Seasons

Mary Gardens

on Monday, 15 May 2017. Posted in Easter, Seasons

Mary Gardens

As the weather turns warm with the coming of spring, many people are beginning to make plans for the coming gardening season. Most avid gardeners will tell you that they feel closer to God while working in their gardens than they do anywhere else. Planting, weeding, pruning, weeding, mulching, weeding, harvesting, and weeding are all opportunities to reconnect to God’s ongoing work of creation. Gardens are places to work the soil, but they can also be places to pray and seek a few moments of solitude.

 

From the earliest centuries of the Christian faith, people have seen in various plants echoes of religious and spiritual themes. Many of these are reflected in gardening folklore and even in the names of the flowers and herbs themselves: Mary’s Bedstraw, Ladder-to-Heaven, Penitent’s Rose, or Crown of Thorns. Like living stained glass, these flower and herbs became symbols of faith. And cultivating them became a means of prayer and contemplation.  Today, many gardeners plant whole gardens dedicated to religious and biblical themes.

 

Among Catholics, “Mary’s Gardens” are popular and are filled with plants whose names and folklore mention the Virgin Mary. In Washington, DC, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has a large Mary’s Garden, given to the Shrine by the National Council of Catholic Women.  (Rev. Larry Rice, CSP*)

If you’d like to start a Mary’s Garden at your church or in your own yard, there are lots of resources available on the internet. You can find lists of plants, references for folklore, photos, design suggestions, and information on plants and their symbolism. 

For example:

The Easter Bunny: Pagan Symbol or Christian Metaphor?

on Tuesday, 28 March 2017. Josh Noem Posted in For Parents, Easter, Seasons

Cultural Symbols of Important Christian Holidays

The Easter Bunny: Pagan Symbol or Christian Metaphor?

Someone at work recently asked me if the Easter bunny still visits our house (our youngest is in third grade). I replied, “Our kids are pretty smart. They know when they have a good thing going, so they don’t ask unnecessary questions.”

In other words, we have an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. While we don’t go over the top to encourage the fiction (such as the elf on a shelf nonsense), we also preserve it by hiding gifts and baskets.

We do our utmost to ensure that the most important realities of the Christian holidays are not overshadowed by these symbolic characters—our kids are crystal clear about what these Christian feasts mean for our faith and religious practice. The Easter bunny and Santa are obvious side-shows to our observance of Jesus’ birth, Death, and Resurrection.

We invest a lot of time and energy into Advent and Lent, so when Christmas and Easter come around, we are prepared to celebrate them properly and whole-heartedly. Those preparation seasons include more intensive moments of family prayer (10-15 minutes of quiet prayer individually each night before our normal night prayers), and intentional acts of almsgiving and fasting.  In comparison, visits by the Easter bunny and Santa Claus end up feeling like a nice metaphor.

Recently, I was caught writing clues for the scavenger hunt created by the Easter bunny to lead each child to their basket. The kids simply noted that they saw me writing clues, and left it at that. I was contemplating this and came to an important conclusion.

Lent: A Journey of Encounter

on Monday, 20 March 2017. Eric Clayton Posted in Seasons, Lent

To build a culture of encounter, we must start from within ourselves, from our personal call to discipleship. God knows our true selves, desiring that we, too, discover the person God has called us to be. Through prayer, we encounter ourselves before God; we see ourselves as God sees us. And we realize that God delights in every member of our human family because God is truly present in each of us.

lightstock-social-graphic_f034b3f7c4.jpg

Jesus reminds us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). To love another, we must come to know our own selves, our own hurts and triumphs, our own joys and challenges. What begins as an interior encounter necessarily goes beyond ourselves, challenging us to live in solidarity with people we may never meet. How can we hope to go to the margins, to accompany those who are most vulnerable and in need, if we haven’t properly wrestled with our own vulnerability, our own need? Only then can we recognize that each person we encounter can share with us some unique insight about our world, about ourselves, and ultimately, about our God.

Observing Lent? Try a Team Approach

on Tuesday, 28 February 2017. Posted in Family Faith, Seasons, Lent

Accompaniment and Lent

Observing Lent? Try a Team Approach

 

The forty days of Lent can seem like a long time, especially if one is giving up a favorite food or video game. It's helpful to have a friend to keep us going. He or she can encourage us, challenge us, and pick us up if we falter. And if that friend happens to be our spouse, so much the better!

