Category Archives: Lent

Give Everything to God

I admit it freely; I have fallen behind on many things that I wanted to do for Lent, but somehow, this is okay. It is okay because I realized that it isn’t a race to the finish. None of this is “over” once Easter Sunday dawns. Until God calls me home, I will always need work. I will always need to keep striving toward conforming my heart to Jesus’s heart.

This morning, I worked on reading the backlog of things in my e-mail inbox, including the messages from Saints in the Making University. The story, “The Pearl Necklace” really struck me today.

There once was a young girl who was in the check out line with her mother. It was then that she saw it; a beautiful plastic pearl necklace! She begged her mother to buy it for her, but her mother told her that if she really wanted it she would have to earn the $1.47 herself. Her mother told her that she could help with some chores around the house to earn a few bright shiny pennies, and reminded her that her birthday was coming up soon and she would surely get a new crisp dollar bill in the birthday card from her grandmother.

So the little girl worked very hard over the next few weeks and saved up all her earnings. She asked her neighbors if she could rake their leaves for ten cents and she did extra chores around the house. One day, she finally had enough money to buy the treasured necklace. She was so happy when her mom took her to the store to buy her necklace and she got to pay the woman at the check out with her very own hard earned money. The small girl wore her necklace everywhere. It made her feel so beautiful and grown up!

Now every night the little girl’s Daddy would read her a bedtime story, say nighttime prayers with her, and put her to sleep. But one night when the little girl’s Daddy was putting her to sleep he asked her a question. He asked, “Do you love me?” She replied, “Daddy, you know I love you more than anything!” Then he asked her if he could have her pearl necklace. “Oh Daddy,” said the little girl. “I can’t give you my necklace. I love it so much and it is so beautiful. But you can have my pink unicorn, the one I got for my birthday.” “That’s ok,” He said. “Daddy loves you, darling. Goodnight.” And he kissed her gently on the forehead as he left. Every night the loving father would patiently ask his daughter for the dime store necklace and every night she would refuse, offering one of her many other toys. But her father would always say it was ok, tell her how much he loved her and give her a good night kiss ever so gently on the forehead before leaving.

Then one night when her Daddy came in to put her to sleep he noticed that his little girl was crying. “What is wrong, honey?” He asked. With tears streaming down her cheeks she held out her tiny hand, and dropped her deeply treasured necklace into her father’s hand. “Here, Daddy.” She said, her voice shaking. “You can have my necklace.” To her surprise, her Father pulled out a beautiful velvet box and gave it to her. When she opened it, a beautiful genuine pearl necklace was revealed. You see, her father was just waiting for his daughter to let go of the plastic necklace, so he could reveal the real treasure he had in store for her.

What is your pearl necklace? What in this world are you so afraid to let go of? Your Father’s gifts for you are so much better. Let go of the counterfeits so your Father can give you the real thing. –Author Unknown (Reprinted with permission)

I think, especially for me, it is these things which are really hard to stop clinging to. It’s easy to give up sinful things. (Okay, no, it is not, but at least rationally, you can see *why* you should give them up.) It’s much harder to give up something which is good and not apparently causing you to sin. Our vision is narrow, and we can’t see beyond the good to the potential greater good which God is offering to us. Instead of trusting that God is good and wants the best for us, we question why. “Why would God want to take this good thing away from me?” We don’t understand and so we hold back from God. We don’t freely give everything that we have and that we are back to Him.

I have a couple things that I cling to like this. God may not be calling me to give them up, but I have to prepare my heart and my will for the possibility that He might at some time in the future. I have to be willing to completely abandon myself to His will. And this is a struggle — at least it is for me.

