Burning Hearts Disciples Blog

The Burning Hearts Disciples Blog is a place where you will find faith-based reflections on current events, reviews on the newest Catholic resources, and is the heart of the Burning Hearts community. 

Inspiring, Equipping, and Supporting Disciples

Stations of the Cross

on Wednesday, 25 February 2015. Posted in Praying with Children, Family Faith, Prayer, Lent

Stations of the Cross

 

The Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.  

All Catholic parishes have depictions of Christ’s Passion and death called the Stations of the Cross, The Way of the Cross or Via Dolorosa (way of suffering) In many churches, the Stations of the Cross are depicted in stained-glass windows, but other media are used as well, including paintings and stone or wood carvings and sculptures.  Often on Friday evenings during Lent, you can find a parish that’s open with Catholics meditating and saying prayers in unison before each of the 14 stations.

The Stations of the Cross is a Lenten devotion that offers witness to Jesus’ Passion and Death. Often, the Stations of the Cross is an action prayer. Catholics walk to the fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross and stop to pray at each one.  At each station we use our senses and our imagination to reflect prayerfully upon Jesus’ suffering, Death, and Resurrection, and to simply experience the visual images to reflect on Christ’s love for us.

We've listed the best Way of the Cross prayer resources for...

Journey to the Cross: Prayer for Lent

on Thursday, 19 February 2015. Posted in Prayer, Lent

FREE Prayer Plan Worksheet

Journey to the Cross: Prayer for Lent

It all Starts with Prayer

Without prayer, our Lenten observances (getting ashes, giving up sweets, abstaining from meat on Fridays, dropping coins in the Rice Bowl) are traditions without meaning.

St. Clement of Alexandria (third century) defined prayer as "conversation with God" - a conversation that never ends.  In the Scriptures, St. Paul says: "Pray at all times" (Eph 6:18); "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:1); and "be constant in prayer" (Rom 12:12). He saw prayer as endless conversation.

Mike Aquilina understands that this call seems a tad unrealistic to many of us:

Journey to the Cross: Fasting for Lent

on Thursday, 19 February 2015. Posted in Prayer, Lent

Practical Suggestions for Fasting

Journey to the Cross: Fasting for Lent

More than a 40 day diet

Fasting is an act of self-denial.  Often it refers to food, but broadly speaking it is giving up something that is good for the purpose of deepening our spiritual life and making acts of reparation for our sin or the sin of others. 

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff at Integrated Catholic explains:

[Fasting] also serves to be a penance or a sacrifice - for the purpose of strengthening us. When we don't eat, for even a little while, we get hungry. When we get hungry, we have a heightened sense of awareness. If, when we eat too much, we have a sluggish feeling, when we fast, we have a feeling of alertness. Fasting is a wonderful exercise whenever we want to sincerely ask for an important grace from God. It is not that our fasting "earns" God's attention, but by fasting, we clarify our thinking and our feeling. It is purifying and prepares us to pray more deeply.

Journey to the Cross: Almsgiving for Lent

on Thursday, 19 February 2015. Posted in Lent

Journey to the Cross: Almsgiving for Lent

It just makes sense

If you've read the other articles in this series, it should be obvious  that almsgiving is simply a response by us to God - a response to the insights we have gained through prayer and fasting.  We do not give because we are required to give or because we feel guilty if we don't, but because we are so greateful for all that God has given us. 

Ultimately our journey of Lent may begin with by reflecting on "me and God," but our prayer and fasting lead us to the realization that none of us are walking this journey alone - that the needs of all are the responsibility of all in the Body of Christ.

In his Message for Lent 2015, Pope Francis asks us to reach out to those in need:

"...we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favorable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family."

Mike Aquilina breaks down the challenge of almsgiving and explains why it is the most neglected of the three pillars of Lent:

Many Americans today enjoy a better standard of life than any Byzantine emperor ever knew. Central heat, central air conditioning, electric lights, consistently safe food and water, antibiotics, and even aspirin — these are luxuries beyond the dreams of our ancient ancestors.

 

We are living high, but are we giving high?

