Lent and the Process of Ongoing Conversion

All during Lent, I have been talking about them myself, we hear about the necessity of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, we don’t hear a lot about why the are so important. They are not the end-all, be-all, in and of themselves. The have a purpose and that purpose is CONVERSION.

Image by geralt (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

What is Conversion?

The literal meaning of conversion is “to turn toward” or  “to turn away from.” In our case, conversion is a turning away from sin and turning toward God.

We sometimes hear about famous people who convert to Catholicism or who have had extraordinary experiences and conversions (reversions” to the Catholic faith. You may have read the conversion story of Scott and/or Kimberly Hahn or other outspoken Catholic convert. Those are amazing and inspiring stories that can absolutely bolster our own faith life.

However, for most of us, our conversion will be a daily, ongoing process. It will be a daily decision and act of turning to Jesus as our Savior in the midst of our daily lives. It is choosing His will over our own and His ways over our ways.

The Struggle

As you know, this not easy. Converting our hearts, souls, and minds to God is a constant battle of letting go, picking ourselves up, and not giving up. We will fall many times but Confession is there to restore ourselves to God. We may fall into routine and boredom, but then we have things like Lent to shake things up for us.

All the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we do during Lent (and hopefully other times during the year) are the catalysts to conversion. They are the outward exercises that prepare and foster our inside exercises.

We are not Alone

If we ask Him, God will always give us the graces we need, even for conversion! We have the intercessions of the Blessed Mother and the saints. And we have each other. There is a lot in this world ready to tear us down and apart; however, as women we should support each other and cheer each other on as we battle the spiritual life. We need that.

Scripture Verses about Conversion

I encourage you to meditate on a few of the following scripture verses. Memorize them and soak them up in your soul. Let them guide you during your own ongoing conversion this Lent.

Go into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that does not believe shall be condemned.” Matthew 16:15

But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit….They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand” Acts 2:38,41

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13

There are many beautiful scriptures about conversion that are perfect for Lent. If you have time, you may want to do a little scripture study on conversion. There are several  online concordances that you can use that will help you do this.

Again, I pray that this glorious season of Lent is a time of grace and blessing for you. I pray that you will draw near to our Lord and turn your heart to Him more and more!


REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

5 Ideas for Advent

Can  you believe that Advent begins on Sunday, November 27?? That is only 2 1/2 weeks away! That’s not a lot of time to think about how you want prepare spiritually for Christmas.

In the past, I would get so caught up with the material preparations of Christmas that I would get overwhelmed and lose focus on the the meaning of Christmas. I would get stressed, lose sleep, and generally just wish that the whole season would be done and over. (Sound familiar?)

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Then, a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to take stock and make some decisions to help me focus on the purpose of Advent which, of course, is to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The changes made a huge difference for me and so I will follow the same plan.

Now, for me, preparing for Advent (or Lent) isn’t necessarily about adding more things to my schedule. It is about making the most of my current schedule…So here are the 5 things I plan to do this year:

I. Take Care of Most of the Material things early.

Yes, I am one of those ober-organized people who like to do things in advance. 🙂 For Instance, I already have my shopping list and my card list written. I also hope to have my cards ready to send out by the time Advent starts and some of the gifts purchased. If all goes well, I should be done with all my Christmas shopping before the second week of Advent!

As for baking, I plan to do some baking early and freeze it all. Most baking goods, especially cookies, freeze really well. However, for some items, I will have to wait to last-minute so they are baked fresh. 🙂

II. Go to Daily Mass Twice a Week.

In the past, I would commit to go to daily mass and fail every year. It just isn’t realistic for this time in my life. Therefore, for this year, I am going to commit to going to daily Mass twice a week. That is definitely doable.

III. Fast Twice a Week.

Fasting isn’t just for Lent! Technically, Advent is a penitential season and this was especially true pre-Vatican II. In fact, the Church still encourages us to fast regularly all throughout the year even though it is not an official precept of the Church.

There are many benefits of fasting and I have wanted to get into this practice for a while. Therefore, I figure Advent would be a great time to finally get started. I will be fasting Wednesdays and Fridays.

IV. Use an Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe.

Of course, the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe are perfect activities to do with children. I will do the Advent Calendar with Andrew each morning and light the Advent Wreathe candle during each meal as a family.

