Fast and Be Happy

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I don’t know about you, but during Lent I really like to “fast.”  Just kidding.  I don’t like to fast at all.  It takes a lot of effort for me to look pleasant and not wimpy when I don’t eat.  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are hard, and I hope every year I won’t get a headache.  I DO recognize the importance of the practice though,  and  I WANT to like it for the spiritual benefit, but… you know… I like to eat.

Last year I heard about a very practical way to “fast” during the 40 Days of Lent.  It’s a simple practice called “The 5 Minute Fast.”

  • Give up something you want for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, if you still want it, give it up again.  Another 5 minutes goes by and so you give it again….or maybe now you don’t.  Either way, you have offered something up for Lent.
  • Each time you give something up, pray for something or someone.  Fasting is, after all,  a discipline to benefit your spirit and to remind you of your dependence on God.
  • Remember to be grateful.

Over the years I’ve practiced a form of frequent (not every day) fasting.  Usually I decide to fast from a snack, or more likely from a Starbuck’s stop.  These are little longings that I want but can really do without.  The “letting go” of little things helps keep me aware and grateful of the blessings I have.  I like this.

So here’s to Happy Fasting and a Happy, Blessed Lent.  For another lenten post, visit  Happy Lent.

For more reading on the meaning of fasting, visit the USCCB website  here.

In hope,                                                                                                                                            Peggy

Note:  I searched for the 5 Minute Fast online and found one site: ToJesusSincerely.com     Have you heard of this practice? If so, please leave a comment on its origin. Thanks!

 

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Three Reasons Catholics Are Bible People

 

The Catholic Church is a  Bible Church. Does that sound weird to you? Okay, so it isn’t how we normally talk about the Catholic faith, and I wonder why not?  Here are just three reasons why I think this is true.

Reason # 3:  Bible Studies.  For years I attended a very well known non-denominational Bible study. I was intimidated at first with the women who could recite chapter and verse of key faith issues. But after a while I realized that most of them knew less than I thought, and what we learned, we learned together. What’s more, as the study progressed I became more confident in what I already knew, because I knew our faith stories and learned of our salvation history long ago through the Catholic Church . I’m grateful for my experience with that particular study, but the one I attended within my own parish community caused my knowledge and faith to grow too.  Catholic churches do offer studies and  I’m very grateful for  The Cornerstone Scripture Study. It is educational and also builds community within your local church. Visit http://www.thecornerstonescripturestudy.org.   The Little Rock Scripture Study is another option. https://www.littlerockscripture.org/P1020369

Reason #2:  Scripture is proclaimed at each and every Mass.  Passages from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament and Gospel are read and “broken open” for us in the homily. Maybe we take for granted what we hear so often, but really, what we have is priceless.   Scott Hahn is now an author and professor of theology and scripture, but when he was a Protestant minister  he experienced his first Mass. By his own admission, he believed that the Mass was the “ultimate sacrilege” and he attended as an observer only. In The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, Hahn describes his life changing experience.

“As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn’t just beside me. It was before me-in the words of the Mass! One line was from Isaiah, another from the Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, “Hey, can I explain what’s happening from Scripture? This is great!” Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: “This is My body…This is the cup of my blood.”

“In less than a minute the phrase ‘Lamb of God’ had rung out four times. From long years of studying the Bible, I immediately knew where I was. I was in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus is called the Lamb no less than twenty-eight times.”

As a result of his knowledge of the Bible and his experience that day, Scott Hahn became a Catholic Theologian.  Can you imagine turning your life and career upside down like that? His story reminds me NOT to take our amazing Catholic faith for granted.

Reason # 1:  The Bible was inspired, written, compiled and defended in the earliest days of the church.  This was when the church was one body, before the Reformation and the divisions of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the countless factions that separate us today.  This early church was the catholic, or universal, church. The Catholic Church of today is this same historic church and for the gift of the Bible it gave us I am ultimately grateful.

In hope,                                                                                                                                                           Peggy

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When Truth Is Exactly As You Thought: Gosnell Movie Review

I’m writing to you on a quiet Sunday morning, before Mass and people pleasantly crowd into my day.  I’m introspective, wondering what to do with information that devastates me and yet I’ve known for a long time.  It’s pretty easy to put things out of mind, as the saying goes.  We get busy and unpleasant thoughts – even those that convict you – recede to the background.  Please bear with me and read this blog before you make judgments on me, friends!  I really want you to know this information.

