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March 15th, 2015

Things To Do During Lent

Things to do during lent

Lent – These 40 days before Easter are a wonderful time to rethink everything and to allow ourselves to take up our crosses as Christ once did. Watch this lent video showing 40 days of Jesus in the desert.

1. Decide on your Lenten sacrifice

Lent is a season of solemnity and sacrifice commemorating Jesus’ exodus into the desert; our sacrifice is a reminder of the sacrifice of self Jesus made to save us from our sins. Because of this, it is a Lenten tradition to sacrifice something for these 40 days. Think about all the trivial things in your life that shift your focus away from God. Do you find that you dedicate more time to sending text messages and posting status updates than to prayer and time with God? Do you have a habit of eating junk food excessively? What is something your life could do without? Prepare for Lent.

2. Include something special in your Lenten routine

Giving up chocolate or Facebook for 40 days is great, but why not do something positive, too, instead of just removing the negative? Resolve to spend more time volunteering, with your family, pray more, or somehow get in touch with your faith. Some families decide to set aside their spare change during these 40 days and do something with that money. Either donate it to the church or to a local charity, or spend it on goods for those in need. It’s a nice touch to this season, focusing on those that don’t have anything to sacrifice in the first place. Think about what Lent means to me.

3. Attend Mass as often as possible

In addition to weekly Sunday service, it’s good to go to church frequently, especially during Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when we remember that we come from dust and to dust we shall return. Many traditions often have an additional worship service in mid-week, and attendance at these services is a good way to participate in Lent.

4. Go to Reconciliation

Reconciliation, or Confession, is a wonderful way to turn away from sin and reunite yourself with Christ. If you don’t already, try getting into the habit of going to Confession on a regular basis. The Catholic Church has made it obligatory that all the faithful receive the sacrament of Penance at least once a year and once during the season of Lent, though it’s recommended that you attend Confession at least once a month if possible. Your church probably offers weekly confessional services, if not more during this time of year. If you’re not sure when to go, pick up a local bulletin or just make a quick phone call! You can schedule private confessions as well. Understand that Lent is the path to freedom.

5. Spend time on devotions

Though not required, devotions are a great way to put yourself in the right mindset for Lent. The Church highly encourages Adoration of God or the veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Your local parish probably has regular Eucharistic Adoration, where you can go to sit and engage in deep prayer, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. To practice veneration, you could say a decade of the Rosary daily, or pray to your patron saint. Any prayer, so long as it means something to you, is a step in the direction God intended. If you have a prayer you’ve grown up with that speaks to you, resolve to spend more time focusing on what it truly means and how you can embody that prayer in your everyday life.

6. Take time for self-examination and reflection

Christmas and Easter are times of happiness and joy; while the preceding and succeeding seasons are cheery and bright, the same cannot be said about Lent. It is a time of simplicity and solemnity. It is a time to reflect on your dependence on God’s mercy and your understanding of faith. Take moments during this time to think about how you embody Christ’s message. To top it all off, Lent, in most climes, is during winter — when just a look out the window is a somber reminder of the tribulations Jesus went through for our happiness.

7. Fast and abstain

All Catholics aged fourteen and older are asked to abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays, though fish is allowed to be eaten. Additionally, Catholics aged 18-59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Lenten Fridays, meaning that only one full meal may be eaten in the day. Of course, do this however you feel is safe and effective. Some people should definitely not fast (the pregnant or the elderly, for example). If fasting isn’t a reasonable option for you, fast from something other than food. Make sure it’s something that’s a challenge — like your phone or email — so you can feel the sacrifice you’re making. Read about what to give up for lent.

8. Take something on

While many people choose to give harmful things up for Lent, you could use the season to help you build good habits. You could promise to be more patient and kind toward your neighbor, or you could vow to help the needy. Whether you choose to sacrifice or to adopt new, strengthening habits, you should allow your Lenten promises to help you grow in faith and virtue. In addition to bettering your own life, take this time to build habits that better the lives of others. Volunteer at a hospital or shelter, or simply get more active in your church by offering to greet, read, or take care of the offerings.

9. Have a Seder meal

Though some see it as largely a Jewish tradition, that is not the case! On Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, many Catholics have a seder meal, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus — the very last day of Lent. You eat the “meal” in silence, reflecting on your Lenten experiences with unleavened bread and wine (or grape juice). How has this Lent changed you? If you’d like to get a little historical with it, try including matzah (unleavened bread), maror (horseradish root), egg, or haroset (apple, spice, and red wine mixture) as part of your meal.

10. Promote a communal alms-giving project

Many communities choose to partake in something like Operation Rice Bowl during this season, offering help to those communities that are in need. It’s possible your Church already has something like this going on — but if not, start the ball rolling yourself! This is the perfect time to focus on bettering the world, just as Jesus did. Any charity in the area can be the basis of your project. All you need to do is get your parish on board. Talk to your priest and see if he can help urge the masses to get behind a good cause.