V. Journal.

If you know me, you know writing is in my blood and I journal regularly. In fact, that is one of the reasons I started creating journals in the first place. It may sound crazy but having my own little space to write out my thoughts, dreams, and struggles is important to my spiritual welfare. Writing is my preferred way of communication and it is how I best “talk” to God. Can you relate or is it just me?!

Last year, I created an Advent journal but it was too late to actually use for the Advent season. So, for this year, I will actually be using the journal I created. What I like most about the journal is that it is simple and has a lot of lines and writing space. Each page has a scripture verse that (sometimes loosely) correlates to the daily Mass readings and then lines for writing. It is not a guided journal but some days I will use the scripture as a starting point for prayer and some days I will just write for the heart. It also includes blank pages for drawing and/or pasting and has a section for prayer requests.

If you are interested, you can find more about the journal and purchase it here. Also, for a limited time, I am offering the PDF version of the journal for only $5 bucks! It is regularly $10 so it is half-price but it won’t last long. The sale ends on Friday, December 2, 2016.


For more ideas for Advent, here are 10 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful and an Advent Meditation.


Tweetable: 5 Ideas for Advent

Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover

Why do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday?

For many non-Catholics (and many NEW Catholics) Ash Wednesday can seem a little strange. Why would anyone want to walk around with ashes on their head all day? And many cradle Catholics have been going to mass and getting ashes every year without understanding why, as well.

Why Do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday

Image by Balaska (2009) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the significance of Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is a day of prayer and repentance. We fast, we abstain from meat and we get ashes as a reminder of our human frailty. It is a day to remember the spiritual reality that surrounds us; we remember that our earthly life is only part of the journey. We will die and our bodies will “return to dust.”

Ash Wednesday is a gift. Yes, a gift. This day of repentance is a gift because it gives us the opportunity to take stock of our lives. It is almost like a “spiritual New Year” where we can assess our relationship with the Lord.

  • Have we grown in our relationship with the Lord over this past year?
  • Have I grown lax or lukewarm?
  • In what areas of my life do I need to change in order to become the person God wants me to be?

From this reflection, we can make “resolutions” or a plan of action for how we will spend our Lent this year. Instead of focusing on giving up coffee or sweets or whatever (which are good things in themselves), we can give up those habits or sins which are holding us back. Or we can make a plan to learn more about our faith or pray the scriptures more often.

Why Ashes?

There is a long history of the use of ashes as a sign of repentance. I encourage you to read the History of Ash Wednesday over at American Catholic.

As regards to the rite of ashes, it is very simple. We go up to the priest or whomever is distributing the ashes. He makes the sign of the cross (well, it should be a cross!) on our forehead while saying “Man you are dust and to dust your shall return” or a similar phrases. This phrase comes from Genesis 3:19

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,

Until you return to the ground,

from which you were taken;

For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”

Our Obligation

Ash Wednesday is not a holiday of obligation. We are not required to go to mass, but it is strongly recommended. And why wouldn’t we want to go if we are able?

We are obligated to abstain from meat and to fast today. The fasting requirement consists of one full meal and two smaller meals that equal one meal. No snacking or eating between meals. Of course, beverages are allowed.  Everyone over the age of 14 is required to abstain from meat and everyone between the ages of 18-60 are required to fast. (See Canon law 1250-1252) I think pregnant women are exempt, but not sure.

Related Links

Here are a couple of links for further reading.

New Advent


Fallible Blogma

I pray that today and your whole Lenten journey be a blessed and grace-filled time for you and your family!


Tweetable: Why do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday?

Ten Ways to Make Advent Meaningful

(Repost with revisions)

The other day, Colleen from Carpe Diem, Gorgeous!, asked me in the comments how I celebrate Advent and make it meaningful in our family. I answered her; but felt that my answer wasn’t enough, so I decided to do a blog post about it.

10 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful

Image by hansjoergrichter50 (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In the past, I was overzealous with my Advent plans. I would make all sorts of resolutions and added all these prayers and activities; but, instead of making Advent meaningful for me, they left me drained or guilty for not doing all the things I had planned to do. Indeed, these activities became just one more thing to be done before Christmas. Over the last few years, I’ve scaled way back and have used Advent as a time for revisiting the basics. Instead of adding on prayers and prayers or activity upon activity, I’ve tried to do just a few things, but do them well. I want to spend Advent in a way that truly prepares my heart for the coming of Christ.