Last night I saw a movie that changed me.  If I can borrow a line from the movie, “If I don’t like the truth, I don’t change it.”  To that I add my own, “I don’t ignore it, either.”

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer is the story of former physician  Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist in inner city Philadelphia.

http://www.gosnellmovie.com/theaters/

In 2013 Gosnell was convicted of one count of involuntary manslaughter of a 41 year old woman and three counts of first degree murder of three infants who were born alive. Gosnell murdered them by snipping their necks with scissors.  He ran a filthy clinic (I use the term “clinic” loosely) staffed by untrained and unlicensed employees who freely administered anesthesia, abortion drugs, and pain meds.  Sometimes those untrained and unlicensed employees were the only staff present when babies were delivered. Dozens of bodies were found on site.  The three convictions represent a fraction of the charges brought against him. (1)

Why am I writing this?  Because this is a true story, and truth should permeate our lives and the decisions we make.

Pro-life or Pro-abortion?  Either way, we have laws. Women  are abused when laws are skirted or ignored.

What happened in Gosnell’s clinic is not an isolated incident.  Houston’s abortionist Douglas Karpen is currently being investigated by the FBI with similar charges.(2)

The Pennsylvania Health Department was ordered to ignore abortion centers by former Governor Tom Ridge.  Consequently, Gosnell’s facility wasn’t inspected for 17 years.  Complaints against them were ignored. (3)  Do you know how your neighborhood facility rates, or when it was last inspected?

The job of our press is to report news to us that reveals danger within our society, and they don’t always do that.  Therefore, we may remain unaware and uninformed. There is an apathy to know the truth about our abortion facilities. Do we really want to know if abortion is always safe?  Calls to 911 happen regularly at the Planned Parenthood in Houston.  http://houston-coalition.webflow.io/911-calls

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, is playing THIS WEEKEND in theaters across the country.  It’s a limited engagement, so check the link TODAY to find it in theaters near you.  My Houston friends, you have about 13 choices.  My Cleveland, Ohio family you have 2.  Yes, only 2, in Elyria and Solon.  Why is that? Note: This movie is very well done, and it isn’t gruesome. Don’t be afraid of what you might see. So I urge you to see this movie.

In hope,

Peggy

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermit_Gosnell

(2) https://www.lifenews.com/2018/05/21/fbi-investigating-abortionist-who-delivers-babies-alive-and-snips-their-necks/

(3) Snyder, Whitney (January 23, 2011). “Kermit Gosnell Abortion Clinic Was Not Inspected For 17 Years”The Huffington Post.

 

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Exalting the Cross?

Cross Illuminated

I remember the day Fr. Alfonso (one of my favorite priests) dragged a huge cross across the altar.  He stopped and said, “Are we supposed to draaag  our crosses behind us?   NO!”  He thrust that big cross straight up in the air and said, “Lift that cross high!  We are strong with the Lord’s presence! He is with us!”

Those may or may not have been Fr. Alphonso’s exact words, but that is the message I heard.  The image sticks with me. Stop dragging the cross! Lift it high! We have help! Unite our suffering to Christ!

Today I post this, remembering those who will suffer in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. May the Lord give comfort and help (through the rest of us, of course) and may Our Lord bless you deeply on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!

In hope,

Peggy

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Timely Hurricane Florence Sermon

Friends,

Today I opened my Laudate app and read this sermon, which I found in the “Office of Readings.”  The timing is interesting in light of what our brothers and sisters on the east coast are going to live through starting today! What prayer does this raise in your heart?

A sermon by St John Chrysostom
For me, life means Christ, and death is gain
The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.
Do you not hear the Lord saying: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst? Will he be absent, then, when so many people united in love are gathered together? I have his promise; I am surely not going to rely on my own strength! I have what he has written; that is my staff, my security, my peaceful harbour. Let the world be in upheaval. I hold to his promise and read his message; that is my protecting wall and garrison. What message? Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!
If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear? Though the waves and the sea and the anger of princes are roused against me, they are less to me than a spider’s web. Indeed, unless you, my brothers, had detained me, I would have left this very day. For I always say “Lord, your will be done”; not what this fellow or that would have me do, but what you want me to do. That is my strong tower, my immovable rock, my staff that never gives way. If God wants something, let it be done! If he wants me to stay here, I am grateful. But wherever he wants me to be, I am no less grateful.
Yet where I am, there you are too, and where you are, I am. For we are a single body, and the body cannot be separated from the head nor the head from the body. Distance separates us, but love unites us, and death itself cannot divide us. For though my body die, my soul will live and be mindful of my people.
You are my fellow citizens, my fathers, my brothers, my sons, my limbs, my body. You are my light, sweeter to me than the visible light. For what can the rays of the sun bestow on me that is comparable to your love? The sun’s light is useful in my earthly life, but your love is fashioning a crown for me in the life to come.

