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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

 Let Freedom Ring: Freedom from Fear

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
At a word from You the devil and his minions flee in terror.
You are the source of all truth. You are the source of all strength.
By the power of your Cross and Resurrection, we beseech You, O Lord
To extend Your saving arm and to send Your holy angels
To defend us as we do battle with Satan and his demonic forces.
Exorcise, we pray, that which oppresses Your Bride, The Church,
So that within ourselves, our families, our parishes, our dioceses, and our nation
We may turn fully back to You in all fidelity and trust.
Lord, we know if You will it, it will be done.
Give us the perseverance for this mission, we pray.
Amen

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception...pray for us
St. Joseph...pray for us
St. Michael the Archangel...pray for us
(the patron of your parish )... pray for us
(your confirmation saint)...pray for us

 
"Freedom from Fear" by Fr. Bill Peckman

In the Garden of Eden, the devil tempts Adam and Eve. He lies to them. His lie is effective because it taps into fear. The fear is simple: God does not want what is good for you. The devil sells a fear to Adam and Eve that God wishes them to be perpetually ignorant of good and evil (even though they already knew the good), and that they are missing out without that knowledge. Fear finds its roots in a disbelief in God's providence and care. God knows this and, in the Scriptures, He tells us repeatedly to not be afraid. Overcoming fear is trusting in God.

Fear rules our nation now. It used to be that the American Dream was the ability to act rightly and freely and set a course independent of one's socioeconomic status. In the last 100 years the American Dream transformed into accumulation of possessions and status. Now the American dream has turned into a nightmare of anarchy by which the dream is complete autonomy and self-determination independent of God, science, or reason. The fear comes from a belief that this life is all that there is, and we must create a reality conducive to our personal truth. Anyone who challenges this is to be feared and despised.

Fear rules within most churches now too. It has reduced the evangelical call of the Great Commission to a call for the comfortable and non-challenging. It has stilled our tongues on moral issues, gutted our catechesis, emptied our seminaries, and decimated the priesthood. Being Catholic has always carried a stigma in this country. With the scandals in the Church, fear of being accused of things one would never do is a strong deterrent to answering God's call. It was for me. When the purveyors of fear have raised their voices, we Catholics have allowed ours to be scared silent. A fearful person who will not stand up against the lies of a human being will never stand up to the lies perpetrated by the father of lies, the devil. We would do well to heed Jesus' rebuke of His apostles in Matthew 8:26, "Why are you fearful, ye of little faith?" He says this as they are being tossed on the sea by a strong storm.

It might be said that courage is the virtue that combats fear. It goes deeper. The real virtue to cultivate is the theological virtue of faith. To countermand the devil's use of fear (that God does not want what is good for us or will abandon us if we follow Him), we must develop faith.  Faith makes us able, and willing, to put our trust in His goodness and plan.

Because it is a theological virtue, the virtue only grows with the assistance of the grace of God. We will not be able to cultivate faith without the sacramental life of the Church. Even when circumstances prevent our participation in the sacramental life of the Church, the fervent desire to participate in the sacramental life of the Church allows that opening for God to flood us with the grace to grow our faith. Such desire has aided the imprisoned, the ill, and the exiled.

Faith must lead to conversion. If not, then the grace of God is squandered. We shall have to answer for this. Conversion is an outward and inward sign of the trust and faith we have in God. Conversion sets the devil on his heels. It calls out his lie. Faith will lead us to a place where we can stand out against the rising tide and fight against the diabolical. Dead men float downstream, weak men are pushed downstream, but strong men can walk against the current and move forward. Faith is the powertrain to give us such abilities.
 
Prayer of Reparation

My Lord and my God, we have allowed the temptation of the devil to move our hearts to doubt in Your goodness. We have stilled our tongues in the face of evil. We have been too fearful to stand out in our culture, allowing the strong storms to quell our trust in You. In our fear, we have allowed the ancient foe to advance. We turn to You Lord, in our sorrow and guilt, and beg Your forgiveness for our fear and timidity. We beg for the grace of Your goodness to build up within us what You sought to build up in Your apostles in that tempest-tossed boat. We know, Lord, if You will it, it will be done. Trusting in you, we offer our prayer to You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
 