This year, consider approaching Lent as a team. That doesn't mean you have to give up—or do—the same things as your spouse, although that's a possibility. It does mean sharing your Lenten resolution(s) and asking for each other's prayers and active support.  People often find that they're much more likely to keep their resolutions when they hold themselves accountable to another person. Knowing that someone walks with us, even if it's not exactly the same path, can be a great comfort and motivator.

If you're thinking about Lenten resolutions, consider the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (works of charity). Here are some ideas to get started.

 

Brace Yourselves: The Christmas Jesus Juke is Coming

on Monday, 05 December 2016. Kristin Bird Posted in Christmas, Family Faith, Seasons, Advent

Have you heard of the Jesus Juke?

The Jesus Juke is a great way to tell a friend, "I wish you possessed the uber holiness I do and were instead talking about sweet baby Jesus in this conversation." It's like a tiny little "shame grenade," you throw it into an otherwise harmless conversation and then watch it splatter everyone in guilt and condemnation. (From Stuff Christians Like)

It seems like Christmas (and maybe Easter) brings out the worst of the Jesus Jukes. Combine it with intentionally controversial or inflammatory blog post headlines and memes, and it can suck the Christmas joy right out of jolly ol' Saint Nick himself.

Jesus Juke
Jesus Juke:  St. Nick just made that sad trumpet sound: "whaaaa, waaaa."

Don't get me wrong, I love to be challenged to think a little differently. And I need to be reminded of the sacredness of this season when I am bombarded with advertisements that breed anxiety and foster materialism.

However, I don't love to be told that the way I celebrate the season is wrong.  I don't love the implication that some traditions are holier and more Catholic (yours) than others (mine).

Being challenged to think and re-grounded in faith leaves me open to becoming a better person.  Being Jesus Juked over family traditions leaves me closed and defensive.

Jesus Jukes can be dropped like a bomb on my Facebook status or in an email and I can walk away.  Loving reminders and gentle promptings take the time and effort of a genuine relationship. 

Insults and controversial headlines attract attention and are often amusing.  Genuine awareness of the holiness of the season inspires humility and a willingness to admit where I've missed the boat.

Let Peace Begin With Me

I'll be the first to admit that I've made this mistake.

Advent: Unprepared to be Prepared

on Monday, 28 November 2016. Kristin Bird Posted in Family Faith, Advent, Prayer, Seasons

A Season of Preparation, Holy Waiting, and Hopeful Anticipation

First Sunday of Advent

It's the First Week of Advent, but you wouldn't know it at our house. The wreath and calendar are still packed away in the basement. I have made no plans for what additions I will make to my prayer life for the next few weeks. Apart from the fantastic seasonal nail art I helped my 7 year old with last night, I have not even discussed the season of Advent with my children.

advent nail art
Advent nail art gives a whole new meaning to wearing your faith on your sleeve!

The wreath lighting at Mass this morning made me realize that I had procrastinated too long. Advent has started, and I'm not ready.

Then came this morning's social media onslaught. My news feeds were filled with blog posts, book reviews, youtube videos, and list after list of the best ways to enter into the season...

 

Choosing a 2016 Advent Calendar

on Sunday, 27 November 2016. Fr. Larry Rice Posted in Family Faith, Seasons, Advent, Resource Reviews

Choosing a 2016 Advent Calendar

This week, the Church begins the season of Advent, the first season of a new liturgical year and the time we set aside to prepare for the coming of Christ: both his coming into the world at Christmas and his return in glory at the end of time.

One challenge facing us—and parents especially— is keeping Advent as its own season, while all around us, the world seems steeped in Christmas, which for us doesn’t begin until Christmas Eve. With all the shopping, entertaining, and advertising we have to contend with, how do we keep Advent as a time of prayerful preparation for the Lord?

Holy Week with Dante

on Monday, 21 March 2016. Brittany Miller Posted in Seasons, Lent, Resource Reviews

Holy Week with Dante

I have been wanting to read Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy for some time, but have always been too busy to begin. However, after learning of Pope Francis’ high valuation of the poem, I knew that I could no longer delay.

