Tag Archives: Lent

What Are You Reading for Lent?

Lent is next week, and even though I’ve been allegedly “looking ahead” since right after Christmas, but I feel ill-prepared and not a bit “ready” for Lent, whether in body, or spirit, or in books.

Many books have arrived recently with Lenten themes, and I hope to review some of them, but this will not be happening before Lent, much as I’d like to be able to tell you about them.  They will have to be mid-Lent reading pick-me-ups, so look ahead for that.

Do you have a practice of spiritual reading for Lent?  I usually take out my well-worn copy of St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life, and I will do so again.  I always get something new from it.

Last year, I highly recommended God Will Provide: How God’s Bounty Opened to Saints–And 9 Ways It can Open for You, Too by Patricia Treece, pointing out that the book “brims with wisdom and grace.”  I really love Paraclete Press books–they are always well-produced and just feel good in your hand, both because the size of the books feel “right” and the paper is very… I don’t know, I’m not a book-making expert–but the paper feels heavy and nice.

Here is my Q&A with Patricia  that ran last year.

Also last year, I blogged about the Prayer of St. Ephram. (And my friend Marcia also posted about this ancient prayer last week–well worth a look).   I’ll be printing off copies of this prayer to leave in conspicuous places (bathroom mirrors and such) for us to pray at our house.  Do you have a special prayer to say as a family during Lent?

If you might be looking around for Lenten reading, here are past reviews with some ideas:

2012:  This Lent, Let Mercy Lead

2011:  A Good Spiritual Library is a Hospital for the Soul

Finally, on the Lenten theme, one of my most popular posts is “Do Sundays Count During Lent”?  As I wrote there, I’m definitely in the taking-Sundays-off camp, but I’m always interested in hearing what other people and families do.

Do you have a plan for Lent?  Care to share?  I’d love to get some great ideas.

Discipleship as Conversion and Journey

What does it mean to be “an intentional disciple”?

What does it mean to be a disciple at all?

Are you one?  How many do you know?

An excellent new book, Forming Intentional Disciples:  The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry A. Weddell, explains the term “intentional disciple,” as well as the steps to journey there, for both individuals and parishes.


With such a wide appeal and important content, Forming Intentional Disciples is one of those rare “for just about everyone” books, in my opinion.  Whether you are a pastor, a DRE, a leader in a ministry in your parish or just an average parish member like me, you will find much food for thought and prayer here.

What’s so great about Forming Intentional Disciples?

Weddell is founder (with Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P.) of The Catherine of Siena Institute “to form lay Catholics for their mission in the world.”  This book distills their work to help Catholics become more committed in their faith and communities.

As Weddell writes, “What we are called to do is to truly see and then make disciples of the anointed ones who are wandering in and out of our parishes right now.”

Forming Intentional Disciples outlines now as a time of challenge—-with only 30 percent of those raised Catholic who still practice their faith.  But as this book makes abundantly clear, there is also great opportunity for growth in faith life and discipleship among everyday Catholics.

In every chapter, there are great insights, stories and statistics that help readers to understand the problem–and to be part of the solution.  On more than one occasion while reading this book, I got chills, thinking of ways to become more of a disciple myself and encourage those around me to do the same.

As Weddell points out, what’s at stake in fostering discipleship is nothing less than
“*the eternal happiness in God (salvation) of every human being.
*the complete fruition of the Mass and the sacraments,
*the next generation of Catholic leaders, saints and apostles: priestly, religious and secular, (and)
*the fulfillment of the Church’s mission on earth.”

How does Weddell propose we do that?  Here are just a few of the many ideas in Forming Intentional Disciples:

*By a careful understanding of and respect for the five thresholds at which a person’s faith can grow or shrink, and how we can help ourselves and others cross those thresholds.

*By imitating Jesus in that we ask more questions than giving answers, to foster a deeper understanding and integration of faith into each person’s life.

*By recognizing and harnessing the importance and power of intercessory prayer to help others in their journey toward faith, especially at time of spiritual warfare.

*by creating space and community for committed parish members to grow spiritually once discipleship is awakened.

This may seem bold, but if you are reading this review, I urge you to read Forming Intentional Disciples.  If you are committed enough Catholic to read The Catholic Post and be inspired by the Holy Spirit  to read this blog post, I believe this book is meant for you to read and ponder.

First, What Are You Reading? Volume 20, April 2012

Last year, I did an April Fool’s version of First, What Are You Reading?, but this year I don’t want to waste an opportunity to share some really good books with you.  Enjoy, and I can’t wait to hear what you are reading.

