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Lent

It’s “No Complaint Friday”…How Are You Doing?


 

Catholic Speaker, Author and Evangelist Gary Zimak announces "No Complaint Friday".

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. (Psalm 118:24)

Earlier this week on my blog and radio show, I announced my 24 Hour Lenten Challenge, also known as “No Complaint Friday”. You can read the details HERE, but essentially the point is to spend an entire day without complaining about anything. And what better day of the week to choose than Friday, the day that Jesus suffered and died on the Cross in order to make it possible for us to go to Heaven? So, how’s it going? It’s difficult isn’t it? Believe me, I’m struggling with it too. On the other hand, doesn’t it give you a sense of accomplishment and peace? Here’s something to think about. If we can learn to thank God for the trials and suffering in our lives, can you imagine how peaceful we will be and what a great witness we will provide for others?

Keep up the good work and let’s pray for one another as we try (remember that it’s okay to fail, as long as we try) to finish the rest of the day without complaining about anything. And if you can do it for one day, you can probably do it for two, or three. You never know, my friends, we just might be trying this again next week 😉

Give Up Worrying For Lent…It’s Easier Than You Think!


 

Catholic Speaker, author and leading anxiety expert Gary Zimak offers a simple suggestion for how to eliminate worry.

As I travel the country speaking about how to overcome anxiety, one question comes up repeatedly…

“How can I stop worrying?”

For many anxious individuals, a life without worry seems like an impossibility. The good news is that eliminating worrying is not only possible, but it is a very achievable goal. And that statement is coming from someone who has been a severe worrier for most of his life. In fact, not only have I suffered from anxiety from when I was a child, but I have been to the emergency room several times suffering from severe panic attacks. Therefore, if I can overcome worry so can you!

Here’s what you need to remember. Worrying is a choice. Unlike fear, it is not an emotion. We can’t control fear, but we can control worrying. Every time that we begin to worry about something, it involves a conscious (although for some of us it can become subconscious) decision on our part. Therefore, instead of choosing to worry (when we’re afraid), we can choose to pray, or read the Bible, or go to Mass, or spend time with Jesus in adoration. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Whenever I’m tempted to start worrying, I can just as easily turn to the Lord instead. It also makes sense from a practical point of view. Worrying accomplishes nothing, but prayer always produces results.

Lent is the perfect time to try putting this into practice. And yes, I did say “try”. For many of us, worrying has become a habit. As a result, it will take some work to eliminate it from our lives and we will probably fail more than we succeed. But don’t give up. With God’s help, it is a winnable battle. Why not try it with the next problem that you encounter? Just one time. Try it and see how you feel. If you succeed then you can try it for the next problem, and the next. Before you know it, you’ll be giving up worrying for Lent. And, by the way, if you’re tempted to feel that it’s impossible to give up worrying, remember the words of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Mother:

“…for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

Want To Make This A Great Lent? Try This Challenge…


 

Catholic Speaker and author Gary Zimak discusses the importance of growing close to Jesus during Lent.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)

As we approach the halfway point of Lent, I thought it would be a good idea to pose a question and to issue a challenge. Let’s begin with the question. Are you ready? Here goes…

Are you closer to Christ today than you were on Ash Wednesday?

Tricky, isn’t it? If I asked how you were making out with giving up sweets, coffee or Facebook you probably wouldn’t even have to think about it. On the other hand, trying to decide if you’re closer to Jesus than you were a few weeks ago can be challenging. In reality, however, that’s the point of Lent. If you abstained from candy for the entire forty days and ended up no closer to the Lord than when you started, you wasted your time. While fasting is an important part of the Lenten season, it is only part of the overall goal of growing closer to Jesus.

How can we tell if we are growing closer to Jesus? I recently wrote a blog about the topic which was also shared on the Catholic Stand website and linked to by the National Catholic Register. While I would strongly encourage you to read the entire article, I want to focus on my first question, which happens to be the subject for the challenge that I’m about to issue:

Was I grateful for everything that happened to me today (good and bad)?

If you find yourself cringing, don’t panic. That is a normal reaction. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be content with answering “no” to that question. If, for the remainder of Lent, we can make some progress in this area, there’s a very good chance that this could be our best Lent ever. Learning to be grateful for each day that the Lord gives us is a great way of expressing our love for Him. Put yourself in His shoes for a minute and think about what it would feel like to give someone a great gift and hear nothing but complaints. Every day that the Lord gives us is a gift. It is a chance to know, love and serve Him. It is a chance to gain merit and eventually live with Him in Heaven. Instead of being grateful, however, we complain…

It’s too hot.
It’s too cold.
My job is boring.
I’m tired.
I wish I had more money.
My coworkers are annoying.
If only I was better looking.
Everyone treats me unfairly.
My pastor’s homilies are too long.
My pastor’s homilies are too short.

You get the point, right? Now, here’s the challenge. Beginning on Friday, March 28, I challenge you to not complain about anything from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. No negative words, no negative thoughts. If something unpleasant happens to you, make it a point to thank the Lord for allowing it to happen.

