St. Damien of Molokai: Embracing The Leper

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. (Mt. 8:1-3)

Leprosy (now known as Hansen’s disease) was a feared illness in both the ancient and modern worlds. If often disfigures its victims and was thought to be highly contagious; those with leprosy were made to live apart from a town or village and often made to ring a bell and call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” so that others would stay away. They relied on begging.

(We know now that leprosy is not contagious via skin contact, and is relatively hard to contract. It is a bacterial infection and can be cured.)

Today is the feast of St. Damien of Molokai. He was a Belgian priest, born in 1840, who volunteered to care for the lepers on the island of Molokai. These men and women had literally been exiled to this island, as far away from polite society as possible. Many of these people were Catholic, and begged for the care of a priest, but no would volunteer … until Damien. It was assumed by all that he was essentially accepting a death sentence.

The leper colony on Molokai was established in 1866 and officially closed in 1969 (although some lepers and their descendants choose to live there.) While we tend to think of Molokai as a lush vacation paradise, the conditions of the colony were beyond harsh.

The area was void of all amenities. No buildings, shelters nor potable water were available. These first arrivals dwelled in rock enclosures, caves, and in the most rudimentary shacks, built of sticks and dried leaves…

Oral histories recall some of the horrors: the leprosy victims, arriving by ship, were sometimes told to jump overboard and swim for their lives. Occasionally a strong rope was run from the anchored ship to the shore, and they pulled themselves painfully through the high, salty waves, with legs and feet dangling below like bait on a fishing line.

The ship’s crew would then throw into the water whatever supplies had been sent, relying on currents to carry them ashore or the exiles swimming to retrieve them.

The men, women and children exiled to Molokai were torn from their families and thrust into this harsh environment. Clothing became scarce, as was food.

The island had become a wasteland in human terms, despite its natural beauty. The leprosy victims of Molokai faced hopeless conditions and extreme deprivation, sometimes lacking not only basic palliative care but even the means of survival.

Damien set about trying to normalize life for the people of Molokai. He became their advocate with the caretakers (who were often cruel), worked to build homes, a church, gardens for both food and beauty. As a farm boy, Damien knew how to work. He also ministered to people, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, baptizing and marrying people. He also strongly believed that beauty and art was necessary for the souls of the people in Molokai; he established choirs and musical ensembles. Those that knew him remembered him as a tireless worker, often to the point of exhaustion.

Damien did eventually contract leprosy and died during Holy Week of 1889. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

St. Damien’s life is truly one of a saint: he reflected and exemplified the life of Jesus. He brought the Good News to a people who were without hope. He brought them faith, hope, love. He taught them that they were worthy of a life of dignity, just as any child of God is so worthy. St. Damien chose to leave his life behind and live the life that Christ chose for him. He chose to embrace Christ, and in doing so, embraced the leper.

[Photo: Public domain. Father Damien with the Kalawao Girls’ Choir, circa 1870]


The Communion And Friendship of Saints

A saint, as defined by the Catholic Church, is one who has “preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2683)

For some of us, a saint is a plaster statue, pious-looking but not very human. Or a saint might be that person you studied in middle school so you could pick out a cool Confirmation name. But if this is where our relationships with the saints begins and ends, we miss out on so much.

Scripture tells us (in Hebrews) that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” That’s the saints. They witness to us the great love of God. They loved God, know that God loves them, and want others to know that love. That’s what the saints all have in common.

Yet, if you study the saints, you will find as many personalities, gifts, life choices and challenges as there are stars in the sky. And this is the Church’s gift to us: the saints – our “big” brothers and sisters in faith – show us how to love God, love others and do God’s will in many different ways, many different walks of life.