Now, a list of ten things for Advent may seem contradictory to what I just wrote above; but in reality, they are many of the things that many of us do as Catholics anyway. It’s a matter of focusing on what we already are doing, and doing them well, rather than going through the motions.  So, here are some suggestions that I pray will help make your preparations for Christmas more meaningful and fruitful:

1. Go to daily Mass.  If you can, try and get to Mass a few days during the week. The liturgy is so rich and beautiful during the Advent Season. If you can’t get to mass, watching it on EWTN is the next best thing.

2. Go to Confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation). There should be several Advent penance services within the next few weeks. If you can, why not try to attend? If not, check your Church’s bulletin for when their regular Confession  schedule. Cleansing and strengthening your soul is a wonderful way for preparing for Christmas. (Need a little help going to Confession? Here are some tips on How to Make a Good Confession.)

3. Spend time with Scripture. What better way to prepare for Christmas than to spend some time praying the Scriptures? The book of Isaiah is particularly relevant for Advent. Make it a family event. I am trying to read a few verses from the Bible each morning at breakfast with Andrew.

4. Pray the rosary. If you’ve fallen out of the habit of praying the rosary, Advent is a great time for picking it back up. The Joyful Mysteries are said on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays of Advent and Christmas. Don’t have time to say a whole rosary?  Even a decade of the rosary each day is better than nothing. 😉 Again, get the family involved and say the rosary together each evening.

5. Giving Tree. Most churches host a giving tree to help needy families. I’m sure that in this economy there are many families who may go without basic necessities, let alone Christmas presents. If you have the means, please consider picking up a tag. The gifts aren’t expensive and may bring joy to someone in need.

6. Advent Wreathe. I know lots of people who put the Advent Wreathe on their table and forget about it. What we do is light the candle(s) when we say our grace at supper and then use that as a starting point for talking about what Advent and Christmas is really all about. ( I tell ya, listening to Andrew’s take on the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the Angels, etc. is quite adorable! There is nothing better than the innocence of a child!)

7. Advent Calendar. You can buy several nice ones that are very simple or very elaborate. Our church actually passes out free ones for the children. We have it pasted at Andrew’s eye level and I have him read it and do the activity every day.

8. Fasting. As you may already know, Advent is a penitential season, albeit not as stringent as Lent, and fasting is a penitential act. In fact, I recently learned that in some Church traditions, many followed (and some still follow) the St. Philip’s Fast which would be from the day after the feast of St. Philip (Nov. 14)  until December 24th. If you can, try fasting once or twice a week and use that time you would be eating in prayer.

9. Lessons and Carols. Have you ever been to a Lessons and Carols service? I had the opportunity of participating once when I was living in Ohio. It is magnificent! It is vaguely reminiscent of the Easter Vigil readings in that there are nine scripture readings interspersed with songs; however, it is much more than that. If there’s a Lessons and Carols service near you, I highly recommend that you make the effort to attend. You won’t be disappointed! If you can’t, the USCCB has a podcast of the Lessons and Carols here.

10. Mental Prayer (or Contemplation). If you can spare five or ten minutes, try and spend them before the Lord in quietness. We are so busy and unfocused that when we pray, we talk at God rather than listening to Him. (I’m talking about myself here!) How can we hear Him speak to our hearts or be filled with His Spirit if we don’t listen? Maybe, instead of sitting in front of the television we can hold off for a few minutes to spend some quality time with the Lord, letting Him speak to our hearts. 🙂

One more thing: If you are feeling overwhelmed and overburdened  about all the things you need to do before Christmas, perhaps you need to re-evaluate things. Do you really have to accept every invitation you get? Can you delegate some of your responsibilities? Can you buy one less gift this year or not be so hung up on getting the biggest and/or the best gift? So often we want to control everything and/or make everything “just so” which puts extra stress and pressure on ourselves. Maybe the secret to finding meaning this Advent is letting go…

What are you doing or what suggestions do you have to making the rest of this Advent meaningful? Do share in the comments!

You can print a pdf version of this list (no opt-in required) here: 10 Way to Make Advent Meaningful


(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Intermittent Fasting: Is it Healthy?

Missed the other posts in this series? Here’s part one, part two and part three.

Before starting intermittent fasting (IF) I did a lot of research. One of the things I wanted to know was if intermittent fasting is healthy. I found a lot of resources supporting the health benefits but not much of anything saying it was unhealthy. There have been a lot of studies lately exploring intermittent fasting, almost all good. The thing is, like I said last week, if someone digs deep enough, he or she can always find support for positive or negative. I encourage you to do your own research and see if intermittent fasting is for you or not.

