WHAT HOLY WEEK IS ALL ABOUT

In preparing for Holy Week, I wanted to share this two-minute video explaining why this week is so important to Catholics.

Have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter!

THE LITTLE THINGS

Sometimes life can be filled with the unexpected, mystery and disappointments. It is during those times that we appreciate “the little things.”  For example, recently I took a vacation to my favorite place to relax and meditate and the moment my plane hit the ground they got an unexpected storm. First torrential rains

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Then beautiful snow

2That lasted (coincidentally) for three days reminding me it is Lent

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While waiting it out, I found joy in the “little things” that gave way to beautiful things.

A friendly duck that actually posed for a picture friendly duck that poses red The reddest bird I’ve ever seen.

A stunned hummingbird that was incredibly beautiful

hummingbird

The hearts in nature God sends me to remind me of His love. Can you see the heart in the stone?

heart

We visited heavenly sights so beautiful even our rental car appeared to be floating off of the ground. Can you see the tire floating?

floating car

God touches us in many ways and I’ve learned over the years to pause and look for the ways that he may be trying to speak to me.

rock

majestic beauty

and I’ve found that he speaks to me in the little things and it is in those little things that give way to the big things. I’ve recently heard, that when we are fortunate enough to take a vacation all we experience comes to life when we return. They say this because, it isn’t what we want, it is wanting what we have. For me, this is the importance of family. No matter what storms are happening in my life, especially during Lent, my family is always there for me. They may not always have wonderful things to say, but when my back is against the wall they are the firsts to come and scrape me off. This year I was fortunate to gather another picture of one of my biggest blessings  five generations of strong women in my family.

family

This Lent, my prayer for you is that you are able to uncover the treasure you hold nestled in your heart as a “little thing” and may that recognition of blessings in the little things multiply.

TIED TO THE WHIPPING POST OF SELF NEGATIVITY

Women have a tendency to fall into a deadly trap of self- mortification. What I mean by this is, every time we entertain a negative thought about ourselves we multiply those thoughts until we’ve convinced ourselves it is true. Every time we speak aloud negatively about ourselves we convince others it is true. This horrible habit, can quickly, become an addiction. We can become obsessed with negative self-talk and unfortunately I see this a lot in young girls. We must be careful of what we think and say or we will become emotionally handicapped; chained to the whipping post.

tiedA whipping post that we tie ourselves to unnecessarily and we do not realize how destructive it is to our spiritual growth, happiness, and to our daughters. This experiment below will show you exactly what I mean.

Speaking as a woman, I can tell you that I am guilty of this, more times than I care to admit, and when I hear my daughter speak like this I want to scream!!! This is NOT God’s plan for us.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19

Here is what the Vatican has to say about elective plastic surgery to change your image.

How about we, as women, make a pact to counter each negative thing we hear one of us say about ourselves with a positive rebuttal, then pray with that person to be untied from the whipping post? I’m in, how about you?

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?

Miracles are hard to understand and I’ve learned over the years that people who say they don’t believe in miracles tend to have a different interpretation of what a true miracle is. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as Eucharistic miracles and they are incredible. They are not meant to scare us they are meant to help our unbelief and increase our faith in the true presence. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of his coming death,

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. John 12:24.

Now there are many ways that Jesus lives today due to the fruit from his death that we could talk about, but today I am focusing on the Eucharist. The Church has recognized over 100 Eucharistic miracles in the world and to understand more about the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist you can click on this link from the USCCB

Below you will find some information about the most notable Eucharistic miracles.

Eucharistic Miracle in Siena, Italy Siena, Italy — August 17, 1730
Consecrated Hosts remain perfectly preserved for over 250 years. Rigorous scientific experiments have not been able to explain this phenomena.
Eucharistic Miracle in Blanot, France Blanot, France — March 31, 1331
The Eucharist falls out of a woman’s mouth onto an altar rail cloth. The priest tries to recover the Host but all that remains is a large spot of blood the same size and dimensions as the wafer.
Bolsena-Orvieta, Italy
Again, a priest has difficulties believing in the Real Presence, and blood begins seeping out of the Host upon consecration. Because of this miracle, Pope Urban IV commissioned the feast of Corpus Christi, which is still celebrated today.
Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, Italy Lanciano, Italy — 8th century A.D.
A priest has doubts about the Real Presence; however, when he consecrates the Host it transforms into flesh and blood. This miracle has undergone extensive scientific examination and can only be explained as a miracle. The flesh is actually cardiac tissue which contains arterioles, veins, and nerve fibers. The blood type as in all other approved Eucharistic miracles is type AB! Histological micrographs are shown.

