Here it is...Enjoy and happy Lent!
Until next time,
Know that I love you!
The CatholiCity Message
Volume XIII, Number 2
Special Lenten Edition
Dear CatholiCity Citizen,
Our only purpose today is to help you begin your Lent well. Remember the initials YBLE: Your Best Lent Ever. Before we start, we saved a really, really, really good insight for last, entitled "YOU ARE NOT DEAD." Hmmnn.
1. NOW FOR THE...CONCEIT
This is one message you may want to forward to your friends and relatives--before Ash Wednesday is over. Let us being with...a conceit. Huh? A what? What is a "conceit"?
As some of us may recall from English class in the olden days, a conceit, according the fourth definition of the third meaning of the noun in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, is (drumroll):
"an organizing principle"
A Lent well-lived needs an organizing principle. May we suggest that your conceit for Lent 2009--your organizing principle--be to:
Go. For. It.
THE POPE'S PETARD
Go For It! We only have so many years on this earth, and to waste a Lent is just plain subpar for a believing Catholic. Challenge yourself spiritually in 2009. Choose extra *difficult* mortifications. Give up your very very most favorite things. Fast more often than ever before in your life. Commit to prayer or Mass or Good Friday devotions like never before in your life. Do not fall for the sadly common temptation to slide into this worldwide season of extraordinary grace like a wet towel into a hamper.
By the way, you know the Pope is going to kick petard this Lent. This is the only time of year when it is, in fact, a good idea to be more Catholic than the pope. Pope Benedict XVI practically invented the Conceit. He was going for it, like, over eighty years ago.
So plan today, right now, to look back on April 12, 2009 (Easter Sunday) with the wonderful sensation of knowing that you did your very, very best to grow closer to Jesus. That you did not squander another Lent. And let us know, on April 13, how It was goed for for you. (Yes, if you read that slowly, it makes sense. Sort of.)
CRACKERJACK, SURPRISE-INSIDE SUGGESTIONS
Some of you are psyched. Some of you are groaning. Others are nodding (hopefully in agreement, not into sleep). Many stopped reading after the word "conceit."
And, now, for some suggestions. Please forgive us for listing some of the "usual suspect" suggestions. Our goal below is to make you tremble in fear: "Oh no, not that! I can't give up that!"
Yeah, we (and you) are looking for the Perfect Oh No Not That to give up because this year, our conceit is Go For It.
And remember, there is no prohibition from "doubling" up, or choosing three, five, or seven things for Lent 2009 (Your Best Lent Ever!). We know that many of you have been intending to get off your duffs and do several of the following for years (and even decades--you know who you are).
We can only offer this bold encouragement because we are weak, slothful, wimpy, selfish, lazy, prideful, ashamed, and cowardly. Here are some suggestions to get into the spirit of GO FOR IT, followed by helpful hints, resources and comments...
1. Pray the Rosary every day.
2. Receive Communion at Mass every day.
3. Go to Confession every Friday.
4. Pray the Family Rosary every day or once a week.
5. Pray in silence 20 minutes a day.
6. Make a Eucharistic visit every day.
7. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet (at 3:00 PM) every day.
8. Fast on bread and water one to three times per week.
9. Read a spiritual book.
10. Give a painfully large donation to charity.
11. Give a donation to charity instead of buying something for you.
12. Pray "Jesus, I love you!" in the first waking seconds of the day.
13. Listen to Catholic CDs.
14. Do something major to improve your marriage.
15. Volunteer anywhere: at your kid's school, homeless shelter
16. Visit a home for the elderly
16. Give up something you absolutely love, crave, or spend time on, or that annoys the people you love, including:
-television or your favorite television show
-television before a certain hour
-television AFTER a certain hour
-chocolate, and anything with chocolate flavor
-all snacks or desserts
-movies, Netflix, movie rentals
-following your favorite sports team
-golf (an objectively grave moral evil) (only kidding)
-watching golf on TV
-a destructive, irresistable "friendship"
-picking your nose
-driving when you could walk
-sleeping in late on the weekends
-sleeping an "extra" ten minutes in the morning
-fast food drivethroughs
-not cooking breakfast for your kids
-shopping for clothes or food
-not stopping by your neighbors to say hello for weeks
-failing to visit or call your "not close by" relatives
-the beach (for those of you lucky enough to have one nearby)
-fishing, hunting, four-wheeling, skateboarding
-some of your "alone" time doing any hobby
-your absolute favorite, passionate hobby (aha, you just fainted!)
-nagging your husband (you know who you are)
-nagging your wife (she knows who you are)
-not smiling when you arrive at the office
-knitting, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku
-knitting? (you addicts understand)
-cigarettes, cigars, gum, and "phony candy" breathmints
-cellphone calls in your car on the drive home
-bluetooth headset (harder than you think)
-fantasy football, basketball, or baseball
-eat your vegetables (even you adults)
-betting on March Madness
-gossiping at work--say something nice instead
-stealing "little stuff" from your employer, including time online
-relations with your spouse (on certain days or weeks)
-thinking about yourself when you wake up or go to sleep (pray instead)
-thinking about yourself when you drive (pray instead)
-buying anything you don't need
That, ahem, should get you started. We are also big advocates of children giving up video games and television. Consider encouraging your little ones to abstain from meat on Friday and even to fast (using your parental judgment, under your supervision of course). Have them give 10% of their piggy bank into the collection basket.
Let's review our conceit: GO FOR IT.
YOU ARE NOT DEAD: LENT VERSUS LINT
May we mildly suggest that you are not dead. You are not a corpse. You are alive. You are breathing. Put your index finger into your bellybutton. Dig. That's lint. This is Lent. And Lent 2009 and it shall never come again, and it shall never *start* again, so that is why it is so important to have some courage on Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Lent is about changing, for forty days, how you live so you can grow closer to Jesus.
LET US PRAY TOGETHER FOR LENT 2009
Our prayer is simple. Let us begin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit...
"Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Please help me do my best, and by leadership or by example, help my family and friends, do their their best, this Lent. Because I love you and I want to love you more. Amen."
"Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the Lord;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth."
Sir 2:5-11 (Reading for Tuesday, February 24, 2009)
"An honest man is the noblest work of God."
"I have done my part. May Christ teach you to do yours."
Saint Francis of Assisi, final words on his deathbed
"My Lord has suffered as much for me."
Savonarola, final words on his deathbed
"I have not behaved myself that I should be ashamed to live, nor am I afraid to die, because I have so good a master."
Saint Ambrose, final words on his deathbed
Saint Joan of Arc, final words on her deathbed
Thank you for being an august citizen of CatholiCity, and for reading to the sweet end. Next time we write, it shall be in the middle of Lent, in the fray, so to speak, of Lent 2009. Meet us there, going for it.
With Immaculate Mary,
Your Friends at CatholiCity