Diocese of Parramatta


Cover Page 4 Lenten Program

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Most Lenten programs are centred on mid-week parish based meetings or personal programs. However there are not many Lenten programs for families to use at home. The Cleanse our Hearts with Your Mercy program has been designed for this purpose, particularly for those families with primary school aged children. The program also provides some extra resources for celebrating the season of Easter.

Why should a family consider being involved in this program? This program aims to make a difference to the hearts of you and all your family especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The program focus of cleansing our hearts through works of mercy and reflecting on the mercy of God, is designed to help us be more forgiving and more sensitive to the suffering of others. These outcomes are bound to have a positive impact on the character of your children and your family relationships.

Another reason for embarking on this program is that praying together as a family will help you as parents to pass on the faith to your children. When our faith practice enters the home it becomes more real to children and helps us deepen our faith as we lead our family in prayer.

Cleanse our Hearts with Your Mercy Program Rationale

This program combines the traditional Lenten approach of focussing on the purification 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 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?

Do I allow Him to cleanse all the behaviours that are against God, against our neighbour, and against ourselves?

Do I allow Jesus to make my heart a little cleaner? Jesus cleanses with tenderness, with mercy, with love. Mercy is His way of cleansing.

Let us, each of us, let us allow the Lord to enter with His mercy … to cleanse our hearts… Let us open to Him the gates so that He would make us a little cleaner.”

In his 2016 Lenten Message, Pope Francis explored the theme of mercy and how it is connected with Lent. He encouraged Christians to practice the works of mercy in Lent. There are 7 corporal works of mercy and 7 spiritual works of mercy (see page 7-8). These works of mercy can impact on our hearts. According to Pope Francis these works of mercy are “a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.” In particular he identified that “in the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instructions, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness.” Consequently Pope Francis points out that “by touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they are poor and in need,” who can “be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them.” This love of Christ the Bridegroom, according to Pope Francis “is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with idols of knowledge, power and riches.”

Pope Francis’ teaching on the works of mercy indicate that there are some bilateral fruits of these actions. The person who does the work of mercy receives something along with the recipient. This reciprocal dimension of the works of mercy taps into one of Jesus’ beatitudes: “blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.” By showing mercy to the poor we in turn receive mercy from God and this mercy cleanses and transforms our hearts, which is the aim of this program.

Program Features:


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