A Litany of Forgiveness

mary-magdaleneThe Lenten season is filled with reminders to forgive. And, as difficult as it can be to forgive others, it can be just as hard to ask forgiveness for ourselves.

This litany is a great exercise in asking for forgiveness, especially from God. It can be prayed in addition to an examination of conscience, during family prayer or before going to Confession.

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LITANY OF FORGIVENESS

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Yet we are preoccupied with money and worldly goods and put our trust in what we possess rather than in your care for us.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Yet we are so concerned about our own rights and self-interest and so little concerned about serving others.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Yet we are impatient under our burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall have their fill.

Yet we do not thirst for you, the fountain of all holiness, and we are satisfied with half-measures and mediocrity.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Yet we are so quick to condemn, so slow to forgive.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Yet we have often regarded persons created in your image as objects of our own lusts and can not raise our eyes to you.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you said: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

Yet we are so often ruthless with each other, and our homes and our world are full of discord and resentments.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us.

 

Lord, Jesus Christ. you said: Blessed are those who suffer persecution for holiness’ sake, for the Kingdom of God is theirs.

Yet we suffer no opposition because we have been ashamed of you, our Crucified Savior, and have lived worldly compromises of your Gospel.

 

Have mercy on us,

O Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

 

(Source: The Catholic Doors Ministry)

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A Lenten Tradition: Veiling the Cross

Towards the end of Lent you may notice purple cloths draped over crucifixes, statues, and images of saints in your church. In some churches, these items are actually removed from the sanctuary altogether. 

This old custom of veiling religious images is a way of focusing on the penitential aspect of this liturgical season.  It is often practiced during the last two weeks before Easter, starting on Passion Sunday (the Sunday prior to Palm Sunday) and ending on Good Friday. This time period was originally called Passiontide. Even though it is no longer called by this name as often, the tradition is still practiced in many places.

Then, as in a dramatic unveiling, the images are again revealed to mark the end of the penitential season and the beginning of the joy of the Easter season and the hope that the Resurrection brings.  It is a beautiful custom that teaches us about the meaning of the liturgical seasons.

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Crosses and images veiled: Passion Sunday

Cross revealed: Good Friday to emphasize Jesus bearing the Cross on that day

Images revealed: Easter vigil

In covering the cross during the height of Lent, attention is centered on the Passion and death of Christ. This is why the only images NOT to be covered are the Stations of the Cross.

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This year, I intend to bring this tradition into my own home. During the 40 days of Lent, we read our Lenten books, contemplate on the Stations of the Cross, and gear up for Easter Sunday.  Just as the Church simplifies the sanctuary in these last days of Lent in order to focus on the penitential aspect of the season, we can also simplify our homes in creative ways.

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What do we have in our home that distracts us from focusing on Lent?

Do I have crosses and other images that could be covered and unveiled for Easter?

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This tradition can be used as a learning tool for children. As a child, during Lent I would see the crosses covered and always wonder why, too afraid to ask an adult. Explain this custom to your children and encourage your family to engage in this Lenten practice. It is easy for children to become distracted by the things we receive at Easter. But Lent is an important time of preparation for the celebration for the Resurrection of Christ that deserves just as much attention.

 

Posted in Family Traditions, Holy Day | Tagged | 2 Comments

How to Make a Catholic Easter Basket for Kids

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays – the newness of spring, the beautiful liturgies and the hope of the Resurrection.

However, as a small child, the real shining glory of the season for me was the Easter basket.

The funny thing is, the average Easter basket – the thing that really gets children excited on Easter Sunday – doesn’t always reflect the significance of the holiday or call to mind Christ’s Resurrection. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

I do think that an Easter basket can be a great opportunity to help children understand the real meaning of Easter.  Easter is a religious holiday even more important than Christmas -  so why not make it a special time for family celebration and teaching your kids about Jesus?

This year, have fun adding Easter significance to your kids’ baskets. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

chocolate lambInstead of a bunny, a chocolate lamb can be used to explain why Jesus is called the Lamb of God. Many candy companies also sell chocolate crosses.

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Butterflies can be used to explain the Resurrection. While caterpillars  are in the “tomb” or cocoon, they emerge as a beautiful butterfly and fly to the heavens.

 

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Plastic eggs are the perfect size to hold not only jelly beans, but also a new rosaryscapular, medal or a fun Tiny Saints charm.

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Catholic children’s books make a bright basket filler and is something that can be enjoyed long after the candy is gone.

