The Liturgical Cycle in the Atrium

In the atrium we introduce the children to the liturgical year firstly by looking at the colours of the liturgical seasons. Children in level 1 are introduced to the colours for Preparation (purple), getting ready for a feast. The feasts of Christmas and Easter and their seasons are white. Ordinary time (green) is introduced as the growing time, a time to allow the “food of the feast” to nurture our growing relationship with God. The other colour (red) is for the Holy Spirit and the feast of Pentecost.

Children learn the liturgical cycle firstly by observing the colours used during the celebration of Mass.

As children progress through the atrium we look at a circular liturgical calendar. This highlights the cyclical nature of the liturgical year. The calendar has a small prism for each Sunday of the year (ours also includes an extra prism to represent Christmas Day as that does not always fall on a Sunday). Essentially this work is a puzzle that the children pull apart and reconstruct. However, this provides time for the children to reflect and notice different elements of our liturgical cycle. Little facts such as Easter is longer than Lent. Ordinary Time is very long, why would that be?

The liturgical calendar in the atrium

There are also things to research further such as Easter is not always on the same date so how do we know when it will happen? The numbers of the Sundays in Ordinary Time don’t match the number of prisms, why would that be? When we attend daily Mass the priest sometimes wears other colours, why?

The Liturgical Calendar acts a a catalyst to discovering more about the liturgical cycle and life in the church.

The calendar is just a starting point for discoveries about life in the church.

Many adults make observations too such as the calendar does not progress in a clockwise direction. Why would we have it going counter-clockwise? Could it be that God’s time is different to our time?

As we approach the three main feasts of our church year, Easter, Christmas and Pentecost, we celebrate with the children. These celebrations are not just parties with gifts and food. They are solemn celebrations looking at what the event is. With the children we enter into the special time that we are celebrating. At Easter, this may take the form of a re-enactment of the Last Supper and/or a Liturgy of Light celebration. Prior to that, during Lent, we bury the “Alleluia” and save the word for the special day when we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. During Pentecost we meditate on the gift of the Holy Spirit and consider what those gifts mean for us in our lives and how we can call on those gifts to help us build God’s kingdom. During the Christmas Celebration we often have a lead up during advent culminating in recalling Jesus being incarnate and also longing for him to come again. Due to our long Summer break, this often happens a few weeks prior to Christmas Day. Our CGS friends living in the Northern Hemisphere will also celebrate the feast of Epiphany, recognising the gift given for all people.

Some ideas for prayer cards.

Parents may be able to foster a sense of the liturgical year in their homes by preparing for the children a small table for prayer. Provide cloths in each of the 4 liturgical colours that the children can place on the table according to the season. Add a candle and perhaps a small statue of the Good Shepherd, the Holy Family etc. Children enjoy spending time in quiet prayer or communal prayer, including songs and hand made prayer cards. Ideas for short phrases can be taken from words used in the Mass such as “Amen”, “Alleluia”, “Thanks be to God”, “Holy, holy, holy”, “Thy kingdom come”. Other ideas can be found in the book “The Good Shepherd and the Child a Joyful Journey”.

The Good Shepherd and the Child A Joyful Journey – this text has lots of great insight into using CGS in your home and is a core text for the CGS Catechist.

Christmas a time of waiting in joyful hope

The season of Christmas is a time to recollect, to look back and forward. For many people it reaches it climax on the 25th of December where all the rushing and planning, baking and celebrating happens with family and friends. In the shopping centres the day following Christmas is a time to purge the shop of excess goods and decorations that are no longer required. By the time we get to the 27th or 28th of December it is as if Christmas is in the distant past and we look forward to New Year’s Day Celebrations, Australia Day and then the planning starts for Easter!

However, in the Liturgical cycle of the Church Christmas continues. We savour for a few more weeks what the meaning of this tiny child could mean. God, who humbled himself to be born as someone so helpless. A baby conceived in a country town to a young woman who was unmarried. Today, would the baby even make it to birth? A baby born not in the home town of the mother but a long distance away. A baby born not in a warm home but in a place where animals were kept safe. A baby welcomed first by shepherds. A baby announced by angels. A baby welcomed by wise men from foreign nations. We can ponder what this all could mean, even as Mary did.

