>St. Joseph Novena, Day 6

>

St. Joseph Novena, Day 6


Sixth Day
PATRON OF FAMILIES

Saint Joseph, I venerate you as the gentle head of the Holy Family. The Holy Family was the scene of your life’s work in its origin, in its guidance, in its protection, in your labor for Jesus and Mary, and even in your death in their arms. You lived, moved, and acted in the loving company of Jesus and Mary. The inspired writer describes your life at Nazareth in only a few words: “And (Jesus) went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them” (Luke, 2:51). Yet these words tell of your high vocation here on earth, and the abundance of graces which filled your soul during those years spent in Nazareth.

Your family life at Nazareth was all radiant with the light of divine charity. There was an intimate union of heart and mind among the members of your Holy Family. There could not have been a closer bond than that uniting you to Jesus, your foster-Son and to Mary, your most loving wife. Jesus chose to fulfill toward you, His foster-father, all the duties of a faithful son, showing you every mark of honor and affection due to a parent. And Mary showed you all the signs of respect and love of a devoted wife. You responded to this love and veneration from Jesus and Mary  with feelings of deepest love and respect. You had for Jesus a true fatherly love, enkindled and kept aglow in your heart by the Holy Spirit. And you could not cease to admire the workings of grace in Mary’s soul, and this admiration caused the holy love which you had consecrated to her on the day of your wedding grow stronger every day.

God has made you a heavenly patron of family life because you sanctified yourself as head of the Holy Family and thus by your beautiful example sanctified family life. How peacefully and happily the Holy Family rested under the care of your fatherly rule, even in the midst of trials. You were the protector, counselor, and consolation of the Holy Family in every need. And just as you were the model of piety, so you gave us by your zeal, your earnestness and devout trust in God’s providence, and especially by your love, the example of labor according to the Will of God. You cherished all the experiences common to family life and the sacred memories of the life, sufferings, and joys in the company of Jesus and Mary. Therefore the family is dear to you as the work of God, and it is of the highest importance in your eyes to promote the honor of God and the well-being of man. In your loving fatherliness and unfailing intercession you are the patron and intercessor of families, and you deserve a place in every home.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of living in the Holy Family and being its head. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain God’s blessing upon my own family. Make our home the kingdom of Jesus and Mary — a kingdom of peace, of joy, and love.

I also pray for all Christian families. Your help is needed in our day when God’s enemy has directed his attack against the family in order to desecrate and destroy it. In the face of these evils, as patron of families, be pleased to help; and as of old, you arose to save the Child and His Mother, so today arise to protect the sanctity of the home. Make our homes sanctuaries of prayer, of love, of patient sacrifice, and of work. May they be modeled after your own at Nazareth. Remain with us with Jesus and Mary, so that by your help we may obey the commandments of God and of the Church; receive the holy sacraments of God and of the Church; live a life of prayer; and foster religious instruction in our homes. Grant that we may be reunited in God’s Kingdom and eternally live in the company of the Holy Family in heaven.


Novena to 
St. Joseph

*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

>St. Joseph Novena, Day 5

>

St. Joseph Novena, Day 5
St. Joseph Photo in Buffalo NY, by Geraldine Liguidano


Fifth Day
PATRON OF THE CHURCH

Saint Joseph, God has appointed you patron of the Catholic Church because you were the head of the Holy Family, the starting-point of the Church. You were the father, protector, guide and support of the Holy Family. For that reason you belong in a particular way to the Church, which was the purpose of the Holy Family’s existence.

I believe that the Church is the family of God on earth. Its government is represented in priestly authority which consists above all in its power over the true Body of Christ, really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, thus continuing Christ’s life in the Church. From this power, too, comes authority over the Mystical Body of Christ, the members of the Church — the power to teach and govern souls, to reconcile them with God, to bless them, and to pray for them.

You have a special relationship to the priesthood because you possessed a wonderful power over our Savior Himself. Your life and office were of a priestly function and are especially connected with the Blessed Sacrament. To some extent you were the means of bringing the Redeemer to us — as it is the priest’s function to bring Him to us in the Mass — for you reared Jesus, supported, nourished, protected and sheltered Him. You were prefigured by the patriarch Joseph, who kept supplies of wheat for his people. But how much greater than he were you! Joseph of old gave the Egyptians mere bread for their bodies. You nourished, and with the most tender care, preserved for the Church Him who is the Bread of Heaven and who gives eternal life in Holy Communion.

God has appointed you patron of the Church because the glorious title of patriarch also falls by special right to you. The patriarchs were the heads of families of the Chosen People, and theirs was the honor to prepare for the Savior’s incarnation. You belonged to this line of patriarchs, for you were one of the last descendants of the family of David and one of the nearest forebears of Christ according to the flesh. As husband of Mary, the Mother of God, and as the foster-father of the Savior, you were directly connected with Christ. Your vocation was especially concerned with the Person of Jesus; your entire activity centered about Him. You are, therefore, the closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New, which took its rise with the Holy Family of Nazareth. Because the New Testament surpasses the Old in every respect, you are the patriarch of patriarchs, the most venerable, exalted, and amiable of all the patriarchs.

Through Mary, the Church received Christ, and therefore the Church is indebted to her. But the Church owes her debt of gratitude and veneration to you also, for you were the chosen one who enabled Christ to enter into the world according to the laws of order and fitness. It was by you that the patriarchs and the prophets and the faithful reaped the fruit of God’s promise. Alone among them all, you saw with your own eyes and possessed the Redeemer promised to the rest of men.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being the Patron of the Church. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to live always as a worthy member of this Church, so that through it I may save my soul. Bless the priests, the religious, and the laity of the Catholic Church, that they may ever grow in God’s love and faithfulness in His service. Protect the Church from the evils of our day and from the persecution of her enemies. Through your powerful intercession may the church successfully accomplish its mission in this world — the glory of God and the salvation of souls!


*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

>Novena to St. Joseph, Day 4

>

Novena to St. Joseph, Day 4
El Greco (I love El Greco’s paintings)


Fourth Day
FAITHFUL SERVANT

Saint Joseph, you lived for one purpose — to be the personal servant of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.Your noble birth and ancestry, the graces and gifts, so generously poured out on you by God — all this was yours to serve our Lord better. Every thought, word, and action of yours was a homage to the love and glory of the Incarnate Word. You fulfilled most faithfully the role of a good and faithful servant who cared for the House of God.

