File Away for Next Lent: Neighborhood Way of the Cross

I would have shared this with you earlier, but I didn’t hear about it until Lent was over! So, file this one away for next Lent. I recently heard about a parish that did the Stations of the Cross during Lent through their neighborhood, arranging to stop at 14 pre-selected homes where each Station was prayed. I think this is a wonderful idea and a way to get families involved in a traditional Lenten practice. […]

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A: Hope in the Resurrection

The scene described at Bethany (John 11:1–45 ) is a sad one. Martha meets Jesus, weeping, and says that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died. Yet she remains confident that God will do whatever Jesus asks. Martha affirms her belief that there will be a resurrection of the dead in the last days. Then Martha’s sister, Mary, comes to Jesus with the same confidence, saying that Jesus could have cured Lazarus. […]

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A: Coming Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

As in last week’s Gospel about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, this Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 9:1–41) has many allusions to Baptism. The washing of the man in the pool of Siloam is a prototype for Christian Baptism. Through the man’s encounter with Jesus, the man born blind is healed, his sight is restored, and his conversion to discipleship begins. The man born blind gradually comes to a greater understanding about who Jesus is […]

Why Do We Observe Lent?

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. It forces me to slow down and focus more intently on Jesus for 40 days. But when teaching fourth graders, slowing down is not the optimal way to communicate the importance of Lent. While I was talking to my class about Lent, I was surprised by the number of students who confused Lent and Advent. Too many didn’t understand much of Lent beyond giving up […]

Third Sunday of Lent, Year A: Mercy Without Limits

In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 4:5–42), the dialogue between Jesus and a woman from Samaria is among the most lengthy and most theological found in Scripture. The most startling aspect of the conversation is that it happens at all. Jesus, an observant Jew of that time, was expected to avoid conversation with women in public. The animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans should have prevented the conversation as well. The woman herself alludes to […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 3: Giving Alms with St. Katharine Drexel

This is the last of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Whenever I talk about the three pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—the conversation I have with young people about alms usually goes something like this: “What are alms?” one youth will ask. “Are those the things we get on the Sunday before Easter?” “No,” I’ll correct gently, “those are palms.” “I know,” another will say, “it’s a book in […]

Lent as a Catechetical Leader

Our annual Lenten journey has begun. I don’t know about you, but it seems like I always start this penitential season really well, but then quickly fall into the same old busy-ness of parish life. In fact, for most catechetical leaders, Lent is our busiest time of the year. How do we counter that? First and foremost, we have to make a commitment to prayerfully focus on what the season means. It’s a time to […]

Second Sunday of Lent, Year A: The Promise of Glory

When you get down to it, each of us is walking around with a vision of a hoped-for reality—an alternate reality—for ourselves, for those we love, for our community, for our world. We imagine a world that exists somewhere beyond what our eyes can presently see. We have a choice: we can either approach life as a problem to be solved, a contest to be won, or as a mystery to be entered into more […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 2: Fasting with St. Vincent Ferrer

This is the second of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a season in which we respond to the Lord’s call to “return to me with all your heart, / with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12) As I remind young people of the requirements for Lent, I usually share this passage with them to remind them that this obligation is nothing more than responding to […]

Journeying with the Scriptures in Lent

Many years ago I was inspired to create an interactive Lenten bulletin board based on the popular children’s board game, Candy Land. Using colored construction paper squares, I fashioned a winding path to represent the 40 days’ journey from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday. Instead of Lollipop Mountain and King Candy’s Castle, I created stops along the way that reflected the Gospel readings for the six Sundays of Lent and ended at Calvary. Visual clues […]

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