Take a Devotional Journey For Lent

Devotional Journey Books

What do you know about the Mass? Whether you are a new Catholic or have been Catholic for decades, it is a good bet that you could stand to learn more about the Mass. I was baptized as a baby, went to Catholic school for awhile, did CCD, left for awhile, and have been a very serious and involved “revert” for over 20 years, and still felt that I just didn’t get it. I was there every Sunday and many, many weekdays, but I didn’t really know more than that I was supposed to show up and say some prayers, receive the Eucharist and go home.

Other people seemed to get a lot out of it. People told me how they couldn’t wait to go to Mass. Others want to start every big Church event with a Mass – and I just didn’t get why. To me it was a yawn. I had heard that it didn’t matter if you got anything out of it, showing up thanking God for one hour a week for everything in your life was the point.

I knew it had to be more than that. But I didn’t know a great deal about it until I started listening to the Liturgy Guys Podcast. And while some things are over my head, I’m fascinated by all the info about the Liturgy, the guidelines, and the incredible symbolism. One of the hosts, Christopher Carstens, is a liturgy expert with tons of credentials. A few years ago, he wrote an amazing little book called A Devotional Journey into the Mass: How Mass Can Become a Time of Grace, Nourishment, and Devotion.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that this little book completely changed my understanding of the Mass and propelled my spiritual life way forward. Written for your average “pew-sitter,” it is completely understandable, and explains in an amazing way, from the time you get to the front door until you leave, what is happening in the Mass and your role in participating in it. I truly think this wonderful book should be required reading for every Catholic. In fact, I wish it was its own parish video study.

Fast forward now to today. Well, actually last year. About a year ago, Carstens wrote another lovely book A Devotional Journey Into the Easter Mystery. I purchased it in early March with the happy intention of starting to read through Lent and into Easter. And then, well you know…2020 happened…and family tragedy, and I decided to put it aside until this year.

This book is specifically to help you understand the Mass during Lent and the Easter Season. It starts with understanding Ash Wednesday and Lent and why we needed Jesus and His redemption. The greatest part of the book is devoted to Palm Sunday into Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil and the sacraments, and onto Easter Sunday. It finishes up with the Easter Season and how to answer God’s call to sanctity through Easter, Pentecost, and for the rest of your life. This will be my main reading for Lent, though I have already started reading the first chapters about Ash Wednesday, so as to understand the whole experience this coming week. I’m also going to be revisiting the first book as a refresher. I always pick up things I didn’t see before when I re-read a book.

So, do I understand everything about the Mass? No. I don’t think anyone could understand everything, because it is so deep on so many levels. But now I understand a great a deal more and I understand my role at Mass is to also offer sacrifice, which is so incredibly deep.

Which book would it be best to start off with? I think either one stands on its own. If you are a fast reader, or have the time, I would try to read both for Lent because they will definitely help you whatever stage you are in as a Catholic.

Have a Blessed Lent!

*Some of the above links lead to Amazon, which helps to mitigate the costs of this blog. Thanks!

Living, Leaping Water: The Holy Spirit In Action In Your Life

The wonderful Liturgy of the Hours and Mass readings app iBreviary, includes the hour called the Office of Readings. I love this part of the daily prayer because many times it includes readings from the Early Church Fathers. In preparation for Pentecost, one of the readings this week was from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop in the 300’s. I find it just stunning and thought I would share it with you on this Pentecost.

The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life. This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of this action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous.

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.

The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.

As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.

 From a catechetical instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop
(Cat. 16, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 11-12.16: PG 33, 931-935. 939-942)

The Stations of Light for Easter

The Easter season is in full swing and I thought you might be interested in something you may not have heard of: The Stations of Light, also known as the Via Lucis, or the Stations of the Resurrection.

Similar to the Stations of the Cross that many pray on Fridays of Lent and during the year, the Stations of Light have 14 stops, but you meditate on Christ’s resurrection and what followed. It is prayed during the Easter season, but I don’t see why you could not pray it during the year, especially on Sunday.

I think this devotional is just beautiful and I love praying it. Here is a quick list of the Via Lucis, the Way of Light:

1. Jesus Rises from the Dead
2. The Women Come to the Tomb Encountering an Angel
3. Peter and John Visit the Tomb with Mary Magdalen
4. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalen
5. Mary Magdalen Proclaims His Rising to the Apostles
6. Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus
7. Jesus Gives the Disciples the Power to Forgive
8. Jesus Confirms the Faith of Thomas
9. Jesus Eats with the Disciples on Tiberias Shore
10. Jesus Forgives Peter and Commissions Him
11. Jesus Gives the Great Commission to the Disciples
12. Jesus Ascends into Heaven
13. Mary and the Disciples Keep Vigil for the Spirit’s Advent
14. Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit

You can find the Stations of Light online at the Archdiocese of Detroit website and in a few books such as one by the well-known author Ann Ball, Stations of the Cross/Stations of Light and this absolutely beautiful book, Journey into Joy: Stations of the Resurrection

7 Quick Takes – Vol 6 Easter Edition

Hi there! I hope you are having a happy Easter and all your festivities were blessed and wonderful. I’ve been a bit busy, but I’m happy to do another 7 Quick Takes!

