By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation
Last year, one of my friends commented that we experienced “The Lentiest Lent Ever” due to pandemic closures and isolation measures. This year, we’re weary as we approach “The Lentiest Lent Ever, Part II.”
Anticipating an ascetic season of sacrifice and self-giving can be intimidating because over the last year, we have largely been unable to feast and we are depleted. However, Lent affords us an opportunity to count our blessings, double down on our prayer life, and remember the poorest among us.
“Lent” means spring, and it can inspire a new springtime for our spiritual lives if we are open to its transformative power.
What follows are some ways to renew your own spiritual life, the spiritual life of your family, and the spiritual life of your CWOC and/or chapel community by focusing on the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Individual — Add a new devotion to your prayer repertoire. Learn about the First Fridays and First Saturdays devotion, Stations of the Cross, or Divine Mercy devotions on our MCCW website. Or, consider attending daily Mass one day during the week to pray for those who cannot worship in-person due to the pandemic restrictions or ill health.
Family — Did your family gather around the Advent wreath during that reflective season? Create a Lenten devotional space by making a candle cross display and placing it in your family prayer space or on your dining table. Each night, light the appropriate candles and pray together.
Chapel Group/Parish — How is your CWOC or chapel praying together this Lent? If there is a plan for weekly in-person Stations of the Cross, ask whether your CWOC can volunteer to coordinate the Stations one week, or every week. If there is no in-person plan due to COVID, ask different CWOC members to host virtual Stations each week, broadcasting the prayer via Facebook live to the chapel or CWOC’s Facebook group.
Why not fast from the snooze bar this Lent? St. Josemaria Escrivá advocated for this “heroic minute” in his book The Way:
Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish!
This might seem like an easy fast at first, but you might be surprised at the challenge of rising promptly during the cold, dark mornings of early Lent. Use the extra five or ten minutes in your day to sit quietly in the presence of God.
Challenge your children to think beyond giving up candy for Lent by making a crown of thorns out of clay or a willow wreath and adding toothpicks. Each time someone in your family makes a sacrifice (not eating dessert, praying for another person, bearing wrongs patiently), he or she takes out a toothpick from the crown of thorns in an effort to ease the suffering of Christ. The goal for your family is to remove every toothpick by Easter, and the crown can be transformed into a ring of flowers or a golden crown of glory.
Chapel Group/Parish —
Support one another in your fasting. In Mark chapter 9, the disciples were shaken when they encountered a demon they were unable to cast out. In verse 28 of the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, Jesus explained to them, “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is powerful, and it amplifies the power of our prayers. It teaches us that we can overcome our base desires and rely on God for true power and strength. However, fasting can be difficult. We need a community to bolster us. Establish fasting accountability partners in your chapel group. Pair up women who will pray and fast together. They can share ideas about the items (or attitudes) from which they will fast during Lent. Weekly (or daily) they can check-in via email, Messenger, text, or in-person to see how their partner’s fast is going, offer support when their partner stumbles, and encourage their sister to grow in virtue.
Over the last year, I’ve become more attached to Amazon Prime to do my household shopping. Sometimes, it saves me an in-person trip to the store for essentials, but other times, I shop when I am bored or stressed. Consider limiting or eliminating frivolous online purchases this Lent. Instead, get your shopping fix by fulfilling the Amazon wishlists of your local pregnancy center, mother’s home, or Catholic school. If you have an item on your personal shopping list that is truly essential, consider if you can forego “super saver shipping” in order to get an online credit. Use that credit towards a spiritual Kindle book or a family movie rental for a Sunday night (remember, each Sunday is like a “little Easter.”)
Give with a goal in mind! Charities like Food for the Poor publish gift catalogs that illustrate how much money it costs to buy a cow for a family or provide school supplies for a child. Look over one such catalog with your children and give with a specific goal in mind. Perhaps you could even hold a yard sale to raise even more funds towards your goal.
Chapel Group/Parish —
Build bridges with the local community and support those struggling during this time by getting involved with your local food pantry. Eighty percent of food banks say they are serving more people today than they were one year ago. Ask your pastor if you can collect food items during the offertory at Mass. Not meeting in person? Some food pantries have drop-off bins where you can donate items. Ask which items they need most and offer to help organize and distribute food items.
