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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Kasey Lent Liturgical Year

My Liturgical Suitcase: The Penitential Psalms

My Liturgical Suitcase
I never felt a weight associated with the liturgical seasons until I had children.

From the moment I held my eldest son, I knew I had the grave responsibility to raise him as a good Catholic in a world that, at times, can be a very hostile and cruel place.

Selfishly, I also wanted memories.

I wanted the cookie baking, card making, St. Nicholas shoes filling, Easter basket earning memories of a home that was built on the shoulders of a Catholic tradition.

The issue was that I wanted traditions that I hadn’t been raised with myself and I was floundering in the Pinterest perfect social media posts of bloggers and friends who had already found their secret sauce.

I was also a hormonal new mom looking for purpose and I was drinking deep from a well of insecurity.

So naturally, I tried everything.

I handpainted Jesse Tree ornaments.
I baked traditional Easter cookies that my baby couldn’t even eat yet.  
I spent hours looking for an Advent wreath that would fit on our tiny apartment table.
I agonized over the Masses I missed because of sleep deprivation and nursing troubles.

And ultimately, I felt like a failure. There wasn’t a way to do everything and be everything in the throes of early motherhood.

And then a streak of real life happened.

It started with a nasty bout of flu during the Triduum.

A pregnancy that made it difficult to enter our church because of the incense.

And recently, two Christmas seasons that were spent with very ill grandparents.

This past year, my sons and I flew across the country to be caregivers for my mother-in-law who had fallen ill during chemotherapy.

No tree.
No gifts from us.
And a church that felt foreign.

I cannot say this was ground zero. I will not lament over an important duty. It was the only right decision.

But it did break me.

It disconnected me from the constant stream of expectations I had built up for myself.

It gave me a suitcase with actual limits and asked: “What are you bringing with you?”

After essentials, there was room for three things: my Bible, my missal, and a cross to hang over the door.

As Christmas approached we were no longer hanging hand painted ornaments on a lighted tree branch. We weren’t singing Christmas carols or baking cookies. But we were returning to scripture every day. We were together and I could breathe into a season of hope in a time when I felt very alone.

For Lent, I have decided to simplify my season routine again and to focus on reading scripture with my children. My husband introduced me to the seven penitential psalms and I thought their history was worth sharing.

These particular psalms are grouped together not only because of their expressions of sorrow for sin but also because of their association with the seven deadly sins. They have often been interpreted as a type of spiritual ladder in which the reader embraces a separate virtue as he or she reads each psalm. Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly assigned them as such:

Psalm 6: Fear of Punishment
Psalm 32: Sorrow for Sin and the Desire for Confession
Psalm 38: Hope of Grace
Psalm 51: A Love of Purity and Mercy
Psalm 102: A Longing for Heaven
Psalm 130: Confidence in Divine Mercy
Psalm 143: Joy  

However, the grouping of these psalms extends much further back than Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly’s. St. Augustine of Hippo mentions them as early as the 5th century and is said to have had copies of them posted near his deathbed. Up until 1972, minor orders and those that received tonsure were assigned these psalms as part of a daily prayer practice.

Personally, I am planning to focus on one each Sunday of Lent, with hopes that I will reflect and re-read them during the weeks leading up to Easter. We are also holding on to our family fasting traditions, but I will be taking this time to reassess my general approach to liturgical living and to define the limits of my proverbial “suitcase.”

What am I bringing with me?

With Lent here, I have given myself more permission to look up from my daily “to-do” list. It’s been a hidden gift. I have had time to truly reflect on the talents of my friends.

Each of the Catholic ladies in my life has a beautiful and unique suitcase of their own- different shapes, depths, colors, and filled with different essentials. I have crafty friends that build Lenten roads that span the entirety of their house, friends that dig into their prayer life with saintly devotion, friends that attend morning Mass every week, friends that bake traditional breads, and friends that host every single person that is without a home regardless of their budget or chair count.