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For older kids, try a 3D puzzle, special medal or necklace, or something personalized.

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Little ones will love Catholic children’s gifts such as a stuffed toy, plastic figures or a colorful wooden kiddie rosary.

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These are just a few suggestions – get creative! For more ideas, check out The Catholic Company’s Easter Basket board on Pinterest.

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How to Keep a Prayer Journal

spiritual writingCan a Journal Bring You Closer to God?

Do you want to become more aware of God’s presence in your daily life? To learn to speak to Him in your own words?

When prayer seems dry and you are not hearing the voice of God, a prayer journal can become a pivotal tool for improving your spiritual life.

You’ll be in good company! Lots of saints kept spiritual journals or diaries, including St. Faustina, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Bernadette, St. Perpetua, and many others.

 

How to Keep a Prayer Journal

There are numerous ways to keep a prayer journal or spiritual diary. If you are interested but don’t know where to start, here are some tips on what to write:

 

HEAR HIM: The more you listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice, the easier it gets to hear it. Writing about how the Spirit is working in your life can, over time, make you more conscious of God’s will. Have you ever had that sudden inspiration to say or do something, but repressed it because it was outside your comfort zone? Keep a record in your journal of the times you felt God nudge you like this, and whether you responded. It becomes a brief examination of conscience and makes you sensitive to whether you are staying open to God’s calls. You might also include any inspiring words from others or events through which God spoke to you that day.

 

REMEMBER TO ASK: Recall all the times you’ve promised, “I’ll keep you in my prayers!” Do you always remember? It helps to keep a list of prayer intentions – not just other people’s, but your own intentions as well. Looking back on your petitions to God from months ago can make you aware of all the good He has worked in your life. Especially if you are still facing difficult times, looking back on even the smallest blessings can be a reminder of God’s love. If certain things in your life are unclear and you have unanswered questions, write these down, too. Ask for clarity. Later, reading over past questions, you may realize that many of them have been answered.

 

GIVE THANKS & PRAISE: Don’t stop at requests and petitions – praise Him! Express how much you love Him and how much more you want to love Him. Offer your day and your work to God. Thank Him for specific blessings. It’s important to give thanks not only for life changing blessings like a new job or restored health, but also for the littlest things. The more you thank God for everyday graces, the more you will remember Him as you go about your day. Plus, you’ll start to realize you have more little blessings than you can count.

 

prayer journalsChoose a journal that is a comfortable size and type for you, and use your own style of expression (St. John of the Cross even incorporated poetry into his spiritual writing). You can make tabs to separate prayers of thanksgiving, petitions and inspirations, or you can combine everything into one daily entry. The writing will be between you and God, so don’t get too caught up in avoiding spelling errors or choosing the right words. As long as you can read it, it will be fine.

 

Do you have tips on writing to improve your spiritual life, or a different method of  journaling? We’re interested – please comment to share your ideas with us!

 

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Kicking off First Communion Season: Where to Begin

First Holy Communion is a rite of passage in a young Catholic’s life, one of the three of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church along with Baptism and Confirmation. As a parent, between the outfit, the ceremony, and the afterwards festivities, there is a lot to do. We’ve compiled some best practices regarding guests, invitations, and gifts for First Communion day. These are not hard and fast rules but rather guidelines to help make the start of First Communion season easier to handle.

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Party

 Q. Do you need to have a party?

Most Catholic families choose to throw a First Communion party with friends and relatives. While the party is not mandatory, it is a good way to acknowledge the First Communicant and celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Your children have spent time in formation classes and a party provides an opportunity to celebrate their dedication to the faith as well as make this day even more memorable. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of the Blessed Sacrament!

Guests

Q. Who do you invite?

First Communion parties are usually intimate affairs including godparents, grandparents, siblings, close relatives and friends. Guests are typically limited to individuals with whom the child is particularly close or who have impacted the child’s religious development.  In most cases, the entire extended family does not attend. But, use your best judgment, if there is someone that both you and your Communicant want to be in attendance, then it never hurts to extend an invitation.

Q. Can I invite non-Catholics?

Just as non-Catholics may attend Sunday Mass with you, there is no reason to exclude them from a First Communion ceremony. A person can still impact your child’s life and moral development even if they are not Catholic, and it is important to include them. Make sure that the individuals invited are aware of the sacramental importance of the occasion and the proper behavior during Mass. Remember to consider that they may be uncomfortable, so take the time to explain the Order of the Mass and their options during Holy Communion (staying in the pew or folding arms over their chest).

