Lent with the Saints, Part 2: Fasting with St. Vincent Ferrer

This is the second of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a season in which we respond to the Lord’s call to “return to me with all your heart, / with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12) As I remind young people of the requirements for Lent, I usually share this passage with them to remind them that this obligation is nothing more than responding to […]

Feasting While Fasting

When I was little, my mother would give up all sweets during Lent and Advent. As a dutiful Catholic child, I did as well. This practice led to many school snack times and birthday parties during which I would humbly decline the offer of cookies, cupcakes, and candy—careful not to be like the hypocrites who look gloomy or boast while they are fasting. Whenever I was tempted by the sugary treats, I would pray fervently, […]

Ash Wednesday and Lent: Holiness is a Habit

Welcome to Lent…a time to rid ourselves of habits that are doing little good or even causing harm to ourselves and others and to replace them with habits that are life-giving. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And contrary to the popular notion that habits can be changed in 21 days, experts tell us that it can take up to a year to change old habits and develop new ones. Lent is 40 days for a reason: holiness is […]

Join Our Holy Father in Praying for Peace!

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has issued an urgent plea and invitation to fast and pray for peace in Syria this Saturday, September 7. This is a good opportunity to teach young people that some moments in life require more than a reliance on reason but call us to “drop to our knees.” WASHINGTON – U.S. Catholics are being encouraged to join a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East […]

40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Salt Dough Crown of Thorns

Today’s activity – a Salt Dough Crown of Thorns – can be found in many places on the Internet, I am drawing from a  couple of Web sites: Ten Kids and a Dog and Three Sided Wheel (which has an excellent tutorial) Basically, you make a salt dough and then roll out the dough into 3 long rolls/ropes. Next, you braid the rolls/ropes and shape it into a circle. Add toothpicks (loosely) to represent the thorns, asking forgiveness […]

When the Snow Melts Away…a Lenten Thought

Here in Chicago, we had a blizzard in February that dumped 20 inches of snow. Most of it is gone now, melting in the ever-so-slowly rising temperatures. Occasionally, however, one comes across the vestiges of a huge mountain of snow left behind by the snow plows. Underneath all of that snow, what do we find? Lots of MUCK! (see pic below) It soon becomes apparent that it’s time for spring cleaning! It seems to me […]

A Guided Reflection on Praying, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Tonight, we begin in church with a Lenten prayer service that should be about 30 minutes. With all the coming and going between the church and school buildings, I should have about 35 minutes left with my kids. Since I haven’t been able to do a guided reflection with them for a few weeks, I thought I would go right into that when we get back to the classroom. Here’s the script that I put […]

Get Back…Before it’s Too Late!

Back in 1970, the Beatles issued one of their last hits: Get Back. The song represented the Beatles’ efforts to get back to their rock and roll roots (“Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged”). They had spent the last few years in the studio crafting some incredible music (Sgt. Pepper, in particular) that saw them venturing into complex arrangements and layers of sounds. With the group now experiencing tension and […]

A Lenten Poll

Now that we are into our second full week of Lent, I thought it would be good to pause and take stock of our efforts to practice the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Take a moment to complete the poll below and, remember, you’re welcome to send me a confidential email once per week to let me know in more detail how you are doing with your Lenten practices and I’ll respond personally. […]

1 2