Ash Wednesday: 2 Sermons, 5 Books Lotsa Links!

Well, it’s Ash Wednesday, thanks, thanks be to God! We head into forty days of intentional slowing-down, of being more prayerful, more thoughtful, less reactive. I don’t know about you, but I totally need some Lenten silence, discipline and turning away from the world, especially the world of politics right now.

If you’re not sure what all the hubbaloo is about, Marys Aggies explains it all or, if you don’t feel like reading, here’s a great two-minute video!

What are you giving up for Lent? I am going to give up snacking and also commenting on Facebook. I’ll go there to link to something but I’m going to keep the piehole closed, and that’s going to be tough. But I need it tough. Lent needn’t be as difficult as this, but I do think Timothy P. O’Malley is correct, here. This is the perfect time to fast from suspicion, ideology and demonization. My soul, at least, needs it; I know that.

I meant to have my annual list of newly-published Lenten Reading suggestions for you, but have been very bad with my time; will have that up tomorrow, I promise! You know without my even saying, of course, that I am recommending this book and this one and this book but I have lots more, and even a course recommendation. For tomorrow. As we Benedictines are always encouraged to read something challenging in Lent, I have picked up a used copy of Principles of Catholic Theology by Joseph Ratzinger, aka our Holy Father.

I am also, at this very moment reading Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, which was free on Kindle!

And if you really need an idea today, Julie Davis (whose own book of Lenten Reflections has been published this year), has recommendations!

Did you get ashes today, even my non-Catholic friends? More and more Protestant churches around here seem to be offering them. If so, what does it mean to you, what do you think about it?

Last year I wrote about the Sermon I’d like to hear for Ash Wednesday:

“You remember the movie Moonstruck? It’s the story about an Italian family in Brooklyn, a mother named Rose, a father named Cosmo, and their daughter, Cher.

“There’s a part where the mother, Rose—who suspects her husband of cheating—says to the father, ‘Cosmo, I just want you to know that no matter what you do, you’re gonna die, just like everyone else!’

“And so is everyone in this church. You’re going to die. And no matter how well you think you’re doing, you’re screwing up, and I don’t need to tell you where you’re screwing up because you know where you’re screwing up.

“Later in the film, Rose warns her daughter . . . Cher . . . ‘your life’s goin’ down the toilet!’

“So is yours . . .

You can read it all here, but really, you’d probably do better with the homily Deacon Greg gave today:

These ashes say that we are works in progress.

They say: please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.

He isn’t finished with any of us.

That is the great wonder and consolation of Lent.

And the promised Lotsa Links: and if you need more Check out New Advent

Ten Things to Remember for Lent

What we can learn about fasting From our Orthodox and Muslim friends

Abbey-Roads with wise words and a clever photoshop!

What does Lent Teach us about Markets and Morals?

Pat Gohn’s Among Women Podcast has a roundtable of sorts, on Lenten practices and Devotions

Lent and the Corporal Works of Mercy

A reflection and prayer

Loving Lent. Weird as it may sound, lots of us really do love it. Forty days of mindfulness and meaning!

What does drinking wine have to do with needing God?

Bringing Lent Home With Mother Teresa

Desperate Irish Housewife: And they’re off!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Fuquay Steve

    Just finished “Lord or the World” and indeed it is a great book. Sci fi – not so much; Prophetic – absolutely. I’m reading “The Power and Glory”, any feedback?

  • dry valleys

    Isn’t it the case that Lent was originally observed only by Catholics, and Protestants loudly rejected it, similarly to the way the reformers stressed the fact that they had wives and generally thought nothing of Catholic doctrine?

    And then, the devotion shown by strict Catholics impressed people outside the church so they took it up themselves. It ended up becoming a kind of secular observance, and a handy excuse to rid oneself of winter bad habits like comfort eating and a kind of help along the road of getting fitter in spring.

    It’s hard to imagine anything more rigorous than giving up peanuts ;) but of course any faithful person is a walking advertisement for the faith, and that’s what you choose when you make a personal commitment to believe.

    As regards Margarita A. Mooney’s views, your friend Chesterton (whom she doesn’t mention) had a lot to say about economics and society. He was, as far as I can gather, opposed to pre-1939 economic orthodoxy and would have opposed neoliberalism in its present-day form. I don’t like the solutions he proposed, but better a solution I disagree with than someone who thinks there’s no need for a solution because there’s no problem. That’s not a bad idea for this time of year.

