Ash Wednesday is here. If you are reading this, you know that I am not abstaining from my blog during Lent. I have always assumed that those who do abstain, do so in order to spend that time in more prayer or in some sacrificial endeavor. I commend them for it. At least three of the blogs on my blogroll over there will be blogfasting to some extent or another.
It is funny, for some time I thought that by doing enough penances I could catch up, or make up for my sinfulness and the damage my sinfulness had done to others. Of course this spirals into more and more severe penances (I think a heresy eventually comes out of this, but I can't remember the name of it). One day, in discouragement, I realized I was sinning faster than I could possibly do penance. At that moment of grace, I was shown how much I needed God's mercy. So from then on, I didn't view penance so much as a competition, but something more joyful. Penance became a way to open my heart, or to clean it out of all those things I am attached to - so as to make room for Christ.
The rooster is gone. For the first time in well over a year, no (live) chickens grace the grounds at Bethany. Yesterday we killed, plucked, and dressed 8 chickens (2 roosters and 6 hens), the last of our flock. It was done in record time. The four oldest paired off and had a plucking contest with the prize (staying up for a movie the last day before lent) hanging in the balance. The plucking (no dunking in boiling water required) went extremely well and the two teams ended in a photo finish! (Both stayed up for the movie, but the winning team ate cookies while other 'fasted'). While I helped them slaughter the first couple chickens, they did the rest, the first time for some of them. None of us enjoy it. I dressed the chickens in record time too (a couple new techniques I discovered greatly ease some of the more difficult parts, and I found that hens are easier than roosters). One of the hens had an egg ready to lay, the shell was even hard, which I took out while dressing - much to the young ones amazement. We will miss the rooster crowing in the mornings, but this will give us a chance to rejuvanate the chicken coop and run area. We will probably get some more in the summer sometime.
The Chicken Strut. Bethune has a festival every year named the 'Chicken Strut'. Last year it was scaled back quite a bit (a tractor pull and a car show only), but this year it is supposed to return to its former glory, with vendors and crafts and street dancing, parades, pony rides, etc. etc. The Curley's are planning to get a craft booth. Mrs. Curley and daughter have been gathering foliage and vines for wreaths. The boys and I will try our hands at making some more wooden guns and walking sticks, among other things. This should be fun and for all of us and a good way to get to know other people in the area. They say that 20,000 people come to this event. We will see.
Speaking of crafts, I came across an article here on crafting by Catherine Doherty. It is funny how a name you never heard of starts popping up everywhere. (See here for an explanation.) An excerpt:
Back to Lent
Arts and crafts made by one's own hands, reflecting the ingenuity and creation of one's own mind, can bring beauty into the world and make God's presence more visible. For all creative effort is from God, and God is Beauty itself. Both crafts and the fine arts, such as painting and sculpture, can be a bond of tradition, bridging the old and the new. Unless there are such bridges, people are fragmented, each like an island unto himself or herself. We are unmoored and do not know where we came from or where we are going. Because of the rapid pace of our technological age, an artistic bridge with our roots is more needed than ever....
What today are called crafts, yesterday were simply all the things people needed to make in order to live: clothes, housing, tools and domestic utensils. So crafts were not just a pastime to keep occupied but rather one's creativeness at work, finding ways to fill real needs. As people became more skillful they crafted more beautifully the things they needed. Artists who are humble and are people of prayer realize that God is going to create through them. They bring a new dimension to human lives: they bring enthusiasm for art, for beauty, and creativity to everyone they meet.
. If you didn't check out RequiemPress'
lenten specials yesterday at my other blog
, Here's the spiel:
During lent you will be spending more time in prayer and sacrifice. What better way to offer these prayers and sacrifices than for the Holy Souls in Purgatory? Lent would be a good time to start a daily practice-a committment if you will-of praying for the holy souls.
"Daily Prayers for the Church Suffering" ($1.85) may just be the booklet to get you started. If features a short prayer every day of the week for a particular soul, followed by the recitation of Psalm 129 (130). The daily prayer follows Christ's passion through the week. [You may also want to spread this devotion by buying bulk quantities and distributing them-almsgiving for the Holy Souls. There are attractive discounts available at the Requiem Press website ]
If you plan to make extra visits and holy hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament this Lent, "Prayers in the Presence of the Holy Eucharist for the Church Suffering" ($2.50) may be another option. In this booklet by Fr. Xavier Lasance, a holy hour is mapped out (prayers for Adoration, Thanksgiving, Petition, and Reparation) as well as a meditation and prayers particular to the holy souls in Purgatory.
For your own spiritual reading during lent, "Witnesses to the Holy Mass and other sermons" by Dom Bede Camm OSB (regularily $8.95) is hard to beat. It is a book that can reinvigorate your spirit of sacrifice and most especially love of God. Dom Camm introduces us to some of the English martyrs under the persecutions of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. He shows how they can be an example to us today even if we are not under such a persecution. (It also makes a great gift to others who are looking for some Lenten reading.)
So here's the Lenten Special: Get all three books for just $7.95! When you order Witnesses to the Holy Mass at this discounted price, we will automatically include the two booklets for the holy souls.
May God bless your prayers and sacrifices during this holy season!