This Lent is a special one for me. This is the first Lent in almost 5 years that I am not preparing catechumens for the Easter Vigil. It is the first Lent in much longer than that, in which I am not contractually obligated to catechize around the season. I do not have to do anything with Rice Bowls, I do not have to teach about almsgiving. I’m not obligated to help out at fish frys. This is the first Lent that I have to make my own decisions about how my family and I will observe the season.
So, we are doing our best to not eat meat on Fridays. At the request of the pastor, we have been tracking our prayer time and trying to incorporate prayers for vocations. (Fr. V wants to send the time record to the Bishop as a gift.) We were going to attempt numerous spiritual growth opportunities found on line (see Michael’s post on 3 Techie Things for Lent, and especially Katie Prejean’s 40 Days to Fitness.) But none of these were destined to stick this year.
Oddly enough, one weekend we found ourselves at our home parish (a rare occurrence with our schedule) listening to an announcement about a new opportunity to learn about prayer. We are parishioners at a pleasant enough small-townish church, but the opportunities for families with small children to participate are generally limited. They almost exclusively consist of attempting to make it through mass without having to head to the back while apologizing profusely for the screaming child in your arms, while another child follows in a temper-tantrum-procession because he wants to go with you while you discipline his older brother, leaving behind their poor mother attempting to control the baby without having to nurse in the front pew. Since we already fully participate in this Sunday ritual, I decided that we should attempt to stretch and grow, and perhaps offer a family-friendly experience for Lent in our community.
So, back to the announcement about prayer.
One of the ministries in the parish had funded the purchase of the “Oremus” study series by Ascension Press. Some of my favorite catechetical experiences have been with Ascension Press’ materials, so I volunteered to host a group. My only conditions were that I needed to host at my home and that we would have children present.
Tonight, we will have our third session and start week 3. We have a great group of people, and in the evenings the children well outnumber the adults. We have been very open about our struggles in actually getting the activities from the workbook done, but we are excited to share our journey with each other. There is a certain level of accountability in hosting this group. And there is also a wonderful sense of caring obligation, because I am excited to have these people over and share our home with them. I’m not sure how the rest of the series will go, or even the rest of the Lenten season, but we are offering up our time and our energy and even a little bit of our alms to grow spiritually and to attempt to help our community grow.
I am grateful for the opportunity to experience Lent in this way this year. and I encourage you to find some new way to experience Lent in your life.
I encourage you to post your ideas, suggestions and attempts here. We could all use some great ideas and encouragement!