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Living Our Faith: Lenten series: Repentance

February 20th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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A woman prays during Ash Wednesday Mass March 1, 2017, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. Lent presents Catholics with an opportunity and an obligation to examine where their lives are modeling the Lord’s example and where they are failing to help bring about the kingdom of God. (CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald)

According to the early Fathers of the Church, all true repentance must begin with humility. To take our eyes off others’ sins and instead to admit our own is an act of humility.

In our faults we come to know more profoundly the love of God. Repentance then is to live within the dialogue of salvation.

Lent is a time to delve deeply into our lives during this season of penance and give a thorough look at what our values are and how we live them out each day.

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Sunday Scripture readings, Feb. 18

February 15th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Catholic News Service

 

First Sunday of Lent

Cycle B

1) Gn 9:8-15

Psalm 25:4-9

2) 1 Pt 3:18-22

Gospel: Mk 1:12-15

 

Is there anything here for me?

Previewing today’s readings, I knew right away the grooves my mind would fall into when they are read at Mass.

First we will hear about God promising Noah not to send any more floods and setting the rainbow in the sky as a reminder to himself. Funny, I think, how there weren’t any rainbows before that. Read more »

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Anoint your head and wash your face

February 12th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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On Ash Wednesday, it’s not hard to identify Catholics. The smudge of ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads is a solid giveaway. The interesting part, though, is that the purpose of those ashes is quite the opposite of the “Hey, look at me” message it seems to send.

In fact, the day’s Gospel reading says to avoid looking as if you are fasting, to “anoint your head and wash your face.” That seems contradictory, doesn’t it?

As we receive our ashes, we are reminded to “turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.” Ashes serve as a visible reminder to us — and others — that we have sinned and must now begin again. It’s kind of a spiritual do-over, and Ash Wednesday — the starting line of Lent — is when the work begins.

The first and second readings serve as a wake-up call for us, urging us to “return to the Lord, your God,” and remember that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”

Now that we are awake, today’s Gospel truly instructs us how to go forth on our Lenten journey.

Matthew highlights the three pillars of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving — and gives us a simple guide to what we should and should not be doing. He reminds the reader that “your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Matthew lays it out very clearly and straightforward in terms of how to carry out the pillars of Lent.

He writes that when we give alms, we should “not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others,” but rather, “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret.”

He provides similar advice regarding prayer and fasting. When praying we are not to “be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.”

In this age of Facebook, selfies and constant contact, it’s hard to do things quietly. Or, maybe it’s that people don’t want or know how to do things quietly.

 It seems as if all our actions are captured and instantly communicated with as wide of an audience of people as we can manage. We gauge ourselves on likes, shares, followers.

Listening to the Gospel, you would think that Matthew had a sneak peek into today’s culture when he wrote it.

As the Gospel continually reminds us, our actions are seen by God and that is what truly matters. That should be enough.

So, yes, today, we will wear our ashes that tell those who see us that we are Catholic. Some Catholics may even take a selfie while wearing them.

We must remember, though, to see the ashes for what they remind us to do: Look inward and prepare ourselves. For it is only in dying to ourselves that we can begin our Lenten journey toward the resurrection.

— Susan Hines-Brigger

(Hines-Brigger is a columnist with St. Anthony Messenger.)

            • • •

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“Ash Wednesday is a day when we literally wear our faith on our forehead,” Julianne Stanz wrote in a popular 2016 column titled “To #ashtag or not to #ashtag on social media” for The Compass, newspaper for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Ashes symbolize our mortality, need for conversion and the day when we ultimately will be judged by God, noted Stanz, director of new evangelization for the diocese.

It’s a growing trend, especially among younger generations, she observed, to post selfies on social media featuring the ashes along with the hashtag #ashtag.

But doesn’t this contradict the Lenten spirit of praying, fasting and giving almsgiving alms “in secret” so that only God sees them (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)?