Prayer of Exorcism

Lord God of heaven and earth, in Your power and goodness You created all things. You set a path for us to walk on and a way to an eternal relationship. By the strength of Your arm and Word of Your mouth, cast from Your Holy Church every fearful deceit of the devil. Drive from us manifestations of the demonic that oppress us and beckon us to faithlessness and fear. Still the lying tongue of the devil and his forces so that we may act freely and faithfully to Your will. Send Your holy angels to cast out all influence that the demonic entities in charge of fear have planted in Your Church. Free us, our families, our parish, our diocese, and our country from all trickery and deceit perpetrated by the devil and his hellish legions. Trusting in Your goodness Lord, we know if You will it, it will be done, in unity with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
 
Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us. 
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary, pray for us. 
Saint Joseph, pray for us. 
Illustrious son of David, etc.
Light of the patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster-father of the Son of God,
Watchful defender of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most valiant,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of workmen,
Glory of domestic life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the afflicted,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of His household,
And prince over all His possessions.

Let Us Pray.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother, grant that as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in Heaven, Thou Who livest and reignest forever and ever. R. Amen.
 
Daily Checklist

__ Prayer for Freedom from the Devil
__ Daily reflection and prayers
__ Litany of the day
__ Pray a Rosary
__ Divine Mercy Chaplet
__ Spiritual or corporal work of mercy
__ Fast/abstain (according to level)
__ Exercise (according to level/ability)
__ Refrain from conventional media (only 1 hr. of social)
__ Examination of conscience (confession 1x this week)

Ash Wednesday

SERVITES

 

Exodus, Chapter 34, Verse 30

When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were AFRAID to come near him. 

Moses after experiencing the presence of God while receiving the 10 commandments came down from the mountain and he glowed with God’s glory. We too can glow with the glory of God by being in His presence.

 

The Radiant Person[1]

The Four Dimensions of Life

Beyond the laws of radiant health are some broader principles that include the whole person. Human beings are made up of more than just a body. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This definition is incomplete as it leaves out one significant aspect of life and health—the spiritual. This understanding is illustrated clearly in Luke 2:52 which tells us that, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." A rough paraphrase would state that Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.

Health for the whole person

We cannot be totally well unless every part of us is healthy. In fact the mental, social, and spiritual factors may be even more involved in causing or fighting many diseases than are the physical factors. Many of the laws that we listed as governing physical health apply equally well to the other facets of life.

1. Nutrition-It is necessary to eat to live, not only physically, but also in the other three dimensions.

Mentally: If new information and ideas are not fed into the mind on a regular basis the intellect ceases to grow and develop, becoming weak and stunted. Don't dwell on the trivial, degrading, or useless; these things can be considered mental junk food. I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble ... my loving God. PSALM 59:16

Socially: If love, respect, and companionship are not a regular part of your life, your social capabilities become weak and dwarfed.

Spiritually: Christians nourish themselves spiritually through Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and service to others.

2. Exercise—Activity is a law of life that is often phrased this way, "Use it or lose it."

Mentally: Intellect, memory, wisdom, attitude, and willpower need to be exercised.

Socially: Love, tact, the social graces, communication, and core values grow when they are practiced.

Spiritually: The exercise of faith, prayer, love, and perseverance are essential for spiritual strength and growth.

3. Rest—We need to relax and regenerate after activity.

Mentally: The mind needs to rest after periods of intense mental activity in order to recuperate. In addition, a good night's sleep gives the mind a chance to reorganize and start afresh.

Socially: A time away in privacy and solitude is necessary after periods of heavy social interaction.

Spiritually: After intense periods of ministry Christ's servants need to "Come apart and rest awhile" by spending time with Him. Time with Christ is spiritual rejuvenation. (See Mark 6:30,31).

4. Temperance—The basic definition of this law of life and health is to avoid that which is harmful and practice moderation in that which is healthful.

First, do no harm.

Mentally: Don't do anything that would destroy or pollute your mental faculties.

Socially: Don't acquire harmful habits or friends, or engage in socially destructive behaviors like gossip, criticism, breaking civil laws, or engaging in risky, degrading, sexual behaviors.

Spiritually: Don't destroy your spiritual sensibilities by dwelling on spiritually destructive emotions such as hatred, anger, or revenge. Avoid putting yourself under Satan's power through occult practices or the rejection of the Spirit of God.

