Those that are closest to me know that my Christian faith is a very important part of who I am. I am a cradle Catholic, born and raised in the church, and practicing to this day. Here you will find some of my favorite prayers, scriptures, quotes,and tidbits of faith that you might find informative or encouraging as you embark upon your own spiritual journey.
Lent & The Divine Mercy Devotion
Worldwide, Christians just finished observing the season of Lent. Lent is a 40 day period of fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and repentance. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday just before Easter. The day preceding Ash Wednesday, has become popularly known in our secular culture as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Christians may know it as Shrove Tuesday and in some cultures around the world, it may be referred to as Carnival. Traditions of celebration and indulgence leading up to Lent emerged over time as a means of clearing stocked items in one’s home, such as meat, which is often restricted throughout the lenten season. Interestingly, the Latin word for Carnival, Carne+Vale, actually means “farewell to flesh” or “farewell to meat”.
The liturgy on Ash Wednesday, is one of the most attended Christian services during the year. On this day, Christians are marked on their foreheads with a cross of burned ashes. Sackcloth and ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance. Additionally, they serve to remind Christians of their mortal state and the need for deeper conversion prior to their judgement before God. The 40 day period of fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and repentance is representative of the 40 year journey the Israelites traveled in the desert and Christ’s 40 day period of temptation and fasting. Lenten fasting and fasting in general, is a discipline through which Christians seek to detach themselves from the world, focus on God, the sacrifices Christ made, and rely on Christ in moments of temptation.
The Lenten journey is very personal for each Christian and not all choose to abstain from an indulgence. Instead, some may choose to spend additional time in prayer, reading the scriptures, attending daily mass, or serving the poor. The Paschal Triduum ends the lenten season. These are the three days leading up to Easter, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday during which Christians remember the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ as indicated in the Gospels of the Bible.
Faqs about lent-easter/lent. (n.d.). Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.catholic.org/lent/faq.php#n5.
Mardi gras. (2010). Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras.
What is divine mercy? (n.d.). Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/chaplet.php.
Zavada, J. (n.d.). Why do christians fast during lent? Retrieved April 02, 2017, from https://www.thoughtco.com/lent-and-fasting-700604.
Swan, M. (Photographer). (2006, February 20). Lent [digital image]. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/AvtFOI.
Divine Mercy Devotion
One of my favorite devotions, and one that is particularly appropriate during the Lenten season, is the message of Divine Mercy. This specific devotion is based on the writings of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun. She was instructed by her spiritual advisor to record what had been revealed to her, through prayer, about Christ’s Mercy. The acronym ABC can be used to recall the essential message which underpins this devotion: A) Ask for Christ’s mercy. B) Be merciful towards others. C) Completely place your trust in Christ.
When you can't forgive someone, PRAY FOR THEM. It may or may not change them, BUT IT WILL ALWAYS CHANGE YOU.
Saint Faustina Kowalska
My next few posts on faith will feature short vignettes of the lives of Saints Faustina Kowalska, Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope John Paul II. What is particularly fascinating to me about their stories is how interwoven their missions were as Christians, how close they were to each other in proximity, but yet they never met. This first vignette, begins with the Saint Faustina’s story.
Helen Kowalska was born in the late summer of 1905 in a small town, Glogowiec, located in Poland. She grew up in a simple home and her brothers and sisters recalled Helen as one who rarely complained and one who always sought to love God in simple ways. She often would not spend time with the other young girls, but would instead spend time in reflection and prayer. As early as age 7 she had developed a keen awareness of the presence of Christ in her soul and began to receive interior locutions. In fact, she would often tell her family members of a pilgrimage upon which she would one day embark. By age 16, Helen expressed the desire to pursue religious life, however her parents discouraged it, because it would mean the family would lose her income. To oblige her parents, she remained with the family for a bit longer, but just before her 20th birthday, she set-off to Warsaw seeking entry into a convent. She was rejected by all convents except one, because she was poor and had no more than a 3rd grade education. The convent of The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, accepted Helen under the condition that she would work to furnish the costs of her religious attire. Here she became known as Sister Maria Faustina. She was noted as “no one special” by her superior and her daily routine was very commonplace. However, on the interior, spiritually, she was having profound encounters with Christ Himself. He would appear to Faustina, sometimes as a glorified King and others as the crucified Christ. Christ assigned her the task of reminding people of Christ’s mercy and she was to do so, by introducing new devotions of mercy to the entire world. The central message behind the devotion would be that even the greatest sinner is deserving of God’s love and mercy. As an ordinary member of the convent, Sister Faustina did not have the means to deliver Christ’s message, so that it would have global reach. As a result, her spiritual advisor directed Faustina to record these mystical experiences with Christ in her diary.
Sister Faustina died at the age of 33 after 13 years of service in the convent. She was a humble individual and very quiet about her interior mystical experiences. For this reason, her sisters in the convent still viewed her as, “no one special”, even at her death. Although she was no longer present on earth, her mission of spreading God’s message of Divine Mercy across the globe was not yet over.
...To be continued. 🙂
(2011, August 28). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfWNCA5T2hc.
10 SUPER EASY Ways to Connect with God & Live out Your Faith Every Day
Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day grind that we forget to stop and take time for the most important relationship in our lives and that’s our relationship with God. Here’s a list of ways that even the busiest of us can connect with Our Father in heaven and live out our Christian faith.
1) When you wake up first thing in the morning, say, “Good morning God and thank you for another day.” Say it aloud.
2) Say the Lord’s Prayer in the car on your way to work.
3) If you regularly journal, address your entry to God instead of “Dear Diary” or no addressee at all.
4) Love on others through random acts of kindness: opening doors for others, giving others genuine compliments, telling others you love them, doing a favor for someone, buying a homeless person a meal.
5) Listen to Christian music in the car as you run an errand .
6) Do your work well and complete daily tasks in their entirety. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to worship the Lord in all that we do. How do we apply this scripture to our daily lives? Do the task the Lord has put in front of you and do it to the best of your ability. Complete daily tasks and avoid procrastination.
7) The next time you’re frustrated with someone or something, say, “God please help me love this person.” or “God please help me with this situation.”
8) Give someone 10 minutes of your time without distractions. Ask about him/her and listen. The subject of conversation should be THE OTHER PERSON.
9) During your lunch break from work, say, “Thank the Lord for my job.” Say it aloud.
10) Forgive someone with which you’re angry even if this person is yourself.