I can hardly believe it but friends, Lent begins a week from today! Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence. Oftentimes, Lent sneaks up on me and suddenly it is Ash Wednesday and I haven't thought deeply about what I plan to give up or add to my life to help myself better prepare for Jesus's glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday! But we have a week to prepare and plan for an intentional Lenten experience that will truly prep our souls to celebrate the Easter season joyfully and fully aware of what Easter truly means for us as Catholics.
Take Time to Reflect
Before next Wednesday, take time to reflect on where you are at in your spiritual journey.
After you've reflected and identified a few patterns of sin or an area that you've grown stagnant and lukewarm, its time to communicate your intentions with those around you. Its very easy to notice what's wrong, but it is another thing entirely to make serious, intentional changes in your life. Turn to your spouse, your best friend, your spiritual counselor, or accountability partner to help you stay committed throughout the upcoming forty days. They may also have great advice for you to help you make the changes you're wanting to make! People who know and love you well may have deep thoughts and advice that can help you decide what your next steps should be.
After prayer and intentional communication with those who love you and want the best for you, God and others, I want to encourage you to plan accordingly.
Lent's just around the corner sister, don't let it sneak up on you and don't let a lack of preparation be an excuse for you to not fully participate!
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As a new liturgical year has begun, bringing the perfect reason for us to take a good look at our current day-to-day life as a Christian. Are you succeeding at making time and space for God daily? What do you think you can do better?
If we're being honest, we could all do better. Luckily, we live in a time where resources to grow in our faith are not scarce! Below is a list of my seven favorite Catholic resources that enhance my daily prayer life. Some I use every day and most I use every week. Use them to encourage you and support your own faith growth this Advent season!
Blessed Is She devotionals
I have raved about Blessed Is She before and likely will again, but the ministry it offers is outstanding! Their daily devotionals are related to the daily readings in way that enhances and improves my understanding and application of them. The emails are waiting for me each morning and offer a positive start or pause to my day, depending on when I can get to them. You can sign up for their devotionals here.
Gathering Space podcast
Podcasts are still a relatively new resource for me. There are several I look forward to each week, but the Gathering Space is my favorite. Hosted by the founder of the afore-mentioned Blessed Is She, Jenna Guizar, and Beth Davis, another Blessed Is She member, the two women chat with another and the occasional guest about faith, life, and community. Their positivity, spirit, and love for Jesus is authentic and easy to delight in. My week isn't complete with thirty minutes of their guidance and support!
Catholic Sprouts podcast
This pod is less than ten minutes long and is dropped Monday through Friday. Catholic Sprouts is geared towards children but offers great resources of parents of Catholic kiddos as well. My son might be a little young to actually absorb what is being said but the liturgical structure and lessons are filled with tidbits that enhance my understanding of how to support my son and my students' faith development. All we can do at the end of the day is plant those seeds of faith!
Nell's Instragram stories are so refreshingly honest. She is funny, nurturing, and prayerful as she raises her four children in the faith. I enjoy flipping through her stories and taking comfort in reactions to frustrating situations. But she also shares the true joy and purpose of parenting. I never leave her feed feeling less than; only motivated. There are many different Catholic women on Instagram who curate a great, authentic feed worthy of sharing, but @whole_parenting takes the cake for me!
As I currently focus on accomplishing St. Andrew the Apostle's Christmas Novena, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the Pray More Novenas email feature that helps you remain accountable. Novenas are a beautiful way to pray for a particular petition but easy to forget despite good intentions. Pray More Novenas sends emails to help people achieve what they have set out to do! What a great way to keep yourself on track as you try to pray more during our period of waiting.
I mentioned earlier that Blessed Is She provides devotionals regarding the daily readings. However, they don't include the daily readings directly in the email. USCCB's website offers that though! USCCB or the United States Catholic College of Bishops provides a wealth of knowledge to Catholics including an online Bible, theological answers to questions, and other great resources. They offer daily emails focused on the day's readings, pairing nicely with whatever other devotionals you may do. It is a great resource to have bookmarked and ready to go whenever you have a question or need
Catholic Facebook Groups
Facebook can be a dangerous place to spend time. It is too easy to disconnect from the reality that we are talking to real people and fire off unkind, unnecessary comments to strangers. I've been fortunate to find some really kind Catholic communities online that focus on praying for one another fellowship rather than hurtful, bigoted conversations of condemnation and judgment. Blessed Is She has its own but there are many dedicated to different interests like NFP, motherhood, reading, writing, fan groups for podcasts like Fountain of Carrots, and other things! Find a niche where you feel welcomed! Make a new friend!
The internet can be tricky to navigate, filled with temptation and negativity. But God is the divine author of all things and we can find Him anywhere we truly look!
Happy Advent and Tota Tua!