We can be challenged to be like Mary, like the shepherds, like the wise men and like the angels, celebrating the wonder, the miracle of Jesus birth. Or, we can just let the moment pass or become too busy in our own lives to find room for him, like the Inn Keeper. Perhaps we will reject him altogether and plan to erase him from our lives, like Herod.

Jesus, the one who saves, Emmanual, God with us, born in Bethlehem, the house of bread. Why do we celebrate him? Is it for that time so long ago that God walked into our history? Is it for that time alone? God has a plan so much bigger than we can imagine. A plan that encompasses all of time and space. A plan that reaches a high point at the birth of Jesus but a plan that has yet to be completed. This plan will come to completion when God will be all in all. We are called to work together with God to bring all people to like in his kingdom. We can make that day come quickly by how we interact with each person we encounter.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.

Characteristic #3 and a Look at Practical Life in the Atrium

Characteristic #3

The atrium is a community in which children and adults live together a religious experience which facilitates participation in the wider community of the family, the church and other social spheres.

  • The atrium is a place of prayer, in which work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer.

  • The atrium is a place in which the only Teacher is Christ; both children and adults place themselves in a listening stance before his Word and seek to penetrate the mystery of the liturgical celebration.

Often, adults who work in an atrium environment find they have favorite works or ones they consider more important than other works. There are times when I have overheard people mention the works of practical life and care for the environment as noisy work or busy work and the real work is the scripture and liturgical work.

 

Maria Montessori did not see it that way. She said: “The child becomes a person through work.”

One of the reflections we give in formation of catechists is about the importance of practical life as an indirect aid to prayer. Through working with their hands in a concentrated and meaningful way the internalize the ability to listen and respond to the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

The work of the child is important whether it be liturgical work, scripture or practical life. We cannot measure their work by output or how many different presentations we have managed to get through this term or year. We must with great patience and humility, observe the work of the child waiting for a sign of what they next need from us. The adult is not the teacher, we act merely as a resource a guide for the child. God is the teacher and the environment is the means through which he teaches.

Below are some quotes about practical life, one from Maria Montessori and one from Gianna Gobbi.

 “When we speak about the behaviour of men and animals, we refer to their purposeful movements. This behaviour is the centre of their practical life. It is not just the practical life in a house, cleaning rooms, watering plants, etc., that is important, but the fact that everyone in the world must move with a purpose and must work, not only for himself but also for others. It is strange that man’s work must also be work in service of others; if this were not so, his work would have no more meaning than gymnastic exercises. All work is done not only for ourselves but also for others. Even something as frivolous as dancing would be pointless without an audience. The dancers, who perfect their movements with so much trouble and fatigue, dance for others. Tailors who spend their lives sewing could not wear all the clothes they make themselves. Yet tailoring, like gymnastics, requires lots of movements.

If you have a vision of the cosmic purpose, that every life in the world is based on this movement with a purpose, you will be able to understand and better direct the children’s work. In the beginning, children are urged by nature to be active. They are happy when they are active. They begin to develop the behaviour of humanity with its limits and its possibilities.”

Montessori, Maria. The 1946 London Lectures.

“It is very important that we adults not view the practical life activities merely as the duty or personal responsibility of the child in helping to keep the environment in good order. Rather, we must understand that the practical life activities fulfill a deep need in the child (especially in the younger child) and also are directly connected to the religious life of the child.”

Gianna Gobbi. Listening to God with Children

Formation Leaders Retreat Brisbane 2018

We recently attended a formation leaders retreat in Brisbane. It was a week full of sharing and celebrating CGS as well as a time for looking forward to changes that will help the work of CGS continue throughout Australia.

We have set a date for the AGM in late August and hope to get people nominating for positions on the Board of Directors from among our many members in the association.

One of the areas we focused on was how formation has evolved and changed as we have grown in our experience with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and working with children. If you have attended formation in the past, don’t think it is a finished package, there is always so much richness to be had and I highly recommend joining in any formation in your area as it comes up. We usually recommend that if you have previously received formation at a particular level you can attend again without paying for the course. You may consider making a donation.

There were some new presentations shared amongst the group as well as deeper ways to share these with the children and adults.

Overall it was a blessed week with lots of laughter, tears, songs, prayer and plenty of yummy food.

