Lent

The following articles are written by a friend of mine:

Father Ben Cameron, CPM  of the Fathers of Mercy

Part 1:

Prayer:  The First Means of Repentance and Key to a good Lent

When St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 AD) preached in Antioch (Syria) about repentance, he recommended several practices which have their origin in the Old Testament, and have been used by Christians for the last 2,000 years.  These practices are important for our entire Christian life, but are particularly important for making a good and holy season of Lent.

Prayer:  Prayer is the “raising of our minds and hearts to God”, or the “asking of good things from God.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that there are five types of prayer:

  1. Petition — asking for ourselves, especially for the forgiveness of our sins
  2. Intercession — asking for others
  3. Thanksgiving — for favors, help received from God
  4. Adoration — recognition of all the great things that God has done for us
  5. Praise — recognition of God for Who He Is.

All five types of prayer are important, and should be part of our lives.  There are also several levels of prayer:

  1. Vocal — talking to God with words, which includes doing so silently
  2. Mental / Meditation — thinking about God, and turning our hearts to Him in love, joy, praise, etc.
  3. Contemplation — when God takes the lead in our prayer (“the Spirit prays within us, with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech”)

Lent is a wonderful time to enter more deeply into prayer; even a few extra minutes each day is of value.  It is good to try to bring in a type of prayer that we don’t normally use.  One very good way to pray is to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration — we can use meditation, adoration and praise, as well as petition and intercession.  Another way to pray this Lent is to practice “Lectio Divina” (Divine Reading), which is a slow, meditative reading of Sacred Scripture — not rushing through, but reading slowly, savoring and “chewing on” the sacred words, allowing them to sink deeply into our hearts and souls.

May this season of Lent be a time for us to deepen our life of prayer, and to fall more deeply in love with Our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Part 2:

Fasting:  Second Key to a Holy Lent

What is fasting?  Christian fasting is essentially self-denial — but not for the sake of health, or out of some sense that food or drink is evil.  It is self-denial for the Love of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes, I meet people who plan to give up something sinful for Lent — which is good, of course, but we should be renouncing sin and trying to break our sinful habits all the time!  Lent is a great time to work on changing our habits, but fasting — True Fasting — has to do with self-denial, mortification, in regard to things which are GOOD, for the sake of something which is BETTER.

The most common forms of fasting involve giving up certain foods, or alcohol, or tobacco (which, if used in moderation, is not wrong in itself — think of the occasional cigar or pipe rather than the pack-a-day use of cigarettes).  In the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Lenten fast is essentially a “vegan” diet, but done for love of Christ, not because of “ethical concerns” about animals.  One could also practice discipline in regard to coffee, or desserts (or just chocolate — which is tough for many of us!), or television, or the internet.  The important thing with fasting is to recognize that Christ Jesus willingly suffered for love of us, and that we unite ourselves in love to Him by offering some sacrifece as love and reparation for sin (our sins and those of others) back to Him.  It is really a practical “giving love back for Love.”

During this holy season of Lent, try to make some real sacrifice of Love for Jesus Christ in the form of Fasting.

 

Part 3:

The third element of making a holy Lent is Almsgiving.

“Alms” is the traditional term for money or material aid given to a poor person; we see people in the Gospels and Acts begging for alms (St. Peter said to one such person:  “silver and gold, I have none, but what I do have, I give to you:  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk!”).

Giving alms is giving to the poor, doing acts of charity for those who are less fortunate than we are.  St. John Chrysostom said that everyone can give alms — just think of the poor widow who put her two pennies (really, two tiny pieces of copper, called “mites”) into the offering box in the temple!  No matter how poor we might be, there is always someone who needs our assistance.  And our offering doesn’t have to be monetary — how about spending time in service to someone who is sick or shut-in?  How about preparing food for a poor family?  Even a kind word to a stranger can be seen as a form of “alms” (and I have heard of homeless people who have said that the worst thing about being homeless is being ignored — people walking by as if they don’t even exist).  Giving of time, talents or treasure can be considered almsgiving.

During this holy season of Lent, look for some way in which you can increase your almsgiving; find someone who you can serve in love — seeing and serving Jesus in “his distressing disguise of the poor” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

This entry was posted on March 6, 2019. 2 Comments

Made Whole in his Time

Timothy 1:15-16 “ The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

The following scripture speaks on how God can change our lives and how merciful he truly is when we turn to him. Do you know that he died on the cross for your sins? That he loves you so much that he died to save you!

