Lent1

Lent is the perfect catechetical season.  A catechist as well as a parent can find a plethora of ideas about how to practice and live out Lent.  I would like to share ideas in 3 categories (be aware that some ideas will overlap): Family Ideas, Classroom Ideas and Personal Ideas.  I hope the following links will help assist you as a parent or a catechist in assisting your students to grow closer to Christ this Lent.

Family Ideas:

Prayer

~ Pray the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet regularly as a family – on the way to/from school, or right after dinner.

~ Read the Bible/pray with your kids before bedtime during Lent.

~ Pray the Station of the Cross at 7pm each Friday at Ascension or at home: http://catholicicing.com/2011/03/printable-stations-of-cross-for/

Fasting

~ Have a day where the TV Stays off (Maybe Fridays during Lent)
~ Fast from Cell phone use, internet, video games from after dinner until bedtime.
~ Fast from going out to eat. Give the extra money to the poor.
~ Fast from gossip or negative thoughts.
~ Fast from eating between meals.
~ Fast from dessert a few times a week.
~ Fast from being lazy (that attitude that says: someone else will do it.
~Listen to Christian Music 97.3 FM or Catholic Radio 1090AM in your car during all of Lent.

Almsgiving

~Sign up for Holy Hero’s daily Lenten email: http://www.holyheroes.com/Holy-Heroes-Lenten-Adventure-s/37.htm

~ Lenten Calendar: http://catholicicing.com/2011/02/printable-lenten-calendar-for-kids/

~ Give money as a family to the poor: Operation Rice Bowl.

~ Spend more time with family.

~ Be positive (maybe charge .25 cents for every negative comment at home and then give the money to a charity).

~ Family Chart:  http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1018 

~ Lenten Sacrifice Beans: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=295

 

Classroom Ideas

~ Prayer Service: http://www.rtjscreativecatechist.com/articles/activities/seasonal/2012/02-28/lenten-prayer-service

~Puppet Show Scripts: http://catholicmom.com/kids/puppet-ministry/

~ Ideas from Our Sunday Visitor: https://www.osvparish.com/ResourceLibrary/FaithatHome/TeachingCatholicKids.aspx

~ Some Lenten Lesson Plans: http://www.catholicmom.com/2007_lesson_plans/Lent.pdf

~ Stations of the Cross Bingo: http://www.catholicmom.com/2007_lesson_plans/stations_bingo.pdf

~ Lent Lapbooks: http://catholicblogger1.blogspot.com/2010/02/lent-lapbooks.html

~ Printable Lenten Calendar: http://catholicicing.com/2011/02/printable-lenten-calendar-for-kids/

~ NOW Cross: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1019

Personal Ideas:

~ 7 Great Book Recommendations: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2013/02/06/deeper-in-prayer-during-lent

~ Take time to pray at lunchtime instead of going out with friends or surfing the internet.
~ Read a Psalm each day during Lent.
~ At 3:00pm each day pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or take a moment to pause in prayer remember the hour that Christ died.
~ Pray the Seven Penitential Psalms – maybe one each day of the week throughout Lent (Psalm 6, 31, 50, 101, 129 and 142).

~ Go out of your way to do one kind deed each day.

~ Do things for people each week without them knowing.

~ Be positive and reflect joy during Lent.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do you ever teach and/or draw your students in by using the texts from the liturgy?  Liturgical texts are an invaluable way to help your students encounter Christ.

For example, Sunday March 11th’s opening prayer was:

Collect: O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

Ways you could teach from this:

The 3 traditional practices of Lent are a way to “remedy” sin in our lives.  We don’t do it just to be good Catholics or because we’ve always done something for Lent, but we practices fasting, prayer and almsgiving in order to rid our lives of sinful tendencies and behaviors so that we can become more united to Christ, more open to His ways, more available to doing God’s will.

 

Also, teaching students that when we examine our conscience and identify the sin or sins that need to be gotten rid of as well as forgiven we should remember that God’s mercy lifts us up (we don’t have to stay down or stuck in our sin, but God’s mercy lifts/raises us to a life that is renewed in Christ.  We indeed can begin again.

 

Another Example

The Liturgy of the Hours provides many great bite size teaching points that are invaluable.  Take for example the Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah for morning prayer on Palm Sunday: “With palms let us welcome the Lord as he comes, with songs and hymns let us run to meet him, as we offer him our joyful worship and sing: Blessed be the Lord!”

~ Before praying the canticle with your students or audience one could reflect upon this antiphon.  Sharing with them that our palms are a way to concretely welcome the Lord as He comes — and doing it with songs and hymns.  Music is central the the life of the Church and to drawing our minds and our hearts toward God.  Also, proclaiming that we are being summoned to “run to meet him (Christ) as we we offer him our joyful worship”. This worship isn’t just Mass but the worship of our lives of prayer and offering our very selves to Christ from day to day as an act of worship.