P3070107

In his book, “The Gift of Faith,” Fr. Dajczer also speaks of the necessity of abandoning ourselves to God’s will. Do you *really* have faith in the goodness and generosity of God? We must trust Him in all things, great and small. This is a radical kind of faith and trust, and it is not come by easily. But, then, faith is not meant to be easy. It is wrung from us, drop by drop, collected and offered back to the Father as a complete gift of self. It is the very difficulty and completeness of the offering which makes it such a beautiful and precious gift. The best image that I have for this is the blood that Jesus sweat during His agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was perfectly obedient to the Father and had perfect trust in Him, yet clearly it cost Him a great deal to endure what He endured for our sake. And this is why His gift to us — of His entire self, being poured out drop by drop in the garden, at the pillar, and on the cross — is such an incredible gift. And also why our response needs to be so great in return.

Cross-posted to OLGCBlog.com.

Palm Sunday

Our Lady of Lourdes with Palm - dscn9905

Holy week. Probably my favorite week of the year. I love the excitement and celebration surrounding Jesus’s triumphant return to Jerusalem. I love the promise of life that those green branches hold, especially after a long, cold winter. I love the bright red color on the altar and in the priests’ vestments. I love the procession in. In past years, I have celebrated Palm Sunday at St. Anastasia, where the procession includes kids and catechumens with loud clappers and everyone in the church waving their palm fronds. This Palm Sunday, I celebrated right after work at OLGC, at the 5 pm Mass. No one in church had any palms, and the only procession was made by the altar servers, Deacon Chris, and Fr. Clement. It felt like I was waiting for the Kings of Kings to pass me by.

But this week isn’t a week of all happy feelings. And this liturgy wasn’t all about being joyful. It was an emotional rollercoaster, to tell you the truth. Fr. Clement told us to pay particular attention to the Gospel today, lengthy though it was, and see what aspects of the story spoke to you. They wanted the parish to speak the part of the crowd during the reading of the Gospel.

I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to choose Barabbas over Jesus. I didn’t want to call for his crucifixion. But I am obedient, and so I participate. But in my heart, as I was saying, “Crucify Him!” I was also saying, “Please, don’t!”

But then, I thought of how I do this all the time. I am constantly choosing something evil over Him. I am constantly scourging Him and putting Him on the cross, and then asking Him to forgive me my sins. It was such a poignantly sad moment, being a part of this Gospel reading and realizing how very much a part of the crowd I was… am.

There was no music for the recessional. The altar servers, deacon, and priest left quietly. Many people, perhaps unaware that they were supposed to wait for the recessional, began leaving while they were still gathering at the foot of the sanctuary. Not quite realizing the full import of what was occurring. How often do *I* realize the full import of the Mass or what Jesus did for me? Not nearly as often as I’d like to think.

So, quietly, I stood and watched as the procession passed by, reflecting on the joy, the sorrow, and the sober realization of my own failings, but with the hope and knowledge that something incredible is going to happen in a few short days.

Walking While Catholic

Lunchtime Walk at Gallup Park

I had training at work this morning and we let out a little early. I stopped at Subway for a quick lunch, then decided to spend some of my “lunch time” taking a walk in Gallup Park along the Huron River. I confess, most of my motivation comes from the fact that I got a new Fitbit on Sunday (it’s a glorified pedometer, but I find it very useful), which challenges me to take 10,000 steps every day. It was sunny out and finally warm enough to go without a jacket — Thanks be to God!

Lunchtime Walk at Gallup Park

I got all set for the walk: I had my Fitbit on, I started the Runkeeper app on my phone, and started my walk. Just a few steps in, I decided that it was a great opportunity to pray the Rosary. I dedicated my Rosary to my dad (today’s his birthday!), Fr. Anonymous, and J (my “Lent person”). I walked until I was half-way through the Rosary, then turned around to return to the car. There was only one area where the walkway was flooded and I had to tiptoe through squishy grass — (Eeew! Mud!) — but was otherwise an enjoyable walk. I ended up walking past the part of Gallup Park where our ROTC group met semi-annually for our PFTs. It seems both so long ago, and not long ago at all.

Swans on the Huron River

Towards the end of my walk, a guy was walking past me. He thought I was waving to him, but I had just finished my Rosary and was making the Sign of the Cross. Sorry, Random Guy.

