A Place for Welcome – The Front Door

Let’s kick off Ash Wednesday with a step outside. Since this is a short week to begin Lent, it seems appropriate that we begin at the beginning and the first things first. Every home has a main entrance through which you enter your home. Some homes function with two entrances. There’s one for the family coming home from grocery shopping and day to day activities. Then there’s the official “front door” where you greet guests, pick up packages and decorate with holiday wreaths. Depending on your home set up, consider this reflection for the main or “official” front door of your home.

We want our home to be an inviting space and first impressions matter. We all have driven through a neighborhood and unfairly judged the homes based on their curb appeal. “Did you see the color of that door? Oh my, there’s a couch on the porch. Why do you think they chose that statue? When have they last trimmed their bushes?”

I am not saying you need to go and higher a landscape firm to overhaul your flower beds or contract a painting company to redo your front door. There are a few simple things you can do this week to help your entrance be an inviting place.

  • Clean any windows on your doors or near the entrance, inside and out
  • Wash the door
  • Shake out door mats and launder if possible
  • Sweep steps
  • Depending on your weather and season, begin preparing flower beds.
  • Ensure proper holiday decor is up and presentable, if applicable

What about our spiritual entrance? How do we welcome Jesus into our spiritual homes? In order for Jesus to come into our lives, we have to invite Him. We need to participate in the life of the Church through prayer and the sacraments. Most importantly, we need to attend Mass to receive Jesus in the Word and in the Eucharist and we need to go to Confession. Each week at Mass, Jesus offers Himself to us in the Eucharist. In His generous love He found a way to remain with us here on earth even after His ascension. When we receive Jesus’ Body and Blood (I know, Covid), we ask Jesus to come transform us into His own Body. We change, if we unite ourselves with Him.

We know that we don’t always live up to our call to holiness. We fall, we falter, we turn away. We let this world get the best of us. We need healing and strength to continue on our journey. While we will talk more about the Sacrament of Confession at a later point during Lent, it doesn’t hurt to begin planning to go from Day 1. The Church asks that all Catholics go to Confession at least once a year, though we are encouraged to go more frequently. Receiving the Sacrament of Confession is like throwing open the doors of your spiritual home and welcoming Jesus to come inside.

These first few days of Lent, reflect on the following words from Pope Francis’ Lenten message from last year. How do they inspire you to pray, fast and give alms for this upcoming season?

Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.

Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A New Idea for Lent 2022

Lent is fast approaching even though it is starting so late this year! It has been quite a while since Ash Wednesday hasn’t been in February. For anyone else who is suddenly realizing that February is practically over, Ash Wednesday is on March 2, less than a week away.

The past few years I have written full length Lenten reflection journals. The Lenten journals primarily focus on praying with the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. This year, in full transparency, I was stuck. I didn’t know what to write, I didn’t feel inspired and I was struggling with what God was asking me to say, or not say. Around and around I went until Ben pulled me aside and asked what on earth was the matter with me. It took a while to find the words to express my frustration and desires. It was so good to talk to him about the problem and together, I think we found a good solution.

There is no journal this year. I am sorry for anyone who was looking forward to a new journal. The old ones are still available, still free and, hopefully, still relevant to your Lenten journey if you wish to use them. There is a new page at the top of the home page where all the Lenten journals can be found just like the Advent ones.

This isn’t to say that there won’t be some new and exciting Lenten content coming your way. While a whole new journal was overwhelming, a dedicated weekly newsletter felt much more doable and as Ben and I talked, a theme settled in my heart and I found so much peace. This is where God wanted me to focus this year.

Starting on Ash Wednesday, and then each Sunday of Lent following, there will be a post here asking you to consider one room or space in your home. How is it functioning? What purpose does it serve? What spring cleaning needs to happen here to make it a flourishing space that works in your family? Next, we will translate that physical space into a spiritual one. I help you to consider your spiritual “home” – the make up of your soul and its relationship with God. How does this aspect of your “spiritual home” work? What spring cleaning is needed? How can you spend some intentional time in this space of your spiritual life as we journey through Lent?

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to sign up to receive an email each time I post new content. This way, you won’t miss any of these Lenten updates!

As many of you know, Ben is in the Air Force. We are thankful that he is presently home with us as the world continues to respond to the actions of Russia in Ukraine. As the situation continues to unfold, I would be grateful for your prayers for our military members and their families. Pray for their leaders, and their leaders leaders. Let us join Pope Francis’ prayer for peace:

“And now, I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical evil of violence is answered with the weapons of God, with prayer and fasting,”

“I invite everyone to make next March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace. I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”

Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 23, 2022
Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com