Take for instance St. Gianna Molla. She was a 20th century woman: a doctor, a wife and mother, an athlete. She loved her family and sought to serve God in her work. She also loved life: the life of the family and the life of the  unborn. When she was pregnant with her fourth child, it was discovered that she had a uterine tumor. Any treatment of the tumor would likely result in the death of the baby, so Gianna and her husband chose to continue the pregnancy. A little girl was born healthy, but Gianna lost her life. She told her doctors: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save the baby.” St. Gianna Molla is a powerful witness for the pro-life movement, for modern mothers who seek to balance work and home, and for those who are faced with frightening medical decisions.

St. Hildegard of Bingen is also a saint and female, but that might be all she has in common with Gianna. Hildegard lived in the 12th century and was a Benedictine nun (the Benedictines were known then for their rather strict way of life.) She received visions from God, which she said made her see her fellow humans as “living sparks” of the love of God. She loved Scripture and loved helping others understand it. She was a scientist, a musician, and founded convents. Her writings are so profound that Pope Benedict XVI declared her a “Doctor of the Church,” a title given to only 35 saints in the Church’s history. A Doctor of the Church is someone whose life work has contributed greatly to theology and/or doctrine of the Catholic Church.

These are just two examples of saints, but these two women show the depth and breadth of the saints. A wife and mother, a nun. A modern doctor, a medieval seeker of healing in plants. An athlete, a musician.

The saints are not plaster people. They are real. They struggled with the same things we struggle with: family issues, doubts in faith, anger, jealousy, money problems. They knew challenges and disappointments, hostility from those who were supposed to support them and those who questioned their devotion as maybe just a little … crazy. For whatever you struggle with, there is a saint who has “been there and done that.”

Catholics do not pray to the saints. We pray to God alone. But just like you might ask a friend to pray for an issue you’re struggling with, we ask the saints for their intercession before the throne of God. They now live eternally in God’s presence, so who better to buddy up with?

A caution: saints are not magical. The Church warns us against going beyond devotion to a particular saint and veering off into some sort of enchantment: “If I say just the right words to just the right saint, I’ll get what I want.”

Adoration is the worship and homage that is due to God alone. The Saints are human like you and I.  They are not divine. Adoration of the saints has never been nor will ever be part of Catholic teaching or prayer. We venerate the saints.

That being said, we are strongly encouraged to make friends with the saints. (Keeping in mind that they are not dead, but alive in Christ!) We often refer to “patron saints;” these are the saints we may be named after, the saint on whose feast day we were born, that person you chose for your Confirmation name are all patrons. We should have a relationship with them. The Church encourages us to learn about the saints: read biographies, read the saints’ own writings, emulate how they prayed. In this way, we learn how to more and more become holy: these brothers and sisters in the faith become examples of how to overcome our sinfulness, despite all the human challenges we face.

As we pray when we pray the Litany of the Saints, may all the holy men and women pray for us!


For the Greater Glory of God: The Jesuits

475 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola became the leader of the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Their motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam, translates to For the greater glory of God.  Over the centuries, the Jesuits have become known for their scholarship and their bold evangelization. (Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest.)

This boldness is no surprise, given their founder. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier who brought the fervor of battle into his spiritual life. He developed a series of exercises to help the men he led develop in their relationship with God, just as a commander might help those who serve under him to become stronger soldiers. The Spiritual Exercises continue to help Jesuits form their priestly lives. One writer describes this spirituality as practical:

Ignatian spirituality is adaptable. It is an outlook, not a program; a set of attitudes and insights, not rules or a scheme. Ignatius’s first advice to spiritual directors was to adapt the Spiritual Exercises to the needs of the person entering the retreat. At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a profound humanism. It respects people’s lived experience and honors the vast diversity of God’s work in the world. The Latin phrase cura personalis is often heard in Ignatian circles. It means ‘care of the person’—attention to people’s individual needs and respect for their unique circumstances and concerns.

The Jesuits’ strong desire to evangelize has sent them all over the globe. Many have been martyred in their desire to “set the world ablaze” with Christ, as their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, enjoined them. Fr. Walther Ciszek, S.J., an American, joined the Jesuits in the early 20th century. He volunteered to go to Russia, even as the Soviet regime was taking control. It was not an easy time for the young priest.

