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Journey Through The Desert: Lent 2021 Photo Journey

Lent 2021 begins tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow.

Shortly after Ash Wednesday last year, many Catholic churches were closed for a long time due to C*vid. Some are still closed. For many of us, Ash Wednesday and Lent a year ago mark the beginning of a time in spiritual desert; unable to receive the Eucharist for so long. For many of us it’s allowed us to grown in our faith; spurring us on to make greater efforts in our relationship with God. Lent 2020 was hard. Some of us feel like we’ve been living in Lent since March 2020 and haven’t left that  desert. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of where you’re faith is right now, Ash Wednesday 2021 marks a way to re-focus ourselves on Christ. 

Our 2021 Lent “Journey Through the Desert” Catholic Sistas Photo Journey helps us to do that. The words on our Photo Journey prompt remind us to look around our lives and be a little more aware of God’s presence. To reflect on those things present but also those things in the past. The Catholic Sistas Photo Journeys are set up to allow us to reflect on where we see Christ and where we’re lacking Christ and need growth.

 

Join Us

So if you need something to help you re-focus you a little bit more on Christ, or you just enjoy reflecting on your faith visually, consider joining Adrienne, Allison, Anna, Celeste, Laura, Mandi, Rosemary, and me (Rita).

Be sure to use #CSLENTIPJ (Catholic Sistas LENT Instagram Photo Journey)  so we can find your photos and share some of them in our stories!

And just a little side note, say a little prayer for us Texan Catholic Sistas (and many others in the South). We’re struggling right now with unprecedented weather that our state, city, and homes were not built to handle. 1/3 of my city (Austin Texas) has been without power since early Monday morning (parts of the power grid are frozen). So between unprecedented, record- breaking weather and C*vid still things affecting many thing, we’re entering Lent a little differently this year.

How the Lent 2021 Photo Journey works

• Each day has one word associated with it. Most of these words are from the readings for the day, some are about the saint of the day, and some are just related to the season of Lent. Snap a photo or find an old photo related to that word. The photo does not have to be faith-themed, as the goal of our photo challenges is for us to see God in our everyday lives and reflect on Him.

• Use the hashtag #CSLentIPJ and any other appropriate hashtags (#gray, #adore, #suffer, etc) when you post your Photo Challenge photos. This allows us all to search Instagram and other social media platforms for other participants. You can even follow the hashtag on Instagram so you’ll see all the photos posted from everyone participating. We will be sharing participant photos throughout the Photo Challenge, and the way we find them is through the #CSLentIPJ hashtag.

• While our main platforms for the Lent 2021 Photo Journey are Instagram, and Facebook, we are present on many other platforms. Tag us with @CatholicSistas on INSTAGRAMPINTEREST and FACEBOOK. And if you’re blogging about your Lenten Photo Challenge, link back to us or comment below with a link to your post.

• When you use the hashtag #CSLentIPJ on Instagram, it will enable us to find you on Instagram and possibly feature you in our stories!

• Click the graphic below to download the CSLentIPJ graphic for quick reference. Note that the dates of the weekends are a different color to help visually break up the days.

• Lastly, consider joining us on Facebook in our group CATHOLIC SISTAS – THE COFFEE HOUSE. Here we can share pictures of the challenge and we get to know each other in a private setting. Please request to be added and answer the group questions, and you will be approved as soon a moderator is able to add you.

Categories
Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Martina Resources Spiritual Growth Your Handy-Dandy List

The 2019 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Resources

The 2019 Handy Dandy List to Lenten Resources

Can you believe Lent is almost here? What better way to enter into this penitential season than to comb through our newest list of Lenten resources – along with taking a peek at our previous lists dating back to 2013? I don’t know if you’ll find a more thorough set of lists to prepare you to walk with Christ this Lent. At the end of the post you’ll find links to our previous years’ posts. So, let’s get to it, shall we? 


MAKE TIME FOR JESUS

DAYBOOK

A 2019 complete Liturgical Catholic planner

PDF downloadable and printable from your home – print only what you need

2019 Lenten Tracker // FREE

Lenten Tracker 2019

 

So simple – download, print, and use to track your Lenten sacrifices with this FREE printable

courtesy of Catholic Sistas foundress Martina Kreitzer


VIDEO and AUDIO

Father Mike

Where is Lent in the Bible? 

