Here’s your monthly reminder to find this month’s memory verses set to music by clicking the “Memory Verses” link on the sidebar (right side, under the “Pages” list). It’s a simple download that you can access from any computer, phone, tablet, etc.
The first idea started at a group discussion with a bunch of DREs and was just confirmed by reading this list. We all know that there are huge benefits to having a family meal. It really doesn’t matter so much what you serve as how it happens:
- at a table,
- no cell phones,
- television off.
My proposal here is to celebrate Lent with at least one extra family meal per week meeting these criteria.
Family members truly bless one another when they create a nurturing place around the dinner table for communion and conversation to occur and when they take time to plan nourishing, heartwarming meals. Tons of research reveals the benefits of families sitting down to meals together including everything from better physical and mental health outcomes, higher academic achievement, and greater life and relationship satisfaction. Add “growing in holiness” to the list!
My other idea sounds pretty silly but I’m convinced it would help me to better appreciate my parish family. Every Sunday my family sits in the 4th, 5th or 6th pew from the front, just to the left of the main aisle. Every single Sunday. In my defense, I like the view of the altar and the lady in front of me kneels for a long time after Communion, just like I do. It’s comfortable.
On the other hand, it is a little disturbing to meet “new” people who have gone to the same Mass for years and years, and it makes me wonder what would happen if I just sat on the left side of the aisle or in the back. I suspect I would start to recognize some different faces and would be forced to focus on the Mass in a new way – not out of my established habits. So while it may be the lamest Lenten resolution ever, my second outside-the-box idea is to move around each Sunday of Lent and see what the Lord has to tell you through the experience.
No need to throw out the chocolate, booze, and carbs. Pope Francis has a different idea for fasting this year.
Lent is a good time for penance and self-denial. But once again, Francis reminds us that these activities must truly enrich others: “I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” So, if we’re going to fast from anything this Lent, Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others.
What are you giving up for Lent?” It’s a question a lot of people will get these next few days. If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed. This narrow road is gritty, but it isn’t sterile. It will make room in ourselves to experience a love that can make us whole and set us free.
Read the rest of the article here and thanks to St. Mary’s in Wayne, NE for the link.
Ash Wednesday is just a week away and instead of just giving up chocolate again this year, you may want to consider thinking outside the box on your Lenten disciplines. While I am convinced that we should all give up something to make more room in our lives for Christ, I also think that room we create should be filled with something positive we add to our lives.
One idea is to more carefully monitor what goes into our hearts, and this suggestion from Franciscan University in Steubenville might be just right for you. Click over here to listen to their Spotify playlist: 40 songs for 40 days.
I’ve blogged this before, but it’s well worth re-reading, especially in light of this month’s topic, Lent coming up soon, the Year of Mercy … you get the idea.
Click over here for Inside the Confessional: What Is it Like for a Priest?, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that a priest views the sacrament of Reconciliation in a different light than some of us weary penitents do. Here are a few pieces from his list:
I get to regularly come face to face with the overwhelming, life-transforming power of God’s love.
[I get to see] see the way in which God’s sacrifice on the cross is constantly breaking into people’s lives and melting the hardest hearts.
I see a person who is still trying — a saint in the making.
Does a priest remember your sins? Is he judging you for failing? Is he bored or scandalized by what you have to confess? Read to the end – you’ll be glad you did!
Then I have a few assignments for you:
- Read it aloud to your entire family
- Share it on your favorite social media sites
- Forward a link to someone who has been expressing doubts about Confession
- Print the article and mail it to someone you know
- Take to heart all that Father Mike says here and receive the Sacrament!
Lent is the perfect time to grow in holiness and what better way to do so than through works of mercy? It is a way of truly extending your love of Jesus to people who are dear to Him! If you need a refresher course on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, refer back to pages 3-5 of your Family Formation Year of Mercy Activity Packet. From there, you’re ready to go!
We’re convinced that Lent is super-charged with the potential for growth in holiness. Combine that with tapping into the Year of Mercy graces, and your family can be well on their way to sainthood! (Really!) A great way to keep track of this growth and perhaps to make use of your family’s competitive spirit, is to use the Mercy Challenge Cards. You have a page of them in your packet; feel free to make as many copies as you need to set up a little family competition.
- How many acts of mercy can you do this month? (Either as individuals or as a family)
- Can you do things that fulfill each of the Corporal and Spiritual Works?
For each act of mercy, fill out a card and post it in a visible place in your home or tuck them into a box to tally later. While we encourage you to do this challenge all year, this Lent is the perfect time to make this a habit.
Another thing we hope you’ll do is to choose one act of mercy that your family has done and fill out a Mercy Challenge Card to bring back to Family Formation in March. You’ll not only have a chance to win a prize, but everyone else will benefit by getting a glimpse of how the Works of Mercy play out in your family’s life. We can all learn from each other’s ideas!
And remember to make time for Confession this month!
A great book that we recommend that can help give your family practical ideas for putting these works of mercy into action is the book You Did It to Me: A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action by Father Michael Gaitley. [COSP families – Don’t forget that your family can win one of these books at our monthly Family Formation gatherings. When you share one thing that your family is doing around The Year of Mercy, your name will be put into a drawing.]