It’s Carnival time! And I’m not just talking about another gripping, breathlessly plotted, unabashedly literary, and intriguing installment of Catholic Carnival. I’m referring to this time of feasting and merriment, known as Carnival (derived from the carnelevarium, which is Latin for “withdrawal or removal of meat”) that marks the coming of the spartan Lenten season. (Can you believe Ash Wednesday is only a week away?)
What revelry do you have in mind for the Carnival? I intend to splurge on some good eats (namely chocolate, which I always give up during Lent, among other, more important things like “fasting” on worrying). I’m actually setting up a make-your-own-sundae bar on next Tuesday for the fam. It’s a good excuse to dish up the cold, creamy stuff and to squeeze in one last taste of chocolate (“Would you like some ice cream with dark chocolate bits, chocolate syrup, and crumbled chocolate cookies?”)
Not a fan of donning varicolored beads or scarfing down chocolate-laden ice cream? Well, here’s an idea: Why not indulge yourself in some good reading? Sit down and savor the aptly named Catholic Carnival for this week. While you’re at it, add a side of cookies or beer or a latte or a steak – whatever fave food you’ll soon be craving during the 40 days of Lent – and you’ll have one last little hooray. Oh, and based on some of the thought-provoking posts, you may even learn a thing or two about our Catholic faith and help prepare your heart for this beautiful time for praying, fasting, and almsgiving.
Enjoy, and God bless!
Okay, so politics aren’t always fun and games, but not only is Lent right around the corner, but the primaries are upon us. In fact, I’ll be voting in the Georgia Primary on February 5 just before Lent begins. (Find your state’s primary here.) I don’t know about you, but to me politics can feel a lot like a carnival. You know how there are all those carnival game booth workers calling your name and enticing you with different prizes? All the games look so easy, but you know that looks can be deceiving and those folks are there to take your money. I sometimes feel the same way when I’m trying to discern which candidate to support. Is he or she really sincere when he says that about this issue? Is it all media hype when I hear about his involvement with this controversy? It’s tough to separate fact from fiction. Thankfully, the web is a great resource and some of our fellow Catholic bloggers offer valuable political commentary as well.
Take Denise Hunnell who presents The Wisdom of the Pope Applied to Elections posted at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom. The words of Pope Benedict XVI should resonate with an audience much wider than Roman university students. Why not use his wisdom when evaluating political candidates during this election season?
Speaking of separating fact from fiction, Leticia Velasquez presents causa nostrae laetitiae: Here’s one you haven’t heard before: Hillary is Pro-life posted at causa nostrae laetitiae.
As Catholics, we have a moral duty to participate in the political process and to infuse our Christian values into our voting practices. There are ample issues to consider when assessing candidates. Illegal immigration is a biggie in the U.S. We are called to promote social justice and to exhibit a preferential love for the poor and the least, but where does that leave us when it comes to helping illegal immigrants by giving them work? Mary’s Aggies explores this sensitive issue at Illegal Immigration and the Catholic Church.
Another issue on the hearts and minds of Catholics everywhere is abortion. This year marked the 35th anniversary of the fateful Roe v. Wade decision and throngs of people gathered in Washington DC to defend the dignity of life . Leticia Velasquez presents a poignant, pictorial presentation of the event at Gabbi’s March for Life 2008 Montage posted at cause of our joy. And American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic! provides exclusive, on-the-ground coverage of the 2008 March for Life at AmP’s March for Life Coverage (Essential Links).
It’s a shame there aren’t more pro-life messages in mainstream media. But the tide seems to be changing with movies like Bella and even Juno making it to the big screen. A Call for Pro-Life Films posted at Catholic Media Review takes a look at the The Cinema Vita Film Festival, which has been established to encourage young, emerging filmmakers and to showcase movies about contemporary issues concerning the meaning and value of life.
By the Book
If all this riveting Carnival reading isn’t enough to satiate your voracious appetite for the written word, consider cracking the spine of one of the books Heidi Saxton recommends over at Movies and Books to Shape the Womanly Soul posted at Streams of Mercy. In addition, Heidi presents Painful Truth: A Review of “Silent Prisoner” by Amanda Young (BookSurge Publishing) posted at Mommy Monsters Inc. saying, “A book for anyone who wishes to identify with the poor and powerless, especially the children. This book tells the story of one girl who survived a lifetime of abuse, and lived to write about it. Excellent Lenten reading.”
Or, if you’re feasting away and may be in need of some motivation to get back in shape, check out a review of Fit for Eternal Life: A Christian Approach to Working Out, Eating Right, and Building the Virtues of Fitness in Your Soul by Dr. Kevin Vost
at Book Reviews and More. In this book, Dr. Vost tries to show us a better approach to both physical and spiritual health. He draws extensively from Greek philosophers, modern day athletes and from the doctors and saints in the church. If you want to live a healthier life style, have more time for what really matters, and want to get the most from your workouts, then this is a book for you.