As for the information I did find, a lot of it was technical and detailed, especially in regard to the insulin resistance. In short, though, intermittent fasting has been known to increase life span and fight the effects of aging, fight cancer, “increase neuronal plasticity and promote neurogenesis” (a.k.a. good for brain health) and has positive effects on your lipid profile (cholesterol).

Personal experience

I have to confess, I don’t have any personal “documented proof” that intermittent fasting is healthy. For a LONG time I wasn’t able to go to a doctor because we didn’t have health insurance; so I don’t have a starting baseline as to where I was “level wise” before intermittent fasting and now. (We finally have insurance so I’ll be going soon, so I will use that as a comparison in the future.

Having said that, I have lost 30 pounds and losing weight is known to have positive results on a person’s health. I have so much more energy than before and I just feel better all around. That may not be scientific, but I’m happy with my results with IF so far. 🙂


Here are a few websites that talk about the health benefits of intermittent fasting. They all talk about 24 hour fasts and the “Eat, Stop, Eat” methods of fasting but I also recommend you getting the free Fast-5 e-book. The e-book goes into detail about the benefits of fasting, particularly the Fast-5 method (the plan I follow).

Mark’s Daily Apple (FYI: Mark also follows a “primal” diet that I don’t know much about, but it is mentioned in this post quite a bit.)

The Healthy Teacher

All About Fasting

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Scientific study)

I hope this little series has helped you get a grasp of the basic concepts and benefits of IF. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me privately (carol @ simplecatholicliving dot com).

Intermittent Fasting: Pros and Cons

After talking about my intermittent fasting journey and the intermittent plan, today I want to talk about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting. There are a lot of misconceptions about intermittent fasting, as there are with many diets. You hear conflicting things, and there are always “studies” people can quote to support their point. I’m no exception, I suppose. I have been doing intermittent fasting since January and love it. It’s the first plan I’ve found that I feel like I can do permanently, and make it a lifestyle. Having said that, I’ll give you what I believe to be the pros and cons of intermittent fasting.


1. Save time. With less food and meals to cook and eat, I have gained at least a half hour or more time into my day. Yes, I do have to feed my son, but now that he’s getting older he’s slowly preparing his own easy breakfasts and lunches. While Andrew is eating I use that time to read to him, clean up the kitchen or do other quick tasks.

2. Save money. Since I’m only cooking one big meal a day, I have saved about $30-$50 a week in groceries. I do keep breakfast and lunch foods handy, but not nearly as much as before.

3. Less waste. Less food means less waste from packaging, etc. That should make all the “green” people happy. 🙂

4. More energy. Since starting intermittent fasting, I’ve gained more energy than I’ve had in a long time. I’ve read that some people complain that they don’t have energy if they don’t eat, but that’s not really true. When fasting, you get your energy from your FAT, allowing you to have plenty of energy.

5. Your organs get a break. During the fasting period, you have your digestive system, pancreas and other organs a break, allowing them to work at optimal level when you do eat.

6. No food restrictions. When you follow other diets and food plans, you are often restricted in what you can eat. You have a list of foods you can and can’t eat. When a person is restricted, especially from foods they love, they often binge and over-consume.  Now, it’s true many people who follow intermittent fasting often restrict their intake of carbs or other foods, it’s their choice. In reality, you can eat anything you want within your five-hour window.

7. Less food obsession. Some food plans require you to count points or calories or want you to keep a food diary of everything you eat. I’ve been there, done that and it doesn’t work for me. I spent way too many hours stressing over what to make for each meal, how much I can have, writing it all down. With IF, I think about dinner and usually a snack and that’s it. Now, I can go most of the day without thinking about food at all. That’s liberating to me!

8. Full Feeling. With IF, when I eat, I feel like I’ve actually had some food. Sounds crazy, I know. With other plans, especially ones that require you to eat 6 small meals a day or menus where you eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal and a piece of fruit for breakfast, 5 almonds for a snack, etc., I  was eating frequently but I never felt satisfied. With Intermittent Fasting, after eating a large meal I feel satisfied and full.


