Friday Night – Party or Penance?

Friday means pizza, drinks, the start to the weekend!  We all love Fridays!  Even our school blasts music from the loud speakers at the end of the day.  It feels great.  But traditionally, Fridays have been a day of sacrifice.   It is the day on which our Lord hung on the cross and died for our sins.  Before Vatican II, all Catholics were supposed to abstain from meat on every Friday of the year as a way of doing penance and remembering the sacrifice of Christ.  Even today, we are asked to make some small act.  How today, can I keep vigil in my heart, even while I celebrate with the rest of our culture the end of the work week?  St. Thomas More (who was beheaded for opposing King Henry VIII’s divorce), used to wear a hair shirt underneath his decorated rich garments to the parties at which he was served fine food.  Other saints up and down the ages have put little rocks in their shoes to remind them of the suffering Christ and their desire to offer up their own lives to him.

I don’t own a hair shirt and pebbles don’t fit in flip flops very well but maybe I can do something similar.  Part my hair on the other side, chew no gum, clean the toilet, stand with better posture.  What can you do today, even as you play, to whisper to Our Lord, “I love you”, “I remember you”, “your sacrifice saved me”, “I am with you”?

Personal Prayer

Do you ever want to pray but not really know what to do?  Here are some ideas for about 10-15 minutes of quiet personal prayer.  What do you usually do?  What are your ideas?  What is best for you?  Leave a comment if you wish!

Ideas of things to do during personal prayer time

  • With Jesus, read, think and talk about part of the New Testament, slowly.
  • Lift up your family to God. Imagine that you are standing next to them and you are all right before the throne of God.  Smile at the Lord and show him your people.
  • Lie down and hide yourself in God’s arms. Let go of your troubles.  Trust in the Lord.  Let your breath speak His name.
  • List on paper or mentally, people in your life. Let your list be your prayer for them.
  • Think deeply with God about the people in your life. Pray for their needs and hopes.  Ask God how you can help.
  • With God, list your responsibilities. Tell Him what you are having the most trouble with.  Note the ideas that come to mind as solutions.

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Cultivate New Growth

While many of us are planting seeds, preparing soil for saplings, feeding established plants, pruning to create new growth and fighting weeds, we can take a tip from the natural world to more clearly understand what is happening in our souls and how to care for those of our children.  Perhaps you could sit outside for 5 minutes this weekend, visually considering horticulture (urban as it is) as analogy for your interior growth.

Digital Prayer Shelf

Sometimes it helps to have a written or audio guide for a daily prayer time/ devotional.  Also, listening and learning at other times through out the week can really help to fuel the fire.  Here is an assortment of digital media you can use.

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We are limited

There is only so much you have the capacity to do.  No matter how much planning, creativity, staying up late or amazing effort, you can only be in one place at a time, doing one thing.

Kids naturally know this limitation.  They whine.  They call, “Mooommmm”.  They expect their things will be taken care of even though they don’t pick up, put away, clean etc…  They say they are hungry and expect to be fed.  They don’t plan.  They don’t understand all the work a parent needs to do, they just want to play with that parent.  They cry and expect to be picked up.  They trust.

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Kids in Church – Let them See!

People have been telling me forever that my kids are well behaved at Mass.  I’ll tell you the secret…  It is really easy and takes no preparation.  Most people aren’t willing to do it though.  Are you ready?

Sit in the front pew.  Not the second, not close to the front.  The first row.  Think about it.  If you were 30 inches tall and you were standing behind a 6 foot man and a large lady, what would you see and think about at church?  Rear ends!  Even if you hold your kids up (which does help) they still are not seeing as high as you are and it is not practical to hold them the whole time.  There are SO many distractions in a crowd.  Up front what do you see?  The candles, the priest, the bible, the bread and wine, the cross.  Kids become engaged in the “play” of the Mass.  Sitting up front helps even at a VERY young age- as soon as a baby has long range vision and continues through all of childhood.  You can whisper in her ear about the candles, about Jesus, about the kids who are helping at Mass.

Of course, kids do make noise.  Lots of it sometimes so, having a get-away plan is pretty necessary in the early ages.  Sitting on the side helps.

Not only will your kids benefit but, once you start this as a habit, you will realize you your self are getting tons more out of Mass.