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:

first, what are you reading?

what do you like best about it?

what do you like least?

what’s next on your list to read? 

As always, I hope you’ll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?  

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists with an introduction by Leonard S. Marcus

Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman

What do you like best about them?

The graphic book I was going to talk about in this space was so bad I don’t even want to name it .  It was about media bias and media coverage, and it was terrible.  Far better for kids and adults to have a healthy sense of

So I decided to substitute another graphic novel read that is well-done, and Nursery Rhyme Comics fits the bill.  I really enjoyed the interesting takes on classic Mother Goose-type rhymes.  Some are better than others, but it’s a neat idea.  Leonard Marcus’ introduction talks about how each artist was able to craft a “back story” for the rhymes.  I especially loved “Pat-a-Cake” by Gene Luen Yang and “Hickory Dickory Dock” by Stephanie Yue.

Love, love, LOVE Nerd Camp.  Gabe is 10 years old, and heading off to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, better known as Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads, or Nerd Camp.  He realizes he is a nerd because of his soon-to-be stepbrother Zach, who scoffs at things “nerds” would like, like reading actual books, being in math club, and going to camp to learn.  Gabe decides to make a logic proof of the whole summer, deciding whether or not he is, in fact, a nerd. 

I read Nerd Camp one weekend afternoon after a morning of cleaning and when I was too tired to do any “real” writing or tougher reading.  It was just the right pick-me-up.  I laughed out loud, delighted in the story and in how terrific it is to be a nerd. 

Great things about the actual camp, and why I want to go there:

*a Funny Quotes poster, where Gabe and his buddies write down funny things they say

*learning the digits of pi.

*the  karaoke sing-off between Gabe and his girl nemesis (or friend?) Amanda.  The song?  An alphabetical listing the countries of the world.    I’m “this” close to writing the author of the book to see if such a song really exists.

*Jeopardy with Alex Trebeck as the actual host.

*a 13-year-old who is the “cool” nerd for making a clandestine lab at camp.

What do you like least about them?

Because there are so many artists in Nursery Rhyme Comics, there are plenty that fall flat, or just really aren’t as good as others.  But so many do work, I think the book is a worthwhile read overall.

It’s just a little sad that part of Nerd Camp revolves around a divorce, with parents sharing custody of Gabe, and his father getting married again.  But it’s not handled negatively or positively.  It primarily serves as a plot device to put Gabe in the path of a non-nerd in the form of his soon-to-be new step-brother.  In our family, this just served as a discussion topic, brought up seamlessly.

What’s next on your list to read?

Working through a list of potential fiction for my June column.  This is no problem, as I love fiction.  Finding the time amid spring cleaning and “life” has been more of a challenge lately.

So, what are you reading these days?  Any books you would like to share?

Q &A with Mark Shea, author of The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ

Following is my interview with Mark Shea, author of The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ.  I reviewed Mark’s book in my March Catholic Post column.  This Q&A is a shorter version of a far-ranging phone conversation we had about his book and his writing.  Thanks, Mark, for being so willing to talk with me, and for your great book!

Q.  Please tell Catholic Post readers a little more about yourself and your work.

I’m an author of a number of books, most recently The Work of Mercy.  I’ve also written a book called By What Authority? among others.  I write a lot for the Catholic press. I have a blog that I write for the Patheos and the National Catholic Register. I’m a convert to the faith, and was received into the Church in 1987.

How I started writing books is interesting.  I was confirmed in December 1987.  The following month a friend of mine told me he didn’t believe in the Real Presence.  I sat down and started a letter to the author Peter Kreeft (philosophy (we had corresponded when I had been coming into the Church) , trying to articulate why I did believe in the Real Presence.  The letter got bigger & bigger, and by the time I was done, 10 months later, it was the script of my book, This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence.  I’ve always chalked up the explosion of my writing to the sacrament of Confirmation.

Q.  Why a book on the works of the mercy?

I hadn’t seen one in awhile, and it seemed to me that reacquainting the modern audience was a good idea since the works of mercy are essential to our salvation.  They go right back to Jesus’ famous parable of the sheep and the goats, in which what’s make or break for both the sheep and the goats is the works of mercy—how did you treats the least of these.  “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was hungry and you didn’t give me something to eat.” That’s what that parable is all about.

Archbishop Chaput is speaking gospel truth when he warns us very bluntly
“If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.”  That’s why a book on the works of mercy.