Second, practice moderation and balance in things that are good. This involves more than just a balance between such things as activity and rest, logic and emotion, solitude and the multitude. It also consists of keeping a healthy balance between the four dimensions (mentally, physically spiritually and socially). When one of these areas of life becomes all-encompassing or is neglected, the result is an unbalanced and unhealthy individual.

Finally, part of being in balance is knowing what is most valuable and important. There will be times when you will have to choose between what is best for one element at the expense of the others. A young person might have to choose between a career in sports or science. You might have time to get either physical exercise or spiritual nourishment but not both. You make choices based on what you value most. Why not make your spiritual dimension the top priority, and base each decision on how it will affect your spiritual life and health? It would be a terrible waste to make physical health your highest priority only to miss out completely on eternal life and the associated radiant health Christ promises. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33).

5. Water, fresh air, and sunshine—These are all useful for cleanliness, which is a principle that applies equally to all segments of life.

Spiritually: We need to open our hearts daily to the sunshine of God's love, let the pure air of the Spirit flow into our lives, and be washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus, accepting His forgiveness.

Mentally: Likewise, when the mind is polluted and degraded there is help in the principle, "By beholding we become changed?" But ultimately, only by accepting Christ's offer to create in us a new life can the mind be completely cleansed.

Socially: As Christ changes the life and the person sincerely repents, confesses, apologizes, and makes amends, others will realize that this is a new and clean person.

Christ knows and loves each of us as if there was no one else. He longs for us to accept His offer of salvation. He desires to cleanse us, and make us whole, that we might achieve the happiness and abundant life for which we were created.

The Inseparable Four Dimensions

The four dimensions of life are inseparable and so interrelated that what affects one part of us affects every other part as well.

Physically: Poor physical health can cloud the mind, depress the attitudes, and make it more difficult to keep spiritually healthy. Conversely, good health can clear the mind and improve the mental outlook, promoting enriched spiritual strength and health.

Mentally: Willpower, attitude, and intellect have a decided influence on how we live our lives and apply or reject the various laws of health.

Socially: Both the attitudes that permeate our homes, and the relationships we form, have the power to affect our health

Spiritually: The exercise of faith, love, hope, prayer, perseverance, and dedication to God will bring peace of mind, character growth, and increased physical health.

The study and practice of these extended health principles will make a difference in the usefulness and quality of life. Each of these laws with which we cooperate brings a benefit, but when we cooperate with all of them the rewards are multiplied!

 

The Devil and Temptations[2]

There are many and varied ways in which sin and evil are presented to us in an attractive way. Avoid them as you would a monster in the closet.

Charms and Amulets

·         This is a form of magic in which the particular object is believed to have power to attract the good or to ward off evil. These are particularly bad when given to us by a fortune teller, spiritualist, "curandero" or some person involved with the occult. When the object is worn on the person or carried in the purse or placed in the home, it means that the influence of evil is always present there with us. Examples are carrying garlic in the purse in order to always have money, keeping an open pair of scissors for good luck, keeping special herbs in a jar, wearing a crescent around the neck or a necklace of garlic, putting alfalfa and flowers in front of a statue, placing figures of oriental or Indian gods in the house, and so on. Much of the modern jewelry worn about the neck is now actually representative of something used in witchcraft. Usually people wear this jewelry innocently.

·         We must be careful not to use religious medals or statues in a superstitious way. No medal, no statue, nor religious article has any power or luck connected with it. A medal, statue or candle is only a sign of our prayer asking the saint to intercede with God for us. All worship is given to God and to Him alone.

·         All of the objects described above, or any other objects used in a superstitious way should be effectively thrown away or destroyed. If we are wearing jewelry that corresponds to a zodiac sign, or if we wear something that is representative of witchcraft, we can open ourselves unwittingly to the kingdom of darkness. People wear religious medals because they seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints, and they desire the protection and the blessing of God. Wearing something that represents the occult, even in an innocent way, is symbolic of our being under the power of darkness. We should not hesitate to get rid of this type of jewelry. Either we want to be in the Kingdom of God, or we don't. Renounce Satan renounce the use of charms and ask God's pardon. If you deliberately carved such an object to ward off evil or to attract good luck, it would be well to mention this when you go to Confession. Place your faith, not in the kingdom of darkness, but only in Jesus Christ who cures, who saves, who protects and who loves us.

Ash Wednesday[3] 

The solemn season begins with a reminder of our mortality and our profound need for repentance and conversion.[4] 

Why is this day so called? Because on this day the Catholic Church blesses ashes and puts them on the foreheads of the faithful, saying, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou shall return” (Gen. iii. 19). 

