Last night I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and a small, but beautiful bar of Green and Black’s chocolate. The older three children also enjoyed their last chocolate and Josh, his last beer.
I don’t know what other parents do, or think about getting their children through Lent, but I think that from a reasonable age, say post Holy Communion, a child should be able to give something up for Lent. When the biggies were little they used to have a money box in which the sweet money they didn’t spend on sweets went for a charity of choice. I am afraid we got out of that habit, but I still insist they each give something up. They are always quite willing and although it is often difficult-that’s okay. Giving up something easy is not a sacrifice.
I know, Iknow, just how unfashionable can you get? Don’t I know that all that negative stuff about Lent is passe and we are now into positive approaches-doing something extra; just something small. Well, I did that back in the 80’s and it doesn’t work. I don’t think it’s ever physical enough somehow.
There are extra things that have to be done of course-going to receive the Sacrament of Confession for one. Nothing like huge dollop of grace to see you through.
ASH WED Home ed.
Innormal circumstances we would begin by going to Mass and receiving the ashes; but not with chicken pox. So I simply explained what we would be doing during morning prayer. Ronan asked about the ashes and I explained they were made from burning last years palm crosses. A little blessed olive oil is added and they are ready. I explained that Father would make a cross on our heads and we would think about sorry we were for our sins. I haven’t given him more information than that.
Whole persons: (This is for the older ones). Ritual is a very important part of how we express our relationships with one another, with God and as an expression of our humanity. Christ demands that we worship God with our whole minds, soul, heart and strength-with our WHOLE selves, body and soul. The wholeness of the person is a very important understanding of the Faith and one which over the years has been under attack from various heresies and pagan or secular beliefs. At the end of time we will be resurrected as Christ promised-not just be wondering around as ghosts for all eternity. Body and soul, as Catholic apologists like to say it’s ‘both and’ not ‘either/or’.
In receiving the ashes we are told “Remember Man, thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”
Like most things in the Mass this is from Scripture; Gen 3:19 when God tells Adam the curse that goes with his sin. Death comes into the world thanks to poor old Adam and his inability to stick up for his bride Eve who also sins and Death is destroyed thanks to the Second Adam who is willing to pour Himself out for His Bride (the Church) and the Second Eve who gives her two ‘Fiats’ to God.
Ashes have been used as a sign of grief, mourning and repentance since Old Testament times. They were very much part of the pre-Temple and Temple liturgy as well as being used by people such as the appallingly treated Tamar (2Sam13-19), Mordecai (Est 4:1) Job (42:) and of course the repentant people of Nineveh (Jonah 3:6).
Then Jesus Himself speaks of repenting in sackcloth and ashes (Mat 11:21 & Luk 10:13).
So we wear the ashes- a cross on our heads because sin is death and the cross is life. We pray with our whole selves and we repent with our whole selves because we sin with our whole selves.
Lent offers quite a few opportunities to remember we are WHOLE persons who must be redeemed body and soul.
With the children I will be looking at the Stations of the Cross with this theme in mind.