3 Odd Reasons I Receive Communion on the Tongue

I grew up, like most Catholics of my generation, receiving communion in the hand like there was no other option. It wasn’t until college that I began to see people receiving on the tongue. To be quite honest, it didn’t immediately strike me one way or the other. I’d seen it in movies and figured the people with their tongues out at dorm Mass were traddy types who were welcome to their own pious observances. I’ve never been one to be more drawn to something simply because it’s traditional, though the testimony of centuries of Christians does often call me to examine a practice more closely. But something about this was nagging at me. I felt as though receiving on the tongue was something I should try. And I did NOT want to.

That got my attention really quickly. Why didn’t I want to? Was it just the awkwardness of sticking my tongue out at a priest? The fear of licking someone’s finger? Nothing I could think of was a reason not to try receiving the way so many Saints had, the way I was feeling led to. So I tried it and I never went back. It’s not because I have unconsecrated hands or because I’m worried about sacred crumbs. It’s not because receiving on the tongue is the norm and receiving in the hand is a concession, though that’s compelling too.1 It’s actually a little odd–but so is eating the flesh of God.

1. I need more awkward helplessness in my life. Until I started hoboing (or maybe just until I gave away my car and had to depend on others for rides for 3 years) I was about the most self-sufficient person you could find. I was intelligent and independent and privileged and my life was totally under control.

The trouble with that is that my life wasn’t under my control at all. Nobody’s is. I lived with the illusion of control and it made me into my own God. When he asked me to receive on the tongue, he was asking me to be helpless before him, to be a passive recipient instead of the master of my own destiny. The reluctance to receive on the tongue was largely a fear of presenting myself helpless before another person, helpless before my God. Every time I receive with my hands folded in prayer, there’s a slight feeling of weakness and surrender. It reminds me that in eating the flesh and blood of Christ I’m surrendering myself to death for him who gave himself for me. It’s yet another way that I try to let him be Lord of my life. For me, receiving in the hands just doesn’t have that symbolism.

Sheen love story2. I’m kissing my bridegroom. This is really what pulled me to change my approach to communion in the first place. I’d been praying about how Jesus was the bridegroom and I was his bride, meditating on the fact that I walk down to the aisle to receive my bridegroom in the most intimate way possible. Communion felt like an embrace to me and receiving in the hand was too sterile. I needed the intimacy of the kiss to remind me just what was happening. I’m not saying that receiving in the hand is a handshake in comparison to the kiss of receiving on the tongue, but it began to feel that way to me. At the risk of sharing too much, I needed to approach my lover with my eyes closed and my lips parted. The Eucharist is that intimate whether I notice it or not but I prefer to notice it.

3.The tongue is extremely sensitive. In ten years of receiving in the hand, I don’t think I once had a meditation prompted by the way the priest handed me the host. He put it in my hands, I walked away. Simple enough. But if you receive on the tongue, you know there are a thousand ways it can feel different and the Holy Spirit speaks to me through that.

In the first few months after I switched over, it always felt as though Jesus was being pressed firmly onto my tongue. Then one day I was at Mass struggling with how hard everything in my life seemed to be. When I went to communion, the host was placed so gently on my tongue that it was like the softest kiss, my Jesus telling me that life wasn’t all hard if I was so sweetly loved by Love. Another time the EM barely touched my tongue and I had to grab at Jesus with my teeth and pull him into my mouth lest he drop. He reminded me that sometimes I have to run after him and cling to him. Sometimes a deacon will see my hands folded over my heart and think I want a blessing. Even that awkwardness reminds me how much I want Jesus, enough that my heart sinks when I think I might be deprived. Call me a Pietist but I enjoy having feelings when I pray and if doing something that the Church recommends draws my heart deeper in o prayer, I’m all about it.

There are plenty of better reasons to receive on the tongue than these. I certainly think that when it’s parish practice it reduces sacrilege.2 And I think personal practice increases reverence, if only because it feels so odd that it’s hard to ignore the fact that you’re doing something remarkable.