How perfect was your obedience! Your position in the Holy Family obliged you to command, but besides being the foster-father of Jesus, you were also His disciple. For almost thirty years, you watched the God-Man display a simple and prompt obedience, and you grew to love and practice it very perfectly yourself. Without exception you submitted to God, to the civil rulers, and to the voice of your conscience.

When God sent an angel to tell you to care for Mary, you obeyed in spite of the mystery which surrounded her motherhood. When you were told to flee into Egypt under painful conditions, you obeyed without the slightest word of complaint. When God advised you in a dream to return to Nazareth, you obeyed. In every situation your obedience was as simple as your faith, as humble as your heart, as prompt as your love. It neglected nothing; it took in every command.

You had the virtue of perfect devotednesswhich marks a good servant. Every moment of your life was consecrated to the service of our Lord: sleep, rest, work, pain. Faithful to your duties, you sacrificed everything unselfishly, even cheerfully. You would have sacrificed even the happiness of being with Mary. The rest and quiet of Nazareth was sacrificed at the call of duty. Your entire life was one generous giving, even to the point of being ready to die in proof of your love for Jesus and Mary. With true unselfish devotedness you worked without praise or reward.

But God wanted you to be in a certain sense a cooperator in the Redemption of the worldHe confided to you the care of nourishing and defending the Divine Child. He wanted you to be poor and to suffer because He destined you to be the foster-father of His Son, who came into the world to save men by His sufferings and death, and you were to share in His suffering. In all of these important tasks, the Heavenly Father always found you a faithful servant!

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being God’s faithful servant. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to be a faithful servant of God as you were. Help me to share, as you did, the perfect obedience of Jesus, who came not to do His Will, but the Will of His Father; to trust in the Providence of God, knowing that if I do His Will, He will provide for all my needs of soul and body; to be calm in my trials and to leave it to our Lord to free me from them when it pleases Him to do so. And help me to imitate your generosity, for there can be no greater reward here on earth than the joy and honor of being a faithful servant of God.



*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

>Novena to St. Joseph, Day 3

>

Novena to St. Joseph, Day 3


Third Day
MAN CHOSEN BY THE BLESSED TRINITY

Saint Joseph, you were the man chosen by God the FatherHe selected you to be His representative on earth, hence He granted you all the graces and blessings you needed to be His worthy representative.

You were the man chosen by God the Son. Desirous of a worthy foster-father, He added His own riches and gifts, and above all, His love. The true measure of your sanctity is to be judged by your imitation of Jesus. You were entirely consecrated to Jesus, working always near Him, offering Him your virtues, your work, your sufferings, your very life. Jesus lived in you perfectly so that you were transformed into Him. In this lies your special glory, and the keynote of your sanctity. Hence, after Mary, you are the holiest of the saints.

You were chosen by the Holy Spirit. He is the mutual Love of the Father and the Son — the heart of the Holy Trinity. In His wisdom He draws forth all creatures from nothing, guides them to their end in showing them their destiny and giving them the means to reach it. Every vocation and every fulfillment of a vocation proceeds from the Holy Spirit. As a foster-father of Jesus and head of the Holy Family, you had an exalted and most responsible vocation — to open the way for the redemption of the world and to prepare for it by the education and guidance of the youth of the God-Man. In this work you cooperated as the instrument of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was the guide; you obeyed and carried out the works. How perfectly you obeyed the guidance of the God of Love!

The words of the Old Testament which Pharaoh spoke concerning Joseph of Egypt can well be applied to you: “Can we find such another man, that is full of the spirit of God, or a wise man like to him?” (Gen. 41:38). No less is your share in the divine work of God than was that of Egypt. You now reign with your foster-Son and see reflected in the mirror of God’s Wisdom the Divine Will and what is of benefit to our souls.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for having made you the man specially chosen by Him. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to imitate your virtues so that I too may be pleasing to the Heart of God. Help me to give myself entirely to His service and to the accomplishment of His Holy Will, that one day I may reach heaven and be eternally united to God as you are.



*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.

MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

>Novena to St. Joseph, Day 2

>

Novena to St. Joseph, Day 2

Second Day
VIRGINAL HUSBAND OF MARY

Saint Joseph, I honor you as the true husband of Mary. Scripture says: “Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, and of her was born Jesus who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16). Your marriage to Mary was a sacred contract by which you and Mary gave yourselves to each other. Mary really belonged to you with all she was and had. You had a right to her love and obedience; and no other person so won her esteem, obedience, and love.

You were also the protector and witness of Mary’s virginityBy your marriage you gave to each other your virginity, and also the mutual right over it — a right to safeguard the other’s virtue. This mutual virginity also belonged to the divine plan of the Incarnation, for God sent His angel to assure you that motherhood and virginity in Mary could be united.

This union of marriage not only brought you into daily familiar association with Mary, the loveliest of God’s creatures, but also enabled you to share with her a mutual exchange of spiritual goodsAnd Mary found her edification in your calm, humble, and deep virtue, purity, and sanctity. What a great honor comes to you from this close union with her whom the Son of God calls Mother and whom He declared the Queen of heaven and earth! Whatever Mary had belonged by right to you also, and this included her Son, even though He had been given to her by God in a wonderful way. Jesus belonged to you as His legal father. Your marriage was the way which God chose to have Jesus introduced into the world, a great divine mystery from which all benefits have come to us.

God the Son confided the guardianship and the support of His Immaculate Mother to your care. Mary’s life was that of the Mother of the Savior, who did not come upon earth to enjoy honors and pleasures, but to redeem the world by hard work, suffering, and the cross. You were the faithful companion, support, and comforter of the Mother of Sorrows. How loyal you were to her in poverty, journeying, work, and pain. Your love for Mary was based upon your esteem for her as Mother of God. After God and the Divine Child, you loved no one as much as her. Mary responded to this love. She submitted to your guidance with naturalness and easy grace and childlike confidence. The Holy Spirit Himself was the bond of the great love which united your hearts.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being the virginal husband of Mary. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus with all my heart, as you did, and  love Mary with some of the tenderness and loyalty with which you loved her.



