Guidelines for parish teams – and all involved in liturgy
Produced by the Liturgy Commission for the Archdiocese of Dublin

The Journey of the Christian Community
I. Lent is a season of conversion and reconciliation
II.Lent is a season of communal conversion
III. The goal of Lent is Easter and the Easter season
IV. Lent is not so much what we are doing but rather who we are being as a Christian people.

Week 1 Facing the Future Exploring our reasons for Hope. From maintainance to Mission. Taking responsibility for the future.
Week 2 A Moment of Vision Going back to our roots. Gods future for Gods people.
Week 3. Thirsting What are we thirsting for in our faith journey? Who are we? What do we need?
Week 4. Learning to see, healing our vision. Obstacles to seeing. Where are we now? Strengths and limitations.
Week 5 New life What is releasing/blocking new life. From death to new life. A way forward.

It is important to stress that Lent is a journey towards the summit of the Churchs year, the Easter Triduum. Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday need some catechesis during Lent.
Some families like to be together at the Easter Vigil. At some stage the children have to be introduced to the Vigil, but certainly the Easter day Mass should bring out the whole meaning of the Paschal Mystery and Baptism. If possible there could be a baptism at the Family Mass on Easter morning, with renewal of baptism promises, lighting of candles and lavish sprinkling with the blessed water, and a sung refrain.
Preparations for Easter could include seeing that each childs baptismal candle looks well for lighting at the renewal of Baptismal vows on Sunday morning. Decorating eggs for Easter is an old custom and gives room for creativity. They can feature in the Procession of Gifts which should include chocolate ones also for distribution!

Lent is about preparing for Easter, it is journeying with those to be baptised at Easter. That should be the stated goal at the beginning. Especially in Year A is the theme of preparation for Baptism accentuated. The readings have in mind the catechumens throughout the world who are in the last stages of
preparation. Explain Catechumens and the process of entering the Church.

40 days of fasting in Lent
3 days of the Easter feast
50 days of the Easter season

Flabbiness? (From A Quality Parish Storecupboard CD. Redemptorist Publications, England)
It is ironic that whilst the Northern hemisphere fights the flab because of over-indulgence, the poor South struggles for survival. It is the tragic picture of selfishness; the condition of sinful humanity. We have a new word in our vocabulary that describes the effect of our self-indulgence: “flabbiness”. Flabbiness doesnt just affect our bodies but our relationship with God also.
Another season of Lent! The Church sets aside this period in the year that we may take a long and hard look at the flabbiness that is adversely affecting our total life.
The essential message of the Gospel is to repent, turn away from our sinfulness and accept God in our lives. We cannot have both! However, most of us try to compromise. Jesus presents an uncompromising challenge – we must be totally for God. Prom the early days of the Church, Christians have been urged to develop a penitential attitude. Basically, this means that because we prize our love and friendship with God above all else we are prepared to make an effort to preserve it. We are not prepared to become flabby in our spiritual lives.
What keep-fit Is to the body, penance is to the spirit. Keeping ourselves in good shape is not easy. Often it means saying “No” to oneself, and this principle applies also in our spiritual lives. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting
Jesus put before us three practices which were precious in the history of the Old Testament, have been hallowed by Christian tradition ever since, and should occupy us especially during Lent: Almsgiving, Prayer and Pasting.
Almsgiving: support for those in need was seen as essential to righteousness in the Old Testament, and Jesus makes it a condition for salvation. Be generous!
Prayer: the praise of God, pleading for our needs, repenting of our sins, all these fmd their place in the story of the Jewish people. Jesus also, by word and example, urges us to pray in sincerity and truth. Fasting: this discipline of the body has a distinguished history. Jesus himself fasted before his public ministry and he expected his disciples to fast also.
Why not make a special effort this Lent and combine fasting with almsgiving. Consume less and give what you save to TROCAIRE. Complete the good work with prayer for those in need.

First Sunday. Clay. During Lent the whole Church is re-forming. God is the potter reshaping our lives.
Second Sunday. Oil. The Israelites looked forward to the true Messiah, the anointed one”. Christ means the anointed one. At Baptism we are anointed as a priestly people.
Third Sunday Water. The Catechumens are preparing to go down into the waters of Baptism.
Fourth Sunday  Light. As Christ passed over from life to death to new life, so are we called to move from darkness to dawn to the fullness of light, which shines through Christ.
Fifth Sunday  A budding branch. The dead wood like the dry bones comes to life in the springtime.
Palm Sunday. The palm. Reminders of Jesus as our Lord and King. We follow Jesus like the procession which entered Jerusalem, with the children shouting hosanna. The procession can involve bells, trumpets, song, the waving of palms and many, many people. It goes some distance from where the palms are blessed to the place of the Eucharistic table.

Christian tradition has Lenten fasting as a practice for all, not just a few. Whatever we can manage of fasting is a grace from God not our own efforts. Fasting should be obedient, we should not have personal extremes. Fasting is joyful! Penitent grief brings joy. Lenten fasting does not mean a rejection of Gods good gifts, it is a cleansing of our will to use them properly.

Freely, freely
He said
Freely, freely you have received; freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe, others will know that I live.’ Carol Owens
This very popular song of the Spirit expresses beautifully the forgiveness of God. There is a note of gentle confidence in Gods love. But the hymn quite clearly spells out our mission, to forgive as we are forgiven, to love as we are loved, to witness by our lives that God is alive.

40 DAYS It took forty days for sinfulness to drown under the flood before a new creation could inherit the earth (Genesis 7:4).
It took forty years for the generation of slaves to die before the freeborn could enter the promised land (Numbers 14:33-35).
For forty days Moses and Elijah and Jesus fasted and prayed to prepare themselves for a lifes work.
Forty is symbolic of a journey. Lent is the forty days before the Easter Triduum and the renewal of our baptism.

The Springtime of the Fast has dawned the flower of repentance has begun to open, Let us cleanse ourselves from all impurity and sing to the Giver of Light; Glory be to The, who alone loves us all. OrthodoxHymn

Lent Sundays look different. Purple is the colour except on the 4th Sunday when we have rose. Purple is a royal colour for Christ the King. Its use brings out the Easter joyful colours better.

The Old Testament stories of Abraham, David, the Dry Bones may not be known to some children. The telling of the story could be helpful for all in the congregation.. It can of course be dramatised. This is true also of the three stories of the woman at the well, the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus Each stage of the story has dramatic potential, and also the possibility of involvement of a large cast of extras.

Wanting to do something more than giving up something we decided to do something positive for this Lenten period – something we could all do together, s a group, for each other.
So taking the idea from Kris Kindle, we decided to accompany each other in prayer for the Lenten weeks, much as the community accompanies the catechumens on their journey towards baptism.
Each person drew a name (from a hat), and promised to pray for, and show a special kindness to the person. This of course is a secret until Easter Morning, when our prayer friends will make themselves known, and present us with a mall gift (an Easter egg), and an Easter card (made not bought).