I tried and tried to think of a lot of cons to balance the pros, but in all honesty, I could only think of three:

9. Get Hungry. With intermittent fasting, you aren’t eating for 19 hours. This includes sleeping time, but still, you are going for a long period of not eating. The first week I did IF I was sick so I kind of had it easy because by the time I was better, I was already getting used to the fasting schedule. But there are times I feel hungry, especially if I didn’t eat enough protein the night before. I am trying to make a point of drinking lots of water and herbal teas which helps. And truth be told, being hungry won’t kill ya. 🙂

10. Temporary weight gain. If you do IF, I recommend weighing yourself in the morning. When you eat a large meal, a person can easily gain a pound or two until the food starts to be digested. It’s a false weight gain for sure, but a weight gain nevertheless.

11. No food crutch. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for myself, I would often eat for other reasons besides hunger. I’d eat when I was bored or stressed or happy or sad or just to do “something.” When you are fasting you aren’t eating. I have to find other ways to prevent or stave off those triggers that used to get me eating. Praying and trusting the Lord is essential (for me).

Related links

Here are some links about Intermittent Fasting you may find useful.

Running on Empty

Diabetic experiment

Pros and Cons

If you do intermittent fasting, I’d love your input. What are your pros and cons for following intermittent fasting? Next week I’ll answer an important question about intermittent fasting: “Is Intermittent Fasting healthy?”

Intermittent Fasting: The Plan (A.K.A. How it works)

Last week I shared a little about my journey with Intermittent Fasting. One of the questions I get most when I talk about intermittent fasting is “How does it work?” I’m no expert by any means, but hopefully sharing my experience in this post will give you an idea of what’s involved.

Actually, it’s not much. There are different forms of intermittent fasting, but they all have the same idea. You fast from food for an extended period and then you eat within a certain period and you fast again. That’s it. 🙂

If you look around the ‘net, you will find different versions of the above. One of the popular plans is to eat within a 24 hour period, and then fast for a 24 hour period. Another popular way of fasting is the plan I follow, The Fast-5, which was formulated by Dr. Herring.

Basically, all you fast for 19 hours (including your sleeping hours) and eat within a 5 hour period. What you eat within that five hour window is up to you. There are no restrictions. However, many followers of the Fast-5 also eat a Paleo or other low-carb diet.

Is it hard? In truth, fasting for 19 hours can be a challenge. For me, some days are harder than others, but it more of a “mental thing” rather than a “hunger thing”.

When you read Dr. Herring’s book, he encourages his readers to gradually work up to 19 hours by gradually increasing your fasting time over a week or two. For me, it was easier just to go cold turkey, like I mentioned in last week’s post.

What works for me

For many people who follow the Fast-5, their eating window is usually 5pm-10pm. However, do what works for you. For me, my best eating window is 4pm-9pm.

When I started in January, I would break my fasting with a snack at 4pm, usually cheese, a handful of nuts, fruit or whatever. Then I would eat a nice-sized dinner around 5:30-6pm. Finally around 7:30 or 8pm I would finish off an apple with some cheese or sliced ham. I also gave myself “permission” to take Sundays off. If I wanted to have breakfast or lunch or whatever, it was okay.

After a while, I realized that I wasn’t really all that hungry when my window opened. I was just eating because I “could”. I dropped the snack, and so now I open my window with a hearty dinner (most of the time having seconds) around 5:30-6pm. Then around 7:30 I have my evening snack. It is almost always an apple with cheese. Sometimes I add a treat, like a piece of chocolate (M&Ms!) or small ice cream or something. Also, after a few weeks, I didn’t feel the need to cheat on Sundays – although I do give myself more of a leeway in what I eat during my window.

As of now, my eating window has naturally shrunk to three hours. Not on purpose. And it may change in the future but it’s what works for me for now. And what works for me may not work for you.

If your are curious or interested in Fast-5 or intermittent fasting, I encourage you to do your own research. Sign up for the Fast-5 Yahoo group. Pray about it. Ask questions. Feel free to email me privately (carol @ simplecatholicliving dot com) or leave your questions in the comments.

Next week I’ll share what I believe are the pros and cons on Intermittent Fasting.

Linked to We are That Family because fasting works for me!


The Intermittent Fasting Journey – Take Two

Way back in September 2010 I wrote a blog post about entering the world of Intermittent Fasting. I shared about the Fast 5 e-book and the Fast 5 Yahoo group. I knew I was called to fasting but always struggled with it. I did okay with the intermittent fasting until the holidays and then it all when out the window.

