1st Sunday of Lent

Psalm 90

He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.  He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.  For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.  He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.  His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.

Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.  But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.  Because thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the most High thy refuge.  There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.

For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.  In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon. Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name.  He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.

I will fill him with length of days; and I will shew him my salvation.

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Lenten Disciplines

During those especially holy penitential seasons of the Church’s liturgical year (namely, Advent and Lent) I try and limit my reading to spiritual works. Though I like the classics, there is something about the Lenten season which demands one’s whole person be engaged– this, I think, is really the meaning behind the Lenten tradition of “giving up” something for Lent. The deprivation will force us to seek something to fill its place and the goal is to find an activity that builds virtue and focuses our attention on the great gift of Redemption in Christ.

This Lenten season my goal is to posses a better understanding of grace. Though I graduated with a degree in Theology, grace is one of those subjects that one could spend a lifetime cultivating and deepening in knowledge. I admit that I have a very basic and elementary understanding of grace that extends only so far; however, I think grace needs more attention in theological studies. How else are we to cling to the authentic teachings of the Magisterium? (not to mention enter into dialogue with those who seek to undermine the Catholic Church by pretending that grace is not an all-important element of Catholicism.) Now that I am free (i.e., graduated and still jobless), I plan to devote much of my reading this Lenten season to grace.

Because I have some form of attention deficit disorder when it comes to reading– I pick up one book, read several chapters or perhaps a vast majority of it and then the next day pick up a completely different book and do the same thing, etc. and so on, so that by the time I come back to finish the first book, I have to re-read and skim parts of it to recall those intimate details I need to enter back into the mindset of the author– I chose two books for my study on grace: Fr. John Hardon’s (SJ) History and Theology of Grace: The Catholic Teaching of Divine Grace and Robert Sungenis’ How Can I Get to Heaven? The Bible’s Teaching on Salvation Made Easy to Understand. Both seem to be worthy works up to the task. (Note that I will also make recourse to the Sacred Scriptures, the Catechism, and any other reference which either book might make reference to that would help round out my understanding… probably another aspect that adds to my Reading-ADD of sorts).

Other Lenten reads I recommend:

The Gospel According to Mark- Yes, the Scriptures themselves are a great Lenten read, and I think Mark lends itself well because of its focus on the passion of Christ. Everything points towards the Cross (and the confession of the centurion).

The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ (St. Alphonsus Liguori)- This is what Lent is all about. (and St. Alphonsus Liguori rocks!)

Frequent Confession: It’s Place in the Spiritual Life (Fr. Benedict Baur)- A good read to remember even after the season of Lent is over… You’ll look at Confession in a whole new light.

Heliotropium (Fr. Jeremias Drexelius)- Talks about conformity of the will to God (like the flower (gentle Christian) that turns itself towards the Sun (Son)). I think it’s a good Lenten read because when we examine where we need to conform our will to the Lord’s Will, it demands some serious sacrifice. It’ll give you good ideas to harp on for Lent the next year!

Christ: the Life of the Soul (Bl. Columba Marmion)- a great work on the spiritual life that’s been praised by all sorts of Popes and theologians… very rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Saints. Very Christocentric throughout (I think even non-Catholic Christians would love it).

The Soul Sanctified (Anonymous)- Lots (i.e., 90 to be exact) of small meditations– just a few pages in length– on a variety of topics pertaining to Christan faith and life. Each meditation is unto itself, so you can pick and choose which topic interests you  in whichever order you choose. It’s handy to just carry around and use whenever you have a few moments to turn your thoughts to God.

There are numerous other good reads for Lent, but there is my two cents for this Lent. Happy reading and may you have a most dolorous Lent!