“1374,1375.” Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 1994. Print.

1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.”201 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.202 “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”203

1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.204
This information makes you look and think about the Eucharist differently doesn’t it? What an incredible gift and treasure God has given to His children. Now this next story does not have so much to do with a Eucharist miracle as it does a miracle to come from the fruit from a Saint’s death and relic. Today, in Naples Italy, the blood of St. Gennaro a Bishop who was martyred during the Diocletian persecution in the year 350 liquefied in the presence of Pope Francis. You can imagine how hard and solid his blood would be after 1,665 years!  The miracle is, it liquefies three times a year on special Feast days and then it hardens again. Today as Pope Francis, held and kissed the relic it miraculously liquefied not being one of those three days. This miracle has not occurred in the presence of a pope since 1848. You can see the video and read the full story here.
http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/st-gennaros-blood-relic-miraculously-liquifies-in-the-presence-of-pope-francis-in-naples-5869691155251200
I leave you with this, miracles happen every day if we but dare to believe. Jesus is alive and moving just as he was 2,000 years ago. His death brought new life. If you haven’t been to a Catholic Church or any Church in awhile think about going to visit Him during this Lent. He is waiting with open arms, His mercy is endless, and He loves you as if you were the only one in the world. 
Eucharist

SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE IN #6 SIMPLE STEPS

On the plane, heading out for a short vacation I heard a group of people talking about how much they needed to simplify their lives. I began to chuckle to myself, because haven’t we all been there? We get that burning desire to change our lives and then do nothing about it. We give a good talk about how we need it we may even plan how we will go about doing it, but in the end most of us never complete it. This picture depicts what I look like while I am waiting to do something.

skeleton

We all want and need to clear the clutter of negative things that prevent us from making room for positive things to take their place. Spring is probably the best time to join a “mental health club” by doing some serious mental and material Spring-cleaning. Here are six simple steps that are manageable to get us started. By completing them, you will be more balanced and feel rejuvenated by your accomplishments ready to tackle almost anything placed before you. Just remember, small steps lead to big changes and big accomplishments.

Step 1: For every new item you purchase discard an old one. That means if you go shopping and you buy four new shirts you are giving to charity four old shirts, etc. This principle applies all purchases including decorations, statues, kitchen items, etc. This new practice will prevent clutter from accumulating, and you will feel good about your old things going to people who need them. One man or women’s garbage is another man or women’s treasure.donations

Step 2: When you hang your spring clothes in your closet, hang them backward. As you take an article of clothing off the hanger to wear it then wash it put it back the correct way. That way, at the end of the season you will notice, by the way, the hangers hang what you actually wore and what you did not wear. All the clothes, hanging the wrong way put in a garbage bag and give them to charity. You will be surprised by how many clothes you thought you were wearing that you actually did not.

hangers

Step 3: Pick one day a week to tackle one area of your home to sort through your stuff. If you have not used something in six months – one year get rid of it. You do not need it! Remember, for everything you get rid of you will make room for something better. Baby steps, one kitchen cabinet one day another cabinet next week; soon your entire house will be complete, and you will feel like a champion.

