How the Stations of the Cross Teach Us a “Way of Proceeding”

In his book, Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross, author Gary Jansen tells the story of a noted psychologist who asked an audience, “If I squeeze an orange, what comes out?” After a hesitation, one person shouted out, “Orange juice!” The psychologist responded, “Orange juice. Yes. Why?” Again, after a hesitation, one person answered, “Because that’s what’s inside the orange.” The psychologist affirmed that and said, “We could say […]

Prayer Cubes for Lent

There are many opportunities to engage children during the season of Lent. I like to use this season to encourage the children in my class to develop a new prayer habit, especially a habit that they can bring home to their families. Last year my class used Lenten prayer sticks, which were very popular. I wondered why, and it dawned on me that having something tangible made prayer time hard to ignore. Parents could more […]

An Ash Wednesday Dialogue

Provide children with the language to explain why they wear ashes on Ash Wednesday. The brief video below illustrates an imagined dialogue between two students that can be a model for children and a classroom discussion starter. Read the post that inspired this video: “What’s That on Your Forehead?”—Helping Kids Explain Ash Wednesday. And see more Lenten resources for catechists here.

Lent: So Much More Than “Giving Things Up”

It’s time that we got past the idea of Lent as simply a season of “giving things up.” While that is a part of Lent, if it stops there, it is like someone joining a 12-step group and thinking that achieving abstinence from the addictive behavior is to be equated with sobriety. Abstinence from the addictive behavior is only the first step in what must be a holistic plan for recovery that addresses behaviors, emotions, and […]

Six Ways to Keep the Message of Lent a Focal Point All Season

How can we catechists keep the message of Lent a focal point in our classes for six weeks? Beyond keeping a purple cloth on the prayer table, here are a few ideas for keeping Lenten themes the focus of every session for the entire season. Challenge young people to silence. I started this last year with my seventh graders. At first they had a hard time settling themselves for a few moments of complete silence […]

Developing Students’ Prayerful Habits During Lent

Over my years as a catechist, I have become firmly convinced that our mission is not as much to teach children about Jesus but introduce them to Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is very different than only learning information about him. The best way for children, or any of us, to come to know Jesus is through prayer. I introduce and model many experiences of prayer throughout the year; I am especially conscious […]

Living the Liturgical Year at Home: Lent

The disciplines of Lent offer an annual chance for spiritual housekeeping, a time to reflect on our faith in every aspect of our lives. Lent is also a 40-day journey that, like any journey, benefits from having a well-planned itinerary. Know your destination. Lent’s destination is Easter, when we renew our baptismal promises to be the light of Christ in the world. The penitential practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving cleanse us and prepare us […]

Guided Reflection on Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

With Ash Wednesday quickly approaching, now’s the time to think about how you will introduce the Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to your students. In addition to using the seasonal chapters in your textbook, take some time for reflection on these traditional practices. Download a Guided Reflection on Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. This prayerful reflection introduces young people to the three Lenten disciplines and invites conversation with Jesus about how to make prayer, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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