Friday, February 27, 2015

The Lord by Romano Guardini — "But love does such things!"

Speaking of the Incarnation, Guardini says:
However, this journey of God from the everlasting into the transitory, this stride across the border into history, is something no human intellect can altogether grasp. The mind might even oppose the apparently fortuitous, human aspect of this interpretation with its own "purer" idea of godliness, yet precisely here lies hidden the kernel of Christianity. Before such an unheard of thought the intellect bogs down. Once at this point a friend gave me a clue that helped my understanding more than any measure of bare reason. He said: "But love does such things!" Again and again these words have come to the rescue when the mind has stopped short at some intellectual impasse. Not that they explain anything to the intelligence; they arouse the heart, enabling it to feel its way into the secrecy of God. The mystery is not understood, but it does move nearer, and the danger of "scandal: disappears.

None of the great things in human life springs from the intellect; every one of them issues from the heart and its love. If even human love has its own reasoning, comprehensible only to the heart that is open to it, how much truer must this be of God's love! When it is the depth and power of God that stirs, is there anything of which love is incapable? The glory of it is so overwhelming that to all who do not accept love as an absolute point of departure, its manifestations must seem the most senseless folly.
This book is my Lenten reading this year. However, it is rich enough, requiring slow absorption, and big enough that it will likely last past that time. I'm reading a library book but realize that it is a book for owning as I would benefit from many rereadings.

Interestingly, it is somewhat like reading G.K. Chesterton's nonfiction. Chesterton always does you the compliment of assuming you know all the basic facts about a subject. It is like entering a conversation between friends who have left mere facts behind long ago and are now delving deeper into underlying themes.

In that way The Lord is a great relief. I don't have to hear yet again, line by line, what Jesus "really meant" by each line of the beatitudes. Instead Guardini brings Jesus' words to life by diving straight into the heart of what lay behind the bigger picture. This may sound odd but consider the above passage, excerpted from his discussion of Christ's incarnation. It dives right to the heart of why believers and nonbelievers alike may struggle with the concept of God becoming man.

The italics are my emphasis of the lines that struck straight to my own heart. It is the basis for so much of Christianity, of learning to answer Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" Certainly it is a wonderful expansion upon that maddening word "mystery" which often is my only fallback when trying to answer questioning non-Christians about something which just "doesn't make sense."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Out of Town for a Week

I may check in if I get a chance but it is likely that I won't be posting until I return next week.

Heads Up on Upcoming Film: Alison's Choice

Alison's Choice is a film about a teenager, Alison, who is pregnant and seriously considering having an abortion, but while she is waiting at the abortion clinic, the janitor starts up a conversation with her. This janitor happens to be the manifestation of Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Alison's Choice doesn't quite fit in the typical "Christian" movie box, but we believe that it will be a powerful tool that can be used to save lives.

Alison's Choice was written and directed by Bruce Marchiano and it is currently in post production.

We have a great team of filmmakers working on this movie. Bruce has been an actor for a long time, and our DP is Phil Hurn, who has worked in many films, and our editor is Scott Conrad, who won an Oscar for his work on the original Rocky film. I say all that to let you know that we have a team with the experience and the tools to make this not another low budget "Christian" film, but a high quality and powerful film.
For one thing, I like it when something isn't "typically Christian" and this set up makes me think of Joan of Arcadia which I really liked a lot. Also, the editor from Rocky! C'mon. Now we're talking.

There won't be a trailer for a while but I thought I'd let everyone know about it. There is more info at the link above. And they have a Facebook page you can check out.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Well Said: Buying Time

It would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.
Arthur Schopenhauer
Oh, that's why I have big stacks of books and still keep buying more. I forget to pick up a little time while I'm at it.

Worth a Thousand Words: Shop Sign of Gersaint


Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), Shop Sign of Gersaint
I know that trade work was common for artists trying to keep their heads above water, but something about this shop sign really grabs me ... and amuses me at the same time.

