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January 12, 2007



I highly recommend the Divine Mercy Chaplet!


The traditional Catholic fast and abstinence rules during Lent specified fasting every day except Sundays. I think that adhering to this practice, though not required, is a great way to perform penance in Lent. If you want to start more slowly, you can fast on Wednesdays and Fridays at first.


Thanks for this wonderful response. I found your quote of canon 1249 to be very useful. Doing positive things to serve others better is so refreshing after the deny, deny, deny rut I often find myself in. Also, I often find that simply resisting and denying bad habits can entrench them further. The will seems to dig in in resistance. A positive attack helps to distract the malformed will from its bad habits. Lots of food (pun intended) for thought for Lent! Thanks!


I've heard of a number of things you can do with the rosary during lent. Some do Sorrowful for all of lent (Which some would exclude Sundays, as those are not really totally apart of Lent) and some will do the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays as normal, but then also on Sunday. Personally I don't like to do the Sorrowful on Sundays, but it's no sin to pray the 'wrong' mysteries on the 'wrong' day. The point is that you are praying the rosary. Any mysteries will do. Tradition has given us the general guidelines as to when to do the mysteries on certain days which helps us to meditate on different ones frequently.

A. Williams

Penance, I think, should be done to most benefit the soul...not just for the sake of denying ones self.
So, considering the fact that you are a relatively new Catholic Christian, you would probably do yourself a great deal of good by beginning to read some lives and writings of the Catholic Saints.

Really, there are so many of these that it takes a new Catholic at least a few years to get through the most well known and famous of these biographies. But spiritual reading as penance is probably a good way to get into the habit.

Why the Saints?..and not the countless other spiritual books available, these days?

Because the Saints were canonized by the Church for this very purpose! That is... to inspire and encourage us by their examples and teachings, in which they often suffered incredible spiritual or corporal sufferings, but were still able to rise above such trials and maintain extraordinary levels of devotion and spiritual joy.

Of the Saints, the great St. Francis of Assisi said, "The Saints are burning coals, enkindled through and through with the fires of Divine Love!"

And St. Philip Neri once said "..Whether for prayer or for study, always choose those authors whose names begin with 'S'" ..that is, the lives and writings of the Saints!

For someone who is prone to any sort of depression, or scrupulosity also, it is probably best to first choose amongst the lives of the'joyful' Saints. These are saints that are known to have been particularly joyful in their works, teachings and general lifestyles. One such Saint is St. John Bosco. His life is pretty much "a must" for all devout Catholics. Also, the Life of St. Philip Neri, put out by TAN books, is a highly uplifting and spiritually captivating book. He is well known for his joyful heart! St. Bonaventures "Life of St. Francis", or "The Little Flowers of St. Francis" are, I think, both "must reads". (And who won't find joy in reading stories of St. Francis??)

And also, the "Story of a Soul" by St. Theresa of Liseaux is pretty much a "must read"-at some time or other in ones life.

Another great one, from the joyful saints, is "The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret", also put out by TAN books. This life is incredibly up-beat, and filled with wisdom and wonders from a Saint of the America's'(as he was the Archbishop of Cuba for 6 years). He was also an incredible prophet and wonder worker...and describes many of these things with his own pen! One converted Lutheran woman, that I helped in the faith, found this autobiography to be the best of them all, and she read dozens of such Saints lives!

So, for everyone, reading the lives of Saints can be a great and extremely profitable penance. And for charity...try giving a life of a Saint to a friend or family member!

"No greater charity can you do than to give to others devout Catholic literature" --S. Anthony Mary Claret


I have to admit that I mis-read the word "luminous" in the original post. I thought at first that Jimmy was suggesting praying the "humorous" mysteries (maybe something involving Balaam's talking donkey or the young man who ran away naked from Jesus' arrest...).

But that's probably not the best idea.


a little warning about TAN books for those who are new to the faith: you'll never be able to read them more than once because the pages start falling out by the time you've finished with chapter 1. Whatever TAN books I haven't given up completely on are held together with rubber bands. They've taken the famous Chesterton quote "whatever is worth doing is worth doing badly" to heart. Apparently whatever is worth doing is worth doing REALLY badly!


The suggestion of adopting the "old" rules of Lenten fast and abstinance is excellent. This could be coupled with more frequent attendance at Mass, participation in Stations of the Cross, or doing some positive good, such as helping in a "soup kitchen". Giving up pet alligator wrestling for Lent would be optional.


I haven't had this experience, and have purchased many Lives of Saints and over 1000 copies of "The Secret of the Rosary" by St. Louis de Monfort, from TAN.

I think we should thank God that they re-publish so many great Catholic works, and sell at very reasonable prices. Where else can we find, in english, Lives of S.Anthony Claret? St.Rose of Lima? St. Martin de Porres? St. Joseph Caffasso? St. Philip Neri? St. Francis de Paola?..to name only a few??

Even if these were written on paper towels (and no other editions available).....they would still be worth reading! So, in this sense, I value the messege so much, that I can easily tolerate the deficiencies of any messenger. I'd much prefer to have highly inspirational words, and rare, re- published Saints lives, from decades ago, published on cheap paper...than not to have them at all.


I think we should thank God that they re-publish so many great Catholic works

You think????

Consider the fact that many of the great apologetic works of Sir/Saint Thomas More have been out-of-print, out-of-mind of the general Catholic populace for so long a period of time!