In hope,

Peggy

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In My Arrogance

I love to listen to talk radio, especially when I’m driving.   Not  the talk shows that get you worked up and anxious, but the shows that teach something and inspire one to be better are worth my time. I wrote about this before in Blown Away by Radio

Many years ago I was listening to Charles Swindoll’s radio show called “Insight for Living.”  He said something that transformed my life. It literally changed my thought process.  Now it was a long time ago but here is what I remember.  “Any person who says that they are without sin stands in arrogance before God.  Let me say it again.  Any person who says that they are without sin stands in arrogance before God.”

P1000113Do you know what my first thought was?  Well that’s an arrogant thing to say!  And I stewed with that thought as he talked on.  Finally (in my arrogance) I smugly said, “Okay God, I really can’t think of any sins I’ve committed lately, so if I’ve sinned, you show me.

And he did.

Ever so graciously, in my thoughts and conscience, God revealed to me my sins.  God is good, all the time.  I’m grateful for the challenging words that brought me (okay, smacked me) into reality that day.  And do you know what? God continues to gently and kindly show me when my actions fall short of what he expects from me.  But I have hope, because God forgives.  His grace to be strong and wise is granted through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

P1000110If you would like to know more about the Sacrament of  Reconciliation, your local church is a good place to start.  Just go. Tell the priest you haven’t been in a while (or never) and he will guide you through.  All are welcome.

In hope,

Peggy

What is the Sacrament of Penance?  Click here

You can link to various Examinations of Conscience here

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Staying Faithful When the Church Disappoints – Part 2

You can read my first blog on the current priest abuse subject here .

There are videos and blogs all over the internet from our good and faithful priests addressing their own and the church’s response to the latest scandal news. My heart is heavy for them.  I do believe they carry the weight of guilt on their shoulders, even though they themselves have done nothing wrong.  How can they focus their attention on administering the sacraments and caring for their congregations when they must spend their time addressing scandal? It’s sad.

Old wounds of the church have been reopened recently, and media reports make it seem as if nothing has been done to stem the problem. But I found that the USCCB now has The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This came about in June 2002, that infamous year. As I wrote in the previous post, since 2002, our future priests are scrutinized thoroughly and I do believe the church has corrected some errors of the past.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.

There is an element left out of almost all news stories that deserves attention. It troubles me greatly that false accusations have been brought against priests. Men and women, motivated by money and the big payouts the church has become accustomed to making, (billions of dollars) or perhaps by a troubled mind, have ruined the ministries and reputations of innocent priests. Claims are sometimes made against deceased priests, who have no recourse of defense. Estimates for false claims start at 25%.

Here is an excerpt from a 2013 article from themediareport.com

In 2010, Vincent Carroll at the Denver Post fearlessly noted, “[F]raudulent or highly dubious accusations are more common than is acknowledged in coverage of the church scandals — although they should not be surprising, given the monumental settlements various dioceses have paid out over the years.”

In 2005, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, writing about abuse lawsuits against the Church, asserted, “People have to come to understand that there is a large scam going on with personal injury attorneys, and what began as a serious effort [to help genuine victims] has now expanded to become a huge money-making proposition.”

In addition, in 2001 (!), an East Coast attorney wrote, “I have some contacts in the prison system, having been an attorney for some time, and it has been made known to me that [accusing a Catholic priest of abuse] is a current and popular scam.”

Please pray with me that our church continues to do whatever it takes to be trusted and trustworthy. And please pray for our priests! Pray that they have the courage to wear their collar each day and live out their calling with joy and purity! We need them and want them to be happy.

In hope,

Peggy

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/false-accusations-of-sexual-abuse-can-leave-lasting-scars

Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories by David F. Pierre, Jr., 2011

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Staying Faithful When the Church Disappoints

This is my very humble attempt to put into writing my thoughts and feelings about my faith, in light of the sex abuse problems recently in the news.  What the Catholic Church has dealt with since 2002 makes me cringe.   It’s embarrassing, and it breaks my heart to know the extent of it. Of course, any priest or religious person who hurt a child in any way should have been brought to justice.   Of course! When someone abuses another, it’s a terrible harm.  It violates the dignity and respect of the abused and that is outright contrary to the teaching of our Catholic faith.  If you or anyone you know was abused then I am truly so, so sorry.

