The Catholic Church provides three different forms of celebrating the Rite of Marriage. When two Catholics are marrying, the celebration will normally take place within a Mass. The second form, which does not include a Mass, is used when a Catholic marries another baptized Christian. A third form, also outside Mass, is usually celebrated when a Catholic marries someone who is not baptized. The second and third forms are structured around the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word.
The couple chooses one of these options based on their particular circumstances in conversation with the priest or deacon who will witness the marriage vows. When a deacon leads the liturgy, which is increasingly common, the wedding is celebrated outside of Mass even when two Catholics marry
-Excerpt from For Your Marriage
Asceticism, the practice of spiritual self-discipline, can sometimes bring to our minds today a disagreeable or sour-faced outlook on life. One important part of this self-discipline is our fasting, modeled on Christ, who fasted in the desert before beginning his public ministry.
The word ascesis means “training” and comes from the Greek training of Olympic athletes. As Olympic athletes train their bodies to excel, so ascesis trains our souls to excel. Athletes excel at bodily activities, such as swimming, running, and gymnastics. What do spiritual athletes excel at? The saints are our spiritual athletes and they excel at love, prayer, generosity, and faith.
As you build up your spiritual muscles by fasting this Lent, set aside a little time to nourish yourself by reading the lives of these spiritual athletes. They were flawed but still know they were wonderfully graced. Let their stories comfort and inspire you.
The stories of the saints provide models for living holy and courageous lives. There are many books about saints suited to varying audiences, from children to adults. Perhaps your parish has a resource library, or the parish school (or the one at a neighboring parish) will have titles to suggest. There are biographies of holy men and women who lived in more recent times: Archbishop Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, and Dorothy Day are but a few. The lives of these three bring into sharp focus the Lenten habits of fasting, charity, and prayer - habits that energized them to pursue lives t hat helped the poor and oppressed.
Make sure, as you read about saints, to ask questions, especially if reading these stories to children. Reflect on how the story relates to daily living, and how the saint shows you a healthy relationship with God. If reading together as a household, end your time together with a brief prayer and maybe a song. There are many songs about the saints, or you could conclude with one verse of a favorite Lenten hymn or song.
Many people, including Catholics themselves, have no idea why we walk around on Ash Wednesday with dirty black smudges on our foreheads.
First, it’s not a smudge. It’s supposed to be a cross drawn with ash. However, some of the people administering the ashes are a little better artists than others. Either way, it gets the job done.
Second, the ashes represent our mortality and are an outward sign of our sinfulness.
But why would anyone want to be reminded of this?
Perhaps because it’s true. We are indeed mortal – we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19). We are sinful too. And in a world that constantly says “if it feels good, do it” and suggests that a guilty conscience is just one more thing we need a prescription for, we definitely need this healthy dose of reality.
There is something much more important that must go along with this, though. It always helps to put everything we do in the Church in context with the most important event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter.
In this case, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is preparation for Easter. And real preparation for Easter isn’t done with travel plans, fervor over the Sunday afternoon meal, and a resolution to eat less chocolate. It’s done in your soul.
When we look in the mirror on Ash Wednesday and see that black smudge on our forehead, we should be reminded that, no matter what, we are still sinners in need of constant conversion. It is the Church calling us back once again to the graces of our baptism, to do penance, and amend our lives as we approach the greatest celebration in the Church – Easter.
So don’t wear your ashes proudly, but make sure you wear them…and wear them humbly.
-Excerpt from Fallible Blogma
Ash Wednesday is a great time to share your Catholic faith with others. Therefore, below are five simple suggestions on how to do just that.
5 Simple Ways to Share Your Catholic Faith on Ash Wednesday
- Explain why you have ashes on your forehead. It is inevitable that if you get your ashes early enough in the day, you will run into someone who tells you that there is something (“dirt”, “smudge”, “stuff”, etc.) on your forehead. Remember, they are being polite in telling you this. So, return the favor by explaining what the ashes are for (a Biblical sign of repentance) and share your faith by explaining Lent and Ash Wednesday to them.
- Invite someone to Mass with you. Anyone is welcome to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday in a Catholic Church. They need not even be Christian to receive them. This isn’t the case for Communion though, so it is a good time to explain our liturgy, belief in the Eucharist, basis for Sacraments, etc. to them. If you don’t know a good way to explain why a non-Catholic cannot receive the Eucharist, then this explanation should help.
- Discuss lent with your social media network. Most of us are connected to others through social media. With these connections come the availability and opportunity to help them come closer to Christ and His Church. So, start a discussion about what lent is for, what it means, or what you are doing for lent. Keep it positive and encourage all to participate in lent.