*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen

>Novena to St. Joseph, Begins today, Day 1

>

OK, so we are in the middle of the desert.  The lenten desert that is.  And I am feeling that dry parched stumbling sense of “when are we gonna find our way through this?”  That’s lent all right,  and right on cue.

I even chaperoned the girls on an amazing great rich retreat last weekend, but still…..it’s lent, it’s hard, it’s supposed to be.  I think we are supposed to be stumbling and gasping for help a bit.  Because we need to remember that we can’t do this, ANY of this…this life mom parenting living loving persevering STUFF…..on our own.

To that end, my son who is living large in Italy (though he’s supposed to be hitting the books hard…ahem) has sent me a reminder and a link to this novena.  The Novena to St. Joseph.  He asked me if I wanted to join him in praying this novena.  It begins today.  I said  yes.

You know what that means: I will put it up on blog. Every day.
And  you too, if you are interested can pray along.  Follow the bouncing ball…..(remember that? did I just date myself again???)  


But, really, it’s to St. Joseph, patron of families, workers, earthly father to Christ.  He gets it.  He got old, tired, worked hard, loved much and faithfully, endured adversity, followed God’s will, even hauling his young new family to Egypt when prompted to go…saving them, obediently, in blind faith.  So I think he’s a good one to turn to now, in the desert.  He’s been there, literally (uh, Egypt, Israel, remember) and figuratively. Plus, he’s a dad.  So, he’ll listen kindly with an open heart to our worries and then pray on our behalf to his son.  And, as we know the  prayers of a just man mean much, and as we (Ok, I) beg folks all the time for prayers for this or that….why not hit up someone who ‘get’s it” and is close to Christ: his earthly dad.

I mean, this is what I love about novenas…..don’t your kids come to you get you to petition Dad for things? “Please mom, talk to him about letting me go to that dance.  Mom, can you talk to Dad?  I really want to go to that school, you know……”  Well, my kids do it. I do it still.  A novena is the same deal.  It’s asking folks for prayers for  you, for petition about your concerns.  But in a much more expanded way than our constricting earthly selves.  I think it’s beautiful…and I’m grateful for them.

So, without further ado.  (You’re welcome.) Here it is.

Day One. Novena to St Joseph.

Day One
FOSTER-FATHER OF JESUS

Saint Joseph, you were privileged to share in the mystery of the Incarnation as the foster-father of Jesus.Mary alone was directly connected with the fulfillment of the mystery, in that she gave her consent to Christ’s conception and allowed the Holy Spirit to form the sacred humanity of Jesus from her blood. You had a part in this mystery in an indirect manner, by fulfilling the condition necessary for the Incarnation — the protection of Mary’s virginity before and during your married life with her. You made the virginal marriage possible, and this was a part of God’s plan, foreseen, willed, and decreed from all eternity.
In a more direct manner you shared in the support, upbringing, and protection of the Divine Child as His foster-father. For this purpose the Heavenly Father gave you a genuine heart of a father — a heart full of love and self-sacrifice. With the toil of your hands you were obliged to offer protection to the Divine Child, to procure for Him food, clothing, and a home. You were truly the saint of the holy childhood of Jesus — the living created providence which watched over the Christ-Child.
When Herod sought the Child to put Him to death, the Heavenly Father sent an angel but only as a messenger, giving orders for the flight; the rest He left entirely in your hands. It was that fatherly love which was the only refuge that received and protected the Divine Child. Your fatherly love carried Him through the desert into Egypt until all enemies were removed. Then on your arms the Child returned to Nazareth to be nourished and provided for during many years by the labor of your hands. Whatever a human son owes to a human father for all the benefits of his up-bringing and support, Jesus owed to you, because you were to Him a foster-father, teacher, and protector.
You served the Divine Child with a singular love. God gave you a heart filled with heavenly, supernatural love — a love far deeper and more powerful than any natural father’s love could be.

You served the Divine Child with great unselfishness, without any regard to self-interest, but not without sacrifices. You did not toil for yourself, but you seemed to be an instrument intended for the benefit of others, to be put aside as soon as it had done its word, for you disappeared from the scene once the childhood of Jesus had passed.

You were the shadow of the Heavenly Father not only as the earthly representative of the authority of the Father, but also by means of your fatherhood — which only appeared to be natural — you were to hide for a while the divinity of Jesus. What a wonderfully sublime and divine vocation was yours — the loving Child which you carried in your arms, and loved and served so faithfully, had God in Heaven as Father and was Himself God!

Yours is a very special rank among the saints of the Kingdom of God, because you were so much a part of the very life of the Word of God made Man. In your house at Nazareth and under your care the redemption of mankind was prepared. What you accomplished, you did for us. You are not only a powerful and great saint in the Kingdom of God, but a benefactor of the whole of Christendom and mankind. Your rank in the Kingdom of God, surpassing far in dignity and honor of all the angels, deserves our very special veneration, love, and gratitude.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of having been chosen by God to be the foster-father of His Divine Son. As a token of your own gratitude to God for this your greatest privilege, obtain for me the grace of a very devoted love for Jesus Christ, my God and my Savior. Help me to serve Him with some of the self-sacrificing love and devotion which you had while on this earth with Him. Grant that through your intercession with Jesus, your foster-Son, I may reach the degree of holiness God has destined for me, and save my soul.




*NOVENA PRAYER
*(prayer to be said at the end of each day’s devotion)

Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


MEMORARERemember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen




>Tripping

>

Falling. Stumbling. Slipping. Stubbing.
Tripping.
We all fall down.

I fall down.

It’s why I grasp onto the prayer of the Stations of the Cross.
Because Christ falls, not once, but THREE times, as he carries his cross. And today is Friday and so I am thinking about this, tis the season….yeah, for falling.

Thus, as I fall, every darn day…it helps me. It helps me to pray the stations, to read and contemplate his exhaustion, how very hard it was to take the next step, any step, to just hold.
And he needed help…or, more precisely, he ALLOWED help.