Step 4: Say “no” more than you say “yes.” Most of the things we say yes to even the good things are not necessarily good for us. Before we know it, we are saying yes to so many things we become overextended; in over our heads and then we have no time for the things that matter. By saying no and having more time on our hands, we can truly assess when we should say yes. Then our efforts during the process will be more beneficial to those we are serving and to ourselves. They say that having more time gives way to more kindness. A recent study polled people who went out of their way to perform an act of kindness. The results showed that they did these acts of kindness because, they had the time to do it.

kindness

Step 5: Stop playing the “IF” game. We tend to clutter our minds with thoughts from our past. We replay what “if” I had done this, what “if” this person didn’t do that, what if, what if, what if…. just let it go!!! The past is dead, there is nothing living there any longer move on to the present. God lives there, and where God is there is life, and He has a lot to share with you don’t miss out on all of your blessings because, you are living in the past. Release yourself from this mental clutter.

let it go

Step 6: Give yourself 5 minutes of silence per day. Sit without the T.V., radio, smartphone, or anything that may distract you. Five minutes of silence will open for you a whole new world of clarity, and new things will spring to life. Silence is not silent, but filled with life that is trying to teach you something. Still yourself to hear your wiser self, God lives in your soul. All the answers to everything you are searching for can be found within.

silence

If you follow these six- steps, you will notice a positive change. You will gradually make better decisions and replace the material things in your life with the more invisible. By shedding yourself from the clutter of what is no longer relevant in your life, you will open yourself to the new and give yourself more room for God to act. You will not only achieve balance, but you will also find peace and joy.

SPEAK LESS LISTEN MORE

Every Lent instead of giving up a food or beverage indulgence I try to give up a bad habit and practice a new virtue. One year, I decided to stop being “speedy Gonzales” rushing around and leaning on my lead foot while driving. I practiced doing the speed limit for six weeks, something that was much easier said than done at least for me. This Lent, I’ve decided to speak less and listen more.

listening It has only been three weeks, and I have already learned plenty and surprised to find that most people struggle with this virtue as much as I do if not, more. You know what they say be careful what you pray for because you will receive an overabundance of opportunities.  I spent hours last night listening to people work through a difficult situation, and all parties had a lot to say. I found myself being the mediator until we finally came to a peaceful resolution that everyone could live with. When I relaid this resolution out to a concerned participant this person instead of listening until I was finished picked out pieces of what I was saying and interjected words of anger before I could complete the story.  It kind of reminded me of this quote I saw today on Facebook.

quote

This lack of listening is a dangerously bad habit, and I call it dangerous because, without seriously listening it is easy to jump to false interpretations of what is being said. That often leads to bad feelings, anger, unforgiveness and at time’s sin. When we don’t understand what someone is communicating to us, we have a tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusions, and we let fear rise up in our thoughts, words, and deeds. You know, as well as I do, that when fear shows it’s scary, ugly face we panic and create chaos unnecessarily, and waste our time and others, worrying about something we should not.

How many times do we see this happen with Jesus’ disciples and apostles; look at Judas when he realized he misunderstood Jesus all along then committed suicide, as a result. In the Transfiguration, Peter misunderstood what was happening, so he started talking, a lot and his talking instead of listening caused the entire miracle to stop. Another example is on the road to Emmaus. When some disciples were confused about what had taken place, they became scared and headed out of town until Jesus appeared and clarified the truth to them and calmed their fears. He shows up when fear sets in, and we find ourselves out of sorts. When we let fear settle in we bring more confusion and chaos, but as Jesus shows He enters the chaos to bring the stillness, calm and peace.

During times, when we’ve become poor listeners confused and scared by what we think we understand letting our fears into our imaginations to run wild we can find hope in scriptures like Mark 4:35-41  the storm is raging, and Jesus is sleeping in the boat. His disciples are hysterical, screaming and arguing in complete fear to the point of waking Jesus and accusing him of not caring about them and what does he do? He silences everyone including the wind and the waves.

0721_jesus_calms_storm_christian-1He calms the storm if we but dare to stop and listen. Think of how many arguments, misunderstandings, conflicts and angry outbursts we could decrease in our lives if we nurtured the virtue of listening?

Jesus calms the sea by using a Greek word phimoo, which translates “Be Still” and is used metaphorically “to silence,” “to render speechless,” or “to subdue to stillness.” Jesus’ not only used this word to calm the wind and sea, but also to free the man from an unclean spirit/demon saying “Be silent and come out of him!” Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35 ~Taken from Mighty in Power The Miracles of Jesus by Jeanne Kun

George Montague, SM, Mark: Good News for Hard Times

When the community or the individual goes through a storm and fears sinking, the disciple’s faith is challenged to believe not only that Jesus is present and is caring for his own, but that he is also Lord of the chaos; his limitless power can meet and redeem the most terrifying disaster. 

