March 4, 2022

Lent: ‘A time when faith can really come alive in the home’

By John Shaughnessy

Gabriela RossGabriela Ross brings her gifts as a wife and a mother to her ministry as the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the archdiocese.

She also brings these gifts to helping married couples and families make the most of Lent—hoping to lead them to a deeper relationship with God and with each other.

“Lent is a time when faith can really come alive in the home,” Ross says. “Whether a couple is newly married, empty nesters or raising kiddos, Lent offers all the sights, sounds and, yes, even smells that point us to the holiness of the season. Family life is always holy—the Church calls the home a ‘domestic Church.’ But Lent is a great time to take it up a notch and embrace the gift of the season.”

Ross offers a three-pronged approach to making Lent more meaningful—an approach that includes adding small changes to the décor of your house, adapting works of mercy to family life, and planning meatless menus together for Fridays during this season.

“Get everyone involved in planning a meatless menu for Fridays in Lent. Cheese pizza, tuna melts, lentils, macaroni, a parish fish fry,” she says. “Whatever your family likes to eat, plan out a menu and post it on the fridge so everyone knows we’ll be eating our way through Lent this year.”

Her tips also turn to including touches of the desert to the décor of the home, tying into Lent as a season to reflect on the time that Jesus spent in the desert, drawing closer to God in prayer.

“You can try to include components of desert décor or visuals in your home—a vase of sand instead of a vase of flowers,” Ross says. “Or go the route of simplifying and having more bare décor. Put extra throw pillows and blankets in storage for Lent.

“Don’t forget to bring home your blessed palms from Palm Sunday and place them behind a crucifix or holy picture to symbolize that Christ is welcome in your home.”

The creative touches also extend to adapting the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to everyday family life in Lent.

“Lent is a great time to practice the works of mercy because family life provides many opportunities to offer up our service to others and receive God’s grace,” Ross says.

In married and family life, according to Ross, “Forgive all injuries” can be applied as, “Say ‘sorry’ and mean it. Say ‘I forgive you’ and mean it. Give more hugs.”

“Counsel the doubtful” becomes “Listen when someone has a problem.”

“Bear wrongs patiently” can be adapted as, “Don’t lose your cool, and love the person who is making you frustrated.”

“Shelter the homeless” takes on a different twist as “Bring Lent into your home. Invite friends over to pray and have a meatless meal.”

“Pray for the living and the dead” takes a more concrete emphasis as “Learn the Divine Mercy Chaplet and pray it as a family, especially on a Friday or at 3 p.m., the hour of mercy, and offer it for the souls in most need of God’s mercy.”

When possible, Ross says, couples and families should also take their focus in Lent beyond the home.

“If a couple’s situation allows them to be active participants in parish life during Lent, they should definitely take advantage of the many book studies, prayer services and parish missions available during Lent. The Church gives us a whole season of mini-retreats to prepare our hearts, minds and souls for the coming of Christ at Easter.

“However, if family obligations make it a challenge to plug into a variety of resources and events, couples are encouraged to make the most of their domestic Church by adding some sights, smells and plenty of works of mercy to their everyday life. May this be a blessed and fruitful Lent for all our families.” †

 

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