Why Fast on Ash Wednesday?

 

Praying through Holy Week

  

FORMED

this is a subscription site – ask your parish for their code to access it for free

Stations of the Cross

Shroud

What’s the Deal with Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

My Beloved Son – Meditations for Lent

by Bishop Barron

The Passion of Christ: In Light of the Holy Shroud of Turin

by Fr. Francis Peffley

(fun fact – Father Peffley baptized our oldest son and many Kreitzer grandchildren) 🙂 

The Fourth Cup

by Dr. Scott Hahn


FOR THE FAMILY

Lentopoly 

from Catholic Blogger

12 Apostles 

by Sara J Creations

Lent in Our Catholic Home 

by Elizabeth Clare

An Illustrated Lent

 by Illustrated Children’s Ministry

Saints for Boys & Girls

by Tan Books

57 Lenten Crafts

by Felt Magnet Crafts

Lenten Activities for Children

by Laci of Catholic Icing

Stations of the Cross for Children

by Julianne M. Will


READ, JOURNAL, and STUDY

// PRAYER //

A Year with the Eucharist: Daily Meditations on the Blessed Sacrament

by Paul Jerome Keller, OP

Magnificat Lenten Companion

by Ignatius Press

Parenting with the Beatitudes: Eight Holy Habits for Daily Living

by Jeannie and Ben Ewing

Mass and Adoration Companion

by Vinny Flynn and Erin Flynn

A Year with Mary: Daily Meditations on the Mother of God

by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D.

Manual for Eucharistic Adoration

by Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, St. Joseph

Cultivating Virtue: Self Mastery with the Saints

by Tan Books

Lent and Holy Week with Mary

by Dr. Mary Amore

// JOURNALS //

The 2019 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Resources1

Lenten Journal – The Paschal Mystery of Christ

by the Dominican Sisters of Mary

The 2019 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Resources1

To Hear His Voice: A Mass Journal for Children

by  Ginny Kochis

The 2019 Handy Dandy Guide to Lenten Resources

Stay Connected: A Gift of Invitation

by Allison Gingras

// KNOW THE ENEMY //

Manual for Spiritual Warfare

by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D.

Begone Satan: A Soul-Stirring Account of Diabolical Possession in Iowa

by Reverend Father Carl Vogl

An Exorcist Tells His Story

by Father Gabriele Amorth

An Exorcist Explains the Demonic

by Father Gabriele Amorth

An Exorcist Explains How to Heal the Possessed

by Father Paolo Carlin

Saints who Battled Satan

by Paul Thigpen, Ph.D.

Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans

by Malachi Martin

The Spiritual Combat: and a Treatise on Peace of Soul

by Lorenzo Scupoli

Deliverance Prayers: For Use by the Laity

by Father Chad A. Ripperger, Ph.D.

// STUDY //

Forgiven: The Transforming Power of Confession

by Formed.org

Lectio: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition

by Formed.org

Eucharistic Miracles: And Eucharistic Phenomenon in the Lives of the Saints

by Joan Carroll Cruz

The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living

by Timothy Gallagher

Pray More Retreat

by John-Paul and Annie of Pray More Novenas


MISCELLANEOUS TO TICKLE YOUR FANCY

// FUNNY //

14 Memes about Lent Catholics Understand

// GUARDING YOUR MARRIAGE //

Beloved: Finding Happiness in Marriage

Marriage 911

by Greg and Julie Alexander

// GRATITUDE //

40 DAYS OF GRATITUDE

// LENTEN ARTWORK & JEWELRY //

Dovetail Ink

by Monica Welch

Luminous Moments by A

by Austyn

BC Inspirations

by Becky Cook

// THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT LENT //

Yes, your church needs holy water during Lent – ESPECIALLY during Lent

More on Sacramentals

Your Guide to a Catholic Lent: Everything you need for a more spiritual Lent

from Simply Catholic

Abstaining

No meat can be eaten on Ash Wednesday and all of the Fridays during Lent. This applies Catholics 14 and older. 

