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March 03, 2010
Lenten Conversion
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

We have just begun the season of cutting back our excesses and firming up our faith lives. While Lent can be the impetus to make changes, it’s also a time to reconnect with our passion for Jesus Christ. As we teach, let these Lenten days be filled with efforts to bring our students to conversion.
—Jeanne Hunt
Going Into the Desert
Lent is off with a roar once again: We are giving up dancing and zucchini, we are journaling, reading inspirational books, and may even be fasting and exercising. However, is it possible that we left Jesus back at the starting gate on Ash Wednesday? All these good things that traditionally fill our Lenten days may be just reverent activities that do not have much impact on our relationships with Jesus Christ. As catechists and as parents, we need to rethink our strategies.

Perhaps the key to understanding what God wants of us this Lent is to go out into the desert and face our most feared gremlins. Gremlins are those things that plague us in the night with worry, guilt and remorse. Your gremlin is that weakness that keeps you from moving ahead with confidence, taking a risk, loving beyond reservation. Going into the desert and facing and naming that fear will take away its power over you.

Jesus didn't hesitate to take some desert time and face his fears and temptations. Before Lent is too far gone, I encourage you, and those you love and teach, to walk into the desert. Take some quiet time and ask the question, “Of what am I afraid?” The answer to that question will lead you to God’s agenda for your Lent. Once we can name the darkest fear, we can begin to disarm the gremlin with God’s grace. Blessings on your desert trip.
Online Catalog
Lenten Food for the Soul

It is never too late in the season of Lent to discover a new inspiration or to make a change in our plans. The best Lenten plan is to give in to God’s serendipity and let God lead the way. Scripture scholar Daniel J. Harrington uses lectio divina, the practice of meditating and praying on a biblical text, to make each Lenten reading from the daily Mass up close and very personal. Prayer and a daily action help us make deep connections with the energy of the reading.

I have found that, as a catechist, when I am energized by the Word, it shines forth in surprising ways in my teaching. In Daily Reflections for Lent 2010, Daniel Harrington asks the questions, and very often my students provide the answers.

Online Catalog
Cutting Back and Conflict

Many of us may feel that we’ve been in a Lenten mode of “cutting back” for some time now. With the belt-tightening required by the downturn in the economy, we’ve already assessed what things we can do without and made necessary cuts. Whether it’s cutting the cable or satellite service, adjusting the thermostat, taking public transportation or making sacrifices that go deeper and require more significant changes in the way we live, all such changes, when they’re born of necessity, are stressful.

Finances are a significant area of conflict for many couples. Money may represent dependency, control, freedom, security, pleasure or self-worth. When our finances are threatened, so are those things that money represents for us. This may bring out stronger reactions than the financial situation warrants.

Many of our parish couples are dealing with conflict in their marriages—about finances or other issues. Greg and Jennifer Willits, hosts of the talk radio show “The Catholics Next Door,” speak about negotiating marital conflict in a segment of American Catholic Radio.

American Catholic Radio is a weekly half-hour program for adult faith formation. It’s produced at St. Anthony Messenger Press and funded by the U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. It’s heard on Catholic stations around the country and on the Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. You can also find an archive of all the shows at Share this information with your parishioners to make them aware of this valuable resource for faith formation that’s available to them 24/7.

Lent is a time of prioritizing and pushing aside those things that cause us to stumble on the path to Christ. During Lent or any time of the year, cutting back can help us focus on those things that are most important.

Franciscan Radio
Catholic Updates for Holy Week
Use these helpful Catholic Updates for further insight about Holy Week events, traditions and Scripture readings: 
“Agony in the Garden: Understanding the Passion of Jesus”
Popular author Ronald Rolheiser examines Jesus’ agony in the garden by looking at the meaning of agony, the drama of the garden, the three tests of the garden, the sleeping apostles and the moment of grace. He notes, “Do you ever wonder why that drama happens in a garden? It’s the Agony in the Garden, it’s not the Agony in the Temple, the Agony in the Synagogue, or the Agony on a Mountaintop, or in the Boat at Sea.” 
“Our Holiest Week: A Practical Guide for the Holy Week Liturgies”
Father Tom Richstatter’s practical guide assists in discovering the beauty of the Church’s most sacred liturgies. Father Tom, a Franciscan friar, writes, “the liturgical services on Passion Sunday and the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Paschal Vigil) are among the very best things we do in the Church.” 
“The Way of the Cross: A Lenten Devotion for Our Times”
Jack Wintz, O.F.M., reveals how this devotion can help us pursue the goals of Lent: our hearts’ return to God, personal conversion and a recommitment to serve the poor. It shows the connection between this form of prayer and the traditional “works of mercy,” more recently described as the “option for the poor.” This prayer service is ideal for individual or group use.
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