Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was thirsty, and you gave me drink.)

In the previous post, I wrote about how our family has been focusing on one of the corporal works of mercy each Lent, beginning with feeding the hungry. Here’s what we did the following year:

drink

We shared articles with the kids at suppertime
to make them aware of the struggle many communities
face just to have safe water for drinking and bathing.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

For our average little family, it can be easy to take our relative comfort and contentment for granted, even to the point where we become ignorant to the needs of others! Lent is a great gift, as it inspires us to unite ourselves to the vulnerable and the suffering that God has placed in our care. In the second year of this journey, we each gave up our favorite drinks during Lent (whether that was coffee, pop, juice, or beer in Dad’s case!), in unity with those who do not have access to fresh, clean water, and in appreciation that we do. The money that we saved on drinks (this adds up when you abstain from gourmet coffees and order only water at restaurants) we donated to a charity that builds wells to provide clean drinking water for communities in need. We also recognized the spiritually thirsty, and prayed for those thirsting for Christ, making an extra effort to invite people to join us at mass, retreats, or youth events that we attended during Lent. Continue reading

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Join the Pope in Prayer

prayerFriday, February 23, 2018, is not to be a Friday like any other Friday.

Pope Francis has proclaimed this Friday a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace, in particular for the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

The Holy Father also invited the members of other religions to join in the initiative, in the forms they consider most suitable: moments of prayer, fasting, and reflection. He pointed out that religions can contribute greatly to obtaining and consolidating peace.

Seeing how the Pope reaches out to the peripheries, my guess is he won’t mind if atheists try praying on Friday.  I don’t think God rejects prayers from people who are out of practice or never learned in the first place.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he is happy when new prayer warriors appear. Continue reading

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Most or Must

mustThe law of love unwritten. It’s not the arithmetical sum of specifically prescribed actions and no more. Just like there is no written law of how to be a good husband. There’s no good Husband’s Handbook that says how often he should buy his wife flowers. But there is an unwritten law of love that urges him to show his love by buying her flowers occasionally and not always opt for the pre-made bouquets from the clearance aisle.

We like written laws because they tell us how far we must go. We fulfill them and that’s the end of it. Clear conscience, no guilt. Done deal. Unwritten laws have no ceiling limit, and that’s uncomfortable. Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was hungry, and you gave me food.)

marriageMany years ago, I brought home from a retreat a prayer card that was designed to be folded and set in the middle of the table. On the card was a prayer to be prayed during Lent, inspired by the words of Christ in Matthew 25: 35-36: (Corporal Works of Mercy)

I was hungry and you gave me food.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

I was naked and you clothed me.

I was ill and you cared for me.

I was in jail and you visited me. Continue reading

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The Labour-Intensive Marriage

marriageThis summer my husband, Jamie, and I were sitting around a table with friends on an outdoor patio, and all the couples started sharing how they met. One couple there shared that she fell in love with her husband the first time she laid eyes on him – or rather, laid ears on him – when she first heard him singing in the church choir. They continued to meet each other at mass until he finally approached her and asked her if she would like to consider courting with the intention of discerning if it was God’s will that they enter marriage.

It was such a sweet, and it’s the kind of love story I envision for my children. Unfortunately, Jamie and I don’t have such sweet and simple beginnings.

The beginning of our relationship was really messy. I was fresh out of a long-term relationship that had ended as badly as you can possibly imagine. Jamie and I were in the final semester of our linguistics degrees, and since linguistics was a relatively small field at our university, especially as we moved into the higher-level classes, we were often the only two students in the class. He always jokes that I only started dating him because I had no other options. We started dating, casually at first, and when I went off to grad school in Winnipeg, Jamie, with nothing better to do, followed. We’d been dating a few months before we started living together in a one-bedroom apartment close to the university. Continue reading

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Love and Lent

Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. While many couples have decided to celebrate their love by going out for a romantic dinner earlier, over the past weekend, or on Mardi Gras, there is another solution sweeping social media:

lent

For those who are more inclined to ‘marry’ the two events which share the calendar, and are willing to look a little more deeply at what our human love relationships and the beginning of lent have in common, the vistas are broader than it first seems. Continue reading

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Death’s Déjà Vu

hospitalI was sauntering through the kitchen a few days ago and there was my wife reading a news story on the computer. She was shaking her head and the headline caught my eye:

UK judge rules against parents, allows hospital to turn off baby’s life support

For understandable reasons, I confused the headline with the following:

Baby’s life-support will be switched off today against parents’ wishes: judge rules

So I asked my wife why she was reading an article about Charlie Gard, the baby who died in the UK last year at the insistence of his doctors and the decree of the court and over the objections of everyone from the parents to the Pope. My wife, a bit shocked (at the story, not me) explained that it involved Isaiah Haastrup, not Charlie Gard. Continue reading

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Beads over Birds

planeOnce upon a time, there was a Chicago radio host who tried to help nervous air travelers by loaning them his rubber chicken. The idea was that if you took the chicken with you on the plane you would have no fear – or at least your fears would be greatly diminished.

The rubber chicken was an early foreshadowing of what has become a real pain for airlines and their customers: the emotional support animal. There is a big difference in that the rubber chicken was, well, a rubber chicken as opposed to a live bird.

This came to mind a couple days ago when United Airlines denied a woman’s request to bring her emotional support animal on a flight. In this case, it was a real, live bird – a peacock.

Let me be clear; I like birds. In point of fact, I have a bird who has been living in my home for the past 18 years and is a beloved member of the family: Conrad the green-cheek conure. The green-cheek is a small parrot that hails from the forests of South America. Continue reading

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The Everlasting Poor

poor“For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” – John 12:8

“For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” – Matthew 26:11

 “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” – Mark 14:7

Don’t worry. Despite initial appearances, this will not be a scripture commentary

I am not a theologian.  I am just a guy who hears a line from the gospel and spends a decade or two pondering its meaning.

The line cited above in triplicate is part of the story of the woman who anoints the feet of Jesus with expensive oil and dries his feet with her hair.  To me, that qualifies as quite an act of humility. Continue reading

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Who Touched Me?

He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.  There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it.  The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5:24-34)

touched“Who touched me?” (Mark 5:32) Wounded and hidden behind layers, masks, accomplishments, each woman can secretly relate to the pain of the nameless hemorrhaging woman in the Gospel.

Perhaps she is left nameless because she is there with Christ in place of each of us.  We are each her. Something inside each of us bleeds and begs to be healed, but we know not how, so we hide it, afraid of being seen as damaged, imperfect, not good enough, ‘unclean’.

Some of the wounds we conceal are caused by others or by difficult circumstances, some are lies we have believed about ourselves, some are our sins or the effects of our sins. Continue reading

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