“With its calls to conversion, Lent comes providentially to rouse us, to shake us from our torpor, from the risk of moving forward [merely] by inertia. The exhortation that the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Joel is loud and clear: “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is wrong in us, in society, in the Church – and we need to change, to turn things around, to repent! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way!” -Pope Francis
Another season of Lent is upon us! Once again friends, we are blessed to journey together yet another year. I’ve probably done a better job in years past of offering resources, so I promise to link you up to some additional helpful posts and sites, but I at least wanted to share what we’re planning so far. One of the big focal points over the years has been our little kitchen mantle. A little humble area we try to decorate to coincide with the Liturgical year. We just started assembling our mantle which I think I’d like to try to modify/switch up here and there over the 40 day journey. For now, here’s what it looks like:
Starting from the left:
Basket with photo from the Food for the Poor trip to Guatemala (in front). In this basket, we hope to fill (hopefully a few times over) with change for the poor. As we multiply our efforts as a family, our prayer is to offer not only a monetary gift, but prayers for the “least of these” in our own homes and communities, to those around the world.
Inside the basket is a very special version of the “Stations of the Cross.” I saw this in the Food for the Poor office in Haiti last year and never forgot the powerful images. They have haunted my heart. In an incredible coincidence (or GOD-incidence) I was going through two bags of prayer books and holy cards today…from a friend who gave them to me after her mother died (they were the mothers’). In the midst of probably 100 items, was THE SAME Food for the Poor “Stations of the Cross” from a mailing she received in 2007! A Lenten gift from the Lord!
I remember starting at this image and trying not to outright sob, standing in the FFTP office in Haiti. To see the picture framed and blown up in size (along with the caption) was an experience of profound emotion. These visuals are a powerful way to enter into the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. I pray it will be a source of contemplation for our family too, as we pray the Stations on Friday’s during Lent. You can order or download the exact set here.
Next on the mantle is a twig and twine wreath that I brought at Michael’s for just a few dollars. I added toothpicks to create a “Crown of Thorns.” Grant created this “IRNI” banner. It’s an abbreviation for: “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” (“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”). The sign was nailed on the cross and meant to humiliate Jesus (along with the “crown.”). This reminds us of the power of God’s sacrifice. By his stripes, we are healed (-Isaiah 53: 4-5). Lent is time of dying to the things of this world, cutting away the things that tempt us, tie us down, and keep us from Christ. Hopefully these sobering symbols will enkindle a revolution of the heart.
The pitcher is a reminder of Jesus-healer and servant-Savior (John 13: 1-7).
The nail, hangs from the tree.
I have incense and ashes (which we’ll probably replace after Ash Wednesday) Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”
(Here in the United States, we receive ashes traced in the sign of the cross, on our forehead. When my husband and I were in Rome for Ash Wednesday several years ago however, the ashes were sprinkled on the top of our head (as Saint JP II is receiving)). We learned that sprinkling ashes on the crown of the head recalls the biblical method of putting on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of penance.
And finally, a wooden cross, hand-carved in Haiti.We have not opted to veil the cross yet, but plan to do so after Palm Sunday until Easter. There is a reason for veiling crosses (and sometimes other holy images). I’ve read several historical and theological reasons behind this. Including this one:
“It probably derives from a custom, noted in Germany from the ninth century, of extending a large cloth before the altar from the beginning of Lent. This cloth, called the ‘Hungertuch’ (hunger cloth), hid the altar entirely from the faithful during Lent and was not removed until during the reading of the Passion on Holy Wednesday at the words ‘the veil of the temple was rent in two.” (you can read more about that, here).
Although these mantle symbols may seem intense, heavy, and sorrowful, they are mere reminders of the power of the season..not the state of our hearts! As a family, we have a “teamwork” mentality as we condition our hearts and minds in preparation of Easter, but that doesn’t mean joy is absent. Lent is such a great reminder of how GREAT our God is…His faithfulness, His love…His mercy!
For wonderful resources and creative ideas, check out “The Kennedy Adventures” blog (Dianna is amazing)!
“Fiat Blog for Women” also has a fantastic post with “40 Creative and Meaningful Things to Do for Lent.”
Here is my post from last year about Lent (a little more comprehensive. Includes recommended movies)
I wish you a prayerful, joyful, holy journey with the Lord this year! God bless you during Lent, 2015, and always.