This is the guy who went toe-to-toe against Luther and put forth many compelling arguments against him and demonstrated a remarkable knowledge of the Scriptures as well as superb reasoning and logic in his works to confront the heresies of the time.

In fact, many of the issues he addressed in his works (praying to saints, statues and images, relics, pilgrimages, predestination as well as the typical Faith & Works, Tradition & Scripture issues, which, of course, formed the core of the reformation movement), although so long ago, still apply today in our modern times.

Moreover, many successful apologists have actually utilized, perhaps unknowingly, some of his arguments in their own debates with Protestants.


Please! Can't I enjoy Ordinary Time for at least a little while before jumping into Lent? I mean really, there has been less than 4 full days of OT and we are already tossing about lent. Enjoy the moment people :)

Joy Schoenberger

I've never heard of doing the Sorrowful Mysteries throughout Lent. Here's the traditional schedule:
The Joyful Mysteries, on Mondays and Thursdays, and Sundays from Advent to Lent.
The Sorrowful Mysteries, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Sundays in Lent until Palm Sunday.
The Glorious, on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Easter to Advent.

With the new Luminous Mysteries there are no special changes in Lent:
The Joyful Mysteries are recited on Mondays and Saturdays.
The Luminous are recited on Thursdays.
The Sorrowful Mysteries, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The Glorious Mysteries, on Wednesdays and Sundays.


My understanding of the "schedule" for the Mysteries of the Rosary is the same as set forth in the previous comment.

With all due respect, RULE 1 VIOLATION.


Since the rosary is a private devotion, we are not bound by the particular day stereotypes or only sorrowful in lent (never heard of that one). I typically say 5 decades a day and rotate around. I do like it when the sorrowful end up on Friday and the Glorious on Sunday. I sometimes repeat a set so that these land on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Y'all R Talkin' Bout Me


"The Catholic Book of Prayers" (Catholic Book Publishing Co., New Jersey) specificies Sorrowful Mysteries from Ash Wednesday until Easter.

Clarify the "boyfriend issue" question, please.


Another good, appropriate, meaningful and not very burdensome devotion to add for Lent is to meditate on the Seven Sorrows of Mary as given to St Bridget. One Hail Mary each as you think about 1) the prophecy of Simeon, 2) the flight to Egypt, 3) losing the child Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem, 4) Mary meeting Jesus as he carried the cross, 5) the crucifixion, 6) Mary holding her dead son in her arms after he was removed from the cross, and 7) the burial of Jesus and Mar's tears and loneliness. (I think I got all those right - someone please correct me if I goofed).

Dr. Eric

How about reading and praying all the Psalms per week? That is an ancient tradition that is still around. What about reading all of the Gospels, one per week and repeating so that during the Octave of Easter you can read the Gospel of John?

Just a few thoughts.


How about reading and praying all the Psalms per week? That is an ancient tradition that is still around.

Actually, this prayer of the Psalms in the ancient manner was, if I recall correctly, the whole purpose behind the saying of the Divine Office.

I often take advantage of the following website that features the Divine Office.



sgree with the Divine Mercy Chaplet



sgree with the Divine Mercy Chaplet


a href=TheWorld...IMHO">http://theworldimho.blogspot.com">TheWorld...IMHO


These voluntary penances are meant to encourage us gently to grow in holiness, and if you find yourself being unduly burdened by them, it is a sign that you need to let up on yourself or switch to something else.

As had been said in one of St. Thomas More's books:

"Leave therefore, leave, I beseech you, these inventions of men, your foolish Lenten fasts and your childish penance! Diminish never Christ's thanks nor look to save yourselves! It is Christ's death, I tell you, that must save us all--Christ's death, I tell you yet again, and not our own deeds. Leave your own fasting, therefore, and lean to Christ alone, good Christian people, for Christ's dear bitter passion!"

Which came the retort (an extract of it, at least):

"...that fasting serveth but for temperance to tame the flesh and keep it from wantonness, I would in good faith have thought that Moses had not been so wild that for the taming of his flesh he should have need to fast whole forty days together. No, not Hely neither. Nor yet our Saviour himself, who began the Lenten forty-days fast--and the apostles followed, and all Christendom hath kept it--that these folk call now so foolish.

King Achab was not disposed to be wanton in his flesh, when he fasted and went clothed in sackcloth and all besprent with ashes. No more was the king in Nineveh and all the city, but they wailed and did painful penance for their sin to procure God to pity them and withdraw his indignation. Anna, who in her widowhood abode so many years with fasting and praying in the temple till the birth of Christ, was not, I suppose, in her old age so sore disposed to the wantonness of the flesh that she fasted for all that.

Nor St. Paul, who fasted so much, fasted not all for that, neither.

The scripture is full of places that prove fasting to be not the invention of man but the institution of God, and to have many more profits than one.

And that the fasting of one man may do good unto another, our Saviour showeth himself where he saith that some kind of devils cannot be cast out of one man by another "without prayer and fasting."

And therefore I marvel that they take this way against fasting and other bodily penance.

And yet much more I marvel that they mislike the sorrow and heaviness and displeasure of mind that a man should take in thinking of his sin.

The prophet saith, "Tear your hearts and not your clothes." And the prophet David saith, "A contrite heart and an humbled"--that is to say, a heart broken, torn, and laid low under foot with tribulation of heaviness for his sins- "shalt thou not, good Lord, despise." He saith also of his own contrition, "I have laboured in my wailing; I shall every night wash my bed with my tears, my couch will I water."

