Category Archives: Columns

Kids’ Connection: St. Brigid of Kildare

Click to download and print out this month’s Kids’ Connection on St. Brigid of Kildare.

The Harm of Pornography and Hope Beyond Addiction: Addicts

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Series written by Katie Sciba under guidance of Fr. Sean Kilcawley, STL

This is the second article in a four-piece series on pornography; the first can be found in the January 2017 edition of the Catholic Connection.

“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties” (Catechism, 2354). Pornography is found in sexually descriptive literature, movies with explicit scenes, images and videos. Though it is more often used by men, women too can be lured into consumption.

As a multi-billion dollar giant, pornography promises fantasy, yet leaves users and loved ones in pain. Despite its distortion of humanity, there are arguments that pornography is harmless or healthy.

“It’s a problem because every human person is created in the image of God, who is a Communion of Persons; our imitation of that communion is expressed through the sexual union between a husband and wife,” says Fr. Sean Kilcawley, STL, theological advisor for IntegrityRestored.com. “Pornography is wrong because it exploits that which is sacred.”

And it’s an exploitation that attracts, confuses and harms. What can begin as curiosity or childhood exposure can develop into an addiction.

Dr. Kevin Skinner is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT). According to his professional experience, pornography addiction is “the compulsive attempt(s) to meet legitimate emotional needs through viewing pornography and seeking sexual gratification…” It involves repeated “failure to resist impulses to view pornography,” preoccupation with “fantasy, sexualized thoughts,” acting out in spite of consequences and increased tolerance requiring “more frequent or intense pornography…”

Both consumption and addiction are on the rise with society’s increased use of technology, and researchers have become more interested in its consequential effects. The draw to “use” for a porn addict is no different than that of a drug addict. Pornography use, like cocaine, releases high levels of dopamine, a neurological chemical responsible for positive feelings and reward-driven behavior. Pornography use also releases oxytocin and vasopressin, chemicals involved in memory and bonding.

These forces of nature make pornography addiction a challenge to combat, even when the addict is desperate for sobriety. Withdrawal symptoms like persistent headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, anxiety, jitters, low libido, insomnia and even suicidal thoughts can last from a week to several months depending on the level of addiction.

But pornography affects more than the brain. It wounds the hearts of consumers, often leading to depression, disinterest in marital intimacy, isolation, shame and loneliness – which can trigger acting out.

“Even basic connections with others become difficult,” said Matt Fradd, CEO and founder of The Porn Effect, “One guy came to me and said he couldn’t look women in the eyes anymore.”

The shame associated with porn use makes one prone to secrecy, which not only isolates a person socially, but also makes him susceptible to psychological damage, according to FighttheNewDrug.org.

“What I see most commonly is denial that it affects family,” said Fr. Kilcawley. “Addicts aren’t as in tune with their spouses or children because there’s an objectification that reduces family to just things that live with you.” But kids notice when their parent becomes clean. “One man told me his little boy said, ‘I like the new daddy,’ after he had been clean for two months. He was able to tap into a part of his fatherhood that he didn’t know he was missing.”

The harm is evident, but hope for healing is abundant. According to Fr. Kilcawley, the “three pillars of recovery” are seeing a CSAT, seeking spiritual direction, and participating in an accountability or 12-step group. A list of CSATs in your area can be found at IITAP.com and there are several sexual addiction therapists beyond state lines willing to Skype or phone-in with clients.

“There are people who pray every day and they still look at porn,” Matt Fradd said. “There is a natural component to addictions and if you ignore it, you can’t make much headway.” Which is why a healthy spiritual life coupled with therapy is a more thorough approach than one or the other alone.

“It’s not helpful to tell someone who’s clinically depressed to cheer up, just like it’s not helpful to tell a porn addict to just stop,” said Fradd. “They need professional help and support.”

One of the most important ways to heal from pornography addiction is to understand why it exists, personal triggers and associated emotional trauma. Below are resources for those seeking recovery. Every pornography addict must be assured of the hope of real healing and the love Jesus Christ has for him or her personally. God will offer the grace to step forward in recovery; and beyond the pain and challenges awaits a life of clarity and peace.

