Inspiration and Information
Do you want to fast this Lent?
¨ Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
¨ Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
¨ Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
¨ Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
¨ Fast from worries and trust in God.
¨ Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
¨ Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
¨ Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
¨ Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
¨ Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
¨ Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
You don't think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.
WHY DO WE DO THAT? - CATHOLIC LIFE EXPLAINED
Question: Carnivale and Mardi Gras celebrations are linked to Ash Wednesday, Lent, fast and abstinence. Can you tell us more about the connections between these events?
Answer: Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the forty days known as Lent. Every year, Christians highlight this penitential season as a time of self-examination, reformation of one's life, and continued development of a deeper spiritual life. The recommended practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving become the focus of Lenten activity and ritual. Each of these spiritual practices is aimed at personal discipline as well as continued concern for the other, especially the poor or alienated.
Forty days is a symbolic biblical period of time, during which personal transformation occurs and out of which people surface as more spiritual, ready to carry out God's mission. Relying on God's providence and care, no matter how difficult life becomes, is crucial to Lenten spirituality. Fasting was initially stricter, permitting only one simple meal a day without meat, fish, or other delicacies. Such things were not even allowed in the house.
In order to prepare for this in an age of no refrigeration, people gathered to consume whatever was not allowed during Lent. This led to parties or celebrations originally referred to as Carnivale, literally meaning "goodbye to meat," or Mardi Gras, literally meaning "Fat Tuesday." The eating and celebrating ended on the Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday. Today we focus more on moderation in all things, as well as a strong concern the poor. What are you doing for the poor this Lent?
PRAYER FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITIES
Let us pray . . .
O Lord our God,
in your mercy and kindness,
no thought of ours is left unnoticed, no desire or concern ignored.
You have proven that blessings abound when we fall on our knees in prayer,
and so we turn to you in our hour of need.
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required . . .
“Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8).
Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others.
Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities.
Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will.
Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity.
Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for the World
Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,
the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven.
The Story of Kyle
One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.
As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.
We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.
Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the smiles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class.
I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle.
He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous.
Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.
I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions.
With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.
Moments of enlightenment
There are moments in life-both spiritual and intellectual—that are like no other. They change us. They redirect us. They complete us. Between these moments of Enlightenment—all of which are relatively rare—we simply go from one life event, one change point, to another. But after such times of acute insight, life takes on a different hue.
Enlightenment is a matter of coming to see life—to see ourselves—differently. It transforms us from average, everyday kind of people to people with a purpose in life.
Sometimes it is the moment in life when we simply know, absolutely know, that the person we have just met is the person we are going to marry. Or sometimes it is the awareness that what we have studied so hard to become is not what we are going to be. Or it might be the awareness that where I am is not where I belong. For me, it had to do with coming to understand that I would spend my entire life simply following the presence of God that consumed me more than anything else I could imagine in life. I dedicated my life to trying to unravel what that entailed in the present world and passing on those thoughts to others.
Where these moments of Enlightenment come from can seldom be identified with any kind of certainty. They just are. They are within us, unspoken and often unseen, but never unknown. They strike us like lightning and burn within us all our lives
from Our Holy Yearning: Life Lessons for Becoming Our Truest Selves
“Please stop, I ask you with all my heart,
it’s time to stop. Stop, please.” -
Pope Francis on the persecution of Christians in Iraq
Prayer for the Christians in Iraq
The plight in the country of Iraq is deep
and the suffering of Christians there
is severe and frightening.
We ask you Lord
to spare their lives,
to grant them patience,
and courage to continue their
witness of Christian values with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant them the peace and stability
that will enable them
to live with without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever. Amen.
Prayer for our family in faith in Iraq
Gracious God, we place before you our sisters and brothers in Iraq.
They are numbed and almost immobilized by the horrendous violence they have experienced.
We can hardly imagine the intense sadness and grief, the confusion and anger that dominate their own thoughts and prayers this day.
We know that it is you who can turn minds to thoughts of peace. Your Spirit can change hearts.
Even enemies begin to speak to one another and nations seek the way of peace together.
Your Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife,
when hatred is quenched by mercy, and vengeance give way to forgiveness.
