Some Practical Tips for Lent — Sacraments, Soup, and Stories

Via National Catholic Register

During Lent, pope offers handy tips for preparing for confession


As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession — “because we are all sinners” — the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to “confess well.”

The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled “Safeguard your heart,” the booklet is meant to help the faithful become “courageous” and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis’ explanation of lectio divina, a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear “what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit.”

The booklet’s title is based on a line from one of the pope’s morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, “just as you protect your home — with a lock.”

“How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?” he asked. “Who opened the door? How did those things get in?”

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one’s heart is with the daily practice of an “examination of conscience,” in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one’s neighbor and oneself.

The questions include:

  • Do I only turn to God when I’m in need?
  • Do I take attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?
  • Do I begin and end the day with prayer?
  • Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?
  • Do I rebel against God’s plan?
  • Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?
  • Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the “throwaway culture?”
  • In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?
  • Do I honor and respect my parents?
  • Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?
  • Do I respect the environment?
  • Am I part worldly and part believer?
  • Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?
  • Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?
  • How do I use my time? Am I lazy?
  • Do I want to be served?
  • Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?
  • Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways “we think and act contrary to the Gospel.”

“Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind,” he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God’s willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.


Via The Practicing Catholic

Soup and Stories: 40 Days, 40 Bowls of Soup

Here at our digital plot of land, I share a bit about my family’s desire toward living an intentionally, joyful Catholic life. This Lent my family is striving to be very intentional about the food we eat to nourish our bodies. Here’s what’s cooking at Das Schmidt Haus this Lent.

Friends of mine recently introduced me to the tradition of eating only soups for dinner throughout Lent. Intrigued, I began researching the history of soup, and I found a story about how the French once sold a concentrated, inexpensive soup called a “restaurant” (a restorative) in the 1500s. It was billed as a cure for exhaustion.

What was that again? Exhaustion, you say? I think we’re on to something here.

I’m sensing dining over bowls of “restoratives” throughout Lent is just what I need this year, and I pray that come Easter Sunday, I will feel restored and spiritually recharged. Not only am I planning on eating forty bowls of soup, I’m also running a Lenten blog series called Soup & Stories. Twenty or so guest bloggers have graciously agreed to bless my digital home and submit a guest post for the series. Some bloggers’ names you’ll likely recognize; others may be new to you. All of them are faithful Catholics who inspire me to keep on living an intentionally, joyful Catholic life.

I humbly invite you to join along. Posts will be published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays throughout Lent here at Each guest blogger will share a recipe of one of their favorite soups. The recipe will be accompanied by a short story. This story might include an inspirational thought for your Lenten journey, a humorous anecdote from that blogger’s kitchen, or helpful cooking tips to accompany the recipe. Maybe even all of the above! As new entries are added, I’ll update this post with a link to the recipe and story. I’ve also added a Soup & Stories widget to the right sidebar on the homepage. Clicking on that will redirect you to this post here.

Speaking of that widget, don’t you love the logo? Lauren Gulde from Santa Clara Design designed it (in a hurry) for me. If you are shopping around for logo, graphic design, or web design services, Lauren’s your gal. Do check out her beautiful work here.

Whatever you have planned for your kitchen this Lent, I pray we will collectively feel restored and spiritually recharged come Easter Sunday. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to incorporate some of the ideas shared throughout the series. Now I’m off to sharpen the kitchen knife, prepare the stockpots, and shine the soup ladle. Here’s to spiritual restoration!

Here’s what’s cooking in our guest bloggers’ kitchens:

  • Creamy Roasted Mushroom Soup by yours truly. We once made this soup for a church function and well, just read for yourself what happened!
  • Taco Soup by Kara Storey. Kara’s story recalls the time she brought her husband-to-be home for the first time. How’d it go? Well, dinner with her parents didn’t go exactly as planned.
  • Gazpacho by Kelly Wahlquist. This winter has been a tough one, even for hardy Minnesotans such as Kelly. She encourages us to tell Old Man Winter to take a long hike by eating COLD soup.
  • 30-Minute Spicy Vegetable by Rita Heikenfeld. Looking for a quick go-to recipe to clean out the veggie bin? Then this one’s for you. Rita also throws in a bonus easy cheesy garlic bread recipe.
  • Tasty Soup by Kathryn Whitaker. Kathryn’s recipe earns her “Mom of the Year” award each time she dishes it up.
  • Carrot Ginger Soup by Karen Quiner. It’s a recipe handed down to Karen from her mom. Now it’s the only dish Karen’s mom can eat. A moving story about caring for an aging parent.
  • Potato Soup of Thriftiness by Leila Marie Lawler. Like the advice shared at her blog, the recipe is practical and adaptable.
  • St. Patrick Irish Cheddar shared by Pat Gohn. Pat also shares a bit about her Irish heritage and how the Lorica of Saint Patrick/Breastplate of St. Patrick prayer comforted her while battling breast cancer.
  • Italian Chicken Soup by the man of the house. Joel makes an analogy between this soup and our marriage. It’s a staple here.
  • Albondigas by Diana von Glahn, The Faithful Traveler. Diana shares her family’s recipe for Mexican meatball soup. The backstory she shares is incredible. Muy bueno!
  • Chicken & Wild Rice soup by Catherine Boucher. This is a touching story about how a warm bowl of soup helped Catherine realize God was calling her to be a full time at-home mom.
  • Vegetable Beef Soup by Julie Nelson. “We women are a kindred spirit.” Julie shares a a lovely story about the importance of mentoring and supporting one another.
  • Seafood Chowder by Fr. Guerric Letter, an old monastic recipe handed down through the years, perfect for those meatless Fridays during Lent. Bonus, Fr. Guerric shares an heirloom angel food cake recipe, perfect for Easter Sunday feasting.
  • Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli by Shelly Kelly. Shelly shares a “copycat” recipe made annually by the Parish Council at her church for Lenten Monday soup nights.
  • Chicken Potato Soup by Patti Maguire Armstrong. A mom to ten, Patti shares how the work we put into a meal is but a small down payment on the investment of our family.
  • Rustic Butternut Squash Soup by Stacy Trasancos. Her kitchen is her research lab; her table, the analytics department. From her bench, she offers this basic recipe for soup along with some equipment that comes in handy.
  • Ew Stew (otherwise known as Caldo Gallego) by Maria Morera Johnson. Don’t let the “ew” fool you, this is a hearty, tasty soup from Galicia, Spain.
  • Black Bean by Melanie Gillespie. The “rosary chick” shares a recipe for a resilient and delicious black bean soup that’s sure to become a new favorite here at Das Schmidt Haus.
  • Cajun crawfish soup by Julie Baldwin. A Midwesterner by birth now residing in New Orleans, Julie is embracing southern living AND southern cooking. Now get me some of ‘dat ‘Slap Ya Mama’ seasoning!
  • Tortellini Soup by Maria Campbell. Maria shares a tradition and recipe deeply rooted in her family’s Italian heritage tradition. Bon appétit!
  • Black Bean Butternut Squash Soup by Marcia Mattern. This one is also known as “Labor Soup to soon feed a family of 8!”