Invitations 

CaptureQ. Do you need invitations for First Communion?

It is not required to send out formal invitations, but it will be helpful if you decide to do so. This will help avoid frantic calls the day of regarding times, location, and parking. Make sure that the invitations you choose reflect the religious solemnity of the occasion. After all, the day does center around the Holy Eucharist.

Be sure to include:

  • Date of the First Communion
  • Name and address of parish
  • Time of ceremony
  • Time of the party
  • Include an RSVP if you need head counts

*It is customary to extend party invitations to those who attend the ceremony.

Q. When do I need to send out First Communion invitations?

Feel free to send them 4-6 weeks before the ceremony. This will give your guests enough time to plan ahead and offer their regrets if they cannot attend.

Q. Do I need RSVPs?

The only reason you would include RSVPs is if you or your officiate requires a headcount for the ceremony. Check with your parish first as there may be limited seating.

Gifts

d26ddcb54b4f4edec5a56f75a28e8246Q. Do guests bring gifts?

Most of the guests will want to come with something, either a card or a gift. This is an opportunity to celebrate your child’s faith. Remind your guests that whatever they bring gifts for the occasion should be religious in nature. Refer your friends and family to our First Communion gift guides if they are having trouble choosing a gift.

Q. Do you send thank you cards?

It is always a polite gesture to send your gratitude with a hand-written thank you. As a parent, you may feel the urge to send them yourself. Involve your children in this task. Use this as an opportunity to instruct your child on thankfulness and the protocol for thank- you notes. No matter how the card looks it will be appreciated!

 

Note: The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should be the main focus of the day. Make sure your child is spiritually prepared. Read more about how to spiritually prepared your child here.  

God bless you and your Communicant!

 

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3 Ways to Spiritually Prepare Your Child for First Communion

This blog post on How to Spiritually Prepare your Child for First Communion was a hit when we posted it to CatholicMom.com a few seasons ago. 

It highlighted 3 ways to help children understand, on their own level, what it means to make their First Holy Communion and to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Hopefully this re-post will offer some great tips to moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents to foster in their little ones a heart for Jesus!

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First Communion It has finally arrived on the horizon . . . the day of your child’s First Holy Communion.  You’ve probably been waiting and preparing for this moment for quite some time.  You’ve labored to raise your little one in the Catholic faith, and now they’re taking their next big step!  It’s pretty exciting to know that your child is soon to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Just think . . . soon your child will not only share your DNA, they will also share with you in the Body of Christ!  This will be a new kind of communion with your child that you have never experienced before.

Unfortunately, though, with all the logistics (finding the right First Communion apparel, sending out First Communion invitations, cleaning your house for the relatives, baking up a storm, etc.)  it’s more than easy to get lost in the hustle and completely neglect the most important thing of all—spiritually preparing your child for their special day.

It’s tempting to rely on your child’s religious educators to teach them the importance of receiving the Eucharist, especially when you have so much to do.  However, the truth of the matter is that your child’s preparation for this Sacrament begins and ends with you, the parent. You are the most influential person in your child’s life, and the reverence you model for the Eucharist is the reverence they will learn to imitate.  Here are a few easy tips on how to keep yourself and your child focused on the real meaning of this amazing Sacrament.

First:  Find Those Mini Catechesis Moments

  • An easy way to reverence the Eucharist is simply to talk to your child about why you go to Mass.  For example, on a day that you attend Mass, tell your child that you are going to be with Jesus in a special way and to receive Him into your body.  If you attend weekday masses, tell your child that you go to Mass more often so that you can receive Jesus more often.  Get them excited about it!

  • GCWhen you begin your hour-long fast before Communion, announce to your child what you are doing and invite them to fast for this hour with you. Explain to them why you are fasting, that you are preparing yourself spiritually and physically to receive Jesus into your body.

  • Draw your child more deeply into Eucharistic reverence by praying with them before and after you receive Holy Communion.  The Anima Christi  is a beautiful and simple Eucharistic prayer that you and your child can practice memorizing together, and it’s usually found in the Missal.  Just arrive to Mass a few minutes early and pray this prayer together.  Saying a special prayer in this way will teach your child to reverence the holy moment of receiving Communion.