The question I’ve been asked is, “How do I reconcile this abuse by trusted leaders with my (Catholic) religion?”  Some have a hard time understanding how the faithful (me) can remain in the Church since some of its prominent leaders allowed the abuse to continue. I don’t deny that I too have questions about how that was possible, and it troubles me.

P1000565But I LOVE the Church.  This is the Church founded by St. Peter, with all of its Sacraments and Tradition. I don’t want to leave the Mass and the Eucharist, because I truly believe that in the Eucharist I receive the very Body of Christ. I’m not willing to walk away from that.   And the church is also its people.  It is in them that I find Christ and my community.

Sadly – very sadly – some priests messed up.  They sinned.  I know that.  But the Church belongs to God.  It doesn’t belong to the priests who abused or to the bishops who didn’t intervene properly.   Their sin doesn’t negate the legitimacy of the Church or the people, because when a priest administers a Sacrament, it is the Holy Spirit who empowers the sacrament and gives the grace of the sacrament, not the priest.  We live and work within the church but we are all human and we sin, sometimes gravely.  Contrary to what we might believe after listening to the media, there are immensely more good, holy, kind, and selfless priests than there are bad.  I know so many of them. I hope that you know some, too.

From my own experience with a son who attended seminary and is a priest, I can say that today, I believe seminarians are greatly scrutinized.  I don’t know how it used to be but today, prior to admission to seminary, men must pass numerous interviews, including  psychological testing and a psychological interview. In addition, several people who know the applicant well must complete a questionnaire about their personality and dating habits, etc.  Not every seminarian – even if initially accepted – is allowed  to be ordained. I know this to be true.  There is no way that seminaries will produce priests now without greatly scrutinizing this area.  That is a very positive result of the problems that were first brought to light in 2002. The youtube video below by Fr. Eric Garris demonstrates this too.

I’m sure there’s more to be said but that’s for another day.

If you could pray for me to stay strong in faith and love of God I’d appreciate it. And I‘ll pray that you also stay strong in your faith and that the Holy Spirit leads you to find answers to all your questions.

In hope,

Peggy

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Mercy, Fidelity, and Providence

Going back in my journal to March, I came across this paraphrased quote.  Sometimes I just love my own faith journal, because it teaches me in the present what I (apparently) learned in the past.

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I’ve heard before that we should rely on God’s mercy and on his holy providence.  It translates to trusting that he will forgive me of the wrongs of my past and he will take care of me in the future.  But I recorded this in my journal because the “present” response stopped me cold.

“Rely on your complete fidelity to Him.”

That assumes that I am faithful and loyal to him.  Am I?    It assumes that I can rely on my own faithfulness to Him to be enough.  Is it enough?   Can I rely on myself to be loyal when I’m stressed?  Insecure?  Anxious?  And I sheepishly wonder, does that mean I can’t complain?  All these thoughts swirled through my mind the first time I wrote these words.

“The past must be abandoned to God’s mercy,

the present to our fidelity,

the future to divine providence.” – St. Francis de Sales

Life is hard.   I remember saying that to myself in high school, then in college, then each time a life hiccup  threatened to steal my peace.  I acknowledged it, without being too dramatic or resigned.  It made me feel better to say it.

But, do you know what?  It makes me feel great to say that fidelity is my choice.  I am choosing to be faithful and loyal.  I choose to trust in my God who is merciful and provides what I need in the future.  Today, in the present, I remain HIS.

Why do I write about this in a blog to answer questions about my Catholic faith?  Because I heard this on EWTN Catholic radio.  Specifically, “Women of Grace” with Johnnette Benkovic. When I got home I wrote it down.  I’ve shared what I’ve learned this way before in my blog post Blown Away by Radio soaking up all I can in the few minutes while driving from appointment  to wherever I’m headed.  Find your Catholic radio station by searching online for your local station, EWTN radio, Ave Maria radio, Relevant radio and more.

In hope,                                                                                                                                                          Peggy

And just for fun:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijsjA5Yf8XA  His Mercy is More

 

 

 

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What is the Best Gift You Ever Received?

Two Eleven Holy Communion

My friend’s beautiful daughter as she prepares for her First Holy Communion

This past Sunday was First Holy Communion Day at St.  Martha! Normally it’s so much fun to watch the children and families process in and take their seats in front.  But that day I was leading our LIFETEEN band so  I admit I was a little distracted and preoccupied with setting up and keeping it all together.  Until our pastor asked the kids this question:

“What is the best gift your parents ever gave to you?”