Movie Review: The Drop Box


They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world. God sent them to the earth to use them.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak
Many years ago Pastor Lee's son, Eun-man, was born with crippling cerebral palsy. He and his wife cared for their baby at home, which is so unusual in Seoul, South Korea, that it led a frightened mother to abandon her disabled infant on his doorstep one cold night. Luckily he found the baby before it froze but this prompted him to build The Drop Box. On any given night the "doorbell" may sound in the Lee home signaling that another desperate, anonymous mother has chosen to surrender her baby.

Too often, in a society like South Korea there is only one answer to the social stigma attached to unwed motherhood and aversion to any child born with disabilities. Babies are abandoned and often die before they are discovered. Pastor Lee and his wife and their Christian community care for about 18 disabled children. He has rescued hundreds of babies thanks to the drop box.

The Drop Box is told in a straight forward way but it is not a simple film.

Not only do we see Pastor Lee's ministry but the value of life becomes the central theme of the film. This is only to be expected but what I didn't expect was that the drop box ministry has opponents. Here is where the director's patient story telling pays off. The presentation of both sides of the arguments is handled delicately but compellingly.

Perhaps the most powerful statement about the film is that it changed the film director's own life.
Ivie said, "These kids are not mistakes. They are important." He went on to say, "I became a Christian while making this movie. When I started to make it and I saw all these kids come through the drop box – it was like a flash from heaven, just like these kids with disabilities had crooked bodies, I have a crooked soul. And God loves me still. When it comes to this sanctity of life issue, we must realize that that faith in God is the only refuge for people who are deemed unnecessary. This world is so much about self-reliance, self-worth, and self-esteem. It's a total illusion that we can be self-sufficient. Christ is the only thing that enables us."
This documentary is a wonderful look at a Christian who is changing the world the only way he knows how: through actively loving those around him. Pastor Lee lives in the best tradition of the first-century Christians who bore witness to the pagans around them by taking in abandoned infants, caring for widows, and staying with the sick when everyone else was fleeing.

It's a movie that stuck with me long afterward and had me reexamining parts of my own life.

This film will be in theaters March 3-5.

Don't miss it.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Lagniappe: Never record anything ...

I rang her and left a message identifying myself and giving an impression of urgency without actually saying anything concrete. Never record anything you wouldn't want turning up on YouTube is my motto.
Ben Aaronovitch, Moon Over Soho
If only more of us remembered this, the world would be a calmer place. More boring, sure. But definitely calmer.

Worth a Thousand Words: Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern
taken by Remo Savisaar

Blogging Around: The What-Caught-My-Eye Edition

Tips for Mid-Lent Penance Adjustment

Jennifer Fitz reminds us that our chosen penance isn't set in stone. If we need adjustments, she's got three good tips.

The Importance of Rough Housing With Your Kids

The Art of Manliness has reasons, good guidelines, and a book to check out.

Decent Films Website Redesign

Normally I don't care about such things enough to point them out, but this one really does make it easier to see what Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus has been writing.

Bread, on the table ... s'il vous plait

David Lebovitz talks about where the French put their bread in restaurants and many other aspects of bread and French meals. Fascinating.

Lent and Fasting From Meat on Fridays

Reposting this because, well, it's that time of year! Also the point about fasting from flesh is one that strikes me hard every time I think of it.

From American Catholic:
Abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat.

Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are not forbidden. So it is permissible to use margarine and lard. Even bacon drippings which contain little bits of meat may be poured over lettuce as seasoning.
In America, fasting from meat led to the fish fry as a
Lenten tradition. (Public domain photo.)
I was looking for this for another reason, actually, but it applied to the question our retreat group was asking about providing a Friday lunch including Tomato Basil Soup made with chicken broth.

I think the main reason, though I now have lost the place I originally read this, is that the original intent of fasting from meat is that we are fasting from ... flesh.

