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Catholics celebrate Lent through lenten prayer, fasting, almsgiving, to prepare for Easter. Here are practical ideas for daily lenten practices and lenten activities to help you get the most out of this Lent.

Ordinary Things, Sacred Meaning
By: Jeanne Hunt


Each issue carries an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
How many Lents have you lived  through? Each year we begin with the highest hopes—only to experience what may seem like dismal failure in a few days! The key to good Lenten practice might be right under our noses, in our homes and beyond. 
 
The people in our everyday lives—family members, neighbors, co-workers and friends—can provide a graced “desert experience.” In that “desert” of Lent, that space outside of the ordinary where we examine things more closely, we can find the sacred in the ordinary things of life. 
 
We can enrich our understanding of the ancient signs, symbols and rituals of the Lenten season. We can see our home or community as our holy place. This Lent, let us use the ordinary things of each day to help us rediscover our faith. This will offer some practical suggestions. Feel free to pick and choose, move them around or adapt them as you go! Also, the Scripture references are to the lectionary readings for that day—a key to making the connection between the activity and its Lenten theme.  
 
Ash Wednesday
Bowl of ashes
Jl 2:12-18; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18  “Remember you are dust,” the invocation goes. To keep our memory sharp, place a bowl of ashes or dirt on the family coffee or dining table. Throughout these 40 days, let us not hesitate to sift through the ashes as a gesture of remembering. 
 
Thursday
Family photos
Dt 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25  Choosing life takes an attitude adjustment in this culture of death. Find baby pictures of family members. Spend some time looking at the pictures and reflecting on each person’s potential, vision and dreams. Pray for each person. 
 
Friday
The meat platter is missing
Is 58:1-9a; Mt 9:14-15  With the first Friday in Lent, abstinence from meat comes to the family table. Serving a meatless meal is meant to promote sacrifice. So, let’s not eat lobster this night! Create a simple menu which proclaims that we are curbing our appetites with a little self-denial. 
 
Saturday
An offering jar
Is 58:9b-14; Lk 5:27-32  Try to live this day focused on others by avoiding using “I” or “me.” When we catch ourselves or others using these pronouns, invite the self-centered soul to put a nickel, dime or even a quarter into a jar or bowl. Put the money in the Sunday offering basket at our parish.
 
First Sunday of Lent
A new coffee table book
Gn 9:8-15; Mk 1:12-15  We are invited to repent and believe the Good News. The Gospels proclaim the Good News that Jesus is our savior. Put your Bible—the family Bible if you have one—on the coffee table and spend some time reading Mark1:12-15. Leave the Bible on the table throughout Lent and keep reading.
 
Monday
The closet
Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Mt 25:31-46  In the spirit of Matthew 25, give away or throw away three or more unneeded things each week for the rest of Lent. When Easter arrives our house will be cleaned out and only blessed sheep will abide within! 
 
Tuesday
Off button
Is 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15  Let us spend some time in silence today. During that time, or beyond, turn off the television, radio, computer and cell phone. Just being with God is good enough. No words are really necessary. After all, he knows what we need before we even ask.  
 
Wednesday
The calendar
Jon 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32  Jonah’s story reminds us what’s coming. Look ahead to your calendar and reserve the Triduum dates—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil—so that you will be available to watch and pray at your parish. 
 
Thursday
Bread
Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7:7-12  At the family meal serve some really good bread and talk about your heart’s desire. God is listening. God doesn’t want us to eat stone soup when bread gives life.
 
Friday
Thermostat
Ez 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26  What can you or your family do to take the law “up a notch”? Jesus shows us to go beyond the minimum and do more than is required. Perhaps we
could add a day of abstinence, up our Sunday tithe, work in a soup kitchen? 
 
Saturday
An unwelcome guest
Dt 26:16-19; Mt 5:43-48  Who do you “love the least” right now? Let us spend this day praying for our least favorite person and the grace to love him or her.


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Third Sunday of Lent
A dirty spot
Ex 20:1-17; Jn 2:13-25  Every house has a dirty spot (the attic, the basement, the garage). Visit that dirty spot in the house and pray about how Jesus would challenge us to clean up our lives. 
 
Monday
Medicine chest
2 Kgs 5:1-15b; Lk 4:24-30  Is your medicine chest full of over-the-counter pills that may not be cures? Take a moment to clean the shelves of outdated medicines and ask the Divine Healer to strengthen your faith. 
 
Tuesday
Credit cards
Dn 3:25, 34-43; Mt 18:21-35  Make today a “no-credit, cash-only” day. Each time you use cash instead of credit, think about the servant in today’s Gospel. How much do we depend upon the Lord’s mercy? 
 
Wednesday
Lightbulbs
Dt 4:1, 5-9; Mt 5:17-19  Look for burnt-out lightbulbs to replace today. As you replace them, think about how God’s law functions in our lives. Like a light, the laws guide us on the Way. 
 
Thursday
Rock
Solemnity of St. Joseph
2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a; Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a  St. Joseph had rock-solid faith. Carry a rock in your pocket today to honor Joseph. Pray for your own father today. 
 
Friday
Neighbors
Hos 14:2-10; Mk 12:29-34  Loving your neighbors requires a choice to reach out to them with compassion. Take a moment today to do a kindness for a shut-in or lonely person in your neighborhood. 
 
Saturday
Comfortable chair
Hos 6:1-6; Lk 18:9-14  Find a comfortable chair in a quiet corner of your home and put some prayer things there: a rosary, prayer book, Bible, devotional reading. Make a date with God and go to the chair often.
 
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Refrigerator notes
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Jn 3:14-21  Write the words of John 3:16 on a card and mount it on the refrigerator. We all need a reminder of the Good News. 
 