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

So how are you doing this Lent? What virtue might you be practicing? And what have you learned along the way? Please share

 

UNEXPLAINED VOICES

IMG_2717I haven’t written in awhile for various reasons, one reason, I was taking a much-needed vacation and while away I took some time to visit my Father in law and his new wife. We went down to the place that my mother in law’s ashes were spread. I assumed that they were placed surrounding the grotto of Mary, because I know how much that meant to her. As I walked towards the grotto I stopped to smell some very pungent purple flowers on a tree. When suddenly, I heard a very loud and clear female voice say, “DAWN, I’m over here.” Turning around to see who was speaking I saw no one there and the spot I heard her voice was not the grotto. When I returned to the family I asked my Father in law where exactly he placed the ashes and it turns out it was in the spot I heard her voice and not the grotto. The location was not important what is important, is my mother in law letting us know she is there and ever so present alive in our hearts where she will remain forever. I was happy and comforted to hear her voice and it has given me peace. My story by no means compares to the one below, but I wanted to give another example of unexplained voices from heaven.

How often have you experienced your own  unexplained voice that may have helped you during a difficult time or that protected you from something bad? This story I am about to share is about a young mother and her 18-month baby that lost control of the car, it flipped and landed into the water. The mother died on impact of the crash, but the baby survived for 14 hours upside down in the water. The child was sure to die if it weren’t for rescuers following a woman’s screams for help. These screams lead to the baby, but no woman was found. Rescuers were scratching their head in confusion as to where this voice came from. It was far too mature to be coming from a little baby. Was it the baby’s guardian angel? the spirit of her dead mother? or could it be the voice of God?  Follow the story and share your thoughts with us.

http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/03/10/unexplained-calls-help-lead-police-toddler-trapped-car

MARY’S WARNINGS

On February 20, 2015 the Virgin Mary gave a third message to Ivan Dragicevic. All three consecutive messages stated “peace is in danger”:

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“Dear children! Today I invite you to pray for peace, peace is in danger, pray more, pray with the heart. The Mother prays with you and I intercede before my Son for all of you. Thank you, dear children, because also today you have responded to my call.”

I find it interesting that four days later an article was published in the National Catholic Register, by Edward Pentin, reporting serious concerns regarding the British parliament voting on February 3rd, in favor of the creation of babies with the DNA of two women and one man. The United Kingdom is going to make ‘genetically modified babies’ that’s right folks, they’re making babies from three people, of course for a good cause, but doesn’t it always start out that way? and if that were not enough, this week ISIS has reportedly kidnaped at least 220 Syrian Christians. This morning three American men were caught trying to join ISIS. They exposed their plans to hijack a plane diverting it to the Islamic State. They planned on joining the military solely to attack our soldiers. They also talked about killing our U.S. Law enforcements, bombing Coney Island, and threatening to cause harm to our President. It is great that they were caught, but how many were not? What other plans are taking place as you read this that we do not know about?

IMG_2405I take Mary’s warning serious and I think we all should. It’s time to take out our rosary’s and pray for peace, security and safety. We think these things can not happen in America, but it can, remember 9-11 and the still missing Malaysia plane with 3 Americans and 7 children on board. We need protection for our families, our Country, and our global world. Why aren’t we praying for this in our churches? Perhaps, each of us can ask our pastor to add this prayer to the petitions. Or contact the Liturgy and Worship office of our Diocese to add it on Sundays too. We could ask all parish ministry’s to also pray many of our parishes have Rosarians, prayer groups, scripture studies, respect for life groups, etc. We can make a difference if we decide to unite in prayer.

In Fatima, Mary was warning us of danger and threats too.  Pope John Paul II took her seriously and invited everyone to pray hard, people did and we were spared. I have copied a piece of the consecration he made for all men and women to her Immaculate Heart. I thought it would make a great meditation and prayer during Lent. You can read the whole Fatima message by clicking on Vatican. TOGETHER LET US PRAY TO BRING ABOUT PEACE!

