A family “how to” for Holy Week

Jesus on Cross RGB mjBzWKCSomeone I know who works at a busy Catholic parish told me about the time she got invited to a Thursday night Pampered Chef party by another parishioner. Turns out the date was bad for her—and for the Catholic hostess, too, had she been paying attention. The designated evening was Holy Thursday. While there was surely some food preparation involved at the Last Supper, commemorating Holy Thursday is best done in worship as a community—not by witnessing the wonders of a gourmet garlic press.

The story reminded me of someone in my extended family who made a tradition of using Good Friday as a day to go shopping with her mom at an upscale mall. My mother-in-law was aghast and tried with each passing year to convince the young woman of the inappropriateness of hitting glitzy stores on the same day Jesus died on Calvary. Continue reading

Lent: Isn’t it time for an upgrade?

computerI was doing dishes in the kitchen last week when Jacob came in and started unloading the dishwasher. While dishwasher unloading is a job that belongs to the kids, I had not yet asked anyone to empty it.

“Who are you, and what have you done with Jacob?” I said to him. Jacob smiled—he knew what I meant. While I would never describe Jacob as lazy, he usually needs to be reminded to do his jobs around the house.

“Is this a new and improved version of Jacob?” I continued. “I like it.” Continue reading

“I arise today through the strength of heaven…”

Irish_high_cross_ClonmacnoisIn honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s an excerpt of the great prayer known as “The Deer’s Cry,” attributed to him. 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock. Continue reading

Try for a Lenten moment

girl ashesIf you’re feeling discouraged because your effort to give up chocolate was thwarted by the coworker who brought the birthday cake to work, don’t lose heart. Lent is not a pass/fail class. Rather, it is a journey of becoming closer to God through prayer, sacrifice, and generosity. Seeing Lent only as a 40-day block can prevent us from taking advantage of Lenten moments—opportunities that arise each day for us to deepen our relationship with God. Here are a few:

• Prayer. Between now and Easter, look for five minutes alone with your spouse. Face each other, hold hands, and ask your spouse what he or she is most worried about. Then together pray an Our Father, slowly, for that worry. Then do the same for your worry, followed by a prayer of gratitude from each of you. Continue reading

We can work it out

Ring_Flickr_arsheffieldA friend tells this story about his marriage: He and his wife were going through one of those periods that predictably happen to most marriages but that still blindside couples. It seemed that way more of his wife’s time was taken up with their young children than with him, as if they were co-owners of a small child-raising business instead of a couple who loved each other. He was starting to contemplate an early exit. He was probably imagining that somewhere there might be a woman who’d be more interested in him, who’d talk with him about things other than potty training and carpooling and kids’ swimming lessons. Continue reading

Fast, yes, but not from candy

chocolate RGB mgyqtSyGiving up chocolate for Lent is one way to fast, but in Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families (Ave Maria), author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle offers different ways to fast for each day of Lent. Try some yourself and with your spouse and children—each is just for one day.

  • Today, fast from speaking ill of anyone, even if it is justified. Pray for them instead.
  • Today, fast from procrastination. If there’s something you need to do, do it in a way pleasing to God.
  • Today, fast from making excuses. Do what is asked of you.
  • Today, fast from being prideful. In everything today, give praise or credit to someone else.
  • Fast from technology today. Avoid TV, surfing the Internet, playing video games.
  • Fast from whining. If something disappoints you, offer it to God and trust him with it

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for  four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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Person to person

Pope Francis greets Catholic faithful as he arrives for his final mass on Copacabana Beach in Rio de JaneiroSome weeks back I went to hear Dr. Paul Farmer speak in Chicago along with his mentor, liberation theologian and champion of the poor Father Gustavo Gutiérrez of Peru. Farmer, if you’ve never heard of him, is a Harvard physician, and a Catholic, who has almost single-handedly revolutionized health care for the poor in developing countries over the past three decades. I expected an audience of 100 or so, mostly of older folks. Instead I beheld a hotel ballroom packed to the rafters with nearly 2,000 people, almost all of them under the age of 25, many of them Catholic high school students.

What message did Farmer and Gutiérrez have for the throngs of eager young people who came out on this chilly evening? Continue reading

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