- The Annual Lent Fight, by Jimmy Akin:
Yes, indeed. It's time once again to hash through all those vexing questions about Lent that are caused when Catholic folk tradition smacks into the Church's official documents, with all their ambiguities, complexities, and lacunae!
Countless illusions and popular rumors about Lent will be dashed! Disputes will be started! Friendships will be ended! Ashes will be smeared! Hamburgers will be skipped!
Yes, the annual Lentomachy has it all! . . .
- "Remember, Man, That Thou Art Dust", by John Heard (Dreadnought): "Ash Wednesday opens this great Catholic season of fasting and abstinence. From today we discipline the spirit by denying the body. In the process we remind the intellect that the quality of our lives is measured not by bodily comforts and pleasure. Rather via torment and sacrifice, we suffer at last into truth. . . ."
- Lent, Nosiness and Security, by Oswald Sobrino Catholic Analyis -- a little bit of wisdom from St. Josemaría Escrivá (1902-75).
- Here is Jimmy Akin on Unforgiveness Worries and why not to trouble one's self with scrupulous thoughts.
- Karen Marie Knapp recommends 40 Ways to Improve One's Lent (from the Catholic Herald circa. 2005).
- Zenit News Service ran a four part pastoral letter by Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieto-Vasto, a member of the International Theological Commission, on the theme "Reconciliation and the Beauty of God." Get the links to all four parts Blog by the Sea. (And -- via Rocco Palmo -- To Follow You, Light Of Life: Spiritual Exercises Preached Before John Paul II At The Vatican is available from Eerdmans.
- On Lent and the Tyranny of the Body American Inquisition February 27, 2006.
- The Marginalization of Confession by Ralph Roister-Doister (RORATE CÆLI). When many parishes schedule confession for a single hour (if even that!) on a Saturday, and otherwise "by special appointment," -- then yes, this is a serious problem.
- What Does Prayer Really Say? - Ash Wednesday, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a translation and reflection of Today's Collect.
- Stephen Riddle ((Flos Carmeli) is one of my favorite writers/bloggers, definitely one of the more eloquent out there -- not to puff up his ego or anything. ;-) Anyway, during the Lenten season he really shines. Consider An Invitation to Intimacy:
Upon first entering the church, there is a fire, a fervency, a desire to serve God in this new place that burns brightly; however, as they fuel for that fire tends to be sparse it is of short duration. Soon, from whatever cause, the fire has died down and is banked, the embers are rarely stirred beneath their fine white covering of ash. Such a faith provides a certain warmth and glow, but not the all-consuming blaze that the Lord would like of us.and some good advice on Lent & New Years:
Lent is a time to consider how to move once again toward that intimacy, toward an all-out conflagration rather than a simple house-warming fire. It is a time of renewal--not of hardship. The hardships of Lent are incidentals that receive entirely too much of our attention. Fasting, Prayer, and Alms are not strange entities to pull out only at this season--rather they are constants.
Lent is a time to consider all of our activities and to integrate them into the one goal of serving the Lord.
The asceticism of Lent is not a call to heroics, it is an invitation to love. That invitation, followed to its full, will inevitably lead to heroic spirituality, but God doesn't expect us to leap from our current habits and practices into the habit of Mother Teresa in one 40 day season. He may cause it to happen, if we are willing and we dispose ourselves to it; however, we can't make it happen, and He most likely won't. This is nothing to be disappointed over. Sanctity takes time and attention. Lent begins to teach us how to pay attention.Finally, Stephen posts an excerpt from Spiritual Combat in the Carmelite Tradition in Get Up, Dust Yourself Off, Start Again.
So, if all of your noble and high-flown resolutions fall by the wayside, do not trouble yourself. Continue on the quiet path of a little more prayer, a little more attention, a little less selfishness and God will make much good out of this simple obedience. Do not ask more of yourself than God asks of you. This is a form of spiritual pride and disobedience. Instead, before we start on this road, let each of us spend some time in prayer and ask God what He desires. And then, do what you can to make it happen, and pray for God to fill in the rest.
Good advice as we turn our minds and hearts to the spiritual struggle that is our calling.