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A new twist on the Ash Wednesday #ashtag

If you scroll through Facebook or Twitter today (if you haven’t given up social media for Lent), you’ll find a minor debate on the blogosphere over whether Ash Wednesday selfies are appropriate or in direct opposition to today’s Gospel reading about not standing on street corners so everyone can see how holy you are. Of course, we could ask the same question about the very act of walking around in public with ashes on your forehead, with or without a selfie, but that’s a blog post for another day. As for Ash Wednesday selfies, my husband, Dennis, and I have come up with a really great twist on the current trend toward the #ashtag. (Updated to show our double selfie because what’s good for the students is good for the teachers!)

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Holy Saturday: waiting in the shadows

Peter never really used to be one of my favorites from Scripture, but the older I get, the more beloved he becomes. He gives me comfort because I identify with him, especially lately. At this point in our faith story, Peter is locked away — afraid, ashamed, alone. He doubted, he denied, he ran away. Even before the crucifixion, he often seemed to get it wrong. Imagine for a moment that Jesus says to you, “Get behind me, Satan.” Yeah, that’s pretty bad. And yet Jesus saw fit to call him the “rock,” the one who would go on to lead his church, or, at that point, his band of disciples. Maybe, just maybe then, Jesus sees some shred of worth beneath my many failings, behind my own doubts and fears. Read more

April 2 Connecticut event: “You Can’t Fail Lent”

“You Can’t Fail Lent: Learning to see these 40 days as  journey, not a test.” That’s what I’ll be talking about on Wednesday, April 2, when I head to Darien, Conn., to speak to the Women’s Circle of St. Thomas More Parish. The event, which is open to the public, includes a brunch and will be held at the beautiful Convent of St. Birgitta, 4 Runkenhage Road, Darien.

I’m especially looking forward to this event because I get to spend the night at the convent, which overlooks the inlets of the Long Island Sound. I’ll try to post some pictures and spiritual reflections once I’m back.

If you would like to attend the event, please call Patty at St. Thomas More Parish at 203-655-3303. Tickets for the brunch are $40 per person.

 

We are love, we are one…

A little musical inspiration on this first friday of March and first friday of Lent. I love this song, and when I heard it again yesterday as I was driving kids all over town, it felt like the perfect Lenten meditation. Here’s “Nothing More” by The Alternate Routes:

We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More

Lent, Day 2: It’s not too late to tweak your plan

So we’re into our second day of Lent and maybe you’re already thinking whatever you planned for Lent could use a little boost or support. Maybe the fasting part of Ash Wednesday was fine but you felt lacking in the prayer department. It’s not too late to gather up some resources to keep things moving in the right direction or to find a new direction even now, after Lent has officially begun. No one said you can’t change the plan once you’ve started on the path. You can always change the plan, especially if you’re not feeling spiritually fed by what you’re doing. This isn’t about meeting some earthly marker but about growing closer to God. Read more

Fasting: A Lenten primer

This story originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor in 2010, which amazes me because it was years before I had even thought about writing Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God and yet I can hear the spark of that book within this story. But I digress. Perhaps you’d like to enjoy this post with a greasy burger or a big piece of chocolate cake while you still can.

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Fasting and abstinence were once staples of Catholic life. There was a time not so long ago when you could spot Catholics in a restaurant simply by looking at what was on their plates on a Wednesday or Friday. But, with changes in Church rules and individual mindsets, fasting slowly began to fall out of fashion. Today, in popular Catholic culture at least, fasting is often considered a quaint practice of days gone by, something that pales in comparison to doing charitable works. Read more

Holy Saturday: Waiting in the shadows

Peter never really used to be one of my favorites from Scripture, but the older I get, the more beloved he becomes. He gives me comfort because I identify with him, especially lately. At this point in our faith story, Peter is locked away — afraid, ashamed, alone. He doubted, he denied, he ran away. Even before the crucifixion, he often seemed to get it wrong. Imagine for a moment that Jesus says to you, “Get behind me, Satan.” Yeah, that’s pretty bad. And yet Jesus saw fit to call him the “rock,” the one who would go on to lead his church, or, at that point, his band of disciples. Maybe, just maybe then, Jesus sees some shred of worth beneath my many failings, behind my own doubts and fears. Read more

Foodie Friday: a quick quinoa dish perfect for Lent

One day I was looking for something for lunch that was gluten-free and vegan. In other words, free of all food fun. I wasn’t coming up with much until I spotted this recipe for Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad in Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook. I didn’t have kale on hand, but that kind of thing has never stopped me before. I substituted some mixed spring greens instead and it was perfect.  Read more

The Rice Bowl at the center of our Lenten table

Are you using the CRS Rice Bowl this Lent? If not, why not? It’s one of our favorite Lenten traditions, so much so that last year when our parish didn’t make the cardboard “bowls” available at the back of our church at the start of Lent, I contacted Catholic Relief Services directly and ordered one for free. Within days I had my Rice Bowl, and all was right with our Lenten world. Read more

Signs of spring, both spiritual and physical

In the nine years that we have lived here, the one thing that has always been a herald of impending springtime has been that little snow drop in the photo above. No matter what kind of winter we’ve had, no matter how battered and bruised the ground, that hardy little blossom fights its way through the hard earth and offers us hope. In the muddy, brown backyard, it stands as a reminder of what is to come. New life is around the corner, and before we know it we will be surrounded by the bright greens of spring.

How fitting that the little snow blossom would arrive at this time, just as we are trudging through the dusty days of Lent, longing for the resurrection that we know is in the offing. I, for one, have been feeling a bit dusty and dried up spiritually these days. My Lent has not gone as I would have liked. Then again, it never does. Maybe I set my sights too high. Maybe I’m just not disciplined enough. I managed to come through on some of my Lenten promises, but not the big ones. Or at least the big ones in my eyes. Fasting and abstinence are relatively easy compared to deep prayer and true charity. I’m not talking about a quick vocal shout out to God and a check tossed into a collection. I was hoping for intense contemplative prayer and the kind of charity that focuses on love, the kind of love that transforms. That’s a tall order, I suppose, and the fasting and abstinence certainly help because they provide the physical reminders of what we are working toward. Still, two critical parts of the three-part Lenten equation have been sorely lacking in my life.

As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t posted much about spiritual life this Lent. Recipes and columns, yes. Insights into the spirit? Not so much. And that is due, in part, to the state of my own spiritual life. I always say that this blog is like a window into my soul. When it is stagnant or inactive, it’s probably a sign that my prayer life is stagnant and inactive. Because when my prayer life is rich and full — or even when I’m struggling but still in the midst of it — I can’t help but share it. It’s only in those fallow times, the times when I don’t feel much of anything that things get quiet here too. When that happens during Lent, it’s like a double whammy for me. I find it even harder to pull myself out because I want so much from this season.

And maybe that’s the problem. I’m expecting to make up for an entire year’s worth of neglected prayer in forty days. The reality is that Lent is not some magical season where everything I’ve done wrong or ignored the rest of the year suddenly drops away and I am left with a pure, shining spiritual life. Like that little snow drop, I need to be doing unseen work day after day. Diligent, prayerful work beneath the surface. You cannot get the blossom without the slow, quiet and difficult work that prepares the plant for that shining moment when it bursts through the ground and fills the world with color and hope.

So…these last weeks of Lent will be a time for quiet reflection and invisible work. I can sense the joy of Easter getting closer. There’s still time to get ready, to do what needs to be done so that I, too, can push through the murkiness that’s keeping me down and into the light of spring.