What do you think? Are you ready to fast from complaining for one day? I know it will be difficult and many of us will slip up, but there is much to be gained from this sacrifice. If you can’t decide whether or not to participate, here’s something that might help. On the night before He died, Jesus suffered tremendously in the garden. One of the greatest sources of His suffering was the knowledge of all the sins that would be committed by each one of us. Yes, Jesus is God and He knew every sin that you and I would ever commit and it caused Him a great deal of anguish. On the other hand, He also saw every sacrifice and act of love that we would perform until the end of time. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that we were able to ease Jesus’ suffering a bit? Every time we refrain from complaining we do just that.

If you make it through one day without complaining (or maybe complaining a little bit less than normal), the possibilities are endless. How about two, three, four or more days? How about a month, six months or several years. This simple act of self-denial could change your life and the lives of those around us.

I’m going to try it. How about you?

“Living joyful, trustful acceptance isn’t complicated. One simply offers himself to God with confidence and then accepts everything with praise and thanksgiving, seeing all as coming from God’s loving, fatherly hands.” (Fr. Michael Gaitley, Consoling The Heart of Jesus, pg. 96)

Think You’re Doing Well This Lent? Here’s A Challenge…


 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak reveals the details of his Lenten challenge on his nightly radio show.

How is your Lent going so far? Have you grown closer to Christ? Are you sure?

On Monday, March 24, on my Following The Truth radio show, I will reveal the details of my 24 hour Lenten challenge. While it doesn’t involve fasting from food, money or social media, it will be challenging. In fact, it may be the most challenging fast you’ve ever undertaken. It will also be the most productive.

Think you’re doing well this Lent? Tune in on Monday at 8 PM Eastern and we’ll see…

I Woke Up Tired And Miserable Today. Thank You, Lord!


 

Last night we set our clocks ahead one hour. This morning I woke up tired and, to be honest, feeling a little miserable. As I sat down to eat breakfast with my family before Mass, however, something popped into my head. The fact that I was alive means that the Lord gave me another day to know, love and serve Him. Although I didn’t feel like it, I grabbed my phone, opened my Twitter app and tweeted the following:

Catholic Speaker and Radio Host Gary Zimak uses Twitter to give thanks to God

I’m still working on it, but I am gradually learning that my relationship with God shouldn’t be based on how I feel. Lent is a good time to work on focusing less on myself and more on my relationship with the Lord. Even though I’m not feeling too chipper this morning, I shouldn’t take it out on God. My message to you on this First Sunday of Lent is this – Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. It doesn’t matter how you feel, it matters what you say and do.

Being nice to someone who you can’t stand or thanking God for the problems in your life is a great way to express your love for Him. It gives us a chance to truly put Him first in our lives. And you know what? Sending up that prayer this morning also allowed me to have a personal encounter with the Lord, which always bears fruit. Even though I’m still tired, I am feeling the peace that comes from being close to Him. How cool is that?

God is good!

How Can I Be Sure I’m Following Jesus?


 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak offers suggestions for how we can be sure that we are followers of Jesus

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. (Luke 5:27-28)

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites Levi (also known as Matthew) to follow Him. The tax collector then left everything behind and followed the Lord. Lent is a great time to assess just how serious we are about following Jesus. While I certainly claim to be His follower, do my actions support that statement? How can I be sure? Fortunately, Jesus gives us the answer:

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

I guess that means that, if I want to be His follower, I should do what He did. I probably should surrender to the Father’s Will, stop complaining so much about the annoyances of daily life and begin putting the needs of others before my own.

I’ve got some work to do. How about you? Let’s pray for one another.

Have I Grown Closer To Jesus Today?


 

Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak offers advice for assessing the status of your relationship with Jesus

As we journey through the forty days of Lent, it’s easy to lose our focus. Even if we remain faithful to our Lenten sacrifices, we can still lose sight of our main goal – growing closer to the Lord. While it is entirely possible that giving up sweets, coffee or beer can draw us closer to Jesus (by uniting our suffering with His or recognizing that we may be chasing after the comfort provided by worldly things), it’s also possible that we can become so obsessed with our self-denial that we may lose sight of Him entirely.

Every day, our relationship with the Lord can do one of three things. It can grow stronger, it can weaken or it can stay the same. Our goal in Lent (and really throughout our life) is to grow closer to Jesus every day. Therefore, at the end of each day we should ask ourselves the following question:

“Have I grown closer to Jesus today?”

While it sounds like a simple question, it’s sometimes a difficult one to answer honestly. Therefore, I find it helpful to look at a series of practical questions which will help to assess our relationship with the Lord.

Was I grateful for everything that happened to me today (good and bad)?
Was I kind to everyone I met?
Did I love my enemies?
Did I speak to the Lord throughout the day?
Did I listen to Him speak to me (in silence, in the Bible, through the teachings of the Church)?
Were my actions a good example to others?
If I experienced any kind of suffering did I offer it up?
Did I thank Him for giving me another day?
Did I use my talents to serve Him (by doing the best I can in performing my duties)?
Did I ask for His help in overcoming my imperfections?
Did I tell the Lord that I loved Him?