11. Add purple adornments to your living space

The color of Lent is purple – a quick stroll by any church will make that abundantly clear. Add a few touches of deep, royal purple into your home to remind you that these 40 days are quite meaningful. But do keep it simple — Lent is hardly a time for overabundance. A few purple candles, a purple table runner — nothing too gaudy, eye-catching, or unnecessary. It’s a time of reserve and preparation for growth. Save the excess for Easter!

12. Make a Lenten calendar

Such a calendar will help you to focus on the progression of the Lenten season and is a neat reminder to see the days ticking away, getting closer and closer to Jesus’ resurrection. Lent is 40 days long and doesn’t include Sundays. It ends the Friday before Easter (the last day being Holy Thursday); count backwards from there. Hang the calendar in a common area in your home. Every day, tick off a box. As you get closer and closer to Easter, how do you find yourself feeling? Are your sacrifices becoming more or less difficult to maintain? Read more on Family Lent Calendar.

13. Have a weekly sacrifice meal

In addition to fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, have a “sacrifice meal” once each week. A simple bowl of rice and glass of milk instead of your family’s traditional spread. Limiting yourself to this will remind you of what’s normal for you — highlighting that it isn’t normal for others. The things we so easily forget! Again, only partake in diet restrictions if it’s advisable for you. If you’re not sure, it’s wise to consult a doctor beforehand. Jesus doesn’t want you sacrificing your health!

14. Burn palms from last year’s Palm Sunday

At the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday, burn the palms you have from last year’s Palm Sunday. Keep them in a bowl at your dining room table (or wherever they could serve as a reminder) to reflect on Jesus’ life and death. As you eat each meal, you’ll feel a natural urge of gratitude for the splendor that you have.


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November 16th, 2014

10 Rules To Make Your Marriage Stronger

Rules To Make Your Marriage Stronger

Here are 10 rules to make your christian marriage stronger and smoother.

End the Day With a Clean Slate

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 to not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Make it a goal to clear the air with your spouse on a daily basis. Fortunately, most days there will not be a need to clean the slate. For those days where tensions are high make an agreement with one another that you will work out your differences before going to bed.

Not 50-50

The Bible says that it is a man’s responsibility to love (Ephesians 5:25) and it is a woman’s responsibility to submit (Ephesians 5:22). If the husband will commit to love then it makes it much easier for the wife to submit. If the wife will submit, the husband will have less trouble loving her. The beautiful thing about this is that God does not say, “a man should love his wife if she will submit.” Or, “a woman should submit to her husband if he loves her.” Each spouse’s responsibility is independent of what the other one does. When a couple looks at marriage as a 50-50 agreement then they will always play off of how the other treats them. However, when they see the marriage as their sole responsibility, then they will have a much stronger and happier marriage.

Keep Personal Problems Personal

Don’t share your marriage problems with your co-workers. If you are seeing a marriage counselor then it is important to be open and honest. But when chatting with your friends at the water cooler or the hair salon, you need to guard your negative words about your spouse. Long after the problem is resolved your friends will remember. They weren’t part of the healing process and therefore they won’t know how to forget.

Live Within Your Means

One of the major causes of divorce is money problems. Live with the money you have. Even though you think that expensive gift (that you can’t afford) will help endear your spouse to you, it more often than not will drive a wedge of insecurity in your relationship.

Divorce is Not an Option

Never enter a marriage with the thought that you can get divorced if things don’t work out. Regardless of your interpretation of the biblical passages dealing with divorce, you should make it a personal commitment to your spouse and to God that you will not consider divorce as an option. Enter the marriage with the understanding that you are making a solemn vow before God to your spouse that you will stay together until death separates you.

Guard Your Heart

Protect your eyes, ears and mind. Men, you need to learn to look away when your eyes are drawn to other women in an inappropriate way. Ladies, you may hear sweeter words from your co-worker than you do from your own husband. Remember to whom you made a promise to love—even when times are difficult.

Forget the Past

Isn’t it amazing how, all of a sudden, you can remember things from the past that you thought were forgotten when an argument arises between you and your spouse? Forget the wrong that he or she has done to you in the past and focus on the present and future.

Compliment in Word and Action

The word “compliment” can mean a couple of different things. First it can mean to say nice things to one another. It can also mean to do something that helps the other to be stronger or look better in the eyes of others. Both senses of the word compliment are important in a marriage.

Love One Another

Make a decision to love one another as much as you can. Remember that he/she is your partner whom God gifted for your entire life on earth. God picked him/her just for you from among all the other faces, to become a part of you in mind and body.

Put God First

Most people who want to protect their marriage will say that their spouse is more important than their job. Unfortunately, it seems that people who are in ministry (pastors, missionaries, etc.) will say that in a list of priorities their wife is sometimes at the top of the list and sometimes their ministry is. If you put God at the top of your priority list, He will show you where your emphasis should be at any given time. If God is truly first, then the other priorities will fall into place.


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October 23rd, 2014

The Crown Of Roses In The Thorns Of Life

Holy Rosary

Rajkumar was one of my close friends during college days. He was a joyful and charming youth. Kind of a “yo-yo” in today’s fashioned words!!! He often wanted to enjoy his life. Although born in a middle class family he never felt the need to grow up in his life and help his hard toiling parents because his parents just cared and loved him so much that he never felt any pain in his life.

