Lent is the season of preparation before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends when the Triduum begins on Holy Thursday. Lent is a time of reconciliation. A time when we make space in our lives to think about our relationship with our heavenly Father and the ways in which we are responding or failing to respond to his love and care for us. The following are rituals that we, as Catholics, follow during lent.
Baptismal Character of Lent
From the earliest times, Lent has been a time of preparation for baptism. Eventually, it also became time for renewal of the already baptized. We must integrate the baptismal character of Lent into our daily lives. In preparation for the renewal of baptismal promises during the Easter season, children can research their own baptism: date, place, godparents, promises made, etc. This information can be put on a collage, in a booklet, or a drawing and displayed where it will be a reminder to the children to live out their baptism every day. In class we will discuss our baptismal promises, but for a quick summary please look at the Baptismal Promises website.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This ritual is a reminder that we do not have a lasting place on this earth. Lent is about participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. To prepare, we must die now to sin and rise to new life in Christ. Being marked with ashes at the beginning of our Lenten journey is a reminder of our need for deeper connection with Jesus Christ.
Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving The keys to Lenten observance are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a good time to focus on prayer, especially the prayer of the church in the liturgy. Fasting should be linked to concern for the poor who are forced to fast by their poverty. With Almsgiving we are called to works of charity and justice. During this time we all have to pray for the grace to live out their baptismal promises more fully. Children can be encouraged to “fast” from fast food dinners and snacks, TV, the internet, video games,movies, etc., and spend more time helping the poor in a variety of ways like donating items to a local thrift shop, food pantry, or toy drive. During class they will be asked what they are going to give up on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. They will be signing a contract to God about their sacrifice. If there is any money saved from fasting such activities students will be given the opportunity to donate it to Lenten Rice Bowl, which will be placed in the classroom all during this season.
Conversion During Lent, the church calls us to metanoia, a change of mind and heart. It involves taking a look at where we are and trying to see where we ought to be. How do our values compare to the values that Jesus offers his followers? The Sunday Scripture readings during Lent give us much help in this process. In class we will decide what we can do that week in order to live better as a disciple of Jesus.
As our Lord was finishing his ministry on earth, the night came when he ate the last supper with his disciples before he suffered on the cross. It was a very important meal and he had a very important message for his followers.
Jesus taught his disciples I am that bread of life. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. (John 6:48, 50) The cup of wine held an important meaning also. Jesus had worked hard for three years to develop his disciples into men of God. Jesus taught them I am the vine, and ye are the branches. (John 15:5) He had created what they were and they were the fruit of his labor. Now it was up to them to spread the good news. The wine was a symbol of the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. It meant he would forgive the sins of all who believed on him. This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:24)
The last supper took on a new meaning for the disciples after Jesus rose on Easter. Jesus was God's lamb, sacrificed for the sins of the world. His blood had been shed so that death passed over us and we could hope to have eternal life. Jesus overcame death and rose from the dead. That is how the Passover meal became known as the Lord's Supper. Jesus commanded us: do this in remembrance of me. It has continued to this day in the churches for us to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. The day that we remember the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus showed how much He loved His Father and us by willingly giving His life as a sacrificial Lamb.
Why was Jesus called the Lamb of God?
In the old testament, the Jewish people would kill a lamb and offer it to God as part of their worship. The lamb was sacrificed to God so that God would forgive their sins. In the Bible (John 1:29), John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and John told the people, "Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
The Bible teaches us that Jesus was without sin. He was pure and Holy like none before or after Him. He was acceptable unto God to take on all the sins of the world. Not only was Jesus acceptable, but He was willing to die a very cruel death so that we can be acceptable to God as His children. It is through Jesus' blood as the sacrificial Lamb of God that we are forgiven.