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Lent

Catholicism

What I Love Most About Lent

February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday is finally upon us and I am totally pumped up!!

Wait…What?

Who gets psyched for Lent aka the liturgical season of sacrifice, penance, and suffering?

You guessed it.

This girl does! (Amanda, not Adele, just to clarify. She might love Lent too but I’ve never asked her.)

Don’t mistake me for some pious and holy person, let me tell you that’s certainly not the case.

I must admit my melancholic temperament is drawn to the darker and deeper stuff in life such as pain, injustice, suffering, death, and mortality.

Ew, right?

Don’t be deceived by how happy I appear. I may be often smiling but I can assure you I am actually thinking about Sarah Mclachlan dog commercials.

Kidding.

Sort of.

All that to say that sure, I might be more inclined to enjoy the Lenten season, but I think it’s awesome for people of all temperaments.

Here in this post, I want to share with you a few reasons of why I love Lent and why I think you should too.

Intentionality

First, I want to say I absolutely love being Catholic for a host (wink, wink) of reasons but particularly because of the liturgical calendar. 

Weirdo alert again, amirite?

But seriously, it’s amazing that the Church makes sure her children’s spiritual lives don’t get imbalanced by neglecting certain parts of the life of Christ. This is why we have the rotating Mass readings that essentially take us through all of scripture every three years in addition to all the rotating seasons such as Advent, Lent, Ordinary time, Feast Days, etc.

So much wisdom in the liturgical calendar.

My point is that I love how Lent is an annual season set aside to go deeper in reflection on the life and death of Jesus Christ.

It’s easy to hang with joyfully resurrected Jesus but I absolutely need to occassionally remember what he went through to win Heaven for mine and the souls of all mankind. If I don’t deeply enter into the pain he endured and the wounds inflicted upon him, I will miss something in my spiritual life. I will be stunted from growth. I will be disconnected from Christ in a very intimate way I may not even be aware of.

I’m just so darn thankful that the Church gives us this supreme gift of being able to take 40 days to draw closer to Jesus in his suffering and death. Through this intentional time, we’re given the chance to draw closer to him and obtain strength for our own trials in life as we unite those to Christ.

Lenten Sacrifices

download

Don’t even get me started on this one.

We live in a world (at least in the USA) that is so convenient. We don’t have to wait on much of anything anymore.

At the drop of a hat you can download a song, watch a YouTube video, Facebook message you friend from around the world, order Jimmy Johns, binge a Netflix series, buy something on Amazon that will show up less than 2 days later, Google any question you might have, etc. Technology has essentially taken away many immediate needs.

We don’t have to wait or give up anything…which means our sacrificial muscles are atrophied severely.

It’s not just a spiritual belief that fasting is actually GOOD for you. We know that ocassional fasting from food actually has health benefits but this principle applies to sacrificing other things too like time spent in front of screens or on the internet among thousands of other things you could temporarily step away from.

Sure, the fasting from foods, activities, and habits is a good thing in and of itself but what’s beneficial about giving things up is that it creates space in your soul and schedule for more prayer and an opportunity to draw closer to Christ, who gave up everything for us. We can unite our desire for coffee, Facebook, and Netflix to Jesus and allow him to draw us into his own sacrificial love.

Again, so much wisdom the Church is inviting her children into.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Last but not least, I think there is no other season like Lent that provides the opportunity to do some serious spring cleaning within your soul.

Just try watching The Passion of The Christ without being deeply moved.

Now spend 40 days meditating on and mulling over the passion and death of Our Lord and prepare to get rocked.

When we GET IT and truly realize not only who Jesus was and what he did for us out of love, we can’t help but be changed forever. He paid the price for us and gave us what we didn’t deserve because of our own mistakes. What mercy!

Each Lent is an opportunity to have a deeper conversion. To unite your suffering and pain to Christ, who can redeem everything. To allow the light of God to cast out the dark parts of your life through the Sacrament of Confession. It’s a new beginning every year. A set aside opportunity to heal. It’s truly a beautiful opportunity.