Over 2011 I still felt the call. I lurked on the Yahoo group, read and re-read the e-book but for various reasons I didn’t make the jump or I would start it and give up after a few days. A lot of it was due to my schedule and stress I was under, along with a couple of out-of-state moves. A lot of it was physical issues I was dealing with at the time.  A lot of it was mental.

Toward the end of 2011, I knew I needed to buckle down and answer the Lord’s call. I was eating way too much junk food and sugar. I am a sugar addict and I knew I had to do this. Not necessarily to lose weight (although I needed to) but to eat better and get a grip on my eating habits.

So, as January 1 came around, one of my goals was to break my sugar addiction once and for all. I was preparing for a rough week. I prayed about it and prayed for the strength. Well, a couple of days before I was to start I got my “monthly” and got sick at the same time. I wound up spending most of the week in bed and didn’t want to eat anything hardly at all. By the time I came out the other end, I had lost 7 pounds and (surprise, surprise!) I had NO CRAVINGS for sugar at all!

The weight loss and lack of cravings gave me to incentive to keep going. Since January, I’ve had mostly weight loss with a few weeks of gaining a few pounds. I usually lose only 2 pounds a week but once in a while I’ll have a boost and lose 5-7. Since Easter I’ve hit a bit of a plateau but over all, I’m 30 pounds less than I was in January!

I do have sugar occasionally in the form of ice cream or other snack. The difference is that I have a lot less than I used to have and I usually follow up with a little protein a little while after. I find the protein helps me keep the cravings down and I’m not so hungry during the day.

This time has definitely been easier in many ways; however, to keep this post at a reasonable length, next week I’ll talk about the practical things I have done that has helped me along my journey. In the meantime, if you have any questions about fasting or the Fast-5 Intermittent Fasting, don’t hesitate to ask. You can either leave a comment below or email me privately. (carol [at] simplecatholicliving [dot] com)

Entering the World of Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been hearing the call from the Lord to fast for several months now. I’ve been ignoring it. 😯 It’s not that I don’t want to obey God’s call or anything. It’s just that, well, the idea of fasting is scary. I’ve never been good at fasting. Trying to get through Ash Wednesday and Good Friday was hard enough!

You see, food is my addiction of choice. Some people drink, smoke or gamble to deal with life’s stresses. I eat. I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, frustrated or bored. Like a lot of other families, holidays and feast days are celebrated with food. Which means, of course, that I do have a good deal of weight to lose.

But, this particular call to fasting that I have right now isn’t about weight loss. It’s about trust. It’s about trusting in HIM. It’s about giving up control. It’s about putting my life in God’s hands – FOR GOOD. We’ve been working on trust, the Lord and I. It all started when Michael lost his job last year; and didn’t get a new one for a year and three months later. Passed some tests, failed others; but, I’ve been plugging along. Until the fasting issue came up again.  {sigh}

So, anyway, last week when I was checking out the Fearless Fridays on Angela’s blog, I saw Angela’s Youtube channel in the sidebar. Andrew was in bed and I had some time, so I thought I’d check out a couple of her videos. I watched them ALL. It was as if the sky’s opened and the Lord said: “This is the fasting I want from you. Sacrifice two meals a day for ME and you will reap a bountiful feast in heaven!”

I discovered the term “weight release”. A term I never heard before. A term that resonated deeply within me. Watching those videos gave me a strong sense of longing and expectation. A longing to be released from everything and anything that kept me from belonging completely and totally to my Father in heaven through His eternal Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I went from Angela’s Youtube channel to her Sacrificial Diet website and read through every post. Then I did several searches on intermittent fasting. I downloaded the free Fast-5 e-book and read it all in one sitting. I joined the Fast-5 yahoo group.

Then I made a decision. I said yes. I followed the Lord into the world of intermittent fasting. I’m still scared. But I’m also excited. I know it will be like a roller-coaster ride. But, I’m on the road and I guess I’ll see where it leads. 🙂 I know there will be a lot of prayer, a lot of calling out to the Lord, and a lot of great adventures!

As I write this, it is 9:36pm on Wednesday (the evening before posting this), September 29, 2010. The feast of the Archangels. I’m 3 days in. had a two day “break-in” and today was my first full day. I wasn’t planning to start this past Monday. I wanted to wait until October 1st to officially begin. God had other plans. Guess what, though? I made it through – so far!

