Hello dear friends of the Catholic Family Podcast and columns. Greetings as we are about to enter Lent. Each year, blogs and columns and religious shows bring us things to think about or to consider doing for Lent. So I guess I won’t be different – well maybe so. [callout]Church isn’t just a place to go to. Church is a way of life. And the rhythms and cycles of our faith are worth internalizing and helping to break up so our faith walk is ever fresh, ever new.[/callout]
One of the things that I like to do is to think about – to suggest activities that we can do which bring Church into the home. This is one of the ways that children are taught that Church isn’t just for Sundays; Church isn’t just a place to go to. Church is a way of life. And the rhythms and cycles of our faith are worth internalizing and helping to break up so our faith walk is ever fresh, ever new.
What I’d like to propose in this month’s column is that you can bring the Lenten Sunday readings into your home. Here’s how. Each Sunday we, of course have a first reading, a responsorial psalm, a second reading and then the Gospel. I propose and will demonstrate here that you can bring some of the symbolism and meaning of these readings into our home.
How so, you might ask? Considering that we will have readers of differing ages, family situations, available space, etc. – I propose that you create a Lenten corner in a visible area of your home. Now — you can do simple activities that will tie in exactly with the Lenten Sunday readings. For example:
The FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT: the readings are
Genesis 2:7-9; 3-17, with words of: garden scene, fruit, serpent, and fig leaves
Responsorial PS 51, mercy, water, towel, praise, and Spirit
Romans 5:12-19, sin, death/resurrection, gift, condemnation, acquittal, grace
Matthew 4:1-11, desert, Spirit, devil, hunger, stones, bread, homage, heights, adoration
Now, what to do with these data? In your Lenten corner, you could arrange a small dessert scene with appropriate plants (cacti, etc.), sand, rock and old driftwood. Add a little broken pottery, both fired and unfinished as if left in ages past. If you have children, you could start on Sunday with just the sand, and each day add more to your ‘desert area.’
Now whether there are children or just adults, this Lenten setting provokes topics for discussion. Jesus went into the wilderness completely alone. How important are friends and companionship in your life? Jesus completely withdrew from the ‘civilized’ world nearest in those times. Is there not an example of the need for us to withdraw from our world during Lent? How important is fasting in the discipline of Lent? What was Jesus’ example concerning food and temptations? And yet, St Augustine told us that we should fast and abstain as much as our strength allows. God is good. If there are children – they might relate well to the example and teaching about how hostile the dessert can be. Snakes, scorpions, wild animals, cold nights, etc. And yet – we are warm and safe in our home. What a great God we have. This is a season to remind us of God’s goodness to us. These are but a few examples, and I’ll do one more week.
The SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT: the readings are
Genesis 12:1-4, with words such as: Go, blessing, curse, old age
Responsorial PS 33, mercy, trust, justice, kindness, fear of God, waiting
2 Timothy 1:8-10, hardship, call to holiness, death/resurrection, light
Matthew 17:1-9, heights, radiance, dazzling sun, three altars, bright cloud, favor, listen, fear, laying on hands, fear not, secrecy, death and resurrection.
What to do with these data and your Lenten desert corner? Keep the desert scene but begin to add signs of life such as young plants. There was a mountain top experience — put in a raised area of rock or sand. Wasn’t there a lamb in the readings? What do you think to add?
Once again – topics seem to spring forth from these readings. The experiences of God seem to often happen on a mountain. Discuss if the ancient Jews went to the tops of mountains to try to ‘spend time’ with a God they couldn’t see. Abram has a name change and is given a ‘job transfer.’ Have you had any family moves in your life? Was it hard meeting new people, making new friends? God makes a covenant with Abraham; have you any feeling of God’s promises in your life? Are you doing what you feel God wants you to do? Peter doesn’t want to hear of pain and sadness – he wants only good times and peace. How realistic is that in this world?
Okay — I could do more. And many of you are likely more creative or imaginative than I am. But if you’ve got the kernel of my thinking — now you can do what some families do just with Christmas –except in this way of thinking, you are making and bringing Lenten themes into your home.
I hope you’ll try this. I’d like to hear from you if you really got into it.