~ Additional ideas that come to mind: 1) using music in ones opening prayer.  2) For elementary age students skits could be a possibility or a reenactment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  3) Reflection:  Asking the students to reflect if we are walking or running to meet Christ (makes me think of the Father who ran out to meet his prodigal son).  Our worship should be joyful even if that joy is experienced more from our attitude than what we see around us at Mass (Palm Sunday Mass tends to be more somber when remembering the event than joyful (especially since we know this is the beginning of his Passion).

 

Consider teaching by using text from either the Liturgy of the Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours.  There is great depth to draw from and to expound upon.

How have you used texts from the Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours to pass on the faith?


Happy Ash Wednesday!  Yes, Happy because when we know, love and serve God this Lent we will be more happy and fulfilled.  🙂  I pray you have a blessed Lent!!!

Bustedhalo.com put a creative 2 minute video out about Lent.  check it out:


“It is not that I have already taken hold of it (the prize of eternal life) or have already attained perfect maturity,   but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of   by Christ (Jesus).    Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.   Just one thing:  forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,  I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling,  in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3: 12-14

Give me some Attitude

Many people move into Lent not very excited about it.  Oh, here comes another Lent where I feel guilty if I’m not sacrificing and giving up something.  Someone just said to me the other day (when thinking about Ash Wednesday), “I hate fasting”.

As you move into Lent 2012 how can this time truly be a “new springtime” for your spiritual life?  As catechists and disciples of Christ how is Christ calling you to grow?  St. Augustine once said that moderation is more challenging/difficult than total abstinence (fasting).  I think that is true.  Maybe this lent it’s about the little things instead of the big things.  Maybe it’s about 5 or 10 minutes of prayer time instead of deciding to do a half an hour to an hour of prayer a day.  Consider not eating dessert a few days during the week instead of giving up chocolate or candy all of lent but eating sugar cookies and carrot cake.  Maybe it’s not looking at your cell phone between 6pm – 10pm so you can spend time with your family, serving others or praying.  This is the kind of attitude St. Paul encouraged: “straining forward to what lies ahead” so you can grow in your “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus”.

Encouraging students

Most religious education class or RCIA sessions during Lent are not all about the season.  However, try to continually encourage and help your students remember that this is a time to really grow, renew our love for God, seek to love others and be aware of doing God’s will.  This can be done by incorporating things into your opening and closing prayer as well as your particular topic of the day.

Be Saints

Our goal in life is to be with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one day in Heaven.  Let us renew this Lent God’s call of holiness (for us to be saints).  It is challenging and not always easy but with God’s help…all things are possible.

 

Here is a video reflection about Ash Wednesday and Lent being a time to choose God and be happy:




I found this great video about a teen realizing that it’s more than just going through the motions each week at Mass.  Check it out:


Recently the diocesan newspaper had an article that talked about “spicing up” your fish during lent in order to not have to eat the “same old” on Fridays.  That’s funny, I thought a little more bland and same old is what is encouraged during the Lenten Season.  Isn’t less more during these 40 days?   The opportunities to spiritually grow during Lent are truly endless, however, many don’t like to “go without” or change what they are use to whether it’s what (and how much) they eat from day to day or the amount of time spent on the internet at night or even watching TV.

Take the opportunity this Season of Lent, if you have not already, to change up the way you do things.  I find that doing things like not eating between meals, going without the usual dessert or not watching TV all help me to better reflect, see more clearly, and become more aware of sin in my life.  Having and doing less produces more spiritual awareness and insights to my walk with Christ.  Christ wants more for us – but it takes risk and a willingness to go outside of our comfort zones.  Less of me and my wants = more of Christ.


The Season of Lent can be challenging in many respects.  A challenge I experience is to find the time to do some good spiritual reading during these 40 days.  The starting place for spiritual reading is the Sacred Scriptures.  Nothing is more valuable to our spiritual growth in the area of reading as spending time not only reading but meditating and reflecting upon Scripture and God’s word to us.  I also recommend a book that will bring personal  growth and spiritual renewal to your life.  The spiritual classics are great (e.g., books by St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis De Sales or Thomas a Kempis).  Other options might include a biography of a saint or a daily meditation book (e.g., In Conversation with God by Fr. Frances Fernandez).

Lent is a time to slow down and continue more intensely our spiritual journey.  Time spent reading and reflecting on the spiritual truths your reading introduces you to, or reminds you of, cannot be underestimated – it can have an inestimable value.


This popular devotion has more to it then meets the eye.

