Catholics Believe in Fasting During Lent

Dear Friends in Christ,

Many people simply cannot understand the whole concept and behavior of fasting. They think, "Why in the world would anyone want to deprive themselves of food, or at least a decreased amount of food during one's day"? During the Lenten period, Catholics imitate Christ's own fasting for forty days in the desert and His resistance to the temptations of Satan that He encountered in the desert. When we humbly imitate Christ in our own self-denial, we purify our hearts, and our heavenly Father is pleased with us. Our souls receive spiritual benefits when we refrain from a variety of food, drink, and other negative temptations.

When Catholics fast during Lent, we do so as a willing penance for our offenses against God. We go beyond simply asking for forgiveness in our prayers or through the Sacrament of Penance. If we feel that little hunger pain by eating twice a day instead of three (or more) times a day. . . we can offer up that discomfort and share in Christ's suffering, thus helping our souls a little bit more as well.
The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by whom all things were made,
Himself fasted and has prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.
Then grant that we like them be true,
Consumed in fast and prayer with you;
Our spirits strengthen with your grace,
And give us joy to see Your face.
Hymn, The Magnificat, February 27, 2009, p. 371

Today, Lord, grant me Thy grace to fast in a way that is pleasing to You.

~ bella

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Denying Ourselves During Lent: Personal Sacrifices and Fasting

Holy Card image re-printed with loving permission from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration"

"If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Luke 9:22 - 25
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Lenten Prayers

.image of a holy card from my personal collection
Dear Friends in Christ,
Let's begin our 40 days of Lent by increasing our prayer time.

Dear Lord,
During these forty days time of Lent
give me strength to turn away from worldliness
and lift my our eyes to You.

Grant me the required discipline
to make a daily commitment to drawing closer to You.
Help me recognize the many opportunities that you offer to me
to draw ever closer to You each day.

Help me remove myself from my busy-ness
in order to spend time with You.
Help me turn off the noise around me
so I can listen to You.

In its place, lead me to Your Word
in Sacred Scripture, art, and music.

Lord, let me never forget Your suffering and Passion
and what you sacrificed for my salvation.


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God of all compassion, Father of all goodness,

to heal the wounds our sins and selfishness bring upon us,

you bid us turn to fasting, prayer, and sharing

with our brothers and sisters.

We acknowledge our sinfulness, our guilt is ever before us:

when our weakness causes discouragement,

let your compassion fill us with hope and

lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.


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Gracious Savior,
You have given us this season of Lent
so that we might open ourselves more fully
to your saving grace and new life.

By our fasting, prayer and almsgiving,
may we realize anew that we rely on You in all things.

Your gift of grace makes all good things possible,
including our desire to reject sin and return to you.

Grant your people a spirit of reconciliation this Lent
so that we may forgive one another as you have forgiven us.

3rd prayer re-printed with permission from "Catholic Mom in Hawaii"

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Ash Wednesday and Lent

Dear friends in Christ,
Today is a most holy day, one that all Catholics around the planet unite together to begin our 40-day journey of repenting our sins, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, sacrificing, and doing good works. Pope John Paul II said that Catholics who fast and pray together as one body, are a most effective weapon against the power of the devil.
Today, I join with all of you in this wonderful spiritual opportunity to improve our souls, to continue the fight against evil in this world, and to grow in faith ever closer to our Heavenly Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
~ bella
Through all your days . . . keep the Lord in mind, and
suppress every desire to sin or to break His commandments.
Perform good works all the days of your life, and
do not tread the paths of wrongdoing.
Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and
God's face will not be turned away from you.
Give to hungry some of your bread, and
to the naked some of your clothing.
Whatever you have left over, give away as alms; and
do not begrudge the alms you give.
At all times bless the Lord God, and
ask Him to make all your paths straight and
to grant success to all your endeavors and plans.
Tobit 4:5, 7b, 16, 19a
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Catholics Believe in Sanctifying Grace -- What Is It?


holy card image re-printed with loving permission from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration"

. ". . . and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. amen"

