The Bible and the Church Fathers for Lent

Have to share this with you: During Lent this year the St. Paul Center is offering free viewing of their new series, The Bible and the Church Fathers, with the purchase of a workbook, leader guide, DVD set, or kit. Get to know your Church family and learn how they read the Bible. (Links at the end of this post.)

This Lent, get free streaming of The Bible and the Church Fathers! For a limited time, you can get free access to our premiere video study when you buy a workbook, leader guide, DVDs, or kit.”

Continue reading “The Bible and the Church Fathers for Lent”

Praying for the Holy Souls, Praying for Despairing Souls

Tonight I watched EWTN Live on Ash Wednesday as Fr. Mitch Pacwa interviewed Susan Tassone, author of many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Her latest book, The Saint Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls, is due to be released in April. Tassone made a study of Saint Faustina’s writings on Purgatory in her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, and collects them in her book, along with prayers and novenas. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of this.

Whenever I hear a train whistle I will think of this article

After watching the show I searched the internet for more about the Holy Souls and stumbled across this article at the Divine Mercy website and I want to share it with you: This is the Sound of a Lost Soul. I will never again hear a train whistle without thinking of this article and of all the despairing souls all over the world, so much in need of our prayers. Lord, have mercy.

Thanks for reading and may your Lenten season be one of deepening holiness, prayer, and interior life. God bless.

Into the desert, Lent begins

Into the desertI used to think of a desert as a flat sandy place with some dunes thrown in because when I thought desert, I thought Sahara. But I know now that a desert is not flat but uneven, always changing, hard to move through. There may be mountains, valleys, canyons that sneak up on you. There may be no rain. There may be rain so sudden and violent that riverbeds that seem dry from ancient times suddenly become raging torrents. Rocks may be sharp as razors. Snakes may be waiting to strike. Scorpions waiting to sting. A devil waiting to tempt.

A devil is always waiting to tempt. The devil himself was waiting for Christ; for someone as weak and insignificant as myself, there is probably only a minor demon. Maybe only a minor minor minor demon. Maybe I don’t even rate a demon of low estate but am left to my own weakness and weaknessses.

Easter will mark the beginning of my nineteenth year as a Catholic. There have been ups and downs. I have felt close to the Lord, I have felt, if not far away, then not as close. I have been faithful in my prayer life, I have let my prayer life slip, and that slipping has made itself known in every aspect of my life. I have felt strong, and I have been brought face to face with what weakness really means and with the realization that, indeed and contrary to what I had always secretly believed, I am a mere mortal, after all. (Okay, I know our souls are immortal. I just mean, I used to think I’d live forever. In this life. I was indestructible. I’d always be young, never sick, always strong, never weak. Ya know?)

So what do I plan to do for Lent? Nothing heroic, as you will see.

What will I do for Lent?

Prayer

I plan to pray daily, using ONE of the numerous devotionals I’ve collected. And pray the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. All readers of and visitors to the blog and all Twitter contacts are included in my prayers. Even those whose names I do not know; the One Who needs to know knows who you all are already.

Fasting

I’ve already cut down on the amount I eat, elimnated much I don’t need, and will be following the Church’s guidelines for fasting. But there are other appetites: the internet and social media. I won’t be interacting on social media during Lent (I will pass along prayer requests), though I plan to post at the blog, and those posts will be tweeted automatically.

Almsgiving

And I will be choosing a charity or a cause and will set aside or donate money each week for that cause. I may choose a different cause or charity each week. That’s something to ponder on and pray about.

Into the desert

Looking up at the desert hills,
knowing danger lurks in this place,
listening for the Voice not easily heard,
feeding my soul upon His Word,
praying to meet Him face to Face,
bending my will to what He wills.

Ash Wednesday 2015

Now that I am recovering from the plague

In Conversation with God, Lent, Holy Week, EasterNow that I’m recovering from the plague (ugh!) I hope do some writing. Oh, I’ve been posting to Twitter but that’s about it. (Funny how much time one can waste–er, I mean, how time can fly when arguing–er, discussing things on Twitter.) I’ll be spending some time digging out from the clutter and mess that amassed while I was indisposed, then I’ll be tackling some projects I’ve been itching to work on. Itching, I say! (Or that could be the codeine. Double ugh!) Have some things I want to share with you, some things I’ve learned, some (more) books I’ve found. Also getting ready for another session of Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in April. Hopefully I’ll be able to participate. Planning to, anyway. Well, perhaps “planning” is too strong a word for what I’ve been doing. Perhaps “procrastinating” would be nearer the mark. ;)

Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Hope you’re having a blessed Lenten season. I’ve been enjoying some meditation books: my old standby, In Conversation with God for Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide; and also Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet. And this year I’m also receiving Fr. Robert Barron’s Lent Reflections. Am I behind in all of this reading and reflecting? Heck, yeah, you know I am! But I’m still enjoying it. Tend to get more out of it every year, too. Every year I see something I missed before even when I use the same book over and over, year after year. And I do. That In Conversation with God series is wonderful. Highly recommended!