Truly, I am blessed with their example.  

Whatever you fill your suitcase with, I am honored to be traveling with you towards the same horizon. May you have a blessed and fruitful Lent.

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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Prayer

Lectio Divina: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (2017)

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of those that has the option of a long form and a short form. I read the long form while spending time with this Gospel, although most of my reflection below ended up centering around the part that is encapsulated by the short form. I’m definitely curious to see what part of this Gospel passage speaks to you the most. So please share your thoughts or insights in the comments.

So let’s get ready. Be sure to have the Gospel passage in front of you, and here is an easy link: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. If you need a brief review of the steps for lectio divina you can find a nice description from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Oblates website. Remember to read the Gospel reading before each of the next four sections below and take some time to reflect on the questions before reading my responses.

Help me, Lord, to hear what you want me to hear and may your Holy Spirit guide me to share what you want me to share. Amen.

READ

A word or phrase (or more) that caught your attention during your first reading of the passage. Mine included:

  • Great light
  • Repent
  • Followed him

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

The second half of Sunday’s Gospel (if you read the long form) is familiar and easy to focus your attention toward. But as I read this I kept going back to the first half. It seems simple: John is arrested, Jesus retreats to a different part of the country, and he begins his ministry there, in a somewhat backwoods, out of the way place. The prophecy from Isaiah kept drawing me in. I love the contrast of the darkness to the light. The people are in darkness, the land is overshadowed by death, and yet, they have seen a great light, light has arisen. The people here in Galilee seem to be in a wasteland, hopeless, surrounded by poverty. They are nothing but a tiny fishing village, unimportant in the eyes of most. Yet here is where Jesus comes to be the light that brings them hope. Jesus is the light. Are we surprised that he begins his ministry in a poor, unimportant place? You could say that he was just simply fulfilling the prophesy as told by Isaiah, but look back just a few weeks ago. What did we celebrate not too long ago in the Church calendar? Christmas! This King of Heaven and Earth was born in a lowly stable in the poorest of poor circumstances. It only makes sense that he would start his ministry in much the same way.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Thinking about Jesus beginning his ministry in a land that was poor and regarded as unimportant by most people, makes me think about those times when I am in a dark place. Sometimes when we are down about something or suffering from immense pain, whether physical or mental, or maybe grieving the loss of a loved one, we can often feel like we are trapped in darkness. Isaiah mentions the “people who sit in darkness,” and those people can be us at any time. When I think of Jesus beginning his ministry here it is a good reminder that he is always with us, even in the darkness. We may not always see it immediately, but he is there to be the light to bring us out of the darkness.

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for always being the light in the darkness. Thank you for being the one who brought me out of the darkness during times of grief and suffering in my life. I pray that others will feel your presence and look to you when they face their own times of darkness.

REST

Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.

YOUR TURN

What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Categories
Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Liturgical Year Ordinary Time Prayer Sacred Scripture

Lectio Divina: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (2016)

Lectio Divina- 23rd SundayLectio divina is a beautiful way of encountering Jesus in Scripture and is an ancient tradition of the Church. To learn more about it, there is a brief description HERE including citations for further resources.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary time. Before we begin, you will want to have the Gospel passage ready to go. You can find it HERE. A simple prayer before you begin is a nice way to start (I like starting with the prayer to the Holy Spirit, a Glory Be would be good too).

READ

This first very simple step is to simply read the Gospel passage. This is God sending you a letter, so just read it and be with it. Does any one word or phrase particularly speak to you at this time? If so, say it out loud to yourself. Sometimes there may be more than one. If so, say the first one and sit silently with that word or words. Then speak the second one.

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

After you have sat with your word or phrase for a moment read the Gospel passage a second time. Reflect on the passage as a whole. What is God saying to you through this passage?