But why should I need in this matter to lay forth one place or twain?

The scripture is full of those places, by which it plainly appeareth that God looketh of duty, not only that we should amend and be better in the time to come, but also that we should be sorry and weep and bewail our sins committed before.

And all the old holy doctors be full and whole of that opinion, that men must have for their sins contrition and sorrow in heart.


Eileen R

With all due respect, I think the questioner should clarify the "boyfriend" issue. I do not mean to jump to conclusions, but given her prior history, I think it is an appropriate question to ask.

No. It isn't. I expect you think you're being helfpul, but it's an incredibly rude question to ask. If someone mentions a boyfriend completely tangentially to a question, it's appalling to bring up suspicions that they might not be on the up and up, just because they're a single mother. This person asked Jimmy a question about depression and penance. They don't deserve a grilling on their romantic situation.


I sgree with the Divine Mercy Chaplet




I apologize for the multiple comments...my bad

Gene Branaman

Y'all R Talkin' Bout Me -

God bless you! (I take it you're the reader who e-mailed Jimmy.) Please know that you'll be in my prayers this Lenten season.

It sure sounds as if your schedule is packed! So please allow me to suggest a couple of (cheap!) resources that I've found to be very helpful during Lent. I don't want to say anything that contradicts Jimmy's excellent post, per his #20 rule. If I do, I hope this post is deleted.

Last year I used a book by Fr Benedict Groeschel's lovely book of Lenten meditations called "The King, Crucified and Risen : Meditations on the Passion and Glory of Christ, Daily Readings From Ash Wednesday to Divine Mercy Sunday" & it was fabulous. The meditations are very short but are deep enough to give one much to ponder throughout the day. And Fr Groeschel's style, as always, is so gentle & humble that it helped make my Lent a truly wonderful experience! And it's only $9! Sucha deal! ;)

He also has a similar book for the Advent & Christmas seasons called "Behold He Comes" that is excellent, as well. My 87 year old Mom loved them!

Another idea is to get a book that contains brief readings on the lives of various saints. Bert Ghezzi has written one & I know there are others, too. For me, it can be so very encouraging to read about actual saints who had many of the same problems I have! There's a very recent one called Saints Behaving Badly by Thomas Craughwell that's been spoken of very highly recently in the Catholic blogs. That's the one I'm going to use this Lent. Currently $11 on Amazon for the hardcover. Not bad!

Again, God bless - & welcome home!


"I think we should thank God that they re-publish so many great Catholic works"

"You think????

Consider the fact that many of the great apologetic works of Sir/Saint Thomas More have been out-of-print, out-of-mind of the general Catholic populace for so long a period of time!"


I'm not a sales vendor for TAN Books in any way. But there have been many times that I have called and thanked them for having had the insight and charity to publish some great Catholic biographies that I thnk no other publishing house would print. I don't think you are arguing that just because they don't have a title on one particular Saint, St. Thomas More...that they don't do a tremendous service of publishing dozen's, if not hundreds, of others incredible Saints??

In praising TAN for 'bringing to light' these great biographies, I'm only giving credit where credit is due. More over, to practice what I preach, when I didn't find sufficient Catholic materials which I could affordably give to others, selections that I wanted, I bought some printing presses,paper cutters, folders, collater etc.. and made my own publications. I think I had at one time or another over 10 different presses...I lost count. So, instead of waiting for others to do the dirty work, I took part in it on my own initiative. And this is why I appreciate TAN and other Catholic publishers so much!...because they aren't waiting..but rather doing! And 'doing' an incalculably beneficial service for the Holy Church! (As I speak, I have about 10-12,000 short selections, that I published from the "Life of St. Francis",still not distributed, in my basement.)

And sorry, I too skipped St. Thomas More. However, I still think at least His "Utopia" is readily available in most libraries and book stores in the "philosophy" sections.

At http://www.apostles.com/utopia.html there are other sources. However, I would argue that he's a bit easier to find than St. Francis of Paola, St. Martin De Porres, St. Anthony Claret or St. Rose of Lima? At least in English.

Once the Lord gives success to my current 'secret project', I'll probably turn back to short publications, once again. God willing!

Y'all R Talkin' Bout Me


Thank you for your kind defense of me.

John, if were wondering if I was aware of the canonical requirements of annulment of a previous marriage and (*groan*) chastity until a new one is contracted, then the answer is yes.

Thanks to everyone who posted. Keep it up!


I'm not a sales vendor for TAN Books in any way. But there have been many times that I have called and thanked them for having had the insight and charity to publish some great Catholic biographies that I thnk no other publishing house would print. I don't think you are arguing that just because they don't have a title on one particular Saint, St. Thomas More...that they don't do a tremendous service of publishing dozen's, if not hundreds, of others incredible Saints??

Uhhhh... A. Williams,

You COMPLETELY read me wrong here.

I have many of the books they publish.

Suffice it to say, if you re-read my post, you would see it speaks to something else.

Tim J.

"I expect you think you're being helfpul, but it's an incredibly rude question to ask. If someone mentions a boyfriend completely tangentially to a question, it's appalling to bring up suspicions that they might not be on the up and up, just because they're a single mother."

I agree. She (the questioner) is not obliged at all - in any way - to explain or justify her personal life to us, at least not in relation to her question. If she were asking for advice on "dating for single moms". or something, yes.


