HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

THE TEAM TRUMP COUNTS ON TO KEEP AMERICA SAFE

I know we are in the middle of confirmation hearings, but I wanted to print the background of these members he wants on his team.

MEMBERS OF PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP’S NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM REFLECT A COMMON  THEME: smart, tough, loyal, and not afraid to disrupt the bureaucratic status quo. His appointments strongly suggest that Trump seeks a major overhaul in the fields of defense, intelligence, and security.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, 58

Resume: Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former assistant director of National Intelligence, U.S. Army lieutenant general. Flynn, a Democrat, was forced out of the Obama administration after he repeatedly warned that ISIS was for real and trying to topple Bashar al-Assad in Syria would fuel rampant chaos. LITTLE KNOW FACT: The national security adviser is a member of the president’s personal staff, which means the controversial Flynn will not need to undergo Senate confirmation.

U.S ATTORNEY GENERAL: Sen. Jeff Sessions, 70

Resume: Sessions was the U>S> attorney for Alabama for 12 years before being elected the attorney general of Alabama in 1994: he was elected to the U>S>Senate in 1996. He was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid, and will be called upon to fix a Justice Department and FBI that have become embroiled in Beltway politics.  LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Like Trump, Sessions is a climate change skeptic. He once remarked in a hearing that carbon dioxide “is really not a pollutant, that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody.”

DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Rep. Mike Pompeo, 53

Resume: A strong pro-lifer who identifies with the tea party movement and a successful entrepreneur. Pompeo was first elected in 2010 to represent Kansas in the House of Representatives. He’s been a harsh critic of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attacks, of the Iran nuclear deal, and of attempts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  LITTLE KNOWN FACT: A brilliant student, Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point and later became editor of the Harvard Law Review.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Ret. Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, 66

Resume: President Obama reportedly force Mattis into retirement after 41 years of service because he asked too many probing questions about Iran. MILITARY TIMES described Mattis as the most beloved Marine Corps general officer in a generation. LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Nicknamed “the warrior monk” for his single-minded dedication to military life and strategy, Mattis has never married and has no children.

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I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. However, I know military people want Mattis in that position because they trust his common sense. The fact that Obama didn’t want him, is a very good sign.

Flynn is a Democrat, and was fired by Obama because he asked too many question, and Obama didn’t want anyone to question his highness. Since he is on the President’s personal staff, the Congress can’t touch him. It would also seem to point out that Trump is willing to work with both sides to get things done.

Sessions has years of experience and won’t be dragged into Beltway politics. We need him to clean up the Justice Dept and FBI and put an end to political interference. Perhaps, laws on Immigration and other areas will now be enforced.

Pompeo, Pro-life is good, he won’t be targeting Pro life organizations. He is brilliant, graduated first in his class at West Point, editor of the Harvard Law Review. You can’t beat that time of intelligence.

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This would seem to point out that Trump is looking for the best of the best. God bless him and all who works with and for him.

 

 

 

THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK, ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS SEASONS

Dedicated to Bishop Ken Untener who was inspired to create the Little Books. There are several short reflections on the infancy narrative of St. Luke, that I enjoyed and think you all will also, food for thought.

JOY OF THE GOSPEL, On Nov. 24, 2013 Pope Francis issued a pastoral exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel) which urged a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to the world. “I INVITE ALL Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day,” wrote Pope Francis in the exhortation, whose publication came at the conclusion of the Year of Faith

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ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH go home. I’m not told where this is but later, when Mary visits their home, I learn that it was “a town of Judah” (the same part of the land as Jerusalem) in the “hill country.”

Elizabeth soon learns that she is pregnant, as the angel had promised, and she expresses heer joy at what God has done for her.  PRAYERS of THANKSGIVING are the easiest to say. Every day, even on bad days, I come across all sorts of things that can remind me of God’s goodness–trees, little children, warm water in the shower, the sound of birds, a good burger, the sun, moon, stars, a kindness someone does for me. (and I will add,”the beauty around me after a wet snow storm, when the trees and every bush is covered in white). If I keep my eyes open for them, I can catch lots of things I never really noticed as “gifts” before–things that deserve a simple word of thanks to God.  If I haven’t done it often enough this week, right now might be a good time for a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

SPEND SOME QUIET TIME WITH THE LORD

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FINDING JOY AT CHRISTMAS

We often feel Christmas should be a “sugar plum” day with no touch of sadness. We feel we mustn’t let the sad parts of our lives into this special day. Suffering spois it. Let only gladness fill the air.

