ROME - Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

Published in Vatican

Sacred Journey: Daily Reflections for Lent 2015. By Krystyna Higgins. (Novalis. 49 pages. $2.50).
40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent. By Marcellino D’Ambrosio. (Servant Books, an imprint of Franciscan Media. 127 pages. $14.99). Sacred Silence: Daily Meditations for Lent. By Phyllis Zagano. (Franciscan Media. 132 pages. $9.99).

Lent is upon us and it’s time to make some room for change. This year, will Lent pass us by as little more than 40 days of good intentions or will it become a life-changing journey? These three books remind us that it’s not enough to give up chocolate or some other vice — although sacrifice does have its place. Authors Krystyna Higgins, Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Phyllis Zagano remind us each in their own way that Lent is about renewing our spiritual commitment to Christ and hopefully going deeper and maturing in our relationship with Him.

Published in Book News

Editor’s note: over the coming weeks, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, will offer a series of biblical reflections on Lent.

On Ash Wednesday the Church begins her great Lenten journey with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. For centuries, Lent has been a very intense spiritual journey and experience for the followers of Jesus Christ.

Published in Faith

TORONTO - Everyone needs spiritual direction at some point in their life, said Sr. Mechtilde O’Mara.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA
January 29, 2015

Season of sacrifice

It’s a new year again, and for many Advent is still fresh in our minds. That’s why it may come as a surprise that Lent is quickly approaching.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

VATICAN CITY - Christians are called to overcome apathy, discouragement and pretentions of self-sufficiency by letting God enter into their hearts, making them joyful, merciful and strong, Pope Francis said.

Published in Vatican

WASHINGTON - After “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned” there are millions of Catholics who don’t exactly know what to say next.

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - Which is the fast God prefers for a 21st-century Lent? In a media-saturated age, it makes sense to desaturate our souls with a media fast, suggests Salt+Light Radio media correspondent Mark Matthews.

Published in Vatican
February 13, 2013

A lasting lesson in love

A mother’s advice helps keep couple together for seven decades

Published in Vatican

‘Live simply so that others may simply live’

Published in Vatican

I was recently speaking with a Jesuit priest about his work. The charism of a Jesuit priest is to go where there is the greatest need.

“What do you think is the greatest need in our city?” I asked him.

He told me that he thought that people didn’t seem to need anything. They have filled their lives with so many things. I thought this was ironic.

How is it that the greatest need in our society is that we have no need at all?

I began to think of myself: How true is this of my own life? I rarely let myself go hungry. I fill my schedule with commitments, I quickly run into new relationships and I consume more food than I need. I chase desires in many different directions all in efforts to satisfy my hunger. Everything is so readily available and easily accessible that I have never truly had to go hungry. My every whim is met instantly.

During Lent, I realize it is a time to do just the opposite of the ordinary. It is a time to leave our desires unchecked as it is a period to abstain from comfort. In Matthew, Jesus was “led by the spirit into the desert,” leaving all comfort behind.

For me, the chance to live out this belief came in the form of a unique initiative.

For five days this Lent, I left the comforts of my home behind. With a sleeping bag, pillow and the clothes on my back, I joined nine other students at the University of British Columbia as part of a national campaign called 5 Days for the Homeless. Together, we camped outside our campus bookstore in efforts to raise awareness and money for homeless youth in our city.

The past days have definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It’s been cold and rainy and I’m beginning to dream of hot showers. We’re completely reliant on donations for food and basic necessities like toothpaste and deodorant.

Catherine Doherty, foundress of the Madonna House apostalate, is famous for, amongst other things, having brought the term “poustinia” to the Catholic Church. It is a term that refers to the cabins people go to for retreats of silence and solitude. Poustinia stems from the Russian word for desert. People spend time in these poustinia to encounter God more fully through prayer and fasting. Though far from luxurious, people often feel more fulfilled in the poustinia.

I have come to understand that fulfilment during my time without a home. Without the comforts of home, I have had to come to Jesus for that true fulfilment.

A Catholic Christian Outreach missionary once said to me, “We are afraid to wait long enough to feel that longing.”

What if this Lent, instead of reacting to every desire, you allowed yourself to go hungry? What would happen?

I urge you to be led by the spirit into the poustinia or desert of your heart just as Jesus was 2,000 years ago. See what happens. Allow your true appetite for something greater be restored. I know He won’t leave you thirsty.

(Hii, 21, is a human resources and international relations student at the University of British Columbia.)

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
March 14, 2012

Texting through Lent

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” reads the Gospel of John. While this opening verse will always be true, I wonder what John would have to say about taking the Word and, well, texting it.

That was the challenge I embarked on this Lenten season with the “Texting through Lent” calendar. Designed as a daily devotional calendar for teens and young adults, it attempts to incorporate various multimedia devices, especially cellphones, into Lenten reflections. When I saw this calendar hanging in the walls of my former high school, I knew it was a challenge I had to accept.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

Lent this year has been going on for a while now, but it’s not too late to get around it. For those reluctant to join with the many who are making a Lenten sacrifice and are instead looking for reliable methods to escape Lent, I offer six suggestions. Use at your own pace.

1. Don’t enter a church. Lent is everywhere in there these days, in the words, the music, the smells, the wall hangings. Even if you do happen to wander into a church or two, there are still ways to avoid Lent while inside, including the techniques listed below.

Published in Mary Marrocco

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics for their prayers as he began his weeklong Lenten retreat Feb. 26.

Before reciting the Angelus prayer at midday with visitors in St. Peter's Square, he also prayed that all Catholics would "embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving."

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - Students at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto began Lent with a purpose. The 1,000-plus students at the midtown school are raising money to combat child sexual slavery.

Jesuit Father Len Altilia told the students Lent should make us want to reach out to the helpless, particularly the women and children who suffer most from violence and sexual exploitation.

"It's not just an act of charity," said Altilia. "It is an act of faith and an act of justice."

Published in Education