When I Am Weak, I Am Strong

"A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair." -Abraham Joshua Heschel

You can’t always operate at 100%, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing your best.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Sunday Lent Reflections: Mercy

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Up to his nest again, I shall not live in vain. -Emily Dickinson

God of mercy, make my heart like yours. Help me to love others without reservation, especially my enemies. No matter the cost, I will assist them the best way I can. Open my eyes to the needs of others; especially my loved ones and grant me the graces necessary to help them.

As you are merciful to me, so I must be to others. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

Sunday Lent Reflections: Forgiveness

The power of forgiveness.God of forgiveness, I am sorry for the times I have disappointed you. I apologize for the faults I’ve committed and the good I neglected to do. Grant me you grace of understanding to acknowledge these sins, make reparations, and I offer these sin to you as sacrifice to your absolution. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

Lent: A Time for Repentance

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.

We are officially in the season of Lent. Confusion still plagues my mind, even though I’ve been celebrating it for decades. Questions like: When do I fast or practice abstinence? What I give up for Lent? I know I am not the only one either. To help answer our questions, I complied a Question and Answer list with research gathered from various Catholic resources such as EWTN.

What is Lent?
Lent is forty-day season of preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 22, 2012) and ending on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter (April 7, 2012). Sundays commemorate the resurrection and are excluded from Lent season.

Why is Lent Forty days?

The number forty represents discipline, devotion and preparation for holiness in the Bible. Jesus prepared himself for ministry by spending forty days in the desert to pray and fast. Deprivation was the reason Jesus retreated to the desert. Deprivation increases our reliance on God, disciplines the flesh and strengthens the spirit.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)

What are the requirements of Lent?
Lent is a penitential season marked by prayer, almsgiving, fasting and abstinence. Prayer is a conversation with God. When we pray we come to God in faith, give thanks and ask for God’s continuous mercy. Almsgiving involves acts of charity such as helping your neighbor in need, feeding the hungry, or donating money to the poor. We also fast by giving up something that gives us pleasure. Common things given up for Lent include: favorite foods, alcohol, music and shopping.

Fasting is the consumption of only one full meal. Smaller meals are permitted, but none equal the amount of a full meal. Abstinence forbids the consumption of meat. In the Catholic religion it is permissible to consume eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal.

When do I fast and/or abstain during Lent?
All Fridays during Lent we abstinence from consuming meat. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the two days we fast and practice abstinence. AmericanCatholic.org provides a through explanation of the Catholic Church’s official rules concerning fast and abstinence.

Why are we not allowed to consume meat during abstinence?
Jesus sacrificed his flesh for us on Good Friday and we refrain from eating meat on Fridays in his honor.

What additional things can I do to enrich my Lent experience?
Continue praying the Rosary and explore the Passion of Christ by saying the Stations of the Cross. Meditate on the Scripture and follow Christ as He makes His ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. Beliefnet has a beautiful presentation of Lent devotionals alongside complimentary Bible readings.

Penance is the theme of Lent. Prayer, almsgiving, fasting and abstinence, are ways to express repentance for our sins. Lent follows Jesus his last days as he makes the ultimate sacrifice with his Precious Blood.
Some Christian denominations have variations on how they celebrate the Lent season. Ask your Church leaders and/or search the web to obtain additional information on how your denomination commemorates Lent.

What are you giving up for Lent? Take the poll above and find out what others are giving up for Lent.

3 Lenten Practices, Which Should Become a Universal Right

Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer during the forty days of Lent; gives us the opportunities to experience why food, clothing, and shelter should be a universal right. These three traditional practices teach us humility; and to never take these graces for granted, because they aren’t guaranteed indefinitely.

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent.

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalm 51:3-17)

Our Most Important Meal, the Eucharist

When Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he united himself to one of the most necessary human activities for survival, eating and drinking. Just as we cannot live without food and water, we cannot gain eternal life without Jesus Christ.

John 6:53-58, So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Follow the Steps of the Redeemer

When we suffer, we follow in the steps of our redeemer.

2 Corinthians 4:8-11, ”We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Complete in Christ

We are all complete in God.  Upon inception, God gave us all the tools necessary for divine victory.  God’s flesh in Christ unifies our humanity to his divinity.  The enemy seeks to destroy this completeness by giving us spoiled fruits of the world. 

John 17:20-23, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

The Power of the Holy Spirit

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Father and the Son, creates a home within us.

John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”