In my first reading of this Gospel passage from Luke two phrases caught my attention: “carry his own cross” and “renounce all his possessions.” This led me to think mostly just of material possessions and my constant need to divest myself of the clutter I seem to perpetually have around me. Another thought I had was that Jesus may not be talking only of material possessions, after all pretty much every story we have of Jesus has more than one meaning behind his words.

Reading this passage a second time something else struck me instead. The analogy of the builder constructing a tower. A builder should properly calculate everything before starting. If not, things may not turn out as expected and, as Jesus says, “onlookers should laugh at him.” At first glance it’s not obvious why Jesus uses this analogy in the context of renouncing your family and possessions to follow him. But then I remembered one of my first thoughts, that Jesus is not just talking about material possessions, he’s also talking about our souls and how we prepare our souls to be true followers of Jesus.

I don’t think Jesus wants us to literally hate our family members or the things we need in life (“need” being the important word here). But we must prepare our souls to be detached from the things of this world, even the people of this world. Like a builder who properly calculates and prepares for the construction of his tower, we must be continually preparing our souls for the next world. In addition to detachments from the things of this world, we must also be prepared to take up our cross, the cross that makes us different from the world around us precisely because we are focusing on the world to come.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Read the Gospel passage a third time. After this reading focus on how you would respond to God. What do you want to say to God?

My first thought in answering this question: I’m trying. Preparing my soul is hard. Human weakness being what it is, I want to have my cake and eat it too. So, yes, I’m trying, one day at a time. Slowly but surely, I spend time in prayer, spend time in Scripture, and spend time getting to know Jesus and building that personal relationship with him. As I focus more on those things I think detaching from worldly goods becomes easier and easier. One day at a time, Lord, always keeping you in sight.

REST

Read the Gospel passage a fourth time and simply rest with God in his word. To close your time, I recommend an Our Father, or any other prayer of your choosing.

Lord God, help us to prepare our souls to be joined with you one day in our heavenly home. I pray for the strength to carry my cross, to stay true to the Christian way of life and renounce all worldly things. Help us to always have a focus on you, our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Reflect for Ordinary Time- Sept 4Find our Reflect series, a short version of Lectio Divina, on Instagram.

 

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Advent Christmas Easter Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Michelle Ordinary Time Spiritual Growth

Happy Catholic New Year!

The season of Advent began this weekend.  At our Masses we noticed the colors on the altar and on our priests were changed to purple.  We saw that the Advent wreath was once again on the altar, the first candle lit signifying that we have indeed started a new season in the Church.  But what does all this mean anyway?  Why does the Church begin its New Year before the start of the Gregorian calendar New Year?   Why not just start the Church’s New Year on January 1st?

The answer lies in the fact that the Church is not worried about the months of the year or about nature’s seasons.  Instead, She concerns herself with making sure that we, as followers of Christ, are able to make the journey through the mysteries of Jesus’ life beginning with the waiting period before His birth, a season that we call Advent, all the way through His death and Resurrection to the crowning of Him as King on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  The Second Vatican Council stated: “Within the cycle of a year, the Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from his incarnation and birth until his ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the Lord’s return.” (Constitution on the Liturgy, #102).

The Liturgical Year, as we call the Church year, is divided into six separate seasons.  They are as follows: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time.  Each season is special and important all on its own, however, each season builds on the one prior to it.  The Liturgical Year takes us on a journey through Jesus’ birth, life and death.  Let’s take a closer look at each season.

Advent: The season of waiting.  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival or coming.  We are waiting to commemorate Christ’s birth.  Advent begins on the fourth Sunday preceding Christmas day nearest to or falling on November 30th and lasts until Christmas Eve.  During this time we experience a season of penitence but also one of joyful anticipation for Christ’s arrival into the world.  The four weeks of Advent are often marked by the use of an Advent wreath with four candles reflecting the themes of faith, hope, joy, and love.  The color we see in Mass and on our priests is violet or purple. Purple is used to remind us of sacrifice and penitence.  Pink is used on the 3rd Sunday of Advent to signify the joy we have that our wait for Christ’s birth is almost over.