Of course, none of this is to say that you must receive on the tongue. I’m not even saying that you ought to or that it’s inherently better. If the Church says we can receive in the hand then we can and that’s just fine.3 But I’ve experienced great grace through the awkwardness of sticking my tongue out at clerics. Maybe give it a shot?

  1. If you’re interested in the topic, click through. It’s a good read. []
  2. Non-Catholics often go up and receive because they don’t know better. It makes sense to stand in line and then hold out your hand for something. But if everyone’s opening their mouth for something, they may think twice about that. Besides, people who are stealing the host for foul purposes would have to carry it in their mouths at least until they get out of church and then deal with a saliva-soaked host, which I would hope would be unappetizing enough to deter at least a few. []
  3. And I still do on rare occasion, like when I think I’m about to sneeze. []
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Praying Like a Nerd

The most important part of prayer is doing it. But the second most important part, I think, is being authentic, telling God what’s really in your heart instead of pretending you feel what you think you’re supposed to feel. I always picture my fake prayers going something like this:

Me: Oh good and gracious God, I praise you for your mercy and love. I give you thanks, Father, for your many blessings.

Jesus: Shut up.

Me: What?

Jesus: Quit lying to me. You’re just wasting my time. Tell me what you really think.

Me: Okay, fine. I’m pretty ticked about that conversation I had this afternoon and frustrated that I’m always such a jerk and also this is boring.

Jesus: Better. This I can work with.

So I’m going to be really honest with you here and tell you that my prayer is rarely beautiful. In fact, it’s much more likely to be dull, with a little bit of the nerdy thrown in. Hey, I’m just being me. Cases in point:

Newtonian Discernment

I was beginning to feel a tug away from something I thought the Lord ahd called me to. I’d wrestled and analyzed and discerned my little brains out and finally I’d had enough.

“Jesus, a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. I know you pushed me along this path and I feel like my momentum’s been slowed by friction, but if you want me moving another direction, I’m going to need an equal and opposite force. I don’t feel any conviction in the opposite direction, so I’m going to keep moving this way until you push me another way.”

This is how nerds discern.

Declining to Pray

It’s been a long time since I studied Latin (as in 4th grade), but some things never leave you.

“Jesus, my heart…. Well isn’t that interesting. “My heart” there could be the vocative case, like a term of endearment. Or it could be the nominative, an unfinished declaration about the state of my heart. Really, it feels like an interjection, a cry of love and emptiness, of fullness and anguish. What tense would an interjection be?”

It was actually pretty powerful, that examination of how Jesus My Heart and my empty heart were interchangeable. Until I started trying to decline “cor…corde…cordis?”

This One’s Graphic

I’ll be honest. I could picture the graphs here, but it’s been almost 15 years since I took a math class, so I had to look up some of the functions.

“Lord, I used to think I was x³. Like, I grew a lot and I hit a plateau and soon I’ll break through and start shooting toward holiness. But I’m beginning to think I’m arctangent. There’s this horizontal asymptote I can’t break through. I just need to you to change my equation, Lord, if I’m going to be any better than I am now.”



Seriously, who prays about spiritual asymptotes?

A Different Kind of Nerd

While watching Frozen, sobbing, surrounded by 3-year-old girls singing their hearts out:

“That’s what I’ve done! I’ve built ice walls around my heart!!”

So there you have it, folks. There’s an old saying: Pray as you can, not as you can’t. So if you’re a nerd at heart, pray like a nerd. If you love movies, let movies speak to you. If you’re all about sports, try to imagine salvation like a football game. I’ve done all of the above. The only rule is that you have to be real. Beyond that, there’s nothing God doesn’t want you to hear.

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The Worst Week of Thomas’ Life

As part of my Triduum this year, I took the time to read the Gospel accounts of what I was living in the liturgy. I spent Holy Thursday reading about the Last Supper, the Agony, the betrayal, and the arrest and Good Friday reading every account of the Passion. It really helped me to enter in to the commemorations, but I didn’t have any epiphanies.