Still, our response to the works of mercy is left up to our prudence; there’s guidance from the church, but how you live out the works of mercy is left up to the person.

There are basically two classes of the works of mercy that the church has teased out of tradition.

First, the corporal works of mercy (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, ransom the captive, visit the sick, bury the dead).  Those are addressed to the fact that yes, we are spiritual beings, but we are also bodily creatures, so our bodily needs matter. 

The reason a body matters is because a). the body is the creation of God and b). God himself has taken on a body in the Incarnation of Jesus.  He’s become human.  Our humanity really matters.  It was through the body that our salvation was won.  It was through Jesus’ very physical, very graphic, very bloody crucifixion and his bodily resurrection that our salvation was won.  And so the body really matters in the Catholic tradition.

In addition to that, there are also the spiritual works of mercy, such as instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving wrongs, praying for the living and the dead. These works of mercy are addressed to the fact that we are not just bodily creatures– we are more than cows.  Our concern is more than just getting our three square meals a day and keeping our belly full.  As Jesus says, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. 

Both of these classes of works of mercy are essential in the Catholic life. That’s what my book is attempting to do—bring out the fullness of what those works of mercy mean. 

They all have a spiritual application as well.   So when we speak of feeding the hungry, for example, we mean, yes, people are starving in Africa and we feed them.  But in addition, what the Catholic tradition has always seen in giving bread to the hungry is ultimately a reference to the Eucharist.  Jesus will say to the Jews in John 6, that Moses gave you manna in the wilderness, he fed your bellies, but your fathers all died after they ate that.   The bread that I will give you will eat of and you will live forever.  I am the Bread of Life, Jesus tells us.

Over and over again you’ll see in the works of mercy the spiritual overtones of the spiritual element.  In give drink to the thirsty, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, whoever drinks the water that I give will live forever.  And that water is the Holy Spirit.

And ransoming the captive, Jesus speaks of himself of giving his life as a ransom for many.  In addition to supporting anti-slavery organizations, for example, we also ransom people out of captivity by introducing them to Jesus, who ransoms them from captivity to sin.

Q.  Which was your most challenging chapter to write?

Certain works of mercy are quite obviously contemporary.  Feed the hungry?  There are a billion people hungry in the world.   But then you get to things like, say, ransom the captive.  What does that look like in the modern world?  

It’s been awhile since the president of the United States went to visit a foreign country and was kidnapped by Saracen raiders who sent a ransom note back to the vice president demanding 20,000 golden ducats.

This was something that was a real issue hundreds of years ago, but today, our view of ransoming the captive has changed radically.  It was regarded as a corporal work of mercy, say, a thousand years ago during the Crusades, to ransom people out of slavery.  What do we say about it today?  “We don’t negotiate with terrorists. “

The reality is that’s an illusion.  There is still real concrete work to be done in term of ransoming the captive, because everywhere you get outside of those parts of the world where Christianity has had a major influence on the culture, you immediately run into real, honest-to-gosh slavery.  So there is slavery practiced all over the Islamic world—people being bought and sold. In Asia there is a thriving sex slavery trade, which is–to our great shame–fueled and patronized by Westerners, who go to places like Thailand so they can go exploit girls who are barely into their teens.  So in all these places there’s still real work to be done.

Personally? the most difficult chapter to write, because I felt like a total hypocrite writing it, is the chapter on bearing wrongs patiently.  As I write in the chapter, asking me for how to bear wrongs patiently is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger management counseling.  

I’m terrible at bearing wrongs patiently.  But my task in the book is not to say, ‘I do this and you should be like me’; my task in the book is to report what the tradition says. I’m terrible at it; but it’s what the tradition says we must do.  So you report what it says, you stumble along, and you go to confession for all the times that you fail.

Q.  You shared that you were a little embarrassed that in my review, I compared you to C.S. Lewis (and GK Chesterton, don’t forget), but I stand by my assertion that it is an appropriate comparison.  Do you consider them influences on your writing, and who else/other informs your writing?

I’m not in their league but honored by the comparison.  Chesteron and Lewis are influences to be sure, but I don’t hold a candle to them.  Chesterton and I have one major similarity in that we are fat. Beyond that, I am not worthy to untie their sandals.

Other influences? Peter Kreeft has been a huge help to me.  Thomas Howard was a big help for me. 

Q.  You’ve written books, and now you blog regularly.  Do you like one or the other better?  Disadvantages or advantages?  