He didn’t mind the hard work and harsh conditions of that camp in the Ural Mountains. But he was frustrated and disillusioned to find no outlets for his priestly ministry. It was “almost a non-apostolate,” he said, for even the Catholic workers feared Communist informers and refused to speak or hear of God. And so, as Ciszek and a fellow Jesuit said their furtive Masses in the forest, he wondered: “Have all my work and sacrifices been for nothing? Should I give up?”

He needn’t have worried. Ciszek was soon arrested as a spy, and sentenced to the infamous Siberian Gulag for 15 years. It was here that Ciszek found his mission field.

[I]n this nightmare realm, Fr. Ciszek knew the joy of bringing Christ to his fellow prisoners. In secret, he baptized, heard confessions, tended the sick and dying, gave homilies and retreats, said Mass, and distributed Communion. With quiet heroism, he built “a thriving parish,” though it cost him. He was punished with assignments to the dirtiest work. He shoveled coal for fifteen hours straight, hauled logs out of a frozen river, crawled through dangerous mine tunnels, and dug sewer trenches with a pickaxe in subzero temperatures.

“How did you survive?” people asked him later. “God’s providence,” he always replied. And abandoning himself to this providence — to God’s will, as revealed in each day’s situations — was his priority.

Many people, including lay persons, have over the centuries found Ignatian spirituality helpful in their own lives. The many brave Jesuit priests stand as awesome examples of awareness of Christ in the world and a strong desire to serve others.



Who, Me? A Saint?

Perhaps you grew up with a saint statue on your dresser. When you were confirmed, you likely mulled over which saint you which choose for your patron in that sacrament. Put to the test, you could probably list quite a few saints.

But do you know YOU are supposed to be a saint?

While Catholics worship God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – alone, we rely on the holiness of others as examples of the Christian life. While the Church declares some “saints,” she acknowledges that not all those who live on eternally in the presence of God will be officially recognized as saints. Regardless, we are called to live in communion with the saints:

In the communion of saints, ‘a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.’In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin. – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1475

We “pilgrims on earth” frankly need all the help we can get, and our brothers and sisters in Christ who have preceded us in faith to Heaven are some of the best friends we can have.

But we need to go further than this; we need to recognize that we are ALL called to be saints. Yes, you. And me. And that lady that sits behind you every week in church, singing off-key. Your teenage son, who seems to have lost the give of speech and merely grunts at you. Your boss. Your uncle who still refers to your by your childhood nickname no matter how many times you’ve asked him not to.

Saints, all of us.

You may protest, “I can’t be a saint. I’m not holy enough. I swear at other drivers. I get mad at my kids. I can’t concentrate on Father’s homily most of the time.” Yeah, well, you’re still called to be a saint.

Oh, we may not get official recognition from the Church; most saints don’t. It may be hard for us to achieve holiness; it is for most saints. Saints are real people, though, not plaster statues or figurines pinned to our car’s visors. They are not softly colored and angelic faces staring at us flatly from a holy card. They are men and women who faced real challenges: hatred from their family for converting, crippling illness, doubts in their faith, criticism from those around them.

What makes a person a saint is that they try to be holy. They recognize their sinfulness, and they repent … and repent … and repent. They learn to tame their temper, their tongue, their pride. They rely on Christ, His Church, the Sacraments, in order to gain grace that no person can gain on their own. They are not perfect. They are, however, holy – not by their own efforts, but by the grace of God.

It is your calling to be a saint. Don’t say you can’t (which is really saying, “I won’t.”) Instead, get to know the saints. Learn how they did it. Ask Mary, the Mother of God, for help. Seek to do good works in your family, in your place of work, in your community, in your parish. Sainthood is not out of reach. In fact, God is handing it to you as a gift, and all you need to do is live out that gift.

success as a saint

Winners, Losers And Success As A Catholic

Oh, dear. It’s political season. It seems every day we are inundated with who has won, who has lost, who has dropped out. As Catholics, do we “keep score” like this? Are there winners and losers in the Faith? How do we mark success?

