First Week Of Lent

John-Paul and Annie of Pray More Novena Ministry’s Lenten retreat has begun.  I am very impressed with the speakers this year.  I like to download the talks onto my phone and listen to them in the car and again in bed at night.

I am always amazed how much I learn from the speakers during these digital retreats.  And I don’t even have to get dressed and leave the house!  I hope that some of you have taken advantage of this very worthwhile retreat.

I am so blessed that I found John-Paul and Annie and their ministry, Pray More Novenas.  These novenas and retreats have helped me so much in my life.  As a matter of fact, the St. Michael the Archangel Novena started yesterday.  St. Michael is also a favorite of mine.  I think it’s because when I was little, I lived in St. Michael’s parish and attended the school.  Because he was our patron, we learned about him.  I was so impressed that he led the fight against Lucifer and drove him and the other fallen angels out of heaven.

The nice thing about signing up for the novenas is that you get an email each day with the prayers to be said.  It’s pretty much foolproof.  I no longer start novenas that I don’t finish.

I wish you a holy, happy Lent.

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Happy Lent

This week we celebrated Ash Wednesday.  A day that is fraught with symbolism and the promise of redemption.  I always look forward to Ash Wednesday.  It always causes me to become centered on Our Lord’s Passion, His ultimate sacrifice to save all of us from damnation.

I am so disappointed that I was unable to attend mass on Wednesday, as I spent Tuesday night in the hospital with a kidney stone.  I have never felt such pain.  I woke up with the feeling that someone was pushing a knife through my flank very slowly.  But, as I think about that now, it brings to mind the pain Jesus suffered.

Jesus was insulted, humiliated, betrayed, beaten, flogged, crowned with thorns, and crucified.  My kidney stone pain pales in comparison.  Knowing that Jesus in His human form suffered such pain is imaginable to me.  How can we doubt the love He has for us?  How can we turn out backs on Jesus?

Lent gives us the opportunity to get right with the Lord.  To offer to a loving and forgiving God our prayers, sacrifices and works in reparation for sin not only committed by us personally, but by all humankind.  We can re-establish  our relationship with God and strengthen this relationship.

Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our salvation, but we still must live a life in Him.  When Jesus died for us, He opened the door for our forgiveness, but without living the way we are meant to live, we throw that forgiveness away.  Let us not be fooled by forgiveness without works, or sacrifice or penance, or adherence to the Ten Commandments.

I wish for all of you to enjoy a happy, prayerful lent with willing sacrifices for the Lord.

God bless!

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Fasnacht

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Image from  Wikipedia

I remember when my Mom was alive she used to make these wonderfully delicious fried doughnuts called Fasnacht on Fasnacht Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday.  Fasnachts were made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter, which were traditionally fasted from during Lent.

I haven’t had them in many years.  After Mom died, I did make them once or twice.  My husband didn’t particularly care for them and I certainly didn’t need to eat the whole bunch so I gave up making them.  When we travelled to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania around right before Lent, I would treat myself to Fasnachts as they are served on most of the menus in the  PA Dutch restaurants up there.

Today, my little splurge before Lent begins is chocolate ice cream.  I stopped by the local Dairy Queen for a quart of chocolate ice cream that I will indulge until I have my fill.  What I don’t finish before bedtime will go into the trash tonight.

Although the main purpose of Lent is not to give up goodies, I have always tried to give up something I really do enjoy in the food department.

To be very serious though, tomorrow begins our preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.  We have an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God.  We are blessed to have a loving, forgiving, comforting Christ who thirsts for each one of us.

Lent is a time of atonement, penance, prayer, and sacrifice.  But it is also a time of reawakening to the love and desire of our God to be in union with us, to strengthen our friendship with Him, and to rest comfortably in His loving arms.  I wish you a blessed and happy Lent.

I would like to share a beautiful meditation written by St. Teresa of Calcutta and read by Father John Riccardo.  It is just beautiful.

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Our Lady of Lourdes

 

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Yesterday was the anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Mother to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.  Bernadette, 14 years old, was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend when a lady spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle.

Our Lady appeared to Bernadette a total of eighteen times between February 11 and July 16.  It is to Bernadette that Our Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception when she was asked who she was by Bernadette.   Just a few years prior to this message on December 8, 1854, Pius IX had raised the teaching about the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady to be dogma of faith with these words:

By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define: the doctrine which holds that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of her conception, by the singular, grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin, is revealed by God and therefore, firmly and constantly to be believed by all the faithful. (The Christian Faith #709).

Our Lady gave heavenly confirmation of the dogma Pope Pius IX had given to the church.  The virtues of Christian poverty and humility that are seen in Bernadette are a model of how we are to live our lives.  Our Lady also said that the important thing is to be happy in the next life so we must accept our cross in this one.