Through his writings, Dante, is a man who invites us to regain the path of our human journey and the hope to once again see the bright horizon where shines the full dignity of the human person.

Happily, I have found the poem to be much more understandable and enlightening than I had envisioned. Despite its Medieval nature, the poem ignites the deadened imagination and reminds the reader of the undeniable human desire for God.

Dante’s Divine Comedy begins with Inferno, which describes the principle character’s journey through hell. I began Inferno near the beginning of Lent and have found it to be an excellent aide to Lenten preparations for confession. Journeying through the various rings of hell, and the corresponding human sins, invites the reader to make an interior journey into the depth of one’s own soul.

Dante’s punishments are carefully crafted to reflect the underlying nature of unholy human behaviors. The vivid images compel the reader to determine if one’s current state of being corresponds to the state of the punished sinners.

For example, Dante’s pilgrim encounters a group of souls who lived their life with no real purpose. They were too cowardly, or too lazy, to devote themselves completely to God or even to adamantly resist Him. As the pilgrim watches, he sees a blank banner go by:

Groundhog Day - A Catholic Tradition

Groundhog Day - A Catholic Tradition

on Tuesday, 02 February 2016. Kristin Bird Posted in Ordinary Time, Family Faith, Seasons

Did you know that Groundhog Day is a direct descendant of one of the most ancient feasts of the Church?  

Ordinary Time for Ordinary Lives

on Tuesday, 19 January 2016. Kristin Bird Posted in Ordinary Time, Seasons

Green is the color of most of our Church year.  Green vestments on the priest and deacon, green banners hanging behind the altar, green plants adorning the sanctuary.  After the glitz and glamor of the Christmas and Easter seasons, this season in our Church year can seem, well, ordinary.

Ordinary Time

The period in our Church year that follows the Christmas season, and then again follows the Easter season, has an unfortunate name—Ordinary Time.  The name comes from the fact that while we are outside of special seasons, the Church simply counts the time as it passes (3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, etc).  It's counted time using the ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd...) which is how it got it's name.  Of course, being that it's also outside of the special seasons, it often feels mundane, routine, ordinary as well. 

lit cal

Rev. Larry Rice, CSP explains Ordinary Time this way...

Our Lady of Sorrows: A Companion for the Suffering

on Tuesday, 15 September 2015. Kristin Bird Posted in Ordinary Time, Seasons

Our Lady of Sorrows:  A Companion for the Suffering

September 15 is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

May she who followed her Son to Calvary help us to follow him, carrying his cross with serenity and love, to reach the joy of Easter. May the Virgin of Sorrows especially comfort those who are facing the most difficult situations. (Pope Francis,

Mary, through her intercession, obtains for us many blessings in this life and the life to come, especially at the hour of death. Devotion to the sorrows of Mary helps us to get a glimpse of how much she suffered on our behalf – how she stood faithfully at the foot of the cross. 

The Sorrows of Mary show us how in a life filled with suffering, there is also grace, and that a world overcome with challenges awaits our strength. Like Mary, we too can persevere and accept our struggles as paths to growing closer and understanding more deeply the power of her Son.

When we are despondent and feeling hopeless, Our Lady of Sorrows can be a wellspring of hope.

Our Lady of Sorrows Gold Framed Print 12901Who do you know that is struggling with great sorrow?  Consider sharing a reflection on Our Lady of Sorrows with them. 

Include a note that says:

"I know you've been heavyhearted and in pain recently.  I just wanted to share this reflection with you to remind you that you're not alone.  I'm praying for you in a special way today."

Some reflections to consider sharing...

Why Do We Celebrate Easter for 50 Days?

on Monday, 13 April 2015. Posted in Easter, Seasons

Why Do We Celebrate Easter for 50 Days?

Most people think of Easter as a single day. It’s never had the commercial appeal of Christmas, and because it always falls on Sunday, most people don’t get an additional day off from work. But for Catholics, Easter isn’t just a day, it’s a whole season. The Easter season stretches all the way to the feast of Pentecost. Lent, which sometimes feels like it’s stretching on forever, is actually forty days long. Easter, on the other hand, is all of fifty days long. About these fifty days theologian Nathan Mitchell writes:

‘The great fifty days of Pentecost are not an unwelcome, unrealistic obligation to “party on,” even if we don’t feel like it, but an invitation to explore more deeply “the weather of the heart,” to awaken our memory of God’s presence and power in our lives, to look more closely at all the rich and varied textures of creation.’

