Preparing for Lent

The 40 days of Lent are rapidly approaching and now is the time to be thinking about personal plans for this holy season. For me it is often difficult to decide what I will do and/or what I will give up this Lenten season to prepare for Easter. Placeholder Image Whatever I decide, I see it as a way to strengthen my faith during this time.  It is a good idea to write the plan on paper so as to commit to it more fully.  I also glance at it often to remind myself of my commitment.

On Ash Wednesday at Mass, we will hear the priest say in the Collect Prayer a the beginning “Grant, O Lord, that, we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian Service, so that, as we take up the battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. “

The plan for the Lenten Season should contain 3 things; Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

PRAYER: A good way to approach prayer during this season is to attend daily Mass. In a parish I was in years ago parishioners were encouraged to join ‘The 40 Club’ which was attending Mass each of the 40 days of Lent.  Today, this is often not possible, particularly with those who work during the day but finding a noon Mass near a church where you work may be possible. Maybe you could plan on attending Mass as much as possible during Lent. What are other options? Consider, praying novenas, a daily rosary, and the Stations of the Cross or any of a number of prayers available.

These are all great ways to get started in enhancing our prayer life. Spending an hour at Eucharistic Adoration in the presence of our Lord speaking and listening to him is critical in growing our faith. And, don’t forget the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this holy season.  Vary your prayers and the schedule as needed. Sometimes we can repeat the same prayer so many times we tend to do it without giving it thought. Particularly during Lent, you want to make the most of your prayer time by thinking about the words you are saying.

Set aside time each day to read the Bible or maybe a book about saints  lives.  This will help you spend more time with Jesus reflecting on what you just read, either His word or the life of a saint and how you can emulate that.  Remember that the gospels tell us that Jesus often went off to a quiet place, by himself, to pray.  Remove yourself from any distractions and ask Jesus to speak to you through your prayers or readings.  Thank Him for giving you life, and ask him for continued blessings and hope for a future with Him.

FASTING:  Of course we know that on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during Lent we are asked to abstain from meat. Many local parishes have Friday Fish Fries with reasonable prices, including St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, so it is a great way to abstain from meat and enjoy an evening with parishioners and neighbors.

There are other ways to fast also, such as giving up something you really like to do or to eat.  It might be limiting your TV or social media time or giving up a favorite but unnecessary food. Think about what you do now and what you will do during Lent.  Another positive aspect of this fasting is it may create a bit more time for prayer.

ALMSGIVING:  According to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, the foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and  “a work of justice pleasing to God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).

There are numerous ways to demonstrate our fraternal charity such as giving money or other donations to St. Vincent de Paul at St. Andrew Church or Hope Emergency, these organizations assist our local neighbors. You could also watch out for neighbors who you know may need help.  Perhaps you could offer a ride to the grocery store or doctor, invite them to your house for a meal, take them some left over food from your table, or just spending time with them in a short visit.

Many other Catholic organizations provide assistance to the poor, including; the Catholic Ministries Appeal, the Collection for the Churches in Central and Easter Europe, the Collection for the Holy Land which is used to help to maintain the Christian sites and help the poor in the Holy Land.  As a child, I looked forward to donating a portion of my allowance during Lent to the CRS Rice Bowl. This is a great way to involve your whole family in almsgiving for Lent.

When making your plans for you and your family, keep in mind doing something that touches the hearts of those around you and that expresses your thanks and love of God by sacrificing in some way.

Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7

Cathy O’Toole  fullsizerender-1

Today is a Great Feast: All Souls Day

On the 2nd day of  November each year, the Catholic Church commemorates All Souls Day.  We remember all those who have died, not just the spiritual superstars.

Here is parishioner, Mandy Geyman discussing wbat you can do today to celebrate All Souls

From the earliest days the church has prayed for the deceased. Their judgment is in the hands of God, and we trust in God’s mercy. But we also believe the God cares about us and our concerns, so prayers for our deceased loved ones are appropriate.

The feast day itself is rooted in the second century. In the 10th century, St. Odilo of Cliny established a memorial of all the faithful departed. Rome added the feast to the church’s calendar in the 13th century. In many parts of the world the celebration of this feast day is marked with particular energy, such as el Dia del los Muertos in Mexico.

It’s appropriate to commemorate All Souls Day by praying for those who have gone before us in faith. The feast of All Souls reminds us of our mortality. We are all finite, mortal creatures. We are all loved by God, who has endowed us with an immortal soul. Our ultimate destiny lies in God’s hands, and even death does not separate us from his love. Source:  USCCB

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Come and Follow Me!

My name is McKenna Wulker and I’m 24 years old. I work as a Records Analyst at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP in downtown Cincinnati. I am just now coming into the Catholic Church and was confirmed and made my first communion on the Easter Vigil.