Perhaps, if he were charitable, he would decide that I was blessing him, instead of ignoring his presence. And, perhaps if I were a more Christ-like person, that scenario would have been the case…. Ah, well, Lent continues. There is still time for me to grow in conformity to Jesus!

Great Story

Saints in the Making University had a great story that makes you think about prayer and compassion. Check it out!

God Gives So Much More Than We Do

This will also be a fairly short entry. Mostly because I didn’t really do much on my Sunday.

I had made plans to try to get together with my friend, Terry. However, this didn’t go as I planned, as I slept most of the day. Seriously. I woke up at 4:49 pm and debated whether I should try and jump out of bed and rush to the 5 pm Mass at St. Anastasia. Ultimately, I decided that God deserved better than that and resolved to go to the Last Chance Mass (TM) at Ss. Cyril and Methodius at 8:30 pm.

There was one very short intermission in my sleep-a-thon. I woke up sometime around noon, made delicious asparagus risotto for lunch and promptly fell back asleep. Food coma or something. 🙂

Between 5 pm and 8 pm, I read more of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green, who — if you haven’t read any of his books — is awesome.

I got to church just at 8:30 pm and took a seat in a pew near-ish to the front. The altar was decorated beautifully for Lent. Cyril’s has this statue of Jesus, showing all of his wounds from the scourging, and they had put a purple cloak and crown of thorns on the statue. It was right next to the altar. Behind it, was their giant crucifix, backlit with purple lighting. Very moving. One day, I’ll try to get a photo of it. I remember staring at the statue for a bit, saying to Jesus, “I want You.”

At Intercessions, I was praying for Fr. Anonymous, my goddaughter and her parents. Then, just before the Sign of Peace, who should pop into my pew but her Mom/my best friend! How awesome is that! I was so glad to see her!

I see this as part of the over-abundance that God gives us. I was (very minorly) faithful in making sure that I attended Mass, and that I was dressed properly and in a right frame of mind to worship Him, and in return He brings me something that gives me joy. 🙂 He also gave me the grace to really pay attention and participate in Mass, for which I was grateful.

He is so good!

A Blessed Day

I did post for the 22nd…. Promise! I just happened to post it over at Paroxysm of Giggles (one of my other blogs), since the day was more of a day of fun. 🙂

One, Two, Skip a Few…

This seems to describe my best intentions when it comes to my spiritual life. Okay. Really, my life in general. I find it so hard to hold to something that I will do every single day. I suppose if I had a habit of checking my calendar and to-do list every night before I went to bed, I might plan my time better throughout the day. I’ll make that my Lenten Challenge of the Day.

I have my Bible on me, so yay! Jenn: 1
I was supposed to start praying the Rosary (at least a decade) yesterday, but didn’t. Jenn: -1
Lenten Boot Camp, I didn’t do the readings/tasks for 3/8, 3/10, 3/11, 3/12, 3/13, 3/14, 3/15, 3/16, 3/17. Jenn: -9 Ouch!
Updating my blog, I’m behind on 3 posts. Jenn: -3

So, by my tally (which is completely arbitrary and meaningless), I have -12 points.
At least God is merciful. And I’m trying to emulate Him. So, I’ll allow myself permission to catch up, and that will be okay. 🙂

Today’s Rosary has been prayed, for the sake of our candidates and catechumens who will be joining us at the Lord’s Banquet on Easter.

My constant Lenten sacrifice — No Starbucks — continues to go well. How is your Lent going so far?

Peaceful Sunday

The day started with me waking up snug and cozy in bed. I had the space heater running, so for once my bedroom was about 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. Since Sundays are feast days, I celebrated by hitting the snooze button a few times (as opposed to those other days, where I … also hit the snooze button multiple times). I had a morning shift at work today, so I got ready fairly quickly and headed out. Finally, I remembered to take my Bible (and a book I plan on finishing) with me. It’s another one of the things I’m working on for Lent — bringing a Bible with me wherever I go. An actual Bible, not the electronic version(s) that I have on my phone.