The great thing about books is that you get to say what you mean to say, and you get to deliberate, and it really comes out the way you want it.  The disadvantage of most writing, except for blogging, is that it is a one-way conversation.  You don’t really know if someone likes it until it’s published, and then it’s a one-way conversation the other way, because they write to you about it.

What I love about my blog is summed up in my blog motto:  “So that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again.”  A blog is a running diary stream of consciousness, about holding forth on what’s in the news today.

I like the interactivity of blogs.  Blogs allow you to talk to your audience, they get to talk back to you, they get to talk to each other.  I like that because I’m an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s job. 

The disadvantages? Well, you stay stupid things sometimes, you can misread what people are saying and lose your temper.  But both forms have their charms.

Blogs are huge invaluable sources of information and insight.  One of the big effects of the Internet has been the democratization of media.  Media, until very recently, was as Chesterton put it, “the playthings of a few rich people.”  There were not many who could afford to run a television station or a radio station.  What you got was what they decided you were going to be told was reality. 

With the advent of the blog and with new media technology, all of a sudden, any  person with a keyboard (that has plenty of advantages and disadvantages, because it can be any idiot with a keyboard), can now get information out that was suppressed by the editorial needs or corporate interests of whoever was running ABC, NBC and so on.

It’s much more difficult for media to get away with snowing us with bad journalism.  Obviously there are disadvantages to the Internet, too. The Internet is ripe for demagoguery, because you can also tell lies.  But on the whole, I think the democratization of media, is a wholesome and tonic.

Q.  I’m always interested in why people name their blogs.  How did you choose “Catholic and Enjoying It”? (and of course the cheeky subtitle, so that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again!”)

Because I enjoy being Catholic!

Q. Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I had asked?

Well, I feel like we short shrift to the other works of mercy in our discussion since we spoke so much about “ransoming the captive.”   I would just want to stress that all the works of mercy.

What the Church says is that we are the Body of Christ. Different members have different gifts.  Different people will be attracted to different works of mercy. 

As a writer, part of my task and my charism in talking about the faith  is instructing the ignorant, and that’s a work of mercy.  Other people have, for example, charisms of intercessrory prayer, who are naturally drawn to pray for the living and the dead.  You may have felt a call in college to go into the Catholic funeral industry.  Why?  Because burying the dead is a work of mercy.  If you wind up doing that, you can live out that work of mercy.  

All the works of mercy are essential, and so a person interested in living the works of mercy should first of all, ask God,  where can I help?  And God will guide you.  If He’s calling you to a particular work of mercy, he will give you the gifts.

This Lent, Let Mercy Lead

Here is my March column that appears in this weekend’s The Catholic Post.  I invite your feedback here or on Facebook or Twitter.
Do you like reading C.S. Lewis?  Many people, especially converts, do.
I recall first discovering Lewis when I was a young adult and for the first time truly embracing my cradle Catholic faith.   I soaked up his intellectual wisdom,  his sensible, easy-to-read theology and I grew in knowledge of and desire for my faith.  Lewis (like GK Chesterton, whom I find a little harder going) is eminently quotable, with lines that stick with you.
If I could use the analogy for food (and, as longtime readers know, I’m fond of using such analogies), reading C.S. Lewis is a like eating a delicious, multi-course feast, full of a range of dishes that both nourishes and tastes great, and you remember for a long time.
I was trying to find a way to characterize Mark Shea’s writing style as I read his newest book The Work of Mercy:  Being the Hands and Heart of Christ.  What kept occurring to me “he writes like a modern C.S. Lewis.”   Those are some big shoes to fill, but I propose that it’s an appropriate comparison.
I occasionally read Mark Shea’s blog, “Catholic and Enjoying It” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/author/markshea(and I always smile at the blog’s subhead, “So that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again!”)
But even though he’s the author of many books, I’ve never read one until The Work of Mercy.Turns out, all these years, I’ve been missing out.
 Mark Shea, like C.S. Lewis, lays out a feast for readers, combining many elements of culture, faith and life in an honest, approachable style.   The Work of Mercy is easy to read, but not “lightweight”; rather, it’s challenging and uplifting in the best way.
The Work of Mercy, with a chapter dedicated to each of the corporal and then spiritual works of mercy, is full of challenges for the individuals, groups and the Church, as well as the world.  It’s such a cliché to say, “I laughed, I cried, I was moved,” but I truly did all these things reading The Work of Mercy.  I had insights and growth in my understanding of works of mercy throughout.  I felt more of a desire to do specific actions to practice specific works of mercy, instead of just reading along and nodding my head (though I did plenty of that, too).
There’s so much varied and good in the book, it’s hard to get too specific, but two elements emerge:
*Shea’s honest humor:  “For me to assume the task of writing about “bearing wrongs patiently” is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger-management counseling.”
*Shea’s message throughout that the works of mercy not so much change the world as change we who practice them.   In “Visit the Sick,” for instance, Shea writes that, “visiting the sick brings the human dignity of the sufferer into view.”
The Afterword, “What Next?” is especially good—for each of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy, Shea offers varied ideas, as well as web and other addresses for a charity or Christian outreach for action. For instance, for the work of mercy “forgive offenses willingly,” Shea recommends the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as Rachel’s Vineyard and Immaculee’s Rwandan Left to Tell Foundation.
If you’re fasting this Lent from certain foods, consider Mark Shea’s The Work of Mercy a multi-course feast for your spiritual life.

