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Stay, watch, remain, pray

1932412_10152279350617438_613759620_nWe are almost there, these final days leading to Easter triumph and resurrection. But first we must walk the Via Crucis with Jesus, suffering and dying. How will you walk with Jesus this week?

Perhaps the better question is this, how will we each stay with Jesus this week? The comic to the left is cute and funny enough, but then again, it is not funny at all. How do we fail to stay awake? How do we continually find ways to distract ourselves? How do we avoid what must be done?

As for me, I can name many ways in which I do not watch and pray, far too many to enumerate for you today. Yet, Jesus continues to ask me to stay, to watch, to pray, remain in faithful vigil. So once again, I make my meek attempts.

May your steps this week be blessed with the grace attentiveness to and hope in Christ.

Seeing the Light in Lent

burning candleHow is your Lenten journey going? Mine has been up and down, but today I was given the gift of a little revelation along my Lenten path. The Holy Spirit illuminated a shadow on my heart, the light of which caused me to not take a familiar and well-worn, but circular path to nowhere, but to take the turn, however slight, in another direction.

This makes me wonder what would happen if I slowed down more, asked more questions, sought more silence, listened more attentively, and then acted in accordance with all that. This tells me that I need not wonder, but to slow down, ask more questions, seek more silence, listen more attentively, and then act in accordance with what is revealed to me by the Spirit.

How old am I? Slowly learning, learning slowly, but still on the path. Thanks for being here with me. Thanks be to God. May we carry one another in prayer on this journey, at Lent and always.

I’m back, it is Laetare Monday

rejoiceIt has been a long winter, hasn’t it? And a long Lent, or so it seems to me. The weather was a real challenge this year; recent milder winters had lulled me into a cheery complacency about what snow and cold truly meant in upstate New York. And I say that knowing that those in the the mid-Atlantic states further south had it much worse! Hard to think about rejoicing, right?

Add to that, starting in October, and never (gratefully) with anything life-threatening, but I have been in the near constant care of doctors for one thing or another. I get it, I’m 56, and I have not always taken care of my corpus very well, but much like the winter, this all came as a startling and repeatedly disturbing challenge. Let it suffice to say that I think that I may finally be turning the corner into, God willing, some better health. That’s why I am calling this Laetare Monday!

Our Lenten journey is meant to be one of the kind of serious prayer and introspection that leads to change. This is not the navel gazing of my earlier years, when a faux seriousness pervaded my being, but was not very deep or authentic; I was young, Continue reading

One week into Lent…

We may be one week into Lent, but this submission from Shannon O’Donnell, written originally for the start of Lent, still holds true. How is your Lenten journey thus far?

Image courtesy of Mary Brack, at Me With My Head in The Clouds.

Image courtesy of Mary Brack, at Me With My Head in The Clouds.

For the first time or the twelfth or the sixty-third, we stand at the borderland of Lent. The bright promise of Easter and its celebrations of light, water, oil, and Eucharist lie ahead of us, out of sight, beyond the horizon. We stand, like so many of our ancestors, refugees with our stories and dreams, wondering about this journey.

We have known failure, disappointment, betrayal. We are marked by the violence done to us and by the harm we have done to others. We long to be better people, to love without reserve, to transform the world that we all might live in grace and peace.

The journey will not be easy or quick, but we will be together. With Christ in our midst, we will listen to him and to each other. We will make space to acknowledge our pain and fear, our sin. We will take on the task of reconciliation and peace because Christ will show us how. He is the great Reconciler and he calls, “Come, follow me.”

-Shannon O’Donnell

Shannon O’Donnell is a jail chaplin, a lay minister, and author from Seattle, Washington. She generously shares her gifts through periodic reflections on this and other blogs. Her book, Save the Bones, about her mother Marie,and Alzheimers was published last year. It is available at in both paperback and ebook editions at the link.

Lead us not into temptation

mediumTemptation. What does this word mean? For many of us it means things like avoiding the temptation to look at our phones compulsively, or to stay away from snacks. It might mean the feeling of wanting to buy something new, when we have a perfectly good whatever-it-is at home, but we want a new one. There are many sentences that begin with “I was so tempted to…” and end with something that does not seem very harmful. We pray, “lead us not into temptation,” but what do we mean when we say those words?

A long time ago, I was speaking to someone who was practicing the 12 Steps of AA. He said that rationalizing the dismantling of small boundaries was the road to ruin for him. Often he would be tempted to put himself in a situation that might not seem to be so bad, but one that he knew might be a trigger. And he might even do OK in that situation, not yielding to the magnetic force of his addiction. Then he would Continue reading

Lenten Journey

sign-for-lent-with-integrated-crossOn certain days in Lent I will cross post across all of the blogs that I manage, but on many days, I will only post on my personal blog, There Will Be Bread. And yes – today is one of those days! I am writing about what it means to give so much to God… very hard for all of us if we are honest.

