Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lenten Activities: Stations of the Cross

Of all the Catholic memories I have from growing up in the Church, Lenten activities remain the strongest. I, especially, remember attending the Stations of the Cross in the evenings. I remember,  back in the 1960's, that not many attended.  Not as many as there are at Mass, for sure.  The reason I remember that is because it would be quiet. It was a quiet prayer time. The pews would creak as people would genuflect at the appropriate time. The Church too, would always have a special feel about it.  It was dark outside giving the stained glass windows a special look about them. Without the light shining in the images on the windows seemed so much more real. The pictures in the prayer book were very sad. They showed the sufferings of Jesus and his mother and the look of Simon of Cyrene being asked to help carry the cross. I can still see the sadness on Jesus's face when he met the women of Jerusalem. There was the smell of the incense that can't be forgotten either. The prayer before each station the Priest would pray, "We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee," and we would respond with, "because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world."
The evening would end with the singing of,  "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name."  It is still the same today, the same holy feeling,  the same prayers and music,the same awesome God who doesn't change. I even purchased some of the prayer books to have in our homeschool.
I always knew Lent was a time before Easter when we remembered the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus, but it wasn't until recently that I researched the history of Lent and came to understand what it meant.
The word Lent actually means "spring" or March, which is the month most of Lent falls in.
Lent is a season of about 40 days set aside by the Church in order for the faithful Christians to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. It is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by a recalling of their Baptism and Baptismal promises and by doing works of penance, that is, prayer, fasting and giving of alms.
This time coincides so well with spring, calling to mind new life and growth, a hope and change that we should be about during this beautiful season.  It is a time when days become longer and the sun seems to shine more.  By the time Easter is here there will be flowers blooming and some green showing.  It is a time to start fresh. A time to remember what Jesus did for us and a time for us to show our love for Jesus by doing for others because as our Lord said,  "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."  Maybe the word "Lent" is not mentioned in the Bible, but prayer, fasting and almsgiving definately are.  It is awesome for me to think that because Jesus left us the Church we can all be one, participating in this seeking of the Lord at the same time.  There are many websites that talk about the history of Lent and it's importance. One place to seek out information is EWTN.  Their library has a very long article on the history of Lent and tells that many of the early Church fathers assure us that Lent was instituted by the apostles.
At this point on the Liturgical calendar, and I love the Liturgical calendar because it causes us to yearly stay focused on the life of Jesus, we draw closer to the Lord by remembering His passion, death and resurrection.
I hope and pray all of you are able to draw yourself and your family closer to the Lord during this Lenten season, also.

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Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain