Archive for Liturgical Year

Why is Ash Wednesday so packed?

Church is always filled to the brim on Ash Wednesday, with people standing in the back, kids fidgeting in the pews, and people making time to start the Lenten season. But why? 

You can make the simple argument that people come because they get something, an outward sign of ashes, but I think it may be more than that. 

Why is Ash Wednesday so packed?

The world often implies that what is right in front of us is all there is. We live like what matters to us most is a promotion or success, a feeling of happiness, acceptance or ease, money, or momentary needs or wants.  So much of our days are consumed with getting these things. Ash Wednesday reminds us that all of the things we are working for, no matter how noble, will fade away. You will die, your world will turn to ash. 

We crave this truth of mortality, sometimes subconsciously, that is why Ash Wednesday service is so full. In the simple act of ashes being placed on our head, we can choose to strip away everything that is temporary and dwell, even if for a second, on what is eternal. 

When we have ashes placed on our heads, we are not merely talking about the idea of immorality, but truly feeling with our sense of touch the ashes to which our bodies will become. 

Why is Ash Wednesday so packed?

Source: Elgin.af.mil


We crave the reset, the second chance, that Lent provides. The ashes on our heads and the words spoken to us feel like a baptism of sorts. An outward sign of an internal reality. A breath from the constant message that we need more of what is temporary. A solemn look into our destiny, a grave. 

We can, in that moment, choose to offer the ashes of our life to God, joining them to the life and sacrifice of Christ. 

Memento mori, Latin for “remember that you have to die”

An Advent Playlist: Waiting in Wonder

In December, slivers of Christmas are everywhere, a few presents still to buy, pieces of wrapping paper all over the house, beautiful lights around the neighborhood, the intoxicating scent of our Christmas tree, our simple paper nativity set, the empty waiting stockings, and our advent candles flickering each night at dinner. Everywhere there is a little, often sweet and wonderful, piece of Christmas knocking at my door. In the midst of these signs of Christmas, I so badly desire to still honor the season of Advent and squeeze every ounce of goodness from the short season.

Advent is not about digging your heels in and refusing to allow any hint of Christmas in. It is about ordering your life to the truth of the greatest story of all time, God came to be with you. Advent means nothing without the expectation of Christmas.

We are to prepare and order our homes and hearts to receive the King. God is so big, and I am so small, Advent is a time to grow my capacity to receive and adore the creator of the universe. A time of longing, waiting, excitement, and preparation to receive all that is good.

We can not escape the coming date on our calendar or the constant signs that it will be here soon, so how do we turn these signs into Advent? Into preparation and waiting? Read More →

Jesus Got Up: Happy Easter

Happy Easter! I hope you are having an Easter filled with family, joy, and Jesus. We have been gifted with truly beautiful time around these parts.

Our wiggly two-year old was able to attend Holy Thursday and Easter mass, and I am always amazed by how much of these celebrations she is able to absorb. After Holy Thursday, every time she heard the word Jesus she would bend to touch our feet and say in the perfect toddler voice, “wash.” On Good Friday we talked about how Jesus died because he loves us so much. Drawing on past experiences of death like The Lion King and a great-grandfather passing.

Then came Easter, how was I going to explain the Resurrection to my daughter? I didn’t know if I could totally explain it to myself. We started to use the language “rise from he dead”, but it didn’t seem to ring any bells. Then all of the sudden out of the mouth of babes, Anna said “up”. She found a word in our explanation that made sense.

We would ask her what happened to Jesus and she would gesture with her hand and say joyfully with her mouth “up!” How simple, how perfect, how truly wise.

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Examination of Conscience… What role am I playing in Holy Week?

In our church home on Palm Sunday we always hear the passion gospel as a dramatic reading. This interactive (and long) gospel helps to begin Holy Week with the reality of Christ crucified. In this script format, the congregation typically plays the part of the crowds.

I have to admit though, I cringe each year as the crowd is asked to shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I hate being a part of the crowd in that moment, realizing it is my stubborn heart that chooses sin over Christ. It reminds me that each day I choose to play a part in the passion history. Read More →

Free 2016 Liturgical Calendar

Ya’ll it has been crazy-town around here lately. I have a backlog of 20 half-finished blog posts that I will attempt to finish as things settle down at work and home. As our schedules have been full, I am thankful for the few small things our family has implemented this year to improve our organization.

A few months a go I blogged about command center ideas and family calendars. I could not find a calendar that fit all of our family’s needs, so we created our own using PicMonkey. We tried it out for a few months and it was a hit.

As I was creating the calendars for the rest of the year and would love to share them here in seven quick takes fashion. Here is what I love about my sit liturgical calendar.

calendar-example

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A Lenten Plan: Something to give, sacrifice, study, and build up relationships

Lent begins Wednesday, sneaking up on us! Each year I appreciate the rhythm of the liturgical year even more. Somehow when lent rolls around each winter, I find I am in need of this season to challenge me and push me closer toward Christ.

As I go into Ash Wednesday, I am committed to chipping away at the apathy of my faith through devotion and sacrifice. Its time to make a plan for how I will walk along with Jesus to Calvary and truly celebrate the empty tomb on Easter. Read More →

A Rustic Nativity

Happy 9th day of Christmas. I hope this season has been full of joy, cookies, peace, and good company. For truly we have something absolutely beautiful to celebrate. God became man. Whoa! The God that made the world, and came before the world came into the creation.

Incarnation. Truly crazy.

We have enjoyed the beautiful Christmastide with our daughter, but her opinions and play have definitely added a new component to our celebrations.

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Throughout the Advent and the Christmas season we have put together a paper nativity scene. Anna has daily and joyfully chosen the colors for our new characters and placed each new piece into the scene with enthusiasm. This set from do small things with love has been perfect for us this year. Read More →

7 ways to Advent with a toddler

Advent is coming. Hooray! This is a beautiful time of year filled with anticipation and growth. But there are also a lot of things that try to steal our focus during this time of preparation. Shopping, decorations, and flying food get in the way of my solemn time of preparation.

Although my little Anna provides many sticky moments and requires a lot of me, I think she is one of the factors that helps, not harms, my celebration of Advent. Because of her ripe age of 1.5, she is really good at following a daily rhythm and living each day with expectant joy. She doesn’t let things worry her or get bogged down with to do lists. Anna has the perfect mindset for a holy and fruitful Advent. This Advent I am going to try and be a little more like my toddler. Read More →

Finding Hope in Christ the King

At the parish where I grew up, on the feast of Christ the King all of the families would make fabric banners to celebrate the King. Before mass began, the children would march around the church to honor Jesus with a parade. There were bells, crowns, colors, and joy bursting out of the room. Our pastor would have us all shout ¡Viva Cristo Rey! Which was an anthem of Mexican Christians at the turn of the century. The spirited phrase means long live Christ the King. Just the thought of this feast brings warm memories to mind.

This was a very fun and memorable experience that taught me so much about Christ’s kingship. Read More →