Easter Sunday was a different matter. Reading about Jesus different appearances after the Resurrection opened my eyes in so many ways. I sympathized with the women who were “fearful yet overjoyed,”1 saw myself in the Apostles who “worshiped but they doubted,”2 and wondered at the passion of Peter who does everything wholeheartedly, even when it seems rather an idiotic thing to do.3 But it was Thomas who really got me.

doubting ThomasWe know the story, of course. We heard it at Mass today. Jesus appeared when Thomas wasn’t there, Thomas doubted, then Jesus came and Thomas believed. A little late, but still. He came around–even became a great Saint, though he’s stuck with the name Doubting Thomas until the end of time.

The trouble is, we skim over the first part of John 21:26.

A week later, Jesus came back. A week. Between his doubt and his faith, Thomas suffered for a week.

Who knows why he doubted? Certainly the Resurrection was too good to be true. And maybe he thought the other Apostles had snapped–that the misery of the Passion had been too much for them and they were delusional. At first I’m sure he assumed they were just confused, that the body had been moved and would turn up. When they explained that they’d seen him, he must have started to wonder if they were lying to him. As they tried in vain to convince him, maybe he dug in his heels, refusing to be proved wrong. Maybe he wanted to believe but couldn’t see his way clear to.

I wonder if he didn’t start to think they were telling the truth. Did he wonder why Jesus left him out? Did he go over that day in his head again and again, trying to see how he’d offended the Lord? Was he blaming himself? Or did he start to get mad at Jesus for not showing himself to Thomas?

And as the week went on and Jesus still didn’t return, maybe he worried that his friends were really crazy. When he heard reports of other encounters, did it make him angry? Here he was, one of Jesus’ closest friends and the only one sane enough to know that the dead stay dead.

Did he feel left out? Or relieved that he hadn’t fallen victim to the same madness the others had succumbed to? Bad enough to uproot your whole life for a man who can’t even be bothered to defend himself before being slaughtered like a criminal–now he’s expected to live in some delusion. Still and all, it must have been hard to listen to them talk with hope and excitement when he was stuck in misery.



Did it take him until that next Sunday to believe? Did he really have to see the light shining through the holes in his hands? Maybe he came to believe days earlier and had to wait, hoping against hope that Jesus would come back, that Thomas would be there this time.

Was Thomas “too smart” to have faith? Was he too proud? Too mistrustful? I don’t know what caused his doubt. I don’t know what brought him to faith. But I know this: a lot of us are Thomas.

We’re supposed to believe and we just don’t. We might not even remember a time when we did. We’re surrounded by people who claim great peace in prayer and joy from knowing Jesus and we’re just going through the motions.

Or maybe we’re not going through the motions. Maybe we’ve given up even that, knowing as we do that this can’t be true.

Maybe we believe plenty but we still can’t sense his presence. We know Jesus rose but we can’t for the life of us see any resurrection in our own futures.

Wherever your doubt is coming from, remember this: Jesus came for Thomas. He knew Thomas’ obstinate doubt and he loved him all the same. He didn’t yell at him or cut him loose. He rose with holes so he could show Thomas, and when he finally appeared to him, I have to think he spoke with the very same tenderness I hear in his “Mary,” at the empty tomb. And he corrects him, indeed, but I imagine Thomas was overjoyed to be corrected by a God he could finally believe in.

Jesus came for Thomas. He brought light into Thomas’ darkness and healed his unbelief and he promises the same to you.

Still. He waited.

He waited an agonizing week as Thomas doubted his friends, his God, his reason, everything. He let Thomas stew. I don’t know why. But he knew. And if he’s leaving you in the darkness right now, he knows why he’s doing that, too. Be sure of this: he knows what he’s about. And just as Thomas’ week won him the confidence of millions of doubters down through the ages, just as Mother Teresa’s darkness won us all peace in the face of incessantly dry prayer, your suffering is working. It may not make you the greatest Saint of your time, but if it makes you a saint at all, it is well worth it. Hang on, my friends. Cling to those pierced hands. Sunday is coming.

