Cleanse our Hearts with Your Mercy

Year of Mercy Family Lenten/Easter Program, 3rd Sunday of Lent.
I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt therefore I have come down to rescue them. Exodus 3:7. Image: LDS Media Library ( © 2016 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

By Ben Smith, Director of the Family & Life Office, Diocese of Parramatta

Posted on 26 February 2016

This year the Diocese of Parramatta’s Family & Life Office has developed Cleanse our Hearts with Your Mercy, a Family Lenten/Easter Program for parishes and schools in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. 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.

Year of Mercy Family Lenten/Easter Program.Cleanse our Hearts with Your Mercy has been designed for this purpose, particularly for those families with primary school aged children. The program also provides additional resources for celebrating the season of Easter. To download a copy of the program, click

3rd Sunday of Lent, 28 February 2016

I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt therefore I have come down to rescue them. Exodus 3:7


Make a burning bush: mix water, food coloring (red and yellow) and a little vinegar together in a container. Dip 10-15 cotton balls in the colored mixture for several minutes and then lay them out on paper towel to dry for a few hours in the sun. Glue or sticky tape the dyed cotton balls to brown pipe cleaners cut to different lengths.

Twist the others ends of the pipe cleaners together to make a base trunk and splay the “branches” out at different angles and loosen the cotton balls to create a wispy flames. Use a piece of Blu-Tack to anchor the base to a plate.

First Reading for the Third Sunday of Lent (Exodus 3:1-8A, 13-15):

Read the 1st reading together using a Bible or click here. After you have finished reading spend some moments in silence. Then invite members of your family to share what they think the Reading is saying, how it touches their hearts or how it motivates them to take some action. Say an Our Father together to close this reflection time.

Reflections for Married Couples in the Jubilee Year of Mercy

In this week’s first reading from Exodus, we hear about how God had heard the cry of the people of Israel who were enslaved to the Egyptian. His response was to send Moses to rescue them. In more recent times, God sent His Son, Jesus, to free us from the slavery of sin and redeem us.

One fruit of His redemption is the sacrament of marriage that gives us grace that flows like living water to help us overcome our sinfulness and selfishness. Are you praying with your spouse to ask for God’s help to overcome the slavery of sin and to grow in your love for each other?

Works of Mercy

“I was in prison and you came to me”

This week’s focus on the works of mercy incorporate three works of mercy: Visit the Imprisoned, Admonish Sinners and Pray for the Living and the Dead. They have been combined because they are all concerned with some form of physical or spiritual imprisonment.

Sin limits our freedom. So when someone points out our sinfulness (admonishes us) they give us the opportunity to repent and grow in the Christian life. This admonishment needs to be performed with delicacy, love and at the right moment.

Praying for the living and the dead involves interceding for other people who are in need of prayers. This work of mercy also includes praying for our deceased family and friends. We can do this every day not just in November.

Visiting the imprisoned gives hope to people who feel dejected and despised. We can help the imprisoned by:

  • Understanding how families cope when one of their own is in jail by searching YouTube for a video: A Shared Sentence
  • Make a Fresh Start Pack for those who cannot afford personal items on their first day out of jail. (Prison Fellowship of Australia)
  • Consider preparing an encouragement poster for someone in jail (Kairos Prison Ministries)

For more information on things you can do for the imprisoned, including the contact details for Kairos Prison Ministries and Prison Fellowship of Australia, click here

An interesting activity associated with overcoming slavery in the developing world is the Slavery-free Easter Chocolate Campaign. For more detail about how you can buy slavery-free chocolate click here

A vegetarian recipe for Fridays in Lent

How about a Mixed Vegetable Curry?

For more information on ingredients and cooking instructions click here.

St Josephine Bakhita

St Josephine Bakhita

Saint of Mercy: St Josephine Bakhita (born 1869, died 1947)

Feast Day: 8 February

St Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan. She was kidnapped as a child and sold as a slave. She was not treated well by her masters. This changed when she was bought by an Italian, Callisto Legnani. In his house she was treated with love and warmth.

She travelled to Italy with Mr Legnani’s family and became friends with the Michieli family who looked after Bakhita for a few years. In 1888, she spent time with the Canossian Sisters in Venice. During this time she came to know about God, whom “she had experienced in her heart”. She received Baptism in 1890 and became a Catholic, taking on the new name Josephine.

Her faith grew and she discovered her calling to join the Canossian Sisters in 1896. She spent the next 50 years in joyful service to her community and the people of Schio. But she did relive the terrible days of her slavery during her old age and more than once begged her nurse: “Please, loosen the chains they … are heavy!”

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