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To: Gingersnap
I never ask about it because I'm Anglican and I rightly don't get a vote.

Please ask your Catholic friends as many 'questions' as you can think of. Just for information, of course. We Catholics, especially English speakers and, most of all, Americans, need all the help we can get in remembering what the heck our Church actually teaches.

24 posted on 02/09/2005 11:22:34 AM PST by siunevada
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To: All
Family Activity: The Works of Lent

Works of Lent, The

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The family should plan their Lenten program together, with the parents offering guidance on what goals and activities they shall accomplish. The six categories that are the principal works of Lent are explained here: 1. Fasting and mortification, 2. Prayers, 3. Almsgiving, 4. Good works, 5. Learning, and 6. Self-denial.

The family builds its own pattern of Lenten observances in the home, but the children need advice and guidance from their parents. Their goals and activities should be realistic and reasonable, and neither the individual nor the family as a unit should undertake more than it can respectfully achieve. Parents must be careful also that the children have some understanding of why the Lenten practices are adopted. They should not be intimidated or forced to submit to actions against their will.

The following six categories are the principal works of Lent. Within the broad concept of each it is possible for each member of the family to find the means adapted to his age and strength and learning.

1. Fasting or Mortification:

O holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God, who by fasting of the body dost curb our vices, dost lift up our minds, dost give us strength and reward. (Traditional Preface for Lent)
The example of fasting comes from our Lord Himself; and at almost every Mass during Lent the Church (in the Latin forms of her official texts) prays that we may have the strength to continue our fasts. The minimums of fasting and abstaining are set by diocesan regulation in norms possible for practically all adults to fulfill. In addition, one might abstain from a favorite food or drink or dessert. The children, insofar as they are not bound by fasting laws, should be encouraged to give up some item of food and to accept voluntarily modifications in the family meals.

Fasting should be done with a spirit of cheerfulness! To fast is to give up something good for the sake of a greater good, and the words of Christ were meant for our Lenten meals:

Again, when you fast, do not show it by gloomy looks, as the hypocrites do. They make their faces unsightly, so that men can see they are fasting; believe me, they have their reward already. But do thou, at thy times of fasting, anoint thy head and wash thy face, so that thy fast may not be known to men, but to thy Father who dwells in secret; and then thy Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6:16-18).
It is surely in the spirit of this admonition of Christ that the Lenten meals should be attractive. Fasting does not mean preparing unappetizing meals, but the foregoing of good things. Whatever is served can be attractive.

2. Prayers:

Mercifully hear our prayer, O Lord, we beseech Thee: and to those whom Thou givest a desire to pray, do Thou grant also the help of Thy protection. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)
Insofar as possible the family members participate daily in the Mass — that is the unique prayer. But those who cannot attend need not be cut off from the mind of the Church as she develops the Lenten theme. The Proper for the Mass of the day, or at least the Gospel or Reading, can be read aloud by one member of the family while the rest listen. An ideal time to do this is at the beginning of the family meal. It is the one time when all the members are most likely to be together, and the few minutes of silence are an appropriate offering. The older children should be encouraged to take their turn in reading.

A short meditation is possible for many of us if we determine to make it. Two books are especially useful for the laity: No Song More Glorious by Father Anton Sorg, O.Carm., shows us how to pray and worship God by giving us a whole series of Biblical models who excelled in the practice of prayer. And Father Cassian A. Miles, O.F.M., provides us with Ready-To-Read Weekday Scripture Guides, a book that has helped many to understand better the Readings at Mass on each weekday; references to the Bible passages used at Mass are given so that you may read the pertinent Gospel and Reading from your home Bible.

Probably the most common family devotion during Lent is the Rosary, and the efficacy of praying the sorrowful mysteries in common is self-evident. The Stations of the Cross can also be said at home before a crucifix (especially indulgenced for that purpose by the Church) by any family members who cannot get to church that day, the required prayers are the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be . . . for each station, five for the wounds of our Lord and one for the intention of the Pope.