Author Francis Fernandez-Carvajal makes generous use of the writings of the great saints as he brings you focused and moving meditations on themes taken from the Mass readings for that day, the liturgical season, and more. This work is rich and extensive enough to serve as your spiritual reading for a lifetime, as it helps you relate the particulars of the message of Christ to the ordinary circumstances of your day. Each volume is small enough for you to carry to Adoration or some other suitable place for meditation. The whole set comes with a handsome slipcase that prevents wear-and-tear on the individual volumes.

Print copy: In Conversation with God, Vol 2 Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide. (Amazon’s description says paperback but mine is some sort of vinyl with a pretty dust cover and I suspect that’s what this is, too. Third party sellers.) Also available (for less $) at the EWTN Religious Catalogue for $19, item #213. Or get the full set: Amazon (starting at $96.97 from third party sellers), EWTN #6138 (for $130).

eBooks: Please note that the Kindle ebook Vol 2 is split into two separate books: Part 1 Lent & Holy Week and Part 2 Eastertide.

Meditations for Lent by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Amazon print or Kindle.

And, no, I don’t make one red cent for recommending any of these books or anything else here on the site. I just like sharing what I’ve found, what I like, what I love. (Sometimes I have to share things I’m not so wild about, too, but that’s a post for another time.) Thanks for visiting and for reading. Leave me a comment, recommend prayer and meditation books that have helped you (Catholic Christian, please) or say Hi. I look forward to hearing from you. (And you guys who keep emailing me with messages for Scott Hahn, I wish I could pass them along but I only met him once, we’re not best buds, ya know. Track him down yourselves or I’ll be forced to figure out how to filter you out!) ;) Peace!

For the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI

Pope_Benedict_AshWednesdayMass_smI know everybody–and I mean, everybody!–has been talking about the Pope renouncing the Chair of Peter. I don’t have anything profound to offer. But I would like to offer a brief Lenten prayer for the Holy Father. In fact, I did offer it on Valentine’s Day via Twitter. (Most days if you don’t see a post here–and most days you won’t–you might catch me on Twitter if only for a few moments at a time.)

LentenPrayerfortheHolyFather_tweet

Pope Benedict, Holy Father, I love you and I’ll be praying for you. God bless you now and always. Amen.

It’s hard to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries when your heart is full of joy

I’ve been a Catholic for nearly sixteen years now and I still remember that first Lenten season as a very special and wonderful time in my life. I was received into Holy Mother Church at the Easter Vigil of 1996 and I still get tears in my eyes when I remember it. I loved the Church then. I love her more now. And I love Christ. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to say that, and that I would never want to say that. But I fell in love with the Church and the Church led me to the Lord. I can truly say now what I said wanting to mean it all those years ago: I want Christ to draw me closer, ever closer to Him. I want to sit at the foot of the Cross and gaze upon Him, upon His beauty, in the sanctuary.

My heart is full of joy and consolations tonight. Ever since I made the commitment to return to Daily Mass, God has been pouring such grace and so many graces into my soul that I can hardly bear it. Grace upon grace upon grace, many consolations. He has deepened my ongoing conversion, He has shown me so many things, taught me so much. At every turn He has shown me something new or has revealed a depth I had not suspected was there. He has led me to places, I’ve been there at exactly the right moment and I know His hand guided me. Oh, when I listen to Him, when I let Him lead me, it is truly marvelous what He will do. He is teaching me, showing me how to become, how to be, a true disciple.

I have so much to learn. Such a long way to go. So many obstacles to remove, barriers to loving Him the way He wants me to love. So far to go…

I know it’s Lent, a time of penance and entering into the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Passion. I know I’m supposed to be making a retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and we’re supposed to be meditating upon those sorrowful mysteries and focusing on them, trying to really enter into them and not feel too much joy right now so that we can feel that joy at Easter with all the more intensity. But at this moment my heart is so full of joy that I cannot keep it from welling up within me and overflowing and bubbling out all over the place.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

And yet at the same time I am aware of so much suffering around me. I’ve been praying at two different abortion mills during Lent (during the 40 Days for Life Spring campaign and at another mill in town that is a year-round vigil site) and so far I’ve only missed three days. I’ve talked with so many people and they’ve shared their stories with me. Stories of opportunities lost and lives lost and dreams turned into nightmares… My heart suffers and breaks along with theirs. And when I hear their stories of turning around, of changed hearts and minds, love wells up within me and I know this must sound sentimental or “emo” or silly to some, but it’s much more than that.

I feel this same love when people don’t agree with me and even look down on me for being religious, being Catholic, being any sort of Christian at all. For being pro-life. For leaving Buddhism to become Catholic. “How could you?!” They think I’ve taken a giant step backward. I know I’ve made a quantum leap forward. If Buddhism helped me grow more compassionate than I already was and gave me insight into myself and others, Catholicism has expanded my heart and mind to such a degree that the world now seems a completely different place than the one I knew before. And every day when I hear the readings at Mass it is as if the Lord were speaking directly to me and every word seems to come straight from the mouth of God. It has all come alive for me. The studying has become living, living has become studying, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight because the Lord has shown me so much that I feel like I’m on fire.