Initially, the church doubted the young girl, but after the canonical investigation into these apparitions, the church declared them to be valid.  The title of Our Lady of Lourdes was given to these apparitions of the Blessed Mother.

Our Lady appeared with a rosary hanging from Her right arm, which is a significant sign of the importance of praying the rosary.   She asked to have a chapel built at the site of these apparitions which Bernadette reported to her priest.  During her ninth apparition, she told Bernadette to drink and bathe from the fountain.  Bernadette, confused by her request seeing no water anywhere began to scratch at the ground with her hands. As Bernadette uncovered the gravel, she noticed that the ground underneath was moist. She continued to dig, and a little pool began to form. She cupped her hands together, drank, and then washed her face in the muddy water. The following day, the pool was overflowing, and soon the trickle of water became a gushing stream.  As news of this spread through the town, the people began to go to the grotto to drink the water.  Many miracles have been attributed to its healing power both physically and spiritually.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the church Our Lady asked to be built,  is one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.   Almost 5 million pilgrims from all over the world come every year to pray and to drink the miraculous water, believing they obtain from the Lord healing of the body and of the spirit.

How blessed we are to have had Our Lady come to earth to teach us what we need to attain heaven.  Her message of prayer, especially the rosary, penance, humility, mercy for sinners, and compassion for the sick is a roadmap for us.  The road may be bumpy at times.  We may take a wrong turn.  But we have a loving and forgiving God who will accept our repentance and allow us back on the right path.  If we follow Our Lady, she will lead us right to our Lord.

Bernadette Soubirous entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers in 1866.  She contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 35 in 1879.  After miracles attributed to her intercession, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI on December 8, 1933, which is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Let us ask Our Lady of Lourdes to lead us this Lent so that we become closer to her Divine Son.  let us ask her to help us repent our sins which will console Jesus during his Passion.  Let us join together to ask Our Lady’s help for ourselves, our families, our country, and our world.  Her intercession is powerful.    I have always felt very close to Our Lady.  Not really having a patron saint, there is no St. Wanda, I adopted Mary as mine.  My middle name is Marie a form of Mary so it made perfect sense.  I truly believe that Our Lady took me under her mantle as my patron saint and has obtained many graces for me throughout my life.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.  Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.

God bless!

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Pray More Lenten Retreat

Several years ago I found Pray More Novenas.  John-Paul & Annie are a lovely married couple who have this wonderful ministry.  After signing up for a novena, you receive the prayers for the day right in your email.  I have made many, many novenas through this ministry.  It is a wonderful way to pray.

John-Paul and Annie have begun holding digital retreats.  I think this is the third Lenten retreat and they have also held retreats during Advent.  The speakers that speak during these retreats are wonderful.  The retreats are self-paced so that you are never rushed through the material.  Along with the talks, you are provided with a transcript and a study guide.

Have a look at what John-Paul and Annie have in store for this year.  If you like what you hear, just click the link and join me and hundreds of others who have been enriched by this wonderful ministry.

Pray More Lenten Retreat 2018

God bless!

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Another Quote

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

This is one of my favorite quotes from St. Therese.  It exemplifies her “Little Way”.  St. Therese did not do heroic things during her life but rather did the ordinary.  Everything she did was intentional and done with love.

Just think how much we can impact each other with kindness, a smile, opening a door for someone, or just saying hello.  We never know what is going on in someone else’s life.  Maybe that hello is what is needed for them to get through another day. Love doesn’t cost anything, but the ripples it starts are endless.

As you prepare for Lent keep St. Therese’s words in mind.  There is no better consolation for our Lord as we prepare to celebrate His Passion.  Christ does not demand heroism, just small acts of love toward one another.

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St. Agatha

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Today, February 5th is the feast day of St. Agatha.  She is one of my favorite saints.  When I was in nursing school, I was given a poem about her and a pin for National Nurses Day.  She has been celebrated as the patron of nurses and is one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of the Catholic Church.  St. Agatha was very helpful to me throughout my career as a nurse.

She was born in the year 231 and died at the hand of Quintianus after he had her tortured in the year 251.  He had her breasts cut off which is why she is the patron of those with breast cancer.  She had given her life to Christ and the church and he could not stand that she rebuked his advances.

She is commonly featured in religious art with shears, tongs, or breasts on a plate, and is the patron saint of Sicily, bellfounders, breast cancer, against fire, Palermo, rape victims, and nurses.

As we are preparing for lent, we can take a page out of St. Agatha’s playbook.  She was resolute in her love for God and the church.  We may not be called to give our lives for God as Agatha did, but we are called to do everything in love for each other and for God even the smallest task.

God bless!

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