Septuagesima & Shrovetide: Preparing for Lent

Ash Wednesday will be here before we know it. Are you ready? No? Me neither! Thankfully we have a little more time. We are actually in the pre-Lenten preparation time traditionally known as Septuagesima or Shrovetide (depending on the tradition). I didn’t really know about the history of this period until our friend and local priest Fr. Matt Fish sent me some links. For those of you who are in the same boat, here are a few links that provide an overview and highlight traditions of this liturgical period.

I don’t know about you, but I always need time to prepare for each liturgical season. Lent is no exception. I really need a couple of weeks before Ash Wednesday to pray, eliminate distractions, and discern what God wants me to do during Lent. Without that time seeking God, Lent can easily become a self-improvement project. We can start to make a list of goals and plans for abstinences that have no connection to what God wants us to focus on during the upcoming 40 days.  Continue reading “Septuagesima & Shrovetide: Preparing for Lent”

Prayer in Your Domestic Church


Philipp Schumacher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A thriving domestic church — your family home and life of faith — is central to the faith formation of you, your spouse, and your children. One of the most important elements of family faith life is prayer. Family prayer time is the space where everyone in the home learns how to enter into the prayers of the whole church, and through this family ritual little children are exposed to “the Church’s living memory” (CCC 2685).

Perhaps prayer time has not been part of your family life; it’s never to late to start. You may be a young family with little ones, and you want to establish a growing family prayer routine. Or, you may be a family with older children who aren’t used to corporate prayer. As with various spiritual disciplines of the domestic church, many people are a bit overwhelmed about where to begin. It is easy to look at all the possible expressions of family prayer time and do one of two things: give up completely or try to do everythingContinue reading “Prayer in Your Domestic Church”

GoodRead: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

I was able to get my hands on a galley copy of The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion in order to review it here, and I am so glad that I did! I have had the privilege of praying with this book of daily reflections for the past month, and it has refreshed my prayer life in wonderful ways. The book, edited by authors Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard, is a compilation of reflections by many different writers. There are many devotionals out there by single authors — great ones. But this book is unique in its multi-vocal quality. You hear the voices of many different women — some like you, some different from you — and I found that really valuable.

As a mom seeking to grow in my prayer life, I am always grateful for a fresh perspective, a different vantage point. As I read through various entries each day, I was struck by the beautiful diversity of Catholic motherhood that is represented in these pages. It reminds me of what St. Therese says about all the different kinds of flowers. The wildflower is not less beautiful than the rose or the lily; they are just different beauties in God’s garden. The diversity is God’s design. Diversity is important for the edification of the body of Christ, and books like this help with that edification — particularly in the flourishing of our prayer lives.

Here are a few additional things that I liked about the Prayer Companion, and I think a lot of other Catholic moms will appreciate these too: Continue reading “GoodRead: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion”

#GoodRead: The Soul of the Apostolate

51EgYz5JPYL._AC_US160_I’ve been reading through some spiritual classics recently, and I have to say that Jean-Baptiste Chautard’s The Soul of the Apostolate is one of the most important books for all Christians to read, and vitally important for anyone involved in Christian ministry. (I don’t think that I am one prone to hyperbole — there’s a reason that this one is on most people’s lists of must-read spiritual classics.) While it is a heavy-hitter in terms of impact on your life and spiritual insight, it is very accessible. It’s main argument is profoundly simple — the interior life of the soul should be the priority of the Christian’s life. Though the book was written about 100 years ago, it is eerily prophetic of 21st century Christian ministry. The book will both convict you and exhort you regarding your interior life, your life of prayer. Here are some topics that Chautard addresses, as well as some quotes from the book, which I hope entice you to read it for yourself:

The “interior life” is what gives life to all our good works:

“Our interior life ought to be the stem, filled with vigorous sap, of which our works are the flowers” (p. 42).

We cannot give what we do not have:

“As a mother cannot suckle her child except in so far as she feeds herself, so confessor, spiritual directors, preachers, catechists, professors must first of all assimilate the substance with which they are later to feed the children of the church” (p.43). This reminds me of the flight attendants’ warning before all take-offs: “…attach your own oxygen mask first…”

How the priest’s (or pastor, ministry leader, etc.) spirituality impacts those being led:

“If the priest is a saint (the saying goes), the people will be fervent; if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious; if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent. But if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless. The spiritual generation is always one degree less intense in its life than those who beget it in Christ” (p. 34).

How much God prefers our intimacy (diamonds) over our activity (sapphires):

“A jeweler will prefer the smallest fragment of diamond to several sapphires; and so, in the order established by God, our intimacy with Him gives Him more glory than all possible good, procured by us, for a great number of souls, but to the detriment of our own progress” (p. 37).

How much Satan doesn’t want us to have an intimate prayer life:

“But as for Satan, he, on the contrary, does not hesitate to encourage a purely superficial success, if he can by this success prevent the apostle from making progress in the interior life…To get rid of a diamond, he is quite willing to allow us a few sapphires” (p. 37).

Quiet is often the sign of a healthy interior life:

“You will soon find out that noise does not do much good–and that what is good doesn’t make much noise” (p. 45).

The interior life is the key to holiness:

“…holiness is nothing but the interior life carried to such a point that the will is in close union with the will of God…” (p. 63).

One really big reason the interior life is important:

“Not until we have formed Christ within ourselves will we find it easy to give Him to families and to societies” (p.79).

I encourage you to read this one for yourself. It really pulled my heart to prioritize time with God in my daily life. How is your interior life? How is God calling you to spend time with Him before any other good activity?