More Than Just Bunnies and Peeps

Before I converted to Catholicism, I joked that being Jewish during Lent meant I automatically got a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card and Pass Go — straight on to the pink Peeps.

Lent means more to me these days.

I’m filled with gratitude during this penitential season, where I can contemplate my life, offer up my hardships to God, and ask him to help me become a better person.

I used to think Lent was just about giving up chocolate or french fries, but it’s so much more.

The three traditional practices of Lent — prayer, fasting, and almsgiving — help us understand the sacrificial love of Jesus, while also preparing for the celebration of his passion, death, and resurrection.

Growing up Jewish, I watched my Catholic friends and relatives (yes, we’re a mixed bunch!) give up things like chocolate or fast food, only to witness them gobble down a half-pound chocolate bunny and drive through McDonald’s after Mass. Sometimes, for fun, I would join in to see what I could give up for forty days, too.

However, we’re not limited to only pick something to give up for Lent, but rather choose something significant to add to our lives — such as waking up earlier, volunteering, or reading the Bible every day.

The Lenten season is the perfect opportunity to switch gears and refocus on becoming a better-version-of-yourself.

There’s a lot every individual can learn about the ritual of sacrificing for Lent. Giving up something often results in a person practicing self-denial and suffering, reminding him or her what God was willing to give up on his or her behalf.

It’s a time to turn down self-gratification and reflect and ponder on sacrifices we can make as individuals, as well as healthy habits we can do to help us be more like Christ and become the best-versions-of-ourselves.

So what am I going to do for Lent this year?

– Spend 10-15 minutes per day in silence.

– Pray a prayer of transformation every day.

– Read from the Gospels fifteen minutes each day.

– Read from Catholic books in my spare time. (I’m currently reading The Story of a Soul, among many others.)

Simple, yet powerful.

Just like Jesus.

Maybe four things seems like a lot to you. Or maybe not enough?

Originally, I had visions of going to daily mass this year, but at this season of my life, it’s just not going to happen — and I’m okay with that.

I hear what others are doing for lent and think, I should do that, too!

But my journey is not their journey and I shouldn’t compare.

If my list doesn’t feel right for your soul, then pick something different.

If you aren’t sure what to do, invite God into your heart and ask, “Lord, what is it you want me to do to grow closer to you and what must I do to inherit eternal life?

You can also check out Dynamic Catholic’s BEST LENT EVER.

What are your plans for this Lenten season, friend?

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The Missing Peace in A Self-Care World

Self-care is about physical and mental health and well-being. It’s about taking care of our bodies, minds, and souls so we may become the-best-version-of-ourselves. We’ve been fed with the message that we need to put ourselves first, in order to recharge and refuel so that we may take better care of others. While I agree with the basis and importance of self-care, I think a great number of people are missing the most important piece in self-care: God.

What’s Missing?

We can never truly obtain self-care without God’s love. We can practice self-care all we want, but eventually, we will hit a dead end. We may feel like we have obtained true peace–maybe for months or years–but at some point we will find ourselves feeling like it’s not enough, like something is missing. What’s “missing” is God. Who gives us the tools to provide self-care? God. Jesus said, “I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). The Bible teaches us that we are not the center of our own lives, nor are we in charge–God is.

Where to Find Rest

Are we tired and weary, and know it’s important to take care of ourselves? Yes. It’s necessary to practice gratitude, mindfulness, and awareness, but it’s not enough to just do those things. It’s not enough to turn towards ourselves and our “self-care rituals” to find rest and relief from stress. Jesus, The Prince of Peace, said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” He didn’t say that just to be polite. He said it because it’s the Truth. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves ” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Remember when He told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, but to come and relax with Him (Luke 10: 38-42)? Caring for ourselves is worshiping God. We can do both simultaneously. We can care for ourselves, while also putting God first. But if we do not put God first, we are missing the importance of self-care. The return rate on putting God first is invaluable.

The Truth Will Set Us Free

We’re like a tennis ball being tossed back and forth between two rackets. One racket is the worldview’s version of self-care and the other racket is God’s version of self-care. We’re being fed both sides, but are constantly up in the air between the two, not sure which is the winner. God is always the winner. And by choosing God’s true version of self-care, we too, are winning.

Is it important to pick a self-care ritual that fits our personality and lifestyle? Yes. But to truly benefit from that particular moment or activity we must focus on something bigger than ourselves. If our self-care practice includes going for a walk, don’t just go for a walk; rather, let’s be mindful of how God created the big picture around us–from the dirt to the trees, to the birds. God is in Everything. You can find Him in every self-care ritual. It’s only through seeking and noticing God in our self-care practices that we will truly obtain peace, joy, healing, and health.

What do you like to do for self-care and how can you put God in your practice?

I pray you find your best rest within God, my friend.


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