By the way, UTOPIA was not the only thing Sir More wrote in his life, but, unfortunately, due to the rare availability of his other works (more specifically, his apologetic works) to the general public, it seems as if it were (aside from, of course, Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, which many have found to be a great read for those undergoing adversity in their lives).


For those who wish to sample more of More, I recommend "The King's Good Servant, But God's First: The Life and Writings of St. Thomas More", by James Monte. It quotes him voluminously.


Thanks, bill912!

That's More than I can take! ;^)


All these suggestions are great, imo. But if the questioner has little free time, as seems likely from her description of her life, I'd suggest possibly finding a little book of daily readings/meditations.

I've had some that have a very short quote from scripture or the writings of a saint, followed by a reflection and a short prayer. These sorts of books can be helpful if you want to do something daily but can't commit to the time required for more serious reading.


With all due respect, I think the questioner should clarify the "boyfriend" issue. I do not mean to jump to conclusions, but given her prior history, I think it is an appropriate question to ask.

No. It isn't. I expect you think you're being helfpul, but it's an incredibly rude question to ask. If someone mentions a boyfriend completely tangentially to a question, it's appalling to bring up suspicions that they might not be on the up and up, just because they're a single mother. This person asked Jimmy a question about depression and penance. They don't deserve a grilling on their romantic situation.

Eileen R. makes a good point here.

Also, about the part that perhaps it may be because she's a single mother; there are actually folks out there (e.g., atheists) who believe that Mary was a single mother and, cynically, they say that she made up this whole business about being the Mother of God to cover up her sin and get a Jewish man named Joseph to marry her.

Unfortunately, this is the horrible extent to which our present society has progressed as far as its realistic view on the Christian Faith goes.


Folks, do we really need to propose Lent-long fasting to a young mother? I think she probably needs all the calories she can get! :)

Personally, I go vegetarian a lot of the time. And not because I'm abstaining on purpose or don't like meat. :) However, I'm happy to announce that this year my blood sugar isn't doing anything weird, so I'll be able to follow the fasting regs without worry! And without eating more food than normal, either!

If anybody would like to spend cash on other things than spiritual reading, bear in mind that many public domain Catholic works are available for free on the Internet. Also, check your public library.

If you don't have time to do spiritual reading, come on over to marialectrix.wordpress.com and download mp3s of me reading things for you! It's free! There are also lots of other free downloads of Catholic talks out there (John Martignoni at the Bible Christian Society webpage, for example), as well as streamed ones (Scott Hahn, N.T. Wright the scripture scholar).

The wonderful thing about prayer is that it can be as complicated or as simple as you like. The same thing goes for doing good -- even small things mean a lot.


How 'bout fasting from the Internet? :-)




By telling us that she is a single mother, and that the child is only a few years old, and only recently baptized, and that she has a boyfriend with whom she discusses her "spartan lifestyle," she "opened the door" on this matter.


I knew you'd say that -- you're a lawyer, right???

While opened the door may have carry such meaning in court settings, I wouldn't necessarily think it would have any or, for that matter, serve any just purpose in that here we do not seek to prosecute or defend a person, but to help them in their regard.

David B.

"there are actually folks out there (e.g., atheists) who believe that Mary was a single mother "

Mary WAS a 'single' mother after Joseph died.


Mary WAS a 'single' mother after Joseph died.

As mentioned in my other previous comment, tragically enough, there are people that say that Mary was a single mother who actually had a child out of marriage and attempted to attract a suitor (Joseph) by manufacturing a story that formed the basis for Christianity.

This is what happens when man becomes so arrogant and tries to make every effort to become more realistic and aim for positivism in the world all the while ignoring the very God who was responsible for his creation in the first place.


John has the manners of a barbarian. I hope Jimmy will delete his posts.


And I hope the lady who asked Jimmy's counsel will ignore John.

David B.

I know what you mean, Esau. Just wanted to add my two cents.

David B.

Precisely, Bill. The worst thing he said was this:

"but given her prior history, I think it is an appropriate question to ask."

Her "prior history"? What does John know about this Woman's past?

David B.

"What does John know about this Woman's past?"

I got a little carried away with capitalization.

David B.

"she "opened the door" on this matter. Having gone that far, she owes to herself, and to her child, to go all the way and positively refute any idea of improper conduct, if she can."

John, one has to assume that a woman who asks for lenten penance suggestions isn't going around willy-nilly committing mortal sins. One shouldn't ask her to respond to supposed questions about her character.

BTW, I believe you were only unintentionally unkind to this woman.


I personally like doing "fasts" though I don't always fast from food (which I know is the real meaning of the word "fasting"). Now, don't go thinking I'm against prayers. Extra prayers are better still, and I try to do those too (I recommend the Angeles: profound yet short) but they take Time.

One of my favorite non food yet physical "fasts" is taking a cold (or at least not stingingly hot) shower. Another is putting a small pebble in my shoe for the day. One Lent in college when I was particularly vain, I fasted from eyeliner. Another Lent I fasted from doing my hair the way I liked (I wore a bun most days). One year I tried to fast from looking in the mirror (except in the morning when I did my hair and makeup).

But food fasts can be creative too. How about fasting from adding extra salt to things on my plate? Or fasting from condiments? Or fasting from putting sugar in my coffee?

Does anybody have any other creative ideas to share with us? I'm always looking for good ideas. Of course I will reiterate what has been made very clear already: this is all completely optional, and must be kept in perspective (not done for its own sake). But it can still be a good way to detach oneself from earthly things. Maybe I need that more than some.