The Task of the Catechist Part 3

Characteristic #24 The tasks of the catechist include:

  • to go deeper into the Christian message through the knowledge of the biblical and liturgical sources and of ongoing living tradition of the church, including the theological, social and ecumenical movements which enliven the church today;
  • preparing an environment and maintaining order in that environment (the atrium) so that it fosters concentration, silence and contemplation in both the child and adult;
  • preparing the materials oneself as much as possible while collaborating with others in areas that are beyond one’s abilities.

Part 3

Our final part in looking at the 24th Characteristic of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is that of materials preparation.

A few things come to mind when thinking about preparing materials with our hands. The first is our belief in our own abilities. The second our individual skills. Thirdly our time. The fourth costs. I would like to consider each of these in this post.

Firstly our belief in our abilities. I am a person who enjoys doing things with my hands. Even when I was a child I enjoyed making things. When you make something for your own enjoyment and satisfaction, there is less pressure to “get it perfect” or for it to “work out” how you saw it in your mind. However, when you are making this for someone else or for public display, we like to get it perfect. We don’t want to let other people down or make it not fit for purpose. All admirable qualities considering these materials will be tools of the Holy Spirit!

This brings to mind the parable of the talents. It is easy to play it safe but by risking making something less than perfect we often find that God blesses us 100 fold for our effort. I think part of the challenge in having a go at making materials is our cultural belief in speaking less of our own abilities. This is somehow meant to make us appear humble. True humility is in seeing things truthfully. I think that acknowledging out gifts is as important as acknowledging our weaknesses, and for many of us both of these things are difficult.

Once we get over ourselves it is time to decide how to make materials. For most of us it is not beyond our ability to copy or trace things for the handworks. We may need to focus on our neatness in our handwriting or in getting the spacing right but overall this is one of the easier tasks. I recommend using paper and pens etc. that are of good quality or the best you can afford. This will help you to get a better result.

Woodwork is often an obstacle for people, especially when a lot of these handwork crafts have gotten lost over the years. I marvel at Sofia making all the materials by hand when she was primarily a scholar! As they say, necessity is the mother of invention! I think one of the best gifts my husband bought for me is a scroll saw. It is a little like using a sewing machine (which I have used – thanks Mum for teaching me). What it enables you to do is cut our shapes (like sheep and merchants) from pieces of wood with relative ease. Again, I suggest getting the best wood you can afford as you only want to do this once as it is time consuming and the better quality you make it the longer it will last. The cgsusa.org website has some good tips for making boxes and dioramas which I recommend you have a look at and there are also loads of youtube videos to teach yourself most skills you will need.

 

For some of the materials you need to sew. As mentioned I have a sewing machine and some experience. Even so, a good pattern and nice fabrics help to get a good result with this. Some of the things like vestments also need a stand. We have various stands from “T” shaped pieces of wood to papier mache busts. I suggest just take your time and let your inner engineer out and have a go as much as you can.

There are some online resources you can purchase, but I would strongly recommend to only buy ready made materials as a last resort. The children are drawn to the uniqueness of the handcrafted materials. They see so much manufactured in their world that they easily recognize the love and care that has been taken to make this just for them. It also invites them to have a go themselves. I have one level 3 child currently working on making his own raised surface map of the land of Israel.

When painting your materials recall that this material will be used for a prayerful purpose. We do not want the materials to draw the child away from the scripture (for example) that it is highlighting but rather to draw them into it. Steer clear of being too cutesy or over embellishing. This is definitely a case of less is more! However, adding elements that attract the child to the work are useful (attract not detract). It would be suitable, for example, to paint the chalice in the last supper gold, but not suitable to give characters to each of the apostles. In painting I would also recommend using a base coat to help the colours stand out from the wood and then using some clear coat to finish them off after painting in the details.

One of the costs involved in making materials is our time. We live in a time where we are used to having everything instantly. We also try to use every moment doing something and feel like we are wasting time if something takes longer than expected. I think this is one of the reasons we are encouraged to make our own materials. We get first hand experience in slowing down and being in the moment. Of pondering the works these materials help to depict. What a beautiful meditation it is to paint Mary’s house, to think of how she lived. What sort of a life did she lead? What would she have been doing in the house when the angel came to visit her? All the same questions we ponder with the children! It is the time taken to make the materials and then prepare the album pages that are the times where we prepare ourselves to proclaim the word to the children. It does take time, but like the leaven our time and work will be rewarded by growth.

