The Three Pillars of Lent
PRAYER, FASTING and ALMSGIVING. Catholics have often heard this three-pronged phrase that is emphasized during the forty days of Lent, and it is a worthwhile endeavor to explore fresh ways to practice them. Practicing them with the entire family is a wonderful experience to bring us closer to the Lord in our Lenten journey.Our Corpus Christi MARCH group met on February 15, excited to have a new space in the Faith Formation offices of Corpus Christi parish. We began with prayer and a song around the piano. Among our children we have an age range of 4 thru 16, so we presented ‘workshops’ on prayer, fasting and almsgiving at three different levels. In the Prayer workshop, Mrs. Bourque helped the little ones fashion their own prayer books in the shape of their own folded hands, just the thing to cozy up to Mom or Dad and read along with them while learning their basic prayers. Middle schoolers learned the “ACTS” of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Older kids were introduced to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, as well as Stations of the Cross, and were encouraged to practice one or both this Lenten season.
In Fasting 101, Mrs. McCann explained the reasons behind the practice of fasting during Lent. Our littlest kiddos made “treasure chests” to hold their sacrifices; they intend to offer the sacrifices as treasures to Jesus. Middle- and high schoolers had a chance to plan a Lenten “menu”, which focused on sacrifices at mealtimes. They also explored ways to fast in other, non-food, ways.
For Almsgiving, with closed eyes, we imagined ourselves homeless by painting a verbal picture of the desperately needy. We learned that the spirit of charity goes hand-in-hand with almsgiving, and the word ‘charity’ means ‘love’. With Mrs. Durant, each family designed and decorated a “Loving Box”—a plastic crate to bring home and fill with items for the local homeless shelter.
During our classes, we were uplifted by the presence of Father Jack Dickinson, who looked in on each group, and offered edifying comments to all the children. Afterward, we gathered for a traditional Lenten snack–soft pretzels, explaining that the salt (and mustard) is omitted as a little sacrifice. Sacrifices notwithstanding, we still enjoyed our snack time!
If you wondered if you can have fun with Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, the children proved that you can! Families took home their useful creations, as well as a packet of written Lenten material, which we hope will be encouraging in the home setting.
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