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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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,

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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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Celebrating Again: Christ the King

One of the things I appreciate about the Catholic faith is our attention to the really important things, like celebrations.  Every day we celebrate the lives of saints, the events of Jesus’s life, and the dedications of great churches. I’m sure that list is incomplete. I’ve noticed that by celebrating these great feasts, I am learning more about Jesus, life in the early church and how we practice our great Catholic faith on a worldly scale.

Today is the feast of  “Christ the King.”  Technically it is written as “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.”  I’m not sure why we minimized the name but I prefer the dramatic title over the shortened version. It was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI as a response to growing secularism in the world. History seems to repeat itself, as they say.

So my thought today is, if I am supposed to honor Jesus as my “King,”  is he worthy of that distinction in my life? Or better yet, am I a worthy subject of the king?  Is my allegiance to him adequate?

I plan to use  this Advent season (which starts in a week, y’all) to study the life of Jesus Christ.  Yes, I  think I know a lot about him, and I can tell you that the Gospel of Mark is my favorite, so I’ll start with re-reading it as if it were a movie script. Mark’s gospel is fast paced and easy to understand. Rediscover JesusNext, I’m going to read “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly.  It’s been sitting around for 2 years so it’s about time to get that done.

If I’m going to call Jesus my King,  I should  MEAN it, and ACT like it. What about you?

In hope,

Peggy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Christ_the_King

 

 

 

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It’s Been a Rough and Beautiful Month in Houston

Tuesday morning, August 29, 2017.  7:00 a.m. text update from my friend:

“Starting to evacuate neighborhood. Would you be able to drive as close in as possible to shuttle neighbors to your house as staging area?” 

Five adults (and a dog) ended up staying at our home that week. The number trickled down to three, and finally to two by the third week.  All are now temporarily living elsewhere, but their homes are far from livable and their Hurricane Harvey experience will stretch forward for months. 

Many whose homes were spared the flooding report feelings of guilt.  Not me!  I’m grateful. I’m SO grateful that when the inevitable flooding happened, and the roads were impassable except by boat, we were pressed into service by a friend who counted on us to help.  I’m SO grateful for the firefighters, police and others who descended upon us with their expertise.  I’m pretty happy I was “shuttling’ at that time and got to witness this first hand. The photos below are of a street near us. They don’t show the dangerously rushing current and waist to shoulder-high water farther in.

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Our Welcome Window

I’m SO grateful that my beloved church (St. Martha’s in Kingwood) opened our doors as a shelter and distribution center.  Later, groups of parishioners formed teams to assist in the cleanup of homes. The community continues to help.

I’m SO grateful that as the week passed, the 20170916_130537_resizedSt. Vincent de Paul Society “Parish Recovery Assistance Centers” opened.          St. Leo the Great Parishioners have served hot meals every day for the last 3 1/2 weeks.   I spent a total of about 16 hours there, which is a small fraction of the time given by so many others. The volunteers tell me they’re not exhausted and they keep helping.  Bless them.

It seems that every day the reality of loss touches a nerve.  I’m still learning of friends whose homes flooded. I have yet to help most of them with cleanup or a meal, but it isn’t that I don’t want to.  At first the roads were impassable except for my immediate community.  Cleanup close to home began after some roads opened. There was no time to ask,  “Lord, where should I go? What should I do?  Who needs help the most?”  We just waded in. Literally. The water was still over our ankles.  I  heard the Lord speak to my heart, “Do what’s in front of your face.”  Yep!  That’s really what I heard.  Perhaps the obvious need is  where we should start, even if it doesn’t always present as the greatest need.  20170903_104130_resized

My town is kind of a mess, but I’m SO grateful for the continuing kindnesses I witness. Bless you who pray for us.  Bless you who have lost much. Bless you who have helped much.

In hope,

Peggy

                   “Do what’s in front of your face.”

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The Martyrdom of an American: Fr. Stanley Rother

How much love does it take to willingly face persecution and possible death for the sake of someone else? I’m guessing it’s love that is outrageous,  extravagant, and unconventional.  Love beyond Love.  I can’t stop thinking about a news story I read recently.

July 28, 1981.   Guatemala was a mess at the time, struggling through a civil war.   The constant threat of kidnappings and murder plagued the parishioners of the  American priest working there as a missionary.  Fr. Stanley Rother stayed in Guatemala despite the danger, even after learning that his name was on a hit list.  As he said, ” A shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”  The parishioners were his flock and he wouldn’t leave them.  Sadly, on July 28th he was murdered by three non-indigenous Ladinos who were fighting with the working poor of the country.Fr. Stanley Rother

Read about Fr. Rother here.

In the Catholic church a person is declared “Blessed” before they are declared a “Saint.”  These are titles given to someone who exhibited heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace.  Often, miracles are credited to the person after their death and that starts a process of consideration for sainthood.    Healing miracles are verifiable and cannot be explained scientifically. They are A. BIG. MIRACULOUS. DEAL.

The Catholic Church has decided to honor Fr. Rother with the title of “Blessed” because he has been declared a “Martyr for the Faith,”  which is heroic, for sure.  His beatification (when he will receive the title of “Blessed)” will take place in Oklahoma on Sept. 23, 2017.  While we are all called to strive to be “Blesseds” and “Saints,” the church reserves the official title for a just few of us. The title calls attention to the specific qualities and  virtues of the person and we look to them with gratitude, example, hope for the future, and prayerful intercession. (CCC, 828)

That last one – intercession – is important and often misunderstood because we are sloppy with our language when we say we “pray to the saints.”  We don’t pray to them. We ask them to pray with us.  Do you know someone who could use the prayers of a saint?  If so, ask them to pray with you for their need.