It is because Christ put on flesh to become man that we fast from it in penance for what He went through on our behalf.

A lovely connection isn't it?

At least it is to me.

And to have to dig into each ingredient turns it into an exercise in scrupulosity for me. I like that they make it easy for us that way.

I've always cooked with those sorts of guidelines for Friday fast days (heck, every Friday is a fast from meat at our house). So it's nice to see it spelled out ... no need for any vestiges of guilt when I put a bit of lard in our refried beans for those nachos!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Well Said: Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hater
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost
Elegantly said.

And insightful. Yet another quote perfect for Lenten reflection.

Worth a Thousand Words: Melk Staircase

Stift Melk, staircase near church, photographed by David Monniaux, Creative Commons licensing
I first saw this gorgeous piece of architecture in Art: A New History by Paul Johnson. I could look at this all day.

Audible's Daily Deal - Cabin Pressure, season 4


One of my favorite BBC radio series is Cabin Pressure.

It tells the hilarious exploits of an oddball crew of a struggling charter service with a single airplane that is in none too good repair. As they take all sorts of items, people or animals across the world, we learn about the crew and their lives.

It is clever and humorous in the way that the best sitcoms can be. There is wordplay, build up to final jokes, and, of course, we learn to care about even the most unlikable characters. One of my favorite touches is that the crew is often playing games to while away the time. And they are simultaneously funny and engrossing, while often moving the plot along.

The daily deal is for season 4, but season 1 is pretty cheap and you really should begin at the beginning. None of the seasons are more than $10. I promise they pay off with high levels of entertainment.

What I didn't realize until I saw the photo accompanying the daily deal is that Benedict Cumberbatch played Martin. Or perhaps I should say that by the time Benedict Cumberbatch became famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Cabin Pressure just wasn't on my radar any more. At any rate it is fun to hear him as Martin.

I also never picked up on the fact that the places they visit in each episode are in alphabetical order. They begin with Abu Dhabi, proceeding then to Boston, Cremona, and onward until the last episode, "Zurich." It is those little touches that make it a complete listening pleasure.

I'll relisten with extra relish.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday - A Little Fun

Because this makes me laugh every time, I repost ...

Ash Wednesday is the chance for single Catholics to identify other singles who are, as my friends would say, really eligible! In aid of that, we present:
PATRICK MADRID'S TOP 10 LIST
Catholic Pickup Lines
(courtesy of Envoy)

10. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?

9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

8. Sorry, but I couldn't help but noticing how cute you look in that ankle-length, shapeless, plaid jumper.

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?

6. You don't like the culture of death either? Wow! We have so much in common!

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic bookstore downtown.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font at the same time?

1. Confess here often?

Worth a Thousand Words: Ash Wednesday

Carl Spitzweg [Public domain], Ash Wednesday
via Wikimedia Commons

Ash Wednesday: All other loves will enslave us if they are not ordered to Him

Painful though the process may prove to be, I ask God for the transformation I need to become closer to the person He created me to be.

Let's begin with the collect for today.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
I like this for several reasons, but foremost today it calls to mind that we are in a spiritual battle. It never does to forget that, especially with Satan's wilderness tempting of Christ as prominent as it is during this season.

Daniele Crespi (1597 - 1630)
Il Digiuno di San Carlo Borromeo / The fasting of St Charles Borromeo (c. 1625)
(Read more about the painting and the saint at Idle Speculations where I found the painting)


I always need help having the proper perspective to prepare for Easter.
The Liberating Power of Serving God

"No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt 6:24)

God did not save the Israelites from slavery in Egypt so that they might become slaves again by bowing down to the golden calf in the desert. Nor has he freed us from the slavery of our sin so that we might bow down to the work of our own hands or to any other creature, including ourselves and our own desires. Strange as it might seem, we are not really free when we consider ourselves the masters of our own lives. From precisely that standpoint, we quickly fall into the trap of serving someone or something else: our self-images, our bosses, our spouses, our corporations, our tyrannical two-year-olds or teenagers, our homes, our cards, our portfolios, our social statuses, our egos, and the list goes on and on.

