Cleansing our Hearts with Your Mercy Lenten/Easter Program
On Ash Wednesday 1983, a huge bushfire ripped through South Australia and Victoria. This event forged in my young mind a connection between bushfire and Lent.
As Australians our experience of living though major bushfires, either personally or as a community, illustrates clearly the transitory nature of our lives, houses, communities, flora and fauna.
However the Australian bush is quite unique in its ability to regenerate after a bushfire. Likewise the Australian spirit is resilient and this trait helps communities to rebuild after a tragedy. Our Diocese has witnessed this resilience and regeneration in Springwood since the tragic bushfires of 2013.
This cycle of fire and regeneration is relevant to Lent and Easter. The ashes distributed on Ash Wednesday remind us that life on Earth is transitory and that we need to focus our mind on things eternal. However through mercy and forgiveness we can experience conversion, new life and grow in hope for our own resurrection in Christ on the last day.
It is easy for us to be distracted by our busy lives so that the seasons of Lent and Easter can come and go before we really get focussed on spiritual renewal. Consequently we can miss out on the graces and renewal that Lent and Easter can bring us. One way to avoid this trap is to take part in a Lenten program but sometimes it is too hard to attend mid-week meetings in our parish especially for those with young children. To address this challenge the Family & Life Office has developed a Lenten/Easter program called Cleanse our Hearts in Your Mercy for families to use at home. The program is mainly aimed at families with primary school aged children but it could be used by families with infants or older children.
This program combines the traditional Lenten approach of focussing on the cleansing of our hearts with the key themes of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Last year on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis addressed this topic when he said: “Do we allow Him [Jesus] to “cleanse” our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of cupidity, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, those habits of gossiping and tearing down others? …… Jesus cleanses with tenderness, with mercy, with love. Mercy is His way of cleansing.”
The program includes resources for living the five weeks of Lent with children’s activities, family scriptural reflections, vegetarian recipes and some colouring pictures of saints. Each week focuses on a particular set of the works of mercy including practical suggestions for performing works of mercy as a family. The program also covers Holy Week and includes some follow up activities for the beginning of the season of Easter.
The program will be available in parishes. An electronic copy and other resources for helping your family in your Lenten and Easter journey is available at www.parrafamlife.org.au/lent2016 .