Lent shouldn’t be a dour time, but a hopeful period when we commit to open ourselves to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. By embracing the opportunity of the season and making a plan, we can become beacons of hope and inspiration for our families and communities.
By: Eleanor Gentilini
MCCW was established in Europe in 1955 and brought to the U.S. in 1970 by women who had been stationed overseas. One of our “Founding Mothers” was Fran Kelly, whom I met at an MCCW conference in Denver in 1986 and continued to see at conferences and Forums thereafter. When she passed away several years ago at age 90, her son sent me a box of MCCW materials. Among them was a large red Guest Book, begun in 1975 and continued through 2000, which contains the signature and military installation of each attendee, including our Chaplains and Bishops. This is a wonderful archive of a quarter-century of our history, and we plan to renew this tradition when we meet again.
By: Elizabeth Tomlin
As I write this post in mid-January to help us prepare for Lent, I just watched rioters break into the US Capitol, and the nation is bracing for civil unrest on Inauguration Day. My family and friends are leaving social media in droves because of the lack of civility that happens when people zing slap-happy comments at one another from behind the security of a keyboard in a digital environment where thumbs up, care, and heart emojis so often reward rude behavior.
Meanwhile, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. People are dying in record numbers. I wrote six sympathy cards this week, and I heard on the radio yesterday, that coronavirus deaths are nearing the number of Americans killed in World War II.
While a reprieve from COVID-19 is coming in the form of a vaccine, that vaccine, too, is sparking a storm of incivility. The USCCB issued a series of documents to help Catholics form their consciences when deciding whether to take the vaccine. Some Catholics are lining up to get the vaccine. Others are taking to social media condemning bishops and even Pope Francis himself for taking the vaccine.
All of this leads me to wonder: With our loss of interpersonal interaction in 2020, have we forgotten how to behave as sisters and brothers in Christ? Where is charity?
What’s wrong with the world today?
Several decades ago, the London Times asked this question of essayists and orators – people who by that days’ standards were “influencers.” G. K. Chesterton, the famous writer, philosopher, and lay Catholic theologian, responded to the Times. He wrote:
Those are sage words for our world’s problems, and I’m carrying them with me into Lent. There’s a lot wrong in our world today, but righting the wrong starts with me. Turning the well-known verse of Matthew 7:3 into first-person, “Why do I notice the splinter in my brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in my own eye?”
As I begin Lent this year, I do so recognizing that my sins brought about Good Friday. My sins alone were sufficient to necessitate Good Friday. I have personal ownership in the crucifixion. How thankful I am that God is merciful.
This Lent, I’m going to work on fixing myself, because, in part, I am what’s wrong with the world. To that end, I will continue my New Year’s resolution to read the entire Bible in a year (even the meandering parts about cubits and genealogies). I’m going to step away from scrolling the cheap shots on social media. I’m going to pray for the graces needed to grow in virtue.
My small actions will not fix what’s wrong with the world, but they might fix the little sliver that God gave me to toil within until my journey in this life is complete. How are you beginning Lent?
Though it can be prayed anytime during the year, the Stations of the Cross are especially appropriate during Lent and help us to reflect in a deeper way on Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
This year, consider praying this special prayer using the Military Way of the Cross. Written by Army spouse and MCCW volunteer Anni Harry, these reflections draw on the imagery and experiences of service members and their families as we walk with Christ through his passion.
Who: All military-affiliated women (that means YOU!)
What: A chance to help MCCW connect, unite, and inspire your sisters in Christ
(also known as Discernment)
When: Friday, Apr. 16 @ 11 a.m. EST for Worldwide Board Positions
Friday, Apr. 16 @ 2 p.m. EST for Regional Team Positions
- Zoom Meeting ID: 868 7373 7339
- Zoom Passcode: 797715
- Zoom Meeting ID: 860 0083 5485
- Zoom Passcode: 121348
Why: Why should I consider MCCW?
- MCCW relies on volunteers like you to host retreats, Forum, and all its other activities
- we are each called to use our gifts to build up the Kingdom of God
- volunteering for MCCW will help you build your resume and teach you new skills
- we will help pay your way to MCCW events
- we have a lot of fun together
- that feeling you get from giving to others can’t be beat
- you will strengthen your relationship with God and grow in your Catholic faith
- you will help others grow in their Catholic faith
- we can’t do it without you!