Now he allowed help in order to let us participate, in order to show that through weakness we can be strong, together. He allowed help because that cross was SO. VERY. HEAVY….from us.
Perhaps if he hadn’t fallen, and allowed help to get up and keep going…just contemplating this walk would break us too. It would break me, I know. As it is, just contemplating it is heavy on my heart, every time.

And yet, it’s also such a help. Because I fall.
I’m falling. I fall again and again, ever, in carrying this measly hollow reed of a cross that I’ve been given.
I throw it down, tired and fed up. I gripe, I moan, I whine. As if that will help. It doesn’t. It only annoys everyone, not the least of which is myself (I offer a blanket apology to all my long suffering friends and family).

It’s OH so easy to compare crosses. Such a trap.
I do, though. All the time. And then I want to skulk away, knowing my cross is a twig, a hollow twig. It is filled with sweet kisses and belly hugs, soft sighs in the morning, and inside jokes.
Even so, I know this but some days I drop it, again and again. Because too often I focus on the struggles the fussing the attitudes the physical tiredness. But that mere twig, woven from eight (ok, nine) special souls in my care, grows in my selfish tired heart and hands into a giant redwood.
On those days, I strain to see through the gloaming…the shadows are long.
But I have blinded my own self. I am only looking at the hard, the tired…me.

Then another blessed Lenten Friday arrives, again, and I kneel to pray the stations.
I sing, off key, the Stabat Mater, in between the Stations.
And I blink to keep the tears back as my eyes, my heart, comes into focus again.
My twiggy cross is filled with sweet kisses and belly hugs, soft sighs in the morning, and inside jokes.
It is MY cross.
It is MY joy.

I fell down.
Tripped.
With help, and new eyes again, I get up.
It’s Friday…time for the Stations…again.

>Fish Eaters – What’s up with that?

>Ok, so here we are in Lent, officially in the first week of Lent (because even though half of last week was Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, those days aren’t counted in the “weeks” but they are counted in the days.  Yeah, it messes me up too.)  Anyhow….. so we’ve already had two official days of abstinence and one of fasting.  

So, what’s the diff? Abstinence, fasting, no meat….but fish, isn’t fish meat?  
Confused?
Join the club, you aren’t the only one.
In fact, I am a what they call a “Cradle Catholic;” by which I mean, raised Catholic from birth.  And even I still have to scratch my head and think hard on the specifics of the days sometimes.  {Although, admittedly, lately that’s been more because of the softening of my mind and loss of brain cells due to this blasted middle age.}  

But folks always ask about the fish.  Specifically, “What’s up with the Friday Fish?”

Ya got your fish fries, your fish sandwiches, tuna fish in every way you can dream it up.
Personally, I prefer the veggie route…but that’s just me maybe.  Anthony, my little man, he will vote for the cheese pizza, every time.  But I digress.

Anyhow, so what IS up with the whole “fish” thing?
Well lots.
The rudimentary part is we abstain, we Catholics, from meat on Fridays.
It’s a small mortification.
Some have speculated on why we do it.
But as with most things in the Church, there is always real history and tradition behind what we do today.  For a good article on the history and reasoning behind this, go here, it’s an article written by my real world in person I just hugged her at Mass yesterday morning gal pal, Sonja.  She’s brilliant and writes lovely intellectual pieces that explain so much about the church (as opposed to my stream of consciousness blather).  So read, you’ll learn.  You’ll be glad you did.

So, we fast and abstain in order to experience the spirit of this penitential season of Lent.  We make small (measly, really) sacrifices in order to train our bodily selves to look beyond our lives here, moment to moment.  We offer that small suffering to Christ, in thanksgiving for all he went through for us.  It is a small teeny tiny parallel to Christ’s forty days of prayer in the desert.  We are in the desert, during Lent. We try to train our minds, bodies and hearts to turn to what is actually real and important.  And it’s not the hamburgers…or the fish sandwiches.

So, yeah, we don’t eat meat on Fridays.  Mostly during Lent, though some try to observe this throughout the year.  And it may sound like no big deal.  But I’ll tell ya, maybe it’s because I have the self discipline of a four year old….but when I KNOW I can’t have meat, all of a sudden I am craving a big ol’ steak, or bacon, or a chicken sandwich. It’s as if I was thrown back to the caveman era, before the world knew the  wonders of spinach salad with goat cheese, or hummus, or a good caprese salad.  And I sulk a bit.  I mope around and suddenly can’t find anything to eat. Because I am an infant.  And so, Fridays are tough.  But I guess that it how they are supposed to be.

>…Her Station Keeping….

>It’s Friday.
It’s Lent.
It’s the First Friday of Lent.

So. You know what that means:
Fish sandwiches.

Ok, it means more than that.  It also means Stations of the Cross.

This is a prayer that I am particularly fond of.
It speaks to me.
It combines my interest in art with my love of story.
I mean, as an art major in college and a folkore and lit major in grad school, what brings those two together better than the Stations of the Cross?? Well, in my not nearly humble enough opinion, nothing!

Every Catholic church has a set of the stations. And while I tend toward the more classical in my aesthetic, I always like to check them out.  They are a visual story. An artistic storyboard…with all due respect.  An illustrated art/prayer event.  Sometimes antiquated, sometimes profound, sometimes dreary, sometimes modern or abstract. Sometimes they are even 3D.  But, they are classic and installed in all churches, typically lining the perimeter interior walls.

Right, sorry, what are they: The Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa?  The Stations are a visual depiction of Christ’s Passion, from his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane to his entombment.  They are a stationary, historical, art event….Mel did his own version in his famous difficult graphic hard intense sometimes controversial movie.

But they are also a prayer.  Preferably, a communal prayer.  And during Lent, most churches will have a communal time to come together to pray the Stations on Friday’s (right after the fish fry, no kidding).  And the people gather in the evening and take the small hand sized books and follow the priest or prayer leader as a group.  They walk from Station to Station, set around the church.  And they pray together.  And in doing so, they are meditating on Christ’s passion and what Lent is all about.  Because it’s not only about the swearing off of chocolate or, um, swearing or drinking or whatever.  Lent is about the person.  Not us the person…. And the gift given, and hopefully turning our hearts back to the giver.