Every Lent, I take a serious and honest look at my spiritual life, then I use that time to make adjustments, changes, and additions that will bring me closer to the Lord. For example, several years ago, during Lent, I decided to begin going to Confession frequently--every 2 to 4 weeks--and I have kept up this practice since then, it has become part of my life--with many spiritual graces, and blessings. The idea of Lent involves positive change, and a growth in Christian maturity--this I believe is what our ultimate aim should be for any Lenten practices undertaken. Do something that will impact and change the life of your soul for the better!


One last thought: It would be better to make a small change that really will impact your life in the long run, than take on an overwhelming amount of pious practices, devotions, fasting, etc, just for Lent, and then give it up afterwards! For example, instead of trying to say 5 decades of the Rosary every day--try to say ONE DECADE prayerfully, and thoughtfully every day during Lent--and then make this practice a part of your life every day even after Lent.


For Lent sometime I want to try saying less words. I have heard someone recommend saying a very brief silent prayer every time before speaking.

Mary Kay

John, get your mind out of the gutter. Either that or stop judging others by yourself. There, how do you like that?

Why you leap to the conclusion that two people who are dating are fornicating together is a reflection on you, not on the single mom.

Original poster, you've gotten lots of good suggestions here (not the least of which is to ignore John). The alternating days for the Rosary was a good one and I particularly like Morning and Evening Prayer of the Diving Office. (Title of Shorter Christian Prayer, can be found in Catholic bookstores.)

To add to Jimmy's suggestion of resisting depression, or rather to buttress it with scriptural references to a "sacrifice of praise." (can't remember specific verses at the moment) To praise God when you don't feel like it is a sacrifice, so your Lenten sacrifice could be as simple as that.


John - Your assumption that the only sin which people might be worried about/practicing penance for shows, to put it kindly, a somewhat limited imagination. Consider Dorothy Sayers anecdote of the young student who remarked "I did not know there were seven deadly sins - please tell me about the other six!"


During Lent I've always been fond of each morning walking on my knees around the church 7 times, to remind me of the capital sins, as I lash my bare back with a leather strap while shouting "mea culpa! mea culpa! mea maxima culpa!" :)

Actually, I usually try to perform some fast, usually an abstention from food or drink, in addition to the obligatory fast, as well as rededicate myself to my prayer life.


I recall someone advising that your penances should affect you, but not turn into penance for other people e.g. via your bad mood at coffee denial time. I think this is pretty sound.

j h dunphy

Do you want to know what real serl-mortification would be for a liberal Catholic during Lent? Yes, attend a Roman Catholic Mass of tradition without grimacing or murmuring, now about to be renewed everywhere by the great Pope who now sits upon the throne of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI.

Remember the good ol' days of pre-Vatican II Catholocism when priests were priests and bishops were bishops and we had no scandals for public consumption? What happened? The bad fruits of Vatican II, especially the sacrifice of the Mass gone askew with modernists who invented their own mass--the "Novus Ordo Missae," Then all pandemonium broke loose in the Church as well as society.

There is nothing more beautiful than the Roman Catholic Mass, properly observed and prayed as a 'propitiatory' and 'impetratory' sacrifice, overflowing with efficacious graces from Almighty God. Too many today ignore Our Dear Lord's teachings on proper deportment, both intellectually and spiritually, as He explained in one of His most poignant parables. See much more!
jhughesdunphy | Homepage | 01.13.07 - 1:50 am | #


I always pick a good Catholic book to read during Lent and also I read one of the Gospels slowly and thoughtfully. I Like your correspondent, I don't watch TV, I seldom go to the movies and I don't eat out, so there isn't much to give up. I add extra prayers and readings.

A. Williams

Really, being fairly new to this site, I was very surprised and even shocked at the low level of common courtesy shown for Y'all R Talkin' bout Me by John.

Be they Catholic or pagan, saints or sinners, it doesn't matter, there are some levels of respectability and courtesy that are demanded of all of us who claim to be civilized. His post was even terrible!... and I'll leave it at that. So, if there is any scandal-- it is with John, who is rightly termed 'barbaric' for his lack of sensitivity, and fraternal charity!

Even Jesus shows us, in pardoning the Adulteress, and by being so courteous and kind to her, both how we are to respect all persons, whether they be sinners or saints, and how we are not to judge or snoop into others' private affairs in a RASH manner.

What else is the meaning of this Gospel passage??

Did the Lord ask any ridiculous questions regarding the details of this womans actions or past?

So this is nothing but a reaffirmation of the necessity for sensible, civilized and charitable behavior...if we are to presume to be called friends, imitators and disciples of Christ.

Bravo! to Eileen, Tim, Esau, Bill912, David B and MaryK, on speaking out on this! It reaffirms my respect for the apparently devout Catholic bloggers and commentors posting on this site! All the logic, spiritual knoweledge and deductive reasoning in the world, cannot help or benefit a soul if there is not a foundation of simplicity of spirit and true fraternal charity.

"Unless you become even as little children, you shall not enter my Fathers Kingdom."


In the above post.."Even terrible"...should just be......"terrible."


A few years ago during Lent I gave up listening to secular music. Instead, I only listened to Christian music. It surprised me how much of a struggle it was but it really increased my Christian music library!

David B.

A. Williams,

Now let's all sing 'Non Nobis' together! :)

William Sr.

A good penance would be for Bill912 to not be on the internet.