I Want to Discern. Now What?
Yay! We are so excited that you are answering the call to spend time prayerfully discerning if God is calling you to serve his church through MCCW. Here is a step-by-step guide to what to do next:
Step 1: Visit www.MCCW.org/mccw-discernment and download both packets found by clicking on the big blue buttons at the bottom of the page.
The first is the discernment packet – an easy-to-use guide to the personal discernment process. The second is full job descriptions and expectations for all discerned MCCW positions. You will definitely want to print the first packet so you can complete the forms, and you might want to print the second, too, so you can have it handy while you are in prayer.
Step 2: Complete the Servant Leader Information form found in the first packet and send it to email@example.com.
Completing this form will require some prayerful thought and consideration as well as conversation with those closest to you. It is a great first step in your prayerful decision-making process. And by sending it to our discernment facilitator, you are allowing us to pray specifically for you as you discern.
Note: This form must be completed and sent in no later than Tuesday, April 13, 2021, so we can prepare for your participation in the group discernment process.
Step 3: Continue your personal discernment by completing the Beginning Personal Discernment and Sharing Your Gifts sections of the discernment packet.
Both of these documents will guide you through the rest of the personal discernment process by giving you questions to answers, prayers to pray, and reflections to ponder. You will also be asked to request a letter of good standing from your chaplain or priest.
Note: This letter must be completed and sent in no later than Tuesday, April 13 so we can prepare for your participation in the group discernment process.
Step 4: Block out time in your calendar to participate in the group discernment process.
Group discernment for positions on the worldwide board will be held at 11 a.m. EST on Friday, April 16 on Zoom. Group discernment for positions on all regional teams will be held at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, April 16 on Zoom.
Step 5. Prayerfully attend the Group Discernment Process.
Prepare for this prayerful, Holy Spirit-filled time by setting aside at least two hours and a quiet spot in your home where you won’t be interrupted. The group discernment process is led by MCCW’s Discernment Facilitator and an assistant, but you can get a sneak peek at the process HERE.
If you have any questions during your personal discernment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Discernment Facilitator is ready to answer your questions, pray with and for you, and support you as you answer God’s call.
Below are brief descriptions of each position that will be open for discernment in April. For complete job descriptions and more details about discernment, visit www.mccw.org/mccw-discernment/.
Worldwide Board of Directors
- Not a voting member of the board
- Shadows the president in preparation to assume that role in 2022
- Participates in board meetings, in-person events, and Forum
Director of Faith Formation
- Writes and updates MCCW faith formation resources
- Finds creative ways to share resources with MCCW members
- Identifies other resources to help MCCW members grow in their faith
Director of Regional Coordinators
- Oversees the work of the regional coordinators and their teams
- Keeps the MCCW board updated on regional work and plans
- Provides mentorship and guidance to regional coordinators and their teams
Director of Stewardship
- Plans and executes MCCW stewardship efforts
- Ensures that MCCW donors are recognized and thanked
- Identifies new stewardship opportunities for MCCW
Director of Communications
- Tells MCCW’s story through the Well, social media, and other communications
- Manages all of MCCW communications tools and resources
- Oversees the secretarial duties and record-keeping for MCCW
Director of Finance
- Writes and manages MCCW’s budget
- Maintains all of MCCW’s financial records
- Ensures that MCCW complies with all fiscal and reporting requirements
Director at Large
- Supports all of MCCW’s projects, programs, and initiatives as needed
- Changes her focus as the needs of MCCW change
One of each of the following positions will be discerned for the Pacific, Western, Central, Southeast, and Northeast regions.
- Represents her region
- Plans and hosts her regional retreat
- Works with her team to find new ways to connect, unite, and inspire her region
Regional Communications Coordinator
- Manages social media and other communications for her region
- Oversees registration and communications for her regional retreat
- Works with her team to find new ways to connect, unite, and inspire her region
- Provides opportunities and resources for liturgical living and prayer in her region
- Oversees all liturgical aspects of her regional retreat
- Works with her team to find new ways to connect, unite, and inspire her region
Dear Sisters in Christ,
In early January, when we sat down to plan out the Well themes and schedule for the year, I was excited to realize that our February issue would be dedicated to preparing for Lent and preparing for discernment.
