The Lenten Season
by Therese Mueller, Our Children’s Year of Grace, 1958
Daily Mass is the real “Lenten sacrifice,” and the studying of the daily Mass formula on the evening before is the best means to lead us the way the Church wants us to go. Work out together one or two thoughts that can be easily remembered the next morning and during the day.
Let us remember that the Church has two ideas woven into the Lenten liturgy: the preparation of the catechumens for baptism on Holy Saturday, and the reconciliation of sinners and their atonement. We prepare for the renewal of our baptism; we suffer with Christ for our sins; we are buried with him in penance so that we may rise with him to a new life in grace and glory.
The Sundays of Lent are meant by Mother Church as a pause on the hard way. They are a measure of relaxation and reward for our effort, in order to gather new strength for the coming week. Especially the “Midfast,” the Sunday Laetare, is full of joyous anticipation of a victorious Easter day, since in nature by that time the sun has already conquered the darkness and the cold, and spring has driven out winter. Let us foretaste the coming Feast, and let us rejoice that we have reached and conquered half of our steep way.
The Spirit of Lent
by Mary Reed Newland
The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season
The young and the old may not be bound by the fast, but they are bound by its spirit, each according to his capacity.
If we feel that it is unnatural to ask penances of children while they are still very young – penances within their reach – we forget that self-denial must be learned very young, that it is the forming of character, that the very grace of their Baptism flows from the Cross.
The end of the penitential seasons imposed by the Church is not mere performance.
The Church is a wise mother, who knows that the cutting away of self-will frees our souls for a more radiant love affair with Christ.
If we think of the penance without pondering its effect, we misunderstand it.
It is not over and done with the doing but will bear fruit, if it is done with the right spirit; not alone by the piling up of “treasure in Heaven” but by an increase in our taste for God, a change in the habits of our souls.
Our Lord tells us how to behave during Lent when He speaks to us in the Ash Wednesday Gospel (Matt. 6:16-21): When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in Heaven, where. neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
So let us remember, when we choose something to give up: no moaning and groaning! Hypocrites (our Lord was talking about the Pharisees) make much of their performances because they want attention. That being their motive, He says, they already have their reward: attention.
There will be opportunities, before Lent is over, for us to attract attention; but so long as this is not our motive, we can accept and use whatever God permits to come to us.
A father will be asked by business associates why he, too, doesn’t order steak for lunch. One mother will be asked by fellow club-members why she doesn’t eat sandwiches and cake after their evening business meeting.
Some children will be asked why they say “No, thank you,” to proffered candies at school, to decline an invitation to a movie during Lent, or do not join with others to watch a television show.
These are the opportunities, with many more, to give reasons “for the faith that is in you.” It is as necessary to give an honest explanation if one is asked, as it is to keep quiet about it if one is not.
God chooses His own time and place to teach the lesson of good example; our part is merely the good example.
“Anoint thy head; wash thy face….” Be cheerful!
The Pharisees wore gloomy looks and long faces to indicate the great anguish their interior purifications cost them.
Not for us.
Our Lord suggests that we “anoint” our heads – that is, prepare ourselves as though we were going to a banquet.
Look cheery and bright even if it is Lent and we miss the between-meal snacks. Our Father in Heaven sees what it is costing us.
One of the Lenten resolves in our family was to omit from all conversation the familiar groan “I’m starving.”
Then He tells us to lay up our treasure in Heaven, because where your treasure is, there your heart is also.
The Second Sunday of Advent has just passed! There are approximately 30 more days left in Lent. I hope it is fruitful for all of us!
Maybe you are doing the Lenten Journal and working on the Crown of Thorns? Here are pictures and thoughts from a few years back….
Here, Rosie is preparing the Crown of Thorns made from unleavened bread dough. It will harden and the toothpicks (thorns) will be waiting to have a pretty silk flower topping it as the children do their sacrifices….
By Easter it will look lovely and the sacrifices the children made will live on forever….
We have no place to put a “bread” Crown of Thorns so we put the idea to paper. This is a big poster board that is mounted to the fridge. If it is a big sacrifice, the sharpies come out and a flower is drawn on a thorn. Three little sacrifices suffice for a flower, too.
Filling up! Interesting species of flowers, wouldn’t you say? What artists I have!
Virginia’s family also has a jar of beans. Every time a sacrifice is made a bean is put in the jar. At Easter, the beans will be replaced with jelly beans and divvied out between the kids.
This year, our friend from Minnesota, Paul, drew the Crown of Thorns for us. We are late getting started…..
Hopefully by the end of Lent, each thorn will have a flower drawn on it. One has to do 3 sacrifices to draw one flower.
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Make your kitchen a place of warmth! “Wherever I’ve lived, the kitchen has always seemed to be the place where warmth and love reign. Family and friends are drawn there like chickens to their roosts. Of all the rooms in our home, the kitchen is the place of comfort, the preferred gathering place for shared conversations and the teamwork of preparing good meals for and with each other.” – http://amzn.to/2ndp5bu Emilie Barnes (afflink)
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I have prepared this Lenten journal to help you to keep on track. It is to assist you in keeping focused on making Lent a special time for your family. We do not have to do great things to influence those little people. No, we must do the small things in a great way…with love and consistency…
Timeless words from the pen of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen inspire the heart and imagination as readers embark on a Lenten journey toward a better understanding of their spiritual selves. Covering the traditional themes of Lent–sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope, ashes and lilies–these 50 passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.
If you enjoyed learning about holiday traditions in The Christmas Book, you are sure to love its sequel, The Easter Book. Father Weiser has here applied his winning formula to an explanation of the fasts and feasts of the Lenten and Easter seasons with equally fascinating results.
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