Have Your Fill: Ways to “Beef Up” for Lent
Start by seeing Christ in others as David at Apostolate of the Laity urges us to do when he writes: “One common characteristic of many of the saints was their ability to see Christ in all those who approached them. One easily finds The Christ in the believer, the friend, the relative, the spouse, the child, and even the poor. Christ can be seen in every human being, even the most ardent non-believer” at I Did Not Know Him. How do we respond when Christ – no matter how he’s disguised – approaches us? Something to ponder during this season we aspire to become closer to our Savior.
One way to nurture a more intimate relationship with Christ is by reading the Bible. All we need to know about living our lives can be found in this one book. Amazing! Teresa explores applying scripture to our lives, especially in the area of self-governance, at Teresa’s Two Cents. But if you find that big, old Bible a wee bit intimidating or just want to get more organized, check out Tabbing Your Bible at A Third Way. Melissa finally put tabs on her Bible and can’t believe how much it easier it has made her Scripture study. She’s inspired me to do the same (and, Melissa, I must be a geek, too, because just looking at your new and improved, organized Bible has got me all excited!)
If you’re wondering how you’ll make it through days of fasting and a dearth of meat during Lent, consider the gift of suffering. Catholic Fire offers a timely teaching on the power of suffering and prayer as illustrated by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II, and the saints at A Catholic Perspective on Prayer and Suffering: Part I .
I know of more and more Christian but not Catholic friends who have started observing Lent. Isn’t that a simple yet lovely example of Christian unity? Let us continue to pray for harmony among our Christian brothers and sisters this Lenten season and always because as Chip Randall reminds us at The World According to Catholicism with his blog entry Christian Unity, “restoration of Christian unity is the first and most effective form of ecumenical work.”
Part of many Catholics’ Lenten Game Plan includes going to confession. Need an extra push to get you into the confessional? Don’t miss “I Am a Beggar Too” posted at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill. It shares a beautiful story that illustrates once again what a humble, amazing man Pope John Paul II was. As we prepare for a season of penance, let us all remember that we are beggars of the Lord.
Speaking of games, there’s a big one coming up this weekend. Whether you’re a Giants or Patriots fan, don’t miss Super Bowl XLII: The Divine Drama posted at Perfect Joy, which includes two theological reflections in one: (1) Is it right to pray for my team to win…and yours to lose? (2) Who will win…the divine edge.
If football isn’t your thing (it’s certainly not mine, but I grew up in a sports-crazed brother and have always known what’s going on in the world of sports simply through osmosis), take a stab at this great Bible Board Game (Doug uses it with his junior high youth group) at JoyYoMin.
Haven’t had enough hedonism for one sitting? Then mosey on over to these great, thought-provoking posts:
My 3-year-old believes in guardian angels and we all should, especially after reading Childhood Disasters and Angelic Salvation at Adoro te Devote, which shares some pretty powerful stories of guardian angels stepping in to protect children.
Shaun Connell presents The Natural Verses Supernatural False Dichotomy posted at Rational Christianity. Here you’ll find “An explanation of why naturalism fails, and why supernatural conclusion can indeed be valid.”
Jason presents 1945: Nikolaus Gross, Catholic anti-Nazi labor activist posted at Executed Today. If you haven’t checked out this fascinating blog before, delay no more. It’s befittingly described as a “blog of history, sociology, biography, criminology, law, and kismet — an unrepresentative but arresting view of the human condition across time and circumstance from the parlous vantage of the scaffold.”
Should a writer permit his (or her) work to be published without compensation? As a former editor, I used to say, “Never!” Yet, here I am blogging away simply for the joy of it… At Silent Canticle (Heidi’s Hotline), you’ll find On Golden Pens … and Empty Pockets, a reflection from Heidi Saxton, the editor of Canticle magazine.
Being a mom of two little ones, I’m a sucker for mommy anecdotes. However, some are better than others. This one made my throat catch. Children, with their blind trust, their humility, and their capacity for love, could serve to inspire us all as we prepare for Lent. Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3-4). As Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering reminds us through this touching exchange between a mom and a child at It’s No Wonder Jesus Loved Kids, Jesus wants us all to embrace a childlike faith.
Last but certainly not least, Contrariwise presents FOCUS Conference, a detailed account of a young and I must add after perusing her blog, faithful and talented college student’s unforgettable and inspiring experience at the FOCUS 2008 National Student Leadership Conference.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a fruitful Lent, and may this desert of sacrifice lead us to an Easter season full of joy!
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