And in praying the Stations, even a small child, or I, can wander the aisles, gaze up, and follow this story.  And wonder.  And even in doing that, begin to pray.

We adore you O Christ and we praise you….
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

>Lent-O-Rama

>I can say that, can’t I??
That’s not too frivolous, is it?

I mean, this is a somber season….but it’s still in front of us and it’s almost Mardi Gras folks….so I’m running with it. Carnivale, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras. It’s all about the feast and the fest, you know – the pancakes – until Wednesday that is.

Because Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and its’ the beginning of Lent. And as I’m feeling it starting to press toward me, I am riffling through my lenten resources and ideas, prodding friends and family for their thoughts and ideas and being a general pest.

So, because I’m stewing about this, I’m posting. And if you want to shortcut this post and go to the mother of all lent round ups, go here, to Aggie Catholics and their yearly “one stop shop” for all things lent. You can also go here, to Sister Mary Martha, for her usual clear eyed, cut to the chase info on lent; what it is and shouldn’t be. Worth a peek, there.

Now I always like to plan on some spiritual reading during lent. No kidding, I do. Now, that plan often gets derailed, but really, I try, I do. TO that end, my list from last year, bookwise, still stands, go see…lots of good ones there.

Now, if I had to pick one or two…..and I might…I would recommend you look at these. The first one is a big bite to chew, um, read. It is dense and one of those books where you have to put it down every few pages to, um, digest it all. But, oh so worth the time:

Fire Within by Thomas Dubay : One of the best books I’ve read, especially for Lent. Deep, challenging, powerful stuff. One of the ones at the top of my list of great books, for years and years.
The second top of the chart lenten good reads is below. I’ve given this book out a number of times and it’s just a good retreat in a book, and great for retrackign your conception of the term “love.”

I Believe in Love, : Great book, a mini retreat in a book. Very powerful. Simple but very good. Don’t be put off by the simple title, it is still full of deep richness to dive into, especially this time of year. Because lent is exactly that, a time to declare our love…for others, and Christ (Not ourselves, like we/I usually do).
Ok, that’s it for the moment. I also have thoughts about things to add to your/my lenten observance, the really rich part of lent, in my book: confession, stations of the cross, devotions…

I actually really like lent and this whole season – even as I kind of brace for it. It’s a bit like setting out to train for a marathon or a half: you know it’s gonna be oh so difficult and probably painful, but you also know that you will be glad for the training, discipline and strength that results.

Hmmm. I am still pondering and pestering everyone quite a bit about that whole fasting part of lent, but if you all have any ideas or thoughts on it all, I would love to hear them. and when I can steal another few moments I will try to post some good links on it all. Great stuff out there on fasting, prayer, all the richness of the Lenten season. But until then I’m asking around about folks Lenten observances.

And now I am stepping it up to the cyber pest level. So, are you observing lent? If so, how?

>Waking up today….Updated

>this was rolling through my head.

Not exactly the Basilica where Buddybug is this morning…But still, apropos of the day I suppose.
Today is one of the longest Masses of the year, and it’s one of the hard ones. Sure it seems like it’s all the rejoicing like in the video above…but no we also have to read the long reading of when it all turns and Christ is taken to Pilate, and in the liturgy we respond, “Crucify him!” again and again.
I HATE that.
It makes me cringe.
It hurts and makes me wince.
I often want to stand silent, thinking, “No. I won’t. I can’t say that.”
But of course, I do, darn near every day in my selfish thoughtless words and snapping temper.
So, sure I could stand there and be silent today…..but oh, what a hypocrite.
And since I’m already that already too…..I will quietly, achingly whisper, “Crucify him” and try not to cry.

For more, ever so much better stuff on Palm Sunday, go here and here and, always, go here. anytime!

** Note: Palm Sunday Mass with toddlers means you don’t actually hear all the readings because you are juggling small boys who are playing swords with the palms that are given out. Long Mass, somber readings (Mark 14:1-15: 47), (Psalm 22), crowded pews, and toys, erk, palms…equals chaotic Mass!**

>Oasis in the Desert

>

Rejoice!

It’s Laetare Sunday! “Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam”

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her.”

This, “laetare,” means, literally, “rejoice,” taken from the words that open the Mass today, the entrance. It is a special day in this liturgical season, much akin to Gaudete Sunday in Advent.

It is an oasis in the walk through the desert of Lent. This is a day to encourage all of us in our Lenten efforts, a little breather to help us gather for the second half of a rigorous season and also remind us to look toward the joy of Easter itself. Hoorah, I’ll take it and just in the nick o’ time, if you ask me!
Indeed, “The strictness of the the Lenten Liturgy is interrupted on this Sunday with words that speak to us of joy. … As Holy Week and Easter draw near, so do forgiveness, mercy, divine compassion, and a superabundance of grace.” Francis Fernandez, “In Conversation with God; Lent and Eastertide.”
{You might wonder why I post about these Catholic observances and the theology behind them….or you might not…but just in case you do: I post about them because I think about them and, almost always, find that they are mirroring, on a grand and awesome scale, what is churning about in my own tiny little life. }

We are given flowers on the altar, the vestments change from the penitential color of purple to a lighter shade, a rose. The music is less somber. We are reminded that we can have joy, even in suffering and trials…but it is a joy that is not of the world. It is a joy that is more real and truer, deeper and one of seeming contradiction. It the joy of being united to Christ, even in the cross. As Pope Paul VI points out “Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness.” True happiness, joy, can be found in this contradiction of our modern world. Its not the surfeit of stuff that makes us happy, its the surrendering of our very selves, letting them go.

Laetare Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, from Gallations which points out our right to be called sons of God as the source of our joy. Which also of course, has, for me, a mom-adoptive connection (I know, a one-note kind of gal. Don’t judge me, I can’t help it. Because, yes, once again, it’s all about me).

So, all the facets of this day kind of converge for me.
As usual, the liturgical rhythm is ever so germane to my own little mundane gerbil mill life……{And, why yes, I have been stewing about how all this jives up. You may look to my last post on roller coasters, just below, to see why}.