I love you Jesus my love

  1. Mt 28:8 []
  2. Mt 28:17 []
  3. Jn 21:7, 11, among many others []
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Meditating on God’s Love

I was leading a high school girls’ retreat the other day and was given the task of putting together some different prayer experiences for the girls. These had to be self-guided, which ruled out my usual Ignatian Meditation and Lectio options. I was stumped, but the Holy Spirit got to working and I wanted to share some of the results with y’all. So carve out 20 minutes, grab a piece of paper to write your answers down (if you want) and a Bible, and get to praying.1

God’s Love in Scripture

How would you describe yourself?

How do you think God sees you?

Look up Isaiah 43:4, Song of Songs 4:7, Isaiah 44:2, and Song of Songs 2:2. How does God describe you in these verses?

How would you describe your relationship with God?

How do you imagine God? What image best describes your relationship? (Father, judge, friend, etc….)

Read Isaiah 49:13-16, Hosea 2:21-22, Isaiah 54:10, and Isaiah 62:4-5. How does God describe his relationship with you?

How has God shown his love for his people? (Deuteronomy 10:14-15, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Luke 15, John 14:18)

How have you seen God’s love in specific ways in your life?

JPII sum of the Father's love

  1. Gentlemen, this exercise might not resonate as much with you–or maybe it will. Give it a shot, but don’t be too discouraged if it’s not your thing. []
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St. Dominic Savio: What Have You Been Doing with Your Life?

Because God knew how far I could fall, he reached in and saved me from myself awfully early. My conversion was when I was 13, and since I don’t generally do things halfway, I was pretty serious pretty fast. I started reading the Bible and the Catechism all the way through and praying daily. By the time I was 16, I was going to daily Mass and praying the rosary every day. If you’d asked me at the time, I would have told you I was a really good Catholic.1 But even at the time, I knew I was mostly going through the motions. I was doing what I knew was right, but my heart hadn’t been transformed. My approach to the faith was more competitive than contemplative–I wanted to be the best at Church so I could win. And given the “competition,” it didn’t seem to me that it would take much. So I patted myself on the back and continued judging and hating and ignoring the Lord. After all, I was good. There was plenty of time to be holy once I was grown. For a teenager, I was doing as much as the Lord could expect. Right?

Then when I was 16 I went to World Youth Day in Rome. And everything changed. Not because of the catechesis or the fellowship or the visit to my dear Claire in Assisi. Not because I went to Mass with a million other Catholics or saw the Holy Father for the first time. Not because of a powerful confession or a new best friend. Because of a stained glass window and a throw-away conversation.

St Dominic Savio stained glassI was walking through some church in Rome with a priest and saw a stained glass window of some 14-year-old kid.

“Who’s that kid?” I asked Father, rather more dismissively than I might today.

“Oh, that’s Saint Dominic Savio.”

“Cool. What’d he do?”

“Nothing,” Father answered. I’m sure he went on to explain more about Dominic Savio’s relationship with St. John Bosco and his work for the sanctification of his schoolmates, but I didn’t need to hear that.


He’s the youngest non-martyr ever canonized. He had no visions, no apparitions, worked no miracles. He was a regular kid who lived a regular life, died a regular death at age 14, and people raced to his coffin to make relics of their rosaries.

What have you been doing with your life?



For me, that was a wake-up call. I realized that I had to live for Christ in every moment, that it was never too early to strive for sanctity. In many ways, it transformed me. March 9th is the feast of St. Dominic Savio. Maybe on his feast day you could spend some time asking the Lord how you can live your regular life heroically.

  1. Spoiler alert: if someone tells you she’s a really good Catholic, she’s probably not terribly holy. []
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Hobo for Christ Podcast

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know about my exciting news: I’ve started a podcast!

