A Belated Lenten Reading Program

We’re approaching the third Sunday of Lent and, therefore, are close to half way to Easter.  It’s long been a custom for Catholics, perhaps stemming from the practice St. Benedict outlined in his Rule, to step up their spiritual reading for Lent.  This spiritual reading is usually planned for some days before the season begins on Ash Wednesday.  If you’re like me, however, that doesn’t always happen; Ash Wednesday comes and goes and suddenly you find yourself getting little or no spiritual reading done at all.  Then, like all good procrastinators, you say to yourself, I’ll do better next year and give up on the idea altogether.  Shame on you, it’s never too late to set things right.

To assist all you procrastinators out there, I’ve come up with a list of five books that make good Lenten reading, in fact good reading, no matter if you start on time or not.  I’m not saying you should try to read all five books between now and Holy Saturday, but you might pick one, possibly two of them and start reading today.  Then, come Holy Saturday, you might have firmed up your spiritual reading habit and decide to read the other three or four books to finish the list.

What are these five little books?  Here’s the list.

  1. The Spiritual Combat, Lorenzo Scupoli
  2. This Tremendous Lover, Eugene Boylan
  3. In Silence with God, Benedict Baur
  4. Seasons of Celebration, Thomas Merton
  5. Bread in the Wilderness, Thomas Merton

Why these five books?  Well, I have a reason for selecting each of these books as candidates for a belated Lenten reading program, but I leave you with a challenge – after you’ve read the books on the list, tell me why you think I consider them candidates for reading during Lent, even if you start late.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Big with Wonder


A 7 Quick Takes post as hosted at the This Ain’t the Lyceum blog.

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”
Thomas Aquinas

I heard about this on Jenniful Fulwiler’s radio show on the Catholic Channel and thought I would share it – a list, from FOCUS of the 5 Best Free Catholic Apps. Much as I dislike overuse of electronic toys, there’s no avoiding the fact that many people use their phones and tablets for almost everything these days. So, might as well use them to help grow your faith. The five apps according to FOCUS are:

1) iBreviary, an app for praying the Liturgy of the Hours;
2) FOCUS Equip, an app for boosting you apologetics skills;
3) The Pope App, all about the Pope;
4) Mea Culpa, an app to help you make a better confession;
5) Truth & Life, an audio version of the RSV-CE version of the Bible, so you can listen to the Bible in the car or when when you’re out running, or whatever else.

You can find the list, and fuller explanations, HERE.

However, that list wouldn’t be my recommend best free apps. For one thing, the Mea Culpa app is nowhere to be found on the Apple app venue. So, here’s my list of the five best free Catholic apps:

1. IBreviary
2. Laudate: this is an app that has the daily Mass readings, info on the saint of the day, and podcast reflections from Pope Benedict, and much more;
3. Universalis, daily readings, Catholic calendar, Liturgy of the Hours, and more;
4. Three Minute Retreat, a 3 minute Ignatian type retreat from Loyola Press;
5. Confession, an app to assist in confession and keep track of when you last confession was made.

Work has intruded again this week, but I have managed to get a bit of a schedule in place and that helps with maintaining all my important commitments in retirement life. For example, this past Sunday, we attended a recital by the Ute Pass Chamber Players in Woodland Park and it was quite enjoyable. I’d never heard of the group but my clarinet instructor is a member and they were doing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, a beautiful piece, and I had to go hear it. They did a brilliant job and I’m very happy we were able to attend. I wish there were more groups like that in our area, but I guess the market just isn’t there..

Lent is fast approaching and once again I’m having trouble realizing how fast time is passing. It seems like we just took down the Christmas tree. I can’t help but wonder if time seems to pass so much faster these days because of all the technology we make use of. I know, in my own field of accounting, the software and services available electronically, not to mention spreadsheets and databases, make it possible to do so much more, so much faster, than could have been done when I first began my career, it would have seemed impossible back then. When everything was done by hand, the days were lived at a noticeably slower pace and the sense of urgency to have things done NOW just wasn’t realistic. Are we better off?

We’ve had some wonderful, mild weather for the last two or three weeks, with only one or two bouts of snow. After a rather rough November and December, it’s been a delight just to get outside with just a fleece jacket on my back, or without a jacket of any kind, and see the sun. Like all good things, however, we are soon to pay the price, with the predictors now calling for up to three inches of snow on Sunday night and through Monday.