First, What Are You Reading? Volume 19, March 2012

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:

first, what are you reading?

what do you like best about it?

what do you like least?

what’s next on your list to read? 

As always, I hope you’ll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?  

Ready for AnythingProductivity Principles for Work & Life by management consultant David Allen.

Love Multiplies by Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar.

What do you like best about them?

I first read David Allen’s Getting Things Done a few years back, but found his ideas (more than a system, really) a little too daunting. The idea of “getting things out of your head,” and clearing your in-box to zero, just seemed impossible.  The only thing I remember taking away from it was if you can do something in 2 minutes, you should just do it then, because otherwise it will take up space in your brain that slows you down.  This really does make a difference with household things, like setting the timer for a few minutes and trying to clear off a surface, empty the dishwasher, etc.   It’s remarkable how much progress you can make.  A recent “Meet a Reader” Dr. Andy Bland, mentioned David Allen as a favorite author (and Andy mentioned he regularly has an empty in-box), I thought I’d give this productivity guru another try.

I’m reading Ready for Anything in the hopes of gleaning good information about general productivity skills for family and work.  With managing our household, my work for the Catholic Post, and now my wildly busy but amazingly fun volunteering work for the Behold Conference, I find myself missing critical e-mails and not staying on top of things they way I should.   At the moment, I’m just soaking up the wisdom in the short essays and questions in Ready for Anything, and hoping some of that will stick and help me manage everything better.  I have to confess this book, to me, is like Flylady for professionals, and I do love Flylady.

Why do I feel a wee bit embarrassed to admit reading Love Multiplies by Duggar family?  (For those who don’t know, they are famous for their TLC reality series, 19 Kids and Counting.) For some reason, we have been Duggar-focused in the last few weeks.  I had DVRd some of the shows on TLC, and watch with the kids when we just need some downtime.  Trust me, it’s a very engaging, wholesome show.  My husband watched a few with us, and has taken to joking sometimes, “Are we watching the Kardashians today?”   This is what we like to call at our house, “theologian humor,” but we all laugh.  Can I ask again, why are the Kardashians famous?  It’s completely baffling.

When we watch the show, we point out where the Duggars’ beliefs might not be exactly Catholic, but a lot of their ideas are very practical and they display a very honest, earnest desire to be the best they can, and thereby serve and glorify God.

So both of their books came from the library, and I have to say that after reading more from them, it’s clear they are pretty sensible people with good hearts.  I found myself thinking, like I did about Steve Jobs last fall:  “not far from the kingdom of God.” 

The Duggars’ faith and their parenting is based on love, not fear. They truly try to help their children develop healthy relationships with one another and the world.  The parents work hard on their own marriage and on managing distress and anger.   They have some helpful ideas about living below your means. They try to live out the Gospel as they see it, and raise their children to be servants.

I was definitely skeptical before reading their books, and even dismissed them as a “full quiver” type of Christian, but in fact they specifically say they don’t believe in that, and really just are committed to remaining open to life, and grateful for God’s gift of children.

Some might laugh at this, but I found myself thinking of the Duggars again last weekend, when our family attended liturgy at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church–we try to go every few months, because it’s an awesome liturgy and a beautiful, icon-filled church.  During the liturgy, this thought popped up: “Imagine if the Duggars were Byzantine Catholic.”  I know it seems far-fetched, even incongruous, but how beautiful, for the Duggars, who really do have such a heart for following Christ, could see it brought to its fullness to experience the transcendent and beautiful liturgy.  All the chanting, incense, and reverence.  And the Duggars, with their diligence, honesty and desire for good, would be amazing apologists for the faith.   Hey, stranger things have happened.

