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This week’s must-reads as we begin Lent:

+ Our Pray More Lenten Retreat begins on Ash Wednesday! Here’s a trailer for the retreat.

During the retreat, we’ll work on returning to the Lord this Lent: with our hearts and minds, through our prayers and actions. We have seven speakers, 20 presentations — you can watch or listen to them whenever you have the time and wherever you are, and study guides to complement each talk.

You can work through the material on your own or you can do it with your spouse, family, Bible study, RCIA group or Parish. We’re walking alongside you these next 40 days, and we hope you’ll join us for the retreat!

You can sign up here.

Other must-reads:

+ “He challenged me in an interesting way this year to not give up a food item or to exercise more, but to look at my trust issues. Trust in God and trust in those in my life. He asked me to give up the ways I function to do everything myself…” – Erica, Be a Heart

+ Pope says caregivers are like Mary at the foot of the Cross and that Jesus is with those who are suffering.

+ “Lent is Not a Personal Improvement Program: I think sometimes I get caught up in this lie that Lent is some spiritual improvement plan where I have to “get my act together” and do Lent like I am some type of spiritual ninja. I grab my Rosary beads, gather up all my will and might, and put on a cape and mask to become super-duper holy.

Sometimes I make it more about “doing Lent well,” rather than asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to me where I need to grow and be challenged, to ask Jesus what He wants me to do for Lent…” — Patty Breen, Blessed is She

+ “(God) didn’t give me this body so I could look great in a bikini or hot in a pair of jeans. That’s not why God has been handing out bodies since the dawn of Creation.

“No, God gave me this body so that I could be me. So I could do all the things that are Emily—reading, writing, cooking, painting walls, organizing closets, and making basil and parsley grow.

“He also gave me this body so I could love and serve others. So I could cook for friends and babysit their children. So I could take food to the hungry and clothes to the homeless. So I could hug my husband when he’s struggling and hold my baby close throughout the day—feeding him, rocking him, showing him with every gesture of my body how precious he is…” — Emily Stimpson-Chapman

+ “The path to our own crucifixion of self varies from person-to-person. Not everyone is going to deal with a chronically ill husband with a rare dangerous disease. The vocation that God has given to us is where we learn how to live in this manner, whether it be married life, religious life, or the priesthood.

Circumstances arise daily within our vocation that will require us to put aside what we want in order to serve Christ and others. It is not easy, but if we rely on Christ, He will provide the grace we need to persevere and endure.” — Constance Hull

+ Chiara Corbella’s faith amidst her sufferings has been a life-changing inspiration for me since I first learned about her many years ago. Here’s a beautiful testimony from her husband about what we should takeaway from her life story:

“It is only possible if you have a relationship that we call Faith… Chiara was not a super person — superwoman. It’s simply like this: Chiara is a daughter. Simply. Just like you are.

“And I have no doubt that this grace is a gift that God wants to give me and also to you… So what I hope happens in your heart is that you don’t make of Chiara a saint that you put on the altar. Because all of you, each of you, is also called to the same thing: to experiment, to live your son-ship, your daughter-ship. All these events (your life’s events) are nothing more than a discovery of a journey to rediscover your daughter-ship, your sonship, of Him.

“What we have discovered is that God was waiting for us, exactly there: in there and with our limits. Yes, we have to accept our limits… We can accept, we can welcome that life that He has already given us. I saw Chiara die happy because she is a daughter.” — Enrico Petrillo, Chiara’s husband

+ What Catholic Couples Can Do During Lent