1. So when I say I’ve been busy this week it is because I have had an epiphany and found just the most fantastic website. I have literally been spending days reading it and I feel so guilty…it is called Pioneer Woman. Now you may be familiar with Pioneer Woman, but I came across it by accident when a friend of mine posted a recipe of hers on Facebook and I became hooked. It is like 6 different websites in one and while one is about cooking, another is about photography. She has just the most beautiful pictures. BUT…go to the “Confessions” section and read the story of how she met, fell in love with, and married her husband. It is guaranteed wonderful and romantic. I stayed up until 3am reading it the other night. Truly delicious.

2.  Looking at all her photographs has brought back my lust for photography and I’m just dying to jump up and buy a digital SLR camera and get back into it.  I still have my old film cameras but….I’ve gotten spoiled by the instant gratification that is digital, even if it is only “point and shoot.”  Boy, it is really a toss up…dslr or iPad… I better get to saving my birthday and Christmas money.  Maybe I can get a camera used.  If you know of a good place let me know.

3.  Well, we colored Easter eggs with natural dyes and here are the results.  I used the recipes from Mother Earth News, which my husband has had a subscription to since the mid-70’s.  I did the onion skin recipe for yellow exactly as they said.  The eggs came out a beautiful golden color.  Since I did not really feel like scraping beets (especially since the only beets I had were canned and sliced) I just took the juice from the can of beets and added vinegar.  The results?…not so good.  Next time I’ll follow the directions.  And since I forgot to buy blueberries, there were no blue eggs, but that was OK, my littlest was more than happy to eat any of them.

4. So what did the Easter Bunny bring this year? Reester Bunnies and Peeps (of course) and various assorted pastel candy and money. That Bunny, he’s loaded.

5.  We actually did not have the official Easter Dinner until Tuesday.  My father-in-law is very ill and in the hospital, and so my husband had to fly up on Friday and returned on Monday evening.  We were very concerned, but my father-in-law is doing a little better and we hope for the best.

6.  We had ham again.  My husband cooks it on our charcoal barbecue.  We make a Dijon mustard, white wine and brown sugar glaze.  We serve the extra glaze with the Ham.  Wonderful.  We served it with sweet potatoes, green beans, strawberries and oranges salad, and Resurrection Rolls.  If you haven’t made Resurrection Rolls you are really missing something.  Our dinner was very simple because of the circumstances.  I did not use the good china.  My heart just wasn’t into it this year.  I did however, make Pioneer Woman’s Carrot Cake for dessert and it was very good.

7.  I was one of the readers for the Easter Vigil this year and, as always, it was beautiful.  If you have never been to one, please take the time to go next year.  While it is long (about 2.5 hours) it is so worth it.  It is hands-down the most beautiful and interesting Mass of the year.  I wanted to show you a few pictures.

This is one of our wonderful priests, Fr. Jonathan.  He LOVES baptisms!
This is our pastor, Fr. Alex.  He is a big fan of Holy Water too.  Can you tell he is just drenched?  He just returned from a trip to the Holy Land and mixed water from the Jordan River into the Easter Water to bless us.  Too cool.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter season (you do realize this is still Easter?  And that it lasts until Pentecost on May 23rd?) I pray the Lord blesses your family and friends with peace. 
He is risen!  Alleluia!
Oh, and p.s…. LiveCatholic is now on Facebook so stop by and say hello and become a fan.

Be sure to check out more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

7 Quick Takes – Vol. 5

Well, this has been a busy couple of weeks or so.  I’ve been dealing with tonsillitis that won’t go away – but apparently is “just” a virus – therefore no antibiotics for me, a kid with an almost-broken arm, another kid being a pain, a husband with a car that refuses to stay fixed, and a general feeling of depression/incredulity/anger at all the political nonsense going on.  BUT…I have rallied and have another fine (at least to me) selection of Quick Takes.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do….

1.  This is why I’m excited about the iPad:

The apps will be so cool and could revolutionize the way we do so many things.

2.  And while I don’t want books to go away for kids, here’s another reason to like the iPad:  Are Kids Destined to Grow Up With Tablets?   I could see this as an excellent tool for middle school and up.  It is a lot easier to carry a little iPad then a back-breaking bag of books.

3.  Have you ever wondered how to make a great bowl of soup?  Read what the Soup Peddler has to say.  Be sure to look at the interview he mentions at the beginning and then read the rest.

4. I found an interesting YouTube video yesterday – the Litany of the Saints from Pope John Paul II’s funeral.  I remember being so impressed by it at the time.  I’m not sure why…maybe just the prayerful repetition… but it is beautiful.

5.  Have you ever tried to color Easter eggs the old fashioned way?

When I was a kid my mom used to color the eggs with onion skins and beet juice.  I was not happy because we did not use the cool tablets they sold in the supermarket.  How old fashioned to do it with scraps!  While the eggs don’t come out real even like with the tablets, it is neat to try to color eggs with natural products, at least once.  I do not remember the techniques my mom used, but Mother Earth News has a great article to show you how:  How to Color Eggs With Natural Dyes.

6.  My resolution this Lent is to pay more attention to my kids and not give into frustration at interruptions.  Here is a ready made article about this.  If you are not in the corporate world you need to adapt it a bit, but it is helpful:  Nine Ways to Handle Interruptions Like a Pro.

7.  On a related note, here is a good article about 10 Reasons Why You Aren’t Done Yet.  This is about getting your stuff done and focusing.  It is also very helpful. 

Have a great weekend and skip on over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes.