At 3 a.m. yesterday morning, the predicted snow arrived, dropping a beautifully unbroken blanket of fresh white over my yard. This was the first “real” snow in almost two years, last year’s winter feeling almost like what my parents in Southern California experience during these months.
As a born-and-raised Midwesterner, freshly fallen snow brings great joy to my heart–especially when it is still left untrod. While I know that the plows have cleared the street and turned my winter wonderland scene a bit greyer already, my attention is focused on my backyard where no human has yet stepped. There, branches still bear a weight that forces them to bow, and only a blast of the chilly wind creates movement.
I love a fresh snowfall for the anticipation it brings of what is to come—soon, too soon, the peaceful scene will be disturbed, but not yet. I sit in my warm home knowing that eventually all of this will melt and turn to muddy slush. I expect the footprints I soon see, but that doesn’t stop my hoping they would hold off just a little longer. Onward the day must go.
“Journey” is an ever-present image in our Catholic faith, from the serious spiritual journeys like the Way of the Cross to the more mundane like the popular poem Footprints. But the image dominates our ethos. Every journey begins with the anticipation of what is to come, the excitement or anxiety (depending upon the journey) of what it will entail, where it will lead, and where and when it will end.
I hope the following CatholicsRead resources will help you get ready and give the direction that you need to take those first steps into the new year and start planning your next journey.
If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, incorporate one of these three resources into your faith-based resolution:
Want to start a daily prayer practice? 365 Hopeful Devotions For Catholics from Creative Communications for the Parish will support a daily prayer practice focused on the virtue of hope. Jeff Cavins’ Insight Journal from Ascension is the perfect companion for the 2022 portion of your journey. Or, make Scripture the focus of your resolution and follow the daily readings including Sunday with Reading God’s Word 2022, also from Creative Communications for the Parish.
Looking for a “deep dive” into what it means to be Catholic to start off the year? Discover the meaning of the Eucharist from the perspective of those who are ordained with Being Claimed by the Eucharist We Celebrate by Fr. Scott P. Detisch and published by Liturgical Press. This book goes beyond what happens at the Mass to show how important and integral Eucharist is to our everyday lives. Erin Brigham’s reflection on Pope Francis’s metaphor of Church as Field Hospital (Liturgical Press) is a welcome exploration of ecclesiology, especially as COVID continues to overshadow our lives and the ways in which we treat the marginalized still fall short of what the Gospel demands of us.
With Lent only a few weeks away (Ash Wednesday is March 2), pick up one of these resources to aid in your Lenten practices, especially prayer:
Every year, millions of people, many who are not otherwise active in the practice of their faith, come back to church on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes. Explore and learn from this phenomenon around engaging our Lenten practices in Paulist Press’s Hope from the Ashes by Paul E. Jarzembowski. Another resource for journeying together in a small-group setting is Open Our Hearts from RENEW International. These Lenten reflections on the cycle of readings will help you check out your spiritual bearings and take action to keep moving in the right direction.
Looking for a resource to guide your personal prayer this Lent? Pick up Restore , a guided journal by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, of the “Abiding Together” podcast, from Ave Maria Press as your “go-to” reader for prayer and meditation. Or consider getting into the rhythm of a daily Lenten prayer practice with the Magnificat Lenten Companion which starts with the daily Gospel and includes a special Lenten essay, Penance service, and more.
Alternatively, focus your reflection with daily 3-minute devotionals on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ with Ave Maria Press’ Messages of Finding Purpose for Lent 2022 by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, authors of Rebuilt. Make the Sacrament of Baptism a focus of your prayer practice by using Liturgy Training Publications’ Living Your Baptism in Lent: Weekly Reflections for Your Journey. The reflections by Dennis Strach, CSC, start with the questions asked before Baptism and lead you to a deeper understanding of your own baptismal promises.
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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.