Minute Meditations from Franciscan Media

Pope Francis Prays | Image: Catholic News Service

O almighty and merciful God,
Lord of the universe and of history.
All that You have created is good
and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind
knows no limits.
We come to You today to ask You
to keep in peace the world and its people,
to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism,
to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures
the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.

—from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek



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Saint Patrick

Saint of the Day for March 17

(c. 386 – 461)



Saint Patrick’s Story

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ. Continue reading SAINT OF THE DAY

Young Women’s Lenten Retreat “She has done a good thing for me”

Young Women’s Lenten Retreat – “She has done a good thing for me”
Saturday, March 24
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, 5415 Fortuna Rd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87105
Cost: $10 (for Young Women, 18-35)
What do you consider good and beautiful? How might you see yourself and those around you as Christ does? Join us for a day retreat of faith-sharing, creativity, and reflection!

Registration link: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=6fb57c

Questions and Answers about Lent and Lenten Practices

Questions and Answers about Lent and Lenten Practices

Q. Why do we say that there are forty days of Lent?  When you count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46.

A. It might be more accurate to say that there is the “forty day fast within Lent.”  Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days. The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.

Q. So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?

A.  Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent.  These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well.  That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.

Q.  I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat.  Does meat include chicken and dairy products?

A.  Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat.  Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden.  However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste).  Fish are a different category of animal.  Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

Q.  I’ve noticed that restaurants and grocery stores advertise specials on expensive types of fish and seafood on Fridays during Lent.  Some of my Catholic friends take advantage of these deals, but somehow I don’t feel right treating myself to the lobster special on Fridays during Lent.

A.  While fish, lobster and other shellfish are not considered meat and can be consumed on days of abstinence, indulging in the lavish buffet at your favorite seafood place sort of misses the point.  Abstaining from meat and other indulgences during Lent is a penitential practice.  On the Fridays of Lent, we remember the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday and unite ourselves with that sacrifice through abstinence and prayer.

Q.  I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?

A.  Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal.  Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal.  Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.

Q.  Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

A.  Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.


Why do we Kneel?

Why Do Catholic Kneel

Kneeling: Kneeling is the most profound sign of reverence and Roman Catholics kneel at the most sacred points of the Mass. In the United States, Catholics kneel throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, but in Europe and elsewhere, they’re only obligated to kneel during the Consecration. Eastern Catholics, such as the Byzantine, don’t kneel because standing is their normal posture for reverence.

Why Do Catholics Make the Sign of the Cross

The first prayer that most parents teach their children is the Sign of the Cross. This ancient gestural prayer customarily begins and ends our formal prayer, from grace before meals to the Church’s principal prayer, the Mass. According to the 1911 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia, the ancient origin of the Sign of the Cross is unclear, but its form has evolved over time: It’s now a large gesture rather than a small one; uses three fingers instead of two, and goes from left-to-right instead of right-to-left. Continue reading Why Do Catholics Make the Sign of the Cross

Why Do We Practice Fasting & Abstinence?

Explain that Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Catholics pray, fast, contemplate, and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. Catholics do these things because Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is the greatest holy day of the Christian year (even above Christmas) and Catholics have recognized that it is appropriate to prepare for such a holy day by engaging in such disciplines.

(Archbishop Fulton Sheen noted that the Protestant attitude is summarized by the line, “First comes the feast, then comes the hangover,” while the Catholic attitude is “First comes the fast, then comes the feast.”)

The reason Lent lasts 40 days is that 40 is the traditional number of judgment and spiritual testing in the Bible (Gn 7:4, Ex 24:18, 34:28, Nm 13:25, 14:33, Jon 3:4). Lent bears particular relationship to the 40 days Christ spent fasting in the desert before entering into his public ministry (Mt 4:1-11). Catholics imitate Christ by spending 40 days in spiritual discipline before the celebration of Christ’s triumph over sin and death.

Fasting is a biblical discipline that can be defended from both the Old and the New Testament. Christ expected his disciples to fast (Mt 9:14-15) and issued instructions for how they should do so (Mt 6:16-18). Catholics follow this pattern by holding a partial fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Abstinence from certain foods is also a biblical discipline. In Daniel 10:2-3 we read, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.” Catholics use a practice similar to Daniel’s when, as a way of commemorating Christ’s Crucifixion on a Friday, they abstain from eating meat on that day of the week during Lent. The only kind of flesh they eat on Friday is fish, which is a symbol of Christ.

Even the Ash Wednesday practice of having one’s forehead signed with ashes has a biblical parallel. Putting ashes on one’s head was a common biblical expression of mourning (1 Sm 13:19, Est 4:1, Is 61:3; see also Est 4:3, Jer 6:26, Ez 27:30, Dn 9:3, Mt 11:21, Lk 10:13). By having the sign of the cross made with ashes on their foreheads, Catholics mourn Christ’s suffering on the cross and their own sins, which made that suffering necessary.