Christmas: The season of rejoicing and celebration.  During Christmas Jesus becomes incarnate.  He chooses to come to us in human form as a baby borne of his mother Mary.  Christmas begins at Vespers on the evening of December 24th and lasts until the Baptism of Our Lord which is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6th.  The Christmas season is marked by joy and gratitude.  The color we see at the Mass and on our priests is white.  White signifies both purity and rejoicing.   Christ is here! Alleluia!

Ordinary Time: The season that’s “not so ordinary”.  Ordinary Time brings to mind a time that’s not “extraordinary”, but if we think this we are very wrong.  Ordinary Time in the Church is a season where we focus on the “not so ordinary” events that happened during Jesus’ day to day life.  During Ordinary Time we experience Christ’s priestly ministry on earth.  We read of His miracles, we hear His teachings; we follow him through His childhood and into His founding of the Church on earth.  Ordinary Time is divided into two sections, one beginning after Christmas and the other beginning after Easter.  This particular season of Ordinary Time begins on January 14th and lasts until the 9th Sunday preceding Easter.  On our altars and our priests we see the color green.  The green represents the hope of new life.

Lent: The season of penance.  Lent is a somber time in our faith.  We are remembering Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and preparing for His death on the cross.  We focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Lent is a time where we are called to repent and make lasting changes in our lives to bring us closer to God.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 6 weeks before Easter, and ends right before the Mass on the Easter Vigil, the night prior to Easter.  Traditionally we celebrate 40 days of Lent, not counting the Sundays during the season as Sundays are always a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and our redemption. During Lent we see purple or violet on our altars and our priests.  Again this color represents sacrifice and penitence.  Like in Advent, halfway through Lent, we see pink introduce as a sign that there is still hope.  Hope that Christ will win His battle against death and will rise in glory.  Hope that Easter will soon be here.

Easter: The season of hope and rejoicing.  Easter is a glorious time in our faith.  We know the joy of the Resurrection and salvation that Christ has secured for us.  It is a time of new beginnings.  It is a time of thanksgiving for Jesus’ triumph over death.  Easter begins at the Easter Vigil and ends 50 days later at Pentecost.  During the Easter season we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and the Ascension.  Between the Ascension and Pentecost we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  During the Easter season our altars and priests are clothed in white or gold.  Again, these colors signify purity, new life, and rejoicing.  However, on Pentecost we see the color red as a symbol of the tongues of fire given by the Holy Spirit that descended upon the Apostles.

Ordinary Time: The season that again is “not so ordinary”.  The second period of Ordinary Time begins the Monday following Pentecost and ends the night before Advent begins. The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King.  During this second period of Ordinary Time we also celebrate many other important feasts within our faith: Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Assumption of Mary, All Saint’s Day, and All Souls Day (to name a few).  The season is far from ordinary!  This is the longest season within the Church’s liturgical year.  At this time we once again see green on our altars and on our priests.  The green symbolizes the hope of new life… the new life that Christ is offering to us, that He secured for us through His holy sacrifice on the cross.

There are various ways to celebrate each season of the Church’s Liturgical Year.  One only has to look on the internet or ask a friend what they do to keep each season holy.  To make the most out of this amazing Liturgical Year that the Church has given us we must first understand why we celebrate the way we do.  Why is each of the seasons important?  How can each season bring us closer to God?  How can we keep the seasons holy?  Our Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has given us the map to grow closer to God, to understand Jesus’ great sacrifice, and to find our way to His loving arms.  The Liturgical Year aids us in these goals.  By following the Liturgical Year we take a journey through the mysteries of Christ’s life, we repent, we rejoice, and we grow in faith and closeness to God.  What an amazing gift the Church has provided us.

Happy New Year!  How do you plan to celebrate?

*you may find the above Liturgical calendar and many others at http://michelequigley.com/blog/printable-liturgical-calendar/