One way the church pursues this goal of seeing God present in the world is through the reading of the Acts of the Apostles. At Masses all through the Easter season, our usual practice of reading from the Old Testament is replaced be reading from the Acts of the Apostles. These readings tell the story of the church’s earliest days, and the beginnings of our faith’s spreading throughout the ancient world. These stories of heroism, controversies, persecutions and miracles all testify to the continued presence of the Risen Christ in the world, through the lives of his disciples, and the actions of the Holy Spirit.

All of this should be an encouragement and a sign of hope for us today. Despite war, violence, personal struggles, and an under-performing economy, God has not abandoned us, nor left us to our own devices. The risen savior is still with us. These 50 days of Easter ask us to reflect on his presence, and—even in the face of danger or fear—to live with joy.


by Rev. Lawrence Rice, CSP.  Originally published on ForYourMarriage.org. Copyright 2015 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Used with permission.

Great Lenten Giveaway

on Monday, 02 February 2015. Posted in Seasons, Lent, Resource Reviews

Great Lenten Giveaway

We're giving away some of the best Catholic Lent resources to 7 lucky winners!

A new winner is picked each day, so enter early for your best chance to win!

You can get 1 entry for each of the tasks you complete below...

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

We know that there are a plethora of resources out there to help those who want to grow in their faith – but that so many Catholics get overwhelmed at the thought of having to sift through the thousands of books listed on Amazon or the Catholic blogs and news sources that are out there. Part of our mission is to comb through the thousands upon thousands of available books, videos, CDs, websites, podcasts, DVDs, and apps and share with you only the best. Like these...

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Almsgiving

on Monday, 02 February 2015. Posted in Seasons, Lent

3 PIllars of Lent

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Almsgiving

This is part of a 3 part series on the 3 Pillars of Lent.  Read the parts on Prayer and Fasting for more ideas on how to make your faith Full Contact this Lent!


 

While it may seem sometimes that being a Catholic Christian is a passive, primarily mental activity, the reality is that being a follower of Christ is a full-time, full-contact sport.

As Father Sergius Halvorsen points out, St. Paul often uses sports imagery when speaking about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.

He says that he does not run aimlessly, nor does he "box as one beating the air." Rather, he "pommels" his body and subdues it. (1 Cor 9:24-7)...[he] encourages us to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1) because our goal is a heavenly prize.

 

St. Paul points out that athletes exercise self-control in all things in order to be victorious (1Cor 9:25).  If athletic discipline was obvious in St. Paul’s day, then it should be even more obvious in our culture with its preoccupation with professional sports.  The athlete cannot pigeonhole his or her athletic life.  One cannot eat junk food and sit on the couch throughout the off-season and expect to make the team. Similarly, Christ challenges us to follow Him three hundred sixty five days a year, which means that we lead a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

RUN the Race: Almsgiving

A runner could spend all his or her life in the gym doing cardio exercise and strength training. A life spent perpetually "in training" is missing the point.

Race Title

At the end of the day, an athlete actually plays the game, a runner actually runs the race, and a Christian, lives Christ's call to love God and neighbor. Almsgiving how we put our training into action.

Christ commands us to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39) Almsgiving is a concrete act of love for the neighbor. When we give alms we offer ourselves to those in need. This does not have to be exotic and dramatic, like giving your college savings to an African mission.

 

It can be as simple as taking someone out to lunch. Even better, taking someone out to lunch who does not have much money and who does not have many friends.

 

It could mean giving an hour of your time to visit an elderly shut-in. It could also mean volunteering as a mentor for a young person.

 

It could also mean giving money to the poor.

 

Almsgiving is the way that Christians do the will of God in concrete terms; showing mercy and compassion to real people who are in real need. Fundamentally, we do this because Christ did the same thing for us. He gave Himself for our salvation, and in following Christ we give ourselves for the service of others.

Almsgiving comes from the heart. It is something that we give of ourselves or something that costs us. The cost can be emotionally, physically and/or financially.

