Lenten crunchtime

posted by Mike on February 21st, 2012

Lent begins tomorrow. I hope you’ve had plenty of time to think about how you’ll spend the most DIY season of the church year.

My plan for Lent 2012:

  • Fasting: I am giving up about a dozen “comforting distractions.” As a vegan, I’ll be giving up soy rather than meat on Fridays.
  • Prayer: I like the idea of using a daily prayer book, but after 30 years of experimenting I haven’t found anything that really clicks for me. Recently I’ve been using Give Us This Day, and that’s what I’ll be using this Lent.
  • Almsgiving: File under MINE OWN BEESWAX.

Some years I gorge on “Lenten resources.” This year, mass, Give Us This Day, and my own community will suffice. Secular Lenten observers might enjoy Jacob Berendes’s Lent essay, and Susan Stabile has a nice roundup of resources for Christians.

posted by Mike in Lent | on February 21st, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Lenten crunchtime” | No Comments »

Holy Week church-hopping and other items

posted by Mike on April 23rd, 2011

The day before Holy Week began, I attended a wedding at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church in Oxford, UK. St. Columba’s is down an alley near some of the Oxford colleges. It’s a normal sort of church inside, with a vestibule and facade that make it look like an office building.

Most churches stand out. St. Columba’s is hidden. Attending church there was like going to a house mass—nobody walking past suspects you’re going to a sacred gathering.

(Best wishes to the bride and groom—your lovely wedding is an auspicious start to your lives together.)
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Lenten update

posted by Mike on April 14th, 2011

So far, so good. Sticking with about 70% of my Lent plans, which is much better than most years.

One unexpected and helpful addition to my Lenten prayer schedule has been Susan Stabile’s series of daily meditations, with a weekly podcast of her remarks to students who are doing this “Lenten retreat in daily life” as well. Worth checking out if you need to jump-start your final week of Lenten prayers.

The best thing I’ve read about Lent this year is a brief essay by Jacob Berendes in his monthly newspaper Mothers News. It’s not at all religious, but it’s funny and a great piece of writing. In exchange for being able to quote me saying “The best thing I’ve read about Lent this year,” Jacob graciously agreed to let me reprint it, below.
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posted by Mike in Heresy, Lent | on April 14th, 2011 | Permanent Link to “Lenten update” | No Comments »

Deacon Colin Novick’s homily, March 27, 2011

posted by Mike on March 29th, 2011

From mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Worcester.

Colin is a friend of this blog, and we’re proud to see him in the pulpit.

Mason Street Musings

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on March 15th, 2011

Originally published in the April/May 2011 issue of The Catholic Radical.

Ding Dong! “Good Grief!” I grumbled as I dragged myself out of bed. “Who the heck could be at our door at 2 a.m.?” I went into our chilly hall to see a young couple on our front porch.

I asked them in and quickly learned that they are musicians from Illinois who were sleeping in their van in a Walmart parking lot until it got too cold.

“Our van died in front of your house,” the husband said gesturing toward a vehicle jutting out at an angle from Mason Court into Mason Street. “We know the Saint Louis Catholic Worker,” he concluded, as if that pretty much told all we needed to know. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in Houses of Hospitality, Lent, Worcester | on March 15th, 2011 | Permanent Link to “Mason Street Musings” | No Comments »

Ash Wednesday 2011

posted by Mike on March 9th, 2011

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. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.
Joel 2:12-13

IMG_20110309_072046

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Many Catholics attend mass today and receive a blessing of ashes on their foreheads.

Wikipedia:

The liturgical imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is a sacramental, not a sacrament, and in the Roman Catholic understanding of the term the ashes themselves are also a sacramental.

This morning at St. Peter’s, Msgr. Scollen suggested that we avoid taking on too many Lenten projects, and just focus on one:

We know that if we try to do 10 things, or 5 things, or 3 things, that we’re going to do nothing.