I got a quick (not-so-healthy) breakfast on the way to work. I stopped at OLGC because I had to leave a message that I would not be available to help at the 12:00 pm Mass, as I had picked up this shift after the schedule had been made. I went to go back to my car, since I was running short on time, but stopped in the hall and turned around. I went to the Eucharistic chapel behind the altar and spent a few minutes kneeling in front of the Tabernacle, praising and thanking God and asking Him for help to do His will throughout my day. I also prayed for my priests. I had such a sense of peace and joy. I didn’t want to leave. Alas. As I was nearing work, the sky had changed from a dull grey to a cloud speckled blue, with a lovely sunrise. This is the view from the parking lot of my building:

A Sunday Sunrise

As today’s a Sunday, I don’t have any particular Lent-y thing planned, but I did snag a copy of the bulletin from church. Grab a copy here, it’s a good read. 🙂 I’ll share a bit of the articles that grabbed me:

Our lives are not subject to fate or circumstances, they’re not in the hands of sicknesses, they’re not at the beck and call of whatever forces out there continually shake and challenge us. Our lives are in God’s hands. Always. All the time. No matter what. — Fr. John Riccardo

The whole article was good, but this section is something that is great for me to be continually reminded of.

Fr. Steve talked about the benefits of having some discipline in our daily lives. He offers some tips from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Rule:

  1. When you first wake up, praise God and pray.
  2. Attend daily Mass, every day if possible, but at least once a week, especially during Lent.
  3. Visit the Blessed Sacrament, daily if possible.
  4. Examine your conscience before bed every night.

Fr. Clement is perhaps my favorite bulletin author. (Sorry, Fr. John!) This week’s article speaks about dealing with temptations. Two things in particular spoke to me today:

Engage in battle against spiritual evils, armed with the weapons of self-restraint.

[Know] how important it is for us to know, to love, to be familiar with God’s word. God’s word will not only teach us, but will also guide and defend us against the fiery darts of the evil one.

In addition, he ended with this:
Fr. Clement's Bulletin Article
I love James! So excited for next week’s bulletin!

Finally, I was speaking with a co-worker yesterday, and he mentioned that he and his wife were looking for a school for their kids. I immediately offered, “You should enroll them in our school!” not even knowing if he was Catholic. 🙂 And today, there is an ad for our school in the bulletin! I hadn’t really noticed an ad for the school being in the bulletin before, so this must be some sort of “coincidence”. I cut the ad out of the bulletin and left it on my co-worker’s desk. 🙂 Maybe we’ll have a couple new Crusaders soon!

Ad for OLGC School

All-in-all, it’s been a good day so far. I look forward to Mass after work, and perhaps I’ll stick around for Evening Praise & Worship. 🙂

Have a blessed day!

Simple Saturday

I had a ten hour day at work, so I didn’t have any elaborate plans.

After work, because a friend of mine doesn’t have an Adoration chapel anywhere close her to, and because I have at least 5 that I can think of on the drive home, I visited Jesus and prayed Evening Prayer.

Adoration at Christ the King

What else does a girl need? 🙂

Stay Strong and Live with Passion

I wish I could embed video on this blog. My Lenten challenge for today is to share an inspirational video. There was a challenge in finding a good inspirational video, but I think I have a winner:

Stay Strong & Live With Passion from Di Fruscia Photography on Vimeo.

It incorporates some of my favorite things: travel, photography/videography, and living your life with passion. I love my life. Sometimes it’s difficult, often it is messy, but I love it. And I love that I love it.

I really want to get back into taking more photos. I have been sorely remiss of late. Perhaps I will make a photo walk part of my Lenten challenge….

Today, a friend of mine gifted me with “The Joy of the Gospel” by Pope Francis! I can’t wait to read it!

And when I got home, I made some frozen fish sticks for dinner… They were DELICIOUS! Yay, Lenten Fridays!