When, however, we seek to serve God, we soon learn that we thereby allow God to serve us. He wants our hearts precisely so that he might reign there: more as servant than as king. It is he who sets the table before us, who washes our feet, waits upon us, and invites us to eat of his own body. As servant, he not only nourishes us, however; but he also liberates us fro inordinate attachments that both weigh us down and enslave us. He does not merely liberate us from without, by removing obstacles that would hinder his coming into our hearts. He also and more profoundly liberates us from within; for once we have received him, he beings making order within us, freeing us from all that prohibits us from the interior freedom that characterizes the children of God. He will not allow any competition for his love; for all other loves will enslave us if they are not ordered to him, who alone can render us free.
Taken in this way, we can see how it is actually a relief to have done self-examination to see what has enslaved us, usually without our having been aware of it at all. What a relief to set that down. Even when we miss it, when we long for it, when we are annoyed because we can't have it, there is still a sense of relief in being forced to see with open eyes just what our addictions really are. To see how they have become so much more important to us than the harder path that leads us to a more loving relationship with God. Clarity matters. We have to know what rocks are in the way in order to avoid them.

The Putting on of Ashes
From the Initial "M" in the Introit of the Mass of Ashes on Ash Wednesday
From the Missal à l'usage de Saint-Didier d'Avignon c. 1370
Via Idle Speculations which has information about the tradition of ashes on the forehead

We surely can see why the readings for today included this from Joel which spoke to my heart.
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
And this from Psalm 51 which is surely what we all crave.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise
I do praise him for giving us this season of Lent ... which is something that I never, ever feel until it has begun. But now that I am face to face with Lent, having considered this morning that "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return" ... which means, get serious because you never know when this life will end ... I remember how good it is to consider priorities, to leave behind the transitory, and strive upwards toward the immortal life we were made to have.

Yes, Lent is good.

by Duane Keiser 

RESOURCES
Catholic Culture has a wonderful page about Lent with many links to activities, prayers, recipes, and readings.

They also offer free e-books which have daily reflections on the readings and saints for the liturgical year. I have used these for several years now and cannot recommend them highly enough.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lenten Listening: Podcasts

I'm a bit of a podcast junky as we all know. Here are some of my favorite faith podcasts which are especially helpful to me at Lent. Though, to be fair, I tend to listen to most of them year-round.

Word on Fire
Father Robert Barron's weekly homilies. 'Nuff said. (iTunes link, website link)

Lectio Divina with Cardinal Thomas Collins
Cardinal Collins focuses only on a small part of Mark during each hour-long session. He reads the section aloud and then goes back over it line by line. After each line he gives some background and thoughts. He also asks some questions which may well echo in listeners' hearts. Then there is a brief pause so it can all sink in and listeners can see what strikes them. My current favorite inspirational podcast.

Note: the diocese website has been recently updated and, as is often the case, they lost their podcast links and feed. For the time being you can manually download the files from this link (right click the file name and select "save link as" and then you can double click the mp3 file to load it into iTunes.


A Good Story is Hard to Find
Two Catholic friends talk about the books and movies they love and the traces of the One Reality that lie below the surface. Yes, this is the podcast that Scott Danielson and I do every couple of weeks. Looking for God in the stories that entertain us might be just the Lenten inspiration you need to see God interacting in your life in a whole new way. (iTunes linkwebsite link)

Catholic Under the Hood
These are like miniature "today in Catholic history" lessons. Father Seraphim tells about misunderstood or forgotten history and theology in a way that often leaves me pondering it for days afterward. He hasn't updated his feed for a few years but nearly 300 episodes are on his website. (iTunes link, website link)
Verbum Domini
Daily readings of the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Good for anyone who wants a daily dose of scripture.  I find that listening to the readings gives me a different perspective sometimes, although I often am reading them at some time from my Kindle subscription to Word Among Us. (iTunes link, website link)

