It was certainly wonderful to share with the All Saints family what the Lenten Season is about: Fasting, Prayer, & Mercy. While I could have done much better at my camera angles you can still definitely understand what is being said (who wants to see my mug anyway). You can catch below all three of the evenings just an hour each. Watch them any-time, any-where! Let us know what you think by writing in below.
Evening #1: Fasting
Evening #2: Prayer
Evening #3: Mercy
The Lenten slog, yes that is what I call it! The point in lent where we reach some sense of normalcy but still have to commit to those fasts. Something to consider this far into lent is that it is never too late to adjust and it is certainly never too late to begin anew! The point of lent is to become a new creation in Christ. Becoming a new creation in Christ also means allowing God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit to breathe life in you! Lent isn’t just one moment in which we pick a fast but a journey of renewal, a journey of faith. God’s creative force was used over a period of 7 days to create the universe, so with ourselves when we enter the process of renewal should be prepared to begin and begin again. Almost as much as being a prayerful person Christians ought to be expert at “beginning anew.”
There is a funny story about St. Francis of Assissi in which he went to fast for 40 days during lent on a small island. He brought three loaves of bread with him to eat those 40 days. On the last few days of his great Lenten fast he thought of Jesus in the desert and prayed. In his great humility he decided to eat half of one of the loaves that he hadn’t touched yet so that he would be humble and in deference to Christ who ate nothing for 40 days.
In some ways we can become awfully prideful in our fasting. There will be times that I break fast because we are entertaining folks, because someone offers a gift, or because I am becoming too prideful in my fasting. This isn’t a hard fast rule but the point is we have to keep in center focus the reason for fasting. Reuniting ourselves with Christ is the goal. How are we to rejoice with our brother/sister if we are constantly reminding him/her that we are fasting? Certainly we are not to be parading our fasting aloud for all to hear.
Humility is required of us even, and especially in our fasting. If our fasting is truly to reconnect with Christ then our actions will be for peace and for joy. Our faces will be washed and no one will know but our heavenly Father who rejoices with us as we forsake what we do not necessarily need but receive in return the freedom of God. As Saint Ignatius teaches, whenever we can be freer from our dependencies on pleasure or the love of things, the more open we are for love of others and love of God. I encourage you on this Journey and have been keeping you in prayer!
 2 Cor. 5:17
 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13
 Cf. Isaiah 58:3-5
 Cf. Mt 9:15
 Cf. Mt 6:16
Being with God at all times can be challenging to think about, but in practice it is deeply fruitful! St. Paul was clear when he spoke to the early Church about how to conduct their lives:
“We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:14-17
Far from mentally reciting the Rosary at every moment of the day, the practice of praying at all times is more about being aware of God's presence wherever you go and whatever you do. Bringing God into the center of our daily life not only gives us strength throughout the day (particularly during lent when we fast) but it also gives us peace. Check out the video below for some helpful tips at keeping God present with you throughout each day.
We have celebrated the first Sunday of Lent together, let’s do a quick check-in. Take your time in reflecting with me!
How are things going? Are you struggling with what you gave up / took on?
What fruits do you see sprouting from your discipline (fasting) in lent? If you’re not sure, what ways can you adjust what you are giving up so that serving others might be included?
Have you been overly proud or showy in your ability to give something up? If so, have you considered adding a secret extra fast or observance?
Something to reflect upon as we make our way through lent is the consideration that fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are not mutually exclusive. We ought to be doing these things in concert anyway.
More so, our fasting leads to deeper prayer which fuels our almsgiving which in turn increases our sacrifice for others to bear fruit in their lives. Fasting is as much about finding God as it is finding who God made us to be.
If we are willing to make sterile acts that do not intersect others lives, in what way can we be fruitful? It’s easy to write an anonymous check, the challenge of lent is to give while looking in the eyes of those in need, to reach out learn their names and treat others as a close neighbor. Just as Jesus said “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These teachings are not new, but the very heart of God since the beginning.
A few helpful suggestions for this lent to keep peace and to give mercy particularly to those who may not deserve it:
Do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard. Because the Lord says through St. Paul “No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear” so that “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ”
 Mt 25:40
 Mk 12:31
 Eph 4:29
 Eph 4:31-32
In many parts of the world, there are Christians who are persecuted simply because of the fact that they are Christians. They need not only our material help but also our prayer. Let us join with the Pope in praying for persecuted Christians.
So we have officially a day or so to figure out what kind of fasting we will observe during lent this year. Often-times we look upon lent with the kind of weariness that often accompanies yet another thing to do. But Lent is more than just giving something up, or having another thing to do. The discipline of Lent leads one closer to God by becoming more grounded and cognizant of where God is in their lives. It is a practice in humility as it is in self-discovery, and discovery of God in ordinary things. This Lent I will be giving up meat & dairy as well as having an extra fast on Fridays. That may seem like a lot, but everyone should have a unique approach that fits them. Not every Lent is the same either, and as one participates in a Lenten discipline they develop spiritually as well as in discipline. Everyone is different and everyone is in a different place spiritually so whatever discipline you choose during Lent make sure it fits you but also challenges you. Just remember, everyone is on a journey with God, it's useless to compare yourself to others. Jesus was clear in saying that even those who look most holy often aren't. Be like the widow who gave a small coin, though it was all she had (she gave her all no matter how small).
