The spirit of penance

The great thing about the internet is that you have access to all kinds of information. Think of all the medical sites available allowing you to research in great depth all your current symptoms – real or perceived. My sisters and many of my cousins are medical professionals. You can imagine how thrilled they are to have a conversation start, “I was reading on WebMD….” Continue reading

What’s next in your Lenten journey?

Ash Wednesday has come and gone. I hope you were able to celebrate. Lent has begun and you’ve “40 days” in the journey. So…what’s next? Take some time today and make a plan (if you have not already). Don’t let this time quickly recede in the Lenten “rear view mirror.” If you blink again, it will be Holy Week and the “best of intentions” will have to wait for another year. So… what is your plan for Lent? And I ask about “your plan” because each of us are called to be intentional in our life of prayer and to create a place and space in our life to be in relationship with God. This is especially true in the Season of Lent. Now that Ash Wednesday has passed, what is your Lenten plan to make room in your life to be filled with God’s grace? How about a Lenten checklist to help you get started? Continue reading

All in the name

In Italian, Lent is quaresima or forty (days). In German, it is Fastenzeit or time for bodily restraint. Our English word comes from an older Anglo-Saxon word for spring—len(c)ten—whence our Lent. Italian tells us how long it will last (with its symbolic overtones). German tells us what to do in that time. But English tells us what is supposed to happen, that is, we are supposed to experience a springtime of faith, a time of growth and new life.

Naming Lent

In Italian, Lent is quaresima or forty (days). In German, it is Fastenzeit or time for bodily restraint. Our English word comes from an older Anglo-Saxon word for spring—len(c)ten—whence our Lent. Italian tells us how long it will last (with its symbolic overtones). German tells us what to do in that time. But English tells us what is supposed to happen, that is, we are supposed to experience a springtime of faith, a time growth and new life.

Right Sizing for Lent

From time to time, I am asked “if the parish could use…” and what follows is a litany of things old and beloved, unusual and familiar, new and used, useful and whimsical, and the occasional, “I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it is holy.” The conversation is hardly ever (perhaps never?) with a person from the millennial or Gen Z demographic. At this point in their lives, they live unburdened by too much stuff and do not yet have the same emotional connection to things as did the generations before. They are a mobile group and thus don’t want a lot of stuff when moving house or moving to a new city. IKEA will do just fine until things settle. Continue reading

Making Room

There was a married couple that upon reaching retirement age, the wife announced that they were going to make some changes in their life. They were going to lose weight, get in shape, and start living right so that they could enjoy their well-earned rest with a new quality of life. In no uncertain terms she announced that her husband’s standard diet of bacon, bratwursts, and beer would be replaced by diet based on bran! He was to discover the plethora of recipes based on bran. But, besides becoming quite regular, he was making a new life. In the ensuring months and years, they lost a lot of weight, became more active in life and in the parish, and had a great quality of life. Continue reading

The poverty of Lent

Here is another Lenten reflection question for you: What do St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis, and belonging have in common? It was almost six years ago, in March 2013, that Pope Francis famously, and perhaps controversially, said that he wanted a “poor church for the poor.” Not surprisingly, this raised an eyebrow or two. Many online commentaries excoriated the pope as an opponent of capitalism, socialist-in-religious clothing, or another South-American-reactionary-liberation theologian. Equally, many have concluded that Pope Francis wants Catholics to devote greater attention to poverty-alleviation social programs. Both miss the deeper meaning Pope Francis attaches to poverty. Continue reading

I hope you were able to celebrate Ash Wednesday this year. If you blinked, it has already passed us by; it is quickly receding in the Lenten “rearview mirror.” If you blink again, it will be Holy Week and the “best of intentions” will have to wait for another year. So… what is your plan for Lent? And I ask about “your plan” because each of us are called to be intentional in our life of prayer and to create a place and space in our life to be in relationship with God. This is especially true in the Season of Lent. Now that Ash Wednesday has passed, what is your Lenten plan to make room in your life to be filled with God’s grace? How about a Lenten checklist to help you get started? Continue reading

Lent and McDonald’s

Did you know that nearly one quarter of McDonald’s Filet-of-Fish sandwich sales take place during Lent, when many fast-food customers are abstaining from meat? “That’s exactly what the McDonald’s operator who first put the cheese-topped sandwich on his menu had in mind back in 1962. When Cincinnati McDonald’s franchise owner Lou Groen noticed that his heavily Catholic clientele was avoiding his restaurant on Fridays, he suggested to McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc that they add introduce a fish sandwich. That led to a wager between Groen and McDonald’s chief Ray Kroc, who had his own meatless idea. “He called his sandwich the Hula Burger,” Groen said. “It was a cold bun and a slice of pineapple and that was it. Ray said to me, ‘Well, Lou, I’m going to put your fish sandwich on (a menu) for a Friday. But I’m going to put my special sandwich on, too. Whichever sells the most, that’s the one we’ll go with.’ Friday came and the word came out. I won hands down. I sold 350 fish sandwiches that day. Ray never did tell me how his sandwich did.”

The Filet-of-Fish won, the rest is history, Groen’s restaurant thrived, and since then, the sandwich has been McDonald’s fixture, all year long.

Clark, Paul (February 20, 2007). “No fish story: Sandwich saved his McDonald’s”USA Today.