Why Do We Fast?

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

While we all know that the most important kind of fasting we can do during Lent (or anytime!) is to fast from hurtful behaviors such as gossip and greed, we might be wondering if there is still a place for “traditional” fasting in our spiritual lives.

Can’t the two types of fasting go together? Of course they can! Anything we do with our bodies is not meant to stop there. Fasting with our bodies—if done thoughtfully, with meaning and purpose—can change our hearts. And our changed hearts can change the world.

I hope you will enjoy my Lent article “10 Reasons to Fast This Lent” in this month’s St. Anthony Messenger, available online here. The print magazine includes some creative ideas for fasting.

And for those who are local, I hope you will join me, Sr. Virginia Herbers, and Deacon Art Miller as we team up with Peter DeMarco and the Saint Ann Choir for a One-Night Lenten Mission on March 13 in Hamden, CT. Details are below.

Lenten blessings!


Christmas Gift Idea!

No, I’m not earning a commission on these Bibles, but I should be!  I was recently given a Little Rock Catholic Study Bible, and it’s the most beautiful Bible I’ve ever owned.  It’s a wonderful gift idea for Christmas for those in your life who love Scripture, or those who you want to encourage to love Scripture!  This Study Bible has all kinds of useful features like background articles, definitions, charts, informative footnotes, timelines, maps and even prayer starters. 

The photos below are of the “deluxe” edition, which is substantial but not too big, with a leather-like cover, ribbon markers, and nice-sized print.  (The Study Bible is also available as a regular hardback or paperback, or even an e-book, with all the same study features.  But the deluxe one is by far the most beautiful!)

A Study Bible can make a huge difference in your understanding of Scripture, which can then make a big impact on your spiritual and prayer life.  There are a lot of great Study Bibles out there, and this is one of them.  Several of my Scripture students have purchased this Bible, and they just love it!

Little Rock Study Bibles are available online.  On the Little Rock Scripture Study site, the deluxe edition is $64.95.  Happy shopping, sharing, reading and learning! 

Advent Retreat Online

Today I’d like to share with you several meditations from my Advent Retreat, which focused on the Infancy Narratives – the stories of the conception, birth and infancy of Jesus found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. 

If you simply want to listen to the meditations (which are about 10 minutes each), you will find them below – one based on Matthew’s Infancy Narrative (Mt. 1-2), and the other based on Luke’s (Lk. 1-2). 

If you would like a fuller retreat experience, follow the link below.  There you will find everything on one page:  a short “Introduction to the Infancy Narratives” (pdf) that will help you compare Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts (you’ll be amazed how different they are!), links to the texts of the Infancy Narratives, the audio meditations, and reflection questions to correspond with the meditations.

Feel free to share with others, especially those who may not be able to get out for a parish retreat.  We can bring a retreat to them!


John Mosiman, courtesy of The Sacred Art Pilgrim (sacredartpilgrim.com).

John Mosiman, courtesy of The Sacred Art Pilgrim (sacredartpilgrim.com).

The Sacred Art Pilgrim

As you all know, I choose the artwork that goes along with my blog posts very carefully and deliberately.  In fact, sometimes it takes me longer to find the art than to write the post!  It is my hope that the art I select resonates with the words you read and that your mind is filled with beauty, understanding and ideas.  Above all, I want to communicate to you in both word and image that there is something mysterious, powerful and transformative happening in our lives all the time.  I want to believe this myself, and art (like words) helps me believe it and, hopefully, communicate it. 

Last week I discovered a treasure trove of sacred art, and I thought many of you would like to explore this treasure for yourselves.  John Kohan, an international journalist by trade (over 20 years with TIME magazine) and a sacred artist by nature, has set out to gather and display – on his website – beautiful, modern, sacred art.  His collection includes religious art from all over the world in a variety of media and styles. 

You can visit John’s website here:  The Sacred Art Pilgrim.  If you click on “sacred art meditations” (at the top right of his homepage), you can select moments from the life of Christ, themes of faith, or other bible stories, and can view relevant art along with Bible readings, meditations and explanations.  Or you can click on “sacred artists” and view a variety of gorgeous art collected there, along with interesting information about the artists.

John’s own first piece of sacred art was a pencil drawing of the sower and the seed that he drew at six years old (which I would like to see, but it does not yet appear on the site!).  His lifelong journey through sacred art is ours to behold.  

Transfigure Me, Lord

In preparation for an upcoming talk on aging as a time of spiritual grace, I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes we undergo as we age.  I wrote this litany for the program, and I wanted to share it here. 

Whether we are growing old or just growing older, the transitions and challenges we face can be painful.  But as in all kinds of change, in nature and in life, through pain and transition, we can become something new.  In our surrenders, we find the new life we have longed for. 

Like Christ on the mountain, we are transfigured as we age.  We are changed from within and without.  Outwardly we age; inwardly we can be illuminated.  Like the Transfigured Christ, we can shine like the sun!

So pray with me:  “Transfigure me, Lord!”  Click on the file below to view or print the litany.

Transfigure Me, Lord:  An Aging Prayer.pdf

Mosaic of the Face of the Transfigured Christ, Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, Massachusetts

Mosaic of the Face of the Transfigured Christ, Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, Massachusetts