For this we never cease to thank you, for the presence and action of that Spirit in the world.
We simply place our family in Iraq in your tender and loving care.
We pray this in the name of our brother Jesus.
(Prepared by the Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee USA)
All Five Senses
Until the liturgical reforms dictated by the Second Vatican Council fathers took hold, the mass was largely devoid of what, in his epoch-making De Anima, Aristotle called the queen of the senses: touch. “Touch,” he wrote, “knows differences.”
When the “kiss of peace” was moved beyond the altar rails of churches and out into the nave and renamed “the sign of peace,” mass goers could finally experience the sense of touch in the celebration of the eucharist. And what a difference it has made.
At first in the mid-1960s, the sign or the passing of the peace was thought by many to be silly and over-sentimental. In time, though, it has become for a lot of us as important in some ways as receiving communion.
There are those who value community as much as communion and see them as two sides of the same coin. The clasped hands at the Our Father, greeting our neighbors in the pews with the pax Christi, followed then by having the host and chalice offered us – often enough by lay communion ministers who are our friends – together put the seal of authenticity upon our sense of community.
The sense of sight is satisfied by the architecture of our churches and the celebrant’s vestments, the sense of sound in the voices raised in response and song. The Latin word for “wisdom” is sapienta from sapere, to taste. While the host is bland to the tongue, the warmth and pleasing taste of the wine warms our inner selves.
The incense is the aroma of corporate oration. As we see the smoke rise from the thurible, we can imagine the co-mingling of our individual aspiration and hopes.
All five senses are acknowledged and employed in the vigil, Sunday and major holy day masses at Our Mother of Perpetual Help. They combine to engage us in a holistic way that together with the lections and thoughtful and pastoral homilies bind us together as one.
A situation for which to be grateful.
St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Every time we renew our profession of faith by reciting the “Creed”, we affirm that the Church is “one” and “holy”. She is one, because her origin is in the Triune God, the mystery of unity and full communion. The Church, then, is holy, as she is founded by Jesus Christ, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, showered with his love and his salvation. At the same time, however, she is holy and made up of sinners, all of us, sinners, who experience our fragility and our misery every day. Thus, this faith which we profess urges us toward conversion, to have the courage to live unity and holiness daily, and if we are not united, if we are not holy, it is because we are not faithful to Jesus. But He, Jesus, does not leave us on our own, He does not abandon his Church! He walks with us, He understands us. He understands our weaknesses, our sins, He forgives us always, if we let him forgive us. He is always with us, helping us to become less sinful, more holy, more united.
1. The first reassurance we have comes from the fact that Jesus prayed so much for the unity of the disciples. This is the prayer of the Last Supper, Jesus asks: “Father, that they may all be one”. He prayed for unity, and He actually did so as the Passion was imminent, when He was about to offer His very life for us. That is what we are continually called to reread and meditate on, in one of the most intense and moving passages in Chapter 17 of the Gospel according to John (cf. vv. 11, 21-23). It is so beautiful to know that the Lord, shortly before dying, was not concerned about himself, but was thinking about us! And in his heartfelt dialogue with the Father, He prayed precisely that we might be one with Him and with each other. It is with these words that Jesus made himself our intercessor with the Father, so that we too may enter into full communion of love with Him; at the same time, he entrusts us with his spiritual testimony, so that unity may become ever more the distinctive mark of our Christian communities and the most beautiful response to whomsoever asks us to account for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15).
2. “That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:21). The Church has sought from the very start to accomplish this purpose which Jesus had so much at heart. The Acts of the Apostles remind us that the first Christians distinguished themselves by the fact of being “of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32); the Apostle Paul, then, exhorted his communities not to forget that they “are one body” (1 Cor 12:13). Experience tells us, however, that there are so many sins against unity. And let us consider not only the schisms, let us consider the very common lapses in our communities, “parochial” sins, those sins in the parishes. Sometimes, in fact, our parishes, called to be places of sharing and communion, are sadly marred by envy, jealousy, antipathy.... And gossip which everyone passes on. There is so much gossip in parishes! It is not good. For example, when one is elected president of that association, they gossip about him. And when another is elected president of Catechesis, the others gossip about her. But this is not the Church. This is not what one should do, we must not do it! We must ask the Lord for the grace not to do it. This happens when we aim for first place; when we place ourselves at the centre, with our personal ambitions and our ways of seeing things, and we judge others; when we look at our brothers faults instead of their talents; when we give more weight to what divides us instead of to what we have in common....