The final obstacle we may have in materials preparation is that of financial cost. This is one of the biggest hurdles many catechists face. Without the backing from a larger group such as the parents or the parish, it can be extremely difficult to prepare all of the materials. Some things can be acquired relatively easily and cheaply from second hand or charity stores, such as chalices and patens and small tables (look for goblets or silver or brass liqueur glasses, small plates or lids or coasters, coffee tables and so on). Most practical life materials are easily found this way also. For the sandpaper globe, just find a small globe (you can sometimes get these at discount shops for quite cheap prices) and paint over the continents with wood glue and coat with sand. Then after that paint over the oceans in blue and the land in tan. You may want to paint a sealer on top to protect it. It is quite easy to do.

Purchasing wood can become expensive. I suggest get creative. Find someone who can donate offcuts to you. You may be able to make use of old pallets or even old furniture to cut up and make into the various dioramas. When created the 3D figures you may feel you need to buy peg dolls and they can be reasonably priced or quite expensive depending on how many you need to purchase and costs for postage etc. Consider instead buying a wooden broom handle and cutting off lengths of these to make the shape of some of the characters. You will want to round off the tops and then they should be as enticing as any peg dolls and quite a lot cheaper.

Lastly, I think you need to use the resource of your community. By asking parishioners and parents to contribute time, expertise and money into building the atrium you are also building a community who own the work as much as the catechist and will then support it as the years go on.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a work not only for children but for the whole community to build a place where everyone can encounter Jesus the Good Shepherd and grow in their gifts through the Holy Spirit.

The Task of the Catechist Part 2

Characteristic #24 The tasks of the catechist include:

  • to go deeper into the Christian message through the knowledge of the biblical and liturgical sources and of ongoing living tradition of the church, including the theological, social and ecumenical movements which enliven the church today;
  • preparing an environment and maintaining order in that environment (the atrium) so that it fosters concentration, silence and contemplation in both the child and adult;
  • preparing the materials oneself as much as possible while collaborating with others in areas that are beyond one’s abilities.

Part 2

The second part of this characteristic focuses on the Catechist’s role in preparing the environment. This is the sacred space where will encounter God as they work with the materials. This requires a time commitment on the part of the catechist outside of the time you are working with the children. To help the children create order internally and externally it should start with an orderly environment in which they can work.

The atrium session is not the time to be sorting shelves, fixing materials or replacing missing or broken pieces. Of course, there will be times when things get missed and order may need to be restored on the spot. For the most part, however, the catechist should make themselves aware of what needs maintenance and plan to do this before or after the atrium time.

I have often heard catechists talking about modelling for the children cleaning or polishing so as to entice the children to join them. Each situation is unique and there may be merit in this approach, however this should not be the norm. During the atrium session our primary role is that of observer. Our second role is that of guide or presenter of materials for the child’s contemplation. The adult should become invisible to the child so that their focus is on Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit.

The atrium environment should be one that fosters silence, concentration and contemplation in both the child and the adult. How can that occur if we are chatting with another adult or child? If the adult is unable to keep their body still and meditative, how can we expect that from a child? It is a great challenge to remain quiet and just observe in the atrium. It is a challenge that I believe will be worth trying and noting what changes it may bring to the atrium.

In an article “The Religious Experience of the Child Three to Six” (Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd 1995) Gianna Gobbi remarks

“…the attitude and posture needed by the adult in our work should rather be one of humble observer. In the child, there exists a hidden, but profoundly religious nature, which the child desires to live out. For a child to reveal this true nature the adult needs to be prepared for the task of helping this revelation to occur. We need to recognize that our primary call is to be a humble and attentive observer of life.”

Maria Montessori’s guide for the preparation of the teacher gives these points, worth contemplating:

  1. Learn SILENCE
  2. Rather than teach, OBSERVE
  3. Instead of assuming self-pride that makes oneself important, one must put on the mantle of HUMILITY.
  4. We might add to this list the need for STILLNESS and
  5. Openness to LISTENING.

In her article “Action and Contemplation” (Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd 2001) Sofia Cavalletti speaks of the contemplative nature of our observations:

“When one speaks of contemplation, one means, instead, an attitude that leaves aside specific activity…Contemplation is an attitude in which the searching moment has been overcome, and within which prevails a tranquil look that rests upon the known object.”