Fasting

Only one full regular sized meal is permitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for Catholics between 18 and 59. Two smaller meals are permitted, but the small meals should not equal a second full meal. Drinking coffee, tea, and water between meals is allowed. Snacks between meals are not allowed. Exemptions are made, of course, for nursing mothers, the ill, and the elderly for whom fasting would severely compromise their health.

Confession

You should strive to go to confession once a month (more frequently also encouraged), but especially during Lent.

Looking for an in-depth Examination of Conscience?

Click here to download and print up a copy to use.

You can also check out the Handy Little Guide to Confession

by Ink Slinger and Catholic author Michelle Schroeder


PAST LISTS, OTHER CS LENT POSTS, and OUR PINTEREST BOARD

The original list from 2013, with updates in 2014

The {Second} Handy Dandy List of 2015

The updated 2016 list of Lenten resources

2018 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Sacrifices

Lenten Archives

Season.Lent board on Pinterest

Hopefully, this list inspires you to try something new with your family or faith group, or possibly resurrect an old practice. And I hope everyone has a spiritually fulfilling Lent.

Finally, don’t forget our Annual 2019 Lenten Photo Challenge!

Categories
Celeste Faith Formation Fasting Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Prayer Recipes

Feasting During Lent

 

FeastingDuringLent - meatless meals, Lent, feast, www.catholicsistas.com

When you enter into Lent on Ash Wednesday, tradition sees us going into the church, and exiting in a solemn way with having done away with the “Alleluia” and a physical manifestation of the inward penances that we will practice with a visible mark of ashes on our forehead. So why would I include “Feasting” in an article about Lent? Because we are called to live our faith joyfully, as Pope Francis keeps pointing out. We are called to be a people of joy even in times of penance and sacrifice. As scripture also points out, we should not douse our heads in ashes and cry about the sacrifices that we practice so as to make a public display, but rather live as we normally should, (joyfully) so as to emulate to the world the joy that we find in being beloved of Our Lord.

Now, by feasting I don’t mean to load our tables with all things glorious and gooey, or to lay a table full of magnificently stuffed birds and sugar-laden desserts. On the contrary, we can feed our bodies with simple and nutritious foods, and make them beautiful and enjoyable while still observing our season of fasting and abstinence. If you weren’t aware, there are only two days during the season of Lent when we are called to a more “extreme” form of fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Well, I can do that, you might say. And so you should. On those days we can still feast, and by “feast” I mean to eat and feed our bodies, minds and souls with those things we need a joyful spirit and with a spirit of thanksgiving to our Lord for that ultimate sacrifice which He made for you and I.

If you are on a special diet for some particular reason, health or otherwise, giving up or changing your diet can be extremely difficult or very limiting. You must be healthy, after all. It shouldn’t become an obsession for you that must be at the forefront of your existence for this season. Ask yourself, “Is this sacrifice going to bring me closer in my relationship with Jesus?” If not, and if it is more about losing a pound or two during this time of penance, perhaps a different sacrifice is more appropriate for you. It’s most especially important to keep this in mind if you find yourself unable to focus on those things that are important, like taking care of your family or functioning at work. If you pay close attention our Lord usually provides much opportunity for sacrifice during Lent. So perhaps instead of giving up chocolate, you may find yourself making smaller but more meaningful choices (sacrifices) like choosing a more healthy option than what you would naturally go for at first glance. Or perhaps your fasting and abstinence will not be about food at all. (There are exceptions for people with health issues! Speak with your priest about it if you have questions or are uncertain.) Perhaps your thing will be about serving your spouse or children their meal more joyfully or patiently. Or instead of just slapping the Mac ‘n Cheese in a bowl and shoving it in front of the kids on the hastily cleared off table, set a nice table and put dinner in pretty bowls and talk about manners. That can be much more of a sacrifice than easily saying no to a piece of chocolate.

Now that we’ve covered some logistical stuff, please enjoy this recipe and the accompanying short video!

A blessed Lent to you, friends.

+ MORE ON MEATLESS MEALS +

[yumprint-recipe id=’7′]

Categories
Lent Marriage NFP and contraceptives Offering your suffering Rachel M

Abundant Living During Lent

Ash Wednesday is a somber day where we begin our forty days of fasting before we celebrate our Lord rising from the dead to give us new life. It’s a day where we contemplate our chosen sacrifices and prayers to help us grow closer to our Lord. We choose to surrender parts of ourselves to unite us to our savior on the cross so that we may better understand his bleeding wounds and immense suffering.


