Ten Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

(repost: I thought this would be a good complement to Sr. Christina’s guest post. 🙂 )

We are just on the cusp of Lent, and as I’ve said many times before, one of the best things we can do is read God’s word. One of the best ways to do this is to pray the scriptures that are given to us at Mass. The Liturgy is wrought with meaningful verses to encourage us to deepen our understanding of the Lord’s sacrifice, to open and convert out hearts and renew our commitment to the Lord. That is why I am republishing this post of 10 scripture verses:

10 Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

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Here is a small compilation of scripture verses to help get you meditating on the Holy Word God:

1. “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4

2. “A clean heart create in me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Psalm 51 12

3. “Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” Hosea 14:2-3

4. “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.” Joel 2:12-13

5. “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

6. “He released Barabbas to them, and after having Him scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

7. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:22

8. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

9. “Jesus wept.” John 11:35

10. “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I can’t resist adding these two more:

11. “Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

12. “Judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

What favorite scripture verses do you like to pray over during Lent?

P. S. In case you want to print these verses to pray over them, I created a .pdf file to make it easier for you. You can print it here, no opt-in required. 🙂 10 Scripture Verses to Pray Over During Lent

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Ten Ways to Get The Most Out of Lent

(repost)

As you know this week is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I *LOVE* Lent. I do. Really! Lots of us cradle Catholics find the fasting and sacrifices of Lent a drudgery. Others ignore Lent altogether. Not me. I see Lent as a mini New Year. A new beginning and another chance to re-charge the batteries in my relationship with the Lord.

10 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent

Here are some ideas for you to spend your time this Lent. (Btw, if you read my “Making Advent Meaningful” post, you’ll notice some of the suggestions are the same. That’s because there are some things – like the Mass and rosary – that are worth being reminded of again. 🙂 )

1. Daily Mass. Since the Eucharist the the “source and summit of our faith”, it stands to reason that daily mass should be on top of our Lenten “to-do” list!

2. Adoration. Next to the mass, adoration is the next best thing – especially if you are unable to make it daily mass for whatever reason. More and more parishes are offering at least monthly or weekly exposition and adoration (and some have perpetual adoration) of the Blessed Sacrament, so try and snag a half hour each week if you can!

3. Stations of the cross. The Stations of the Cross is a beautiful way to remember the passion of the Lord. Again, most parishes have Stations of the Cross once or twice each Friday of Lent. If you can’t make it to church, you can get some beautiful pamphlets for next to nothing and pray they them at home with your family.

4. Forgive. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven and so that we may receive mercy. One of the best (and hardest!) ways to show gratitude for the Lord’s goodness is to forgive those who have hurt us – especially if the transgression was grievous. Just as hard, if  not even harder, is forgiving ourselves. Or sometimes we hold on to grudges and anger, even when we can’t remember how a particular person has hurt us! If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, maybe you can pray the Lord opens your heart to forgiving someone who has hurt you, or praying that He will help you forgive yourself? Even the prayer that He helps you to WANT to forgive would be a great start…

5. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the hours are always beautiful, but especially during the Lenten season.  It is the official prayer of the church, and when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you are united will all the faithful around the world who are praying it with you!

6. Go to confession. It’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, but whatever you call it, there’s no better way (besides the mass!) to prepare for Easter. There will be (or should be) many Penance services around your diocese, so you should be able to find one that fits in your schedule.

7. Watch the Passion of the Christ. Yes, watching the Passion of the Christ is painful. It’s in your face. It renders us speechless. And it should. What Jesus endured for our sake wasn’t “touchy feely” or a walk in the park. It was ugly, but our sin in even uglier, and sometimes we (I) need something like this movie to remind us (me) just how much Jesus loves us and was willing to endure for us.

8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Who says you have to wait for the Divine Mercy Sunday Novena to pray the chaplet? It’s a short but perfect prayer for Lent. I also try and read parts, if not most, of Saint Faustina’s diary during Lent, too.

9. Pray the the Scriptures. Next to participating in the Sacraments, there is no better way to deepen our relationship with the Lord than Scripture.  Spending as little as five minutes a day with His Word can transform your life. (New to reading the Bible? Read this guide on how to pray the Scriptures.)

10. Fast. All through Lent we will be hearing about fasting. It’s good for the soul. It opens our eyes to the needs of others. it cleanses us of our base passions. But, fasting isn’t just giving up food, or even television (both of which are excellent). This year, why don’t we fast from anger, sloth or any of the other “capital sins” and try to feast on its opposing virtue? (I know my diet has been terribly deprived of patience lately! 😉 )

Now, don’t feel pressured to do all of these activities. Remember, the focus is to deepen our relationship with Christ not add on more to-dos! Start out small. Pick one to three activities and focus on those. Lent is not a competition or race to see how much you can do. It is about focusing on a few things and doing them well so that you can focus on growing deeper in your relationship with the Lord, not exhaust yourself.

So tell us, what are your suggestions for making Lent special for you this year?