And so I think today is a little gift, I take it as one.
Because this was a tough week, and might be a few tough weeks ahead, as my overactive imagination can dream up all the ways this court date and visa issue can go wrong…as I fret and stew even as I determine not to.
This day, today, encourages me to carry this cross, such a meager one as it may be.
To keep stepping forward in faith, no matter what may come…to keep working on trusting instead of doubting and kvetching. Instead it encourages me.
There are too many connections for it not to deeply resonate for me.

So, in order that I will remember them in the coming weeks until Easter, and even more, until our court date (just over one week!), I am going to make a list.
A laetare list, if you will.

Bear with me…Here goes:

Lent, a time of penance, sacrifice and mindfulness of being called to be more than we settle for, for remembering we are called to step out of our comfort zones in faith and hope.
The difficulty of actually following through on these efforts, or any effort really, to step out of our perfectly tufted comfort zones {ok, me}.
The great gift of a little oasis, a break, and encouragement for our body, mind, heart and spirit.
Today as Mothering Sunday…with all that implies, to me: caring feeding nurturing supporting directing healing holding tight.
This is what our faith does.
This is what the eucharist does.
This is what the Church does.
This is what a mom does.
This is what I am being called to do, today, and more, adding to it, hopefully soon.
Lent itself helps prepare us to do this, on all levels.

And more, on the tangible level:
Girls like pink.
Me too.
My new daughter seems to love pink.
She looks beautiful in pink.
I love food of all sorts.
I love to feed people.

I love flowers.
I love breaks, because I am a wuss.

So, we’ve got a liturgical oasis, flowers, pink, snacks, Mothering, rigor, breaks and joy.
What’s not to like?

So, as I sit and wait in prayer and hope for our court date, I will also join this effort to simply wait more closely to Lent the season and this walk. This is perhaps one of my more “lived out” Lents. No wonder it hurts…… but, ah today, is Laetare Sunday. Not today.

Rejoice!

>Mostly Wordless Wednesday

>

It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
There is much to be said about this day,
but Deacon says it better than I ever could,
here,
and for a roundup of Lenten thoughts on this day,
here.

“Oh, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

>Fat Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday

>Oh yeah, it’s Fat Tuesday!
Or, our personal favorite: Shrove Tuesday.
Or, many other’s personal favorite: Mardi Gras.
Or, Fasching.
Or, Carnival.
You get the idea….

Yup, it’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the eve before the fast. The vigil before the beginning of the season of Lent.
It’s the only day where I am inherently, bodily (of late, for me) thematic. (Kidding, sort of).

Now some of us love those Mardi Gras celebrations, floats, beads, revelry….and it is our biggest American Carnival tradition. I’ve never been a big one for the real Mardi Gras. Maybe because I’m not from the Big Easy and I am simply a foreigner to it all. Maybe because I could never hold my liquor, or maybe because I’ve never been a night owl, or maybe because those masks (like clowns) just tend to creep me out. I don’t know.

But I do like the tradition of Shrove Tuesday and even more so with children. It’s a minor thrill for them to have pancakes for supper, it’s a fun and positive start to a challenging season. It’s nice to sit around the table and go over all the Lenten resolutions and discuss what we’ll each work on individually and also as a family. The kids look forward to this and remember it, each year, and it’s a good way for them to understand the richness to be found in both feasting and fasting. It’s a tradition, it’s bonding, it’s literally sticky (kids, syrup, ’nuff said).

So, Happy Shrove Tuesday. It’s not an official Church feast day, but it certainly is, unofficially, a popular and traditional day of feasting. And really, a little cheer right now is much welcome and how can you not grin at an image like this?
Enjoy your own Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday. Let’s go eat some pancakes.

>Books books books

>Ok, I’ve been trying to finalize my plans for Lent. No, I’ve not decided totally yet, still dithering.
Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, after all and Wednesday, you got it: Ash Wednesday.

I always do like to have a few books set aside to thoughtfully read for Lent. I mean, I always have books set aside to read, and I like to think that I am thoughtful….but for Lent, I prefer to get a little more um, intentional, about it all.

To that end, I have been sifting through our bookshelves and setting aside some choices to start, or start again, and finding a few of the good books I have read. And, so, in the spirit of the season, I thought I might throw a few choices up in a post, in case anyone else is doing the same sort of last minute browsing. These are all really worthwhile reads for Lent, from a Lenten perspective, as are of course any saint’s bio etc. Not all the books are explicity Catholic, though, as you know, I do have a bias. But many bridge denominations, they are after all primarly about deepening your faith and spiritual life, moving closer toward God. So, take a look, you might find some interesting, I can vouch for each of these!

So, here goes: Reading possibilities for Lent:

Fire Within, by Thomas Dubay : One of the best books I’ve read, especially for Lent. Deep, challenging, powerful stuff. One of the ones at the top of my list of great books, for years and years. I Believe in Love, : Great book, a mini retreat in a book. Very powerful. Simple but very good. Don’t be put off by the simple title, it is still full of deep richness to dive into, especially this time of year. Prayer Primer, Igniting a Fire Within, by Thomas Dubay: Just a very good oversight book on prayer, perfect for this season and for deepening your prayer life. I can’t listen to him on tape or audio, I can’t do it. But his writing is excellent. Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales: Awesome book, life changing. You need to get used to the literary device of addressing the reader as “philothea” (I kept thinking, “who?” for the longest time…yes, I am slow…). But then, it’s just so so good.Journey Toward God, Fr. Benedict Groeschel: A great overview of spiritual writing. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox writers, all reflecting on man’s ongoing journey toward God. ‘Tis the season,that’s what Lent is all about.Lenten Companion, Magnificat: Another daily reader to help you walk through Lent, mindfully. Magnificat’s resources are always terrific, beautiful and one of my favorite things!Mother Teresa, A complete Authorized Biography: Kathryn Spink: This would of course fall into the saint’s bio category of Lenten reading. But well worth it, anything on Mother Teresa, one of my all time fav’s. And any bio of any other saint as well, they always show us great examples of trying to live and love God, despite circumstances and their all too human selves. I love that. The King, Crucified and Risen, by Fr. Benedict Groeschel: A daily reader, short meditations for each day of Lent to Easter. Fr. Greoschel doesn’t mince words, he’s a priest from Brooklyn who started the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. He’s terrific.Heaven in our Hands, Fr. Benedict Greoschel: another good one on the beatitudes, daily life. He considers them revolutionary, if you live them daily. No small feat, worth considering for Lent.He Leadeth Me, Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.: Just an amazing true story of his life, faith, imprisonment in Russia, and the challenges to and depth of his faith to make it through.In Conversation with God, Francis Fernandez: This is a set of daily mediations, an awesome resource. The full set covers the entire liturgical year, in seven books, and isn’t cheap. But you can buy just the book for Lent/Easter and use it for Lent. These are always most excellent.Happy Are You Poor, the Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom, by Thomas Dubay: One of the most challenging and humbling books I’ve ever read, particularly as our lives are anything but simple and this book challenges most of the ways we (our household) live. Very difficult, but perhaps just right for Lent.
Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI: Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? Haven’t made my all the way through this one, maybe it’s on my list!
Journey to Easter, Pope Benedict XVI: Again, another on my to read list, but again, he writes beautifully and clearly. Well worth a read.The Lord, by Romano Guardini: On Coffeedoc’s list and table. I will read it after he finishes. He says it is very good, perfect for Lent.
So, these are a few of my book recommendations, if you have a mind to do some Lenten reading. Take the recommendations for what they are worth: you know me, you know I am a distractable middle aged mom, Catholic, and one who struggles daily with all sorts of moods and chores and bad habits. I’m no scholar and no expert, but for whatever it’s worth, I did enjoy each of these and am in the process of enjoying the others. And I wish us all a fruitful Lent!