In order to respond more fully to the requests of “Our Lady”, the Holy Father desired to make more explicit during the Holy Year of the Redemption the Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, which had been repeated in Fatima on 13 May 1982. On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world, who had been “convoked” beforehand, entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in terms which recalled the heartfelt words spoken in 1981: 

“O Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples. 

In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated. 

‘We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God!’  Despise not our petitions in our necessities”. 

The Pope then continued more forcefully and with more specific references, as though commenting on the Message of Fatima in its sorrowful fulfillment

“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of himself to the Father: ‘For their sake’, he said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19). We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this his consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation. 

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, people and nations. It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken, and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history. 

How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church. 

The present Year of the Redemption shows this: the special Jubilee of the whole Church. 

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call! 

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son! 

Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love! Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world. 

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals, and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart. 

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future! 

From famine and war, deliver us. 

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us. 

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us. 

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us. 

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us. 

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us. 

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. 

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us. 

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us. 

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. 

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations. 

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil ! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”.(4) 

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE ARE AT WAR

Believe it or not, we are at war, a spiritual war and we see this most clearly during this first week of Lent. The Church has two Sunday scripture readings that reflect this war with evil, our thoughts, and our pride. One, the Gospel of Mark 1: 12-15 speaking about how immediately following Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for 40 days to suffer temptation. How many of us are already there in the desert? Suffering from illness, loss of work, addicted children, mental illness, caring for aging parents, divorce, grieving a loved one, etc., and feeling temptation to relieve ourselves from our sufferings. Our pride crying out, “why me?” Well, why not me? If it happened to Jesus why wouldn’t it happen to me?

Let’s face it, whether we like it or not we are in a spiritual battle.St. Michael

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12

Pope Francis speaks further about this battle and temptations when he says,

For this reason read the Gospel every day and reflect on its meaning, even for just 10 minutes and carry around a copy in one’s pocket or bag every day. The Lenten wilderness, he continued, “helps us to say ‘no’ to worldliness, to “idols”, it helps us to make courageous choices in line with the Gospel and to strengthen our solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

I can remember a time I was physically in the desert of Sedona, Arizona. I had climbed a mountain where the last 50 feet had me crawling, on my hands and feet. When I reached the top and sat on the highest rock, I laid down to look into the sky (heavens) and listen to God speak. I became overwhelmed by fear for no reason, and I immediately related it to Jesus in the desert on a mountain being tempted by the devil. I felt the three temptations He did. The first hunger, only mine was not for physical nutrients, but pride and ego.

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The second temptation was the desire for success, to be on top, where everything goes smoothly with luxury and comforts. This temptation is where the devil showed Jesus the kingdoms he could possess and rule. Again this temptation is about pride. The third temptation was fear of everything including the self and the devil enticed Jesus to jump off of the mountain to gain control and security on His accord instead of waiting on God. Another temptation of pride and I too felt the need to jump to safety. The fear was gaining power over my thoughts as I imagined the small rock holding my body crumbling to the ground and me falling to my death or would God save me? Then I remembered how Jesus overcame this temptations by dying to self and facing His enemy.

“The phrase, ‘You must die before you die,’ is found in most of the world religions. If you don’t learn how to die early, you spend the rest of your life avoiding failure. When you can free your True Self, the whole spiritual life opens up.” —Richard Rohr

Pope Francis reminds me of this when he points out that each time the devil tempts Jesus, He is able to overcome the temptation by reciting scripture back to the devil. If we do not know the scriptures we could fail.

The desert is the place where the voice of God and the voice of the tempter can be heard. In the noise, in the confusion, this cannot be done; only superficial voices can be heard. Instead, we can go deeper in the desert, where our destiny is truly played out, life or death.

And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in his Word. For this reason, it is important to know Scripture, because otherwise we do not know how to respond to the attacks of the evil one. And here I would like to return to my advice of reading the Gospel every day. Read the Gospel every day! scriptureMeditate on it for a little while, for ten minutes. The Lenten desert helps us to say no to worldliness, to the “idols.”