  • As you leave the pews when Mass ends, instead of genuflecting in the aisle, walk with your child up to the tabernacle and genuflect with them there.  This will teach to your child that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, and His resting place until the next Mass is in the tabernacle.

Note:  If you need help finding the right words for these little moments, try using a Children’s Catechism until you get the hang of it.  The idea is to continually reinforce to your child, in your own words, that it is Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist that draws your family to Mass.

adorationSecond: Take Your Child to Eucharistic Adoration

Pope John Paul II and the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI have recommended children’s Eucharistic adoration as a great way to prepare your children spiritually for their First Communion.  Don’t be concerned that your child won’t understand what Eucharistic adoration is (you don’t even have to use those words), or that they won’t be able to sit quietly.  Just tell your child that you are going to spend a few minutes sitting and talking with Jesus, and invite them to talk to Jesus too.

Note: Remember that children are easy believers, and spiritual realities are not often difficult for them to grasp when plainly explained.  You may find that your child not only grasps the concept of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist, but that they actually respond positively to the adoration experience.

Third: Reinforce with Literature

The Mass Book for ChildrenYour child may not understand the Mass very well, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t participate in their own way and on their own level with what is happening.  There are great children’s Mass books and other Catholic children’s books that explain Holy Communion.  These books will help to reinforce your teaching about the specialness of Jesus in the Eucharist.

If you bring books for your child to look at during Mass, make sure it’s a children’s missal or other Catholic children’s catechesis books.  Let Mass be a holy hour for your child just as it is for you.

With these simple tips you can begin preparing your child now for their special day with Jesus, when they receive Him for the first time in the sacrament of Holy Communion.  If you have found any other helpful ways to prepare your child spiritually for First Holy Communion, please share your comments with our readers below.

 

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The Last 7 Words of Jesus: A Lenten Meditation

To many, the Passion of Jesus Christ is a lesson in history where we sympathize with Christ for the sufferings he went through before he died. We find it hard to believe how the people can be so cruel as to inflict the most severe form of pain on a man who we know was innocent. For Christians the Passion should be more than a lesson in history. It should become a lesson in life, teaching us how to stand up for truth and justice.”  - Pope Francis

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Lent is a time that the Universal Church reflects on Christ’s Passion and Death in an intensely focused way. After Jesus was nailed to the cross, He spoke 7 short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the “The Seven Last Words”. These words are recounted in Sacred Scripture and are found throughout the four Gospels.

Few Christians can recall all seven of Our Lord’s last words on the Cross. As you contemplate His Passion and Death this season, remember that these words, although spoken nearly 2,000 years ago at Calvary, were meant for every generation. Nothing our Lord said or did was without meaning. Prepare your hearts this Lenten season by reflecting on the Seven Last Words of Christ and consider incorporating this reflection into your Lenten practices.

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FIRST WORD

“Father, forgive them , for they know not what they do.” Luke 23: 34

The first words that Jesus spoke after being nailed to the cross were ones of forgiveness.  The timing of this suggests that Jesus was referring to those enemies – the soldiers, those who mocked, scourged, tortured, and nailed him to the cross. Even though his enemies did not recognize Him as the Messiah, Christ displays his limitless compassion.

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SECOND WORD

“Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23: 43

Christ says these words to a man who is being crucified next to him. Just like the first word, His second is that of forgiveness. God generously opens the door to heaven for those who will to repent of their sins. The sinner recognized Christ for who he was. The mercy of God is always ready to reach out to and save a soul, even at the last minute.

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THIRD WORD

“When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother.” John 19: 26-27

Yet again Jesus is continuously compassionate to those around him, making sure that his Mother is cared for after his death. Most scholars speculate that Mary was a widower at the time of the crucifixion. The good son Jesus, without brothers and sisters to provide for his Mother, looks to John to care for her. Just as Christ gave His mother to John, he gives Mother Mary to us.

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FOURTH WORD

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying:Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt 27:46

The last 4 words were uttered shortly before His death. This is the only passage where the original Aramaic language is preserved. Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment. God placed the sins of the entire world on Him, which overwhelms the humanity of Jesus. His followers, once at His side, are nowhere to be found. Jesus lives the human experience, and it was by His death that we are redeemed.

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FIFTH WORD

“Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst.” John 19:28

Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus was prepared a drink of wine and myrrh. It was customary in those days to prepare an anesthetic drink for those about to be crucified. To appease the soldiers Jesus took a sip, but it was not enough to deaden the pain. In this passage He prompted the guards for his final drink, this one consisting of vinegar and water. He was scourged, crowned with thorns, walked the Way of the Cross, and was nailed to the Cross.  Among His seven last words, this is the only verbal expression of his physical suffering.