Hello dear friends in Christ,
How many of us can remember all of the teachings that were presented to us when we were younger regarding our Catholic faith? I know that I simply cannot pull it all out of my brain, even though what I learned didn't even scratch the surface of the depths of our Catholic Faith! I can't explain why; I just can't remember it all! My mother said it's because only so much could have been taught to us as children because our little minds could not grasp it all. I don't think that we as adults can grasp it all either; but it is such joy to learn more and more each day!
I remember that I was taught with the Baltimore Cathecism and I cannot forget the words that my classmates and I (in parochial school) would continually say:

"God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us."
But without that being constantly spoken or heard, those words set aside years ago. I'm so glad that they have been brought to my attention once again. The new Catechism states the same, but in different words. Yet as children, in the Baltimore, we MEMORIZED those words.
I've been thinking about 'sanctifying grace' lately, what it is and why we need it so very much. Sanctifying grace:

  • is a free gift from God, through Christ's death;

  • is supernatural;

  • we need it for our salvation (to return to God as mentioned above);

  • we cannot enter Heaven without it;

  • it 'confers in our souls' a new life; a supernatural life that allows us to share in God's life;

  • we are not born with it because we are born with original sin;

  • we receive it freely through the Holy Spirit;

  • when we are Baptised in the Catholic Church, through which our souls become holy and pleasing to God;

  • and we become adopted sons and daughters of God;

  • God lives in our soul through the Holy Spirit;

  • we lose it through mortal sin (1-an act of grievous nature, 2-which we fully know to be mortally sinful, and yet 3-we commit anyway, with full consent of our will);

  • without it God is lost from our souls and the devil gains our souls;

  • without it we are enemies of God and cannot enter His kingdom of Heaven;

  • without mortal sin, we are in a state of grace, necessary to enter Heaven;

  • the Holy Spirit lives within us in the state of sanctifying grace and we have a new nature;

  • and we become temples of God;

  • yet due to original sin, we will still have the tendency to sin, through human imperfection;

  • yet it strengthens our will to avoid further sin;

  • which then, in turn, expands our heart and influences us to do more good,

  • which brings us increased merit for heaven; without sanctifying grace, we can gain no merits;

  • by doing so we are increasingly attracted to God;

  • we increasingly know and love God;

  • if we lose it, we can only regain it through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) by confessing our sins to a Catholic priest with true contrition, sorrow and a firm resolve and commitment not to repeat the sin; and finally, by making an act of perfect contrition (a prayer of sorrow for offending God because He is infinitely good and worthy of all our love.)

  • if in the state of mortal sin, we cannot receive Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Communion), even if we made an act of perfect contrition);
These points are just a few of note on the ever-important concept of sanctifying grace and should give each Catholic serious pause in thinking about what state our souls are in at each moment in our lives.


~ bella

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Thankful Thoughts This Thursday

winter's peaceful beauty

Hello my dear friends in Christ,

I was prompted moments ago by the power of the Holy Spirit, to just STOP . . . and take a brief moment to thank our Father for the many blessings that He has given me in the past week:

the rainfall yesterday

my wonderful students

my fulfilling job of teaching others

a cup of tea

my loving husband

my furry animal companions

the clean air in the countryside

my mother's soft hand-crocheted afghan blankets

and most especially for our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit

Our Blessed Lady

the angels and saints and my guardian angel

and for our beautiful Catholic faith.


~ bella

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True Love

Amore (love) to all on St. Valentine's Day!

I really wasn't sure about the origin of Valentine's Day and even if it really had anything to do with saints and the Catholic Church at all. So I did some research, not very in-depth, just directly from some web-sites. From what I found, the traditional day that we celebrate love is not originally a "commerical" secular holiday for selling chocolates, valentine cards, roses, perfume, jewelry, wine, or romantic dinners and getaways! That's the fun spin-off stuff of a very real designated feast to honor a saint (or more as you will soon read about)!

There really was a St. Valentine, or two, or even seven Valentines who were martyred in ancient Rome and elsewhere. The Catholic Church has a list of recognized saints which actually lists SEVEN St. Valentines! Of those, Valentinus the Presbyter and St. Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni, Italy) are listed among the saints. One of the St. Valentines was persecuted for helping Christians and for marrying Christians when the order of the day mandated that assisting Christians was against the law and punishable by the law. He was ultimately beheaded, as were all of the Valentines martyred for their TRUE LOVE for the Catholic Faith and Christ!

