Getting into the groove of Lent is not unlike learning a new piece of music—either for singing or playing. One must figure out its meaning, discover its tempo and try to figure out how to make it work for us. We already know the meaning of Lent; it is traveling that journey that will lead us to the glorious Resurrection. The tempo is our slow and steady pace of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as Matthew has directed us in his gospel (6: 1-6, 16-18). As for making it our own, well, that is totally personal.
There is a plethora of suggestions about recommendations for Lent. We can find them in Catholic publications, on-line and even in our church bulletins. Sometimes, all those ideas can be overwhelming. What to do? Do I follow the list of 40 things to do each day of the Lenten season? Do I purchase a book of meditations for Lent? Do I read a blog post by Sister Barbara who is the media specialist for her order? Yikes! I am already confused. Read the rest of this entry »
Learning a new language isn’t easy. Some people have a greater facility with languages, which makes learning a second or third language a joy rather than a burden. These people are blessed with what Howard Gardner (originator of the multiple intelligences theory) calls a strength in the linguistic area of intelligence.
For people needing to learn English, I think one of the most difficult parts of our language is the understanding of idioms. This can be difficult for English speakers, as well. Young children have a hard time grasping the concept of idioms, as they take everything literally. Just because we might say, “you are walking on thin ice”, doesn’t mean one is literally walking on thin ice. It means that one is in a precarious or dangerous situation. Here are a few other common idioms: don’t “beat around the bush”; “go back to the drawing board”; you are really “on the ball”; or “she is on cloud nine”. One idiom that I have been reflecting on is “got thrown a curve ball.” Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever heard of “Resurrection eggs”? Well, I hadn’t until last week. Apparently, though, they have been around for at least twenty years. I had the joy of experiencing this activity with my grand-daughters during a special family activity following the noon Mass at our parish. The activity is a way for children to understand, and discover, the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Jane and Rose were enthralled with the little artifacts that went into each egg in the egg carton—a small palm, a spear, a stone and a crown of thorns (to name a few). While placing each object in a plastic egg, we read a passage from the gospels that went along with the object.
When they got to the last egg, there was nothing! It remained empty to symbolize the empty tomb. I read the passage: “But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.’ “ The girls got it! Read the rest of this entry »
I must admit, I am a Starbucks kind of girl. I love the richness of their coffees and their unique flavors. At this time of year, they have a special menu of holiday drinks—eggnog latte, gingerbread latte and holiday spice flat white, to name a few. My favorite is the holiday spice flat white.
I got to thinking about the additional coffees offered by Starbucks. This holiday menu concept is not just theirs alone. Other restaurants do the same! This is a season of specialties and holiday-themed foods, drinks and activities. We are entering a season of Christmas cookies, fruitcake, stollen, and French meat pies (tourtière). It is a wonderful time!
However, pause for a moment—what will you be adding to your spiritual menu for this season of Advent and Christmas? Will you be doing anything differently? I hope so! Now is the time to plan. Take a look at your current spiritual practices and consider what you could do that would enhance the season in a spiritual way. Make this intentional and purposeful. I am not just referring to an Advent calendar or an Advent wreath. Though, that would be nice. I am suggesting something unique to you. Read the rest of this entry »
I love the poems of E.E. Cummings. One of his poems begins: “I thank you God for most this amazing day.” If Cummings wouldn’t mind, I would change the line to: “these most amazing days.” That is in reference to my participation for a week as a lay delegate to the 33rd General Chapter of the Assumptionists.
They were most certainly very amazing days! I am still in awe of everything I experienced from the protocol to the conviviality of my brothers in Assumption. I am mentally storing information, reflecting and praying over all that I absorbed during my time at Valpré (where the Chapter was held). It’s as if I need to de-brief like someone having gone on a military mission. Read the rest of this entry »
There are so many beautiful traditions associated with Advent and Christmas. During Advent, we truly embed ourselves in the preparation for Christmas and for the arrival of the Christ Child in our hearts. During the Christmas season, we share in conviviality, friendship, gift-giving and song. There is nothing that creates a more beautiful backdrop for the season than its lovely music. Music enhances our liturgies and binds us together as community.
We all have our favorite Christmas hymns that connect us so meaningfully to the season. Many of these go back centuries and emanate from different countries. “Silent Night,” for example, a favorite of many, dates back to 1818. A Catholic priest named Joseph Mohr wrote the simple words on the afternoon of Christmas Eve for his small German parish. The song has become one of the most beloved of the season.
Did you know that some Christmas carols are based on poems written by famous poets? One song that I love is “In the Bleak Midwinter.” This is based on a poem written by Christina Rosetti, an English poet, in 1872. It was published posthumously in 1904 and was written as a Christian anthem in 1906. The most popular settings of this hymn were composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke in the early 20th century. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently facilitated a poetry reading for a group of English teachers. It was a wonderful experience. It deepened in me the sense of the beauty of words and the power of language. Each poet read her poetry with such feeling and intensity. It was like listening to a personal revelation.
For some reason, I got to thinking about some Catholic poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins and Sister Madeleva Wolff. Many are familiar with Hopkins work, but, how many of us know of Sister Madeleva and her contribution to American poetry? I remember reading some of Sister Madeleva’s work while I was in high school. I went to a Catholic high school, so that is probably why her works were included in our anthology. I doubt that I would have heard of her at Central High School (the public high school in our town). Read the rest of this entry »