Prepare yourself for testing


Happy February to you and your family, the month when we celebrate love, marriage, and the Holy Family!

Thank you for your continued partnership in our mission to transform the world one woman at a time. I’m so grateful for you! Read the rest…

Lenten Journey Day 9

February 22
Four Steps of Lent
(We will look at each of these over the next few days.)
Let go of distractions. We are a distracted people; Lent invites us to detach. It invites us to come away for a while and listen for the Father’s voice. As we read in the Old Testament, God speaks in a “tiny whisper” (cf. 1 Kings 19: 11-13). We must slow down the tempo of our lives and tone down the volume of our days if we are to hear the voice of God. We must minimize the activity and noise and maximize the quiet and solitude. We must create a “desert” for ourselves – a quiet spot at home or in the back yard, a neighborhood park, or before the Blessed Sacrament or the tabernacle in our parish. All of these may provide precisely the perfect place of retreat.
Lent provides us with opportunities to develop certain attitudes toward our lives. Our “desert” should include a time of reflection that looks back over the day in light of God’s word to see what He may be revealing. Attention to the liturgical readings of the Lenten season provides an ideal framework in which to contemplate the movement of God in the midst of our life’s events.

Lenten Journey Day 8

February 21
The General Examination
The general examination has a wider scope than the particular and is intended to help the soul to remain vigilant in all that pertains to the service of God. This is practiced by first praying to God and asking for His help in recognizing your failures and for acquiring the strength to overcome them. Then quietly retrace the movement of your day, glancing over the hours and looking for any thoughts, words or deeds that might have offended God. Ask God for His forgiveness and His help in avoiding
these falls in the future.
St. Ignatius took the examination of conscience a step further by adding a positive practice to this routine self-scrutiny. Instead of just examining ourselves on the seven capital sins, he recommends that “the contrary virtues be considered . . . in order to understand better the faults committed that come under the seven capital sins.” Moreover, and still more positively, “in order the better to avoid these sins, one should resolve to endeavor by devout exercises to acquire and retain the seven virtues contrary to them.”

If your main fault is sourced in pride, practice humility. Fight greed with the virtue of generosity. Lust can only be overcome by chastity. Anger is diffused by meekness and gluttony is quickly stifled with temperance. Instead of envying your neighbor, practice love of neighbor, and if you suffer from sloth, develop in yourself the virtue of diligence.
By employing these simple practices with daily consistency, we will not only conquer our vices and become better human beings, but we will also be able to draw closer to God than we ever dreamed possible.

Lenten Journey Day 7

February 20
The examination of conscience is not just something we do the night before we go to confession, at least not if we’re serious about answering Jesus’ call to “be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48).
For those who truly want to conquer their vices and become a beacon of light and love in the world, St. Ignatius of Loyola recommends the regular practice of two kinds of examinations of conscience, a general and a particular. The general examination covers all of our defects while the particular examination concentrates on one fault or sin for a specific period of time.
The Particular Examination
St. Ignatius ranks the particular examination first in importance. Whereas the purpose of the general examination is to purify the soul and prepare us for sacramental confession, the particular examination helps us to focus on a particular fault until we have conquered it.
For this reason, he recommends that we make a particular examination of conscience twice a day and keep a written account of the number of times we committed this fault during the day. This helps us to see our improvement (or lack of it) and enables us to take whatever steps are necessary to continue addressing this fault.
” . . . (W)e have a better chance to master our tendencies if we take them one at a time and concentrate our efforts on pride, lust, or laziness, instead of scattering volitional energy over the whole field of our passions,” advises the late Fr. John Hardon.
“But among the aberrations some are more prominent than others, and among these one generally predominates. If I can isolate these dominant tendencies, manifested in a certain pattern of my sins, and work on them, my labor will not only be more effective because less dissipated, but will be directed at the source of my evil inclinations. I shall be laying the axe to the root of the tree.”
For instance, if your biggest fault is a loose tongue, make a specific request to God every morning for His help in fighting this particular fault during the day. Then monitor yourself as the day progresses, writing down any occasions where you might have said something harsh, untruthful, impatient, etc. St. Ignatius recommends that we impose some kind of penance for every one of the faults we commit. For instance, for every nasty comment, say a decade of the Rosary; for every lie or half-truth told, forfeit a favorite snack or dessert.
Fr. Hardon highlights several dramatic success stories of those who employed these techniques, such as St. Francis de Sales who had a tendency toward depression, but who gradually became a modern apostle of joyous confidence in God.
(Tomorrow we will look at the General Examination.)