Guess who got a fancy new microphone! Working on the inaugural episode of the Hobo for Christ podcast right now. Get excited!

A photo posted by Meg Hunter-Kilmer (@mhunterkilmer) on

I’ve been thinking about this for months but it seemed like a lot of work, so I’d been putting it off. Then Lent rolled around and I couldn’t think what to do for almsgiving–until it hit me: get off your butt and start that podcast.1

So I did all the research and bought a microphone and started recording and now here you go! I have to warn you: I’m not in this for any technical accolades. So things may be staticky and the levels will never be consistent.We’re either going to be okay with that or you’re going to volunteer to be my technical editor. Deal?

Half the reason I wanted to podcast was so that I could record some of my talks and send them out to y’all. Since I don’t have a decent video camera and I’m not sure people watch 45 minute videos anyway, this struck me as a better plan. Which means I’m recording on my cell phone stuck in my pocket.2 So it won’t be great sound quality. But maybe it’ll be something worth listening to–like the one I’ve got scheduled to come out on Saturday on Lent and the Cross, in which I break open Genesis 3, Genesis 22, Exodus 12, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53 in talking about the Passion of Christ and what it means for our lives. I basically started this podcast because I wanted to share that talk, so get excited. Talks on marriage and joy are also coming your way in the next few weeks.

If you’ve ever emailed me about a real question, you may know that I’m terrible at replying. Often, I just write to find out where you live and then promise to come visit and talk it over. I’m just no good at corresponding. But I’m great at talking your ear off! So if you’ve got questions you want answered about anything Jesusy, shoot me an email at hoboforChrist@gmail.com and maybe you’ll get a whole show dedicated to your question!

The third format I’m anticipating–and the one I’m most excited about–is conversations with the amazing people I meet around the country. The second episode (which went up this morning) is an interview with my new friend Julianne all about what I do as a hobo. My friend Ellen and I will be talking about the Triduum later this Lent. I’m looking forward to discussing education with Christina, children’s literature with Mike, and the Ordinariate with Fr. Matt. When in doubt, we’ll probably talk through Sunday’s readings and then hope I can get it out in time for people to listen before Mass. Basically, I just meet a lot of incredible people and have a lot of life-changing conversations and I want to share that with y’all!

You should eventually be able to subscribe in itunes. Until then, you can go to the rss feed and subscribe there somehow? And if you’ve got ideas as to how I can make the libsyn/Wordpress thing less clunky, I’m open to suggestions!

Until then, here’s episode 2:

  1. Does it make me a jerk that I consider subjecting the world to more of my pontificating to be almsgiving? Something to pray about…. []
  2. This also means I have to wear my one shirt with front pockets any time I think I want to record a talk. []
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An Open Letter to the University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins, Provost Burish, and all members of the Decennial Core Curriculum Review Committee,

I write to you today in some degree of shock, having heard from reliable sources that the core theology requirement at Notre Dame is under threat. It seems, in fact, that the decision to abolish the theology requirement is all but made, leaving the majority of Notre Dame students without any semblance of theological formation, despite the dubious assertion that courses in “Catholic Studies” will fill the same need. One begins to think that the purpose of the University is not to make saints (which is, of course, the only reason for Catholic education) or scholars (which is the purpose of all education) but to make…what? Even now I can’t be so cynical as to assert that the University is concerned only with making money. Making the top 10 in the US News and World Report, perhaps. Making “leaders” with no roots in anything but their own impressive resumes. Making a “difference,” although to what end seems unclear. And so I write to you with great concern.