I remember when I started to turn my life around and the thoughts I had run through my mind. I wondered if Jesus loved me or if he had already abandoned me due to my sins. I had committed some big sins and I thought he only loved those who were “perfect”. Reality is there is no “perfect” person, it does not excist. We all fall short and are in need of repentance.

Patiently and in his time he began to heal my brokenness. He will restore your life if you surrender him the broken pieces. You need to truly believe in your heart that you are precious and valuable and I know for a fact Jesus looks at the heart. Looking back at past sins will only keep you in the dark and he wants nothing more than to reach those areas with his light. Will you allow him to come into your heart and heal the wounds that are keeping you in despair?

Dear Jesus,

I thank you for the love you have for each of us. I thank you for your patience and mercy. I pray for all who feel you are too far from them because of there sins. I ask they come to believe and realize how much you truly love them. Amen.

 

This entry was posted on February 19, 2019. 3 Comments

Draw Near to Grace

 

 

Hebrews 4:16” Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

On Saturday I turn 43 years old and this particular birthday has a significant impact on my train of thoughts. My mother passed away at this very age of a drug overdose. It makes me reflect on my own life being this very age she was when she died so tragically. Thinking about my own children and how this would effect them if they would have been in that situation in their lives. Turning this age I have to say I feel very much alive and I am grateful Jesus healed me from addiction. I was sinking in my own addictions as a teenager that could have ended different had I not reached out my hands to God.

I wonder in my mind if my mother would have had a different path if she would have known Jesus? Knowing first hand of his mercy and grace I believe Jesus is with her right now as she looks down from heaven.

It’s very hard to lose someone we love. My prayer is for all those trapped in the cycle of addictions to come and open your arms to Christ. Allow him to come into your life and step by step lead you into his mercy and grace. Draw near to his throne and let his love guide you back to his light.

Dear Jesus,

I pray for all those caught in addiction as well as family members who suffer with them. I ask they come to know you and open their hearts to your love. With your divine guidance I pray their lives will be restored and healed. Amen.

 

 

This entry was posted on February 7, 2019. 10 Comments

I Will Strengthen You

Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Last week I got home from a Blessed visit to EWTN in Irondale, Alabama. The flights there and back were nothing but chaotic due to delays, snow and a declaring of a state of emergency. Fear started to come over me prior to leaving when my plane was stuck for 6 hours in my hometown before I even left yet. Thoughts in my mind stating I should stay home and it was unsafe to go consumed me. Even with the rough start I trusted God was with me.

When I arrived I was greeted by a very friendly down to earth driver who took me to my accomadations. The next morning I attended Mass and the peace of Christ was evident and so beautiful. I had the honour of adoration where I spent time with Jesus and prayed for the Holy Spirit to Bless my interview. I had met Jim and Joy Pinto and Father Joseph Mary, as well I had the privilege of having supper with Father Mitch Pacwa. The interview was a divine appointment and I pray it Blesses those who need to know that God Loves them. He is with you and wants to heal your heart. It is he who will strengthen you and uphold you …do not fear him!

Dear Jesus, 

I thank you for the love you have for all of us. I pray you will touch the hearts of those who are seeking you wholeheartedly. I thank you for the strength you gives us to follow you down the long narrow road. Amen.

This entry was posted on February 6, 2019. 6 Comments

Interview at EWTN Part 1 and 2

I just got back from EWTN in Irondale, Alabama where I was a guest on the At Home With Jim And Joy show. I was part of a two part series and I hope these interviews will lead others to Christ who feel hopeless and alone. I am adding the link for part 1 and part 2 below:

Part 1:

 

Part 2:

Hope

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Matthew 18:21 “ She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Last week we had celebrated Christmas and already today it is New Year’s Day. What a special gift Jesus is to us his people. Jesus’s birth has given us all so much hope in knowing that God loves us so much that he sent us his beloved son. Do you know and believe that God loves you? Does Jesus’s birth fill you with hope?

I hope you answered “yes” to my questions. You are a treasure and deeply loved by God. No matter how far you have strayed from him, remember he is just a prayer away. You are created and formed by his very hands in his own image. You are loved and there is hope through Christ.

Dear Jesus,

I thank you for loving us and through your birth there is hope. I pray for hope and peace in the lives of those who call upon your name. Amen.

This entry was posted on January 1, 2019. 4 Comments