Lent is not usually considered a family time like Christmas, but it should be because in every Catholic parish adult men and women are in the last stages of preparation to become new Catholics in the family of faith. In this article, I offer parents a way to teach their children about this family and their new brothers and sisters.
|Lent is a difficult concept for children. Unlike the pre-Vatican II message that it was good to suffer and do penance, today we tell them . . . . What do we tell them in this post-Vatican II era? Let me offer a suggestion in the form of a conversation with children. |
“You know how parents and kids make up our immediate family? Then we have what people call ‘extended’ family: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—even ‘honorary’ relatives we seem to pick up along the way.
“Well, Catholics are really into family, too. So when we brought you to the font for baptism, we broadened your family even more. Everyone in our parish became part of your family—and you a part of theirs. In fact, Catholics all over the world became your brothers and sisters—not just Catholics, but all who love Jesus, no matter what church they go to. And since Jesus loved and died for everyone, everyone in the world is family to us. Wow!
“But let’s get back to Lent, the six weeks leading up to the Triduum. There are people in our parish who want to be part of our family in a closer way than they were before. Some have never been baptized. Some belonged to other churches but now share our Catholic beliefs and wish to share the Eucharist with us at Mass. These folks have spent a long time learning about Jesus and about our faith. When Easter comes, they will be baptized and become your spiritual brothers and sisters. You’ll see them receiving Communion with us.
“During Lent, one of the best ways we can celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead is to pray every day for these catechumens and candidates. If you recognize them and see them outside church, say hi. Make them feel at home in our parish. When Easter comes, our family will make a special card for each one of them, because we want them to know how happy we are to welcome them as our new spiritual brothers and sisters.”
For centuries we’ve considered Christmas the church’s great family celebration. It’s time to teach our kids that Easter is about family, too.
Alfred J. Garrotto is RCIA Coordinator at Christ the King Church, Pleasant Hill, California. He is also a freelance writer and published author of both fiction and nonfiction. His most recent novel, Circles of Stone, was published in 2003 by Hilliard & Harris. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife Esther and their college-age daughters Monica and Cristina.
Copyright © 2004 by Alfred J. Garrotto. First North American rights granted to Oregon Catholic Press for Today's Liturgy with Children.