I hope you’re having a good and fruitful Lent as you prepare for the celebration of Easter. May the Lord richly bless your Lenten efforts and pour out upon you the riches of His grace and give you peace. Amen.

And, Joe, if you’re out there, I haven’t forgotten our conversation or what I said I’d do. I will post what I can as soon as I can.  And even though you told me you don’t pray, know that I do and I’m asking for blessings and graces for you, too. Peace be with you.

Lenten Evening Thoughts – On Love

Christ Knocking at the Door of the HeartChrist is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The One and Only True Way, the Way and the Truth Who gives Life.

But people don’t see this Truth, don’t hear Him, don’t know Him, don’t want to know. And all He wants to do is love us and be loved by us. So simple.

And yet we would rather cause ourselves and others endless pain.

“Love is not loved.”

Saint Francis was right.

Treat Yourself to an Ignatian Retreat During Lent via Podcast

Saint Ignatius of LoyolaI’ve been wanting to make a retreat for some time now with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, but have not been able to be away from home for as long as a month or even a week. And I just missed a weekend Ignatian retreat in a nearby town, didn’t find out until it was over. Plus there’s that little matter of not being able to afford to give even a small stipend to the retreat center for the great gift of the Exercises. But I really want to do this. I’ve never made a retreat of any kind and I know I need to do it.

Gary Zimak to the rescue! Gary, of Following the Truth, has decided (and was prompted by the Holy Spirit) to offer the Spiritual Exercises through his podcast via iTunes or BlogTalkRadio during Lent, starting Monday, Feb. 27, through Good Friday. (See promotional YouTube video below.)

Problem solved! And no excuse either. I don’t need to go anywhere, I can just download the podcast and listen on my iPod or computer, any time and as many times as I want to. For free. And I can keep these podcasts and make a retreat a month from now or next year or five years from now.

This is a God-send. A real God-send! Thank you, Gary! I’m looking forward to this. God is so good!

Something different for Lent: Don’t just say you’re prolife, prove it

40 Days for Life, Praying, Fasting, Keeping Vigil, to End Abortion in our World

My favorite time of year is not spring or summer or fall or winter. It’s Lent. I enjoy Advent and Christmas. And Easter, of course. But Lent is the season I look forward to all year. Especially since I started participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion. There are two campaigns per year, one in the fall and one in spring. The current campaign coincides with Lent, as it did last year. This is a time of penance, fasting, prayer and alms-giving (don’t forget the alms-giving!), and spending time in peaceful prayer vigil out on the sidewalk during these forty days is a wonderful way to enter more fully into the spirit of the Lenten season. Continue reading “Something different for Lent: Don’t just say you’re prolife, prove it”

A few words to and for Fr Corapi in this season of Lent

Fr CorapiFr. Corapi, I have been praying for you since I heard the news that you had been placed on administrative leave after a complaint against you [not involving sexual abuse of a minor, for anyone else reading this]. This evening I have been reading Fr. Groeschel’s book, Arise from Darkness. I know you have preached for years and have plenty of material of your own to turn to, as well as the Bible. And who knows how extensive your library must be? Still I would like to recommend this slim little book to you in what must seem to be a time of persecution, betrayal and suffering. All things happen for a reason and you and I both believe in Divine Providence. And look at the timing: We are in the beginning of the second week of Lent! God has called you to enter into His Divine Son’s Passion and Cross in a way you may not have been called to enter into it before. Continue reading “A few words to and for Fr Corapi in this season of Lent”

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return“Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

With these words the priest made the Sign of the Cross on my forehead with the ashes of last Palm Sunday’s palm fronds. A few minutes later I received Holy Communion with the Sign of Christ’s Redemptive Act marking me as His. A few minutes after that I was once again out in the world, still bearing His Mark on my forehead, still bearing His Presence within.

So began the Lenten season marking my fifteenth year as a child of Holy Mother Church. May I become ever more faithful, ever more devout, ever more aware of what it truly means to be His disciple. May I truly be filled with the spirit of Christ. And I pray all of these things for you, too. For the Greater Glory of God. In the name of Christ, His Son. In the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lenten Workshop at CatholicCulture.org.
Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, Belmont Abbey

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood

Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day40 Days for Life begins on Ash Wednesday. What a perfect way to practice our Christianity in our daily lives! Prayer and fasting are part of Lent every year. Combine these spiritual disciplines with prayerful peaceful vigil outside abortion clinics, and you have a marvelous way to jumpstart your spiritual life. That’s what I experienced last fall when I participated in 40 DFL for the first time. Ash Wednesday is the day after tomorrow and in preparation I’ve been reading John Paul II’s Gospel of Life, Fr. Pavone’s Ending Abortion, Not Just Fighting It along with his Pro-life Reflections for Every Day, and my beloved Bible. Oh, is that Bible ever dog-eared, heavily marked in and highlighted, filled with prayer cards and bookmarks. It’s one of my favorite companions and its cloth zipper cover is beginning to wear out on one corner.

Here’s the Scripture that is speaking to me right now. Continue reading “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood”