Monthly Archives: February 2012

#05 Our Father

Right, I know you’re thinking “oh so original” #sarcasm but today’s Gospel was AWESOME because it was the Our Father.  Which, I mean, is one of the most awesome prayers out there (notice I didn’t say most…I don’t want to show favoritism…)!!  So I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I tend to like to say prayers really slowly, line by line, and just really let the meaning of each word sink in.  (Wait, I know what you’re all thinking… “she totally blogged about this already…” https://confidentlycatholic.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/he-is-with-you/)  Well, I promise, this is going to be different!  I just wanted to really examine the reasons for the Our Father.  Jesus told us “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  This is how you are to pray…” and then goes into the Our Father we all know and love 🙂  But think about it, Jesus is telling us all we have to do is recite this one prayer and God will answer.  That means this is some powerful stuff!  I know, I know, you don’t need me to go on and on about it, but how can we not be so excited that all our answers lay in a prayer a lot of us have known since we were 6???  He is saying “you don’t have to say everything in a prayer, you don’t even have to think it because God already knows!  I can’t even count the nights I’ve fallen asleep trying to remember all the people I wanted to pray for and always thinking “I wish I prayed more”.  Now I’m not saying there’s no reason for other prayer, that would be silly, but I am thinking of praying an Our Father before bed each night and really know and understand that He fully hears the cry of my heart and all the prayers I might not even know I have.  Not to make little of it, but it really is the “busy person prayer”.  You’re talking directly to Him, know every word by heart, and don’t need to sit there thinking “okay, now I prayed for all my cousins, now which of my friends should I start with…”  As long as you pray, God hears you.  Jesus said that!  So it should be that easy; as long as you take every word into consideration when you say it, because Jesus did, and it has such a deep meaning.

So anyway, I suppose that brings up the importance of prayer and I really want to start praying more again.  Sorry if this post was a little all over the place, I get a little hyper late at night 🙂

God Bless!!

~*Zoey*

PS – the Gospel was from Matthew 6:7-15

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied”

– Matthew 5:6

#04 O Clement, O Loving

Everyone has been describing their Lenten sacrificing and rededications, and so now it is my turn.

I’ve decided to spend Lent reconnecting with a part of my faith that has been separate from me as of late. I’m renewing my devotion to The Blessed Mother.

I grew up in a household where Mary held a very special place, and I grew up knowing always, that I could turn to her. Even more than my own mother, who is amazing, by the way, I knew I could turn to Mary for guidance, intercession and a loving ear. My mother, grandmother and Aunts are all Devotees of The Virgin, and I try my best to live that way as well.

I used to pray the rosary quite frequently, but it’s something that’s slipped away from me with time.  So I have decided for Lent, I will be starting and ending my work week with a Rosary. I will pray one every Monday morning, and every Friday night.

This exercise for me is meant to strengthen a long neglected connection. Returning to Our Mother means a lot to me, and by welcoming her into my heart again, I hope to come closer to God. Mary sometimes gets the shaft in Lent, Advent being more “her time” in people’s mind, but I can’t help thinking about how she must have felt. She knew what was coming too. She’d always known. She watched her son suffer, and die. She cradled him in her arms.

I think about my mother, and the pain that she’s felt watching my siblings and me struggle and suffer, and I wonder how? How did Mary endure it? How did she choose it? It was such a deeply selfless thing to do, of course Christ’s sacrifice is the most important, but without her “Yes,” if she had been self preserving, where would we be? So that’s what I’m doing for Lent. I’m bringing Mary back into my life in a big way, to reopen a path to God that I’ve long ignored.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve
To thee do we send up our sighs
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears
Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us.
And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus
Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet virgin Mary.