I’m finally at the point in my life where I see the wisdom of this advice, and this Lent I’m trying to be constant rather than ambitious in my practice. For more on sustaining changes in behavior, Leo Babauta has solid advice that’s helped me.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Matthew 6:16-18

Also:

posted by Mike in Lent, Worcester | on March 9th, 2011 | Permanent Link to “Ash Wednesday 2011” | No Comments »

Lent 2011

posted by Mike on March 8th, 2011

Tomorrow (March 9, 2011) is Ash Wednesday, the first day of 40 days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving that we call Lent. This season ends on Easter Sunday.

My special project this year will be reading the gospel of Mark with a map in hand, as suggested by my bishop. Most Catholics give up eating mammals and birds on Fridays in Lent—for a long-time vegan like me, this isn’t a change, so I’m always experimenting with different fasts. This year, I’ll cut back my eating on Fridays to just a snack for breakfast. (The giving up soy idea is interesting, but hasn’t been fruitful for me.)

As usual, I also have an ambitious plan for reading and watching movies that connect with my search for Christ. If I get around to doing any of that, I’ll post my thoughts here.

One online prayer resource I’m going to try, for the first time, is Praying Lent. I’ll let you know how this goes.

posted by Mike in Lent | on March 8th, 2011 | Permanent Link to “Lent 2011” | 3 Comments »

Holy Week items

posted by Mike on April 3rd, 2010

On Palm Sunday many churchgoers hold palms during the service. I’m used to seeing people weave them into large crosses. Here are two smaller (East African?) designs that I saw for the first time.

“Song for Holy Saturday”
Following tradition, here’s a link to this poem by James K. Baxter.

“Enjoy the Silence: Triduum, sexual abuse, and the disappearance of the crucified”
Michael Iafrate:

It is truly difficult to hear the continued reports of children raped by priests and not be struck by the presence of the Crucified One there. But this presence is denied—“I do not know the man!”—each and every time church leaders and members alike remain silent or utter words of defensiveness that embarrassingly fill nearly every news story or ecclesial statement covering the abuse.

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posted by Mike in Items, Lent | on April 3rd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Holy Week items” | No Comments »

A late Lent bibliography

posted by Mike on March 28th, 2010

I’m just now getting into the spiritual and intellectual work I associate with Lent. Barring some quick epiphanies, this work will stretch into the Easter season.

Here are some of the things I’m planning to read and watch. No real curriculum here, just what’s on one man’s shelf.

If anything else comes in handy I’ll add comments or maybe a second post. Probably 2001 (my favorite movie) and Breaking the Waves (my favorite religious film, though not for everybody–I freaked out a friend yesterday just explaining the plot) will find their way onto my screen.

posted by Mike in Books, Lent | on March 28th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “A late Lent bibliography” | 4 Comments »

A Green Senate? A Sustainability Commissioner?

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 24th, 2010

I wrote this note 12 November 2009 and recently sent it to my friend Dr Rupert Read. After discussion with him – who turned out to be in support of a Green Senate or a Sustainability Commissioner – I added a moderating amendment (see below). Rupert and I are going to hear the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations, Dr Sándor Fülöp, at the Ministry of Justice on Thursday, at an event organized by the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

In the past 5 years or so, I have heard from time to time impatient proponents of a Green Senate, a committee for sustainability, a parliamentary chamber with a built-in long-term view and overriding power in favour of measures for sustainability. Famous proponents include Norman Myers, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and (most recently, this past Tuesday) John Strickland. I do not think such a constitutional arrangement would work.

First, who would we appoint to this Senate? Would they be 70-year-olds, having accumulated years of experiences and (one hopes) accompanying wisdom? Or would they be 20-year-olds, or even teenagers, who have a stake, with realistic interests, in the future? Or a mixture thereof? Then, what about the midlifers? Are they totally disinterested, and should only be shoved around by the young and the old? Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Environment, Green Party, Lent | on February 24th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “A Green Senate? A Sustainability Commissioner?” | Comments Off