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Lent: Are you willing to be surprised by God?

Flannery O’Connor, the American Catholic southern gothic writer, once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

That line has always resonated with me, but never more so than when I sit down to write reflections on Scripture readings, verses that can feel so familiar there seems nothing new to uncover. My latest book of reflections, Not by Bread Alone 2021: Daily Reflections for Lent (Liturgical Press), is my third book of Lenten meditations and prayers, and so the challenge is real — but realer still is the truth that lives within Scripture. Old passages can speak new hope to us at any particular moment of our lives if we are willing to open ourselves up to the work and words of the Spirit. Even the familiarity of Lent itself can turn a season of growth into a rote spiritual exercise if we are not prepared to be surprised by God, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.

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You Can’t Fail Lent

The column originally ran on Huffington Post in 2015, but it’s a favorite so here it is one more time, just in time:

Lent is one of those seasons that always begins with the best of intentions and rapidly goes downhill, at least that’s how it usually plays out for me. I plan to pray more, eat less, and find creative ways to make my favorite time in the Church year more meaningful. Unfortunately, the ashes hardly have time to settle into the wrinkles on my forehead before I’m feeling like I’ve already failed.

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Feast of St. Blaise: Do-it-yourself throat blessings

These days — especially in the time of COVID — throat blessings are hard to come by. No, make that near impossible. It’s just not that common anymore, even in the best of times. Years ago, I took it upon myself to do the blessings. And, yes, that’s allowed. The first time I blessed throats for my class of fourth-grade faith formation students, they looked at me in fear and asked if I was going to light those candles before holding them up to their throats. Ah, how sad that these kids don’t know some of the more interesting traditions of our faith. But once I told them about St. Blaise, a bishop and martyr who is said to have healed a boy who was choking on a fish bone, they were all in, and eagerly so.

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Week 5: Connecting with nature, even a snow storm

Okay, so we skipped Week 4 here on the blog. I have to apologize. I was not taking my own advice and was allowing myself to sink into a bit of darkness and poor-me thinking. I couldn’t motivate myself to write or meditate or even do my personal yoga practice. None of that wallowing did me a bit of good, but you know how it is sometimes.

I think it’s important to share that with you if only to remind you that it’s okay if you stray off the path or pull into a rest stop for a few days. When you’re ready, dust yourself off and begin again. The only thing you should try to continue to do no matter what else is going on is your gratitude journal. But always, always continue to be kind and gentle with yourself no matter how this journey is going for you.

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Celebrating lucky 13 here at NSS

Today is the 13th anniversary of this blog. I launched it back in 2008 on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, not really knowing what would happen. Back then, I was able to be here daily, sometimes multiple times per day, a luxury I no longer have. I miss being here with you regularly and I do continually hope that I can increase my presence in the future, but I want to thank all of you who continue to visit. Thank you for being patient, for staying with me, and for lifting me up with your comments and emails when I do get around to posting something here.

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Lent is coming fast. Don’t go it alone.

Ash Wednesday is only four weeks away. I know if feels like we just got through Christmas, but, trust me, Lent will be here before you know it, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a companion to guide you through the desert, especially when getting to church these days is difficult if not impossible due to COVID? I have just the thing for you. My latest book of Scripture reflections, Not By Bread Alone 2021: Daily Reflections for Lent.

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Week 3: be still, be silent, just be

How are we doing, gang? We are moving into week three already. Can you believe it? How is your 2021 so far? It definitely seems like it’s going to give 2020 a run for its money, so now more than ever we need to recommit to our revolution-not-resolution journey of inner transformation. We can’t control what’s going on out there, but we can control at least some of what’s going on in here (pointing to my heart right now).

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Check out the latest episode of the Life Lines podcast

A new episode of the Life Lines podcast has finally posted. Every time I record one I have to figure out how to use GarageBand all over again. The struggle is real, friends. In this episode, I explore the ways that the simple gratitude practice we talked about on the blog last year can lead to real transformation, and how it can train us to live from a place of abundance rather than from a place of lack. No small thing.

Week 2: A room — or corner — of one’s own

When I was thinking about what I would tackle during Week 2 of our revolution-not-resolution journey of self-transformation, I looked at the original blog post and noticed that setting up a sacred space was my #2 suggestion. Perfect. Last week we started on #1 — using a gratitude journal — so why not move in order and take a look at another simple and concrete thing you can do to make this plan easier, more peaceful and more beautiful.

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Week 1: Begin. Begin Again. Begin Always.

Hello, my lovelies! Were you wondering if I had forgotten about you and our plan to start a reVolution not a resolution? There is a method to my madness. As I said from the get-go, this is not a resolution that you make and, once you break, you give up until the next year. No, no. This is a daily decision. And I wanted to wait until we were a few days into this new year — past all the potential, “This feels like a resolution,” questions. Plus, I like the idea of a Monday post to jumpstart our week as we go. So expect Mondays to be the day you’ll see some new Cravings Tribe-ReVolution posts going up. There may be others along the way as well. Stay tuned…

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