Resources – Books

Treating Pornography Addiction by Dr. Kevin Skinner

Out of the Shadows by Dr. Patrick Carnes

Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction by Dr. Mark Laaser

Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography  by Dr. Peter Kleponis

The Porn Myth by Matt Fradd

Resources – Online

AssessingPornAddiction.com
IntegrityRestored.com
AddoRecovery.com
SA.org (Sexaholics Anonymous)
CovenantEyes.com
•The RTribe App and the Victory App
• The Integrity Restored Podcast

Vocations View: My Blessings in the Diaconate

Deacon Bill Roche and Deacon Larry Mills carry in the oil for Chrism Mass.

by Deacon Bill Roche

When I was a youngster, I thought about the priesthood, but being a priest was never a serious consideration after I entered high school. I never expected to be ordained.

So admittedly, I was a bit surprised when I felt a calling to the permanent diaconate about 16 years ago. I believe that God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone and embark on a new part of the journey I had been traveling throughout my life. It was a dramatic change – one that has been very good for me personally. I believe I am a better person than I was 16 years ago, but I am still a work in progress.

I was ordained in May of 2005. I was hired as the Director of Faith Formation at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shreveport in December of that year. I count among the many blessings of my ministry and job that I have gotten to know so many kind and caring people.

My many blessings include:
• The ACTS ministry (first adopted by St. Joseph in 2011) has been a great experience and has helped the parish.

• Through a small men’s prayer and spiritual development group, I have been able to form and develop great friendships, as well as challenge my prayer life.
It has been very fulfilling to be a part of people’s faith journeys through RCIA.

Like all Catholic Christians, deacons are called to holiness. As ordained persons, we have to be visible and prayerful. Yet, as servants, we need to be on the sidelines or behind the scenes.  We stand front and center when we baptize, officiate at weddings, proclaim the Gospel and preach, but it’s not about us. At Mass, we stand next to the priest. However, we are as much in awe of the liturgy of the Eucharist as every faith-filled person in the pews.

We may be preaching, but the message is also one that we need to hear.

God surprises me frequently, usually by the people He puts in my path. If I seem to be helping someone, I am growing through that encounter, so I am also being helped. When I seek help, there are people who are more inclined to open their doors for me because of my ordination. The diaconate has truly been a win-win situation.

Diaconate FAQ

Q: Who is a deacon?  
A: A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. A deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.

Q: What are the various ministries of the deacon?  
A: As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs.

Q: May married men be deacons?  
A: Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the diaconate, when it was restored as a permanent order in the hierarchy, could be opened to “mature married men,” later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. While a married man may be ordained, an ordained man, if his wife should die, may not marry again without special permission.

Q: How do I find out more about becoming a deacon?  
A: The best place to start is with your pastor, who can put you in touch with Deacon Clary Nash, Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Shreveport by calling 318-868-4441, or cnash@dioshpt.org.

Article adapted from nccbuscc.org/deacon

The Diocese of Shreveport is planning to begin a new formation for the permanent diaconate beginning September 2017. The deadline for inquiries into the new formation is April 3. For more information, contact Deacon Clary Nash, formation director, at 318-868-4441, or at cnash@dioshpt.org.

Second Collections for March & April

by Fr. Rothell Price

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES (CRS) COLLECTION
Announcement Dates:  March 12th & 19th
Collection Date:  March 25th & 26th

Support the Catholic Relief Services Collection: HELP JESUS IN DISGUISE.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Rev. 3: 20) The Catholic Relief Services Collection, occurring on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, gives us the opportunity to extend our devotion to the Lord Jesus throughout the entire year by coming to the aid of the least of his brothers and sisters in times of natural or human-caused calamity.

The Catholic Relief Services Collection helps six different Catholic agencies to answer the knock of Jesus in disguise around the world.  The USCCB’s Department of Migration and Refugee Services feeds Jesus’ hunger in suffering refugees. Their Catholic Relief Services give water to quench Jesus’ thirst. Their Catholic Legal Immigration Services offer legal assistance to Jesus in struggling immigrants. Their Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church reaches out to comfort Jesus’ loneliness in isolated workers. Their Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development advocates on behalf of Jesus in the poor and marginalized. And their Holy Father’s Relief Fund sends aid to Jesus in the victims of natural disasters. When people ask where is the Church and what is the Church doing to benefit people in need, our response, through Catholic Relief Services is, “here we are.”  Help Jesus in disguise. Give generously to the Catholic Relief Services Collection.

PONTIFICAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR THE HOLY LAND
Announcement Dates:  April 2nd & 9th   
Participation Dates:  Good Friday, April 14th

The Pontifical Good Friday Collection supports the people of the Holy Land and the pilgrims who visit. A portion of the funds are directly allocated to educational and ecclesial projects in the Middle East. The rest of the funds support ministries and programs entrusted by the Holy See to the Holy Land Franciscans who have been serving there for 800 years.

Last year’s Pontifical Good Friday Collection:
• Supported 29 parishes, four homes for orphans, three academic institutions
• Helped keep schools open for 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students
• Supported 120 men preparing to be priests or brothers
• Helped rehabilitate 80 homes for Christian families
• Provided senior care facilities in Bethlehem and Nazareth
• Created 1,500 jobs in the Holy Land for Christians
• Preserved 54 shrines connected with the life of Jesus and the prophets

Please give generously to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection. Our Holy Father, Francis, strongly encourages our participation in this collection. Through it you join with Catholics around the world to stand in solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land.  Your contribution to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection makes you an instrument of peace in a troubled land.  Thank you for your sacrificial offering on Good Friday.

Navigating the Faith: Lenten Fasting Through the Ages

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by Dr. Cheryl H. White

As we enter the season of Lent, it is helpful to pause and reflect on both its purpose, how it is expressed, and to know we are joining a long tradition of Christian observance dating to the early Church. Lent has always been a time of self-examination, penitence and self-denial, and of course one of the most significant ways this has been accomplished is through fasting and other means of mortification of the flesh. Various acts of piety have developed across the centuries of the Faith, but we can trace the deliberate observance of Lenten self-denial to at least the mid-second century, to St. Irenaeus of Lyons. In his writings we find reference to this season of preparation, but he does not make it clear that the period of fasting and discipline lasted more than a few days, or if it was intended only for catechumens preparing to be baptized at Easter.

Later, we find it in the record of the Council of Nicaea (325) that the bishops formalized the familiar 40-day season as we know it. Again, however, it appears that it may have been originally intended only for those undergoing catechesis to receive the sacrament of Baptism. The significance of the 40 days rests with Jesus’ fast in the wilderness. Over time, the Lenten fast became an expectation of all within the Church. Until the late sixth century, the season of Lent always began on a Sunday. Among the liturgical and calendar changes introduced by Pope St. Gregory the Great (pope from 590 – 604), was the moving of the first day of Lent to a Wednesday (Ash Wednesday). This secured the exact number of 40 days in the Lenten season, excluding Sundays, which were feast days. Pope St. Gregory the Great is also credited with the ritual which gives Ash Wednesday its name, with the imposition of ashes as a Biblical symbol of repentance and mortality: “You are dust, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).

When Catholics today undertake a Lenten fast, it probably does not compare to the extreme expectations of the medieval Christian, who ate nothing until after mid-afternoon, and then typically only one small meal. During Holy Week, medieval Christians subsisted on what might have been no more than two or three full meals the entire week. Also, the Lenten fast for most western Christians of the Middle Ages would have involved an absolute ban on meat, as well as dairy products. Since it was the time of the “taking away of flesh” (carne levare), this seems to be the most commonly cited origin of our word “carnival,” describing the celebrations just before the beginning of Lent.

The total exclusion of meat from the diet (not just Fridays as modern Catholics might be accustomed to!) obviously required the Christian to acquire protein from other sources. Historically, fish has been allowed as part of even the strictest Lenten fasts, since in Genesis the fish and birds were created on the fifth day, with creatures of the earth on the sixth day. Social histories of Christian Europe reveal something quite interesting to the modern Church: the Lenten fast was actually shared as a community sacrifice. Entire communities came together to feast when appropriate, and there is remarkable evidence of gathering to support each other through the days of fasting. The world known by the medieval Christian was considerably smaller, therefore communities were more connected, and of course, the Church was the absolute center of society. Sharing the Lenten fast as a community only served to highlight the joy of Easter and make it all the more glorious.