Psalm 90 is the special Lenten psalm, and it makes an appropriate night prayer. It sets the keynote for the battle we are to wage against the world, pride, the devil, and the flesh, but although there is a battle, the forces of God are not afraid because they are divinely protected. The psalms are wonderfully well devised for family recitation. One half of the family can pray one verse, the other half the next. Children, who have no difficulty mastering a new "hit song" every week, can quickly memorize psalms. They love the sense of participation that comes from dividing into "choirs" and reading alternate verses.


You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust."
For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler,
from the destroying pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
and under his wings you shall take refuge;
his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield.

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right side,
near you it shall not come.
Rather with your eyes shall you behold
and see the requital of the wicked,

Because you have the Lord for your refuge;
you have made the Most High your stronghold.
No evil shall befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your tent.
For to his angels he has given command about you
that they guard you in all your ways.
Upon their hands they shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and glorify him;
with length of days I will gratify him
and will show him my salvation.

3. Almsgiving:
Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harborless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. (Is. 58:7-8: Reading on Friday after Ash Wednesday.)
Almsgiving and fasting are the most ancient works of Lent, and they are closely linked. For what we save by fasting, we are able to give in alms. (For if we refrain from smoking, drinking, expensive foods and entertainment during Lent, and then use the money saved to buy other goods which satisfy us, our sacrifice is not very great.)

Every member of the family should be helped to give alms, even if the amount is very small. Almsgiving has two important effects Those of us living in a materialistic culture are especially tempted by the vice of avarice, a selfish love of goods and comforts; and so it is helpful to our spiritual purification to make a direct frontal attack on selfishness by parting with goods. The other reason is that almsgiving is one of the best ways of showing love of neighbor. The corporal works of mercy cannot be carried out unless we give sufficient alms.

Americans are traditionally generous in contributions, and the American who is a Catholic can be expected to do even better. Lent is the proper time to increase both the number and size of our gifts.

The whole family can enter into the spirit of saving for alms. A glass jar is placed at the center of the table on Ash Wednesday, and all the money each family member saves as a result of self-denial from smoking, eating candy, going to movies or similar activities is put into it. The mother, buying simpler and cheaper foods for Lenten meals, puts the difference into the jar at meal time — so all can see where the cost of the dessert went! The children spend the first weeks of Lent investigating needy causes and charitable organizations and missions. They will have the responsibility of determining who gets the alms-fund.

Lent and the beginning of spring house cleaning usually coincide. Our closets often reflect selfishness, or at least thoughtlessness. As we clean we collect all the surplus clothes and goods which can better be used by the poor of the parish, the needy neighbor, or the stranger around the corner.

In giving money or goods, especially to those we know personally, we must be careful to recall the words of Christ:

Thus, when thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in streets, to win the esteem of men. Believe me, they have their reward already. But when thou givest alms, thou shalt not so much as let thy left hand know what thy right hand is doing, so secret is thy almsgiving to be; and then thy Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward thee (Matt. 6:2-5).
4. Good Works:
Grant to Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, health of soul and body; that cleaving to good works, they may deserve ever to be defended by the strength of Thy protection. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)
The term "good works" can be expanded to include a great variety of actions, but in particular it refers to two kinds: those that are perfections of our daily duties and those that are perfections of charity toward others. Lent is the time for intensification in both areas.

The husband at his job, the wife at her housework, and both of them in the work of parents resolve to be better. Perhaps it means being more patient, or more thorough, or more optimistic and hopeful, or more cheerful to associates, or planning and completing tasks better. The children resolve to obey more promptly, to be more efficient in cleaning or keeping their clothes in order, or to be more cooperative with one another, or to arrange new schedules to reduce quarreling and make for more efficiency. Kindliness of all toward neighbors or fellow workers or students is a perfection of charity. So is cheerfulness. So is refraining from backbiting, gossiping, criticism.

To make the good works of Lent more specific, the mother writes down a series of chores to be done and virtues which should be observed. Each member of the family, parents included, draws a slip after evening prayers and the specific chore is his special good work for the next day; or if they have chosen a virtue, they work particularly hard on practicing that virtue the next day.