You can imagine what they might have answered.  We were waiting for answers like games, bikes, kid cars… but NO! These kiddos were prepared.   Baby sister, love, love, …yes we were onto something here… love, love,  and … wait for it, finally… faith!  Yes, faith! Way to go moms and dads for preparing your children well!

I wonder if Father B was asking the same question of the rest of us?

When I think of this question, I have to answer that the best gift I received from my parents was their belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and my Catholic faith. It would be easy to say that my faith is my own, and that I chose it. But if I’m honest with myself, I must admit that growing up with the habit of attending a Catholic church every week, every Holy Day, and during the week grew deep roots of faith in me.

May 6th is the anniversary of my First Holy Communion. Besides the pretty white dress, new shoes and veil,  I remScan_Pic0001ember Mom and Dad giving me a hug after Mass and Mom saying, “Congratulations!”   I asked her why she congratulated me.  She told me I had worked hard to learn about Jesus, and this was a big day, because now I can always come to Him and receive Him.

In high school I sampled other churches, but they didn’t offer me all that the Catholic church did, most important of all being Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,  aka Holy Communion.  I left those meetings, gatherings and services feeling that they were incomplete.  That I was incomplete.  Why was their pastor’s 20-30 minute homily more important than our 4 Biblical readings and homily?  (Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm and Gospel at every Sunday Mass, y’all) Why was their worship considered more appropriate than our worship?

And, there was no Eucharist. Host In Luke 22:19,  Jesus clearly instructs us to “Do this.”  We Catholics take that  instruction literally.  So in fact,  knowing the gift I had been given by my parents and knowing what I didn’t want to leave, I DID make a choice to make Catholicism my own, and I have never looked back.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for filling up that entire row at Mt. Carmel with your kids every week!  Thanks for the Catholic education, and thanks for always making your faith a priority, even when it wasn’t convenient.  Love you!

In hope,                                                                                                                                                Peggy

You can read more related posts at:

Precious Body and Blood

Why I Stay

 

 

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Because, By Your Holy Cross

 

This is the wood of the cross on which hung the savior of the world. 

Cross IlluminatedCome, let us worship!

Those words.  The church is filled this good, Good Friday, as it always is.   From behind us, those words ring out.  The cross is carried forward and those words are sung again and again.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

More words.  I’ve heard them for 5 decades of Good Fridays.  Fall to a knee. This is what we do, because who can stand when adoring and blessing our Lord and his holy cross?  Is there a gesture more fitting than a bent knee as we acknowledge the Lord our Savior and the instrument of our salvation?

To Bless:  venerate, magnify, laud, give honor to.

A bagillion songs blast into my head with each one of those words, but none of them rouse my soul to worship like those words and the sound of hundreds of bodies simultaneously dropping to their knee at the call to adore and bless the Lord.

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What memories, words, and gestures rouse your soul to magnify the Lord and his Holy Cross?

Happy Blessed Triduum!

In hope,                                                                                                                                                Peggy

Top 3 photos by me, in Lourdes, France, Assisi, Italy and Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain

 

 

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With All My Heart, Soul, and Might

Some things just get in there – deep inside. They stay dormant and occasionally wake up to jolt you with a memory or feeling.  That happened to me today.  Flash back to my early childhood, and I’m upstairs in my bedroom and ready for bed.  My Mom is there and we’re saying bedtime prayers. I’m repeating a prayer after her,  “O Lord my God,  I love you with all me heart, and with all my soul, and with all my might.”peggy-7-years.jpg

Today our (Catholic) Gospel reading came from Mark 12, where Jesus repeats an Old Testament teaching from Deuteronomy:

“…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ” – Mark 12:29

In  Deuteronomy 6:4-7, the entire text reads like this:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” -Ignatius Study Bible

I called my parents to ask them exactly how they said that prayer.  Funny, they couldn’t remember. I guess what is necessary and important to remember passes and changes with time.  Lucky for me, when I was young they took to heart the command of the Lord, and impressed these words on this heart.  Do you think you’ve missed an opportunity? It’s never too late to impress these words upon someone’s heart.

In hope,                                                                                                                                                  Peggy

You can find the Bible readings used at daily Mass every day at the USCCB website.  Because, you know, Catholics are Bible people!  Three Reasons Catholics Are Bible People

Daily Readings for today:  Hosea 14:2-10, Ps 81, Mt 4:17 and Mk 12:28-34.

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