The first feast of St. Valentine was declared by Pope Gelasisus the First in 496. Some say that the French tradition of associating a day in the middle of the month of February with the time when birds begin to mate was selected for the feast of St. Valentine's Day . . . ah-h-h-h LOVE BIRDS!

The traditional Catholic calendar still includes the Feast of St. Valentine and a priest's vestments are often red on this day. Red is the color of blood, which is not only what the Sts. Valentine shed for their love of our Lord, but more importantly what our Lord shed FOR EACH OF US for His magnificant, unselfish, PERFECT LOVE and desire for us to live with Him in eternity.
Faith, Hope, and Love . . . and the greatest of these is LOVE!

Have a beautiful, faith-filled, loving day and evening,

~ bella

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Thankful this Thursday for Persecution and Suffering

Holy Card image re-printed with permission from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration" blog
Hello my dear friends in Christ,
You are probably thinking, "What is she, nuts?" To be thankful for being persecuted for living for Christ? Yes, that's right . . . today was a day from h--l with a very, very difficult student threatening me to do something dishonest and unethical for him regarding one of my classes that I teach. I've never received a threat letter before in my life and so I forwarded it to my Dean and Associate Dean and asked for their assistance in handling the matter.
On my commute home, I once again needed to hear some inspiration! So I plugged in my Father Corapi CD on the Consecration of Jesus through Mary. I didn't know which of the 3 discs I was going to listen to. . . I just grabbed one. Low and behold it was the same message that I listened to last week . . . I guess I need to hear this repeatedly for it to sink into my long-term memory! Once again it was a reminder of the Beatitudes: Blessed are those who suffer for Christ! He said the way to Jesus is through the CROSS, since He too suffered due to sin.
Father continued to say that if someone is causing you and me suffering in our lives, that we should PRAISE GOD . . . it means that the devil is trying hard to bring us down as we grow in our Faith! Father said you must be doing something right and standing for what is right, when this happens to you. I need to be reminded of this so often.
So gee, thanks to this young adult student of life!! And even more PRAISE to God! It thrills me that my journey is heading more towards where I truly want to be!
Are you being persecuted in some way by some thing or someone? If so, Father Corapi's advice will be very helpful to you during your trial.
Well, I'm off to get some sleep for the evening; lots of work awaits me tomorrow -- grading all those tests that I gave Tuesday through today. Phew!
~ bella

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Our Lady of Lourdes & Prayer for Australia

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

Good evening dear friends in Christ,
This Wednesday, February 11th, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The beautiful church in the photo above is my parish blessed to be named Our Lady of Lourdes. Our parish will celebrate our new parish fellowship hall with a potluck dinner for parishioners that evening in conjunction with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, but SADLY I cannot attend because I will be teaching my night class during which I will be giving my first exam of the semester.
So I'm posting the photo above because I won't be able to blog on Wednesday. I'd blog a bit more, but I have to work on the exam for Wednesday's class.
I wish you all a blessed and peaceful evening.
Please join fellow Catholic blogger-friend, Margaret in prayer for Australia and her citizens, for the fires to end and for the safety of the Australian people in danger of these fires. Let's pray also for the souls that have already perished in this disaster.

~ bella

holy card image re-printed from http://www.catholic-forum.com

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Giving Thanks This Thursday For:

My new bloggin' friends:

and . . .
Margaret from Australia!!!!
. . . it's been a blessing to have you alongside of me during this journey. Have a wonderful First Friday of February, tomorrow everyone.
~ bella

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Love to Jenny!

Hello my dear friends in Christ,

I was given a precious gift today through the pure grace of our Lord. Quite simply, the gift is Jenny. I want to publicly send her my gratitude for her uplifting words to me.

It is so interesting to me, Jenny, that my Confirmation name is "Jenny" due to one of my beloved friends in Catholic school. To the nuns dismay, there is no St. Jenny (however, you certainly were saintly to me today). So I took the name of Guinevere to associate with Jenny. However, lately I've thought my saint is truly Genevieve (therefore both are listed in the side bar).

So before I tuck in for the night, here's sending a big hug to you . . . you are precious to me!