>Preparing to connect: Lent approaches: part 2

>

Fair warning: it’s long. Again.

The desert. Ok, it’s one week away. Lent that is…well, actually, technically, Fat Tuesday is one week away, Ash Wednesday, one week and one day. But you get my drift. A week, one more week left to sort through, sift and ponder so many ideas and ways. So, I thought I’d give you all some lists to help the process, or, ok, at least to help my process {because yes, as usual, it’s all about me! And yes, I’d give it up if I could, for Lent even, but apparently, I cannot.}.

First and foremost, for a megapost, with mega links to all things Lent, go to Aggie Catholics, they’ve already done all the work: the faqs, the links the ideas, lists, history, resources. They have done such a great job that there is not much need for my measly post, except to list those ideas that came in the comment box to this last thread/post (part 1) and those of my near and dear who don’t ever post or comment (You know who you are and it’s ok, but see, I still find ways to bring you in, aw.).

So, without futher ado: lists! (oh boy! and um, disclaimer: these are all just suggestions people, by regular joes like you and me, no official judgements or ranking, it’s just a mere perusal).

Fasting and Abstinence Idea list:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence, meaning two small meals, no snacks and one regular meal in the evening (w/ 2 small meals not adding up to more than the regular meal), plus no meat. All other Fridays are days of abstaining from meat (fish doesn’t count as meat). Again, go to Aggie Catholics for all the good background on the details and the why’s and hows of this, but these are the basics.
[And just as a reminder: this is not about somehow “working” to earn something or by “doing” chalk up enough points or merits or whatever to get God to reward us or anything remotely of that nature. It is to work on stripping ourselves of the things that keep us from really living our faith and loving Christ better; it’s to get past the things that take our attention and eyes and focus off of God alone and onto, as usual, ourselves. It’s not a second chance at New Year’s Resolutions and it’s not at all about extra benefits other than growth in love and holiness, Sister Mary Martha, as usual, makes a good point, clearly. Just saying….] So, onward:

Ethiopian Fast: no food before three p.m., no meat, dairy, fats, all the days of lent.
Half, eating mindfully less/half as an end to mindless gluttony
Alchohol
Chocolate
Sweets, sugar
Treats in general
Snacking
Fried foods
Hamburgers, fries
Cookies, cookie dough
Sodas
Coffee
Starbucks
Fast Food
Breads
Meat(non-food items):
Shopping
Internet
Blogging
TV
Excessive phone time
Novels
Comments on blogs (closing comments)
Computer
Facebook
Complaining
Gossip
Speeding
Yelling at kids
Eating out
Liver simpler

Additions: Another classic way of observing Lent is adding something to your normal daily life, but in a positive mode. So that the tone is not only of stripping away, but of improving and finding the worth in some other activity that we’ve put off or not considered before.

Cooking for shut-ins, those needing a lift
Visiting elderly regularly (once/twice week)
Calling parents twice week
Biting tongue when wanting to be snide or cranky
Doing something daily for benefit of X (specific person)
Doing one extra something with your kid, daily of course
Practice extra patience
Taking on an extra chore, unseen
Daily compliment to stranger
Forgive the little hurts and big old grudges
Practice the “Little Way” of St. Therese (much harder than it looks)
Heroic Moment (get out of bed when you’re supposed to, not those extra five minutes…ow)

Prayer/Spiritual Effort/Additions: The second facet in the tri-part effort in observing Lent, obviously, the most important on so many levels. And sometimes the most challenging, even though on a practical level, seemingly easiest.

Daily rosary
Daily mass (daily or a few extra)
Extra Holy Hour (adoration)
Scripture study, organized or private
Daily time w/ bible reading
Get up early to pray, read (quiet time)
Daily offering
Vespers weekly
Liturgy of the Hours
Spiritual Reading (another list to come)
Confession (more, weekly, whatever is an increase)
Stations of the Cross
Join an ongoing church ministry
Legion of Mary
Pray for those who bother you, or is an “enemy”, regularly
Focused, slow prayerAlmsgiving: The third in the trifecta of Lenten observance: payer, fasting, almsgiving. So so many options here. Of course we have our personal favorites, seen in the sidebar and the main subject of this blog (orphans, adoption). But really, our world is literally crying out for more charity, so this one won’t be hard to figure out.Give to the poor, period.
Give the money you would have used for those Double Vente Lattes to a food bank.
Start tithing.
Up your tithing.
Clear out your change, purge those drawers, purses, car seat pockets – give to a shelter, your favorite charity etc
Purge your closets of those unneeded, unworn clothes and shoes and stuff.
Make a pledge to a charity, those small monthly bits add up to miracles.
I could do just an endless list of all the great charities and ways to support them out there. But most of you are already wayyyy ahead of me. So I won’t.

