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February 02, 2011
Hearts Open to Learning
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.”


Faith is an ever evolving mystery, and we just keep on learning. So it shouldn’t surprise us that each Lent comes to us with new lessons. This month, we offer ideas for moving into Lent with hearts open to learning.

FOR SHARING AND DISCUSSION: Share your ideas and questions on our Faith Formation Forum.

What have been some of your most successful Lenten projects and activities?

What is an important lesson you hope to share with your students this Lent? How do you plan to do this?

A Fresh Start
How many Lents have you celebrated? Whether it is five or 55, each time we enter the desert something new and different is bound to happen. As we begin this penitential season, it is good to know that God loves fresh starts. It is well worth our time to erase the blackboard of our expectations and allow the Divine Teacher to use the chalk.

Take time on a Sunday afternoon in these next few weeks and ask yourself what you really need to focus on during the desert days ahead. Perhaps you need to make your marriage a priority. Is your health stopping you from living life to the fullest? Is there a relationship that needs reconciliation? Then, sit in a quiet spot and begin to think about ways you might change for the better. Imagine you are with God who is writing on a blackboard. In fact, release your thoughts into God’s heart and begin to allow the Divine Teacher to speak to you. Whether you try this exercise alone, with your class or family, it will begin a life-changing Lent.
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Walking With Virginia
If you’re tired of walking alone through the days of Lent, a wonderful woman is reaching out to share Lenten insights with you. Through her Daily Reflections for Lent 2011, Virginia Smith invites you on a journey.

Take Virginia’s hand and walk the days to Easter with a woman who is the perfect guide. Her guidance is a grace for any catechist. Each day’s meditation is a springboard for your soul and the souls of your students. The daily reflections are a treasure for class discussions for teens, and the prayers could begin any parish meeting, RCIA or faith formation session. Virginia Smith will prove to be a welcome partner for any catechist’s Lenten walk.
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Lessons From Scripture
You might guess that, since I featured a Michael Himes DVD series last month and am doing so again, I am a fan. You’d be correct. I like Father Himes because he offers insights into our faith in a unique fashion, using examples and symbolism from literature and life. Plus, I like his accent! We don’t hear many people who sound like him in the Midwest!

As you make plans for Lent in your parish, consider taking A Lenten Journey With Father Michael Himes. This single DVD offers four programs (17-21 minutes each) in which Father Himes draws insights from the Lenten Sunday readings, particularly the stories of water, light and life from John’s Gospel. His presentations help us reflect on the meaning of baptismal faith and are ideal for use with adults preparing for Baptism, prayer or Bible study groups, and those gathered for a Lenten faith formation series. I’ve selected a clip from the first program to share with you (Media Player).

The four programs span the readings of the first five Sundays of Lent:
  • “What Is Temptation, Really?” covers how the readings for the first two weeks give us an overview of salvation history, from creation to new life in Christ.
  • “Danger and Desire” shows water’s varied dimensions in the readings for the Third Sunday.
  • “God Sees Into the Heart” looks at the theme of light and darkness in the Fourth Sunday.
  • “Endless Possibilities” examines the readings of the Fifth Sunday and offers the insight that life holds endless possibilities; death will not have the last word.

The Sunday Scriptures invite us to explore the fullness of the spirituality of Lent. Let Father Michael Himes lead you to new insights and inspiration. A free leader’s guide is available online.

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Lenten Meditations
“Lent is not meant to foster morbid gloominess and debilitating self-loathing, but to thrust us into the heart of Divine love.” —Introduction, The Little Way of Lent
The Little Way of Lent by Fr. Gary Caster 
The daily Lenten meditations in this book—all colored by St. Thérèse’s Little Way of Spiritual Childhood—will transform you too, helping you focus not so much on what you have done to offend God, but on what God has done to redeem you.

Click here to learn about more Lenten products for your parish.

Click here to access the entire list of popular Catholic Update parish handouts.
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Faith Formation Forum

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