Happy Ash Wednesday!

Good Morning everyone and happy Ash Wednesday!  Whether you have gone to mass already, are yet to go, or maybe aren’t (it is NOT a holy day of obligation today) I pray that you spend this day meditating on the season of Lent and what you can do to grow closer to God.

I will be doing a Lenten series here over the next 40 days.  I hope to encourage you, provide you with resources and generally give you hope that you are not alone on this journey.  “Catholic” means “universal” and as a universal church we are to support each other as one body.

So here are my goals for Lent (some are still being nailed down, but this is my general outline):

1) For myself, I will be increasing my prayer time.  This might mean saying a rosary and reading scripture one day, or just saying the angelus the next.  I was pretty much at a zero before, so any increase would be great.  One resource that I will be using is the Creighton Online Ministries Lent page. They have tons of great stuff to read, prayers, meditations and just tons of stuff.  I highly encourage the site.  They also have a simple “one prayer a day” section that is shorter and easier if you can’t get the time to do a longer prayer time.  Good stuff!

Why did I choose this?  Several reasons.  First, I wanted something simple that would be done daily but wouldn’t cause me too much stress.  If worst comes to worst, when I go to bed at night I can pray a decade of the rosary and feel that I fulfilled my promise.  Secondly, I strongly feel that if I focus on this and really increase my time in prayer, naturally time will decrease in areas where I shouldn’t be spending as much time.  My priorities will realign naturally into a better order.  Third, what could be “bad” about this?  Even if I have some selfish motives (which I don’t feel that I do) by spending time in prayer my spirit will be changed and reordered to be closer to God.

2) With my spouse, I think we will be spending some time in prayer together daily and I want us to go to confession biweekly.  I have to double check with Chris tonight though.

3) As a family we’re going to do a couple things, all “car related”.  First, we’re going to turn off the secular music.  To fill the silence, we’ll either play praise and worship or the rosary or other faithful music (gregorian chant, maybe?).  Me and Grace will also make an attempt to always stop at the parish that is on our way home that has a 24 hour adoration chapel.  Either we’ll leave 10 minutes early or we’ll stop on the way home.  Grace can’t participate much since she’s only 9 1/2 months old, but I think this is a good way to do something as a family.

So there they are.  Written down in a public place.  If you know me in real life, feel free to ask me how these are going!  I would love the accountability!

I also suggest going and reading Pope Benedict’s Lenten Message.  It is a meditation on justice, a virtue that is sorely lacking in the modern world.  It’s always a wise thing to go see what our fearless leader has to say!  My favorite part?

So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from “what is mine,” to give me gratuitously “what is His.”

As we fast today, let us remember in our prayers those who have no food or clean water.  They suffer daily.  Also, a little note on fasting.  You are required to fast from your 18th birthday until the last day of your 59th year.  Fasting consits of having one regular size meal, two other meals that when combined do not equal the full meal and no snacks.  However, there are some exemptions:

Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline. (EWTN)

As a nursing mother, I am technically exempt from fasting and if I need meat, apparently I could have that too.  However, I do encourage mothers to fast in some way.   Today, I am attempting to not eat in between meals (I’m a “grazer”) and I’m only drinking water.  I am eating regular size meals, though, although I am going meatless.

Have a wonderful Ash Wednesday everyone!  And share your goals in the comments!

This post is part of the Lenten series.  To see other posts in this series, click on “Lent” in the tags.