes of Lent--sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope, ashes and lilies--these 50 passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.

The Sacred Passion
In this book, Fr. de la Palma provides an aid for meditating on the Passion. He recreates the events of Jesus' life beginning with Holy Thursday and concluding with the burial of Our Lord and a powerful evocation of the coming resurrection. With vivid detail and a constant recognition of the role the Blessed Mother played in those days, Fr. de la Palma helps the reader enter into the Last Supper, the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, the arrest of Our Lord, the denial of St. Peter, the trials before Caiaphas and Pilate, the scourging and mocking, and finally, the Crucifixion. His meditations hew closely to the Gospel accounts, adding to them insights from other scriptures and frequently culminating in fervent prayers to Our Lord and Our Lady.

Way of the Cross
Enter into the wounds of Christ Crucified. When Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer proposed this way to those who asked him for advice on how to deepen their interior life, he was doing no more than pass on his own experience, pointing out the short cut he had been using throughout his life, and which led him to the highest peaks of spiritual life. This posthumous work of Msgr. Escriva, like the previous ones, has been prepared to help people to pray and, with the grace of God, to grow in a spirit of reparation - of love-sorrow - and of gratitude to our Lord, who has rescued us at the cost of his Blood. For this same reason, some words of Msgr. Escriva have been included as points for meditation; they have been taken from his preaching and his conversation, which reflected his zeal to speak only about God and about nothing but God.

Preparing for your Lenten Marathon.

For Catholics and other Christians, Lent is a sort of New Year. It is a time to examine ones life, compare it to the life of Christ, and work toward bringing the former more into line with the latter. Like New Year, it is filled with resolutions and vows, promises of penance and change. It is a time of death for old habits and a time of rebirth or rejuvenation for the soul.

However, there also lies hidden in Lent a very serious and dangerous trick of the devil. The temptation presented by the Father of Lies is to “overdo” the Lenten season. As strange as it may sound, temperance must be exercised in a heroic manner during Lent in relation to penance and sacrifice.

Like a runner at the beginning of a race, at the beginning of Lent we are full of energy and excitement. Our heads are filled with numerous ideas for penance and sacrifice like sugar plumb fairies dancing in our heads. Without honest recognition that the path we are walking leads us to Calvary we will quickly be exhausted and give up many of the ideas we held on Ash Wednesday. The devil tempts us into taking on more sacrifices and more penances and more practices of piety than we can ever really hope to fulfill. Usually, after a strong start we find that we really need to drop a few of the practices we began so eagerly. It is here that the devil returns to accuse us of being weak, being unworthy of Christ, of not being able to carry such a simple cross as this. This accusation can often turn to self-pity or self-hate resulting in the former marathon penitent giving up everything all together.

Some key points to remember as you begin and make your way through Lent:

Saint Josemaria Escriva once said, “The world admires only the spectacular sacrifice, because it does not realize the value of the sacrifice that is hidden and silent.” When you consider the practices that you take on this Lent consider Who you are doing these things for. All our mortifications must be geared toward becoming more like Christ.

It is the small sacrifices that are often the most difficult. It is easy to give up chocolate for Lent but not as easy to give up another tasty treat like gossip. The small, hidden sacrifices are the most difficult because they work on the things most ingrained into our being. The world certainly will not admire the small, hidden sacrifice of giving up gossip but the value of that sacrifice, in the eyes of God, is far greater than foregoing soda or something of that nature.

When “giving up” something for Lent be sure to replace that something. Nature abhors a vacuum and that missing space will quickly be filled with something else. It is up to you to make sure that that sacrifice is filled in with something good. If it is time that is sacrificed, like not watching TV, surfing the Internet, etc., then fill that time with prayer or reading. Sin is often crowded out of our lives by good things. We replace vices with virtues.

Finally, on this walk toward Calvary, you and I, like Jesus, will most likely fall. When we do fall, the devil will rush to our side and begin to whisper in our ear. Remember that discouragement, self-hate, and the like are from Satan and never from God. God is our biggest fan and biggest supporter. He wants us to follow Him and at the same time He wants to be our “Simon of Cyrene” and help us carry the cross. If you fall and fail in your Lenten practices seek to imitate Jesus and get back up and carry on. The struggle ends on Calvary and the reward will come on Easter Sunday.

90 Day Rosary of Reparation - Day 6