Lenten Journey Day 6

February 19
Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows
Pope Pius VII
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us. 
 Holy Virgin of virgins, Pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, Pray for us. 
 Sorrowful Mother, Pray for us.
Mournful Mother, Pray for us.
Sighing Mother, Pray for us.
Afflicted Mother, Pray for us.
Foresaken Mother, Pray for us.
Desolate Motherr, Pray for us.
Mother most sad, Pray for us.
Mother set around with anguish, Pray for us. 
Mother overwhelmed by grief, Pray for us. 
 Mother transfixed by a sword, Pray for us. 
 Mother crucified in thy heart, Pray for us. 
 Mother bereaved of thy Son, Pray for us. 
 Sighing Dove, Pray for us.
Mother of Dolors, Pray for us.
Fount of tears, Pray for us.
Sea of bitterness, Pray for us.
Field of tribulation, Pray for us.
Mass of suffering, Pray for us.
Mirror of patience, Pray for us.
Rock of constancy, Pray for us.
Remedy in perplexity, Pray for us.
Joy of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Ark of the desolate, Pray for us.
Refuge of the abandoned, Pray for us.
Shield of the oppressed, Pray for us. 
Conqueror of the incredulous, Pray for us.
Solace of the wretched, Pray for us. 
 Medicine of the sick, Pray for us.
Help of the faint, Pray for us.
Strength of the weak, Pray for us. 
Protectress of those who fight, Pray for us. 
 Haven of the shipwrecked, Pray for us.
Calmer of tempests, Pray for us.
Companion of the sorrowful, Pray for us.
Retreat of those who groan, Pray for us. 
 Terror of the treacherous, Pray for us. 
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, Pray for us.
Treasure of the Faithful, Pray for us.
Light of Confessors, Pray for us.
Pearl of Virgins, Pray for us.
Comfort of Widows, Pray for us.
Joy of all Saints, Pray for us.
Queen of thy Servants, Pray for us.
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, Pray for us.
Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Read the rest…

Lenten Journey Day 5

February 18
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
– The Canticle of Mary

Read the rest…

Lenten Journey Day 4

February 17
In repairing for our own sins, we should attempt to make more acts of love of God during the day, to do our work with more selfless love for God, and to practice charity toward those God puts into our lives.
Fr. Hardon suggests we repair for the sins of others by striving to
endure some pain to expiate for the constant pursuit of pleasure that is always the substance of sin. This can take the form of sacrificing some time spent watching television, denying ourselves a delicacy at the table, getting up promptly in the morning or attending Mass during the week.
Although there have been many different ways to mark the season of Lent over time, the spirit of Lent is one aspect of the season that has always been agreed upon.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican Council II states, “The two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent – the
recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and penance – should be given greater emphasis in the liturgy and in liturgical catechesis. It is by means of them that the Church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they hear God’s word more frequently and devote more time to prayer” (no. 109).
This holy season gives us a new opportunity every year to repent of our sin and start anew, to renew our faith and come to believe more deeply in the sacred mysteries of our salvation.
Today’s Reflection:
How is God desiring to change my life and help me start anew?  If I look over my life, what moments stand out as times of faith renewal?  How is God asking me to renew my faith this Lent?


