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Food for thought.

It's that time of year again--time to make the Catholic version of a New Year's resolution and decide what to give up or what to do for Lent. And just like I vow every January 1 to do 50 sit-ups a day, every Ash Wednesday I swear I'm going to do more spiritual reading. But this year I've already got a leg up on that promise. That's because last September I took over the responsibility of editing our Spirituality Cafe department (page 23).

Spirituality Cafe is a relatively new feature in U.S. CATHOLIC, debuting in September 2000. The editors created it in response to readers' requests for more spirituality and for short tidbits of information. Former U.S. CATHOLIC associate editor Mary Lynn Hendrickson (now editor of Claretian Publications' family newsletter At Home with our Faith) created Spirituality Cafe and edited it for three years before handing it over to me.

Hunting down the helpings of spiritual wisdom, practices, and inspiration for Spirituality Cafe has become one of the favorite parts of my job these days--in part because it forces me to do quite a bit of spiritual reading. You know all those books by Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen or Mother Teresa or Kathleen Norris that you hope to get to "someday"? Or the interesting collections of prayers or practices or saints that gather dust on your nightstand? Well, I basically get paid to comb through them for spiritual sustenance to feed our hungry Cafe visitors.

Lately I have been especially buried in books, as we took the Spirituality Cafe concept a step further for our cover story, "40 days to a new you: Lenten tips from top spiritual trainers" (pages 12-17). This month we offer Part I with 20 short reflections from some of the best spiritual writers from our Catholic tradition, past and present, (and a few from other spiritual traditions). Many were written especially for this article, but others were culled from books and other written materials. In March we'll offer Part II with 20 more reflections.

You may choose to savor one a day during Lent, or you might want to devour them all at once. Either way, I hope you'll be nourished by the wisdom of such diverse thinkers as Joyce Rupp and Pope John Paul II, Saint Frances de Sales and M. Scott Peck, Dostoevsky and Dorothy Day. And if you decide to commit to even more spiritual reading during Lent, I highly recommend the full works of any of these 40 "spiritual trainers" as a good place to start.

Another good Lenten exercise is to consider what God is calling you to do with your life. In this month's special vocations issue, we offer two perspectives: one from an ordained priest in "Diary of a city priest" (pages 39-41) and another from a young lay woman, "How to get where you're going" (pages 36-38). Happy reading. Now I've got to get back to those sit-ups.
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Title Annotation:Spirituality Cafe; Spirituality Cafe
Author:Schlumpf, Heidi
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:494
Previous Article:Peace imagined.
Next Article:Validating valentine.
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