Days and months passed. When I reached the third year of my college life, I came to know that Raj was addicted to alcohol and girls! I recollected the days in the first year of my college life, where he used to seek my help in studies just to get the pass mark. And I remember him saying that he was the school topper for the 10th grade in his school. All those memories once made me ask him what has pulled him to get addicted to all these things? And his reply was so simple – “Friend !!! We have only one life and we have to enjoy it to the fullest!!!”

Years passed. Four years later and just few days ago, while browsing through my Facebook feeds I saw one of his closest friend posting Raj’s photo with the tagline “R.I.P Raj”. I was really surprised. I never believed it but later I was compelled to digest the fact that Raj, a 25-year-old lad, passed away while travelling in a bus, in his sleep.

Thorns of Life

Now, what are these thorns of life? The moment we hear “thorns”, only problems of our life come into our mind. And in fact you are correct. But then I would like to classify these thorns into two, Visible and Invisible. All the problems, which we feel is a real problem, are these visible thorns and all those which we think are not really a problem as per today’s fast growing world are the invisible thorns.

Visible thorns are part of life and most of us have them a lot . And believe me, we are called to enjoy these visible thorns! Because they refine us to become as pure as gold. But invisible thorns are more serious. The life of Raj was ruined just because he was unable to detect these invisible thorns in his life. He thought he was enjoying his life and in reality he was ruining it.

Even today, we never think of things which are required to enter the house of the creator but we just enjoy our life by looking at the things which make us and our children comfortable. Beware of these invisible thorns because these are the most poisonous thorns that can pierce deep into our lives and destroy it completely.

Is life not to be enjoyed?

So does this mean that this life is not to enjoy ourselves? Never!!! This life is called only to enjoy and to enjoy it in its fullest with the creator. For the holy words are as follows: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”(Jn. 10:10). Most of us are really afraid about our death because we cling on just to the worldly enjoyments and relations we have here. But shift your focus and keep it straight towards Christ because the life which He gives never ends!

St. John The Apostle

Dear friends in Christ, shifting our focus to Christ in this worldly life is really tough. But the history quotes enormous number of people who focused their lives towards Christ. Here, I would like to quote a character from the Holy Bible, none other than the energetic apostle St. John. St. John was a similar youth as Rajkumar, a young lad clad with all kinds of thorns of life. But when Christ called him, he shifted his focus towards Christ, who alone can give life in abundance. His thirst for this abundant life drove him until the foot of the cross where our Lord was bearing the excruciating pains of our sins.

Imagine! What kind of feelings would have gone through the mind of St. John? The feeling of loneliness, the question that who is going to be with them when their savior is about to leave them, the urge to go to the cross and get crucified with Christ, the question that who is going to wipe away their thorns of life. And dear friends, even while going through such an agonizing pain, our Christ had only one thing to tell, pointing out to our Mother Mary, to John, “Here is your mother” (John 19:27) . Further the word of God says “And from that hour the disciple (John) took her into his own home”(John 19:27). John further lived his life until 94 years and became the only disciple who was never martyred.

Are you enjoying life in its abundance?

In this world, where people communicate with each other with just a swipe of their fingers, where people seldom think of reciting the rosary in their families but are ready to welcome their friends for a cocktail party at home, where praying has become a mere ritual and out fashioned, where helping others have turned into a prestige factor, where hearts doesn’t work but brains do , I simply have one simple question for you – Are you enjoying life in its abundance? If the answer is a big “NO”, then dear friends, in Christ God is calling us to give this life in abundance.

As St.John was thirsty to enjoy this life in abundance, we also can gear up to enjoy it, as he did. Lets gear up towards the feet of the cross with the pains of our Christ getting hammered in the Cross, with the pains that is hammering us even today at our work places and in our homes, let’s go to Christ. And looking at all our pains, he has only one thing to say to us pointing to our Mother Mary – “Here is your mother!!!”. And now its our turn to take her into our homes, to take her into our hearts, to take her wherever we go. Because only through her we can reach Christ.

What can we do now?

Lets take some strong decisions in our lives today. As the famous author Robin Sharma says, “Be strict not to others but to yourself. And that’s the way to success!!!”. No matter what we were till this day, lets shape up what we should be in the coming days. Just as we stick a paper, lets start sticking our hearts to Christ and the only strongest bond that makes us stick to Christ is Mother Mary.

Rosary, the strongest prayer the Catholic Church teaches us, is the most pleasing way to welcome our Mother to our homes and into our hearts. The word Rosary comes from the Latin word “Rosarium” which means the ‘crown of roses’. And that’s why Christ took the excruciating pain of the crown of thorns to his head and gave us this crown of roses, which is easily bearable for us. So let us start to recite his beautiful crown of roses, the Holy Rosary and give all our thorns of life to our Mother who will relentlessly give it to the one who is ready and happy to bear it for us! Amen.

- – – written by Charles Sunny


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