Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday I got to see them burning last year's palms. They're using the ashes at my parish today for Ash Wednesday. Ever want to know where they get the ashes for Ash Wednesday? Well, here's how they get them at my parish.

It was quite a strong smell, but I liked it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent: New Beginnings

Mardi Gras mask

Happy Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, day before Ash Wednesday. Eat up all of your candy and junk. In the old days they'd eat up all of the fat and go lean for all of Lent. Now might be a good time to clean out your cupboards and consume the last of the chips and M & M's or toss them out, wash the pantry, and put in new shelf paper. Maybe even get rid of the extra odd sized plate and bowl that you always have to restack to get to the ones you want. Throw out that weird little bag of spices your bought years ago and used once for some forgotten recipe. Start fresh. What a nice way to begin Lent. All fresh and new.
Then comes Ash Wednesday. Now, if you are a lapsed Catholic and you're returning to the Church after some time, as I did some years back, you may be surprised that a few of the prayers in Mass have changed, but don't worry too much. There is most likely a little prayer card (a.k.a. cheat sheet) in the pew. Here, I found this PDF new translation for you, if you want to take a look before you go. But don't fret if you get the responses wrong. Even those of use who've experienced the changes since last Advent still accidently say "And also with you" instead of "And with your spirit" sometimes.
Ash Wednesday in the Navy
Now, about the ashes. You are allowed to get ashes even if you are not able to go to Communion. I remember when I went to Ash Wednesday Mass for the first time in years-- I was afraid to go get ashes. I hadn't been to Confession, and my marriage wasn't valid yet. But I need not have worried.

So, what are you giving up for Lent? Such a common question this time of year. Have you thought back to your New Year's Resolution? Maybe revisiting that will give you some ideas. Maybe, like mine, your parish does a Friday evening Stations of the Cross at Lent. I find it to be a moving meditation on Christ's last hours before his death. What a powerful reminder of how much Jesus loves me.

He clothed himself in flesh for the purpose of having it ripped apart by the lash and hung on a cross so he could die, showing me his love and how much he wants me with him. Gives me resolve to keep up my own silly little Lenten sacrifices like no Facebook or chocolate.

Fast Facts about Lent 2012:
*Lent begins Ash Wednesday Feb. 22 and lasts until Holy Thursday, April 5, when the Triduum begins.
*The pillars of Lenten observances are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.
*Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstaining from meat. There's a limit of one full meal on these days for all people between 18 and 59 years of age. (Unless you're ill or pregnant.)
*All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat for those who have reached their 14th year. (When I was vegetarian, I chose something else to abstain from since I was already not taking meat, but that was optional.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lent, Ash Wednesday, Facebook, and Poetry

ash wednesday

On your anniversary (or maybe Valentine's Day) you renew your vows, your love and commitment to your spouse, right? Well, during Lent we renew our love and commitment to our savior. Lent is about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving--all things that unite us to God and things that are good to do often anyway.

Lent is a time to reboot our prayer life and our relationship with our Lord. On Ash Wednesday, (Feb. 22, 2012 this year), we'll get ashes put on our foreheads. Even though it's not a holy day of obligation, it's wildly popular even for non-regular church-goers. I myself returned to the Catholic Church on an Ash Wednesday years ago. I'm not sure I can put into words why that is, but I'll try.

Maybe it's because I wanted so badly to repent and crawl back into the arms of my Lord and my God. Lent is the time we walk with our Lord on his way to Calvary and the Cross where he shows how much He loves us. God didn't have to die for us. What is more loving than for God to clothe Himself in flesh for the purpose of dying?

If you want to read about the history of Ash Wednesday go here.

Lent Poetry Contest at the Opium Cactus:
Maybe I'll win world's worst poem. LOL

I'm giving up Facebook for Lent. Wow. How will I do that?  Sometimes it feels a bit addicting, though I use it for good, I think. I network with other writers and keep up to date with faraway friends and relatives. I also spread pro-life messages, which certain friends and relatives quickly slap down...

I guess I'll check in on Sundays to see if I have any private messages. But I'll leave a post on my wall to say I'm off until Easter.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Online Catholic Writers Conference- Or, take writing classes in your pajamas!

The online (and free) Catholic Writers Conference is on March 17-31, 2012. Sign up soon!
conference logo

It has a new format this year. They'll do forums one week and chats the next week. Yay. It was tough in years past to fully participate in it all AND get dinner on the table, homeschool the kids, and make sure the laundry pile didn't get out of hand.

In the forums you get like message-board type workshops. Your writing gets critiqued and you learn tons of writerly stuff.

In chats, you also learn tons about writing, the writing business, etc. but it's live in a chat room. The guests are amazing! Last year I was a moderator and that was loads of fun and not hard at all. This year, my computer is not completely reliable, so I'm not sure I'll be able to help. So, that means you should help! lol

They also have pitch session where you talk (type) one on one with a publisher to try to get them to like the book you wrote (novel, non-fiction, etc.) The nice thing abou that is it's great practice, they won't see you wee your pants (Just kidding. I didn't do that. Really!), and they might even ask you to send your MS and maybe, just maybe, you've sold your book! (Alas, I did not.)

Okay, I hope to see you there. Well, virtually, of course. :)