First, we know that the world’s standards are not God’s standards. By the world’s standards, martyrs are “losers.” Imagine, as St. Maximilian Kolbe did, volunteering to be killed so that another may live. Those “in charge” thought Maximilian Kolbe a fool; we now regard him a saint. St. Paul, in his life as Saul, was quite “successful” in persecuting Christians, but God called him to a new life and he responded. In fact, Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 4:

We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.

I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me.

We know quite well how to spot a successful person in the world: the amount of money in a bank account, the lavish home, accolades from others. But there is no scorecard for a follower of Christ, at least not in this fashion. In fact, everything we know about success is turned on its head by St. Paul. We are followers of Christ Jesus, whose earthly life seemingly ended as a criminal, executed by those in power. As Catholics, what is our standard of success?

St. John Paul II, at World Youth Day 2000, said this to the young people gathered in Rome, and by extension, to the whole world:

Be contemplative, love prayer; be coherent with your faith and generous in the service of your brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace. To succeed in this demanding project of life, continue to listen to His Word, draw strength from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance. The Lord wants you to be intrepid apostles of his Gospel and builders of a new humanity.

His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, continued this message in Cologne at World Youth Day 2005:

It is the great multitude of the saints — both known and unknown — in whose lives the Lord has opened up the Gospel before us and turned over the pages; he has done this throughout history and he still does so today. In their lives, as if in a great picture book, the riches of the Gospel are revealed. They are the shining path which God himself has traced throughout history and is still tracing today. …

The saints … are the true reformers. Now I want to express this in an even more radical way: only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world.

Our standard of success then, is the Gospel. It is to be close to Christ in the sacraments. It is to know and live our faith. Success is to place ourselves at the service of others, to lead a revolution of faith. Success is to be a saint.


Hoisting The World To Heaven

As easy as it is to become discouraged about the state of the world, we must remember that saints walk among us. Saints are just ordinary people who dutifully accept God’s grace, hoisting themselves and the world to heaven.

Madeleine Delbrel, a French Catholic writer and mystic, knew this. Delbrel was raised Catholic, but as a teen, lost her faith, proclaiming that “God is dead.” Later, she claimed to have re-discovered her faith in God by praying that she could believe.

Delbrel wrote:

If some have to leave the world in order to find it and raise it to heaven, others have to plunge into it so as to hoist themselves with the world to the same heaven.

I take that to mean that a few souls are called to live a monastic life: a life apart from the world, rooted in prayer and work. Their lives are continuous prayer for the salvation of all. It is a rigorous life, and not one that God calls many to.

The rest of us are “plunged” into this world. We must deal with the sins of ourselves and others writ large: provocative “entertainment,” poverty and hunger, politicians and leaders who scandalize, the complete lack of charity for those with whom we work and live, those strangers on the street. Our lives are filled with distractions; how often do we “visit” with friends and family, only to have everyone stare at their phone screens?

It is into this world we are plunged. Delbrel is reminding us that it is our calling as Catholics to hoist ourselves above all this, and bring others with us. When we lift ourselves above this world, heaven becomes more and more clear, and more and more desirable. We may wish sometimes that this was not our calling, but here is where God placed us: in this time, in this place, with these people. How will you hoist them to heaven today?


Heading Into The Tomb

During the season of Lent, we are acutely aware of death, it seems. The readings seem to have a sense of foreboding to them; we know we are getting closer and closer to Good Friday. In some of our churches, the holy water fonts are empty. The decor changes: instead of fresh flowers, there are cacti or simple, empty pots or even stones. We limit our feasting; we are on watch for death. We are, in a sense, headed for the tomb.