My challenge to you as an observer is to sit quietly. Set aside a minimum of 20 minutes in your atrium session to observe. While you sit take notes. These notes will be invaluable to you as you grow and develop as a catechist and as your get to know each child and their needs.

The Task of the Catechist Part 1

Characteristic #24 The Tasks of the Catechist

  • to go deeper into the Christian message through the knowledge of the biblical and liturgical sources and of ongoing living tradition of the church, including the theological, social and ecumenical movements which enliven the church today;

  • preparing an environment and maintaining order in that environment (the atrium) so that it fosters concentration, silence and contemplation in both the child and adult;

  • preparing the materials oneself as much as possible while collaborating with others in areas that are beyond one’s abilities.

Part 1

When preparing to serve the needs of the children in the atrium, I find it helpful to remind myself of my role and task in this process. As each Catechist undergoes formation it can be a massive amount of information being received in a relatively short time. Much of this is also changing the way we have viewed working with children in our past.

Often adults view their role as instructor and leader. We think we have a responsibility to fill our children with the information they need to live god Christian lives. Many times this is true and for parents it is certainly a major responsibility. However, in the atrium, our role is quite different.

The adult in the atrium must be humble enough to become less and allow the child to become more. They must take on the role of servant and observer. Following carefully what the child is doing and what their next need may be to determine how they can be served.

When a child is ready or asking for a particular presentation, it is desirable that the Catechist is prepared to give it. How frustrating it would be if we were at a restaurant and order something on the menu only to be told the chef needs to practice cooking it before you can be served. The formation of the Catechist goes beyond the formal training days and must include preparing album pages and reading texts and other materials so that they are ready to give to the children.

This does not mean that we have to have every part of our presentation rehearsed or perfect, as often the children bring something to the presentation too which highlight or goes deeper into a particular aspect of the work. Instead we must be confident in the Holy Spirit working through us and using the knowledge we have received through our preparation to meet the child in their work.

The core texts for Level 1 (children from 3-6 years) are:

  • The Good Shepherd and the Child A joyful Journey
  • The Religious Potential of the Child
  • Listening to God With Children

 

 

 

And for Level 2 and 3 (children from age 6-12 years)

  • The Religious Potential of the Child 6 to 12 Years Old
  • The History of the Kingdom of God: From Creation to Parousia
  • The History of the Kingdom of God: Liturgy and the Building of the Kingdom

 

 

 

These texts give us the basic background to the children and the presentations at each level. Then we can go further by prayerful reading of Journals and other Texts available from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and other biblical and liturgical sources. We should also be spending time in prayer and participating in the life of the Church.

Being a Catechist of the Good Shepherd becomes more of a religious calling and way of life that merely providing a service to the children. It is a blessing for the children, the parents and the catechist to be a part of this work. It is a work which calls us all ever deeper into the mysteries of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

 

Alleluia!  He is risen.

The resurrection is something we recall all the time in the atrium. When we light a candle, at the altar table, in the Baptism corner, during communal prayer, we recall the light of the risen Christ, the light that is stronger than death.

In a very particular way we recognise the joy of the feast of Easter, a season that we have been waiting for, for so many weeks and will celebrate for even longer than the season of preparation, Lent. This joy is celebrated with the Liturgy of Light. Just as we do at the Easter Vigil, with the children we recall the story of Jesus death and celebrate his Resurrection. We light our Pascal candle and pray using the words from the Church’s Liturgy of Light.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

On this most sacred night,

in which our Lord Jesus Christ

passed over from death to life,

the Church calls upon her sons and daughters,

scattered throughout the world,

to come together to watch and pray.

If we keep the memorial of

 the Lord’s paschal solemnity in this way,

listening to his Word and celebrating his mysteries,

then we shall have the sure hope

of sharing his triumph over death

and living with him in God.

We process into a darkened atrium and see the light grow stronger as we each light our own candle from the Pascal Candle.