You may be wondering why I am sharing all this. I am too. I admire people, like Angela, who openly share their weight struggles with the world. I may have a “bubbly” personality, but I am extremely private in many ways. I’m not in habit of sharing the “inner me” and to me there’s something intensely vulnerable, raw and exposing about sharing one’s weight struggles and issues. Maybe that’s why I felt so compelled to write this – to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

I don’t know if my weight release journey will be a regular “feature” here at Simple Catholic Living. Maybe I’ll start a weight-loss blog (seriously doubt it), or journal about it privately or write the occasional update here. I’m not sure. I don’t know if anyone would care. I wouldn’t want to bore my readers with my emotional weight release journey! But, if my story and struggles can helpful to one person it might be worth blogging about.

What do you think? Would you appreciate reading about my weight release journey or would you rather I not blog about it?

In the meantime, we’ll see. It’s all in God’s hands. 😉 Please pray for me. And know, dear readers, that each one of you are in my prayers daily. God bless you.

August: The Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Did you know that the month of August is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? I didn’t know it was until just recently. It is also the month of two very special Marian feast days: Queenship of Mary (which when don’t celebrate this year because it’s a Sunday) and the Assumption.

Immaculate Heart

The best way to honor Our Lady is to honor Jesus. Whenever Our Lady appeared around the world, her main message has always been: peace, prayer, fasting, and conversion of heart. Here are 12 ideas for honoring Our Lady this month:

1. Go to Mass. The best way to honor Our Lady is to honor Jesus; and, what better way to honor Jesus than to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass? Sunday mass is a given. If you aren’t in the habit of going to daily mass, could you find at least one or two extra days during the week for mass?

2. Make time for adoration. Most churches are open at least several hours a day and many have perpetual adoration or specific adoration times. When you are out and about running your errands, why not stop by a nearby church to spend time with Our Lord? If you can’t get out to a church, you can visit Our Lord through online adoration, such as the one from savior.org.

3. Go to confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation). Our Lady often called us to be reconciled to God. Even if you aren’t aware of mortal sin, going to confession strengthens your relationship with the Lord, helps strengthen your resolve and growth in virtue and confirms you in grace.

4. Pray the rosary. Better yet, pray the rosary as a family. The rosary is a powerful prayer! It is, in reality, a meditation on the birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord. Need another incentive, read these 15 promises.

5. Read the Bible. To know the heart of Mary, get to know the heart of Jesus; and, of course, the best way to do this is to spend time praying the scriptures. Start with reading the mass readings of the day and then go from there.

6. Fast. Our Lady often asks for fasting. She recommends fasting Wednesdays and Fridays, but if you aren’t used to fasting, start small. Try fasting from one meal a week or whatever you feel called to do. Fasting doesn’t have to be about food either. You can fast from television, the computer or news. Again, let the Lord guide you (preferably with the guidance of a spiritual director).

7. Mortification. Mortifying oneself or offering sacrifices is not a popular subject nowadays. Still, mortifying ourselves helps us grow in virtue and strengthens our spirit. When we mortify ourselves, we also share in a tiny way in the redemptive act of Jesus. Very powerful, that! Some examples would be to smile when we don’t feel like it, being patient when it is difficult, eating something we don’t like or not eating something we do like. The opportunities are endless if we look with the eyes of our hearts.

8. Make a pilgrimage. You don’t have to go to Lourdes or Fatima to make a pilgrimage. You can make a trip a local grotto or statue of Our Lady and pray the rosary or other prayers.

9. Participate in a procession. Processions are a traditional custom for the Assumption. If your church or a neighboring church doesn’t have processions, you can have a little procession with your family.

10. Consecrate yourself and family. What better way to honor Our Lady and Our Lord than to consecrate yourself to the hearts of Jesus and Mary? You use a formal consecration prayer, or make up your own prayer.

11. Wear the scapular. The scapular is a sacramental that reminds us of our Lord and Our Lady. The scapular isn’t magic, but there are promises attached to the scapular as well.

12. Bring Mary some flowers. Another tradition is to place flowers at the feet of Mary, particularly on Saturdays. If you have a garden, some families grow a Mary’s garden and/or grow flowers just for Mary.

I hope these suggestions are helpful! Let the Lord guide your family in your devotions. What ideas do you have for honoring Mary? Share in the comments. 🙂