Other Lenten observances have been practiced across the centuries, including more literal and extreme types of flesh mortification. From St. Jerome in the fourth century comes rather descriptive accounts of these practices, including the wearing of a “hair shirt” or the “sackcloth” mentioned in Scripture as a means of performing penance. The historical record reveals that Christians across the centuries were drawn to these practices particularly during Lent and Advent, and there are of course many rather interesting but radical examples of people undertaking such flesh mortification for extended periods of time.

So, as we enter another Lenten season, an awareness of the continuity of our practice unites us to the faithful of the centuries that came before, and this should help strengthen our resolve to place our focus more on the purpose of deprivation and sacrifice. It is to draw us into the mystical suffering of Jesus, and to live in the great mystery of our salvation once again.

Domestic Church: Begin Praying for Your Future

by Katie Sciba

We hadn’t met. I hadn’t seen his face or heard his name. We wouldn’t go on a date for another seven years, but I was just 12-years-old when I fell for Andrew.
As a kid, I was perpetually wide-eyed and open-eared to my big sister Jen and I followed her advice to the letter. In the middle of a chat, Jen lit up with an idea, “You should start praying for your future husband, Katie!” My adolescent cheeks burned with embarrassment at the thought of a relationship beyond a distant crush. Seeing me blush, she pressed, “No really – if God calls you to get married, then your husband’s out there somewhere and you could pray for him now.”

It was thrilling to consider. Somewhere, at that exact same minute, he was out there living his life. The idea of praying for him years before even knowing who he was gave me a sense of commitment and hope.  Suddenly I saw my struggles in light of my future vocation. Striving for chaste dating relationships in high school and college had a purpose beyond momentary self-restraint. I wanted to develop spiritually on my own to allow God to work in my soul so I could eventually follow His will to my husband. But just in case God steered me to a different kind of veil, I kept my efforts in mind for a possible future convent, too.
I did my best to make it routine. I prayed for his protection on the way to the movies or football games on the weekends, that whatever he was doing that night he would make good decisions and be kept safe. I prayed for him during Mass. I prayed for us both – that we’d be wise and faithful, hopeful in trials and receptive to God’s grace.

I know this is a cliffhanger.

We met. “I’m Andrew Sciba.” Oh hello.

I knew the day we started dating it was just a matter of time before we’d be married. I knew God had answered years of prayer by protecting and walking with Andrew and that I finally had a face to go with my intentions.

The advice Jen gave me those years years ago was invaluable. Through it I gained a sense of Andrew’s soul plus the understanding that it was possible for me to love him before I knew him. What’s amazing is that Andrew was also praying for me, and all that time I was blessed by prayers of which I was totally unaware.

Think of how marriages would be spiritually armed if we taught our kids to pray for their future spouses years in advance. Think of how our own marriages would be totally different if we kept it up after the wedding. Even outside of a vocational situation, entrusting the future of your work, your family, your life, to God’s care is the way to cultivate a sense of humility. It’s an act that confesses that God’s will and plan are immense and that they absolutely include the loving best for your soul. Whatever you wonder about, whatever you worry about, give it to Jesus.

The Seen and Unseen Shaping Our Lives

by Kim Long

March is an important month in our family. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the “high holy days” for us. We try to put aside our busy schedules and obligations and carve out a weekend to celebrate our Irish-ness. It is also Lent, and that brings its own special rhythm to our home and family. There is one more reason that March is important – it is the month of my oldest son’s birthday. This month he will be 40-years-old. It feels like he was born only yesterday, just cutting his first tooth, talking, walking and all the other milestones we cherish and record in photographs and commit to memory.

We lived in a town bordered by a levee which served to keep our small town safe from the mighty Mississippi River. My little son and I climbed the levee many days, feeling like we had scaled Mt. Everest or Mt. Sinai. It felt like we could see everything in the world. We pointed things out to one another: a bird in flight, a gnarled tree against the sky, a cloud shape shifting before our very eyes, and always the wind, which March is known for, blowing our hair, carrying our laughter with it, taking our kite to a ridiculous height. We stayed up on the levee until thirst or hunger drove us to the narrow winding street below. As we descended there was a real sensation of going from one world to another. Things we felt but could not see – hope, freedom, beauty, the Divine – stayed with us for long stretches of time. And when we could not feel them as strongly, we climbed up the levee again, trusting renewal would come. Sinai indeed.