#03 The Fast That I Choose

Well Lent is once again upon us and like a good procrastinator I decided to write a blog post instead of doing my homework…but that’s okay because I have all weekend and I did start some of it already…

So Wednesday marked the beginning of my Lent as I went the traditional Roman Catholic route, but I think I’ll start with Mardi Gras.  For those of you who don’t know, Mardi Gras in French literally means Fat Tuesday (Mardi = Tuesday, Gras = Fat).  It’s the day before Ash Wednesday so that we Catholics can eat everything we are going to be giving up for Lent before the fast begins.  I ate enough this year to last me a while!  So then the decision of what to do/what to give up comes into play.  Well, as Cherie has already said, we have a Lenten commitment to blogging this season (and hopefully continuously as well).  My personal goal for blogging is at least once a week so you are all welcome to hold me to it!  I have also decided this Lent to give up chocolate and junk food and to start attending daily mass again!  I will tell you that I’ve given up chocolate basically every year during Lent and it does NOT get easier!  Haha as for the junk food, there are specifics, but it would be too ridiculous to list and the no chocolate for me is a bigger thing but I would like to say that I include soda in there so don’t let me have any!  Attending daily mass is something I used to do summers in high school and occasionally through college and I’ve been trying to get back to it since mass is at 8 and work doesn’t start until 9 that should be easy for me but I had become lazy and forgot what was more important.  But I really mean it when I say that these past three days have been  AMAZING and absolutely inspiring!!  Beginning my day with mass makes the entire day so much better and I really feel good about it.  This morning’s mass in particular really spoke to me and made me want to make another commitment for Lent, but it might just be something I try and do when I can.  Both the reading and the Gospel were about fasting but what really stood out was in the reading:

“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:  releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?  Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?”     – Is 58:6-7

It made me really reflect on a retreat I was on in college where we spent Friday-Saturday night experiencing homelessness and Sunday in Thanksgiving.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had where we were forced to give up everything other than a backpack and the clothes on our back, not keeping anything of monetary value other than clothes.  No electronics, no money, and no where to stay.  We had a sleep out on campus but Saturday was spent in churches, thrift shops, the mall, and a soup kitchen talking to people who were actually homeless and experiencing it as well.  It was so inspiring but one of the best moments to me was when we arrived back downtown and still had about an hour before the soup kitchen opened.  Most public places were closed so we were in the square basically loitering when two of my small group members were approached by a homeless man who asked them for money.  Honestly we had no money, but after a full day of experiencing what this person experienced probably every day they felt moved to find something.  They came to me since I had about two NutriGrain bars left from the nice youth group that brought us breakfast and the bars as a snack so we gave those to him.  To us, it wasn’t much. We were on a school retreat and knew that we had a meal coming soon; but to him it was a meal.  The experience was so amazing and I think it humbled us all.

Today, as I was reflecting on it I realized that I still want to do more to give back.  As Trouty already commented, we are spoiled having so much when others have so little.  I think giving up that second helping is really a great idea.  I would love to volunteer at a soup kitchen again.  It could be a very educational experience and I could meet all kinds of people.  There are too many people in our own country that go hungry or without shelter.  And it’s just getting worse as the economy and finding a job gets worse.  God Bless us all and Bless those who have none that they may find comfort in Him and that we who have can give to those who have not.

– *Zoey*

P.S.  Have a Blessed Lenten season

#2 – A Fish’s Lenten Reflection

During Lent, I remember the immense amount of suffering that Jesus went through during his thirty-three years on planet Earth. I remember how, through the suffering, he still remained selfless and true to his word – God’s word. That’s why I choose to give up something during Lent, and that’s what I implore all of our readers to do as well. 

If we give up something that’s truly important to us, or take upon ourselves a new “cross” or challenge, we are one step closer to discovering what Jesus went through during his life. How do we do so in order to not be selfish, though? How do we do so in a selfless way. Every one of us has our reasons for giving up something for Lent, for instance:

  • I’m going to give up soda because it isn’t healthy.
  • I’m going to give up alcohol because I spend too much time at the bar.
  • I’m going to give up Facebook because, well, it’s Facebook…and I check it 5,000 times a day… and I depend on it… etc. 

So, here it is… Here is my Lenten “cross,” with which I will become a little bit closer to those in this world who suffer.