P.S. For a printable version of this list go here to subscribe. Subscribers, go to your private page to download the list.

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The Secret to Holiness

(Repost but still relevant!)

Catchy title, eh? 😉 I don’t claim to truly have the secret to holiness, obviously. However, I think that as I’ve been The Secret to Holinessgetting older, I’ve discovered the secret of holiness for me.

In reality, holiness is nothing more than growing into a deep, living and personal relationship with God. We get to know God through liturgical and personal prayer, frequenting the sacraments, practicing virtue, reading scripture and studying our faith. It is living our lives in Jesus, and through Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the Father. It is having our hearts aligned with God.

Isn’t that what the saints did (do)? They have an abiding prayer life – even when it is dry and difficult for them. They receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, regularly. They practice virtue, often to an heroic degree, daily. They often have a great understanding of scripture and the precepts of our faith, as well. (FYI, knowledge of scripture doesn’t always mean being “learned.” There were, and are, many “uneducated” people who have great knowledge of the ways of God!)

The saints make no excuses. They are consistent in following the ways of the Lord. Instead of falling into complacency they actively seek God and work to serve Him. And, therein, for me, lies the secret to holiness: consistency. Consistency is key.

I don’t know about you, but I make excuses. It is just SO EASY to make excuses or to put other things first. I make resolutions and fail to keep them. I justify myself when I fail in virtue (he “made” me be impatient, because he won’t do what I want!). Sometimes I feel like I am the seed that was choked among the thorns (Matthew 13:1-23). I start out promising to be patient or pray more or go to daily mass or whatever; then, life gets in the way. Or, rather, I let life get in the way. I don’t manage my time properly or get my priorities mixed up. I’m inconsistent in living my faith, not only the way I “should” live it but the way I ultimately WANT to live it.

Is it a lack of faith? Maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe, if I had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), all the excuses, justifications, and inconsistencies would disappear. I don’t know. I do know that I need to work at being more consistent and focused.

How about you? What do you think about this? what does holiness mean to you? What do you think is the secret of holiness to you?

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Mercy Bible Study by Fr. Pacwa (Introduction)

If you read my post the other day, you know that of my goals for this year is to do one bible study per month.  However, I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. I knew for sure that I wanted to tie it into the Jubilee Year of Mercy but that was about it.

Mercy Bible Study Introduction

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As I was searching around online, I found the book, Mercy: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics, by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Bingo! The book is broken down into six sections and each section includes scripture and catechesis, exercises and reflection/discussion questions (if doing with a group). My plan is to do one chapter per month for the next six months and then choose another book for the rest of the year (which I have picked already, but more on that later!).

To help me stay accountable, I decided to blog through the bible study. And maybe you would like to do the study with me? My plan is to post the readings and scriptures at the beginning of the month and then post my answers/reflections/insights at the end of the month. If you want to follow along you can post your comments or insights, too.

Here we go:

For this month, there is no scripture reading. All you have to do is get the book which you can get inexpensively on Amazon.com and then just read the introduction pages 13-18. Easy peasey. 🙂

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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

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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

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

How to Pray the Scriptures

Praying the scriptures is an integral part of a Christian’s life. How can someone get to know Jesus and the heart of God without reading His Word? And, although it seems like a “well-kept secret” for us Catholics, praying the Scriptures (Lectio Divina) is a long-time tradition within the Catholic Church. In fact, reading/praying the bible wasn’t just for priests or religious, but for the laity as well.

prayscriptures

There are many books on Lectio Divina, but the simplest instructions I found is on the Plain Catholic site (used with permission – italics are my insertions):

How to do Lectio Divina

1. “Take up the Bible in your quiet prayer place. Say a simple prayer such as the opening lines to the Liturgy of the Hours: “God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. Glory be…” or “Lord open my ears and steady my heart to hear Your Word,” (I like to pray the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ prayer).

2. Open the Bible to the Mass Gospel readings for the day (or other scripture verses that speak to your heart). Slowly and prayerfully read the passages. Imagine yourself listening to Christ Himself, just as Mary did at His feet.

3. Sit with the Scripture you have just read, listening with the ear of your heart (As St. Benedict called it in he Prologue of the Rule). Do not rush it. Simply move through it gently.

4. At the end of the prayer time, thank Jesus and offer praises to the Holy Trinity; offer up your day to Him. (I pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be…)

Notes:

The average time for Lectio Divina is 20 minutes (you don’t have to use a timer unless you want/need to). Some days it will take 10 minutes. Other days it will take longer. Give what you can to the Lord and be at peace about it.

When you first begin Lectio Divina, stick with the gospels. They are easier to start with because it will feel more natural to “sit with Jesus’ words and listen to them”. Eventually, you will find the Psalms, Proverbs, and all the New Testament as fertile ground for Lectio Divina.