Lenten Journey Day 3

February 16
“One can safely conclude that by the end of the fourth century, the 40- day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and that prayer and fasting constituted its primary spiritual exercises,” writes Fr. William Saunders in The History of Lent.
Once the length of the Lenten season was determined, regulations about the amount of fasting required began to develop. In Jerusalem, the faithful fasted for 40 days, Monday through Friday, but not on the weekends, which meant their “40 days” actually lasted eight weeks. In Rome and other parts of the Western world, people fasted for six weeks from Monday through Saturday, which was the practice that eventually prevailed.
The rules of the fast also took time to develop. In some areas, the faithful abstained from all forms of meat and animal products while others allowed fish. As Pope St. Gregory (d. 604) once wrote to St. Augustine of Canterbury, “We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs.”
Whatever food was allowed could amount to no more than one meal a day and was to be taken in the evening or at 3:00 p.m., which was known as the hour of None.
As time went on, a second smaller meal, called a collation, was permitted during the day for the sake of those who needed strength for manual labor. Gradually, fish was allowed and, much later, the eating of meat during the week except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Persons could receive a dispensation to eat dairy products, but only if they performed some pious work. It was this practice of abstaining from dairy products that led to the blessing of Easter eggs and the eating of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday.
The purpose of this fast is not just to atone for our own sins, but for the sins of others as well. “In practicing penance, we should keep in

mind that there are two levels of reparation we are to practice, for our own and other people’s sins,” writes the late Fr. John Hardon. “We are to expiate the guilt incurred by failing in one’s love for God. And we are to repair the harm done by disobeying the will of God.”
Today’s Reflection:
What does my experience with fasting look like?  What was I taught about fasting as a child, and how has that changed over the years?  Spend some time with our Lord today asking Him where He is calling you to fast in your own life.  What does He want you to fast from this Lent?


Lenten Journey Day 2

February 15

Prayer to the Sorrowful Mother
St. Alphonsus de Liguori
O my afflicted Mother! Queen of martyrs and of sorrows, thou didst so bitterly weep over thy Son, who died for my salvation; but what will thy tears avail me if I am lost? By the merit, then, of thy sorrows, obtain me true contrition for my sins, and a real amendment of life, together with constant and tender compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and thy dolours. And if Jesus and thou, being so innocent, have suffered so much for love of me, obtain that at least I, who am deserving of hell, may suffer something for your love. “O Lady,” will I say with St. Bonaventure, “if I have offended thee, in justice wound my heart; if I have served thee, I now ask wounds for my reward. It is shameful to me to see my Lord Jesus wounded, and thee wounded with Him, and myself without a wound.”  In fine, O my Mother, by the grief thou didst experience in seeing thy Son bow down His head and expire on the cross in the midst of so many torments, I beseech thee to obtain me a good death. Ah, cease not, O advocate of sinners, to assist my afflicted soul in the midst of the combats in which it will have to engage on its great passage from time to eternity. And as it is probable that I may then have lost my speech, and strength to invoke thy name and that of Jesus, who are all my hope, I do so now; I invoke thy Son and thee to succour me in that last moment; and I say, Jesus and Mary, to you I commend my soul.  Amen.
Today’s Reflection:
The forty days’ fast, which we call Lent, is a time set aside for prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation for the celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Savior. This season of prayerful repentance has been the Church’s preparation for Easter since the very commencement of Christianity.
“Our Blessed Lord Himself sanctioned it by fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert,” writes Abbot Gueranger, OSB. “And though He would not impose it on the world by an express commandment, yet He showed plainly enough, by His own example, that fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the old law, was to be also practiced by the children of the new.”
The significance of the 40 day fast has a long biblical history. On Mount Sinai, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments, “Moses stayed there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, without eating any food or drinking any water” (Ex 34:28), and Elijah walked “40 days and 40 nights” to Mount Horeb (I Kgs 19:8).  Lent is a word derived from the Anglo-Saxon lencten, meaning “spring” and lenctentid, which means “springtide” and, more literally, “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls.
Evidence exists that the marking of Lent existed in the time of the apostles. In the second century, St. Irenaeus (d.203) wrote to Pope St. Victor I about how differently Catholics in the East and West practiced the fasts of Lent. “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘day’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers” (Eusebius, History of the Church, V, 24).
Although Lent existed from the time of the Apostles, it would not be until the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313 that its practice became set at 40 days and made more uniform throughout the Church. The disciplinary canons of the Council of Nicea (325) made note of the “40 days of Lent” and in the same century, St. Athanasius (d. 373) was known to have implored his congregation to make a 40-day fast prior to the more intense fasting of Holy Week. St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) also made note of both the practices and duration of Lent. Pope St. Leo (d. 461) preached that the faithful must “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the 40 days,” again noting the apostolic origins of Lent.

Read the rest…