So please feel free to read or subscribe, if you want to see what’s going on. And if you don’t, no worries – simply find whatever ways you can to bring you closer to God in this holy season!

And if you want to share your own Lenten thoughts on these pages,  please get in touch! All are welcome to read and to submit entries. (All submissions will be reviewed and possibly edited. Just get in touch – we will talk!)

Ash Wednesday and Hard Hearts

heart_stoneHere we are, another Ash Wednesday. This one comes so late, too. By this time last year Easter was clearly on the horizon, at the end of March. This year, we are just about to begin Lent.

Somehow, all I can think about is the dark of winter and Lent, and how light it will be starting next week. No, no, no… Something feels off about that.

It’s me that is off if I am honest; I don’t like change as much as I pretend to like it. Why can’t Lent always start in early or mid-February? My pretty, shiny stone heart likes it better that way! Insert pouting face here. I know that we got those ceramic hearts at mass this weekend… And I believe, as Fr. Jerry told us, that they are to remind us of God’s love, but my heart feels hard, resistant to change. Very. Resistant.

Oh Ash Wednesday, you are upon us. Today work was full of the usual “Ashes will be distributed at masses at 9, 12, and 6:30pm.” My goal is to avoid the church secretary’s tongue twister that offers the potential for mixing up ASHES and MASSES. If the “sh” ends up with the m, then the double s goes Continue reading

Lenten Workout for Your Soul – Book Review and Giveaway

404616_LARGEAbout six years ago, I found myself reading The Ignatian Workout by Tim Muldoon. In all honesty, I did not take to the book. At the time, I was still “working out” my relationship with Ignatius! Then I picked the same book up about a year ago, and got a lot out of it. Funny what time does, along with an open mind, right?

This is precisely why I was very interested in reading his latest offering, The Ignatian Workout for Lent, 40 Days of Prayer, Reflection, and Action, from Loyola Press. It did not disappoint!

Muldoon skillfully employs the athletic references of St. Paul, which we know are many. That kind of theme turn hackneyed and a-bit-too-clever in the hands of a lesser author, but not so with this one.

For me, another potential challenge with using the “running the race” motif is that spiritual pursuit can be turned into something that we have the power to do for ourselves, and by ourselves. Oh yes, if only we train hard enough and stay focused! Where is the room for God’s action and mercy in that?

In setting the tone for Lent in particular, but truly for our lives, Muldoon expresses some real insight about that thought in the introduction, reminding us of the “ecclesial” dimensions of lives of faith. Everything we do is not by and for ourselves, but should be ordered to the “good of the whole people of God.” It is this sort of wisdom, given at the beginning, that orients this resource towards a wide audience.

Other connections and contrasts, to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are set forth. This guide is organized around four “weeks.” For those familiar with the Exercises, this is a time frame used by St. Ignatius. My own experience with the Exercises, limited as it is, reminds me that my own need to “accomplish” this “race” in what I perceive four weeks to be, is not spiritually healthy.

The primary intent is on themed weeks, but the book is set in an Ignatian style, with 40 days of “exercises” for the holy season of our 40 days of Lent. They are not dated and do not refer to the mass readings.

So sports fans and non-sports fans alike, those who are immersed in Ignatian spirituality and those who have curiosity about how it might work in their own lives, please consider buying this book. It may just be the helpful foundation needed to get you going. And for all of us looking to deepen our Lent, this book has the potential be rich resource to turn to this year. And the next year, and the next year… It could have a very long life in your Lenten collection!

The Ignatian Workout for Lent is a little bigger that some of the other resources reviewed this week, perhaps the “largest.” It is still very portable, so the idea of taking it with you is not a problem, nor is taking up room on your nightstand. This volume is available in both paperback and several eBook formats. Visit the Loyola Press website, for more details and purchase, as well as web resources for whatever particular ebook format might be.

Today is the last review and as always, leaving a comment, however brief, puts you in the running to win. Please feel free to share this post with others, all are welcome to read and enter!

Here is to a great Lent for us, one in which we find ways to quiet down, strip down, and grow closer to God. My prayers are for one and all, and I am most thankful for your reading and journeying with me out here!

Not By Bread Alone – Plus A Retreat Offer – Lenten Resource Review and Giveaway

NotByBreadAloneThis blog, as you know, is called “There Will Be Bread.” The title came to me through some prayer and meditation about Eucharistic living and the importance of God encountered in real form as we gather at the table. In this way, I am aware that “bread” is not “bread” alone. And we do not live by bread alone, but by the bread that is Christ.

That is why I love the title of this next little Lenten offering, Daily Reflections for Lent, Not By Bread Alone, by Robert F. Morneau, published by Liturgical Press. It is a true gem! If I am honest, I will tell you that I look forward to each year’s version of this small book. This year’s edition does not disappoint. None of this is a surprise considering the nature of content that comes from this august publisher.

