Parishioners from across the diocese share their Lenten traditions that help them prepare for Easter
Start the day with prayer
Our Lenten tradition always started with going to church on Ash Wednesday. It really starts us off in the right mindset. But this year, our dynamic is going to be a little different. Our son is in the Navy and our daughter is a freshman in college, so we won’t be doing as much as a family, but we hope we have passed the tradition on to them and they will be as involved as we were while they were growing up. We always abstained from meat on Friday, and although we usually try to do adoration throughout the year, we make sure to go every week during Lent and really make it a priority. More than that, we always tried to add some sort of devotion and daily prayer, but also to do it as a family. We’ve done novenas, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the rosary; last year, we did the 33 Days to Morning Glory. We make sure to set aside time every day; for the last few years, we did it first thing in the morning before everyone went their separate ways for the day. We like the daily prayer because it makes you focus less on the outside world and focus inward on your relationship with Jesus. The fact of just having to create that discipline, to keep that time every day, puts you in that Lenten mindset. That time is the time for Jesus alone, and it prepares you for the walk through Lent so you can fully rejoice on Easter.
The Zebro Family, St. Paul Parish, Mosinee
Keep Lent alive all year
I am probably not as typical of a Catholic because I’m a convert. I converted when I was 33 years old; now I’m 96, but I like to participate with the parish activities and we have a weekly men’s group that I enjoy being a part of. What I find most helpful for my faith is that I read a lot. I spend a lot of time reading, and what I’ve figured out is that the conversion process never ends. That’s the story of my life. I’m at a stage now where I’m really into learning about the Blessed Mother, and it’s been a real a sense of growth and enthusiasm I find in my praying now. I always prayed the rosary, but to fully realize the richness of the Blessed Mother has just been wonderful. My growth has been more in a sense of learning and really spending time in the catechism and reading what the Church teaches. The more I read, the more it becomes better and better and better. Like I said, I’m probably not your typical Catholic. I don’t know that I do anything that different during Lent, but the things I do during Lent, I do year-round. I think that’s important. A lot of people just do extra stuff during Lent, and that’s good, but I make sure I keep it going every day. Lent is an opportunity to think about your need to confess and clean up anything that might be wrong. It’s very simple, just go to the confessional and you’ll be welcomed like the prodigal son. When I think about my conversion, I remember that once I realized the fullness of the Eucharist, nothing else compares, and I try to take advantage of every opportunity I can to learn about it and tell people about it.
Earl Anderson, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Cashton
Make Lent a family event
My husband Dan and I have six children, five of whom are still at home. We do many of the same things each year to join in the life of the broader Church each Lent. As that time approaches, we try to prepare by thinking of things to “give up” and ways to give to a cause. We also like to join the parish devotional practices. Ash Wednesday is a meaningful time when we receive ashes and acknowledge the beginning of Lent. For many years, the kids helped me create a crown of thorns with dough and toothpicks, removing one for each act of selflessness. Every morning, we read the readings together and that helps us follow the litugical life of the Church; in Lent, it is in anticipation of the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ. We go to confession before Easter as a family. One thing we are going to do intentionally this year is raise money for a charity called Mary’s Meals and make it to Stations of the Cross. As always, Sunday Mass really helps remind us what season we are in, with the readings, the homily and the music. The choir at Sacred Heart St. Patrick’s is beautiful and one highlight before Easter is the Holy Thursday Mass. The Church offers us so many ways to live out our faith, and Lent is one gift we treasure as Catholics. It gives us a chance to stop and detach from everything, as much as we can, and realize Jesus is the center of our lives.
The Lynch Family
Sacred Heart/St. Patrick Parish, Eau Claire