Some Day

I once thought that if people are always worried about vain physique, then agere contra,
eat the stuff that makes you fat, carry yourself with Catholic dignity, but stop being vain.
Work less hours if you can, to help shed materialism.
In essence Agere Contra is the best way to do pennance.


I certainly know how to start a discussion, don't I?

I am a lawyer, and a few times, I have taught the "legal aspects of marriage" section at Pre-Cana classes at my local church. After one of the classes, the instructor, who is a deacon, pointed out to me that 50% of those in the class and intending to be married already had joint checking accounts and the same address.

The reason he knew: that is how they paid for the pre-Cana class.

I know, I know, there might be a perfectly innocent explanation, but I am not that naive. Some might think I am uncharitable, but I think there are people who close their eyes to obvious facts staring them in the face.

That is part of the reason we have the pedophile priest scandal.

Too few people had the courage, or perhaps even the good sense, to ask "Why is Father Bob taking a 12-year boy out, alone, for an ice cream cone, anyway?" In many cases, these boys were not orphans, and had two happily married Catholic parents quite financially able to provide ice cream cones and other treats.

Nearly everyone, acting out of misplaced charity and blind, unquestioning obedience to authority, refused to believe that there could be any possibility of wrongdoing.

Now, millions of dollars in judgments and settlements later, not to mention the loss of prestige, credibility, and reputation, the church is dealing with the consequences, and we are learning otherwise.

Using traditionalist terminology, the concept is "avoiding the near occasions of sin." We are also to avoid what others might reasonably construe to be an occasion of sin.

By the way: among those of you who condemn my lack of charity, how many of you have children who are living together without marriage?

How many of you are doing it yourself?


Jimmy, you have another Rule 1 violation from the barbarian to delete.

Tim J.

John -

The woman came to Jimmy - not you - for advice on what would be a reasonable and fruitful Lenten fast.

She did not ask you for advice on anything, most especially her private life, nor is there anything in her question to give undue suspicion to any decent person.

Now you are speculating just as foolishly about the private lives of any commenter who dares to call you on the carpet for your nosey behavior.

For the record, I will be married 25 years in February - to my first and only wife, not that it is any of your business. My kids are still at home, where we teach them to keep their noses out of the private lives of others unless they are asked to give an opinion.

It's called manners.


Sometimes, instead of giving up stuff for Lent, I take up stuff I don't like.

For example, deliberately ordering green beans rather than corn.


Rattle-- you may be referring to St. Josemaria's admonition to "Choose mortifications that don't mortify others." It always springs to mind when I contemplate giving up Diet Coke for Lent. It would be such a sacrifice but it would also be wildly unfair to my family. :-)

And Joe-- your idea is a really good one. Struggling to go against the grain in small things can be so helpful. A lot of times, for me it's just to take an extra spoonful of veggies when I'm really not inclined to.

David B.


I'm 20, single, and chaste (not that I'm bragging). No thanks for the question.

David B.

John's questioning of the virtue of the people who admonished him is not only a violation of #1 of DA RULZ, but also, IMO, a violation of the first Commandment. All of us should recieve a swift apology from John.


Sorry if I have offended anyone.

Before I disconnect from the site (or am involuntarily disconnected), though, I wish someone would explain how calling me a "barbarian" or accusing me of violating the First Commandment demonstrates the Christian charity and fraternalism that you purport to profess, or even adds anything constructive to the discussion.

As for the First Commandment, which "false god" have I worshipped?

As Tim J. points out, the person did come to Jimmy for advice, not me. Okay, but if that ends the inquiry, why does Jimmy solicit comments?

Are we only permitted to agree with him?


Pope Benedict XVI had a book of daily Lenten meditations last year, based on the liturgical readings. I don't know whether there'll be a version for this year (the readings would be different this year, right?) But even so, it's certainly not a bad thing to meditate on a different year's readings.



I'll try to explain it.

And I won't be using philosophy, deductive reasoning or apologetic strategies...because I'm not much of an apologist or theological logician. I can only use my own faith, Catholic experience and insight, to answer your question...Oh, and yes, even my own fraternal love and Christian charity towards you!

Really, besides your inappropriate snooping and inquisition into the intricate details of this catecumen's private life, and furthermore, trying to get others to follow suit, I really have nothing against you.

It was only the highly rude act which was 'barbaric', and not necessarily you, or your whole person, and so, to make known your error, or indiscretion, by no means condemns you, but rather, tries to help you to even understand fraternal Christian love--which also includes fraternal correction-- better.

Also, by correcting you, other's, like myself, are trying to defend true Christian principles, not to mention the rights and integrity of this new Catholic convert, who, just because she told the viewers here a little about her personal life, and quite innocently at that, did not, as others have mentioned before, ask for a disection or inquiry into her moral character. If whe wanted this she could easily find a wise confessor bound by the privacy and secrecy of the confessional.

And isn't this what the sacrament of reconciliation and 'private' confession rooms are really for?--to reduce the potential for public condemnation, scandal and improper snooping into other's personal sins and affairs?

So, to correct you benefits you greatly! And you should be--with the virtue of holy humility--truly thankful for it!

Now, to convince you that this type of speculation or unjust inquiry, truly is wrong, and is not how Jesus taught us to act, live, or teach others--just remember these stories from the Holy Gospels:

Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman.

How charitable was He with this woman in all of this story! And He KNEW that she was currently living in an adulterous situation. Did He call all the disciples to categorize all of her improprieties and sins at the well? What type of language does He use in talking with her? What is her response? Really, she is over joyed by His encounter and runs to tell everyone how great this prophet is! She can sense that He, unlike many others, came not to condemn and persecute..but to Heal, Love and Save!