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SIXTH WORD

“Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated.” John 19:30

Amazingly, Jesus is still conscious after hours of being on the cross. This expression, “It is finished”, did not simply mean that death was upon him, but rather that He fulfilled his mission. His preaching, miracles, and finally His earthly suffering would soon be over. His ministry and resulting death would pay the debt of sin.

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SEVENTH WORD

“And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.” Luke 23:46

These are the last words Jesus spoke on the Cross before His final breath. Jesus is willingly giving up His soul to His Father in Heaven. Jesus has been obedient to His father in heaven. It is here that the Lamb of God has been slain for our sins. By contemplating this and all the last words of Jesus we can better appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Meditate on Our Lord’s words and include it as part  of your Lenten preparation.

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99 Questions to Complete Your Examination of Conscience

“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)

Many of us may be tempted to begin our examination of conscience when we get in line at the confessional. There is nothing wrong with this practice (especially if the line looks like this), but you don’t want to get caught in the middle of your examination when it is your turn to go in.

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If you don’t regularly examine your conscience it may take awhile before you are fully prepared. Next time you go to confession, consider preparing before you go. For one should not simply just go to confession, but rather make the best confession possible.

One of the essential pieces in the Rite of Penance is the examination of conscience. We take an internal self-examination of our spiritual life and bring to light those sins that keep us from a more intimate relationship with Christ.  Here, we recall our sins and faults committed since our last confession.

Prepare your heart and mind for confession by contemplating on the Word of God. There are several ways to make a good examination of conscience. One of the easiest and most common ways to examine your conscience is by turning to the Ten Commandments for guidance.

Each of the Ten Commandments can be broken down into questions. For example, if you ask yourself if you have killed someone- for most of us it is an obvious no. But we may fail to grasp the entirety of the commandment. We may not have physically killed an individual but have we emotionally, physically, or spiritually hurt ourselves and others?

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Begin by praying. This will put you in the best frame of mind for recalling your sins.

Prayer before confession by St. Jerome

“Show me, O Lord, Your mercy, and delight my heart with it. Let me find You whom I so longingly seek. Behold, here is the man whom the robbers seized, manhandled, and left half dead on the road to Jericho. Kind-hearted Samaritan, come to my aid! I am the sheep who wandered into the wilderness. Seek after me and bring me home again to Your fold.  Do with me according to Your Will, that I may abide with You all the days of my life, and praise You with all those who are with You in heaven for all eternity. Amen.” 

Here are 99 questions to consider before confession:

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“I am the Lord, your God.  You shall have no other gods besides me.”

Have I doubted or denied God’s existence?
Have I been ungrateful to God for His benefits?
Am I open to God’s will?
Do I rely solely on myself and not on God?
Have I abandoned the Catholic Faith?
Have I joined a non-Catholic church or anti-Catholic group?
Have I refused to believe any truths of the Faith or any teachings of the Church?
Did I fail to profess or defend the Faith?
Have I failed to go to confession at least once a year?
Have I been faithful to my daily prayers?
Have I practiced any superstitions?
Am I unwilling to turn away from everything that makes my soul unworthy?

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“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.”

Have I sworn by God’s name carelessly, in anger, or surprise?
Do I speak irreverently of holy persons, places or things?
Have I cursed myself of others?
Did I use profanity?
Have I called down evil upon anyone or anything?
Did I get angry with God?
Have I angered others so as to make them curse?
Have I broken a vow made to God?
Have I murmured or complained about God?

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“Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.”

Did I miss Mass on a Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation?
Did I arrive to Mass later or leave early?
Did I receive Holy Communion in a state of grace?
Have I been irreverent during the Most Blessed Sacrament?
Have I been willfully distracted during Mass?
Do I allow myself to be distracted during Mass?
Have I done unnecessary work on sunday?

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“Honor your father and your mother.”

Have I disobeyed, insulted, or shown disrespect to my parents or legitimate superiors?
Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents?
Did I neglect to give good religious example to my family?
Am I disrespectful, impolite, or discourteous toward my family?
Have I failed to meet my children’s physical, spiritual, emotional, and educational needs?
Have I disobeyed the lawful demands of my superiors, teachers, or employer?
Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
Did I cause anyone to leave the faith?
Did I cause tension and fights in my family?
Did I care for my aged and infirm relatives?