I write to you as an evangelist, as one who knows that it is Christ and Christ alone who can make sense of the human experience. I know the desperate need Notre Dame students have for Christ and I know how many of them don’t truly know him. You have only two semesters to introduce them to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and this strikes you as excessive? Can it possibly be true that the leaders of Our Lady’s University are declaring that her sons and daughters have no need of her Son? “Let us study, let us serve, let us win on the field, on the court, on the ice, but let us not preach the Gospel. Not when there are secular schools to compete with and tests scores to boost. After all, what does it matter?” It matters more than anything else any person can ever learn. And you want to make it optional. You want to satisfy the requirement with a class on the Canterbury Tales or on the American Catholic experience while thousands of students leave the nation’s “greatest” Catholic university not knowing Jesus. For shame.

I write to you as a theology teacher, one whose high school apologetics class was widely considered one of the most academically rigorous offered in the school. Tell me what exactly your students have to lose by studying Aquinas and Augustine. Tell me what could be better for their intellectual formation than wrestling with the most difficult questions ever asked. How are they better prepared for law school or the business world because they avoided metaphysics in favor of some Flannery O’Connor or Hopkins?

I write to you as a Catholic. Notre Dame is the unquestioned leader in Catholic higher education (though it’s harder and harder to see why). Please consider the ramifications of dropping the theology requirement not only on your students but on all students at Catholic colleges. If Notre Dame eliminates the core theology requirement, schools that look to Notre Dame as the standard of American Catholicism will follow suit. Perhaps your “Catholic studies” courses will form hearts and minds in the Catholic tradition–though I think it unlikely. There is no guarantee that such will be the case for courses taught at the schools that will follow your lead. If you can’t remain Catholic for the sake of your students, do it for all of American Catholicism.

I write to you as an educated person. Education is not vocational training. It is not pre-professional studies. Education is the formation of the person. It’s the reason I had to take science classes and history classes and language classes–because I was in college to be educated, not to be trained. How exactly can we educate students when we remove the discipline that was at the heart of the university system at its inception, the queen of the sciences? How can we claim that our students are well-educated when their knowledge is an inch wide and a mile deep? Will you next remove the English requirement or the social studies? After all, they use English in their other classes. And really, people pick up on basic history from movies and such. And then would you call them educated? You would not. Tell me, then, why you can remove a study of the questions most often asked throughout the history of humanity and feel that you have done your job.

I write to you as a human being. I know what it is to wrestle with existence and purpose and evil. I know the questions that haunt the human heart. We can explore them using reason and the wisdom of those who have gone before. We can ignore them, pouring booze and pleasure and any other palliative we can find into the gaping hole in our hearts. Or we can answer them with Pinterest and ESPN and Nicholas Sparks novels. Can you really live with yourselves knowing that you have left a generation to find itself via Buzzfeed and Beyonce lyrics while Athanasius and Anselm, Buber and von Balthasar gather dust in the stacks? Perhaps Notre Dame students are above such drivel. And perhaps not.

I write to you as an alumna of the University. For years, I’ve endured raised eyebrows and snide remarks when I mentioned my alma mater. And I defended you. When President Obama was given an honorary degree, I defended you. When you caved before the Department of Health and Human Services, I defended you. “Notre Dame is the only school trying to be a top 20 university and authentically Catholic,” I repeated. I will not defend you now. If the University of Notre Dame thinks she can be a Catholic University without forming students in Catholic theology, she is lying to herself and to all who trust in her. She is betraying the Church that made her great.

I must apologize if my remarks are merely a response to rumors and the hysteria that has followed them. I trust that you are men and women of integrity, men and women who understand what it is to be a Catholic university, to be a university at all. I beg you to honor those who have gone before by giving their children an education worthy of the name.

Yours in Notre Dame,

Meg Hunter-Kilmer, B.A. ’04, M.T.S. ’06

Notre Dame Hesburgh

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Living Lent in Community

If you’ve been around Christian circles for very long, you’ve probably heard some variation of the line, “There’s no such thing as a solitary Christian.” And while St. Simeon the Stylite and other holy hermits might disagree, the maxim stands for most of us. We need others to encourage us, to challenge us, and to correct us, loving us all the while. Those of you who are raising families and living in intentional communities know this–it’s the people around you who help you grow in holiness.

