Liturgy and Rituals

Notes from beneath the veil

I wore a chapel veil to church for the first time ever yesterday. It’s something I’d wanted to/felt called to do for years, and I finally committed to doing it during Lent. I didn’t make it to Mass last week because, you know, snakes on a plane, so this Sunday’s Mass was my first shot at it. My biggest concern was not drawing attention to myself. Though a few women at my parish do wear scarves, hats, or veils in church, they’re a small minority, and I didn’t want to feel like I stood out. So when we arrived I... Read More

The secret of a domestic monastery

The kids running around Mt. Angel Abbey For years I’ve been fascinated with the idea of creating a “domestic monastery.” To me, that concept evoked a home that’s orderly and prayerful, a haven where you could go to retreat from the stress of the world. Something deep within me yearned for this kind of life — and, even though it might sound impossible to the modern mind, my gut told me that this concept is attainable. Especially after I started thinking about hard stops and balance and sacrifice, I became more convinced... Read More

A Hallmark card for God

It was Yaya‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and when the time came to write up a card, I froze. How could I possibly express my appreciation for all that she does for us? This was when I was bad-busy, when I’d gotten myself in over my head with so many commitments that I considered the day a success if I remembered to feed the kids lunch. So finding the right words to tell her what I wanted her to know for her birthday seemed impossible. I went down to the store, and headed for the greeting card section. I felt immediate relief as... Read More

And the truth shall make you free

Photo by Ansel Adams So, umm, Father Corapi. Yeah. Wow. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the situation, here’s a summary. Long story short, the ministry of the great Fr. John Corapi as we know it has come to an end. He says he will continue to serve under the name “The Black Sheepdog” for now, and of course there’s always the possibility that he could one day return to his role  as a priest in good standing with his religious society (as unlikely as that may seem at this point, nothing is impossible with God!)... Read More

Tell me about your plans for Lent!

What are your plans for Lent? (If you’re not familiar with this season, which starts Wednesday, Marcel Lejeune has the answers to all your questions here.) I know that some people don’t like discussing this publicly, since it can sometimes degenerate into a one-upsmanship contest in which the final commenter triumphs with her announcement that she shall retire to a cave and read Scripture 23 hours a day and eat nothing but beetles and wild grass while wearing a hair shirt throughout the entirety of Lent, but I ask only in the spirit... Read More

Recommended reading for Lent

Ash Wednesday is just around the corner (March 9), so I wanted to share my suggestions for great Lenten reads, and get your suggestions as well. Also, based on some emails I’ve been getting with questions about Lent, I wanted to say: If you’re considering observing Lent but aren’t familiar with it, I strongly encourage you to go ahead and do so! If you’re not sure where to start, just give up some small thing that you like (e.g. listening to the radio on the way to work, sugar in your coffee, a certain TV show, etc.) and... Read More

Ordinary Time: A Revelation

Was your Christmas less than picture perfect? Then you’re going to love this guest post by one of my favorite writers, Simcha Fisher. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time is the liturgical season outside of specific liturgical seasons like Lent, Advent, Christmas, etc. The Christmas season just ended, and now we’re currently in Ordinary Time.) I’m still sweeping up pine needles from the Christmas tree. I don’t mind, because unlike every other mess, this one has a definitive... Read More

Baby steps for celebrating Advent: 24 super simple ideas

With over 100 comments to my post about Advent, you really came through with some wonderful ideas about taking “baby steps” into Advent! As always, I read every single comment, and I thought it might be helpful to others if I posted some examples of all the great ideas everyone shared. For my fellow easily-overwhelmed people, let me emphasize that the idea is that you’d just choose one or two of these. I only included tons of options since different things work for different people. PRAYERS Many people referred to saying daily... Read More

What are some “baby steps” for celebrating Advent?

I hate to admit this, but I’ve come to associate Advent with EPIC FAIL. (And preparing the way for the glorious birth of Christ, of course. That and EPIC FAIL.) Every year for the past three years I’ve tried lead my family in some of the rich traditions that this beautiful part of the liturgical year offers. And every year I end up getting overwhelmed and giving up around the second Sunday, the Advent decorations peeking out from the clutter on our mantle now serving primarily as a reminder that I don’t have my act together. As... Read More

The long thank-you

My six-year-old son is usually bored at Mass. For a couple years now I’ve been trying to find ways to draw him into it, but he can’t get past the fact that it’s not fun. Honestly, it’s not always easy for me, either. I’m not usually bored, but I’ve experienced a wide variety of other unpleasant sensations: I’m often tired, and sometimes feel restless and anxious for church to be over. It is not uncommon at all for me to spent most of the service feeling extremely frustrated by the behavior of my son’s... Read More

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