Catholic writer Heather King, in her book Redeemed: Stumbling Towards God, said this,

… I remember a homily that Father Jarlath at St. Thomas the Apostle once gave about the time Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: he said we all have things in us that are from the tomb – old rotting resentments, griefs, sorrows – and when it is time to look at them, it’s a good idea to bring Jesus in with us.

Lent is about heading into the tomb. It is certainly about Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection (the Paschal Mystery, the Church calls it) but it’s also about acknowledging our own tomb. As King puts it, we all have that place in us where things are left to die. Maybe it’s a relationship that should have been mended a long time ago. Perhaps what is dying in us is our faith; life has worn us down and we wonder if God has forgotten us. Our tomb may be a place where we struggle with an addiction; we’ve buried our true self behind the rocks of alcohol or drugs or pornography.

Many people choose to remain in their tombs. They become embittered, they lose faith, they “die,” in a way. Some of us want to get out, but we don’t know how. After all, who can roll that huge stone out of the way so that light can stream in?

The only way out of the tomb is through Christ. He alone has conquered death and sin. He alone can raise us – as He did for Lazarus – from the grave. For some of us, it may be a matter of simply recognizing this and falling to our knees in thanksgiving. The vast majority of us need the Sacrament of Reconciliation to acknowledge our own sinful part of the tomb. And some of us will need professional help (a psychologist, a spiritual director) in order to sort out how we ended up in the tomb and how we can live our lives outside that tomb.

In John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. When Lazarus’ sister Martha expresses some doubt about Jesus command to remove the stone from the tomb’s entrance, He says, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

A tomb can be a frightening place. But if we bring Christ with us, we will see the glory of God. Jesus promised us, and so it will be.

Doctors of the Church

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme The News

Have you ever heard the term “Doctor of the Church?” Does it bring to mind a stethoscope and time in a waiting room with outdated magazines? A “Doctor of the Church” has to do with spiritual health, not physical. Let’s talk about the Doctors of the Church.

First, in the 2,000 year history of the Church, only 35 men and women have been proclaimed “doctors,” so you know it must be special. But what does it mean?

[T]he Doctors of the Church are an elite cadre of Catholics who: 1) Demonstrated exemplary holiness; 2) Deepened the whole Church’s understanding of the Catholic faith; and 3) Were officially declared Doctors via papal proclamation. (Technically, an ecumenical council of bishops could also do the proclaiming, but they never have chosen to do so.)

The title itself dates back to the early fifth century, when Rufus of Aquileia decided the term “doctor” made a nice synonym for “teacher.” His innovation soon became a trend, and by AD 420, Augustine himself began giving the “doctor” label to some of the most authoritative teachers from the early Church.

So far, so good. But why should the average Catholic pay attention to these folks? The Doctor of the Church (you can find all of them listed here) have something to teach us. They have provided us with new insights (not new teachings) into our beautiful Faith. They all faced particular challenges – some personal, some regarding the times and circumstances they lived in – with faith, hope and charity.

For instance, there is St. Hildegard of Bingen. She was an abbess, an artist, a mystic, a gardener, a musician … Many people thought she was crazy, or at the very least pompous. How could God reveal himself to a woman, after all? Hildegard loved music, and knew it was one way to pray:

Sometimes when we hear a song we breathe deeply and sigh. This reminds the prophet that the soul arises from heavenly harmony. In thinking about this, he was aware that the soul itself has something in itself of this music…

Then there is St. John Chrysostem. “Chrysostem” wasn’t his name; it was a title given to him. It means “golden mouth,” because of the eloquence of his speaking and preaching. That didn’t keep him from trouble, however. The empress Eudoxia was so offended by him that he had to go into exile. St. John Chrysostem loved the Eucharist:

It is necessary to understand the wonder of this sacrament.  What it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action.  We become one body, and members, as it is said, of his flesh and of his bones…  This is effected by the food which he has given us…  He has mingled his body with ours that we may be one, as body joined to head.

