Thursday, February 23, 2023

Lent: Connecting with Jesus

This first reading from Ash Wednesday Mass is from Joel and reads, "Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.." This passage calls out to us the whole purpose of the liturgical season of Lent: to return. The ashes on our foreheads remind us of this as well. Ashes represent what is leftover from the consequences of our sin, but we choose to be marked by them year after year to acknowledge our weeping and acknowledge this world is not how it should be. Each year, we receive this reminder to return to the Lord and to repent of the distance that has become between our life and the Lord. 

This return asks something of us. This return is demanding. It requires 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as a way to return to the Lord, both in body and soul. It requires an examination of our daily life. It requires us to journey with Jesus on the cross. 

Fr. John Burns further explores this idea of returning in his video about Ash Wednesday: 

How do we return? By connecting with Jesus. Both in the suffering and in the joy to come. By engaging in prayer, to be reminded of God's love and to examine where we wandered off. By engaging in fasting, to put our own indulgences aside and to reorder our lives with the Creator ahead of the created. By engaging in almsgiving, to direct our hearts towards generosity and to push against our own selfishness.

This theme, Connecting with Jesus, will continue throughout Lent at ASA. Lenten reflections and activities will include:

Prayer - A printed copy of the Loyola Press Lenten Family Calendar will be sent home with students as a tool for families to use during the Lenten season.
  • Preschool:  Students will be building a Lenten prayer chain. Each link will contain their prayer reflections:  How can you connect with Jesus? What was a way you were kind like Jesus today?
  • Grades K-2:  Students will be building a Lenten prayer chain. Each link will contain their weekly prayer reflections. 
  • Grades 3-8:  Students will participate in a confessions service. Students will be building a Lenten prayer chain. Each link will contain their weekly give up, take up prayer reflection, led by the 7th grade class.

Fasting - Avoiding hurting words, actions, and turning kind words into actions.
  • Preschool:  Students will be prompted to give up a favorite toy or activity.
  • Grades K-2:  Students will give up a free choice time to write cards to seminarians, parents and grandparents. 
  • Grades 3-8:  Students will give up snacks as often as appropriate per age group.

Almsgiving - $1 color days with proceeds benefiting be nice., and weekly food drive donations, outlined below, to be delivered to the St. Alphonsus Food & Clothing Pantry.
  • Pre-8:  Make cards for their partner class, and bring weekly food drive  donations (see donation schedule below). 
  • Food Drive Donations:
    • Week 1:  Canned food items (veggies, fruit, soup)
    • Week 2:  Boxed food items (granola bars, fruit snacks, cereals)
    • Week 3:  Toiletry items (toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion)
    • Week 4:  Juice boxes
    • Week 5:  Paper/Storage items (ziplock bags, paper towel, tissues)

Stations of the Cross - 8th graders will perform living stations of the cross on Via Dolorosa Day, March 31, 2023.
  • Preschool:  On March 31, K-2 students will welcome preschoolers back as they return from their shorter Via Dolorosa walk on the sidewalk near the playground. 
  • Grades K-2:  Students will participate in Via Dolorosa Day and walk on March 31. They will also walk through the stations of the cross in Blessed Sacrament Church at another time. 
  • Grades 3-8:  Students will participate in Via Dolorosa Day and walk on March 31. 

Journey with us this Lent in your homes by engaging in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, but most importantly, by connecting with Jesus on His journey to the cross.

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