Good morning from Joy Valley! You made it to March! Spring is right around the corner, but do you know what happens before that? Lent!
Ash Wednesday will be here this week, March 6th, to kick off the Lenten season. It seems folks generally fall into one of two categories as Lent approaches: eager for a chance to purge vices and bad habits and ready to start fresh and dive in, or mournful and perhaps a little resentful of having to “give up something.” I’m sure that most of us can say that we have fallen into both categories at one point or another in our lives.
So, how do we humbly but boldly live out the true purpose of the season? How do we attempt to joyfully and earnestly die to self so that Christ is present in us more? That’s what we’re hoping to discuss in this week’s Cause of Our Joy.
Let’s get into this!
Since Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, we’re starting with this article by Mark Hart explaining why Catholics put ashes on their heads. It’s an easy read and gives good answers to the why and how of Ash Wednesday.
There’s an adage that says, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” It’s used to fire people up about weight loss, organizational resolutions, healthy eating plans, etc. You get it. We think it can be applied to Lent.
Of course, Jesus is the master of the plan and we submit to Him in all things, however, it doesn’t hurt to have an idea of how to accomplish the goal of a holy and growth-filled Lent ahead of time. Here are some things that might help you prepare:
- Lenten basics: Here is a great visual aid to remind you about the basics of Lent.
- Fasting: Fr. Chad Ripperger has a wonderful video on YouTube about fasting. It’s about 7 minutes long and worth the time if you can spare it!
- Confession: This article from Catholic News Agency talks about making the journey from disliking the sacrament of penance to loving it!
Sometimes giving something up is not the thing that helps us to grow the most. Sometimes “picking something up” can be powerful and transforming. Kendra Tierney from Catholic All Year has some good suggestions.
Many people love using the “Best Lent Ever” resources from Dynamic Catholic. If you haven’t heard of it and want to know more, check out this link!
Lent can be a time of great spiritual warfare The devil doesn’t particularly like it when you are growing closer to God. He was so bold as to tempt Christ in the desert. This article, 5 Ways the Devil Attacks During Lent from Aleteia is a good reflection on ways to recognize and respond to temptation.
Lent for Children
One of the greatest gifts that we, as parents, aunts and uncles, and godparents, can give is to pass the Faith on to the little ones in our lives. There are so many amazing family-friendly resources online to help teach children about Lent. Here are some that we found easy and inspiring:
- Printable Stations of the Cross for kids
- Explaining Lenten sacrifice to children
- Printable paper chain for Lenten sacrifices
Your Labor is Not in Vain
There are times in our lives (and I’m sure that most of you can share this sentiment), where life seems overwhelming and we feel hopeless. It seems like no matter how hard we try, things just don’t go the way we intended. Loved ones leave the Faith, our children don’t heed our advice and we are left to watch them suffer the consequences. Where there is Christ there is always hope. In this Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Remove the plank from you own eye
This Sunday’s Gospel has so many great lessons to be learned: the blind leading the blind, knowing a tree by the fruit it bears, and removing the plank from your own eye. Here is an excellent reflection on this Gospelfrom Catholic Exchange
St. John of God is an excellent model for Catholics engaging in the new evangelization. His time as a soldier in the army of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, followed by a career as a mercenary, gave way ultimately to printing religious books for the edification of the faithful and caring for the the sick and poor. The Catholic News Agency has more on this sinner turned saint.
While the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows isn’t until September, we got to thinking about how Mary’s sorrow is our joy. Her son’s sacrifice (which we commemorate at the end of Lent, during Holy Week) is our salvation.This article from Catholic Exchange explains why Our Lady of Sorrows is the Cause of Our Joy.
It’s been said that Advent is a season when we ask Jesus to come to us. Lent, on the other hand, is a season when Jesus asks us to come to Him.
Katie Moe and Lori Mercer
Marian Center Update
- The Marian Center will be present at the Men’s Conference in Traverse City today. If you’re there, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Andy and Josh!
- Marian Center 25th Anniversary Celebration, Saturday, March 16, Bishop Raica will be celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 11:00 am, followed by a luncheon.
- March 24th – Advisory Council meeting – begins at 3:00 with Chaplet of Divine Mercy and meeting to follow. If you want to know what’s going on at the Center or would like to offer help or suggestions, please come. There’s no commitment… we just want to hear from you!
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