Now, if you’re like me you probably answered “no” to some of these questions. Don’t panic. That’s what Lent is all about. Tell God you’re sorry and ask for the grace to do better tomorrow. If you’re honest with yourself and keep trying, you and the Lord will grow closer and you’ll be on the road to receiving the ultimate reward…

Life with him in Heaven!

If you’d like some help during Lent I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan). You can find out more HERE.

Lent Doesn’t Have To Be Painful


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak explains the meaning of Lent

I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Actually, I should qualify that statement. Once I started trying to become a better Catholic, I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Before that, I just ignored it. Sure, I gave up candy when I was a child, but I stopped doing that when I “grew up”. Eventually I realized my mistake and I learned to “pick up my cross” each Lent. I would generally give up my beloved desserts and it was PAINFUL! And that pain increased as the Lenten season progressed. It wouldn’t be unusual to find me at a convenience store drooling over the pastry display, counting the days until Easter! I know it sounds silly, but it’s a realistic look at my typical Lenten practice. I suspect you may be like me and have a similar story to share. Fortunately, I have good news for you. Lent doesn’t have to be painful!

Our main objective during Lent should be growing closer to Jesus. If we keep that in mind, any suffering that we endure will be outweighed by the sweetness of a close personal relationship with Christ. While there is always some pain involved when we give up something that we enjoy, that pain can be wiped away by the joy experienced when we are close to the Lord. During Lent, the Church encourages us to turn over a new leaf and to become better Christians. We are urged to repent, fast, pray and give alms. As a result, we move away from our sinful ways and grow closer to the Lord. I know that it sounds painful, but that’s the paradox of Christianity. If we are close to Jesus and cooperate with the grace that He gives us, our pain and suffering can be transformed into peace. That’s the effect of a personal encounter with the Lord!

I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan).

Make no mistake about the fact that it won’t be all fun and games. We’ll look at our sinfulness, repent and fast. More importantly, however, we’ll work on growing closer to Jesus during this Lenten season. And that, my friends, will take the sting out of the process. None of us are guaranteed to have another Lent. Let’s make this one count. Together, we can take advantage of this opportunity to grow in holiness. Why not tune in to our Lenten Radio Retreat and give it a try?

“Make this Lent as if it were your first Lent, your last Lent; as if it were to be the only Lent in your lives.” (Fr. Francis Boylan, Lenten Lollipops)

Father Larry Richards To Appear On Following The Truth On Monday, March 3!


 

Catholic Speaker and Radio Host Will Be Hosting His Annual Lenten Radio Retreat With Special Guest Father Larry Richards

On Monday, March 3rd at 8 PM Eastern, I’ll kick off my annual Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat with special guest, Father Larry Richards! This year, we’ll be using Father Larry’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” as the basis for the retreat. In addition, I’ll be reading and discussing the daily Lenten Mass Readings as well as sharing some thoughts designed to bring you and Christ closer together. Here’s a link to the radio show. Tune in Monday, March 3rd and let’s get started!

Make This Lent Your Best Ever – Learn To Surrender To God’s Will!


 

Father Larry Richards joins Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak on Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio

Do you want Lent of 2014 to be your best ever?

I have great news for you. On Monday, March 3 at 8 PM Eastern I will kick off the annual Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat on my nightly radio show. This year I’ll be using “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” by Father Larry Richards as the basis for the retreat. To make things even better, Fr. Larry Richards will be joining me on the initial program and will discuss his book, offer some advice and give us his blessing.

During this retreat, we will work on learning to surrender to God’s will. Not only is this the secret to achieving peace in your life, but it’s the secret to getting to Heaven. If you’ve never participated in one of my Lenten retreats before, it’s very simple. All you need to do is listen to my radio show each evening. You can listen live each night at 8 PM Eastern (on BlogTalkRadio) or download the podcast from the BlogTalkRadio archives or on iTunes (click here to access my show on the Internet) You don’t even have to leave your home! Each night, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry’s book, share the daily Mass readings and offer some special reflections designed to make you think. I also recommend that you sign up for my e-newsletter (in the box to the right) to ensure that you receive any updates as we go through Lent. Here are some comments from previous Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat participants:

“I started listening to Following the truth during the Lenten retreat. It was wonderful!!!! I have to say it was my best Lent ever!!!!”

“I want to let you know this has been a fruitful Lent, due in no small part to your efforts in bringing us the Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat. It has been a major part of my Lenten observance and has helped me to grow spiritually in unexpected ways.”

“Your Lenten Retreat was responsible for the most significant Lent I ever experienced. I am 59. I learned that Lent was more than sacrifices or extra prayers. Lent actually involved changing one’s life to be more in unison with Jesus’ life.”

If you’re not familiar with “Surrender! The Life-Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” or with Father Larry Richards, I recommend that you watch the following video. EWTN’s Doug Keck will interview Fr. Larry and discuss the book in detail.

Although it’s not mandatory, it will be helpful if you have a copy of the book for the retreat. You can order it at the following link:

Lent is a special time set aside by the Church to help us grow closer to Christ. We have no idea if this Lent will be our last. Don’t pass up the chance to make it your best Lent ever. Join me as we walk together and learn to surrender our will to the Lord. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Otherwise, get ready. This is going to be a powerful experience!