With 35 Doctors, the Church has given us an enormous treasure of teachings, insights into the sacraments, prayer: all of the aspects of a Christian life well-lived. Why not spend some time getting to know one of these Doctors? It’s good medicine for the soul.

radical prayer

Radical Prayer

St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. (Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest.) The order is known for its great scholarship and truly brave priests. While many Jesuits teach, the Jesuit order is, at its heart, a missionary order, charged with taking the Gospel to those who do not know it.

The Jesuits owe much of their spirit and calling to their founder. St. Ignatius was a Spanish soldier from a noble family. As a young man he dreamed of great deeds as a knight, but injuries forced him to abandon this. While recuperating, he began to deeply contemplate what God wanted of him.

One of the prayers St. Ignatius left us is called the Suscipe, or the Radical Prayer:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

No wonder it’s called the “Radical Prayer!” What a scary thought: that one should turn over everything to God! My free will, my memory … everything? Pray that I abandon my wants, desires and dreams for the will of God? Doesn’t that seem, well, just a little … crazy?

Perhaps. Lent is a good time to meditate on this prayer, even if one is not quite ready to pray it in earnest. We are Christians, after all: we bear the name of Christ because we choose to follow Him. And following Christ means a radical choice: picking up our cross, going wherever He sends us, becoming fishers of men.

St. Ignatius’ prayer acknowledges a simple truth: everything we have belongs to God. All the prayer says is, “I know that all I am is because of You, God. I want to use what You’ve given me, what You’ve made me, to do what You have planned for me.”

Even if we are not quite ready to pray this radical prayer, Lent is a good time to start asking God to lead you to it. What do you have planned for me, God? What is your will for me? How can I give everything to You, God?


The Courage of Lent

It is common for children, in their desire to be pious and good, to begin Lent with a long list of “give ups:” “I’m gonna give up candy, and I’m gonna give up TV and I’m gonna give up arguing with my sister…” Adults chuckle, knowing that the child underestimates the stamina and courage that Lent requires.

In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, the lawyer-father who chooses to defend a black man in the Jim Crow South against the charge of rape, has to explain to his son what “courage” is, as the town divides over the black man’s trial:

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.

In a sense, we are all losers – we are sinners in need of God’s grace and redemption. If we look to the lives of saints, men and women who are holy inspiration, we often see a bunch of “losers:”

  • Joan of Arc, burned at the stake as a heretic
  • Lawrence, burned in an iron grill by the Prefect of Rome
  • Margaret of Castello, deformed, rejected by her parents and forced to beg
  • Solanus Casey, ordained a priest, but told by his superiors that he could not preach or hear confessions due to his poor scholarship

We can go on. In fact, as Christians, the one whose name we claim, Christ Jesus, was a failure to most who knew him. He did not become king of the Jews, overthrowing the Romans. He was executed in the most horrific and shameful fashion. He went into the Passion knowing that this terrible cup would not pass from Him.

On that horrible Good Friday, the men of courage appeared to be the government officials, the soldiers with whips and chains, the religious leaders who failed to see God in their midst. We know, however, that courage hung on the Cross. “Real courage,” as Atticus Finch told his son, is doing what is right, what it good, even if you know you’ll “lose” in the eyes of the world.

As we continue on our Lenten journey, we must be courageous. We must continue to act with mercy and love, especially when we do not feel like it. We must pray even more fervently. We must see Lent through, courageously.

simple offerings

Simple Lenten Offerings

At CatholicLink, Luisa Restrepo has put together a list of 25 Simple Offerings to make this Lent a time to grow closer to Christ.

For instance: be joyful at work. Yup, every day. Joy is a virtue, so cultivate it.

Or you might try only buying what is necessary. Stay away from the mall, online shopping and the book store.

Don’t be negative on social media. Don’t give into the trolls, don’t be snarky, don’t be uncharitable.

Our Lenten sacrifices aren’t about “giving up” a bad habit just for the sake of gritting our teeth and getting through the next 40 days. It’s about becoming more like Christ. We are meant to be saints, so let’s get a bit closer to sainthood this Lent.