Tagged: five ways

5 ways to carry Lent into Easter

Yes, you read that headline right. Carry LENT into EASTER.

But why? It’s a celebration! A Feast! Our Savior is Resurrected!
All true…
Check out the Code of Canon Law for a second.
(OK, more than a second.)
Canon 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.
Canon 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So here are the strategies I use to keep Fridays penitential.

1. Avoid meat and going out on Fridays.

This used to be SO EASY when I was dating. Friday nights are now date nights (typically). Going out, regardless of what I’m eating, just doesn’t seem penitential at all. I mean, someone brings the food to me!

     If I do end up going out on a Friday night (or for lunch), I try to get a simple, cheap meal. A salad. No soda or drink. Just water.
     It’s nice to enjoy the company, instead of the meal (not that salads are bad!).
     And of course, no meat. I really got into the no-meat Fridays last year, and I love it. It’s nice to know that I just don’t eat meat on Fridays, and I don’t have to think of something to abstain from instead.
     If I stay home, I like to make a simple meal, and eat it without distractions… meaning, no reading, no cell phone while I’m eating. Just a simple meal at my dining room table.

2. Spend some extra time in prayer on Fridays, particularly at 3 p.m.

     After Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Resurrection Sunday), I like to re-add a chaplet to my day around 3 p.m. I can’t do it every day, and I can’t even do it every Friday… but I try extra hard on Fridays to at least say the Divine Mercy prayer at 3 p.m. This helps me remember, every Friday, that Christ died for MY sins.
     If you don’t have time for the prayer, don’t have it memorized, just say “Jesus, I trust in you!” Go for three times. 🙂

3. Go to daily Mass.

   I already try to go as often as possible. I’m lucky that my work schedule and the Mass schedule at my local parish works out.
     Starting a Friday morning with a Mass just makes the whole day go better (and really this works for any day).

4. Can’t make it to Mass? Liturgy of the Hours!

     Yes, the Divine Office. Say it. Say the morning prayers, say the vespers. Say them all. Say what you can.
     They’re online, I think there are apps for smartphones. I don’t know. This is something I want to start doing this Easter season (and ordinary time!).
     I don’t go to  Mass on Thursday mornings… my parish only has Liturgy of the Word with Communion. So I usually sleep in (if I can), and spend some time enjoying a cup of coffee before I go to work.
     So I plan to start saying the Divine Office on Thursdays. Well, I want to try.

5. Examination of conscience.

     I do the examen from the Jesuits every night, but Fridays are a great day to review the past week and see what keeps popping up.
     Lust? Greed? Worry? Fear? Am I getting hit with the same sins? Have I done what I planned to do to avoid those sins? To work on them? Fridays are a great review day, and new plans can start on Saturday.
     For example, I’ve been feeling very fearful about my financial situation the past few weeks. I got hit with double electric bills after moving, and the money was just a little bit short.
     But of course, God provided… through my mom. She gave me some cash when I helped her with her taxes, and I was able to buy some groceries. Praise God.
     So while I know I still need to budget my money, I know that God isn’t going to leave me starving. It will work out, if I use my money wisely.
     I recently started tithing a full 10 percent, and the first paycheck, it really hit me, but I can already see the blessings coming back to me. God provides.
Those are just some of the ways I do… or plan to make sure every Friday is a penitential Friday.
God bless.

5 Ways to Stay Focused in Prayer

I admit I am not the most focused when I pray. It seems like as soon as I get down on my knees, everything that I was trying to think of the entire day (week) pops into my head.

Oh, I forgot to…
I should have…
I didn’t…
What is she wearing?
I would never do that.
I don’t think I am the only one that gets distracted in prayer, but it’s something I work on (a lot).
These are a few things that help me.

1. Close your eyes.

     This is sort of obvious. I see little kids praying, and they always close their eyes.
     This immediately cuts any distraction from vision. (Now, if people could just be quiet…)
     Honestly, closing your eyes eliminates the use of one of our senses, and it eliminates things in our line of sight to think about.
     Try it. It helps.

2. Pray slowly. Speak prayers out loud. Slow down.

     It’s super easy to rattle off a prayer in your head.
     It’s easy to skip words, too, or have them all just flow together.
     Instead, write them. Or speak them slowly. Pause where commas are in the prayer. Stop at periods.
     It’s OK to repeat sentences, too. Remember, you’re talking to God (Jesus or Mary or Joseph or …). They’re all so patient.
     They have time to listen to us. They are not rushed friends or husbands (wives, bosses, coworkers…). They’re in Heaven, and they’re waiting for us.

3. Repetition is key.

     Three times means you really mean it. That’s why we say things three times during the liturgy.
     Getting bored with the Rosary? It’s a lot of Hail Marys.
     Well, ease into the words. Try to imagine being there when Mary was greeted and told the good news.
     Try to imagine Elizabeth.
     Yes, there are mysteries to meditate on as well. Bored with those?
     Think of the smallest detail. For example, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
          What was she wearing? Were her eyes closed? Imagine watching her being taken into Heaven.
     When we repeat words and prayers, it’s easier to imagine those things because we aren’t thinking about the words anymore.
     Contrary to #2, it’s OK to glide over the words to see the bigger picture (sometimes).

4. Write it out.

     I mentioned writing down prayers in #2.
     But also, write down your personal petitions. I used to (and want to start again) keep a running list during the days of my little wishes or of people who needed Jesus’ mercy (everyone!).
     Seriously, though, we see people that we don’t know, but we know they could use prayers (again, everyone). Write it down.
     I used an index card when I did this earlier in my life. Then at the end of the day, I’d unfold the card and say a Hail Mary (or any prayer) for each individual.
     We don’t always have to pray for ourselves or just people directly in our lives.
     Remember to get your loved ones that have died on the list, too. After you pray for them, ask them to pray for you.

5. Silence isn’t bad.

     So you finished your prayers really fast, quick like a bunny (obviously you didn’t read earlier numbers in this list).
     OK, now what? It’s too soon to get off the kneeler in Church.
     Keep your eyes closed, and just ask for peace, wisdom, charity, anything. Ask for reason. Ask for focus during Mass.
     This is good to do if you’re praying at home, too. Ask Jesus to help you focus while you’re praying.
     Then, just wait.
     Try to empty your mind. God can’t always fit in among your grocery list, work schedule and phone bill. Let it all go.
     I visualize leaving my problems and issues at the foot of the cross. I imagine setting down my electric bill at the foot of the cross. I imagine shedding my body image issues at the foot of the cross.
     Each thing, I put there individually.
     Then I breathe. And I wait.
God bless.