 On Ash Wednesday, we become “a visual extension of the love of Christ — a love that transcends time and distance, whether in the real world or the virtual world,” Stanz answered.

Catholics can use their presence online to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” she said.

Before posting, however, “pause to pray,” she advised, and “examine your reasons for doing so.”

 “Invite others to ask questions or to seek clarification online,” or even better, “sit down with people and be present to them face to face,” Stanz wrote.

Read the full article at www.thecompassnews.org/2016/02/to-ashtag-or-not-to-ashtag-on-social-media.

           

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Ash Wednesday: A point of re-entry?

February 12th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

 Unlike Christmas, Easter and every Sunday of the year, Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation. Maybe that’s part of the draw for some people, who fill their parish churches for Ash Wednesday liturgies as they rarely do at any other time.

 “Yes, we get big turnouts for Ash Wednesday,” says Father Dan Rupp, pastor of Mater Dei Church in Sioux City, Iowa. “It seems like many of these folks are people who also come for the blessing of the throats, or anytime there is something different going on than at most Sunday liturgies.” Read more »

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Bringing hope back to life in Lent

February 12th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

“The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

Those words appear in Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 encyclical on hope titled “Spe Salvi,” a title based on St. Paul’s statement in his Letter to the Romans that “in hope we were saved” (8:24). They sum up certain key goals of the Christian season of Lent. Read more »

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Living Our Faith: Lent begins: Ash Wednesday

February 12th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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A great many Christians enter Lent with the firm intention of praying

A woman with a cross marked on her forehead looks on during Ash Wednesday Mass in 2014 in Manila, Philippines. On Ash Wednesday, it’s not hard to identify Catholics. The smudge of ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads is a solid giveaway. (CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters)

in a more committed way and a conviction that prayer will open a path for them toward new life and hope.

Lent is a kind of a spiritual do-over, and Ash Wednesday — the starting line of Lent — is when the work begins.

How can parishes hold on to these Ash Wednesday Catholics? Give them opportunities to practice their Lenten call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving throughout the year.

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Therapy, Retrouvaille and sacraments offer hope to failing marriages

February 11th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — The marriage appeared severed. It was a mess of miscommunication, heartbreak and a broken vow. They’d contacted divorce lawyers and he’d moved out. Her friends encouraged her to dump him.

“Our marriage was in a crisis that we couldn’t overcome ourselves,” said Carol McMenamin, 63.

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Sunday Scripture readings, Feb. 11, 2018

February 8th, 2018 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

     Cycle B

     1) Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

     Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11

     2) 1 Cor 10:31 – 11-1

     Gospel: Mk 1:40-45 

‘Make me clean’

Chances are most of us struggle to keep up with New Year’s resolutions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve fallen behind on my spiritual resolutions already! 

Thanks be to God we have the fast approaching Lenten season when the church invites us to return to the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul. We have yet another chance to renew our resolve to be disciples of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a leper who approaches him with a confident plea. We know well that in Jesus’ day, lepers were ostracized from the social order. They lived outside cities and towns and were separated from normal activities of life.  Read more »

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Catholics gather on Hill to pray lawmakers will protect the Dreamers

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON  — A group of priests, religious, young immigrants and their supporters gathered outside of the U.S. Capitol Feb. 6 to pray for the Dreamers, whose lives are in limbo, and for the legislators who have the power to change their situation.

“We’ve done everything else … now we pray,” said Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, a Daughter of Charity, noting the many marches and protests that have taken place over the past months. “It really is in God’s hands at this point.” Read more »

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Tears of joy for Eagles fans include memories of loved ones

February 5th, 2018 Posted in Featured, Our Diocese, Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Those not from our area might believe they understand the flood of emotions coming from people after the Philadelphia Eagles ended their franchise Super Bowl drought and claimed their first NFL Championship since 1960.

They think they get it. Other teams have had long droughts, some longer than the Eagles.

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