Why are the ashes blessed? 

1. That all who receive them with a contrite heart may be preserved in soul and body. 

2. That God may give them contrition and pardon their sins. 

3. That He may grant them all they humbly ask for, particularly the grace to do penance, and the reward promised to the truly penitent. 

Why are the faithful sprinkled with ashes? The sprinkling with ashes was always a public sign of penance as such God enjoined it upon the Israelites (Jer. xxv. 34). David sprinkled ashes on his beard (Ps. ci. 10). The Ninevites (Jonas iii. 6), Judith (Jud. ix. 1), Mordechai (Esther iv. 1), Job (xlii. 6), and others, did penance in sackcloth and ashes. To show the spirit of penance and to move God to mercy, the Church, at the Introit of the Mass, uses the following words: “Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made, and winkest at the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them, for Thou art the Lord our God” (Wis. xi. 24, 25). 

Prayer. Grant to Thy faithful, O Lord, that they may begin the venerable solemnities of fasting with becoming piety, and perform them with undisturbed devotion. 

EPISTLE. Joel ii. 12-19. 

Therefore, saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride-chamber. Between the porch and the altar, the priests, the Lord s ministers, shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people; and give not Thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them; why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for His land, and hath spared His people: and the Lord answered and said to His people: Behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations, saith the Lord Almighty. 

Explanation. The prophet, in these words, calls upon the Israelites to be converted, reminding them of the great mercy of God, and exhorting them to join true repentance for their sins with their fasting and alms. They should all, without exception, do penance and implore the mercy of God, Who would then forgive them, deliver them from their enemies, and bring peace and happiness upon them. 

GOSPEL. Matt. vi. 16-21. 

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad: for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father Who is in secret: and thy Father, Who seeth in secret, will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also. 

Instruction on Lent 

What is the origin of fasting? Under the Old Law the Jews fasted by the command of God; thus, Moses fasted forty days and forty nights, on Mount Sinai, when God gave him the Ten Commandments; Elias, in like manner, fasted in the desert. Jesus also fasted and commanded His apostles to fast also. The Catholic Church, says St. Leo, from the time of the apostles, has enjoined fasting upon all the faithful. 

Why has the Church instituted the fast before Easter? 

1. To imitate Jesus Christ, who fasted forty days. 

2. To participate in His merits and passion; for as Christ could only be glorified through His sufferings, so in order to belong to Him we must follow Him by a life answering to His. 

3. To subject the flesh to the spirit, and thus, 

4, prepare us for Easter and the worthy reception of the divine Lamb. 

5. Finally, to offer to God some satisfaction for our sins, and, as St. Leo says, to atone for the sins of a whole year by a short fast of the tenth part of a year. 

Was the fast of Lent kept in early times as it is now? 

Yes, only more rigorously; for: 

1. The Christians of the early ages abstained not only from flesh-meat, but from those things which are produced from flesh, such as butter, eggs, cheese, and also from wine and fish. 

2. They fasted during the whole day, and ate only after vespers, that is, at night. 

How shall we keep the holy season of Lent with advantage? 

We should endeavor not only to deny ourselves food and drink, but, still more, all sinful gratifications. And as the body is weakened by fasting, the soul, on the other hand, should be strengthened by repeated prayers, by frequent reception of the holy sacraments, attending Mass, spiritual reading, and good works, particularly those of charity. In such manner we shall be able, according to the intention of the Church, to supply by our fasting what we have omitted during the year, especially if we fast willingly, and with a good intention. 

Prayer. O Lord Jesus, I offer up to Thee my fasting and self-denial, to be united to Thy fasting and sufferings, for Thy glory, in Gratitude for so many benefits received from Thee, in satisfaction for my sins and those of others, and to obtain Thy holy grace that I may overcome my sins and acquire the virtues which I need. Look upon me, O Jesus, in mercy. Amen. 

Ash Wednesday Top Events and Things to Do[5] 

·         Go to your local parish to get ashes and reflect on your own mortality and sinfulness.  Non-Christians are also welcomed to get ashes.

·         Fast during Ash Wednesday to commemorate Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert.  Catholics are specifically instructed to not eat meat and are only permitted to eat one full meal.  However, they may have 2 snacks in the form of some food in the morning and evening.