There’s a young man in our church community who suffered a traumatic brain injury seven years ago. His name is  Thomas “Joseph” Stanton.  He has worked so hard to be rehabilitated but  he struggles daily with major setbacks and pain.  Thomas Joseph StantonHe was a champion swimmer and from what I can tell he never gives up.  Sadly, he struggles to communicate, and among other physical problems, medications have caused his bones to be fragile and to break easily.  How do you rehabilitate when your bones won’t support you?

I’ve asked Fr. Rother to pray with me (or to intercede for me on Joseph’s behalf) to our Lord for the healing of Thomas Joseph Stanton from Kingwood, Texas.  Here’s my prayer. Will you say it with me often – perhaps daily?  I sincerely thank you, and his family thanks you more.

 “Fr. Rother, I am asking you, on behalf of Thomas Joseph Stanton, to pray with me
to our Lord Jesus Christ and ask him to heal Joseph’s brain and body, so that he may communicate with his family and be a witness to the healing power of God.”  
In hope,
Peggy 

 

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We’re Going to be Singing in Heaven

The chapel was filled with women and we were singing.  Imagine all of  those voices lifted together in adoration, filling the space with vibrating beauty.  Chills swept through me.  It was one of those rare moments when feel like you are touching both heaven and earth, and you expect to see angel wings above and a shimmery veil pulled back.

The moment ended oh… so soon.  As sure as if someone spoke this aloud to me the realization struck me….  we’re going to be singing to Mary in Heaven.  Well, don’t be quick to leave this post beause we weren’t singing adoration songs to Jesus.  We were singing “Salve Regina” to his mother.

The thought of singing to Mary in Heaven had never before crossed my mind, but I’m pretty confident it will be true.

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One of my favorite mosaics from the North American College Chapel in Rome

Now before you click out of here because you think “worshiping” Mary is sinful, take note:  We were NOT “worshiping” her.   We were honoring her.  There’s a HUGE difference. The Catholic faith teaches us to worship God alone. Period.  (Ahem…First Commandment, anyone?)  Our devotion to Mary is to honor her. And why the heck not?  The angel Gabriel honored her when he spoke to her.  ( See Luke 1:26-33) Our Savior was entrusted to her care, and she said “yes.”  She stood with him through his crucifixion.   In a way, we respect and honor our Lord when we respect and honor his mother.

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The Assumption of Mary,  Montserrat Mountain, near Barcelona, Spain

Can you imagine the angels and  the choirs of heaven singing Salve Regina- Hail, Queen! If you’ve never considered this before, think of the possibility.  What hope! What joy! I’m looking forward to being a part of that.

P.S. August 15th is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Mother of God. Catholics honor her today and it’s a Holy Day.

See my post: Learning to Love the Obligation

https://wordpress.com/post/peggyangelino.wordpress.com/691

In hope,

Peggy

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The POWER of the Sacraments In You

This past year I taught a Confirmation class of high school girls.  They were everything you’d expect: outspoken and often ill-informed, but sensitive, respectful, quick to think my stories were “sweet,” as teens say, and ultimately willing to learn and grow.  I cop to a small amount of, well…. fear… at the beginning of the year,  but my girls were easy to love.  I’m very glad I knew more than them, because they would readily challenge anything they didn’t agree with. 🙂P1020560

Bishop Steven Lopes celebrated their Mass of Confirmation.  When he started speaking I had that feeling of “I never want to forget this!”   I grabbed a scrap piece of paper and couldn’t write fast enough to record every profound word he spoke.  I mean it – every single sentence was one to remember.  Shorthand would have been helpful here. I hope that this recap is enough to remind you of the great POWER we have in our sacraments.  Here are my notes from Bishop Lopes. Read them with as much passion as you can muster, because that is how they were proclaimed:

*To those who are being confirmed:

Confirmation is not about you.  Confirmation is about God, and what HE is doing in you.  THIS (today) is the gift of Pentecost. THIS (today) is the Upper Room!

In the sacraments, God sends down the POWER of GOD to CONFORM us.

In the Sacrament of Baptism, we call down the Holy Spirit on the baptismal waters, and those waters are so charged with the power of God that the baby, or child, or adult, is conformed and becomes a child of God!

In the Sacrament of Confession, the Prayer of Absolution is beautiful:  “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins…”  We are conformed to be more like Christ by the forgiveness of our sins.

In the Sacrament of Marriage, the Holy Spirit descends on the couple and conforms them and they become one.  In married love we see the sacrificial love of Christ brought to the world.

The Holy Spirit makes Christ present in the church through our sacraments to transform the world!

  • You will be filled with the creative power of Christ. He conforms you to himself so that you can be Christ in the world!
  • When the world interacts with you, they have an authentic experience of God!
  • Through you, faith is born.
  • God will be a power in our weakness, and a zeal in our laziness.

Act in the world as if the salvation of the world depends on it, because it does.

In hope,                                                                                                                                                Peggy

*Notes from a Homily by Bishop Lopes during a Mass and Sacrament of Confirmation, June 9, 2017

 

 

 

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