The format is simple. Each day is marked by a line from Scripture and followed by a brief reflection. Bishop Morneau is an excellent writer, which one must be to convey so much in but a few words and images. His voice is gentle and wise. East reflection is followed by a couple of thoughts to prompt meditation, and then by a closing prayer.

It is with regret that I tell you that the paper copy of this book is already sold out! That said, a copy does await today’s winner. If you want to purchase an eBook version, please purchase at Liturgical Press. A large print edition is also available by clicking here.

Your comment on the blog counts as your entry. This will be a great book to win considering that you can’t buy it any longer!

13292458-empty-wooden-fruit-or-bread-basket-on-white-backgroundIn addition to reviewing this Lenten book resource, I also wanted to say a few words about an upcoming online retreat for the season. Desert Journey and Daily Bread: Food and Fasting in Lent is being offered by theologian, author, and spiritual director, Jane Redmont. This topic is very timely of course, and I was reminded of the connection of not living by bread alone.

This seven week online journey is a call to, in Jane’s words, “simplicity, mindfulness, and holiness.” Each week of this ecumenical journey will offer a different theme, via short readings, spiritual exercises, prayers, images, and explorations of the broader context of the Lenten journey. The retreat runs from March 5 to April 20, and gives one the opportunity to commit to a Lenten practice. The retreat is fully online, and need only be as interactive as the user wishes. There are more details at the link.

Jane+at+ferry+terminal+July+25+2011+croppedA skilled retreat leader and facilitator who brings a contemplative focus to all of her work, Jane has extensive experience offering online retreats. The retreat cost is $150 and there may be options for a sliding scale payment or scholarship. Contact Jane via her website for information. In full disclosure, I am very pleased that I myself have decided to join in on this Lenten retreat.

Jane is offering a special price reduction for Food and Fasting to readers of this blog. The cost is $150, but there is an early bird price in place this week for $120. If you register by Sunday, use code 1105 for a reduced price of $105. If you register from Monday on, the price goes back to $150, but the reduced offering will be $135. Please use code 2135 for that! Thank you Jane, for offering these price breaks. This makes a great value an even greater one!

Hope to have many of you join us on this unique Lenten journey. If you have questions about an online retreat, ask Jane by writing to readwithredmont at earthlink dot net.

Remember leave a comment to win a book, and go to Jane Redmont’s website to register for this retreat. (She is also offering a Merton retreat, read more about that at that link.)

Thanks for reading and commenting, all are welcome! Please fee free to share these opportunities and offers with others.

Change Our Hearts – Lenten book review and giveway

finaledit3A new book from Franciscan Media has entered the Lenten resource genre this year, written by liturgical composer and musician Rory Cooney. Named after one of his songs for Lent, Change Our Hearts, Daily Meditations for Lent is a fine addition to the list. Once again, we find a book small enough for a pocket or purse, yet big enough to help us journey towards the Cross with wisdom, courage, and strength.

Many resources are meant to be used in a particular liturgical year, but this book begins each daily reflection with the lectionary readings for each year for Sundays, which I really like. The daily readings remain the same, but Sundays are different. If your parish RCIA program uses the Scrutinies, then it does not matter what cycle it is, the readings from Year A are always used. (It just so happens that we are in Year A, so there will be no difference this year.)

There is a reflection for every day of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday and concluding on Easter Sunday. If you are familiar with Cooney’s work through his songs, this book will introduce you to the depth that is that is within every composition. Even if you think you are not familiar with his work, you most likely would be if you heard some of his songs at church. (See the end of this post, or should I say, hear the end of this post!)

This book is a bit more expensive, at $3.99 a copy, but as I said, it has a longer shelf life; I can see mine getting marked up with thoughts and folded back from use over the years. It would make an excellent companion to anyone on their annual Lenten trek, and to those in RCIA in particular. This book promises to be a well-loved resource for many Lenten season’s to come.

This book, is available at Franciscan Media. A slightly less expensive version, along with a Kindle edition are available at Amazon.

Book Giveaway Rules – You may comment as many times as you like, and on multiple blogs, but your name will only be entered once! (This blog is published in two locations, here and at the Albany Times Union blogging platform, and the reviews will also be posted on my two parish blogs, The Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor and Pastoral Postings of Immaculate Conception Glenville.)

Names will be randomly drawn and you will be informed by email if you are a winner. You will need to provide me with your full name and address in order to receive your book. On double book posting days such as this, I can not guarantee which book you will win. Thank you for reading and entering. Please feel free to share this post via social media!

And now, Change Our Hearts, written by Rory Cooney along with Gary Daigle and Theresa Donahoo, sung by Theresa Donahoo.

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