Then, as mentioned before, we have a similar circumstance with the story of the Adulterous Woman.

Now, these Pharisees in the story did exactly what you were trying to do with your post: Draw a large group of people, (ie.. us readers), to focus on a (proposed)sin of another, for judgement, of one kind or another. However, even though these Pharisees caught the woman in an actual ACT...Jesus STILL doesn't condemn her!! How much worse is wild speculation without one 'iota'or sliver of evidence of wrong doing.

No, Jesus is not like this! In these two stories He teaches us to pay attention to our own sins, or the 'beams' in our own eyes, before trying to remove the percieved 'motes' in the eyes of others.

So, brother, I hope you will study the Life and teachings of Jesus carefully, and examine His mannerisms, patience and wonderful techniques used, to bring poor souls (US!) to His Father. Then imitate Him.

If you think I'm condemning you...I'm not. Like Jesus, I'm appealing to you. Love others like the Lord loved them and you will find abundant life and happiness, both in this life and the next.

And isn't this what we Catholics are called to do? Did Jesus say, "..you will know them by their logical discourses and argumentation??"

No! He said: "You will know them by how they LOVE ONE ANOTHER!"


Given the depression that you face, I would consider doing something to resist the depression

As someone who has known depression all too well, let me suggest something else. Given the depression she or anyone else faces, I would consider doing something for Lent to embrace the depression, not resist it. Embrace it, like Christ embraces the Cross. Like Simon, carry the Cross with and for Christ and participate in His Passion. Embrace the depression and convert the suffering from something pointless into something constructive. And, just as by dying Christ destroyed death, so too, by His grace, by embracing this particular personal cross, the scourge of depression can be destroyed too.

Now, it won't be easy. The Cross is not light and depression is a powerful demon, but it cannot be defeated by avoiding it.

Tim J.

John -

You may be unfamiliar with Jimmy's rules,and so did not know that when he posts a "20" at the bottom of a post (as in this case) he is invoking Rule 20 (see DA RULZ at left) and that, yes, this means that when someone writes and asks his advice on a personal situation, we are not to contradict his advice in the combox.

I'm sure this also means that neither are we allowed to pry into the details of the questioner's personal life or question his/her motivations.

If people can't feel safe in approaching Jimmy to seek information and advice through his blog WITHOUT being confused by conflicting responses or personally attacked, they will simply not ask.

They could still ask Jimmy privately, but Jimmy posts these questions in the first place as a way for readers to benefit from from the experience of others.

Jimmy does plenty of posts that DO allow for vigorous argumentation, but posts where he is being asked to give personal advice are not meant for this.

Don't leave JA.O on account of that.

David B.


The first commandment commands us to love God above all thing, AND TO LOVE OUR NEiGHBOR AS OURSELF FOR LOVE OF GOD!

David B.


How would you react to some ass suggesting you were guilty of sexual sin? That's exactly what you said to us. Apparently you have the right to make baseless accusations about our committing grave sin , but HEAVEN FORBID that we should take offense and reprimand you, who sit at the right hand of the Father!

David B.

Actually, what I stated as the first commandment is really the definition of Charity. John's rude insinuation is therefore in violation of christian charity.


For Lent, I try to do something particularly kind for someone or act with a little more patience/understanding when one of my loved ones does his favourite annoying habit. Also, you might include your daughter in reading the lives of the saints or Bible stories for children, if you don't have a daily practice already.

My Cat's Name Is Lily

"Sometimes, instead of giving up stuff for Lent, I take up stuff I don't like.
For example, deliberately ordering green beans rather than corn."

My beloved grandmother was diabetic. She always did just this, in regard to fasting. She said that it was really more difficult than giving up eating a meal, because she had strong food preferences.
Hence, my pleasure in seeing another person recommend this...
God bless.

Dr. Eric

Since people are making suggestions that have little to do with the original question I thought I would throw something out here.

In the East it is highly suggested that everyone follow what is termed the Monastic Fast.

No land vertebrate meat throughout Lent. No oil, no wine, no dairy, no eggs either. The only allowed "meat" is shellfish and other non backboned creatures like grasshoppers, sea urchins, octopuses, and squid, etc... *ugh* Also no sexual relations until after Easter. Further there is only one meal taken on Holy Thursday and none again until Easter Sunday at the latest, but usually a very plain small totally meatless meal is taken on Holy Saturday like bread and dried fruit.

Not only that, but every Wednesday and Friday the above rules are expected to be followed. No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no sex.

Oh yeah, no food after supper, water after midnight or sex the night before attending Divine Liturgy or other service too!

So when you think that Roman Catholics have it bad, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are expected to do more!!!


To all

The "John" posting above is not the "John" Esau and others have come to "love"

Someone is using my name in an effort to espouse their own feelings and trying to get me into a fray with Esau and bill


Someone is using my name in an effort to espouse their own feelings and trying to get me into a fray with Esau and bill

JOHN (jtnova):

As I've said time and time again, do you really think you are the ONLY JOHN in the whole wide world???

It is one of the MOST COMMON names out there, for goodness sake!

The person using the name JOHN above may perhaps be using this handle since it may very well be his name to begin with!

(In fact, he's used it countless times in other threads, as I've seen in the past.)


JOHN (Jtnova):

Now have you come to realize why many of us had referred to you in the past using your email address, since this was one of the ways we could distinguish you from the other JOHNs already floating around out there?