·         Make fiber-rich vegetarian versions of popular dishes.  Some good ideas are Veggie Burgers, Vegetarian Chili and salads with Tempeh.  The fiber will help keep you feeling full - useful if you fast for the rest of the day!

·         Rent a movie that reflects on Mortality or Repentance.  Some suggestions: Les Mis√©rables (2012), Dorian Gray (2009), What Dreams May Come (1998), Flatliners (1990) and The Seventh Seal (1957).

·         Discuss mortality, repentance and the meaning of life with your friends or with a church group. 

The Great Fast[6]

 

Of all the observances of Lent, the chief among these is the Great Fast. So, intertwined are the words Lent and the Great Fast, that in fact the Fathers of the Church sometimes used the terms interchangeably. This solemn obligation is believed to be of Apostolic origin and takes its precedent, as we mentioned above, from the examples of Moses, Elias, and Jesus Christ. The Great Fast used to consist of both abstinence and fasting. Christians were expected to abstain not only from flesh meat, but from all things that come from flesh, e.g. milk, cheese, eggs, and butter. Eastern rite Christians still observe this practice, while the Western church gradually kept only abstinence from meat (reference to all lacticinia, or "milk foods," was dropped in the 1919 Roman Code of Canon Law). Both East and West, however, agree on the importance of fasting. Originally this meant taking only one meal a day, though the practice was modified over the centuries. The preconciliar practice in the U.S. was for all able-bodied Catholics ages 21 to 60 to have one full meal a day which could include meat, and two meatless meals which together could not equal one full meal. Snacking between meals was prohibited, though drinking was not. Ash Wednesday, Fridays and the Ember Days were days of total abstinence from meat, while Sundays were completely exempted from all fasting and abstaining. The idea behind the Great Fast -- as well as other periods of fasting -- is that by weakening the body it is made more obedient to the soul, thereby liberating the soul to contemplate higher things. St. Augustine gives perhaps the best example: if you have a particularly high-spirited horse, you train it at the times when it is too weak to revolt. It is our opinion that this venerable practice should still be taken seriously. Even though current ecclesiastical law has reduced the fast from forty days to two and eliminated the thirty-three days of partial abstinence, this does not mean that observing the Great Fast is not salubrious or praiseworthy. This said, however, the Great Fast should not be adhered to legalistically. In the words of St. John Chrysostom: "If your body is not strong enough to continue fasting all day, no wise man will reprove you; for we serve a gentle and merciful Lord who expects nothing of us beyond our strength."

 

Lent-10 Things to Remember for Lent[7]

1.      Remember the formula. 10 Commandments, 7 sacraments, 3 persons in the Trinity. For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan—Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving—as the three things we need to work on during the season.

2.      It’s a time of prayer. As we pray, we go on a journey over 40 days, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him. 

3.      It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. “What are you giving up for Lent? Hotdogs? Beer? Jellybeans?” It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.  

4.      It’s a time to work on discipline. Set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive. “I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to pray more. I’m going to be nicer to my family, friends and coworkers.”  

5.      It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form.  

6.      Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused. There’s a reason the Church works on these mysteries year after year. We spend our entire lives growing closer to God. Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent. That’s a recipe for failure.  

7.      Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity. 

8.      Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated. “What a bad person I am!” But that’s the wrong lesson. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.  

9.      Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. The third part of the Lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.  

10.  Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on the cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him. 

Lenten Calendar[8] 

Read: Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from prayer and the reading of Scripture, from fasting and from giving alms. – Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we are brought closer to Christ and are changed by the encounter with him. Fasting – The fasting that we all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Almsgiving – The giving of alms is an effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. 

Reflect: “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning” (Joel 2:12, Lectionary) 

Pray: As we begin Lent, we pray for the strength to commit ourselves to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving so that we may grow to love God more each day. 

Act: Have you picked up your Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl for Lent this year? Make a commitment to dropping in spare change every day.  Another way to give alms today is by giving to the National Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Prayer before the Crucifix[9]

This prayer is designed to be said within the family before a Crucifix from Ash Wednesday to Saturday at the beginning of Lent.

Prayer

Mother or a child: From the words of St. John the Evangelist (14:1-6).

Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself, that where I am, there you also may be. And where I go, you know, and the way you know.

Father: We ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

Family: in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection.

