By Ben Smith, Director of the Family & Life Office, Diocese of Parramatta
Posted on 11 March 2016
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. 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.
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 here
“Let the person without sin be the first to throw a stone.” John 8:7
Take a baking tray, place it on a table outside near the back door and fill it with sand to a depth of 1cm-2cm. Add some water to make the sand moist. Surround the rim of the container with small rocks the size of a 10c or 20c coin. Make a sign with the words: “Let the person without sin be the first to throw a stone” and place it next to the tray. Place a bucket underneath the table. Take it in turns to write a sin you are struggling with in the sand with your fingers. Then take one of the rocks from the rim of the tray and place it in the bucket. Say a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness. The person can wipe away the sin written in the sand afterwards.
Gospel Reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (John 8:1-11)
Read the Gospel together as a family using a Bible or go to www.parrafamlife.org.au/lent2016/Wk5. After you have finished reading spend some moments in silence. Then invite members of your family to share what they think the Gospel is saying, how it touches their heart or how it motivates them to take some action. Say an Our Father together to close this reflection time.
Sing the song Forgive One Another written by Two by 2 with your children.
For the lyrics, click here
For the music, click here
Works of Mercy
“I Was Naked and You Clothed Me”
This week we will focus on one corporal and three spiritual works of mercy. The corporal work of mercy is: clothe the naked and the spiritual works of mercy are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful and comfort the afflicted. ‘
In terms of clothing the naked, we can start by going through our wardrobes and selecting clothes that we could take to a clothing bin in our area. But this Lent we should try and give away some clothes that are relatively new that we really like. These will give the poor a greater sense of dignity. There are also opportunities to volunteer with Vinnies to help them with their work to clothe the poor. Click here for more details.
Instructing the ignorant can be performed by simply spending time learning about your faith or helping your family and friends deepen their knowledge of the Catholic faith. Sharing books/CDs/DVDs are a good way of doing this. A list of local outlets for these items is available here.
When it comes to counselling the doubtful and comforting the afflicted, be aware of the vicious cycle of hopelessness that begins with doubt, moves to discouragement and ends with despair. In our modern world there are many ways in which people can get sucked into the cycle of hopelessness. For example, a failed relationship can lead to substance abuse, to unemployment, homelessness and then despair.
* Invite a family struggling with a crisis over for dinner and offer them some support. Be prepared to give them some contact details for professional help if it is appropriate and they are open to suggestions.
* Donate a box of books, DVDs or CDs to Lifeline to help them fundraise for their telephone crisis support line service. or more information on where to send your donation click here http://www.parrafamlife.org.au/lent2016/worksofmercy
Saint of Mercy: St Vincent de Paul (born 1581, died 1660)
Feast Day: 27 September
St Vincent de Paul was born in France into a farming family. He was sent to train for the priesthood when he was 15. When he was a young priest he was captured by pirates and was sold into slavery in North Africa. He worked hard for two years for different masters who bought and sold him until he converted his last master and was set free.
On his return to France he was sent to work in a parish near Paris. He organised groups to look after the needy by nursing the sick, cooking meals, found jobs for the unemployed and provided them with clothes. He founded the Daughters of Charity, a group of Sisters dedicated to the poor. He also founded a society of priests and missionaries known as the Vincentians who were devoted to the people in smaller towns and villages.
His work inspired Blessed Frederic Ozanam to start the St Vincent de Paul Society in 1833 in Paris, which is dedicated to helping the poor.