When making your almsgiving decision, keep in mind Jesus' alms for us....Himself!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving more than just "Lenten disciplines." They are essential to our basic health and well being: they are fundamental to the Christian life.


Adapted and with quotes from "Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving: They're Not Just For Lent Anymore" by F.r Sergius Halvorsen.

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Fasting

on Monday, 02 February 2015. Posted in Seasons, Lent

3 PIllars of Lent

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Fasting

This is part of a 3 part series on the 3 Pillars of Lent.  Read the parts on Prayer and Almsigiving for more ideas on how to make your faith Full Contact this Lent!


While it may seem sometimes that being a Catholic Christian is a passive, primarily mental activity, the reality is that being a follower of Christ is a full-time, full-contact sport.

As Father Sergius Halvorsen points out, St. Paul often uses sports imagery when speaking about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.

He says that he does not run aimlessly, nor does he "box as one beating the air." Rather, he "pommels" his body and subdues it. (1 Cor 9:24-7)...[he] encourages us to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1) because our goal is a heavenly prize.

 

St. Paul points out that athletes exercise self-control in all things in order to be victorious (1Cor 9:25).  If athletic discipline was obvious in St. Paul’s day, then it should be even more obvious in our culture with its preoccupation with professional sports.  The athlete cannot pigeonhole his or her athletic life.  One cannot eat junk food and sit on the couch throughout the off-season and expect to make the team. Similarly, Christ challenges us to follow Him three hundred sixty five days a year, which means that we lead a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Weight Training: Fasting

In the last thirty years or so, strength conditioning has been embraced as an essential part of all athletic training. From dancers to linebackers, all athletes require muscular strength and conditioning in order to perform well. Fasting is very much like weight training, however, instead of strengthening our physical muscles it strengthens our will.

Fr. Halvorsen elaborates:

We all need to eat in order to survive, so the desire to eat—to fill our stomachs when we are hungry—is a powerful and fundamental instinct. Because the desire to eat and be satisfied is such a powerful desire, voluntarily abstaining from food is profound expression of free will. Feeling hungry, or feeling that twinge of desire for double chocolate malted crunch ice cream, but then choosing to use our God-given free will to say, “not now” is incredibly powerful.

The Church calls us to a few specific forms of fasting for Lent. In general, the Church says that Ctholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 years old and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent (read more about the Lenten guidelines).

fasting channge your life

Why? These guidelines? Do they really matter?

In the large scope of life, whether or not you eat a bacon double cheeseburger during Lent is relatively meaningless. However, as you choose to avoid the food you love during Lent, or on any Wednesday or Friday, you exercise and strengthen your will to say “not now.” While the burger means virtually nothing, the knowledge and confidence that you can say “not now” is invaluable when we are faced with much larger decisions that have immense ramifications for our lives. Fasting, saying “not now” is not a rejection of food, or our bodies, or the material life. Rather it is a conscious decision to exercise our willpower for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.

Some Catholic embrace the call to fast during Lent by giving something up (chocolate, alcohol, and sweets are popular choices). Choosing to give up something for Lent trains us to have self-control. Self-control aids us in our prayer and prayer brings us closer to God.

Make a commitment to follow the Church's fasting guidelines this Lent, and consider giving up something else that will help to you strenghten the muscles of your will and self-control.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving more than just "Lenten disciplines." They are essential to our basic health and well being: they are fundamental to the Christian life.


Adapted and with quotes from "Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving: They're Not Just For Lent Anymore" by F.r Sergius Halvorsen.

 

[12  >>  

Contact Us.

  • Write us.

    941 Starboard Ct.
    Oshkosh, WI 54901
  • Call us.

    (920) 509-0204
  • Email us.

    info@burningheartsdisciples.org
  • Follow us.

    round-white-facebook-icon-25716 round-white-twitter-icon-25856 round-white-pinterest-icon-25908
  • Burning Hearts Disciples is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) and an Approved Lay Catholic Organization of the Diocese of Green Bay.

Recent Tweets.

@BurningHeartsD

What has Jesus spoken into the quiet of your heart that needs to be shared with another today? #breakthesilencetwitter.com/i/web/status/8…

@BurningHeartsD

A great case for the importance of breaking the silence! #newevangelization catholic-link.org/2017/06/06/wit…