Father: Let us pray. Grant to your faithful, Lord, a spirit generous enough to begin these solemn fasts with proper fervor and to pursue them with steadfast devotion. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

Family: Amen. Favor this dwelling, Lord, with your presence. Far from it repulse all the wiles of Satan. Your holy angels—let them live here, to keep us in peace. And may your blessing remain always upon us. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

Father: Let us bless the Lord.

Family: Thanks be to God.

Father: May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless and keep us.

Family: Amen.

Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975

A Practical Guide to Fasting

Fasting – a word we normally reserve for Lent. Once Easter comes, we box it up and package it away until the next Lent. Yet this should not be so among Catholic men. A while ago, Sam discussed the great benefits of fasting.

http://www.40daysofprayerandfasting.org/live-the-fast/

Now you may be thinking … Fasting sounds great, but where do I start? … Let’s take some time to look at the basics of fasting well.

Preparation: It is important to develop a strategy before beginning to fast. This starts with setting a realistic goal. For example, you should start simple, such as a bread and water fast for one meal, one day a week. Also, select your fast day. I recommend Wednesday or Friday, as these are the two traditional Catholic days to fast, commemorating Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. As you grow in fasting discipline, you could increase your fast to multiple meals on fast day or even multiple days a week.

Water: Water helps purify our bodies of toxins, while providing only the basic hydration we need to survive. When fasting, make sure to bring a water bottle with you throughout the day and drink frequently to stay hydrated. One temptation may be to slip in a cup of coffee or soft drink during the day. However, stay strong against this temptation. The bread and water will satisfy your basic needs even if they do not bring the comfort of your favorite food or beverage.

Fasting Bread

Taken from Sr. Emmanuels' book[10], "Healing and Liberation Through Fasting". This bread is very hearty and really sustains one who chooses to fast on bread and water.

3 cups white flour
4 cups wheat flour
1 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
2 cups of very hot water
1 beaten egg
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar or Honey
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of butter
1 cup Raisins (or fresh apple peeled and cut)
1 cup Almonds or Walnuts
1 cup Plain Oats

In a medium sized bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Cover with a plate and wait a few minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flours. Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix a bit.

Reusing the now empty medium bowl, combine Salt, Sugar, Butter, Oil, Raisins, Nuts, 1 beaten egg, and the two cups of very hot water. Pour this over the yeast mixture. Mix/knead the dough, adding flour and or water as needed.

Knead the dough until it comes clean from the bowl. Cover with a plate or towel and let it rise ten minutes. (I often skip this step and the bread still tastes fine) Knead it again until it has spring to it. Place in well-greased bowl and cover, letting it rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on room temp.

Form into desired shapes. This will make two large or three medium loaves. Place in greased pan. Brush the top with remaining egg (if you did not use it in recipe) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, oats or poppy seeds, if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until done and golden brown.

Bread: Selecting the proper fasting bread is crucial to a successful fast. Since the typical bread we eat is processed and devoid of most nutritional value, I recommend the bread made by the group, Live the Fast. As a bonus, if you are a priest, seminarian or religious, they will send you bread free! Their bread is all-natural. They bake the bread, freeze it, and then ship it to your home along with a booklet of fasting instructions. Once you receive it, you place it in the freezer. On fast day, you take the bread out of the freezer and heat it in the oven for a few minutes. The bread is filling but austere; to give the one fasting the nutrition needed to complete the day’s tasks and nothing more.

Prayer: While you are heating up the bread, grab a notebook and write down your prayer intentions for the day. Maybe a friend has lost a job, a relative is sick, or someone has asked for your prayers. Keep the list with you and offer up prayers for these people throughout the day. After the bread is finished baking, take it out of the oven, say a prayer and then eat your first piece. As you go throughout the day, look for extra opportunities to pray, especially during mealtimes. Maybe you could attend daily Mass or stop to visit the Blessed Sacrament during your lunch break. Intentional prayer during fasting helps remind us that fasting is not purely an ascetical practice. We forgo food to grow closer to God, not to show how tough we can be on our bodies. The hunger we experience while fasting instills in us the truth that nothing in this world can satisfy us but God alone.

