What am I giving up for Lent?

It seems to be that time of year again. I’ve been thinking these last couple of days about what I might give up for Lent this year. Everything I think of does not seem to be enough though. Jesus gave his life so that we would be saved. What sacrifice can compare?


Lent is a religious observance by various Christian denominations, including Catholics. It lasts a period of forty days and forty nights that lead up to Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is the official first day. “…The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ…” Wikipedia

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This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 13th. The day begins with a special Mass where we receive ashes on the forehead. The priest marks each person‘s forehead with the sign of the cross, using the ashes of the Palms from the prior year’s Palm Sunday celebration. He says the words, “Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”

We use this time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and to remember that we are saved because of him. Do we follow in his footsteps? Do we follow the ten commandments? Have we gone to confession? We also follow other traditional observances like fasting. On Fridays, during Lent, Catholics do not eat from sun up to sundown and abstain from eating meat.  Lastly, we give up something we consider to be a sacrifice. We know that nothing could ever compare to Jesus’ sacrifice but we attempt to do it all the same.

This Lenten season I will be giving up:
  1. Chocolate Bars
  2. Coffee
  3. Shopping of Unnecessary Purchase  

Do you observe Lent? What are you giving up?

Here is Today’s Second Reading: 

English Translation

  

 Until then,

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[Palabra de Dios] Corintios 12, 4-11

Until then,

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[Word of God] 1 Cor 12:4-11

1 Cor 12:4-11

Until then,

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Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah Series: Hot Chocolate

Good Morning!  I hope today you have taken a moment to be grateful for all of this past weeks occurrences so you can start this week off strong.  Today the week does not end but begins.  If you haven’t done it yet, close your eyes, real quick, and say Thank You for ONE great thing that happened.  I’ll wait.  Today we’re reading Father Ian Jeremiah’s third installment.  If you’re just tuning in, after you’ve read today’s words of wisdom, head on over to Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah and Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah Series: Chicken and Pig .

Hot Chocolate
A group of ten friends had gathered on Thanksgiving Day, at my home, in the later part of the evening.  The turkey had already been eaten for hours, the dishes washed, and the left overs sent to new homes with guests.  It was time for some Hot Chocolate.  My hot chocolate is made from special ingredients and LOVE, the secret ingredient.  I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I have seen people fight over it.  It never failsI grab every single mug in my cupboard, all of them different.  Some of them I admit are not so pretty, but that little fact never changes the deliciousness of the hot chocolate.  Every time my friends and I gather for Hot Chocolate though, I put the mugs out and everyone seems to scan them.  I close my eyes and I just hope they do not see the one with the small chip on top.  I did notice that everyone does seem to go for the prettier, newer mugs first.  This leaves me with my favorite chipped cup.  I close my eyes with each sip to relish in the sweetness of the chocolate and the subtle heat of the chili.  I smile and look around at my friends and they each seem to be checking out each others mugs.  Weird.  But hey you love your friends anyways, right?  Wait, are those two arguing over what mug they have?  SMH, for the love of Hot Chocolate. Guys your cups have the same thing inside, yes, so drink! 

When Father Ian’s friends came over for his famous Hot Chocolate on Thanksgiving Day, he noticed that his friends seemed to be more interested in the mugs they were brought out in then that actual hot chocolate.  Two of his friends even fought over who saw the prettier mug first.  He explained that Hot Chocolate in this story is really Life.  We are given this beautiful thing called life, but we do not enjoy the richness of the flavors.  We do not savor the subtle hints of LOVE.  We scan the mug.  We get distracted with our jobs, with what clothes we wear, with what we drive and with what our other friends have.  Are you shaking your head, not me?

It’s human nature to sometimes feel superior or inadequate when we compare ourselves to others.  When we look around to see what mug our friends are drinking out of, it seems to change our perspective.  BUT, we are all drinking the same thing.  It is easy to become distracted.  It requires a lot of self love and appreciation of YOURSELF and LIFE to be truly happy with what you have and to be happy for OTHERS.  Father Ian’s favorite cup was the chipped cup, but he was still able to relish the dreamy taste of the hot chocolate.  He reminded me that Saturday, at the RCIA Congress meeting, that I need to just enjoy hot chocolate and stop getting distracted by my mug.  If you are already doing that, YAY!  Please share some words of wisdom below in the comments.

I’ll leave you with today’s Second Reading.


Rv 1:5-8                                [The Alpha and the Omega]

By the shedding of his blood, Jesus has made us a royal nation of priests to serve God.  The Lord God is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.  He is Almighty.

A reading from the Book of Revelation

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kindgdom, priests for his God and the Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him.  Yes Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

-The word of the Lord.
-Thanks be to God.

Let it marinate.

Until then,
*The story of Hot Chocolate has been modified slightly as I did not take exact notes of the story line.

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We find the defendant …

How are you on this Soulful Sunday?  This week has proven itself to be a trying week.  It has reminded me how lucky I am to have such great people in my life who support me and keep me sane.  I want to take a second to say I am extremely grateful for my boyfriend, Danny for helping me with the renovation of my parent’s rental apartment.  I truly believe that God works through this man.  I hope that we all take a moment to be grateful for the people in our lives.  Please don’t forget to tell them.

This past Friday during Youth Group we watched a video created by Outside Da Box called Evidence.  It reminded me that being a Christian is so much more than going to church on Sundays or wearing a cross around my neck.  Being a true follower of Christ means that we live by his example.  Last week we chatted about what it means to have faith and a small part of what Catholics receive in Who’s watching you?  Today we’ll talk about what we must do.