Pray-as-you-go
Daily prayer. This podcast is usually about 10 minutes. It begins with music (they use quite a variety from Lady Blacksmith Mogambo to French monks to contemporary worship style), then read from the scripture for the day. They give time for contemplation of this scripture with a series of gently asked questions that invite us to think about it in ways we might not otherwise. (iTunes link, website link)

St. Irenaeus Ministries
Scripture study that is practical. The teacher is extremely insightful in giving connections between scripture and daily life. He keeps it real and although he has an orthodox Catholic point of view, this is the podcast I recommend to nonCatholics. This is one that I listen to every week and since I tend to be behind on it, sometimes daily. An essential. (iTunes link, website link)

Meditations from Carmel
A podcast with episodes between one and four minutes long. Each has soothing sounds of quiet music in the background while a contemplative voice reads the meditation from a Carmelite saint. This hasn't been updated for some time but they have left all the meditations available. Since they're timeless, updates aren't really necessary, right? Excellent for those stressed out moments when I need a good reminder of where the "center" is. (iTunes link, website link)

Lent and Me

I've been busy posting lists of books, movies, and suchlike for everyone. But I haven't said much about my own personal plans for Lent.

Then I read Joseph's plan at Zombie Parent's Guide and found it inspirational. Or should I say awe inspiring? In my mind, anyone who gives up fiction for Lent is akin to one of those hermits who sat on pillars in the desert. It calls for superhuman strength and I don't even understand it.

At the very least I realized I've got to buckle down and decide instead of just toying with ideas. To be fair, I've been asking God for prompting in what stands between us, so I can toss it out.

Such questions in the past have led to changes I've carried on in real life such as not using the computer on Sundays, not listening to my iPod when others are around and so forth. We'll see if these are equally life changing ... and form better connections with the Almighty.

Here's where I am.

Prayer

I pledge to be more faithful.

I already have two prayer times in the day.

When I'm feeding the dogs in the morning, I do intercessory prayer and (when I remember) I turn my day over to God. Sometimes that will spill over into when I'm reading my daily page of A Year with the Saints (Thigpen) while I'm dressing. Sometimes not.

When I get home in the afternoon, I make a cup of coffee and go outside if it is nice. (The dogs love coffee time when we're all out there together.) I spend 20 minutes with more contemplative prayer than in the morning.

There is nature, for one thing, which always brings me closer to God.

In the last few months I've also been working my way very slowly through Mark, a few verses at a time, in that Ignatian imaginative style. You know, read a little story or parable, and you imagine you are there. What do you smell? What is the weather like? What can you hear? How does everything look? Can you feel the sun or is it overcast? And you put yourself in the scene and ... let it unfold.

Believe me there is nothing for making you get everything out of scripture like applying this to a little bit of text for 20 minutes. I have had some surprising insights this way. And certainly I've had moments of connection with God.

The problem, of course, is that I have to give 20 minutes. It is sad how often I have other distractions I'd rather indulge in during that paltry 20 minutes. Worse yet is how often I go ahead and do something else instead of prayer.

So during Lent I will not miss a 20-minute date with my coffee, dogs, and Bible. Promise.

Fasting

This is the traditional name for "giving up something for Lent." I've done it with food, I've done it with technology, I've done it with bad habits. (Remember that 40 days when I made it everywhere on time? Hurrah for Lent!)

This year I am fighting distraction overall. (See prayer above.) I think it is one of the ills of our time. And I really need a cure.