Temptations: You will undergo many temptations while you fast, so stay close to God in prayer. One may be to boast to your friends about how great you are for fasting. Jesus warned us in the Gospel that those kinds of people are hypocrites. The purpose of fasting is to draw us closer to Christ, not draw others closer to us for our own greatness. Another temptation may be free food. Just like during Lent when meat becomes more available and appealing on Fridays, expect more temptations to eat during the fast. A co-worker may offer you a snack or tell you about some leftovers from a department’s lunch in the break room. Stay vigilant against these temptations and focus your mind on other things. The less you think about food during the day, the easier it will be to fast.

Breaking the Fast: End your fast day with a prayer. Thank God for the day and then prepare a normal sized meal. The temptation can be to gorge yourself with food after eating less during the day, but this is not beneficial. Eat your meal slowly and mindfully. Thank God for the gift of food and the grace he gave you to fast well. Just like any other habit, fasting can be difficult to begin and you may want to quit. You will have days where you fast well and others where you give into hunger easily. Do not be discouraged but persevere! God has great graces for those who fast and will help draw near to him those who seek him through the discipline of fasting.

“Fasting purifies the soul. It lifts up the mind, and it brings the body into subjection to the spirit. It makes the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of desire, puts out the flames of lust and enkindles the true light of chastity.” (St. Augustine)

Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites[11]

These seven men were the founders of the Servite Order, a community instituted for the special purpose of cultivating the spirit of penance and contemplating the passion of Christ and Mary's Seven Sorrows. Due to the spirit of humility cherished by the members of the Order, their accomplishments are not too widely known. But in the field of home missions’ great things are to their credit, and certainly they have benefited millions by arousing devotion to the Mother of Sorrows. The Breviary tells us that in the midst of the party strife during the thirteenth century, God called seven men from the nobility of Florence. In the year 1233 they met and prayed together most fervently. The Blessed Mother appeared to each of them individually and urged them to begin a more perfect life. Disregarding birth and wealth, in sackcloth under shabby and well-worn clothing they withdrew to a small building in the country. It was September 8, selected so that they might begin to live a more holy life on the very day when the Mother of God began to live her holy life. Soon after, when the seven were begging alms from door to door in the streets of Florence, they suddenly heard children's voices calling to them, "Servants of holy Mary." Among these children was St. Philip Benizi, then just five months old. Hereafter they were known by this name, first heard from the lips of children. In the course of time they retired into solitude on Monte Senario and gave themselves wholly to contemplation and penance. Leo XIII canonized the Holy Founders and introduced today's feast in 1888.

Today is my mother Rosella’s birthday (RIP)

Feb 17, 1927-Feb 2, 2002

Please say a Hail Mary for her soul.

 

Today is also the National Congress of Mothers later known as the PTO which was established in 1897. Motherhood is tough these days don’t forget to pray for mothers of today.

 

The New Stay-at-Home Mom[12] (Does not just eat bon bons and watch “Charmed” on TV)

Forget everything you've heard about stay-at-home moms. A new generation is starting their own; businesses, blogging and working at home. These women are known as WAHM’s (Work At Home Moms) proving women can be nurturing while increasing the net income of a family while overseeing that the family comes first. Great families start with great couples; great parents which means a great family. If we want to make America great it starts here. The model for any mother is of course the original work at home mom which is Mary mother of God. Today say the Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary.

Moms: Here is an original children’s story I have written a long time ago. Enjoy 

THE TREE OF HAPPINESS 

Sir Michael was, Guardian of the Throne, to the King of Utopia, Richard. Utopia was a Kingdom like many others of that age, Most the Knights to the King had long forgot their oaths of duty and selfless service. Most of them were heavily involved in petty schemes or feuds with other Knights and spend a great deal of time and energy in self-promotion. In order to afford these pursuits of big-headedness they extracted heavy taxes from the peasants. The sons of these Knights were worse than their fathers and had much time for idle pleasures and failed to train properly as Knights of the Realm. These youth wasted much of their time in satisfying selfish pleasures, such as taking magical powders which made the takers have visions and feel a great sense of well-being. In addition, many of these Knights to be were in the habit of drinking strong drinks to excess and going about mistreating the daughters and sons of the peasants. To be continued tomorrow.

Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph

The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.

·         Devotion to the 7 Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph

·         Do Day 26 of the Consecration to St. Joseph

·         Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.

 

Daily Devotions

·         Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·         Manhood of the Master-week 1 day 1

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Make reparations to the Holy Face

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Rosary




[3]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896

[7]http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/journey-to-the-foot-of-the-cross-10-things-to-remember-for-lent.cfm

[8]http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/march-6.cfm

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