To learn more about the history of the Stations go to this website called Devotions & Prayers or go to a great article by Fr. William Saunders called How did the Stations of the Cross Begin?

This devotion is not only accessible for Catholics almost everywhere in the United States, but it is also a great devotion for kids because they are able to visualize the images of the passion of Jesus.  What a great way to help them meditate on some of the most important moments in Salvation History.

Many saints have written about the benefit of praying the Stations of the Cross and taking time to walk and meditate upon “the way of the Cross” or “via crucis”.  Here are a few examples:

The way of the Cross is the road which leads to Paradise; it is the sure way to holiness. The Passion of Christ is the greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love.  — St. Paul of the Cross

My Lord Jesus Christ, you have made this journey to die for me with love unutterable, and I have so many times unworthily abandoned you; but now I love you with my whole heart, and because I love you, I repent sincerely for ever having offended you. Pardon me, my God, and permit me to accompany you on this journey. you go to die for love of me; I wish also, my beloved Redeemer, to die for love of you. My Jesus, I will live and die always united to you.

— St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote this preparatory prayer for the Stations of    the Cross which he wrote.

O most merciful Jesus, with a contrite heart and penitent spirit, I bow downin profound humility before Thy divine majesty. I adore Thee as my supreme Lord and Master; I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee above all things. I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, my Supreme and Only Good. I resolve to amend my life, and although I am unworthy to obtain mercy, yet the sight of Thy holy cross, on which Thou didst die, inspires me with hope and consolation. I will, therefore, meditate on Thy sufferings, and visit the stations of Thy Passion in company with Thy sorrowful Mother and my guardian angel, with the intention of promoting Thy honor and saving my soul.

I desire to gain all the indulgences granted for this holy exercise for myself and for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. O merciful Redeemer, who has said, “And I, if I be lifted from earth, will draw all things to Myself,” draw my heart and my love to Thee, that I may perform this devotion as perfectly as possible, and that I may live and die in union with Thee. Amen.

— St. Francis of Assisi’s preparation prayer of the Stations of the cross that he wrote.

Here are a few excerpts from the Directory on Popular Piety, approved by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

133. The Via Crucis is a journey made in the Holy Spirit, that divine fire which burned in the heart of Jesus (cf. Lk 12:49-50) and brought Him to Calvary. This is a journey well esteemed by the Church since it has retained a living memory of the words and gestures of the final earthly days of her Spouse and Lord.

In the Via Crucis, various strands of Christian piety coalesce: the idea of life being a journey or pilgrimage; as a passage from earthly exile to our true home in Heaven; the deep desire to be conformed to the Passion of Christ; the demands of following Christ, which imply that His disciples must follow behind the Master, daily carrying their own crosses (cf Lk 9, 23).

The Via Crucis is a particularly apt pious exercise for Lent.

Consider participating in this devotion which draws those who participate into greater union with Christ.

How have you, your family and your parish found fruit and benefit in participating in this devotion?


A great practice during Lent is to promote frequent Mass attendance for the family.  Lent is really a time to “take stock” and to “go into the dessert”.   What better way to help children see what a special time of year it is than to go to Mass during the week?  This shows them that Mom and Dad, catechists and classroom aides are modeling for children the importance of going the extra mile by making time for something that helps them grow closer to Jesus and journey toward heaven.

A book every religious education program should have and every parent who has a child receiving their First Holy Communion should own is: The Weight of a Mass by Katalin Szegedi.  It is a wonderful book!


Lent is approaching Fast.  Bishop Keven Vann wrote an article in the North Texas Catholic Newspaper that speaks about the 3 Sundays leading up to Lent.  I found the following couple sentences very interesting:

“[F]or centuries the Sunday Liturgies in this time had the Sundays which were called “Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima” Sundays before Ash Wednesday to help prepare for Lent. My l962 Missal says that, “The three Sundays preceding Ash Wednesday are called SEPTUAGESIMA, SEXAGESIMA and QUINQUAGESIMA, which mean, respectively, the seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth day, that is, before Easter. They are mere names to correspond with the name of Lent (Quadragesima in Latin: ‘fortieth.’)”

I think this clearly shows the importance of preparing in advance for the Season of Lent.  I gave the following ideas: Lenten Classroom Ideas and more2011 gathered from various places to my catechists last week.  All our School of Religion classes this past Wednesday did a Lesson on Lent in order to help students prepare for the upcoming Liturgical Season.  Also, the Sunday Middle School classes will do the same.  I think it’s important to make sure students are thinking about how they are going to grow this Lent before Ash Wednesday is upon them, just as the Church has done for centuries.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful.  I’d love to hear from you and what ideas you are using in your classroom.