Maybe at first, you don’t see how these two things go together other than on the calendar, but in my mind, it is a perfect combination.
The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and giving.
Likewise, when we are actively discerning an important decision, we can be helped in that process through these same activities. So, as the church prepares to enter the season of Lent, MCCW is asking you to enter a period of personal discernment about how you can serve your sisters in Christ in the coming years.
I can’t put it more plainly than this, ladies, we need YOU!
For more than 65 years, MCCW has been the rock military women have leaned on to connect them to their faith wherever they may be in the world. It has been the friend we can call on at any time, in any emergency, for prayer, and more. It is the friend who celebrates with us in times of joy and comforts us in times of sadness. It is the family that becomes godparents and confirmation sponsors for our children. If asked, I know each and every one of us could tell at least one beautiful story of how our MCCW and CWOC family has touched our lives and our hearts.
But all of this is only possible if we commit together to the hard work of keeping it going. And we do that by saying a confident “YES” when God calls us to serve in a volunteer role for MCCW.
I am asking you to prayerfully and intentionally discern if it is now your time to say “YES.”
In this issue, you will find ideas for making this Lent a time of prayer and penance. You will also find all the tools you need to guide you through personal discernment including job descriptions, questions to ask yourself and others in your life, and prayer prompts.
As we enter this most solemn season in the liturgical year, know that each of you will be in our prayers.
And when we have completed our Lenten journey and enter into the joy of Easter, we will look forward to welcoming you to the discernment table!
Yours in Christ,
When you join us for your region’s ladies’ night, consider grabbing one of these fun drinks or a creation of your own!
Fiesta Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca
2 English cucumber, sliced
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 ¼ cup water
This easy fiesta agua fresca is great as a large batch or individual servings. Dump the cut-up cucumber, freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar, most of the mint leaves, fresh ginger, and half of the water in a blender. There’s no need to peel the cucumber or the ginger in this recipe as everything will be strained out later. Blend well. Once pureed, pour the agua fresca through a sieve to remove the pulp. Add the rest of the water, stir. To serve, pour the agua fresca into glasses filled with ice and garnish with more fresh mint. Sip, and ahhh!
Ave Maria Margarita (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp lemon or other citrus juice
Kosher salt for the rim
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. white tequila
ice for serving
If you like margaritas served in a glass with salt, rub the outside rims with a cut lime and dip each glass lightly into a plate of kosher salt.
Combine the lime juice, other citrus juice, Triple Sec, tequila, and ice in a blender and puree. Place extra ice in a cocktail shaker. Fill with margarita mix, shake well, and strain into glasses. Enjoy!
It’s Fall Y’all
Inspired by our Director of Communications, Bevin Landrum, this cocktail has Southern sass, Italian bubbles, and fall spices. Makes two servings.
2 oz. spiced rum
4 oz. unfiltered apple cider
6 oz. prosecco
Cinnamon and sugar mixed for the rim
Wet the rim of a flute with apple cider. Cover the rim with cinnamon and sugar. Combine the rum and apple cider in a shaker with ice. Pour half of this mixture into the champagne flute. Top with 3 oz of prosecco. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon.
The Spice Girl
A virgin beverage with all the flavor and fun
8 oz. spiced apple cider, unfiltered
Cinnamon and sugar to rim the glass
Small orange wedge
Wet the rim of the flute with a bit of apple cider. Cover the rim of the glass with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Fill the flute with the apple cider and garnish with the orange wedge.
Kick your boots up and get ready for Boots and Blessings!
Admission packages are on sale now for the benefit event-within-an-event. The auction portion of Boots and Blessings will run from Sunday, Nov. 8 through Sunday, Nov. 15, benefiting our perpetual charity – the MCCW Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship.
Every admission package includes access to:
- Starter pack of opportunity tickets, based on your package price
- Ability to use opportunity tickets to win one of four great MCCW prizes
- Online access for one bidder
- Early access to preview the bidding portal and catalog
- A limited-edition “Boots and Blessings” printable you can frame at home
Don’t delay – buy your admissions package today so you can start surfing the catalog as soon as it opens.