Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy February

I write during the final hours of January 2016. Tomorrow we begin the shortest month of the year. Smallest of months, yet it has a lot packed into it. February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The next day is the feast of St. Blaise and the annual blessing of the throats. Tradition says that Blaise was presented with a young boy choking on a fish bone. He was miraculously cured after Blaise blessed him. February 10th ushers in the great season of Lent. Now is the time to prepare for Lent. Find a good book to accompany your Lenten journey. In this Year of Mercy, make sure to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession to experience a flood of God's tender mercy for yourself. On Ash Wednesday don't be afraid to receive blessed ashes. That black cross shaped smudge on our foreheads speaks loudly that "I am a sinner who resolves to repent of any sin and follow Christ!" The Pauline Books & Media Centers around the USA and in Toronto offer a wide variety of daily Lenten reading. For those who commute often, there are books on CD that you can use while on the road. See their addresses at the Pauline website: One of the books which offers daily Lenten reading uses the gospel of each day to read and pray over. Another term for This form of praying and reading and taking the Word to heart is called "Lectio Divina", or holy/devine reading. It is called Lenten Grace from Pauline Books & Media.
One of my family's neighbors is a Presbyterian. She once told me she was a vegetarian. During one Lent she had given up eating meat. That Lent marked a change in her lifestyle. For some of us "giving up" may mean giving of our time to do a good deed, a work of mercy. That might entail slowing down to notice the needs of someone in our family or our neighborhood, perhaps a senior citizen, who needs a ride to the grocery store, or to a doctor's appointment. Or, giving up may mean giving up complaining or just plain being negative. When you are about to put in your two cents worth about something, just cut it out. That's giving up some of your ego to let Christ take over. The Year of Mercy askes us to practice the "works of mercy." The list of seven spiritual and seven corporal or bodily works goes like this:
The Corporal Works of Mercy are: Feed the Hungry Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; Visit the sick; Visit the imprisoned; Bury the dead The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: Counsel the doubtful; Instruct the ignorant; Admonish the sinner; Comfort the afflicted; Forgive injuries; Bear wrongs patiently; Pray for the living and the dead.
If you or someone you know is struggling to be free of the scourge of pornography, I recommend a brand new book which offers help on how to be rid of this moral addiction. The book is called "Cleansed, A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn." This too is from Pauline Books & Media.
February brings us Black History Month, and Presidents' Day when we celebrate Lincoln's birthday on Feb. 12, and George Washington's on February 22. Happy and holy February!

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