BUT CONSIDER ANOTHER APPROACH: Instead of avoiding all the sadness and trying to create a Hallmark Christmas, savor the richness of a savior born into a broken world, for broken hearts, to bring healing.

This is the feast of a God who so loved this world-my world-with its better and worse. Let the love of this feast touch the better and the worse, and I’ll find a deep down joy that can bring tears to my eyes. This mixture fits the feast. The event as Bethlehem wasn’t a Disney World experience. It was a time of both bliss and sorrow.

The joy of Christmas is that light overcomes darkness. It’s the good news of the angel to the shepherds: Today a savior has been born for you…for all that is happy in you, and all that is sad in you. Don’t hide the sad feelings. For some, it is the first Christmas with a newborn child or a grandchild. For others, it is the first Christmas without  their mother, father, husband, wife, child, close friend. For all of us it is Christmas celebrated in imperfect lives in an imperfect world.

WHEN WE remember who Jesus was and why he came, we can let him come into our real life, and then experience what it means to have a merry Christmas.

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SPEND SOME QUIET TIME WITH THE LORD.

More another time……………………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO WE DO WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO?

Consider John the Baptist: He was a fiery preacher who drew great crowds…and then everything fell apart.

Jesus, whom John had hoped would be the promised Messiah, seemed to be moving in a different direction from what John anticipated. Jesus seemed to be “wasting” his time curing people who were crippled and blind and deaf

John was arrested and thrown into jail. If Jesus was the Messiah, something wasn’t working. The Romans were still in control and there had been no great shift in power.

Then there was John’s death, as senseless as a drive by shooting: Killed for the price of a dance, because of a king who got drunk at a party and made a promise to a teenage girl… killed by some guard who grumbled about having to get up late and go chop off the head of someone he didn’t even know.

This does not appear to be the stuff of greatness. But Jesus said that John was one of the greatest who ever lived.

Where did this greatness come from?

John the Baptist tried to do what was given him to do, and do it for God, and do it with God.

And  when my efforts, insignificant as they may seem to be, are connected with God, I AM INVOLVED IN SOMETHING COLOSSAL, SOMETHING GREAT.

From the LITTLE BLUE  BOOK___________________________________

How do you know what God wants you to do? Ask Him. Here is a prayer I say now, every day. I got it from a book by Scott Hann and his wife, HOME TO ROME. Her father taught her to say this prayer and it works for me:

“Lord, let me be what you want me to be, do what you want me to do and go where you want me to go.” I love you.”

And then pay attention to your day, and what God puts before you.

 

LENT-DAY 6, MONDAY MARCH 10

Reflection:  CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING:  Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person

Created in the image of God, all people possess and inherent dignity that comes directly from our creation and not from any action of our own.  Human life is sacred, and the welfare of all people is a priority. 

PRAYER;  But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Frustrated and fatigued, I often wonder if I have anything left to give anyone else.  O Lord, the needs of my family can be emotionally and spiritually overwhelming.  Let your strength renew me as I carry the crosses of caring for my family.  Catch me when I am faint.  Lead me when I am lost.  You have entrusted me with so much by giving me this cross to carry.   Now breathe your breath into my life, O God, and show me how to sacrifice myself for family.

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A GIFT TO THE WORLD

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Leviticus 19:18

Your life is not for yourself.  My life is not for myself.  The deepest desires of you and me is to give myself to others.  That is part of me.  Not just a part of my life, all of me.  I am created to give myself away.  In my giving myself away I want to be a fruitful person, not a successful person, not a rich person, not a person with many results–to have a fruitful life.  Our lives bear fruit in the giving.  I am more and more aware that the deepest joy of the spiritual life is precisely in giving myself, giving ourselves, in giving ourselves away.  We can do it because we know that we are the beloved who are blessed and broken, but that we were broken in order that we could become a gift for the world.

Heavenly Father, help me love my neighbor as you love me.

HAVE A BLESSED LENT