This Lent, why don’t you use that community to help you live Lent more fully? Instead of walking through Lent alone, talk with your family or your community about what you’ll be doing. Ask them if there’s a particular habit of yours that they think you might have an addiction to, a particular way of serving that might push you in just the right ways. Often you’ll find your kids know you better than you know yourself, as they point out your addiction to Netflix or your obsession with your phone. And only your wife would suggest that you offer to do all the midnight sheet changes for your mostly-potty-trained 3-year-old.

It might seem counter-intuitive to discuss your penitential practices–just showing off, some might say–but it also means if you fail there’s someone to call you out on it. And it might just challenge you to do something truly meaningful.

Case in point: the family of St. Basil. The Holy Family of St. Basil: (left to right, first row) St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Basil the Great, St. Basil, St. Gregory, (second row) St. Theosevia, St. Naukratios, St. Emmelia, (top) St. Macrina. (via)

Case in point: the family of St. Basil: (left to right, first row) St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Basil the Great, St. Basil, St. Gregory, (second row) St. Theosevia, St. Naukratios, St. Emmelia, (top) St. Macrina. (via) Be like this family!

Then there’s the fact that your community exists to make saints out of the lot of you. What better way to do that than to work together to grow in holiness? What if you picked something to do together–a family fast or a weekly community prayer time? Maybe Lent could be more than a diet, instead becoming a season where you all grow closer to one another and to the Lord?

So here’s my suggestion: print out this worksheet and go over it together. Give them out to your Sunday School class, your youth group, your high school students, your RCIA candidates, your catechists–anybody you know with a family. Or give it to the other teachers in your department, the people in your Bible study, the volunteers serving alongside you–anything that constitutes a community. Then brainstorm together. Talk through the list, add your own ideas, tweak the ones you find. Discuss what might be best for each individual and for the group as a whole. Take some time to pray–ten minutes or a few days–then come back with a commitment. Write out who’s doing what. Maybe even pray together over it and then sign it. And post it somewhere obvious with the understanding that you’re consenting not only to correct others (gently) when you see them fall short but also to be corrected.

Obviously, people can do more than what they write on this worksheet. And nobody has to do anything. Maybe some people won’t feel comfortable signing on to the group penance. Take what you can get. But I think that when you decide to work toward holiness together you’ll find that your experience of Lent will be much more powerful.

You may also be interested in my Lenten Boot Camp, which will help you work from 20 minutes of prayer a day to an hour of prayer a day over the course of Lent, and this fantastic family Lenten practices calendar, which has a different thing for your family to do each day of Lent.

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Catholic Fun Facts

Alternate clickbait title: 16 Crazy Things about the Catholic Church That Will Leave You Stunned!

  1. All Catholics are expected to perform some act of penance every Friday and the US Bishops recommend abstaining from meat. Turns out that didn’t go out with Vatican II.
  2. These guys say it tastes good....

    These guys say it tastes good….

    Beaver doesn’t count as meat. Not because we don’t know they’re mammals. Theories differ as to why, but the consensus seems to be that beaver tail is plenty penitential enough. So eat up!