Once, in another diocese I had before, I heard an interesting and kind comment. It was about an older woman who had worked all her life in the parish, and a person who knew her well said: “This woman never criticized, she never gossiped, she always wore a smile”. A woman like this could be canonized tomorrow! This is a good example. And if we look at the history of the Church, there are so many divisions among us Christians. Even now we are divided. Also in history, we Christians have made war among ourselves for theological differences. Let us think of the 30 Years' War. But, this is not Christian. We must also work for the unity of all Christians, to take the path of unity which is what Jesus wanted and prayed for.
3. In the face of all of this, we must make a serious examination of conscience. In a Christian community, division is one of the gravest sins, because it makes it a sign not of God's work, but of the devil's work, who is by definition the one who separates, who destroys relationships, who insinuates prejudice.... Division in a Christian community, whether in a school, a parish, or an association, it is a very grave sin, because it is the work of the Devil. God, instead wants us to develop the capacity to welcome, to forgive and to love each other, to be ever more like Him, who is communion and love. The Church's holiness consists in this: in recognizing herself in God's image, showered with his mercy and his grace.
Dear friends, let these words of Jesus resound in our hearts: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9). Let us ask sincerely for forgiveness for all the times in which we have caused division or misunderstanding within our communities, knowing well that communion is not achieved except through constant conversion. What is conversion? It is asking the Lord for the grace not to speak ill, not to criticize, not to gossip, to love everyone. It is a grace which the Lord gives us. This is what it means to convert the heart. And let us ask that the daily fabric of our relationships may become an ever more beautiful and joyous reflection of the relationship between Jesus and the Father.
“There is the tendency to place ourselves and our ambitions at the center of our lives. This is very human, but it is not Christian.”
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. ~ Blessed John XXIII
"That which is dark, becomes Light" ~ St. Catherine of Siena
Mother of Perpetual Help, today we face so many difficulties. You remind us to reach out and help those in need. Help us understand that our lives belong to others as much as they belong to us.
Mary, Model of Christian love, we know we cannot heal every ill or solve every problem. But with God's grace, we intend to do what we can. May we be true witnesses to the world that love for one another really matters. May our daily actions proclaim how fully our lives are modeled after yours, Mother of Perpetual Help.
The perfect prayer
Gratitude is not only the posture of praise but it is also the basic element of real belief in God.
When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God. Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing presence of God with us even now.
Thank you for the new day.
Thank you for this work.
Thank you for this family.
Thank you for our daily bread.
Thank you for this storm and the moisture it brings to a parched earth.
Thank you for the corrections that bring me to growth.
Thank you for the bank of crown vetch that brings color to the hillside.
Thank you for pets that bind us to nature.
Thank you for the necessities that keep me aware of your bounty in my life.
from Monasteries of the Heart
Without doubt, unstinting gratitude saves us from the sense of self-sufficiency that leads to forgetfulness of God. Let us learn to come to prayer with an alleluia heart—“Praise to you, O God. Let all creation sing your praise.”
“Do not despair, thinking that you cannot change yourself after so many years. Simply enter into the presence of Jesus as you are and ask him to give you a fearless heart where he can be with you. YOU cannot make yourself different, JESUS came to give you a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a new body. Let HIM transform you by HIS LOVE and so enable you to receive his affection in your whole being.” ~Henri Nouwen
A thought about prayer…”I believe that contemplation is an innate capacity of human nature, available to everyone just by being born. We already have it; we just don’t think so….External silence leads to interior silence and interior silence into the letting go of interior dialogue. Then follows a sense of stillness, even though there is always present some attentiveness to God’s presence.” ~Fr. Thomas Keating, Contemplative Outreach News
It's A Decision
A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.
As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait..'
'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged .. it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.
'It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away... Just for this time in my life...
Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing.
'Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.