A Lenten Journey - Welcome - Fat Tuesday
Mar 5, 2019
Today is Fat Tuesday, tomorrow begins the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a special season that we celebrate each year as a time to grow closer to God through fasting, sacrifice, charity, and study. In my efforts as Director of Family Faith Formation at the parish, I thought it would be a worthy endeavor to write a bite-size blog for each day of Lent. This blog will do three simple things with each post. First it will offer a "Thought for the day" on the readings. Second, it will offer a reinforcement of a core faith principle. Finally, it will offer some advice on how to integrate the faith message at home. I encourage parishioners to read this daily and share it with anyone else they think would find this valuable. I promise to be precise and practical with these messages to help families to grow in faith this season.
A post, below, for today will serve as the sample for each day:
March 5, 2019 - Preparing for Sacrifice
Scriptures Today: Jesus and Peter were talking about how a person is saved and how hard it is for those who don't sacrifice to be saved. Peter says "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus acknowledges to Peter that those who sacrifice for the Gospel will be blessed 100 fold. Sacrifice is not a transaction, like investing in a 401K, rather by sacrificing (or giving ourselves away) we make ourselves more like God.
Core Faith Principle: The Holy Trinity is love itself. It is three Divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who are separate persons but so perfectly united that we have One God. This means that each Divine Person, for all eternity, has made a complete gift of themselves to the other two Divine Persons, that the Trinity is sustained only in that the other two Divine Persons do likewise and make a full self gift back. The unity comes in that all three Divine Persons accept the enormous love from the others while in turn giving it back, without reserve, in full self-giving love. The nature of God is not simply to make a gift of charity to another, it is also being in a state of perfect humility where we can receive love and life from others.
Living this at Home: The adults of the household should choose a Lenten practice that will help them practice the life of the Holy Trinity. Whether that is emptying oneself of self-provision (i.e. giving up candy, coffee, etc.) and sacrificing that way, or perhaps by increased giving (time, talent, treasure). Be sure to encourage children to select something (based on their maturity level) to choose something they might do as well. It is crucial that you TALK about it. Whether it is a bed time chat, around the breakfast table, driving to school, etc. Tell them how you are doing and ask them how they are doing. Acknowledge the difficulties of maintaining a sacrifice or even remembering. Teach them that we don't need a perfect score to serve the Lord, rather the closer we keep to it, the closer we grow toward God.
Two Additions, Just for Today - Normally the blog post would end with Living at home. Because today is preparatory day, I thought I would give two extra sections. First is some ideas for adults and kids for Lenten Practices. Second is what I call the "Oops Prayer."
Ideas for Adult Lenten Practices:
- If you are a regular coffee drinker (go to Dunkins/Starbucks each day) - you may choose to brew at home instead OR you could buy a coffee for someone in front or behind you in line each day that you go. This is the idea that you're receiving coffee but at the same time giving the same blessing away.
- Commit to saying grace before each meal. If you don't do this as a family, you might invite your family to join you. Your family may feel that your "suddenly all God-like" but just share with them that you feel like growing closer to God is important to you.
- You may consider setting aside 30 minutes for quiet and prayer each day. (I hear the "yeah right" already as most parents are always busy). However, that makes it all the more important. Statistics are clear that it leads to a healthier life. Maybe get up earlier in the morning, maybe dedicate your lunch break to a "Prayer lunch" where you make time for God. You can find the time if you look for it and it may need to sacrifice some other pleasure. Ways to use the time can include: Reading scripture, spiritual reading, silent reflection (you can stretch, sit in your "comfy chair," (barring distractions), browse sacred art online, listen to sacred music, etc. It does not have to be super formal. Start the session by saying, "Lord, I set this time aside for you, help us to grow closer together in this time." Then end the session by thanking God for any blessings or insights from the time, or even asking for help with the process.
- Try to set aside a special bonding time between you and each of your children individually. This may be a weekly thing for Lent. Based on the interests and maturity of the child, teach them something you know (cooking, whittling, sewing, fishing, dancing, make-up, car repair, coding, Latin, it doesn't matter). If you share with them something you love to do, they will value it. Then balance that effort by doing something with them that they like (play their video games, play basketball with them, learn a trick that they've learned, or perhaps let them choose something that you can learn together). This bonding PERSON to PERSON is what Trinitarian life is all about.
Ideas for Kids:
- Nightly Prayers - Make it a Lenten practice to pray each night before bed. Start with an Our Father, Have the child pick three things (you don't need to coach it) that they would like to pray for. (Grandparents, parents, siblings, pets, to be good at sports, etc. etc.). Repeat the things they chose (For our family) perhaps add your own intention and then pray 1 Hail Mary. Repeat for the next two items. End with a Glory Be.
- Practice saying Grace before meals.
- If your child reads at night before bed, you may encourage them to read Bible Stories (children's bible) or Children's lives of the saints. There are some spectacular stories there.
- 40 Good Deeds - Give them a chart with 40 spaces, hang it in the living room, kitchen, or some other convenient spot. Use post-it notes or even write on the chart itself the good deed the child says to you. When it is added to the board, say a prayer together, something simple like. "Jesus, you give me every good thing I have, I did this for you, Amen."
The Oops Prayer: Use this prayer or something similar if you mess up your resolution. This prayer itself, prayed daily, will be a reminder to love God above all else!
"Jesus, I am sorry that I did not keep my Lenten resolution today. I wanted to do that to show you that I love you. Please know that I love you and that I will keep trying to keep my Lenten resolution until Easter. Amen."