 

It's a good question to ask ourselves during Lent. It is a scandal, after all, for Christians to have closets overstuffed with clothing when there are families who are shivering because they can't pay their heating bill. It is a scandal for Christians to be epidemically overweight when they have near neighbors who go to bed hungry.

 

We need to give to God — whom we meet in our neighbor — until these problems go away.

 

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.

 

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Prayer

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

3 PIllars of Lent

Full Contact Faith During Lent: Prayer

This is part of a 3 part series on the 3 Pillars of Lent.  Read the parts on Fasting and Almsgiving 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. 

Cardio Training: Prayer

In the same way that cardio-vascular exercise strengthens our physical heart, prayer strengthens our spiritual hearts. To pray means that we take time every day to intentionally still our minds and focus on the person of Jesus.  We listen to God speaking to us in the silence, or in His Word and we talk to him.  Just like with cardio workouts, the more time we spend in prayer strenghtening our spiritual hearts, the easier it becomes to have longer sessions with greater intensity.

heart-health-prayer

Prayer opens our hearts and minds to the love of God, and allows us to be filled with the grace which God abundantly pours out upon us.

Here are a few ways to add to your prayer life this Lent:

  • Commit to 5 more mintues of daily prayer than you are doing right now
  • Attend the Stations of the Cross
  • Spend 1 Hour in Eucharistic Adoration
  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Take our Prayer Survey to get suggestions and resources tailored to you.

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.

 

Epiphany Home Blessing

on Monday, 05 January 2015. Kristin Bird Posted in Christmas, Family Faith, Seasons

What is a blessing?

Blessing a home recognizes God's goodness in providing for us a home to live in, invites God to be present within our home, and dedicates our home to God. A blessing isn't a magic formula that makes our homes holy; our homes become holy because of how we act inside them. Rather, it asks for God's protection over the mind, body, and soul of those who live there. This kind of blessings bestows what the Church calls actual grace — the divine energy which the soul needs in the countless emergencies and difficulties of our daily struggle with the devil, sin, and our own fallen nature.* Having our home blessed helps draw us closer to God, to Whom it is dedicated; and acknowledges that our home does more than just benefit our bodies by providing the tangible things like warmth, heat, shelter, etc. A blessed home can benefit our souls as well.

Epiphany Home Blessing

The Feast of the Epiphany has, for centuries, been a traditional time for families to bless their homes. This tradition likely came about because the Three Wise Men visited the home that the Holy Family had established in Bethlehem (before the flight to Egypt - after which they settled in Nazareth). The visit from the Wise Men blessed the home of the Holy Family because they came in humility to honor and pay homage to the Christ Child and because they were the first to not only seek Jesus, but also to recognize Him as the Messiah. The Epiphany home blessing tradition has been more popular in Europe than in the US, but many American Catholics have taken up the practice as well.

What you'll need:

  • Blessed Chalk**
  • Your Home
  • A person with spiritual authority over your home to lead***
  • Incense (optional - frankincense would be ideal!)

How to do it:

  1. If you are choosing to use it, light the incense as a reminder of the gifts offered by the Three Wise Men.
  2. The leader should say the blessing. There are a variety of Epiphany home blessing ritual prayers available (here, here and here). Choose whichever one you like.
  3. Once the prayer is complete, the leader should use the chalk to write the following on the door (or door frame or lintel):

20 + C + M + B + 15

The three letters stand for the three kings who were traditionally known as Caspar, Melchoir, and Baltassar. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase "Christus mansionem benedicat" which means "Christ bless this house".) The numbers are for the year.

  1. Go through the home and write the blessing formula over each door within the home - especially the threshold, the dining room, and the bedrooms.
  1. Gather as a family and discuss ways that you can seek and recognize God's presence in your family and your home throughout the coming year!

Luke 10:5


* from: The Priestly Power to Bless by Ernest Graf, O.S.B.

** Chalk is customarily blessed on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. Your parish (or another parish in town) may provide blessed chalk after Masses this weekend. If not, you can always ask a priest to bless some chalk. The blessing can be found here.

*** Just as there is a spiritual hierarchy within the heavens (choirs of angels) and a spiritual hierarchy within the Church, there is a spiritual hierarchy within your home. Top down it would be: A priest or deacon of the parish you belong to, another priest or deacon, the father of the home, the mother of the home. 