Monday
The backyard
Is 65:17-21; Jn 4:43-54  It’s time for a little “new creation” in the backyard. Look for new plants or flowers to remind the house that God is always up to something new.
 
Tuesday
Doormat
Ez 47:9, 12; Jn 5:1-16  Replace or revitalize your doormat and promise to walk into spiritual and physical health. Let us take some action—just like the handicapped man of Bethesda. 
 
Wednesday
Planner and checkbook
Is 7:10-14, 8-10; Lk 1:26-38  Look at your planner and your checkbook. We are saying yes to whatever we spend our time or money on. Like Mary, say yes in some new way today to God’s will. 
 
Thursday
Act of Contrition
Ex 32:7-14; Jn 5:31-47  Say a heartfelt Act of Contrition today. Is money, food, sports, clothes—anything—getting in the way of our discipleship?  
 
Friday
The doorknob
Wis 2:1a, 12-22; Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30  Jesus took a risk going to the Feast of Tabernacles. What is God daring you to do? Put your hand on the doorknob and walk out into a world that dares you to be Jesus’ disciple. 
 
Saturday
Soup pot
Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-53  Get out the soup pot and make a batch of good soup. Let the aroma incense our domestic church, our homes. At supper, with soup and bread, talk about who Jesus is to you. 
 
Fifth Sunday of Lent 
The clock
Jer 31:31-34; Jn 12:20-33  “The hour has come....” In which areas of our lives are we in denial? The clock reminds us that we are living these hours of life not just for ourselves but also for Jesus Christ. He is drawing us to himself at this very hour.  
 
Monday
Pickles
Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Jn 8:1-11  Susanna and the woman caught in adultery are featured in today’s reading. Both found themselves in a terrible pickle, and God rescued them. Think or write about the times in your life when God’s mercy saved you. Eat a pickle in celebration of God’s compassion. 
 
Tuesday
Duct tape
Num 21:4-9; Jn 8:21-30  When we whine, the world looks dark. Put an imaginary piece of duct tape over your mouth and try not to complain today. 
 
Wednesday
Family tree
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Jn 8:31-42  Who are those people who passed on the faith to you? Say a prayer for them today and thank them for their witness.  
 
Thursday
Shower
Gn 17:3-9; Jn 8:51-59  Everyone needs a place to be alone. A good, hot shower, or some other retreat, can do wonders for a troubled soul. Enjoy a visit to your hiding place and rest awhile. 
 
Friday
Today’s news
Jer 20:10-13; Jn 10:31-42  Take in today’s news and listen to it with a critical mind. Who is performing good works in our world? Make a list of those “workers” and pray for them. 
 
Saturday
Cleaning rags
Ez 37:21-28; Jn 11:45-56  It is time to prepare for Holy Week. Make it a family affair to clean the house for Easter, as a holy sign that we are God’s people.
 
Palm Sunday
Empty walls
Is 50:4-7; Mk 14:1—15:47  Plan time for the coming week to pray, go to the parish rituals and spend family time. Also, empty your home of your religious art until Easter. Jesus leaves the ordinary for the extraordinary. 
 
Monday
Air freshener
Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11  Mary’s oil filled the house with fragrance. Bring some sweet smell into your house today and think of some way you can lavish your love on Jesus. 
 
Tuesday
Piggy banks
Is 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38  Judas kept the money bags and that seemed to get him in trouble. Consider your use of money today. Do you share with the poor? What would Jesus do? 
 
Wednesday
Dining room table
Is 50:4-9a; Mt 26:14-25  Get your dining room table set for the meals of the next few days. Bring out the very best dishes because Jesus is your unseen guest.  
 
Sacred Triduum 
 
Holy Thursday
Bread
Ex 12:1-8; Jn 13:1-15  Making bread with your family is a wonderful way to understand the Last Supper. If you’re not up to the task, you can buy a loaf of good unsliced bread, and break it together, with passionate faith.
 
Good Friday
Water tap
Is 52:13—53:12; Jn 18:1—19:42   Fast and pray this Good Friday. During the hours of the crucifixion keep silence in the house and, if you can, refrain from drinking. Jesus said, “I thirst,” and he received nothing but hyssop. A fast from water can help us to appreciate receiving living water. 
 
Holy Saturday
Candle
Ex 14:15—15:1; Mk 16:1-7  Attend the Easter Vigil with your entire household, if possible. If you have children too small to stay long, just watch the Easter fire. Then decorate an Easter candle at the center of your table. Pray the prayer of Christians everywhere: Alleluia! Jesus is risen! 
 
Easter Sunday
Bowl
Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Jn 20:1-9  Place a bowl of water on your table today, amidst all of the Easter eggs, flowers and trimmings. Bless the water, then bless yourself with the water as a reminder of the new life that your Baptism brings to you, every day and all day. Happy Easter!


Jeanne Hunt is a popular freelance writer and speaker. She has an M.A. in religious studies from the Athenaeum of Ohio. She is author of Holy Bells and Wonderful Smells, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, where she serves as catechetical advisor.


NEXT: The Bible and Prayer: Themes from the Synod
(by Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M.)


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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Wednesday of Holy Week
Today join Catholics around the world in offering prayers for our Pope Emeritus on his 87th birthday.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Today keep in prayer all the priests and ministers throughout the world who will preside at Holy Week services.
Monday of Holy Week
Holy Week reminds us of the price Jesus paid for our salvation. Take time for prayer at home and at church.
Palm Sunday
Holy Week services and prayers invite us to follow Jesus into Jerusalem, experiencing the events of his passion and death.
Praying for You
As they grow closer to the Easter sacraments, your parish’s RCIA candidates welcome your prayers.



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