If you are having difficulty during your prayer time, try to remember that there is no such thing as “wasted prayer time.” If you get distracted, simply offer Jesus that distraction. Do not force yourself into trying to conform what you think they prayer time should look like. Most importantly, do NOT let yourself give into discouragement: instead, do the best you can and give the rest to God.

Listen to the Advice of St. Benedict:

‘LISTEN carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory’

Therefore, if you don’t already spend a part of your day with the Lord, reading the Bible and praying over God’s Word, I highly encourage you to do so. Even if you can only find 5 minutes to read the Bible, and pray the Scriptures, I promise you, the time will be well worth it. 🙂

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For reference, you can print this post as a pdf here (no opt-in required): How to Pray the Scriptures

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Please Take This Quick “Poll.” Thanks!

I need your input, please. 🙂 If you were going to buy a Catholic journal/diary, would you want it to include:

Quotes from the Saints

Quotes from Scripture

Both

other (please explain)

Let me know your preference in the comment section. Feel free to include anything that would be in your idea of the perfect journal.  Thanks for your help!

See What Love the Father has Bestowed on Us

 

On Sunday, my cousin’s grandson, Adam, was baptized. It started with an adventure for some of us because there was a miscommunication, and somehow the wrong church was put on the invitation! But, once corrected, and we got to the correct church, the Mass was lovely, and the baptism was lovely, and of course the party afterwards was a lot of fun.

Gift of Baptism
During the Baptism, this scripture verse from 1 John 3:1 came to me:

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.”

The scripture reminds me that through the gift of Baptism we gain the privilege of becoming God’s children and a member of His Church. And that is exactly what it is – a gift. Baptism is done to us, not something that we earn or work for or do to ourselves. Through no merit of our own, God freely, and unconditionally, through Baptism, “bestows on us” His great love, wipes us clean from original (and in some cases, actual) sin, and initiates us as a member of the Church community. How awesome is that?! And the fact that we, as Catholics, are baptized as babies certainly emphasizes the gift aspect of the Sacrament for those who witness it. Doesn’t it?

Also, even more mind-boggling, through Baptism we become the children of God. We are God’s children! We belong to HIM through the gift of Baptism. The only thing that can separate ourselves from God is ourselves, when we reject Him through sin. Such a comforting, and convicting thought, that.

Sometime this week, try and spend a few minutes reflecting on 1 John 3:1, and the incredible significance of Baptism for yourself and your loved ones. I also encourage you to read what the Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

P.S. I have a question for ya: Do you know when you were baptized? If so, do you do something special (either spiritually or practically) to mark the anniversary of your Baptism? Do share in the comments below…

As for me, I was baptized February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day. I always thought that was pretty cool because it made me feel like I was God’s special Valentine or something. Silly, I know, but true. 🙂 As for marking the day, I make an extra effort to get to daily Mass on that day, and spend a little extra time in prayer, if I can.

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Image of Baptismal Font from Public Domain

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (October 6, 2013)

Sunday Snippets

School has kept me unbelievably busy so I’ve had almost no time for blogging. The following posts are from the last three weeks:

A Lemon Cookie recipe for the busy woman (or man!)

Put the Lime in the Coconut (a fun little video to brighten your day)

Ten Scripture Verses to Memorize with Children

I also posted my weekly goals but didn’t bother linking them up here.

Question of the Week:

Have you ever tried the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office)? Why or why not, and, if so, is it something you pray regularly?

Yes, I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. It was an integral part of my prayer life when I was with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Since leaving, I’ve prayed the Liturgy of the Hours off and on. It is a beautiful prayer and I will continue to pray it when I can.

P.S. If you could say a quick prayer for me: I have a huge exam on Tuesday, so please pray that I do well in the course. Thanks!

Top 10 Scripture Verses to Memorize with Your Children

Memorize scripture with children

(This post, first published in 2010, continues to be very popular. I’ve added a pdf version so that you can print out the verses to use with your family. The link is at the end.)

One of the things we are doing is trying to memorize scripture with Andrew.  We want him to develop a love of scripture, encourage character development and promote growth of virtue. Normally, we make it part of our home-schooling day, but I’ve slacked off a bit over the summer. 🙂

It is a lot of fun learning scripture with Andrew! We make a game of it and we take turns testing each other. He gets a real kick out of “being the “teacher”. lol!

With our home-school starting up again, we are getting back on track. Here some of the scripture verses that we will be working on memorizing over this school year:

1. Colossians 3:20 “Children obey your parents in everything for this is pleasing to the Lord.”

2. Exodus 24:7 “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

3. Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

4. 1 John 4:8 “God is love.”

5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

6. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

7. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, as it is the wellspring of life.”

8. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son; so that anyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

9. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

10. Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever.”

What about you? What are your favorite scripture verses? What favorite scripture verses are you memorizing with your family? Do share in the comments!

(This is linked to Top 10 Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

UPDATE: I made a PDF out of these scripture verses in case you wanted to memorize some (or all) of them with your family. Rather than writing each one out, feel free to print out the PDF here: Scripture Verses to Memorize with Children No opt-in required.