Blessings and pleasant rest to all,

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Admonishing a Sinner

Image from private blogger granting written permission to reprint

Dear Friends in Christ,

When I started this blog last fall, I never imagined that I would ever encounter another Catholic blogger's harassment. Lately, the level of negativity she has directed towards me has reached a point that I had no other choice but to engage in one of the "SPIRITUAL ACTS OF MERCY" - - - to admonish the sinner (see complete list of Spiritual Acts of Mercy in the sidebar).

However, the devil knows the weaknesses of humans and takes over in those areas ..... he is working amidst us through this particular blogger who has harassed me twice in just 24 hours directly through my personal e-mail address!

So what does the Catholic Church teach us regarding the "admonishment of sinners"?

Quoted directly from "The Catholic Community Forum" by Father Albright, he states that "admonishing a sinner" is:

". . . the most loving thing we can do is tell people the truth, and try to save their soul. . . in certain situations, there comes a point when nothing we say or do will help. Some conversions are not intellectual. Our words and thought processes will not convince. Once you have clearly made your point in charity and sincerity, all that is left is to pray (and fast) for his (the sinner's) conversion . . . . If we lose someone in our life, we lose also the chance to help them grow and to grow ourselves because of them. . . It is true that, as we grow close to God and stand firm in faith, people we know and encounter - even friends - will be turned off. If they are living sinfully or inauthentically, they will shy away from "too much religion. . . "

As I said before and will always say, THE DEVIL CANNOT STEAL MY JOY nor THE LIGHT OF CHRIST IN MY LIFE!
One final note that I was so profoundly reminded by Father Corapi in his CD "Consecration to Our Lord Through Mary", . . . in which he reminds us of what Jesus said in His Beatitudes "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED". Father Corapi also says to PRAISE GOD for those that persecute you as a disciple of Christ.

Much love and blessings to my beautiful friends in blog-land,

I'll pray the following prayer to St. Michael as much as I have to:
Prayer to St. Michael
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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Knowing My Demons: My Weaknesses and Temptations

Hello Dear Friends in Christ,

It is a constant struggle, but I am continually trying to improve areas of my life that really need some help . . . so that I can live with a higher quality of life and one that is more pleasing to Christ.

This weekend's Mass homily was very pertinent to me regarding HAVING THE FAITH to believe that I really CAN eliminate some of the demons in my life that continually take over me. Our parish priest said that there is a difference between POWER and AUTHORITY. Jesus had both the power and the authority to call demons out of others and He demonstrated it during His life. Yet people doubted this. His response to them was that they did not have faith. Jesus was teaching us that we FIRST must HAVE FAITH. Therefore, I KNOW, (but sadly need to keep remind myself), that if I strengthen my faith with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have the ability to overcome my demons, my weaknesses, my temptations.

Often I've just given up and thought, "I just can't change this bad habit", but I realize that my failure has largely been due to the fact that I am trying to change a life-long habit without the assistance of God.

Nothing is too much to conquer for Jesus. NOTHING! He can handle my petitions for help regarding work, family, personal bad habits and behaviors, as well as my finances. By the way, each of us needs to have FAITH that He can help us handle getting through this recession.

I need to keep acting and asking in faith, never doubting that I CAN overcome any negative behaviors (weaknesses and temptations). Father Corapi (on EWTN) has said in his numerous messages that the devil KNOWS our weaknesses and our temptations and will continually attack us in these areas. Without Christ, we cannot help ourselves, but continue to engage in the negative behavior or habit due to our human WEAKNESS. These are OUR OWN DEMONS! With our strengthened Faith and conviction, we DO have the power and authority to cast out those demons.

Jesus taught us "You have great faith! Your wish will come to pass!" (Mt. 15:28)

The key thing is that all things are possible with Christ and that FAITH in Him and what He can do for us is absolutely necessary!

Today, I pray for the strength to battle my bad habits and behaviors, and to overcome my weaknesses and temptations, with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

~ Bella

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Hello Dear Friends in Christ,

What a beautiful 60 degree day we had here in the Carolinas! I saw the first daffodils this week and our neighbors' Forsythia bushes are beginning to bloom.

It's FINALLY February! Even though the temps will drop again mid-week, it was just so delightful to enjoy the warm sunshine on my face, the clear blue sky, and of course, the cheery yellow daffodils.


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