I'm going to give up visiting three social media spots which just suck the time right out of me. GoodReads, Bloglovin', and Facebook.
  • GoodReads is the biggie here. I. love. it. But I realize it is also influencing my reading because I am reading for the community sometimes instead of for myself. Yeah, I also do that for podcasts and suchlike but it's a different thing than GoodReads for me.
  • Bloglovin' is, strictly speaking, an RSS aggregator but if I want to read a blog I can actually take the trouble to use my own sidebar. Much less distracting. 
  • Facebook is the most minor of these. However, if I want to avoid a task it is better than nothing. And I'll go there for that avoidance and distraction. I'll probably still throw occasional links to this blog on Facebook but I won't stop to read anything. 

Almsgiving

I admit this is one I hadn't really thought about specifically until I read Joseph's post. We give weekly and just contributed to a couple of the bishop's various appeals. However, Lent calls for more.

What comes to mind right now is something weekly for our poor box. (Yes, we have one. Actually we have two. One for money. One for food, clothing, and other tangible items.) It all goes to our St. Vincent de Paul ministry who helps the needy with food, clothing, furniture, rent, utility, transportation, medical, emotional and spiritual support.

I like that. Ok, almsgiving chosen.

Prepping for Lent: Are You Ready to Rumble?

Fasting. No one likes it. Even people who don't care about food too much don't like it. And no wonder. We get hungry, we get cranky, we're uncomfortable ... darned uncomfortable.

I rarely remember to think about it more deeply than than to psych myself into the zone by offering it up for someone in grave need.

This from my quote journal reminded me to think about fasting in a very different way. I thought I'd share it.
Lenten Fasting
Jesus fasted simply because he wanted to, as the gospel clearly says. But why? Because hunger never comes alone; hunger usually touches us very deeply, not just physically but deep in our heart. Hunger in a sense wounds us; it undermines something in us which up to that moment had been inviolable. It causes a kind of vaccuum, tears open an old wound, and even at times leads to dizziness. Precisely for that reason fasting and hunger can change something in us, can even bring about a genuine transformation.

Whatever is thus touched or kindled is not always honorable or satisfying ... In order to be able to test us the devil has to take advantage of our weaknesses, both our physical and spiritual weakness, the hunger which torments us and makes us afraid of losing our life.

For along with hunger other desires and temptations immediately surface as well, even in the case of Jesus: the seductive challenge of easy success, the desire for earthly fame, the hunger for power in this world, sensuality in all its forms. Fasting half opens the door we so often want to keep shut, even with a double lock. For immediately after the first hunger and the first desire, the other hunger and those other desires surface as well, desires which seek -- with equal bitterness and equal power to disturb us -- to take possession of our heart. No one ever fasts with impunity ...

However, Jesus had come for this very purpose. Not to crush all desires and temptations, nor to conquer them honorably. The contrary is true ... Our fasting even today risks opening the door to the excitement of the desires it threatens to unleash, a door which looks out on the other shore of our desires, not on their dark but on their light side: God within us; God who desires to be loved; God who hungers for us and we for him, passionately.
Father Andre Louf, O.C.S.O. (Magnificat)
I do have one practical piece of advice to offer ... hunger comes in "waves" so if you suddenly feel those pangs, quite often you can remember that and when you come to think of it again then the hunger has receded. That helps me anyway.

Mardi Gras Prayer

It is good for me to have this reminder in prayer, which I have posted for the last few years. We tend to think of the feasting of Mardi Gras as being totally opposite to the fasting of Lent. But they don't have to be. If we turn our eyes toward God the entire time, feasting and fasting can be seen as sides of the same coin.


In these or similar words, we can pray in the spirit of this day.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.

Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.
We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.

Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.

As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for
generous service to others.

We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord.

===========

Speaking of faith and Mardi Gras, check out the King Cake at My Catholic Kitchen. Not only does it look like a feast to be thankful for, but I like the explanations Vonnie includes, such as this tidbit:
The colors have significance also. Purple represents justice. The Yellow represents power and Green represents faith. The little baby hidden in the cake represents the baby Jesus. ...