What do you like least about them?

What’s most annoying about Ready for Anything is not being able to implement things because I’m just too darn busy.

As far as the Duggars, I’m old enough now to take away the good things from the Duggars without going overboard.  Instead of thinking I need mirror them (I need to shop exclusively at thrift stores! wear only skirts! make tater tot casserole!

My family doesn’t look like their family.  Earlier in my marriage and my family life, I might have thought, “I need to take all these ideas, our days need to look like theirs, my kids need to dress matching, etc.”  Instead, I take away the good and leave behind the not necessary, but truly, there is a lot of good among the Duggars.

Most apealling about both of these books is the attraction of virtue.  It’ natural to be attracted to what is good there.  But we don’t have to emulate every bit of it.  Look at the variety of saints—all so different in the way they exhibited holiness.  Think of the difference between a St. Catherine of Siena and a St. Gianna Molla, or the difference between St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis de Sales.

To paraphrase Tolstoy (actually, he said the opposite), all happy families are happy in their own way.  There are many ways to be a happy, productive person and a happy, healthy family.

What’s next on your list to read?

Normally I set aside Lenten reading well ahead of time, but I have not done so this year.  The only spiritual reading I’m doing  (other than the tons of books I peruse for the Post) is my usual reading of the Divine Liturgy (that I read on my most used app, hands down, the Universalis App, and as usual this time of year they are really good).  I need to remedy that, so let me leave you with a quote from The Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.  This is a book I try to read each Lent. 

Your language should be restrained, frank, sincere, candid, unaffected, and honest.  Be on guard against equivocation, ambiguity, or dissimulation.  While it is not always advisable to say all that is true, it is never permissible to speak against the truth.  Therefore, you must become accustomed to never to tell a deliberate lie whether to excuse yourself or for some other purposes, remembering always that God is the “God of truth.”
So, what are you reading these days?  Any books you would like to share?

Catholic Blog Day: The Prayer of St. Ephrem

Catholic Blog Day 

 I first read about Catholic Blog Day on Twitter several weeks back, and resolved to post today on the suggested theme of “Penance.”  How convenient (and not a bit coincidental!), since it is Ash Wednesday.

I thought about all the things I could share about penance and Lent, and in fact quite a few funny discussions going on around our house with tweens and teens about “what I’m going to give up for Lent.”

Instead I’d like to share The Prayer of St. Ephrem (his name is spelled lots of ways; I’m just picking one).  This is a prayer my husband suggested our family might pray together during Lent.  Our pastor printed this in our bulletin, and my husband explained how Byzantine Catholics pray this all the time during Lent, as in every hour of the day!

(Said husband also happened to start his Lent on an Eastern/Byzantine Catholic schedule, which means he started two days ago.  Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly Roman Catholic, and definitely had my Mardi Gras yesterday with an apple fritter and all the non-Lent things).

 You can read a little more about The Prayer of St. Ephrem here.  I don’t think we’ll necessarily be praying it every hour here, but I’m posting it in various rooms around the house, and I hope we will be able to consistently make it a part of our Lenten journey.

Prayer of Saint Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life,
keep from me the spirit of uncaring and discouragement,
desire for power, and idle chatter.

Instead, give to me, your servant,
the spirit of wholeness and integrity of being,
humble-mindedness, the spirit of patience and love.

O Lord and King,
grant me the grace to be aware of my failings
and not to judge my brothers and sisters,
for You are blessed, now and ever and forever.   Amen. 

I’m not really sure what will be the fruit of the Prayer of St. Ephrem during Lent, but I consider it to be so much like our Catholic faith and prayers–just letting it all soak in.   You pray the Rosary about a zillion times, and occasionally you have an insight about one of the mysteries or even the “Hail Mary” that expands your soul and faith in completely unexpected ways.  There’s so much to explore in this simple prayer, and I hope and pray that this time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving will help us all grow spiritually.

If you care to share what your family is doing for Lent, you are more than welcome–comment away!  What are your thoughts, too, about Catholic Blog Day, and did you participate?

Catholic Blog Day is the idea of Jonathan Sullivan, a Catholic evangelist and new media expert in a nearby diocese.  I think it’s such a great idea, and I’m glad to be a little part of this great experiment and idea. I hope there will be another “Catholic Blog Day” maybe in Easter Time this year, so we can all write about joy or reconciliation or mercy.