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“You shall not kill.”

Did I kill or physically injure anyone?
Did I have an abortion, or advise someone else to have an abortion?
Do I use artificial contraceptive or birth control prevention?
Have I entertained thoughts of suicide, desired to commit suicide or attempted suicide?
Have I been a part of euthanasia?
Have I placed others in harms way, by driving or texting inappropriately?
Have I failed to help someone in danger or in need?
Did I drink or smoke excessively or abuse prescribed drugs?
Have I wished evil on anyone?
Do I deliberately harbor unkind and revengeful thoughts about others?
Have I taken revenge?
Have I used harsh or abusive language toward others?
Have I spread gloom through my words and actions?
Is there anyone with whom I refuse to speak, or against whom I bear a grudge?
Have I taken pleasure in anyone’s misfortunes?
Have I led others into sin?

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“You shall not commit adultery” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”

Did I commit impure acts with another – fornication (premarital sex) or adultery (sex with a married person)?
Did I commit impure acts by myself (masturbation)?
Do I engage in homosexual acts?
Have I refused my spouse the marriage right without good reason?
Am I dating someone who is civilly divorced but still bound by a valid marriage?
Did I marry or advise anyone to marry outside the Church?
Have I willfully entertained impure thoughts or desires?
Did I respect all members of the opposite sex, or have I objectified them?
Have I read, listened to, viewed, or spoken impure things?
Have I worn tight or otherwise revealing and immodest clothing?
Have I avoided occasions of impurity?

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“You shall not steal.”

Have I stolen money or property?
Have I cheated?
Have I failed to make restitution for what I stole?
Have I damaged property?
Have I accepted or bought stolen property?
Have I helped someone steal?
Am I dishonest in my business dealings?
Have I failed to make restitution for my stealing, cheating and frauds?
Do I gamble excessively?
Have I borrowed without permission?
Have I failed to return things borrowed?
Did I waste time at work, school or at home?
Have I cheated my employer of an honest day’s work?
Have I cheated my employees of their wages?
Have I refused or neglected to help anyone in urgent need?

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“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Have I lied deliberately?
Have I deliberately misled or deceived anyone?
Did I gossip or reveal others’ faults or sins?
Have I failed to keep promises or oaths?
Have I signed false documents?
Have I failed to prevent the defamation of another’s character?
Have I revealed secrets and betrayed trust?
Do I make false judgments and harbor false suspicions?
Have a failed to forgive someone or held a grudge?
Have I failed to apologize or make amends?
Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential?
Have I disclosed another´s sins?

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“You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Am I greedy or selfish?
Am I envious of someone’s possessions, talents, or blessings?
Do I indulge in self-pity?
Am I proud, vain, or desire to be praise?
Have I exaggerated my success?
Have I minimized or explained my failures?
Have I measured my charity by what others have given, rather than my ability to give?

Going to confession can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. This list of questions is extensive and can be daunting. It can be hard to say out loud the things in our lives that we have done wrong. Rather than looking down upon your failings, let the sorrow for sin help you overcome them. Look upon this sacrament as an opportunity to make full reparation for your sins, and restore your soul’s relationship with God. If you are reluctant to go to confession remember God’s mercy and compassion. “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall become white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall become white as wool.” (Isiah 1:18) 

Remember, Christ came into the world to save sinners.

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How to Explain Your Ashes: 3 Methods

Have you ever been asked about your Ash Wednesday ashes?

AshWednesday

During the Ash Wednesday service our foreheads are adorned with ashes followed by the words:

“For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19)

This physical sign commemorates the beginning of our Lenten season of sacrifice and spiritual growth. If you are like me, it is not uncommon for your Ash Wednesday cross to turn into a smudge. When going out in public, you may receive a question or comment about your forehead being “dirty”.  It is easy to be vague and shy away from comments about this mark of sacrifice. But this year challenge yourself to be prepared to fully answer their questions.

So, which method will you use to explain your ashes?

Biblical

The use of ashes originates in the Old Testament times. The Catholic Bible references the use of ashes during times of mourning and repentance. Today we place a cross of ashes on our head. However, when the practice of ashes began it was common to wear sackcloth (a garment made of uncomfortable rough fabric) while sitting and rolling around in ashes.  (see Job 42: 6, Job 16: 15, Daniel 9: 3-6)

Response: In the Bible, it was common for individuals to place ashes on their body during a time of repentance. Today marked the beginning of Lent, which is the time we contemplate our relationship with God and identify the spiritual areas in our life that need work. The ashes are a physical reminder of our Lenten Journey.