Another method of stimulating good works, especially when the children are young, is to give them a seed to put into a jar for each special good work they do during the day (beans or corn can be used). The seed symbolizes us and our good works; but unless it is planted (dies and is buried as was Christ), it cannot grow into a new plant (the new life of the soul made possible by Christ's resurrection).

5. Learning:

Enlighten our minds, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with the light of Thy brightness: that we may be able to see what we ought to do, and have strength to do what is right. (Prayer from the Lenten Liturgy.)
In the earliest days of the Church, those who sought Baptism had to undergo a long period of study and learning, and the pre-Easter season was the special time of intellectual preparation. But as Father Pius Parsch reminds us: "Spiritual enlightenment . . . is not restricted to candidates for baptism. . . . For us too, Lent must be a catechumenate, that Christ may again enlighten us" (op. cit., p. 57-58).

For many of us the thought of spiritual reading as a work of Lent seems strange and far "easier" than to quit smoking! But perhaps we can strike a formula. During Lent we will spend the same amount of time in spiritual reading that we ordinarily take in reading the comics or sports or society pages of the daily paper. Or maybe we can settle for a straight ten minutes a day. But whatever time we set aside should be spent only on the very best of books — books which have scholarship and truly "enlighten" us. For small children, the Bible stories of the Old and New Testaments are retold in Children's Bible by Father W. Hillman, O.F.M., and in Stories to Teach Religious Truths by Sister M. Ora Cardinal, O.S.F. These two books for children are beautifully and copiously illustrated. Of course, the richest store of daily reading is the Scripture itself, and it is even more fruitful when the readings are related to the daily liturgy; a new daily missal is indeed most helpful.

Reading aloud to the children is a source of learning for both children and parents. The choice can be made from any of the many excellent children's books about saints and Bible stories. Such group reading creates a warm natural atmosphere for asking questions, exchanging confidences, and speaking familiarly about God, Christ, His Church, and the saints.

6. Self-denial:

Graciously hear us, O Almighty and merciful God; and favorably grant to us the gifts of wholesome self-denial. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)
Our culture is filled with a variety of innocent pleasures and activities, all good in themselves. Giving up some of these legitimate pleasures is a very strong tradition in our American Catholic observance of Lent, and it has much to commend it. The list of possible things to forego is endless. The virtue comes in each family member picking one of his favorite items. And while one likes to test his will-power to see if he can really persevere in abstention of this good thing, our deepest intention should be more noble: it is a process of purification; it is a way of associating ourselves with the spirit of penance shown by Christ in His forty days; it is a chance for reparation for offenses against the whole Mystical Body of Christ. Throughout all the Mass prayers of Lent, it is evident that we are not to pray for ourselves alone, nor to sacrifice for our own benefit alone, but for the whole Church.

Father Parsch warns us that we "have become such individualists that we are ashamed to hold religious observances in common" and he asks that the "communal approach to religion . . . be revived" (op. cit., p. 78). The family is the normal and natural place for communal acts, and the intentions of family members can reach out and include all in the community.

But in keeping with the admonitions of Christ, we may also decide to give up something in secret. The children might decide to say nothing if their favorite radio or TV program is passed by. The father may give up some of his deserved leisure in his easy chair to play with the children. The mother may forego some secular reading or a card game and perform some special service for a family member instead. The children will need some quiet instruction and aid in how to develop the virtue of self-denial in secret, but they readily respond to such chances for sacrifice.

Activity Source: Lent and Holy Week in the Home by Emerson and Arlene Hynes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1977

25 posted on 02/09/2005 12:12:19 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: siunevada

Please ask your Catholic friends as many 'questions' as you can think of. Just for information, of course. We Catholics, especially English speakers and, most of all, Americans, need all the help we can get in remembering what the heck our Church actually teaches.

My My, you see what Vatican ll has done! This is a sad statement,....What has happened to the Catholic Faith ?

26 posted on 02/09/2005 1:38:26 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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