Tag Archives: Lent

Countdown to Christmas: Spiritual Trivia


Can you guess the source of these lines of sacred text?

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world; to give to all nations unity, peace and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with presence those who are failing and infirm,
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,

You could be forgiven for thinking they’re from some kind of meditation on loving kindness in the Upanishads or the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

These lines of deep prayer are actually pulled from a very Christian prayer called The Great Litany that is performed in a communal chant. Just like Buddhists.

Acutely Buddhist in its appeal for universal compassion, The Great Litany was performed in procession by thousands of churches around the world to mark the First Sunday of Advent — the last Sunday of November in 2014 — the official beginning of the Christmas season for all of you chocolate fiends with Advent calendars, and Day One of a new church year.

Read more

How I learned ‘surrender’ in my German garden

Who does one psychologist see for her own private therapy? Her sunflowers.

BY CATHERINE ANN LOMBARD  — There are times in my life when I know that I am trying too hard. No matter what I seem to do, nothing works, eases forward, sings in tune.

As a gardener in my backyard, I can dig the earth, feed it with the richest manure, insure it has enough calcium, carefully sow the seeds, faithfully water, fuss over the tiniest plants, pull weeds, and even pray.

And still nothing grows. Sometimes I forget about God. Oh yeah, that Guy. He also might have something to say. In fact, his Will might be bigger and beyond what I can imagine can grow in anybody’s garden. In anybody’s heart and soul.

Read more
Jesus or the Easter Egg: ‘Witch’ Came First?

Jesus or the Easter Egg: ‘Witch’ Came First?

Ever wonder how bunny eggs, death and resurrection fit together?  A pagan history of  the goddess, and how the church stole Easter

President Obama and Easter bunny

BY DANNY KENNY — Ever since I was an angelic little boy, there are many reasons why I’ve always loved Easter. But I would no longer be angelic in good Irish Catholic fashion if I didn’t admit that gorging myself with sumptuous chocolate eggs after a cruel, six-week enforced abstinence (during Lent) from my first love wasn’t a huge part of that.

Even as a child I had trouble equating chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies, but when you’re in a self-induced chocolate coma, such heady thoughts soon pass.

On a deeper level — even though I grew away from my childhood addiction and religion — I still retained a different kind of deeper love for the annual celebration of renewal, faith and hope.

Read more
On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?

On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. Ashes on your forehead can begin a reorientation of your heart.

BY DAVID RICKEY — In the Judeo-Christian tradition, ashes are a symbol of penitence and mortality. In the Old Testament, Job sits in ashes both because he has lost his children and all his livestock and because he is suffering severly from boils, apparently with God’s approval.

The demonstration of penitence was also intended to persuade God not to punish a people or an individual. In the story of Jonah, the people of Ninevah put on sackcloth and sit in ashes to demonstrate penitence in the hope that God will have a change of  mind and not destroy the city.

This Ash Wednesday millions of Christians will participate in a ritual that involves having ashes put on their foreheads to symbolize their attitude of penitence and their intention to repent.

Read more
An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

If happiness equals slimming-down the ego, the Imposition of Ashes on the first day of Lent is a powerful and public ritual of spiritual self-immolation

BY ANONYMOUS — I did confession (Ash Wednesday) and received the imposition of ashes. I’ve never felt so stripped naked in public as when I kneeled below the altar, and the priest made the sign of the cross on my forehead with ashes and said: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (or ‘stardust’, as I like to say…)

It was a shock to have the fact of my mortality announced so officially and openly. Truly humbling to realize this me is a fleeting illusion… It feels overwhelming when everyone else in the church is acknowledging their mortality, too, one by one.

Read more

Ash Wednesday and the ghost in you

A ritual for Lent: make a daily list of what brings you joy, and what brings you closer to Spirit

No, we don’t mean our favorite song by the Psychedelic Furs, which was given a short second life a couple of years ago by the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore vehicle 50 First Dates.

But now that we brought it up, did you ever wonder where they got that phrase, ‘the ghost in you’? Check out Corinthians 6:19, one of the most famous passages in the Bible:

Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? . . . Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The passage points to the reason that people of a certain persuasion, starting tomorrow, give up pleasures of the flesh like coffee, sweets, alcohol or cigarettes. It’s a cleansing ritual that honors the temple of your body, and the Spirit which gave rise to it.

Read more

Spiritual Surf: Ash Wednesday, PETA, Polygamy, Madonna, atheist pastor, J.D. Salinger, yoga dating

Ashes to ashes . . . this Wednesday

Christians this week celebrate Ash Wednesday in commemoration of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness where he faced demonic temptation.  Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, where Christians share a similar journey in a spiritual desert. Lenten practices usually involve fasting, penance, making confession, praying the stations of the cross (prayerful meditation on Jesus’ journey towards crucifixion), and receiving ashes on the forehead with the words “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return”.

Read more
Eliot Spitzer’s press conference confession and penitence

Eliot Spitzer’s press conference confession and penitence

Little did the New York governor know at the time but another Democrat with presidential ambitions, John Edwards, would later make this moment of public shame seem quaint

BY PAUL KAIHLA — It fits the spiritual season we’re in — the last week of Lent — that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer made a public contrition a few hours ago for cheating on his wife (woman, left) with prostitutes.

Ego-eviscerating confessions like this usually take place in private between a sinner and his or her rabbi or priest, not the national press corps: I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better.

To elaborate James Carville’s words on CNN a few moments ago, we’re here not to judge but to advance the causes of forgiveness, redemption and transformation — and that’s not just because Spitzer was listed as Client No. 9 . . .

Read more