During this season it can be difficult to come up with a authentic sacrifice beyond giving up soda, TV, alcohol, etc. Not to say that those are ingenious, but depending on your faith life, they may be somewhat juvenile. Perhaps, if your heart is willing, I have a suggestion for your 40 day journey.

Our diocese, the Diocese of Des Moines, recently held a wine and cheese social where they celebrated the beauty of the teachings of The Church on Natural Family Planning. There was wine, cheese, free childcare, and a group of Catholic friends, so ya, we went. There was a brief presentation by Bishop Pates, and then people simply sat and enjoyed the company. It was so much fun, and I even got the Bishop to take a picture with me and some of my squirmy kiddos.

As I looked around the room, I was somewhat surprised to see a lot of unfamiliar faces. I feel like my husband and I have finally settled into the Catholic community here, having moved from Nebraska to Des Moines four years ago, and we have gotten to know many amazing Catholics. But at the social, there were new faces. It was so uplifting to know that we belonged to a greater community. A group of people who love God and love The Church’s teachings on the dignity of both married life and humanity. And, it wasn’t just my circle of friends, but there were other people in Des Moines who practice Natural Family Planning (NFP).

I’m sure you have read numerous articles, publications, and perhaps even testimonies on the amazing gift of NFP. But, what I would like to share with you, is the part of NFP that I find the both the most difficult and the most fulfilling, the sacrifice. Because, it is the sacrifice that binds me to God.

In all forms of Natural Family Planning, there is a period of abstinence if you and your spouse have discerned that it is necessary for you to avoid pregnancy. Society often tells us that abstinence, especially inside of marriage has no place, that it is unrealistic. But, our Mother Church, and less importantly me, will tell you quite the opposite. When you can look at your spouse, the most desirable person in the world and say to him or her, “I love you so much that I will give up my worldly desires for you”, well, what more is there? What more could you possibly say that could better mean “I love you”.

Is this period of abstinence difficult? Well, yes, sometimes. But just as we offer our Lord a sacrifice during this Lenten season out of love, can we not offer sacrifices for those on Earth whom we love? When you view a time of abstinence of sacrifice through the eyes of our Lord, it becomes beautiful, sanctifying, and you even look forward to this time.

If in your marriage, you have not opened yourself up to this gift from the Church, I encourage you to think about it, pray about it, and discuss with your spouse and priest this opportunity. Use these 40 days of fasting as a starting point for your NFP journey, consider it a trial run, for there is no greater love than dying to one’s self for Him.

If you and your spouse practice NFP, I ask you to recommit during this Lenten season. Read a new book on marriage and love, take a new NFP class or meet with your instructor for a brush up, sit down with your spouse and look over your charts, or make a decision to discuss your chart with your spouse each night.

May God bless you on your journey during this holy season.

Categories
Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Jaclyn Loss Prayer Respect Life Sacraments Testimonials

Walking the Way of the Cross without Samantha

I didn’t make it to Mass last year on Ash Wednesday. I remember seeing a Mass schedule on the door to the chapel at St. David’s as I rushed past. I had just been to visit my daughter Samantha in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was 17 days old. She and her twin sister Hannah were born 8 weeks early. She had surgery 2 weeks ago and was in an isolet recovering well. I had to hurry to Round Rock Medical Center, at least half an hour away, to see Hannah during her feeding time. Then I’d rush home to see my 2 year old daughter at home and hopefully put her to bed. I went to bed as soon as possible because the next day it started all over again. As you may imagine, Lenten observance was not exactly on my radar at the time.

Five days into lent, at 22 days old they moved Samantha to RRMC and both girls were together. Ten days into lent, at 27 days old, Hannah came home. 23 days into Lent, at 40 days old, Samantha contracted NEC and passed away within 10 hours.

You can see how last lent was different. When holy week came around Father Danny asked us to carry the oils up to the altar. They had a special significance to us now, since Father Danny had given Samantha her last rites just hours after I baptized her. I didn’t know if I planned to go to Mass at all that week. I didn’t think I could handle being at the church so much. Mass was so painful.

