Lenten Virtue Challenge- Preparing Your Garden

God works in mysterious ways. This Lenten Virtue Challenge came from an Instagram post showing “weeds” and “seeds” or vices and virtues with a caption suggesting which weeds would I pull and which seeds would be planted during the Lenten Season. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, I decided to elaborate on the idea and create a Lenten Virtue Challenge- Preparing Your Garden.
Flowers by the Shore
Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography
This is a evolving challenge. And as my friend and I work through the vices and virtues each week, we will learn, grow, and modify where needed. Having someone to keep me accountable is a tremendous blessing. Each Morning begins with invoking the Holy Spirit. Deliberately inviting the Holy Spirit into our day/heart/mind/soul and asking for the graces to remove a specific vice and plant a seed.
Holy Spirit Prayer:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. 
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
[Example: We ask you to grant us HUMILITY and turn away from PRIDE, etc.]
Throughout that week, we will focus on living out that specific virtue and removing the taints of vice in our everyday lives: our thoughts, words, and deeds. I’m hoping to find bible verses or saint quotes to help us gain insight into authentic virtue and rejecting vice. Below is the tentative schedule.
 
SCHEDULE
Lent- Week 1 (Feb. 18-24)
Weed: PRIDE
Seeds HUMILITY
Lent-Week 2 (Feb. 25- March 3)
Weeds: GREED & SLOTH
Seeds: GENEROSITY & DILIGENCE
Lent- Week 3 (March 4-10)
Weed: LUST
Seed: CHASTITY
Lent- Week 4 (March 11-17)
Weed: WRATH
Seed: MEEKNESS
Lent- Week 5 (March 18-24)
Weed: GLUTTONY
Seed: TEMPERANCE
Lent-Week 6 (March 25-31)
Weed: ENVY
Seed: CHARITY
Please, join me in this Lenten Virtue Challenge- Preparing Your Garden. I’m hoping and praying this year will lead to more development and guidance in improving this Lenten Reflection. Please, let me know if you have any suggestions. You are all in my prayers!

Pentecost/Holy Spirit Novena

holy-spirit-novena

Please, Join Me and thousands of people in praying the Pentecost/ Holy Spirit Novena starting TODAY, Friday May 25th.

To celebrate Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, we are going to pray the Holy Spirit Novena! It is a powerful and moving novena that is meant to help us open ourselves up to the third person of the Holy Trinity.

Even though we pray this novena as a preparation for the feast of Pentecost, you can also pray a novena to the Holy Spirit any time that you want.

So, let us pray with great confidence and trust in our God who is all Good and Loving.

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Here are the novena prayers for the Novena to the Holy Spirit that we will be praying together for Pentecost!

Find the Original Here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit/#ixzz47nWYWxzo

U.S. Catholic Christian Voting & Faithful Citizenship

photo credit: WikipediaElection Day on November 8th is fast approaching. Presidential and Vice Presidential debates ensue. People take stances or the lack therefore. Families argue. Friends argue. Catholics argue. Not to be too blunt, but evil feeds off of discord. If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, you know that the little forces or the little devil’s minions seek to create discord, disunity, confusion, and hopelessness. Politics and Presidential elections tend to evoke similar qualities.

There is nothing simplistic about faithful citizenship or conscientious voting. The crux of the matter is a “developed conscience.” This developed conscience allows us to make difficult decisions and weigh matters through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As Catholic Christians, we are blessed with less ambiguity when it comes to voting and faithful citizenship. Our Catholic faith provides clarity and sense of direction. There is a hierarchy of evils. Some evils will fatally flaw society more than others. Some policies will strike at the heart of the culture and create discord, confusion, hopelessness, and fraction. Our voting responsibilities reflect that.

Here is the link to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ teaching document entitled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”  As disclaimed in the intro, this document is to be read in its entirety not selective to support ideology or agenda. I find the document comforting and hopeful. There is a rhyme and reason to faithful citizenship though the lens of our Catholic faith. My voting season became less confusing.