I was baptized at St. Andrew as an infant, but did not complete any Catholic Education or receive sacraments beyond that. It wasn’t until I graduated college, had a best friend pass away, and ended a two year relationship that I found myself at a complete crossroads in my life. I had no direction, felt hopeless and confused about where my life was going and ultimately decided to rededicate my life to God, give up my control to God’s Will and complete my Catholic Education to enter the church.

I met with Deacon Tim in June to discuss how adults entered the church, a week early for my appointment; I guess I was too eager. We discussed my options and next steps which turned out to be RCIA. I have attended RCIA, Rite of Christian Initiation in Adulthood, since September in preparation to come into the Church.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, RCIA is the process through which candidates and catechumens enter the Church, learn about Catholic religion and the Church’s teachings, and discern if this is the right path for them. Normally, this all happens when you are a child, but for people who didn’t experience the rites in childhood or are converting to the Catholic Faith, this process is mandatory.

I have learned so much in RCIA and gained a fantastic faith community through the other candidates and the RCIA support team. I encourage anyone who is trying to get involved to become a member of the RCIA team and support the candidates entering the Church. It’s a great learning experience for even the most experienced Catholic.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

McKenna Wulker

Mc Kenna was initiated at the Easter Vigil.  We look forward to her joining our community she will certainly be an asset.  When you see her, please be sure to welcome her and encourage her to participate actively in our parish.

God Bless you McKenna and welcome to St. Andrew, the Apostle Church!

 

Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit.

There’s a sense of relief that comes from giving up total control. When I’ve been struggling with something for a particularly long time and/or I’ve been anxious about a task, project or uncomfortable situation, the most calming feeling occurs when someone else steps in to say, “I’ll take it from here,” or “All is well – let me help you.” Realizing the burden of the task or thing you’ve been fighting or struggling with is now given to someone else, or shared with that person, provides instant relief.

I can only imagine that sense of relief that Jesus must have experienced as he hung on the cross, dying, and finally uttered these words: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Growing up, I would often envision Jesus’ crucifixion as this terrible occurrence where Jesus remains completely calm and stoic. Unafraid. But now as an adult, I realize that my imaginings were probably not exactly accurate. Jesus was fully human – meaning he experienced every feeling, thought, temptation, physical symptom, and emotion that we face on a daily basis. In other words, there is no way that he wasn’t scared, struggling, anxious, and mentally breaking down throughout the entire ordeal.

It really is remarkable to think about – to envision Jesus hanging on the cross, each hour passing by, as he fights with himself to finally succumb to the inevitable – his death. He knew it had to be done, and he knew he was the only way to our total salvation. Yet I have no doubt he was terrified about what would happen once he finally “gave in,” and gave God total control. Jesus had never died before, he had no idea what the process would be like, if it would be painful, if it would be dark and lonely – he struggled with the same fears and anxieties that we face about death each and every day.

And yet, he let go. He finally let go of his human emotions and fears and allowed God to take total control of the situation. While he preached the importance of this throughout his life, he didn’t just “talk the talk” as they say. When it came to his death, the “big moment,” he followed through, and practiced what he preached. And in this one blip of time with these 8 words, seconds before his death, he proved to us the power of finally giving in to resistance and letting God and faith take over.

Into You Hands I Commend My Spirit.

 

                                                                                              Mandy GeymanFullSizeRender (2)

Christmas Prayer

sleeping_baby_on_a_hand_199952O God, our loving Father, help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of wise men. . .

May Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Robert Louis Stevenson

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Ask for a Sign

fourth-sunday-of-advent-pictureThe Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask? I will not tempt the Lord!” Then Isaiah said: Listen O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel. IS 7: 10-14

I have two coffee mugs that I really like. One I brought back from the Holy Land. It depicts five loaves of bread and two fish that the Lord used to feed the multitude. I got this mug while staying at the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It is a sign to me of the Lord’s desire to feed the hungry, not just bread to satisfy my physical needs but also feed my soul. The other mug I only use during Advent and the Christmas season. It is a sign to me of God the Father will send his son Jesus to live among us.

What do these two mugs have to do with today’s reading? Well, they both remind me of God’s promise to me. Unlike Ahaz, one of the Kings of Judah, when asked if he wanted a sign from the Lord of any size or magnitude that would prove God’s promise to save the royal house of David from oppressors, he refused.  He preferred to depend on the might of his army while he was king and not on God. He wasn’t into putting his trust in the Lord.

But…the Lord did give him a sign: the Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall name him Emmanuel. And we hear this passage repeated in the Gospel of Matthew some 780 years later. It was passed on through generations. It is a sign of God’s love for us! God sent us a Savior to redeem us from our sins and to love us unconditionally.

During this Christmas season, when I am distracted by worldly commercialism, may I always remember Emmanuel – God is with us.

Prayer of Christmas Thanks

Thank you Father for all the gifts you have bestowed upon me. All good comes from you. Help me to use the gifts and talents you have given me wisely and not abuse or waste them.

Ray Lamping   ray-lamping