One of my son’s favorite suppers is chicken and dumplings. This was not a dish I recall Mom serving, rather when I spent the night with my grandmother she would open a can of Sweet Sue Chicken and Dumplings and we would eat it warm from the stove. The first time I tried making them “from scratch,” I ended up with a pot of chicken swimming in thick white gravy. And while it tasted good, it wasn’t the best looking dish I had ever set on a table. I pressed on and with time, effort, advice and much less stirring, I finally achieved a more than passable method and could be counted on to produce a good dish.

This became my son Cliff’s favorite dish. Indeed turkey and dressing were not his preference for Thanksgiving; instead he asked me to make chicken and dumplings. So there it was on our feasting table. Mamaw told me I was spoiling him, but if my baby boy wanted chicken and dumplings, well, he got them.
I have experimented with different kinds of dumplings over the years, floury puffs to some that were almost like noodles, to the kind I use now, flour tortillas. They. Never. Fail.

So as his birthday draws near, I make my shopping list and think of that long ago day when we flew a kite on the levee and when things both seen and unseen shaped our lives.

“So we fix our eyes on not what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Kim’s Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients:
• 1 large bag of chicken thighs
• Salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
• 2 cans cream of chicken soup
• 2 cans cream of onion soup
• 2 cans chicken broth
•1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
• 1 package of flour tortillas, cut into strips

Directions:
1) Defrost chicken and season with salt and pepper and garlic powder.
2) Place in a heavy skillet with enough oil to cover bottom of pan.
3) Turn flame on low and cook chicken very slowly until tender and beginning to fall apart. You can add chicken broth or a little water to prevent sticking.
4) In a large pot, combine soups, broth and poultry seasoning.
5)  Let this heat and then add your cooked chicken. Stir well and often so it doesn’t stick.
6) Once everything is heated thoroughly, add flour tortillas.
7)  Let simmer on a low heat until dumplings are ready.

In Review: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
reviewed by Jessica Rinaudo

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly is a book for helping you, through God, become the very best version of yourself. It explores why people do things to resist happiness: everything from sabotaging our eating habits, to skipping prayers to even allowing ourselves to be bored at Mass are covered in this book.
Kelly uses examples and stories from his own life to illustrate his ideas, pointing out ways to both move past resistance and build a better spiritual life. He gives examples of concrete things we can do each day to improve our relationship with God, with those around us and our own personal happiness.

Each short chapter tackles some aspect of this. For example, there are chapters on “Resisting God,” “Ordinary Things” and “The Power of Habits.” Each chapter ends with a Key Point – usually a challenging thought or question for us to consider in our everyday lives – and Action Steps.

Kelly begins the books by talking about what resistance is and how we let it take over our lives.

“What is resistance?” Kelly muses,  “It’s that sluggish feeling of not wanting to do something that you know is good for you, it’s the inclination to do something that you unabashedly know is not good for you, and it’s everything in between.  It’s the desire and tendency to delay something you should be doing right now.”
Kelly not only poses challenges for us to consider in our own lives, but asks us to consider the messes in other people’s lives. He makes his point by sharing how he was asked to visit nursing homes with his spiritual mentor, John, when he was 16. By stepping out of his comfort zone and listening to others, both the other people and himself grew in their appreciation for life.

He also suggests that a key to moving past resistance and embracing life is to develop a deep love of learning. Keep a pen and paper with you, he suggests, and write things down when you learn them.

The chapters in this book also follow alongside stories of Kelly’s own spiritual journey with his mentor, John. John challenged Kelly in his teenage years not only to become more spiritual, but to find ways to exercise his faith at home and in the world. Kelly uses those lessons to help tie the whole book together. These stories of Kelly’s youth are all good and interesting ones, but there are also stories of his later life and business that come off a little too self-promoting, often dropping his business name and website. But those references are few, and the material is otherwise good.