First we have the Ten Commandments.  In the book of Exodus, in the Bible, Chapter 20 tells of us of Moses’ being given the ten commandments on Mount Sinai by God.

  1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  4. Honor your father and mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

Next is the Five commandments of the Church.

  1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  3. You shall receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

Lastly there are Fourteen works of mercy.

Spiritual:

  1. Counsel the doubtful.
  2. Instruct the ignorant.
  3. Admonish sinners.
  4. Comfort the afflicted.
  5. Forgive offenses.
  6. Bear wrongs patiently.
  7. Pray for the living and the dead.

Corporal:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Shelter the homeless.
  5. Visit the sick.
  6. Visit the imprisoned.
  7. Bury the dead.

Once upon a time, people were crucified and killed if they admitted to being followers of Jesus Christ.  In some countries this still exists.  I am fortunate to live in a country that has freedom of religion.  Regardless of what religion you are, if you were brought into trial for being a believer in your faith, would you be convicted.  This is what the video Evidence is about, a girl being put on trial for her belief.  It is a video to evoke an emotion in you.  To say that I am Catholic is one thing, but if someone observed me would I be found guilty?  Today I am not looking to give convictions.  I am not in charge of judgements.  I only ask that you reflect upon what you say and do, and if you were in a trial what would the verdict be.  We find the defendant __________.

I leave you with one of today’s readings to let it marinate for the rest of the week.

Jer 31: 7-9                                                   [God’s Deliverance]

Jermiah’s hymn opens with joy for God has bestowed salvation on his people.  He has delivered his people and will guide and bless them so none will go astray.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

Thus says the Lord:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:

The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north;
I will gather them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst,
the mothers and those with children;
they shall return as an immense throng.

They departed with tears, but I will console them and guide them;
I will lead them to brooks of water,
on a level road, so that none shall stumble.
For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.

The word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Let it marinate!

Until then,

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Who’s watching you?

This week has been an interesting week.  Last week’s topic, that I discussed with the kids in the catechism classes, went over what the Catholic faith believes, who we believe in, why we believe, and where we get our information from.  These are topics that I will discuss in the future.  Today I would like to talk about why we believe.  If you tuned in last week, I also touched upon this topic, but after a week of people asking this question, Why do you believe?; I felt compelled to pose this question, Who’s watching you?

In the year 2012, if one is questioned on their beliefs, a conversation amongst a group can be done peacefully and respectfully.  Everyone has a variation on their belief.  I like and appreciate that we can do this.  We are not persecuted for our beliefs.  We are not ridiculed for our beliefs.  We can believe in whatever we wish for we have Freedom of Religion.

As individuals we support our religion because we have faith.  What is faith?

Definition of FAITH according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1
a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion

b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

3
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

on faith

: without question [took everything he said on faith]

What phrases stand out to you?  The phrases that stand out to me are “firm belief in something for which there is no proof … complete trust and …without question.
The same can be said for someone without faith, or someone who questions their faith.  Does their faith exist?  According to the definition, no.  A person without faith, a person who does not believe, can not be faithful.  
Regardless of whether or not you believe in a religion, it can not be denied that people are watching you.  Our friends reflect upon our actions and our beliefs every day.   Our children look up to us. People watch us.  What are we showing them?

Those closest to me know, that over the last five years, I have embraced my faith.  It is not that my faith was lacking before, but I hadn’t done a good job of walking the Christian path.  I was in a state of being.  Over time I realized that just being was not taking my life in the direction I envisioned or wished for myself.  It was not until I decided to partake in the sacrament of Reconciliation that my path changed course.  

In the Catholic faith, there are seven Sacraments.  The sacrament of Reconciliation is also referred to as Penance.  One reviews their prior actions in reflection against the ten commandments.  If your actions go against God, they are referred to as sins.  This reflection period is a time to acknowledge what you have done to go against God in your actions.  These sins are confessed to a priest.   The priest will offer guidance and direction on your actions.  The priest will then ask if one is sorry for sinning against God.  If you are, then one’s sins are forgiven by absolution which can only be given by an authorized priest.  

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, one receive God’s unconditional forgiveness.  I found that during this process I have also strengthened my ability to forgive myself.  I had never forgiven myself in the past.  This for me was huge.  In life we are hardest on ourselves.

If I forgive myself and acknowledge my sins and try my hardest to sin no more, I find it much easier and more likely to make choices that keep me in line with God’s law.  I find it easier to want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  WWJD?  You might have seen this a number of times, it stands for What would Jesus do?  I find I use this phrase when I am trying to make a decision on something difficult.  I ask this question because my actions are watched by God.

God is watching.  Whether or not you believe in that statement, it does not change the fact that someone is watching you.  Somewhere down the line, your actions may impact someone you know…and someone you might never meet.  How can I impact someone I have never met?  I’m happy that you asked.  The Skit Guys will help us out with this.

 

 
 
Do you know who is watching you?   On this Soulful Sunday, I leave you with this thought to marinate this week along with one of today’s readings.
 
 
Heb 4:14-16                     [Jesus Our High Priest]
 
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the high priest who shares all our weaknesses, except sin.  His mercy comes to all who seek it.
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
 
Brothers and Sisters,
Since we have a great priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.  So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
-The word of the Lord.
-Thanks be to God.
 
 Until then,

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