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Historical

For thousands of years the faithful have been receiving ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, also referred to as “dies cinerum”  (Day of Ashes). The ashes come from the burnt palms from Palm Sunday. They are fragranced with incense, sprinkled with holy water, and are blessed with four ancient prayers. Unlike lay individuals, clerics historically receive the ashes on the top of their heads because that is where they first received their clerical tonsure. This is why you might see our Holy Father Pope Francis with ashes on his head rather than his forehead. 

 Response: The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony ages past. Those who committed grave faults performed public penance and were sprinkled with ashes on Ash Wednesday. For 40 days, they would do penance to be forgiven for their wrongdoings. Today, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, come to receive ashes on this day.

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Symbolic

“Then the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). Our bodies were made from nothing, and will return to nothing when we die. The ashes are a symbol of this passing world and a reminder of our eventual death (See also John 9:6). However, we have Easter to look forward to. Through Christs’ death and resurrection we can receive everlasting life.

Response: By receiving the ashes and keeping them on, we are recognizing that life passes away on earth. We strive during Lent to refocus our lives on God and look toward his Kingdom in Heaven rather than the kingdom on earth.

For products that will help you through your Lent and Easter journey, go here.

 

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Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus

Veneration of the Holy Face of Jesus had its beginning during the very passion Our Lord, making it one of the oldest devotions in the Christian tradition. This devotion evolved from the sacred image of Our Lord that appeared on the Veil of Manoppello, also referred to as Veronica’s Veil. Below, follow the devotion from the beginning.

33 AD: St. Veronica, as a sign of her love and compassion, offered Our Savior a veil to wipe the blood and sweat from his face as he carried his cross. In reward for her sympathy, Jesus left an impression of his Holy Face upon the veil.  This meeting of Our Lord and St. Veronica will forever be a part of the Stations of the Cross The meeting of Jesus and St. Veronica along his walk to the place of his crucifixion is the  6th Station.

St. Veronica later entrusted the veil to St. Clement, a disciple of St. Peter who became the third Bishop of Rome. For the next three centuries the Holy Veil was kept in the Roman catacombs during the early persecutions of the Church. Eventually the Veronica’s Veil was placed in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Holy-Face

1843: Our Lord, in visions to Sister Marie of St. Peter, requested that a devotion to His Holy Face be established. The purpose of this devotion was to make amends for the wrongdoings in the world, as well as to request special intentions. Special prayers and promises were given to Sister Marie from Our Lord.  The importance of this devotion was revealed to St. Marie through Christ himself who said:

“All who honor My Holy Face in a spirit of reparation thereby perform for Me the services of the pious Veronica.”

1849: Soon after the death of Sister Marie revolution ensued in the Papal States and Pope Pius ordered public prayers be offered in Rome to implore God’s mercy. A three day exposition of Veronica’s veil was put on public display for veneration. 

1849-1876: After the miracle of the Holy Veil, it was customary to have copies made. These copies would then be touched to the original Veil, making them objects of devotion. A holy man named Leo Dupont hung one of these veils in his house, accompanied by an oil lamp. Those who would say the devotional prayers and anoint themselves with oil from his lamp would receive healing. For the next 30 years, first class miracles of healing occurred in his home through adoration to the Holy Face.On the third day, the sacred features of Our Lord, normally faded, became distinctly seen and surrounded by a soft halo of light.

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1885: Because of these miracles and revelations, Pope Leo XIII quickly established the devotion as a archconfraternity for the entire world. Saint Therese of Lisieux was another saint dedicated to this devotion. Her and her family were members of this archconfraternity of the Holy Face. She was so faithful to this devotion that she is often referred to as, “St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.”

St.Therese

In addition to Veronica’s veil, the  Shroud of Turin (believed to be the burial cloth of Christ) is an image associated with the Holy Face devotion. You can read more about the Shroud and Turin and what Jesus looked like here. Despite being the most scientifically studied object, it still perplexes the scientific community.  You can view the most detailed digital image of the Shroud, see history, and take tours on the new Shroud APP!

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Each of us has the opportunity to practice and spread this devotion just as these individuals have. Preserve the name of Our Lord and the ancient devotion to his Holy Face.

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