Dr Eric:

About your bit:
In the East it is highly suggested that everyone follow what is termed the Monastic Fast.

Many things had been highly suggested for Latin Rite Catholics as well in terms of Lenten practices and a certain of these had been seen as very, very severe, too.

But, as St. Thomas More had put it so well within the context of the following story, in my reading of them, anyway; the very holy purpose of these Lenten practices have become lost on some and there are those who have come to treat such things in the most procedural and worldly manner (however, I must admit, the overall context of the story had well to do with the fact that it's better to have an overscrupulous conscience than to have none at all as in the case of the following character here):

[abrdiged extract]

"Forsooth, Father Reynard," quoth he, "I must needs tell you the truth--I come, you know, for that. I dared not come sooner for fear lest you would, for my gluttony, have given me in penance to fast some part of this Lent."

"Nay, nay," quoth Father Fox, "I am not so unreasonable, for I fast none of it myself. For I may say to thee, son, between us twain here in confession, it is no commandment of God, this fasting, but an invention of man.

The priests make folk fast, and then put them to trouble about the moonshine in the water, and do but make folk fools.

But they shall make me no such fool, I warrant thee, son, for I ate flesh all this Lent, myself.

Howbeit indeed, because I will not be occasion of slander, I ate it secretly in my chamber, out of sight of all such foolish brethren as for their weak scrupulous conscience would wax offended by it.

And so would I counsel you to do."

"Forsooth, Father Fox," quoth the wolf, "and so, thank God, I do, as near as I can. For when I go to my meal, I take no other company with me but such sure brethren as are of mine own nature, whose consciences are not weak, I warrant you, but their stomachs are as strong as mine."

Mary Kay

John just leaves himself wide open, doesn't he?

Why does Carly Simon's song "You're so vain" keep popping into my head?

Dr. Eric

Upon reading further, it seems that one is not excused from following the Eastern Fasts without express permission from his Spiritual Father. (This is an Eastern Discipline, not a Roman one.)

Not only that but Great Lent lasts 50 days!

There are 3 other Fasts as well. Phillip's Fast: the 40 days before Christmas.

The Apostles's Fast: 14 days before the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

And the Dormition Fast: 14 days before the Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos.

These are expected to follow the same rules as above.


Dr. Eric; as a teenager I would have been fainting right and left. My own girls too, are very likely to feel faint if they don't drink enough water or go too long without protein. I thank God the Church has relaxed some of these rules for those of us with weaker physiques.

Some Day

This John guy seems very "correct" but not very saintly. But there is one thing that catches my attention, which is annoying said from a commenter like John, and that is that most "boyfriend-girlfriend" relationships either are sinful or constitute an occasion of sin, ergo a sin.
But this case seems like older people and not idiots teens around my age. So there is hope that this a genuine relationship that hopes to constitute a Catholic familiy.
But as much as John is antagonist in this show,
he is certainly right about the living together and then get married situations.
And these are the ones who go to church on Sundays and actually want to get married in the Church. That raises another problem, which is if these people enter marriage with this mentality, most people's marriages are probably null and void, which contributes to the overwhelming amounts of nullifications.
Only God can fix this mess, and it has to be soon.

Some Day

thank God the Church has relaxed some of these rules for those of us with weaker physiques.
It shows we are a weaker generation, and this lady is at least 5 years older than me.
It also show that the Church is Mother.


Hey, just how old are you making me, Some Day?

Some Day

If you are five years older than me, 22. But you said girls and not girl, so I'll give you 22 and a half.


My girls are 15 and 13, making me at least 29; You probably wouldn't think I was 22 if you saw my natural hair color :)


Monica and Some Day:

Attny John is right !!! -- about the adulterous actions of some people -- since you, yourselves, are clearly flirting in your exchanges with one another in this thread and attempting something of a very adulterous nature as evidenced by your actions here! Hmph!

(For those who didn't catch it, I'm only joking here.)

Love your Brother,
Esau the Barbarian

Some Day

One thing is courtesy another is flirting.
I'm 17 and this lady is x years old.
That is not even joke material.
Dumb joke.


That is not even joke material.

Now do you understand why Attny John's comments were wrong as well???


In short, the details in Attny John's comments may not have been a matter for joke, but, certainly, they were as unacceptable as you found mine to be.

Dr. Eric

I stress that any fasting or mortification needs to be under the supervision of one's Spiritual Director.

If you don't have one, get one!


It is a very dangerous thing to be one's own Spiritual Director!

Tim J.

Well, Dr. Eric, that's a good suggestion, but it can be trickier than one might think.

How do you go about finding a spiritual director?

There is some very good advice on Catholic TV and radio, but help on a personal level is hard to come by.

I would love to see a post addressing the issue, because I don't have a clue.

You can't exactly "interview" candidates like you are hiring a housekeeper... how do you find that mature, Godly, orthodox, wise and perceptive counselor?


I was wondering if I were the only one who had that question, Tim.


I third Tim's question. How does one find a Spiritual Director?

There's actually a fairly new Catholic organization in my diocese that claims to have the goal of providing Spiritual Directors to people. They have one listed, now, and, I'm afraid the little blurb on the person as a "trained Jungian" doesn't do a thing to tell me what kind of *Spiritual* direction I'd get. I suppose I'm to extrapolate from the fact that the person is also in orders that there would be something spiritual in our interactions. Do I believe it?????

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