Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Lent

Books and the Lenten Journey

ash-wednesday-scripture-5Happy Ash Wednesday! Last evening my family celebrated Shrove Tuesday by having breakfast for dinner.  I must say that Hannah’s King’s Cake stole the show again this year.

As usual, there are always questions about fasting and abstinence once we enter Lent. Here is an abstinence explanation, “What’s Up with the Whole Friday Abstinence Thing?” for the studious out there. Fasting has also been part of our blessed Tradition. Here is a quick explanation on the why of fasting, “Vivifying our Spiritual Senses.”

I have also received a number of requests concerning some of my favorites books for Lent. So, I thought that I would list out a few books that have been helpful during my Lenten meditation and retreat:

  1. The Sadness of Christ – St. Thomas More
  2. Lukewarmness: The Devil in Disguise – Francis Fernandez Carvajal
  3. The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – Fr. Martin von Cochem
  4. Unseen Warfare – Lorenzo Scupoli, Theophan the Recluse and Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
  5. In Silence with God – Fr. Benedict Baur
  6. A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon – Pierre Barbet
  7. Life of Christ – Venerable Fulton Sheen
  8. The Ladder of Divine Ascent – St. John Climacus
  9. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence – Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure
  10. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & The Little Way – Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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Encourage & Teach: Advent and the Second Coming

jesus-revelation19In college I was surprised when a close friend explained her family crèche. It wasn’t the style or the model that caused me to pause. It was the addition of a figurine that I had neither seen nor considered before. This particular set included not only the baby Jesus figurine but an additional Jesus as described in Revelation 19:11-13,

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

Let’s be honest, nothing says Christmas like an image of Jesus with “eyes blazing like fire and a robe dipped in blood.” (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: Child-like Faith, Legends, and Spiderwebs

Macro-Dew-CobwebLast night at 10:29 p.m., the Autumnal Equinox occurred. This means fall has begun (except for the meteorologists that set it on September 1). Mother Nature even assisted last night with some brisk air to remind us that fall has indeed arrived. Nature itself is preparing for its Advent retreat and so are many of Our Lord’s creatures.

Take, for instance, the spider. It is at this time that a number of spider younglings hatch from their eggs. After their exoskeleton hardens, the spiders find the highest point, release a strand of their silken web and let the wind carry it wherever the autumnal wind wills (You remember, like in Charlotte’s Web). This silken thread of web is known colloquially as gossamer.(Read more…)

Bridegroom Monday: Reflection

JCBrdGrmIn the Eastern Church, last night began the celebration of the Bridegroom which continues through Holy Tuesday. In the Latin Roman Church, today’s Gospel expresses this same sentiment in a more veiled way.

Today’s Gospel not only demonstrates the magnanimous love of Mary Magdelene but also prepares Christ our Bridegroom for His marriage to the Church upon the cross.«Continue Reading»

Encourage & Teach – The Triduum: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

Family gatherings are a particularly joy-filled event for me. I get to catch-up on how everyone is doing (sometimes what they are doing) as well as spending some quality time with family. Inevitably, an aunt or uncle will say, “Remember when……” and all the nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws (and out-laws) will gather around to hear the tale. We laugh, smile, sometimes even cry remembering our loved ones whom we have lost but always, in the end, embrace and give thanks for each other and for…remembering. Holy Week is like that for Christians. In fact, we have a special word for it: anamnesis. (Read more)

Passiontide Veils

St. Leo the Great Fairfax, VA 2014

St. Leo the Great Fairfax, VA 2014

The New Liturgical Movement blog posted a great history and explanation of why we veil our crucifixes and statues on Passion Sunday. The blog post, written in 2010 was entitled, Lenten Veils. Thanks to Gregor Kollmorgen who translated  Fr Joseph Braun’s Die Liturgischen Paramente, 2nd ed., 1924 page 233 ff. Here is an excerpt:

To be distinguished from the Passion veils is the large Lenten veil, which has stayed in use here and there in Sicily and Spain, at some places in Westphalia, as well as in the cathedral of Freiburg im Breisgau. It is a cloth which is hung up during Lent at the entrance to the choir. It is most often white or violet and remains until the Litany is sung on Holy Saturday. The Congregation of Rites has declared the use of this Lenten veil to be admissible on 11 May 1878 (decr. auth. n. 3448).

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Lenten Lessons: Prayer of the Heart

theophanetherecluseWhy is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book, and still not have prayer in his heart? I think the reason is that people only spend a little time lifting themselves up to God when they complete their prayer rule, and in other times, they do not remember God. For example, they finish their morning prayers, and think that their relation to God is fulfilled by them; then the whole day passes in work, and such a person does not attend to God. Then in the evening, the thought returns to him that he must quickly stand at prayer and complete his evening rule. In this case, it happens that even if the Lord grants a person spiritual feelings at the time of the morning prayer, the bustle and business of the day drowns them out. As a result, it happens that one does not often feel like praying, and cannot get control of himself even to soften his heart a little bit. In such an «Continue Reading»

Lenten Lessons: Intercession

serapionintercessionOne day Abba Serapion passed through an Egyptian village and there he saw a courtesan who stayed in her own cell. The old man said to her, ‘Expect me this evening, for I should like to come and spend the night with you.’ She replied, ‘Very well, Abba.’ She got ready and made the bed. When evening came, the old man came to see her and entered her cell and said to her, ‘Have you got the bed ready?’ She said, ‘Yes, Abba.’ Then he closed the door and said to her, ‘Wait a bit, for we have a rule of prayer and I must fulfil that first.’ So the old man began his «Continue Reading»

Lenten Lessons: The Virtue of Silence

abbaanthonyikonSome brothers were coming from Scetis to see Abba Anthony. When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an old man who also wanted to go there. The brothers did not know him. They sat in the boat, occupied by turns with the words of the Fathers, Scripture and their manual work. As for the old man, he remained silent. When they arrived on shore they found that the old man was going to the cell of Abba Anthony too. When they reached the place, Anthony said to them, ‘You found this old man a good companion for the journey?’ Then he said to the old man, ‘You have brought many good brethren with you, father.’ The old man said, ‘No doubt they are good, but they do not have a door to their house and anyone who wishes can enter the stable and loose the ass.’ He meant that the brethren said whatever came into their mouths.

Lenten Lessons: Against Apathy

OraetlaboraWhen the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by acedia (apathy), and attacked by many sinful thoughts.He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?’ A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.