But I (because I am a nervous weany) sometimes need to be reminded of this, especially in these dicey economic times (and no one is untouched, really): You can’t outdo God in the generosity contest. Period. Ever. He’s already won. Look around you, all that stuff? Pure gift. You may well have worked your fanny off for it, but even so…pure gift: the job to work at, the stuff to have. So, try to trust. It’s Lent. It’s the time to remember how much can and has been given.

So, again…SOOO much here to think about, to ponder and pray about. Again, go to Aggie Catholic, they have all the good background and history and links. There are probably more posts coming…. I think I might put up a post on reading (because I love books) for Lent. Oh, and the Stations, love those, did my senior show on those! OH, and kid stuff too…they don’t have to do the fasting and all but I have found that they really do get something out of trying. And yeah, they blow it, but no more so than I do! Again, it’s the effort, the struggle that is where I find the changes in me.
I really DO love Lent and want to have a mindful Lent. I need it SO much, especially this year. So there will be Lenten posts. For those of you not interested, sorry! Skip ’em. Otherwise, maybe some of you will find some new ideas. I already have; I’ve just not yet decided on what will be best to undertake.

>Preparing to connect: Lent approaches

>Ah, it’s that time again.
Into the desert.
That time of year when Lent approaches and you start stewing over how to observe it, mindfully but productively.
Or at least I do.

I actually really love the season of Lent, although of course part of me cringes at it’s approach. I remember how many times I’ve had a difficult Lent; but in the wrong way. I mean, it’s ok for Lent to be difficult, in many ways, that’s the point, after all. But when I state, “I’ve had a difficult Lent,” I mean, rather, “I’ve screwed it up and missed the point once again and made it all about me. Again.”

As Lent closes in, I usually start polling those near and dear about what they are “doing” for Lent. I nosily ask what are they giving up? Adding in? Working on improving?
Anything? What, why?
Nothing? How? Why?
I know. Shame on me. What a nosybody. But I don’t mean it like that. I mean to gather ideas and inspiration. Surely so many are so much more clever than I and have come up with some really worthwhile efforts.

I want to know; I don’t want to be stuck in a Lenten rut, if you will.

So, to that end. I have decided to expand my nosy prying. Heck, I’ve got a blog! I can throw it open to the cybersphere! So I am. If you observe this liturgical season, if you feel it’s not too nosy, tell me how you observe it…maybe we’ll all get some new ideas or inspired effort.

I know, that sounds so pathetic. I don’t want to give the impression that Lent is a tired chore. It is a beautiful season. I love the readings, the prayers, the liturgies. It is rich and deep. That is the main reason I want to see what it means to others. I think it helps us connect. It helps me connect. It connects us to Christ: praying and fasting for forty days in the desert; tempted, tired, but stripped bare to pray most fully, least distracted. I need that SO much too. So I welcome Lent. I embrace it.

In our family Lent is both personal and communal. We each try to give up something (food, a bad habit) and add something (a devotion, prayers, patience) and we also gather for devotions particularly suited to this season (Stations of the Cross – yeah another post on these later, I love them). We observe the official fasts (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, no meat on Fridays of course). But each year we often switch it up, individually.

Over the years I have given up, foodwise: wine/drinks, sugar, meat, sodas, among other things. Not all at the same time, don’t be ridiculous! I’m just not that good. Never coffee, that’s just insane, possibly criminal (yeah, think about it…). I have tried to improve bad habits: television, worked on not cussing, not gossiping, not complaining. My sister once gave up shopping.

Some of these efforts were more successful than others. However, even failing and blowing it and finding a candy bar half bitten before you stop and think, “Oh yeah, it’s Lent, I gave that up.”…is an opportunity to humbly pick up, shake your head in recognition of your (ok, my) reflexive thoughtless need for that and shamble onwards, with resolve to try again.

Lent is not a faux “New Year’s Resolution Part II.” So it’s not done with an eye to lose those stubborn ten pounds or to finally quit that smoking. It’s deeper than that. It’s important to not have the family suffer due to your effort (again, ok, me…and look back up to that coffee idea…). It’s to be more mindful. To strip yourself of those things that take you, your “eyes”, away from living solely for Christ. And for me, there are SO many things. So, you would think my mind would be reeling from the dizzy array of choices before me.

I guess it is.

So I’m calling out to you all. Do you observe Lent? How? What has been especially mindful and helpful in the past? What has not? What are you thinking about for this year? I’ve got not a few ideas I’m pondering….I’ll post on those more after I read yours, maybe I’ll put some of them up too and we’ll have a Lenten list post. Maybe not, stop groaning. We’ll see.

And so too, my mind swirls around how fitting it is that we enter the season of preparation. Yes, this post is about preparing for the start of Lent. But Lent is a preparation for Easter. And this Lent, we will also be preparing, in earnest, for the arrival of our waiting daughter. With any luck, we will be in Ethiopia for their Easter! How amazing would that be? But, I am getting ahead of myself again. Those are all maybe for posts to come, for my mind to savor.

Lent approaches. Ash Wednesday is Februrary 25.

But before that, of course, we’ve got Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival!
Yeah, I love this season. I really do. I love the richness, the historicity, the cultural variations that are so textured and colorful but still, at their root, the same liturgical root. Ethiopian Orthodox fast for 56 days before Easter, not eating before 3, no meat, fats, dairy. I love the smudgy crosses emblazened on foreheads on Ash Wednesday; seeing them all day long at the market and the coffee house.

I will be using this daily reader, for a start.

There are so many books to read that are amazing, favorite prayers and hymns (Stabat Mater), so many parts and traditions to Lent. I love tradition. I love learning about traditions. There is so much to this coming season, so much to think, pray, talk about. Start by telling me about yours!

(And yes, the insecure dork in me now will beg for my friends and family – this means you Buddybug – to make up names and post multiple times so it will look like I have at least five folks who might stop in and read, ok? thank you very much….however, it would be a perfect Lenten exercise now wouldn’t it??? But take pity on me, it’s not Lent yet…)