The real heart of Lent is also about detachment from things or detachment from desires and pleasures. It gives the ability of true freedom of being able to enjoy something without feeling entrapped by it. An easy example is to ponder for a moment, what would happen if your phone was to be completely smashed and you were not going to be able to have a replacement for a good while. Does that cause anxiety? The deeper question is, are you free from the desire of the phone or not? Truly we should be free to leave everything for Christ which is easier said than done. Which brings us back to why God has given us the discipline of Lent leading up into Easter. There is true freedom in Christ so long as we make him King of our lives. It is difficult to make God centered in our lives if we also have many attachments on pleasures, desires, & things. This is to say that the many things, particularly phones, are very good! But even something as good as a phone cannot replace God.
When choosing something to give up for Lent, ask yourself, what are some attachments that exist in my life that build walls between me and God? They may not be huge, and don’t forget there is always time to modify your discipline. The important thing like all things Christian is to realize if we fail even in the last week or few days of Lent, we can always get back up and try again. God wishes for us to give our very best, sometimes we fail; but to give our best means getting back in the saddle especially when it’s tough. God knows your heart, so be open with him in prayer. Also, a great way to kick off Lent is to reconcile ourselves with God through reconciliation. It’s difficult to take on a discipline when we know in the back of our minds or deep within our hearts we carry a mountain, or even a pebble (ever have a pebble in your shoe?). As challenging as it may be, schedule a visit with any priest! It doesn’t have to be any particular priest, what is important is to open yourself up to the mercy of God and make the most of Lent.
The Pope reminds us that in our world, there are a lot of people who live weighed down, in situations of poverty. They are refugees or are at the margins of society. With Pope Francis, we pray for them so they encounter in our communities the welcome and support they need.
With the elections and recent protests I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised but I’ve noticed a lot of despair, as well as a lot of gloating and anger. While it is important to recognize how we emotionally respond towards one another, there are a few important discernment and thought processes to go through as Christians as we adjust to our new government leadership.
I am contemplating making the next Faith on Tap session on faithful citizenship or rather, what citizenship looks like for a Christian since we only have one King which is Christ. I can tell you as I mentioned in my last post that faithful citizenship looks forward to the common good, rejoicing in the good that is not only shared between citizens but also between nations. This is a concept known as faithful patriotism. This is in opposition to Nationalism which only celebrates the prosperity of the state above all else particularly citizens who are most vulnerable and especially all other nations; effectively treating all things as a means to an end with the end being preservation of the state at all costs. This turns the state into a false idol in place of the living God.
As Americans, despite our many differences, the Christian approach always encompasses the common good for all citizens particularly the minority and vulnerable. This most especially includes those religiously different as well as culturally different. It is critical to remember our heritage of faith and that our Lord calls us to protect the alien, the widow, and the orphan as Israel was once an alien in Egypt. Not only was Israel an alien in Egypt but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were refugees in Egypt fleeing persecution. The Gospel of Matthew in particular is remarkable in the way that Jesus relives the life of Israel, yet succeeds where Israel failed. Finally, we cannot dismiss the very clear parable of the Good Samaritan. I recommend prayer through this parable but the essence is that even an individual from a despised class gave more care to someone robbed on the side of the road then those who considered themselves holy. As Christians we must be particularly careful in caring for Christ Jesus in the poor, in the vulnerable, in the voiceless. Surely there will be those who will say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Living in a Democracy such as ours we shouldn’t be afraid of protests, we shouldn’t be afraid of presidents, we simply shouldn’t be afraid. Human freedom and conscience, is something that not only ought to be respected but honored as we have in our society for a long time. We ought to be unabashed in our commitment to gospel values and Church teaching regardless of the political climate. Surely this was the case when Nero, one of the deadliest rulers of Rome reigned; also, it was the case during the reign of St. Louis IX of France, and it is true today. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t support our elected officials because this is exactly what is called for, no matter who governs. It is important to keep our leaders in prayer and to continue to advocate for Gospel values. All the while we must keep in mind that our true King is Jesus and our true homeland is heaven.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), Par. 1921
 Lv 19:34; Lv 19:9-10; Ex 20:20
 Mt 2:13-15
 Lk 10:25-37
 Mt 25:37-40
Today is the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America Donald Trump! If you are like me, you may have seen some of the feeds or even listened to some of the inauguration in the background while working. It is interesting to note all the pageantry and official proceedings, in many ways a liturgy of American politics.
In many aspects there may be much division politically as well as between our very lives. The United States has only increased in diversity making it ever more important to hear the voices of the minority. All the while as faithful citizens it is important to be supportive and positive with whoever our president may be. This means being engaged in the public conversation on policy and advocating for your needs and your neighbors needs. Refraining from 'ad hominem' arguments (meaning arguments against the person such as name calling).
I would like to congratulate President Trump and I am encouraged to see him represent all Americans, remembering even the voiceless and the poor. I wanted to include in this post the welcome that Pope Francis gave to President Trump to show that faithful citizenship is a Christian virtue. Many saints spoke of faithful citizenship but at this moment in my mind St. Josemaria Escriva sticks out in a particular way. As a paraphrase, the main difference between nationalism and faithful patriotism is that nationalism wishes one nation to succeed at the expense of all others where as faithful patriotism is the wish for the nation to succeed as a brother along with the other nations. The idea that we can rejoice in our accomplishments to the betterment of the common good for all. Let's pray and act so that we can live out the common good for all and be a voice of peace & positivity in the world!
Below after the break is the letter that Pope Francis wrote to President Trump. Feel free to comment your thoughts!
The Honorable Donald Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House
Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.
At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.
Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door.
With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.