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.

ecd7144b64d85ddda971c190abc58e8f

Advertisements

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!

signature

 

 

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.

signature

 

St. Agatha

14

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!

signature

 

 

Preparing For Lent

e240c48fbda4665873f45516de994797

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  It occurs 46 days before Easter and is observed by many Western Christians, not just Roman Catholics.  This time of preparation for the Resurrection of Jesus is spent in prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving.  Lent is a time which mirrors Jesus’ 40 days fasting in the desert where He was tempted by the devil.  During Lent, we fast only 40 days since Sunday’s are excluded because they commemorate the Resurrection of Christ which is a feast.

We go to church on Ash Wednesday to have blessed ashes placed on our foreheads in the form of a cross.  As the priest places the ashes on us he says the words  “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Ash Wednesday is only ten days away.  Are you prepared for Lent?

During Lent, we ramp up our prayer, sacrifice, and good works.  We give up favorite foods, eating chocolate, volunteer at a soup kitchen, pray outside an abortion clinic.  These are all very admiral and worthwhile activities.  We even reap the rewards of becoming healthier because of some of these sacrifices.

But, what do we do to prepare ourselves for Lent?

Before we enter into this Lenten season, let us meditate on the how we will observe this season of penance and prayer. We must open our hearts to become God’s instruments of love.  Without opening our hearts to the love of God, we cannot be who He has created us to be.  Coming up with what we will do to celebrate Lent is the easy part.  But we don’t accomplish anything if we just do something for the sake of doing it.

Spending quiet time with our Lord prior to Lent can give us a much-needed perspective.  What does my soul need?  What can I change about my life?  How can I gain the graces of the Lenten season?  Listening to the answers God gives us will help us know not only what we should do for lent, but how we should be doing them.

For me prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed toward heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy”
St. Therese of Lisieux

It is not necessary to do heroic acts for Lent.  St. Therese has taught us her Little Way.  We can do many, many small things which done in love are a beautiful prayer.

Planning ensures that we will have a successful Lenten season which will prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

God bless!

signature

Evil Abounds

I belong to a prayer chain that is worldwide.  The requests are sent to us via email after they are compiled weekly by our leader.  Over the years I have heard or read as it were, of many, many terrible atrocities that require prayer for the victims and the perpetrators.   One 3-year-old little girl, I have been asked to pray for was beaten by her mother’s boyfriend and placed in a hot oven.  Every time I think about that poor innocent child being abused in this way it sickens me.

I mention this incident as an example of the evil in the world.  So many people don’t believe in the devil.  How foolish they are.  He has certainly seduced so many into believing that he does not exist in order to trick them into falling away from God and His laws.  What other reason would account for the terrible act of this man who harmed this innocent child?

As Christians, we are called to pray for both the victim and the abuser.  We must pray for his forgiveness and repentance.  We are called to love everyone, to pray for friend and foe.

Hitler, the Holocaust, the extermination in Rwanda, teenagers shooting up schools and killing their fellow students, ISIS, abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, the list goes on and on. The devil is alive and well and his evil is rampant here on earth.  I wonder how long it will take for people to wake up and realize that the only way to go is with God.

Now I know that many of you will say that if there was really a God and if God truly loved us He would not permit these kinds of atrocities here on earth.  That is the first line of defense that the devil uses to insist that God does not exist.  God does not make us follow him.  He does not insist we follow His laws.  We are free to choose the path we follow.  God sent us His divine Son to save us from eternal damnation.  The devil is betting that he can seduce us with temporary worldly “things” through our veracious lustful appetites.  Money, fame, fortune, sex…

Each generation is convinced that the world is getting worse for their children.  I worried for my children, but I am even more worried for my grandchildren.  I honestly believe that we are headed for a rude awakening in the form of a great chastisement.  According to the Blessed Mother, and many visionaries if we do not mend our ways it is coming.  The good news is that God is a forgiving God.  We can repent and be forgiven.  Until we take our last breath here on earth we can change our eternity.  But our sorrow and repentance must be sincere.  God wants us to spend our eternity with Him.  Jesus never tires of asking us to allow Him into our hearts.

If we do choose to follow the narrow path we can take comfort in the words of St. Padre Pio.  “Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience since this shows that he is not inside your will.”

God Bless!

signature

 

Lukewarm To On Fire

I love my Catholic faith.  I enjoy learning as much as I can about it.  As I think back to when I was a child in elementary school, I have to admit that I was taught the bare bones basics.  I think we all were.  I am not saying that the education the good sisters gave me in my faith was lacking, just that it was limited.  If we had received more, we would never have learned about anything else.  There is, after all, so very much to learn.

To be honest, I think that we were always supposed to continue our religious education as we grew up and matured, instead of thinking that we were completely educated in it during our Catholic school days.  Unfortunately, our churches didn’t have Sunday School like  Protestant churches have.  I can remember when I was young one of my friends asked me if I read the Bible.  Now, remember this was pre-Vatican II.  I told her that Catholics don’t read the Bible, we get our Bible verses and instruction within the Mass at the Epistle and Gospel.  I am not sure if that was actually the case, but it seemed to me it was since I had no recollection of ever having Bible study in school or at my church.

My mom had a beautiful large red Bible that was out in plain view in the living room all the time.  I did spend some time reading it, but the language proved difficult and I gave up rather quickly.

When I was young my parents taught me about God and taught me to say my prayers before going to bed.  We also went to Sunday Mass.  I can remember one Sunday.  It was snowing very heavily.  We were headed to church moving at a ridiculously slow pace.  My dad looked at Mom saying, “When I die, if I find out this was the wrong religion, I am going to kill you!”  He was laughing when he said it, but I suspect he was just a little bit miffed we were out in those terrible winter conditions driving to Mass.  I, however, was in the back seat laughing like crazy.  Mom simply smiled and answered, “Oh Jack, of course, it’s the right religion.”

So, I was brought up to be a good Catholic.  I just didn’t realize that I was supposed to keep learning.  I can remember prior to Vatican II, the homilies were very instructional.  At least at my church.  So when I walked out of church on Sunday, I felt like I learned something about my faith.  After Vatican II I noticed a change.  Homilies were less instructional.  Changes were taking place in Mass.  The number of men and women going into the priesthood and convent were diminishing.  Actually, there was an exodus of priests and religious.  I guess you could say the Catholic Church, at least at the parish level was going through growing pains.

I began to feel like a stranger in my own church.  Just like many people, I felt that I had lost something.  I wasn’t smart enough to realize that the dogma of the church remained, just the pomp and circumstance changed.  However, I loved the old ways.

Gradually I pulled away.  I stopped going to Mass.  Then when I was married and had children, I went back but was a lukewarm Catholic at best.  After my kids had received all of their sacraments, I pulled away again.  I did pray.  That has always been one constant in my faith.

Finally about 14 years ago I came back.  It didn’t stick right away.  It took a few times returning to Mass before I began to feel like I was home.  I guess the fact that I prayed all those years kept the door open for the Holy Spirit to nudge me enough times.  I am so blessed that He did.

Now, if I miss Mass I am disappointed and I try not to miss unless I am ill.  I feel so much better when I go to Mass and Holy Communion.  I am rejuvenated.  I am strengthened.  I blessed the whole week with God’s abiding love.

God bless!

signature