    I suppose it needs some serious hardcore commitment to give up agitation and controversy because you would need faith that it’s all going to work out in the end, which only a believer could have. I’m not likely to unilaterally disarm against Camoron and Ozzy Osborne! Yet, as you say, those who did would show their simple and childlike trust.

  • EBL

    The Greeks use to say that the gods envied man because of man’s mortality. You can only truly appreciate beauty and life, knowing it is fleeting.

    Today is also St. Margaret’s day and also Washington’s birthday.

  • kevin

    That is a great and poignant scene in Moonstruck. She also tells Cosmo that she wants him to “go to confession” knowing that he has been cheating on her. She wants what is good for his soul first and foremost, regardless of her own hurt and pain. Very touching.

  • Manny

    Thanks for telling us that Lord of the World was free for Kindle. I just went over and got it.

    I’m reading St Augustine’s, The Confessions for Lent. I’m a chapter in and it’s well worth the read.

    I read The Power and the Glory last year. Excellent novel.

  • Frater, memento mori.

    Our Monsignor-in-Residence spoke about us all dying. It was refreshing. As he dosed each forehead he could be heard saying, “My brother! Repent and turn toward the Gospel” or the other instruction reminding us of our dusty beginnings and endings.

    We probably had about 1,000 or more in the church (its a half city block long). Mobbed. Ran out of hosts, just about. My mother was an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist because, even though we have 4 priests, only the celebrant was available. Tisk tisk. I wished they’d come out, old school style to distribute so the once a year folks could see a unified and priestly front. I used to love that as a kid in the early 70s when all the priests would come out just in time to help their flock communicate with their Lord. It was so special that they only could touch Jesus.

    I also wished the dear old monsignor had instructed this huge crowd about CONFESSION!!! Why won’t they preach on it??? What a missed opportunity.

    Oh well. At least the Lord called all those varied souls to Himself this evening. Who knows what great graces may even now be at work in my city thanks to all of them answering the call to come.

    Happy Lent, Anchoress Elizabeth!

    PS – I’m reading “Spiritual Childhood” about Ste. Therese.

  • Pancho

    I’m a bit of a spiritual glutton so I’m trying to concentrate on the basics this Lent. I’m hoping I can at least manage the Rosary and the daily readings from Mass every day, and the Liturgy of the Hours too. I usually give up chocolate and soda so I’ll be doing that, but also reducing the coffee (very hard!) and trying to avoid sugar and meat in general (which is also hard when mom shows her love through a plate of enchiladas). I started reading the Divine Comedy last year for the first time and finished the Inferno (liked it more than I expected, surprisingly vivid and more prayerful than I knew) but then I got distracted. So, for Lent I’m going to read the Purgatorio, about canto a day, and I should be done in time for Holy Week. Somehow it seems appropriate this time of year and I like the idea of then reading my way through the Paradiso during Easter Time.

    If anybody needs some more reading, I like the “Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan” posted here: ; and I’ve found these two articles helpful for a little kick in the butt any time of year:

    “Spiritual Fitness Program for Beginners”:
    “Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People”:

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Thank God for Lent!

    C.S. Lewis is always good to read, during Lent, as is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Regulars here might enjoy the new Bonhoeffer biographry by Marrs: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, prophet, martyr, spy.” (I hope I’ve got the title right. At any rate, it is on Amazon.)

    Another good book is “Everywhere Present”, by Fr. Stephen Freeman. It’s very Orthdox Christian in its outlook, but all Christians can enjoy it.

  • Gail finke

    The Lord of the World is Scary! I will not remark on particulars as people are reading it, but the more you think about it, the more eerie it is.

    Fuquay: The Power and the Glory is very powerful. Also very depressing. It made me never, ever, want to go to Mexico.

  • Mark

    Rhinestone Suderman, just started the Bonhoeffer book. It is by Eric Metaxas. I have long been a fan of Bonhoeffer and think the lesson applies to our day as well. My interest peaked when I found out that Greta aunt who died in Auschwitz concentration camp actually knew the Bonhoeffers. She was Catholic which of course he was not, but both families were involved in trying to stop the evil of the death camps. It is also why I so closely see the parallel to todays legal holocaust. We have many of the letters that her aunt sent to Greta’s mother.

    Anchoress, great collection of books. I need to try to order some through your site. We have a local Catholic book store and I try to give them as much business as possible to allow them to stay in operation. Hard business with Amazon type competition and kindle. I pay more, but believe they provide a great service to the community.