10 Days of Giving: Advent Giveaway

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Burning Hearts Disciples

To celebrate our official launch, we're giving away over $100 in gifts and prizes!

This Advent, we're giving away some of the best Catholic Advent and Christmas resources to 10 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...Get up to 3 entries! 

 

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...

Day 1

Rediscover Advent (Kindle edition)
by Matthew Kelly

Rediscovering Advent Matthew Kelly($6.99 value)

Day 2

Joy to the World:
How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) (Kindle edition)

by Scott Hahn 


Joy to the World Scott Hahn
($9.99 value)

Day 3

The Magnificat Advent Companion for 2014 (Kindle edition)

Magnificat Advent Companion 2014($0.99 value)

Day 4

Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections (Kindle edition)
by Greg Friedman

Advent with the Saints

($ 2.99 value)

Day 5

Individual Learning Plan Subscription – 1 year

($ 49.95 value)

Day 6

Advent Family Pack: Activity and Storybook
($21.99 value)

Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family

Joy to the World Advent Activities

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent

Jotham's Journey Advent Storybook

Day 7

Advent and Christmas With the Saints (Kindle edition)
by Anthony Chiffolo

Advent and Christmas with the Saints

($ 7.99 value)

Day 8

The Advent of Christ (Kindle edition)
by Edward Sri

The Advent of Christ Edward Sri
($ 8.49 value)

Day 9

My Catholic Advent and Christmas Activity Book
by Jennifer Galvin

Christmas and Activity Book For Children

($8.45 value)

Day 10

Individual Learning Plan Subscription – 1 year

($49.95 value)

Advent: Are you Unprepared to be Prepared?

on Sunday, 30 November 2014. Kristin Bird Posted in Family Faith, Advent, Prayer, Seasons

A Season of Preparation, Holy Waiting, and Hopeful Anticipation

advent week 1

It's the First Sunday 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...

 

Praying with Children

on Friday, 28 November 2014. Posted in Praying with Children, Family Faith, Prayer

Tip #1: Foster Your Own Prayer Life

prayingwithchildren

Life makes many demands on today's families and lives are often full and hectic. Finding the time for prayer can seem difficult - especially if you aren't sure where to begin or how to pray as a family. Praying and growing together as a family is a gift that will sustain each member of your family throughout the storms of this life and one that will prepare you all for the next life.

Tip #1:  Foster Your Own Prayer Life

From the newborn who sticks out her tongue after watching Mom do it, to the toddler who snags dad's phone and pretends to send a text, to the child who gathers his friends to play school, children learn best through imitation. It is no different with prayer.

Making time to foster your own prayer life and letting your children see you pray does more to teach them about the value of prayer than any book, DVD, or religion class lesson ever can...

 

What is Burning Hearts Disciples?

on Friday, 28 November 2014. Maureen Anderson Posted in Burning Hearts Disciples

The Story Of How We Came To Be

My husband and I fell in love all over again.
This time we fell in love with Jesus and the richness, depth, and beauty of our Catholic faith.

Over the past few years, I discovered my life changing drastically.  Retirement, moving, becoming an empty-nester, and an abundant blessing of grandchildren brought change in my circumstances that caused changes in my faith life as well.   I started to become more aware of the questions I had about my faith and was confronted with questions from other Catholics and non-Catholics that I realized I could not answer.

alternate text
Grandmother discipleship means sharing the faith with all 9 of my little loves!

With much help from my husband, I started pouring myself into trying to find the answers.  The more I studied, the more I wanted to study. As a cradle Catholic, I was shocked and embarrassed at how much I didn't know. I was also grateful to discover how many good solid Catholic resources there were available to aid me in my learning. For example, my husband showed me how to listen to podcasts and download MP3's. This technology made it so easy to fit in the time for prayer and learning about my faith in our very busy lives.  Even better - many of these resources, like the podcasts, were free or nearly free.

The more I studied, the more my faith grew, and the more I fell in love with Jesus. I became very passionate and on fire with wanting to share this 'new love' with friends and family. I was convinced that if other Catholics could learn what I had, they too would be on fire for Jesus and the Catholic faith...

<<  1 2 3 [4

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…