And, yes, many Catholic Christians will argue that defending “right to life from conception to natural death” is not the MOST important voting issue. Without life, there is nothing else. No other important issues or topics. No fundamental grounding principle to enact better systems, policies, and services. Everything becomes relative. We can try but will always be crippled by the fundamental flaw.

Here is one of my more graphic examples. As Catholics, we believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Trinity is the eternal exchange of love between three persons, one God. We believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and Son. We believe the Holy Spirit lives, moves and animates are daily lives and the world around us. We believe that the sexual act is a reflection of Trinitarian love. A child conceived proceeds from love regardless of whether or not the sexual act was loving or not. Directly aborting a child is comparable to killing the Holy Spirit in the Trinity (imagine me slamming my first down on the table for emphasis.) That is fundamentally flawed.

The above document does not tell us exactly how to vote (the whole idea of free will), but guides a Catholic Christian in the formation of their conscience. May the Holy Spirit bless, protect, and guide us in faithful citizenship. Amen.

Who’s On First? Reclaiming the Kiss

courtney carmody-Flickr
Photo Credit: Courtney Carmody/Flickr

Most individuals can hardly imagine a world where couples save their first kiss for their wedding day. Others find the sentiment sweet but unreasonable. Others mock the awkwardness or imperfectness of a public first kiss.

Deep down, I think those people are unsatisfied, restless, possibly jealous, because they desire something greater, whether they realize it or not. Deep in the fiber of our created being made in the image and likeness of God, we are hardwired for something greater, purer, and more loving. Not just earthly love but a reflection of Trinitarian love. When ladies {& men,} including myself, fall away from our divine purpose, a restlessness develops.

I’m not condemning people who kiss before they marry nor advocating waiting until your wedding day. A couple that waits for their wedding day to share their first kiss is no less holy or holier than a couple that shares in that intimacy before marriage. Love is a choice. How we love or fail to love is a choice too. 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you . . . you are not your own.” Reminding ourselves that we are tabernacles of the Holy Spirit provides ample guidance in sexual morality for now.

And I certainly agree kisses are given away far too liberally today, even for free. It’s a first date? Kiss him. It’s not even a date? Kiss him. I don’t know if he is the “right” one? Kiss him. Because I kissed him I know he isn’t the right one because where was the magic, the spark, the Joie de vivre! When in doubt, our culture says, kiss him!

Instead, I challenge, when in doubt, don’t kiss him. When not in doubt, consider waiting with him.

God created our capacity and desire to kiss on the lips. Since it’s a gateway intimacy, kissing can lead to babies and bonding. Kissing isn’t evil, but certainly can be a near occasion for sin. Every moment of our day is watched, guided, and protected by the Holy Trinity and Mother Mary. When you and I share certain intimacies, a whole celestial audience roots for us. Thank goodness, they remain beside us when we need grace and mercy too. There are many ways to express affection. Sometimes, those intimate expressions feel more satisfying, loving, and purer than a kiss on the lips. My personal favorite is a simple kiss on the forehead. I’m a hopeless romantic, but in my defense, a simple forehead kiss expresses respect, dignity, security, intimacy, hope, etc. The list goes on.

Each couple is unique. Respect and challenge each other to find creative alternatives to kissing on the lips, making out on the couch, etc. In my experience, you both will develop a broader capacity for expressing affection and love that will engender greater dignity and respect for each other.

I once desired to save my first kiss for the man I married on our wedding day. Will the first kiss I ever participated in be saved for my future husband? No. But can I still respect myself and the men in my lives? Yes. Someday, I may find a man I’ll share a first kiss that is pure, simple, and loving because deep down, in my heavenly core, I will know he respects me and I him enough to bring each other closer to Christ out of love and not fear or objectification until death do us part. Together he and I will make a choice. But I leave that in Christ, Mother Mary, and St. Joseph’s capable hands. Until then, I chose to be renewed in Christ.

Nowadays, I reserve my kisses. The kissing bank is shut until a further trust and commitment deposit is made!

Ladies {& Men,} remember your dignity and his dignity the next time you consider sharing a kiss on the lips. This intimate gesture should draw you closer to Christ and your vocation. If not, remember your kiss deserves no less!

St. Joseph, pray for us!