This year for Lent, I am giving up any sort of excessive eating. I am only eating my breakfast, lunch, and dinner… and for those meals I am only eating one serving (I KNOW… IT’S SO HARD TO NOT GO BACK FOR SECONDS ON LASAGNA!). Why? Not so I can become healthier, but rather because we here in the United States are privileged to have these things. My “cross,” my selfless act for Lent, will be to figure out how those who are hungry truly feel when they cannot have food until the next mealtime.  

So, readers, here is my question for you. In addition to the poll below (which only has 3 responses right now…come on, get with it!), 

WHAT “SELFLESS” ACTS WILL YOU PERFORM DURING THIS LENTEN SEASON? HOW WILL YOU TAKE UP A “CROSS” OF YOUR OWN?
Only by doing so can one even begin to discover what Jesus did for us.

#1 – As Far As the East Is from the West…

…so far has He removed our sins from us.”
-Psalm 103:12 (NABRE)

This quote is definitely worthy of reflection during Lent. As we become more aware of our shortcomings through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and other acts of penance, we should be proportionately more grateful that all these nasty things we start to realize about ourselves are readily forgiven by God. Riffing on the parable of the sheep and the goats, a priest recently referred to the confessional as the “goat box” and encouraged us to visit frequently during Lent. Good advice, indeed.

This particular line of Psalmistry* also came to mind as an appropriate title because this Lent, I am stretching myself between the Eastern and Western traditions of the Catholic Church. The Byzantine Rite involves a Divine Liturgy, penned by St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil (the latter wrote the older, longer liturgy that’s reserved for Lent), which is different in specific prayers and hymns but equally sacramentally valid to the Roman Catholic Mass. Over this season of Lent I will try to explain a bit about the Byzantines and why I’m in love with their particular forms of piety. For now, I’ll focus on the demands of Lent and the culture clash I’ve nestled myself into for the next several weeks.

*Is that a word? It should be.

The Byzantines call the period of preparation leading up to Easter the Great Fast. Byzantines like to get a running start to the Great Fast compared to their Roman cousins. First of all, it begins two days prior to Ash Wednesday. Secondly, to prepare for the traditional abstinence from meat, eggs, and dairy, the Sundays leading up to the Great Fast are Meatfare Sunday and then Cheesefare Sunday. The idea is that by making these two Sundays the last day of eating meat and dairy, respectively, the fast is in full swing by Monday. I kind of failed at Meatfare week, deciding instead to eat up my stash of meat products so I wouldn’t be so tempted during the fast. I started the full fast Monday, only to be broken for a cup of dairy-delicious Raspberry Hot Chocolate last night (after all, it’s my obligation as a Roman to have something special on Mardi Gras). Keeping “strict abstinence” from both meat and dairy is only required by Byzantine law on the first day and Good Friday, with regular old abstinence-from-meat required each Wednesday and Friday of the season. Still, I decided to go for the full traditional fast, since any of my other attempts at food-related sacrifice during Lent (e.g. no eating between meals, no sugary stuff) morph into thinly veiled diet plans and tend to reinforce my vanity more than they do my sense of repentance. And now that I’ve bragged about it on the internet, I guess this one is just reinforcing my vanity differently. 😉 In all seriousness, though, I thought I’d post about it for the sake of stirring up some Eastern Catholic curiosity and reinforcing one another in our various Lenten commitments.

What are you giving up or doing for Lent, if you don’t mind sharing? We’d love to hear about it (see the poll).

Slava Isusu Christu! (“Glory to Jesus Christ!” in Slavonic)

#0 – Forty Posts of Lent Kickoff

The blog’s been a little neglected this winter, so we decided to get some momentum going and post more often for Lent. Over the coming weeks, the goal is for us to write a total of 40 inspiring, reflective, amusing, or otherwise interesting posts. This is Post Zero, let’s count them up in the titles as we go. Happy blogging, CC’s, and a holy and hungry Ash Wednesday to all!

“None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.  For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

– Romans 14:7-8