The downside to all this cyclical weather is that the roads in our fair burgh are paying the price. Previously pitiful potholes are becoming monstrous, car swallowing chasms, and the city seems unable to make a dent in keeping pace with mother nature. Ahhhhhhh, springtime in the Rockies.


Muhammed Ali once said, “Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.” It’s also golden when you can’t think of a 7th Quick Take. Until next week then.

Fr John Baptist de la Salle

imageSt. John Baptist was born into a family of the French nobility in the city of Reims in 1651 and, as a boy lived a luxurious life. Still, he was a devout child, in love with the Church and received the tonsure at the tender age of 11. Since he was from the nobility he was able to study at the College des Bons Enfants where he earned a Master of Arts degree and moved to the Seminary of Saint Sulpice to become a priest. We can assume all was well until both his parents died and he had to leave home, now head of the family, to care for and help educate his four brothers and two sisters. Four years later, he completed his studies and was ordained a priest in 1678 and two years later completed a Doctorate in Theology.

Fr. John was a man of fine manners and taste, as might be expected from a member of his class, but he was also quite competent and capable of getting things done in the real world. He became interested in education and related issues by agreeing to help the Sisters of the Child Jesus who were dedicated to helping poor and uneducated girls and helping the new order become established and serving as their confessor. Through this work he met Albert Nyel who was trying to establish a school in Reims to help the poor, who at the time had little or no access to education and less hope for the future. Nyel had a benefactor in a wealthy woman in Reims who would fund the project, but only if Fr. De La Salle would also participate. It was from the work establishing this school that the order now known as the De La Salle Brothers, or the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the first Roman Catholic institute that did not contain any priests, grew.

Fr de La Salle wrote: “I will always look upon the work of my salvation, and the foundation and government of our community, as the work of God; hence I will abandon the care of both to him, acting only through his orders;… I will often consider myself as an instrument which is of no use except in the hands of the workman. Hence I must await the orders of Providence before acting, and be careful to accomplish them when known.”

Worn out, Fr. John died on April 7th Good Friday in 1719 and was proclaimed a saint in 1900. He is the patron saint of teachers of Youth in the Catholic Church. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared him the patron of teachers.


Feast of St Patrick

imageAs I arise today,

may the strength of God pilot me,

the power of God uphold me,

the wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me,

the ear of God hear me,

the word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,

the way of God lie before me,

the shield of God defend me,

the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,

Christ when I stand,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.


The Road Less Travelled — Saint Matilda

imageThere are many ways to become a saint, there’s no set of rules to follow that, if ignored, will prevent a person from finding his or her way to heaven. A saint whose day is celebrated today, Saint Matilda, is an example of the truth of that statement.

Matilda was born in Germany in the early part of the 10th century. She became the wife of a medieval king of Germany who died at a young age and whose son, Otto the Great succeeded to the throne. Matilda had favored Henry, her first born son to take the throne, but it was not to be. Henry briefly led a rebellion against his brother but was defeated and afterwards, Matilda persuaded Otto to name Henry Duke of Bavaria.

Matilda, in any case, had inherited considerable property from her husband and was extremely generous making charitable donations from that property, to the point of angering both of her sons who thought she went much too far in these efforts. In response, she relinquished title to the properties to them and retired to her country home. Henry, it appears started another rebellion, with the same results, and Matilda prophesied his imminent death. When that occurred, she established three convents and a monastery and went to live in one of them. She was still influential in the affairs of state though, to the point that her son left her in charge of the kingdom while he traipsed off to Rome and got himself crowned as Emperor, an event many historians see as the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire. She was proclaimed a saint, by popular acclamation, almost immediately after her death.

To me, the encouraging thing about Matilda is that her life doesn’t seem to follow a path that you would expect would lead to sainthood. But the Church recognizes that there is no pattern to be followed to holiness; each one of us has to take his or her own path and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I find that very encouraging indeed.

St Constantine

St Constantine 03 11Today is the feast day of St Constantine, a little known saint in the Church.  This is from Catholic Online:

“Constantine was king of Cornwall. Unreliable tradition has him married to the daughter of the king of Brittany who on her death ceded his throne to his son and became a monk at St. Mochuda monastery at Rahan, Ireland. He performed menial tasks at the monastery, then studied for the priesthood and was ordained. He went as a missionary to Scotland under St. Columba and then St. Kentigern, preached in Galloway, and became Abbot of a monastery at Govan. In old age, on his way to Kintyre, he was attacked by pirates who cut off his right arm, and he bled to death. He is regarded as Scotland’s first martyr. His feast day is March 11th.”