As you can imagine, it was very difficult to relate to God at that time. All I could think about were those hours we waited during Samantha’s surgery to find out if she would survive. I desperately called out to God in my fear. I cried out to my Mother to beseech her son to heal my baby. I cried out and begged my loving and merciful God to spare my little girl. I never really considered that He might say no.

Now, every time I saw Him at mass I felt abandoned and alone. The security I knew before in my almighty God disappeared into a fear I had never known. This was a new world where my children could die. Where was God? “Where you there when they nailed him to the tree?” I saw myself holding my dying baby… were you there? The more I tried to consider Jesus’ sacrifice the more I wondered where his triumph was. My baby was dead! He let her die. Did Mary know my pain? Her son was God.  Did God know my pain? His son was coming home to Him, not away from Him. I knew in my intellect that God allowed His son to die so my daughter could be in heaven with Him. All my heart could feel was her absence.

All I could do was get my body there to the church and receive Him. Sometimes I could sing or pray, but mostly not. I could not feel compassion for my savior, only the pain of my loss. I could not feel the joy of Easter. Only the futility of my prayer.

It has been a long journey from that place. Writing about it now, the pain rushes back and I remember how God felt suddenly like a stranger. When Ash Wednesday came around this year it was a very different story.

A few weeks before Ash Wednesday, I heard a talk by Father Michael (a Legionnaire) at a Regnum Christi event, about many subjects, including hope. As he spoke about the power we have in our hope in Christ, I began to understand the implications of what he was saying. No one can ever take that from us. Not pain, not suffering, not death. I imagined myself again reaching out to God, and this time praying for my daughter’s soul instead of her body. He knew what she really needed. He knows what I really need.

On Ash Wednesday, I was really too busy keeping my children quiet to enter into the mystery of Ash Wednesday but I still thought back to last year when I was in such a difficult place. As I got out the coloring book and a snack for Hannah, I turned to God again in vulnerable desperation, but my prayer had changed.

During one of our encounters with Christ at Regnum Christi, we discussed a story about gratefulness and learned that some Jewish people thank God 1,000 times a day. We resolved to do the same for a week. As I started thanking God for the AC, my dishwasher, hot water, a breath, a snack, a cool glass of water; I began to see each moment I spent with Samantha as a gift. It was as if I had been looking at a negative of a photograph and it was finally in correct perspective.

One day last year on Relevant Radio I heard a priest try to describe our transition to heaven. He compared it to twins in the womb. They are so happy and comfortable in their home, and so content with each other. They play and swim and kick and love each other. But one day one of them is born. All the unborn twin knows is that her playmate is gone. She can’t understand what awaits her: a loving family and a life she couldn’t imagine. I felt like the twin left behind. Samantha was on the other side in God’s loving arms waiting to welcome me one day.

Later during lent I heard a beautiful talk by Father Jonathan about confession and about uniting our suffering with Christ. With each suffering we lift up to Him in reparation, we are spared some time in purgatory. I wanted to take advantage of every single chance Samantha had given me to draw closer to Christ. God didn’t allow her to die so that I could come closer to Him. I believe that whatever the reason He decided not to heal her, He is using this suffering for my good. I have given up soda for lent, and every time I want that soda, I practice relying on God for the strength, so that the next time I feel that agony of losing Samantha, I can turn to God instead of into myself.

With Holy Week approaching, I am now looking towards the cross. I heard a story of a woman who prayed the Stations of the Cross backwards. She said it was because someone had to walk Jesus’ mother home. Just as I had to go on with my life after my world seemed to end, so did she. Now every time I feel the agony of my loss, I am not alone. My Blessed Mother is there beside me crying with me. Jesus is there suffering with me so that Samantha could be in heaven and so that one day I could join Him and her.

I hope that God will continue to speak to me throughout Holy Week and Easter. I look forward to truly celebrating His victory over death which is the source of my hope that can never be taken from me.  Hope through gratitude, healing though Reconciliation, Redemption though suffering learned through fasting. Easter holds a new richness for me now.  It’s easy to praise God when you are spared suffering.  Now that I have walked the way of the cross I can truly celebrate the resurrection.