While most chapters in this book build on one another and support his main idea, some do temporarily wander off topic. His sections on active listening in particular seem to stray from his main topic of resistance, but they still bring up good points and techniques for improving these parts of our lives. Kelly does always get back to the point though.

Some of his most powerful chapters are on how we form habits, what we hunger for, and developing a better life through various kinds of fasting – big and small. He tackles how Catholics resist going to confession, even though we feel so much better afterwards.

As he wraps up the book, Kelly urges us to think about our own talents and how we can use them to serve in ministry.

“The one thing God needs from you in order to launch you into mission is availability,” wrote Kelly. “Make yourself available to God and incredible things will happen.”

He concludes by encouraging gratitude, telling us to move past the critics in our lives and to never get discouraged.

Mike’s Meditations: An Experience with God

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by Mike Van Vranken

Ask most Christians why they participate in the season of Lent, and many will respond with some explanation that they want to get closer to God. A holy endeavor indeed, but how is this accomplished?  I have found that the only way to get closer to the One True God – or better yet – the only way to experience the One True God, is to annihilate all the other gods in our lives.  And this takes work, intentional effort, disciplined struggle.

Those other gods are clingy little rascals. They don’t let go very easily and they are persistent and relentless in their efforts to never leave us. We set aside these 40 days determined to destroy them so we can then be alone with our Creator and Savior, get to know Him better and yes, experience Him even in our busy lives.

Sometimes we view this journey of Lent like we do a summer vacation. We so strongly desire to be at the beach that we totally ignore the journey that gets us there. We numbly and mindlessly go through the motions of packing clothes, driving cars or riding in airplanes until we finally arrive at our destination. We waste those hours or even days of travel and often engage in them as if they are agonizing and painful. Whatever we might have gained in the journey itself is lost forever.

The same can happen as we travel through Lent. We fast, we pray more than normal; we may give generously to the poor, or help someone who is sick or disabled. We try to gossip less and forgive more and we abstain from anything from food to Facebook. And through it all, we hope to arrive at Easter with a stronger relationship with God. Yet within the process, He is begging us to experience His presence, His love and His goodness all along the way.
What are some ways we can experience the one and only God and, at the same time, crucify those imposter gods and travel toward our celebration of the Resurrection?

When you fast this Lent, each time you skip a meal, ask God for the wisdom to recognize where you have been over-indulgent in your life. Maybe it’s with food or drink, maybe clothes or cars. Whatever He shows you, experience His gentle response and ask Him to help you purge those gluttonous tendencies out of your life for good.

If praying more is a resolution, spend time each day listening to God more than talking. Ask Him what you can do for Him today rather than telling him what He can do for you. As He places thoughts and ideas on your heart, take time to feel His love, taste His goodness, see His kindness, hear His mercy and smell the aroma of His presence.

As you give to the poor, look at their many faces of need, then realize, each of these is the face of Jesus. Place yourself in their lives in such a way that whatever you are doing for them, you know you are doing for God Himself.

Gossip is a god we all need to exterminate. As you remind yourself that words can either inspire or destroy, imagine God filling you with His own words, which He has told us are life and health to those who find them (Proverbs 4:22). With the god of gossip eliminated, you have only His intimate words to share with others.

Forgiving those who have harmed you. God’s mercy is the reflection of who He is. When you show mercy, you are not only acting like God; you are experiencing His very nature. How does it feel to do what the almighty Himself does?

Abstinence. What in your life right now is so important that you engage in it even though it slowly pulls you from your communion with God?  Whatever it is, nail it to the cross this Lent. Then use the precious moments it releases back to you to visit with God and bask in His presence, allowing Him to penetrate your entire being.

This year, refrain from focusing on the process as if it is some necessary activity like riding in a car or flying across the country. Discover that it is not the activities of these 40 days that change our lives. Instead it is the experiences with God on the

journey of Lent that bring new meaning to the joy of Easter. Cherish those experiences. Relish them. Hang on to them. Learn from them. And within those experiences, allow Him to change you. Then, find yourself on Easter Sunday walking hand-in-hand down the road to Emmaus with the risen Christ – strolling through life with the Son of the living God.

Kids’ Connection: Saint Blaise

Click to download and print out the Kids’ Connection on Saint Blaise!