Pride is a good thing to shed during Lent, at least for me. One of the problems I often experience when I attempt to shed my pride is it is hard to kill, it is like a cat with nine lives. I believe Jesus was able to empty Himself in the desert for 40 days as this scripture reveals,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

In addition to the topic of killing our pride, temptation and dying to self Genesis 9:8-15 describes another form of death, the death of life. This could be a toxic relationship we were unable to let go of or the end of anything we loved and didn’t want to die. What is helpful to remember is that whatever kind of death we experience that God allows it will always be followed by His promise of new life; by the rainbow after every storm. rainbowIf we look closer at Genesis, we see that the righteous protected themselves from the storm by hovering in the arch. The arch for us, today can be found in the Church. We run for cover every Sunday and some of us at daily mass to gather in the arch sheltering ourselves from the storm. We drink from the well of the Eucharist to conquer the evil that desires to steal us away from dying to our former selves and prevent us from new life. We are nourished by the Church when we consume Christ in the form of body and blood.

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

Eucharist

Lent is a time of spiritual combat, Pope emphasizes

Pope at Angelus: Lent is a time of battle against evil

#5 PRESCRIPTIONS OF DISCIPLINE FOR LENT

Ash Wednesday 2This statement by Diane McKelva is a sentiment I share as well. 50 Shades of Grey is currently the #1 movie and on the lips of every American, t.v., magazine, newspaper, and radio. What I would rather hear on everyone’s lips is the 50 shades of grey placed on our foreheads during Lent. Lent is an important Liturgical Season that gives us an opportunity to change, change our thoughts and hearts from sinfulness to Christ, and we have 40 days to make that happen. During the year, we tend to fall away from our disciplines of striving for holiness and our hearts begin to harden. Lent is a good time to refocus and work hard to till our hearts so they can soften and let love enter.

  The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say,

The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!”26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:27

Pope Francis talks about changing your heart too, in his Lenten message, 2015,

“During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.”

There are five disciplines known to change a hardened heart, and they are named disciplines for a reason. Disciplines are not easy, they take practice and sacrifice, but if we make allowances in our schedule we will master the disciplines to create needed change.

#1. PENANCE~ Pope Francis knows well the importance of forgiveness he was the first of the clergy to go to confession before giving the Sacrament to others. There is healing in receiving absolution for our sins. We often need to forgive others who have hurt us and we may need to forgive ourselves too.

Pope Confessing

Pope John Paul II, who frequented the Sacrament of Confession on a weekly basis, said:

“We live in a society that seems to have lost the sense of God and of sin. Christ’s invitation to conversion is all the more urgent.“It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation. Those who go to Confession frequently and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives.”

#2. GO TO MASS~ Attempt a daily mass in addition to Sunday mass for extra strength from the Eucharist during Lent. Mass is where heaven touches earth, and our prayers join with the community, clergy, saints and angels that have touched down to pray with us and for us.

Ash Wednesday

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist, those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. “It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.”35

#3. PRAY~ There is so much power in prayer I could sit here and write forever about the miracles I’ve witnessed and experienced through its power. Mary Mother of God has said at Fatima that the rosary is a weapon against Satan and has the power to stop wars. We forget how powerful prayer is, and Lent is a good time for us to add it to our daily routine.

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Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

#4. READ SCRIPTURE~ Every day take some time to read the daily Scriptures, the Psalms or any passage that strikes you. Scripture is alive and will touch your heart deeply.

IMG_3126The Catechism of the Catholic Church

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

#5. CHARITY~ Taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it onto others not only allows us to bless them, but it opens our eyes to see how much we are blessed. Love is sacrifice and unless we give until it hurts it does not go deep enough to heal. Mother Teresa says it best

hurts

If we practice, the five prescribed disciplines listed above transformation will happen during the next 40 days. I’ve only listed five; there are others such as these suggestions Ash Wednesday 3

You may have ones that are not listed that you have found helpful, please add them to the list by commenting below.

 CITATIONS:

“Part Two Section Two Chapter Two Article Four 1432, 1436, .” Compendium, Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Print.

“PART ONE THE PROFESSION OF FAITH SECTION ONE “I BELIEVE” – “WE BELIEVE” CHAPTER TWO GOD COMES TO MEET MAN ARTICLE 3 SACRED SCRIPTURE 105.” Compendium, Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Print.

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