Feminine genius

Sr. Mary Martha has this to say about today's festivities:

We complain all the time about the "War on Christmas" (which starts, if WalMart and Target are any indication, the day after Halloween).  All we really mean by that is that Christmas has become too secular, that the birth of Jesus seems to be in the background, somewhere behind the inflatable Santa and the new flat screen TV.

But the same thing has happened to poor St. Valentine. He is lost under the pile of revealing lingerie, 4 foot teddy bears, boxes of chocolate, roses and massage gift certificates. No matter which St. Valentine we pick, we are actually looking at a man who helped people in need, bringing food and comfort to those in prison, for example.

I think we should take back St. Valentine's day, stop eating cake (it IS Lent, after all), and find something worthwhile to do in the name of love.  A random act of kindness, a donation to a charity, a helping hand, a voice of comfort. No one will be disappointed.

Jen Fulwiler shares this priceless bit of wisdom for Lent:

Lent is not about YOU: When I was a ‘new’ Catholic, I would attempt to offer up numerous things for Lent. Simple, ill-placed logic told me, “The more I offered up, the better the Lent!” Well, in reality, I just ended up frustrating myself…trying to keep up with all those self-imposed rules. I also later realized that these ‘sacrifices’ made me focus way too much on myself and not nearly enough on Jesus and those around me. In a way, I had allowed my offerings to become a competition — within myself (could I REALLY pull this off for 6 weeks!?) and with others (I wonder what they’re giving up…). Make your Lent about Jesus, not about you. Our offerings, sacrifices, prayers, participation should all be things that turn us away from ourselves and point our minds, hearts and bodies toward Christ.

and Kathryn Jean-Lopez shares a message from our Dear Papst:

Later in December, I saw the Holy Father again as one of a few hundred participants in a conference on the Church in the Americas sponsored by the Vatican Pontifical Commission on Latin America and the Knights of Columbus. During his address to us, he almost admonished us. Catholic ‘leaders’: Keep your hearts pure. Surrender yourselves to God so that your leadership belongs to Him. Encounter Christ, for that encounter is at the heart of any evangelical effort. It is our salvation.
That is the challenge of our day. And the women he loves so deeply, the women the Catholic Church loves so unreservedly, play an essential role in this evangelical effort, just as Mary does in salvation history. “At this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.” But no one can aid mankind in not falling if she isn’t resting in the Sacred Heart of Christ, if she doesn’t know and love God in the most intimate of ways.
That message to women he gave me was the same message Pope Paul VI delivered at the end of the Second Vatican Council. Only months away from the end of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI redelivered it, as if to say: We didn’t communicate this. Women, please hear this. Women live this. Know this. Love this. Love Jesus. Show the world what He proposes by your love for Him and His Word.
We have a great gift for the world in the Church. But the world isn’t hearing it, not even the Catholic world. In his bold act, Pope Benedict opens a window into a pope’s prayer life, into a man’s prayer life. He impresses upon us the essential nature of the examined life, the primacy of prayer.
“Constant conversion is a work of grace, and both the people of the Church and their ordained ministers cooperate in this work of conversion through grace,” George Weigel writes in his new book Evangelical Catholicism, a blueprint for our current moment. “It is Christ the Lord who, through the agency of his priests, forgives sins and restores communion with his Body, the Church. This constant conversion is an essential foundation for works of charity and service, even as those works themselves deepen the evangelical Catholic’s friendship with the Lord Jesus, who commands us to give a cup of water in his name and identifies himself with those whom his people serve.”
Or, as the Holy Father said in his Ash Wednesday homily, the last public Mass of his papacy: “May the invitation to conversion, to ‘return to God with all our heart,’ resonate strongly in us, accepting His grace that makes us new men and women, with the surprising news that is participating in the very life of Jesus.”

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