- Fast and Pray for others. The heart of evangelization is found in our prayer. We cannot help others if the source of our spiritual life is not deeply rooted in Christ through prayer. Since lent is a time of “increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving”, we should use this increase in our prayer and fasting for others.
- Invest yourself in a relationship with a new friend. To make any relationship work you have to invest time and effort into it. You must open yourself up to the other person and truly love them. True love would always want what is best for the other person. What could be better than helping them know Christ and the Catholic faith better? Ultimately all effective evangelization comes down to good relationships. So, spend your time investing in others!
-Excerpt from Aggie Catholic
Are you a fan or a follower? Are you wishy washy or are you committed?
Please, take your time and ask yourself these few questions.
1) For what do you sacrifice your money?
-What you spend time and money on often reveals the true desire of your heart and shows who or what you are truly following. We end up following money and the things money can buy instead of Jesus. Your bank account may very well offer the best evidence as to whether you are a fan or a follower.
2) When you are hurt, where do you go for comfort?
-When you experience the pain of this life where do you turn? I have found that when someone goes through a difficult time or a painful circumstance, who or what they are truly following is often revealed. When you experienced the pain, where did you turn? The answer to that question reveals your heart’s true devotion.
3) What disappointing or frustrates you the most?
-When we feel overwhelmed with disappointment it often reveals something that has become too important. When we find that those things have the power to determine who we are and what kind of day we have, it very well may be evidence that something is more important that it should be. Ask a close friend or family member what seems to disappoint or frustrate you. If you hear answers like messy house, a losing team, or a dip in the stock market, it may reveal that something is out of order.
4) What is it that really gets you excited?
-Like the things that disappoint us, the things that excite us can also point to something or someone that is in competition with Jesus. Are you more excited about football, video games, or shopping than Jesus?
-Excerpt from “not a fan” by Kyle Idleman
This is an approximate timeline of the historical events of the Bible. Some dates may be slightly off, due to the inaccuracy of historical records. It is by no means meant to be a complete and exhaustive timeline of the events in the Bible.
Abraham Born – 2000 BC
Isaac born – 1895 BC
Jacob and Esau born – 1835 BC
Jacob’s 12 sons (the 12 tribes of Israel) and Dinah born – 1775 to 1734 BC.
Joseph sold to the Ishmaelites – 1727 BC
Jacob and sons move to Egypt – 1705 BC
Jacob dies – 1688 BC
Joseph dies – 1634 BC
Jacob’s descendants prosper in Egypt – 1600 – 1450 BC
Pharaoh makes the Jews slaves – 1450 BC
Israel has Judges – 1380 BC
Moses is born - 1355 BC
Exodus from Egypt – 1275 BC
Jericho falls – 1234 BC
Israel appoints Judges - 1200 BC
Samson is born – 1090 BC
Samuel is born – 1086 BC
Saul is born – 1054 BC
Samuel becomes a judge – 1050 BC
David is born – 1034 BC
Saul becomes the first King of Israel – 1025 BC
David becomes King of Israel (at 30 years old) – 1004 BC
David captures Jerusalem – 999 BC
Solomon is born – 989 BC
Solomon’s Temple is built in 7 years in Jerusalem – 961 BC to 954 BC
Israel is split into two kingdoms – Judah in the South (2 tribes), and Israel in the North (10 tribes) – 926 BC
Assyria invades the Northern Kingdom of Israel – 722 BC
Northern Kingdom assimilates with Assyria, become Samaritans – 700 BC
Temple destroyed in the Southern Kingdom of Judah – 587 BC
Babylonian Captivity of Southern Kingdom starts – 587 BC
Edict of King Cyrus that allows the Jews to return home – 539 BC
Southern Kingdom of Judah ceases to exist - 538 BC
New Temple is built – 516 BC
Alexander the Great Conquers Palestine – 332 BC
Temple is desecrated, starting the Maccabean Revolt- 167 BC
Temple is rededicated – 164 BC
Rome Conquers Jerusalem – 64 BC
Jesus Christ is born – 1 AD
Jesus starts his public ministry – 30 AD
Jesus is handed over to be crucified – 33 AD
Jesus rises from the dead – 33 AD
Peter and Paul martyred at Rome – 67 AD
Linus becomes the second pope – 67 AD
The Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans – 70 AD
Nicene Creed established at the Council of Nicea – 325 AD
Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage establish the 73 Books of the Bible – 382 AD, 393 AD, and 397 AD respectively.
Code of Canon Law
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day (or night)
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.