Time to prepare for Lent, Ash Wednesday is in four days! Here are seven good resources. Here's hoping everyone has a happy and transformative Lent!
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I'm always looking for ways to force myself to exercise. It has been a huge failure lately. But Lent starts on Wednesday and I'm going to commit to 20 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week. Mom and I have a great new apartment in a complex that has a pretty nice gym for cardio and strength training. Unfortunately, I don't ever go there. In an effort to remove any remaining excuses I have for not exercising regularly, I'm considering trying running in place. Supposedly this is pretty much as beneficial as running outside or on a treadmill, and costs a whole lot less than a home gym.
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Live the Fast is a great resource for Lent. Their fasting breads are nutrient dense and taste pretty good and the bread is fermented so it can survive shipping. Supposedly, the main reason that I can't live off of water and crusts of bread like St. Philip Neri did for most of his adult life is that the bread was a lot more nutritious back in his day. (Well... I'm not sure Live the Fast would recommend fasting on their bread every day, but it is a great apostolate.) The Live the Fast multigrain rolls need to bake for six minutes so, in the morning of a fasting day, I would bake all of the bread I needed for the day and bring it to work with me. That said, I'm probably going to start buying bread locally because it's hard to fit a bag of 36 rolls in my freezer.
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Regarding Judas' inability to repent and accept God's forgiveness:
"From the Cross, since here all is forgiveness and redemptive suffering, Jesus does not curse the disciple who has gone astray. He has no anger in His heart; but He leaves him 'in his own place,' according to those terrible words of the Acts [Acts 1:25], for he had made his choice between that place and Calvary. [...] With sorrowful majesty He withdraws His gaze from one who fled Him with an everlasting flight. He has no glance for the 'son of perdition'." In other words, God doesn't send souls to hell, they choose it.
Regarding Jesus' large group of disciples:
"Jesus' followers are absent from the place of judgment, absent through fear. But they are also absent in the sense that they fail to step forward en masse. Their voice will make itself heard on the day of Pentecost in Peter's preaching, which cuts 'to the heart' the very people who had earlier supported Barabbas. In answer to the question 'Brethen, what shall we do?' they receive the answer: 'Repent'--renew and transform your thinking, your being. This is the summons which, in view of the Barabbas scene and its many recurrences throughout history, should tear open our hearts and change our lives." How often do we fail to defend Jesus out of fear even when our silence makes it seem like we agree with those who attack the faith?
For my birthday, a friend gave me the book 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley. The book is a 33 day long, do-it-youself retreat to consecrate oneself to God's merciful love. I learned today that because March 19 is a Sunday, St Joseph's feast day is moved to March 20 which is the day to start the retreat in order for it to end on Divine Mercy Sunday. Isn't that cool? So I will be making this retreat in addition to re-reading Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly, a practical yet challenging do-it-yourself retreat specifically for Lent.
It's always good during Lent to get back to learning the Word of God. Sometimes I commit to listening to the Audio New Testament whenever I'm driving. One can also commit to learning a scripture song each day, for example, Sing Through the Bible, based on the One Year Bible. This year I'm thinking about listening to the audio version of The Bible in 90 Days by Zondervan, which I will obviously not finish by the end of Lent. But I've already started this method of memorizing scripture which essentially consists of reading the same passage each day for 50 days and then rote memorizing. The memorization part is suppose to go much faster and be retained much longer.
And, of course, Stations of the Cross! Little Lamb Music recorded Liam Neeson reading St. Alphonsus Liguori's version, which is available on YouTube. Opus Bono Sacerdotii, one of my favorite charities, offers the Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross for the intentions of priests. Fr. Zulsdorf has recorded several versions that are available on his blog, including Cardinal Ratzinger, Bl. John Henry Newman and the Franciscan stations. I'm sure there are other fantastic versions out there so feel free to share! Or share your own ideas for a transformative Lent. :-)
This Ain't the Lyceum!