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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 1: Praying with St. Patrick

In the first of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we learn from St. Patrick how to make Lent a special season of prayer. In the weeks leading up to Lent, I am reminded to tell the young people in my class about Lent. I have to tell them when Ash Wednesday services at my parish are. I am required to inform them of the Lenten regulations. I need to […]

The Vocabulary of Lent

As we look to observe Lent with our students, I am thinking about the language of Lent and how to ensure that my seventh-graders know the Church’s vocabulary related to the season. I shared a post on the Vocabulary of Christmas two months ago, and many of the techniques for helping children understand key terms could apply here as well. But one of the advantages of Lent, from a catechetical perspective, is that it is […]

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