  3. You don’t have to fast (or abstain) on Solemnities. Even in Lent, if the Solemnity of St. Joseph falls on a Friday, grab a plate of bacon and chow down. Feast days don’t have the same weight, though, so stick with the fish sticks on the Feast of the Chair of Peter. Makes you want to pay a little more attention to the liturgical year, doesn’t it?
  4. You can only get indulgences for yourself or for people who are dead. No fair racking them up for anyone else, not even your favorite neighborhood hobo.
  5. You genuflect on your right knee in church, not your left. The left knee is for people, the right knee for God. So ladies, if your good Catholic boyfriend goes down on his right knee when he proposes, accuse him of idolatry and storm off. Or something like that.
  6. 4Hipster St Catherine of the 35 Doctors of the Church are women. If you’re not impressed, think about this: zero of the United States’ 43 presidents have been women. And once you consider that the most recent Doctor of the Church was a 19th-century nun—you know, back when most colleges wouldn’t even admit women—it becomes harder to play that “the Catholic Church hates women” card.
  7. All the liturgical vestments have a meaning. That’s why the chasuble, which symbolizes love, goes over the stole, which symbolizes authority. “Over all these, put on love.”1
  8. All the Church requires of you is .65% of your life. Do the math: if you go to Mass every time you have to, that comes out to about 57 hours a year in the US. So all you give God is .65%? You can do better than that.
  9. The palms from Palm Sunday are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. I’m sure there’s some great symbolism in there but all I’m seeing is a connection between the two days you get free stuff for going to church. Cha-ching!
  10. Nshroudo modern scientist has been able to explain how the image on the Shroud of Turin was made. Say what you like about the dubious carbon dating. How are you going to tell me that’s a 14th-century forgery when you can’t replicate it with all your 21st-century technology?
  11. Luther didn’t reject the Deuterocanon until an opponent of his proved that purgatory is Biblical using a Deuterocanonical book. After that, he started throwing books out left, right, and center. He tried to toss Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, too, but his followers weren’t having it.
  12. The Big Bang Theory was devised by a Catholic priest. Everybody laughed at him—“You silly Catholics, thinking the universe has a beginning!” Turns out he was a physicist as well as a Christian. Looks like Pope Francis was (as usual) saying nothing revolutionary when he agreed that the Church has no problem with evolution.
  13. Catholic religious also invented the scientific method, genetics, and the university system. Because we hate science. And progress.
  14. Pope St. Silverius, from Butler's Pictorial Lives of the Saints

    Pope St. Silverius, from Butler’s Pictorial Lives of the Saints

    At least 3 popes have been heretics.2 Not one of them proclaimed heresy from the see of Peter. How’s that for infallibility?

  15. Sunday’s first reading is always picked to match the Gospel. The second reading (in Ordinary Time, anyway) takes us through different epistles, giving highlights from each, and isn’t necessarily connected to the other readings. Still pay attention to it, though.
  16. If you read 8 paragraphs of the Catechism every day, you’ll finish the whole thing before the year is out. Consider that a challenge.
  1. Colossians 3:14 []
  2. Liberius, St. Vigilius, and Honorius I []
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A Comprehensive List of Crimes that Merit Death

From what I’ve seen in the news–and the comboxes–in recent months, there seems to be some confusion. Obviously you’re never supposed to kill an innocent, but when can you kill someone who committed a crime? Turns out, there’s a definitive list of sins that are so bad they warrant a death sentence. Ready?

2015-01-08 23.22.38

In case the graphic didn’t come through, let me list them out for you:



That’s right. Nothing.

Not drawing a blasphemous cartoon or fighting racism. Not being a terrorist. Not torturing terrorists. Not even torturing innocent people who “look like terrorists.” Not selling loose cigarettes or playing with a toy gun. Not being unwanted or unborn or incurable or “illegal.” Not being a burden or a lesbian or a Muslim or a bully or a jerk. Not poverty. Not rape. Not murder. Nothing.1

I kind of thought this went without saying, but apparently I was wrong: you don’t get to decide who deserves to live and who doesn’t. Everybody deserves to live. So can we quit for a minute with the conservative/liberal/patriotic/radical nonsense that tell us the lie that some lives are worth more than others? Pro-life means all life. Liberal means freedom for everybody. Nobody is “subhuman” or “worthless” or “unnatural.” However inconvenient or appalling he might be, every person was made worthy of love by a God who died to save him. Nothing he does can ever negate that.

There is a lot of evil in this world. Fight it with love.

  1. Because you’ve always got to nuance everything on the internet, I’ll point out that I’m not talking about just war or legitimate defense. Even then, nobody deserves death. Killing is a last resort in an attempt to prevent atrocities. []
Posted in Truth | Tagged , , | 9 Comments