 

Here at True Good & Beautiful we wish you a Lent filled with mercy and grace. May you draw closer to the heart of Jesus, the one who wildly loves you and wants to draw you closer to him these next 40 days!

If you are looking for resources on how to go deeper this Lent, check out Lentsanity. Jonathan is the brain-child behind almost everything you’ll see over there! 🙂

God bless!

Catholicism, The New Evangelization

Essential Lenten Infographics

February 9, 2016

Jonathan here. Six of my Illustrated Guides are part of FOCUS’ Lentsanity Campaign. I designed these to help you have a great Lent. Check ’em out:

ash-thumbThe 10 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday

fasting-guideAn Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

lectioDo the Lectio 3-Step: A Guide to Praying with Scripture

solemnitiesWhat’s the Difference? A Guide to Solemnities, Feast Days, and Memorials

triduumAn Illustrated Guide to the Triduum

paschal-candleAn Illustrated Guide to The Paschal Candle

If you like those Illustrated Guides, be sure to check out the rest of FOCUS’ Lentsanity and download the Lentsanity App!

Catholicism, Intentional Living

How to Have a Great Lent

February 23, 2015

Admittedly, this post probably would have served you better if it came to you last week. But hey, better late than never! And for everyone out there who got their butts kicked by the first (half) week of Lent, this one’s coming just in time.

This is the busiest time of the year for me creating web content for FOCUS. We go a little Lent crazy, which is why we call our Lent content Lentsanity. Also, as Shaun T’s Insanity aims to get your body into shape, we try to get our souls into shape during Lent, and we’re here to help you do that.

1. Pick a Fast or Pius Practice

I know, Lent already started. If you want to start a Lenten practice now, go right ahead. Don’t worry about not having done it the first few days of Lent. Pick something and do it.

What to Do for Lent: 7 Reasonable Ideas
What Should I Do for Lent: Pope Francis’ 10 Tips 

2. Do What the Church Asks of You

There are a few things the Church asks us to do for Lent, mainly skip the meat on Fridays and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. What exactly does the Church mean by fasting? And how do we remember to skip the meat? We gotcha covered:

Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting & Abstinence
FREE Lentsanity App with Reminders to Skip the Meat

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b1i_e_VL3o

3. Pray

Praying is the most important thing you can do during Lent. Spend some time with God by praying with Scripture. If you don’t know how, I made this handy guide. You can even print it out as a little booklet!

Do the Lectio 3 Step: An Illustrated Guide to Praying with Scripture

 

We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up for Lentsanity, so be sure to keep an eye out on focus.org/lentsanity to see it all as it’s published. Better yet, subscribe to Lentsanity email updates, and the best of our resources will be delivered straight to your inbox.

Have a great Lent! (And don’t get busted by the Meat Police!)

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRv8sNa7ZzClS4XovoZPrqbEiT4omv6Er

Catholicism, Mission, The New Evangelization

In Defense of #Ashtag

February 18, 2015

There’s some hand wringing going on about #ashtag. Some see the #ashtag trend taking a sacred ritual designed to remind us of our mortality and twisting it into a self-centered exercise that profanes the sacred and misses the point of the day entirely. I disagree.

And as one of the people who helped bring #ashtag into popular usage (I wrote a very popular blog post encouraging its use for the FOCUS blog last year), I believe I have a unique perspective on this whole thing, and a small scrap of authority in regards to it all.

I’ll share my thoughts on some of the main arguments against #ashtag, then share some thoughts on the positives of #ashtag.

Argument Against 1: It’s Self-Centered, and Lent’s All About Dying to Self

I chalk this one up to the unfortunate connotation of the word “selfie.” Taking a selfie, no matter what the day, does not necessarily mean the one taking it is all into themselves. It means they’re taking a picture of themselves, probably to save a memory of what they’re up to. And with the convenience of smartphones, it’s easy (and fun) to take a picture of yourself. Could the person be taking a picture of themselves because they’re all wrapped up in themselves? Certainly, but it would be a mistake to assume such a motive is behind every selfie.