May the light of Christ rising in glory 

dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

Just as we are Baptised and filled with the light of the Risen Christ we too are called to share that light with all around us so that His light may illuminate the whole earth. And with the Easter Exsultet we too cry out with joy at the gift given to us, the gift of life forever in His kingdom. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Just as we are Baptised and filled with the light of the Risen Christ we too are called to share that light with all around us so that His light may illuminate the whole earth. And with the Easter Exsultet we too cry out with joy at the gift given to us, the gift of life forever in His kingdom. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Exult, let them exult,

the hosts of heaven, exult,

let Angel ministers of God exult,

let the trumpet of salvation

sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad,

as glory floods her,

ablaze with light from her eternal King,

let all corners of the earth be glad,

filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,

arrayed with the lightning of his glory,

let the holy building shake with joy,

And with the Church we pray

May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star;

the one Morning Star who never sets,

Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain,

has shed his peaceful light on humanity,

and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Prayer and the Youngest Child

The prayer of children, particularly children under the age of 6 years, is quite different to that of the prayer of adults. It is spontaneous and includes silence and reflection. Consider a very small child silently watching an insect in the garden or concentrating intently on some task they are doing. This silent contemplation is a form of prayer. Very young children express their prayer in the joy of experiencing everything as new and wonderful. Their spoken prayer is that of thanksgiving and joy.

 

Gianna Gobbi  in “Listening to God with Children” (p118) expresses it this way:

The child’s prayer can be very brief, such as “Jesus”, “Goodness”, “Light”, or “Amen” and is often followed by a long silence. Furthermore, the spontaneous prayer of the younger child is exclusively a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, rather than a prayer of petition. Thus, we hear: “Thank you for the light!” “Thank you for everything!” “Thank you because I am one of your sheep!” “Jesus is wonderful!” “My body is happy!”

This time of building their relationship with God is so beautiful and precious, we do not like to impose upon them our adult worries about the world, about our sin, our needs. We try to allow the children to continue to grow in the wonder of the new life they have been born into and grow in their natural praise and joyful thanks for all they have.

This does not mean that we neglect more formal prayer with children at this age. Through the prayers found in scripture in the prophecies and psalms, in the Infancy Narratives, the children are introduced to the language of prayer. They are in a time of their life where language is developing, and it is important for them to be exposed to the beautiful language of prayer.

“My soul magnifies the Lord!”

“The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.”

“Thy Kingdom come!”

Later when they are a bit older and begin to see how we must work in community to serve the body of Christ, children enter a moral stage of development. Then is the time when children more naturally pray prayers of petition. Until then, let us join with them, sensitive to their needs, in joyful thanks and praise to our God.

Lent – Reflections for the Journey

Reflections for the Journey

Ash Wednesday

Leaving everything behind, stripped bare of all of the past and, like the legendary phoenix, from the ashes will rise a new beginning, a new life. Our Australian bushland knows this story, it is the story of each new generation, and it is part of God’s plan. We are called to walk through the fire and cover ourselves with ashes, a sigh that we know that we began as a speck and will one day return to the earth in our mortal body. Yet like the seed with so much hidden potential, that requires the heat of the fire to crack open, we too have hope that within us that part that is slowly being formed will seize hold of the potential and rise to new life.

So, we gather and place ash upon our heads and remember we are dust, we are sinners who although undeserving to have Him enter under our roof, know that by His word we are made whole.

The Desert

Walking in the desert it is lonely, peaceful, barren yet full of life. It is where the prophets go to hear the voice of God. It is where Jesus went to prepare for his ministry. It is a place where the interruptions are those forced on us by our own thoughts. The temptations are mostly distractions from our real purpose. The hunger and thirst are nothing compared to our pride and earthly desires for recognition, for love, for possessions and good health. All are mirages when compared with the mission to which we are called; to deny ourselves and come follow Him; to see the place where He lives.

Forty days, a little over a month, seems like a drop in the ocean of our life. Some say that it takes forty days to change a habit. Is this forty days for us to recreate ourselves, to reform who we are, to make ourselves something closer to that which we are called to be?

Lent

Lent means spring, the season of new life of unrestrained growth. We celebrate it in autumn, the season of letting the last season’s growth fall away to prepare the earth for the next season of growth. Both symbolise putting off the old and taking on the new. Both seasons are vital for the survival of the ecosystem. It can be a springboard for us to change, a catalyst for us to take on something we have been holding back from. It can be a time to spring clean our lives in order to make room for The Life.

© 2013 Marie Fernandez