Argument Against 2: It’s Makes Our Fasting and Prayers Public, and Jesus Says To Not Do That

So do ashes on our foreheads. Or a crucifix on our necklace. Or saying grace before eating at a restaurant. Or priests and sisters wearing their habits or clerics in public. Or having a Mary statue in your yard. I would never skip going to the gas station on Ash Wednesday because I didn’t want people to see my ashes and end up “showing off.” In a similar way that I live part of my life at the gas station, I live part of my life online, and showing my ashes there is just sharing a part of me.

 

Why #Ashtag is a Good Thing

As we increasingly live online, our faith comes with us. Social media, at its best, connects people, forms communities, and encourages us. The beauty of twitter isn’t seeing how many retweets your timely joke gets, but is instead in the creative expression of ideas in such a short format. Facebook serves the user best not when used to quantify social standing and self-worth by counting how many likes a post received, but instead when it connects the user to other people, real people, who offer encouragement and companionship in life.

#Ashtag doesn’t say, “Look at ME! See how holy I AM?! Don’t you love ME?” It says, “I’m Catholic. I’m a sinner. None of us can do this alone. We need Jesus and each other.” It’s no different from filling your car at the gas station or saying hello to a neighbor at the mailbox on Ash Wednesday.

I think the #ashtag conversation is a referendum either on how people view Lent or how people view social media, maybe both.

Yes, Lent is a season of penance and fasting, but throughout the season we are encouraged by the Church to approach our sacrifice and penance with joy. We can rejoice, and even boast our weakness, because it is our strength in God.

Our use of social media reflects how we live our lives. Both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have called the Church to embrace social networks and the opportunity they provide to bring connection to the human family. Posting an #ashtag picture is an exercise in joining with others in the family on the journey to Easter.

If anyone out there wants to post their #ashtag picture because they want to get a lot of likes or they hope it will increase their status in the eyes of certain people, then you might want to examine your motives. If you want to join in the Lenten conversation online and come together with your brothers and sisters, then post away. And if anyone out there doesn’t want to post an #ashtag picture, then by all means, go ahead and don’t post one. I’m not trying to convince anyone to post one, just adding to the conversation by saying, “I think it’s totally fine to post these pics.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Catholicism

#ashtag

March 5, 2014

 

Here are our ashes from mass today! I got the #mushroom shaped and Jonathan got the #cross shaped.

What did you get? For more shape possibilities, check this blog.

ashes

 

Here’s a pic of the whole gang at the Denver Support Center:

work ash

May Lent be a time of growing closer to Jesus and father from the things keeping you from him! God bless and have a fruitful Lent!

Mission

Lentsanity!

March 4, 2014

Jonathan here. One of the projects I’ve been working on a lot lately with FOCUS has been Lentsanity, our campaign to help you make this Lent the best one yet. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a lot of the really fun aspects of the project, including:

Two of the first three blog posts of the campaign. Check them out!

An Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting & Abstinence

The 8 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday

The Meat Police

I wrote the script and starred in this fun video.

phone with Lentsanity appThe Lentsanity App

I found an app company to work with, worked out all the details and kinks in creating and deploying our app, and now I’m updating it with content as Lentsanity rolls on. The best part of the app? It will pop up a notification before lunch and dinner on Fridays during Lent to remind you not to eat meat! (Make sure to say YES to push notifications, or you won’t get the reminders!)

It’s available for both iOS and Android. Download it today by searching for Lentsanity in your app store or by visiting focus.org/lentsanityapp from your smartphone.

Daily Dose

Each day of Lent (except Sundays) we’ll be posting a short reflection to facebook and to the app. I got to write the reflections on sacrifices. They’ll be published throughout Lent, so be sure to check those out as they come out.

Keep up to date with everything Lentsanity by liking FOCUS on facebook, following FOCUS on twitter, and by reading the FOCUS blog. We’re also collecting everything at focus.org/lentsanity and in the Lentsanity app.