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Embracing Love: The Ultimate Lenten Practice

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The message of God’s love that we see revealed in Jesus crucified - the Kerygma - is the crucial foundation of the Christian faith and gives true significance and worth to the Season of Lent.
The message of God’s love that we see revealed in Jesus crucified – the Kerygma – is the crucial foundation of the Christian faith and gives true significance and worth to the Season of Lent.

By Laura Neeson

All ‘good’ practising Catholics know that the season of Lent is a time for reflection, sacrifice, and spiritual growth. However, for secular and non-practicing Catholic families,  the traditional practice of giving something up for Lent simply isn’t appealing. As a Family Educator, the challenge is finding ways to make this important liturgical season with all of its customs and rituals meaningful and relevant to them in some way.

As I was brainstorming ways to do this, I found myself pondering a bigger question: why have so many people drifted away from their faith? Why do we need to plan and devise ways to encourage families to engage with these important liturgical events?

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While the answer to this question is complex and multifaceted, ultimately I believe it can be boiled down to one common factor: they just don’t realise that God loves them.

The message of God’s love that we see revealed in Jesus crucified – the Kerygma – is the crucial foundation of the Christian faith.  A true experience of God’s love, is a transformative event that opens people’s  hearts and minds to the truth of the Gospel.  I realised as a Family Educator, I need to start there, that it’s futile to ‘teach’ others about our rituals and traditions unless we have first shared the message of God’s love with them, and unless they have truly received it.

“wE ARE ALL CALLED TO EVANGELISE OTHERS THROUGH OUR WITNESS AND OUR WORDS”

But this mission of spreading the good news doesn’t just belong to the army of faithfilled Family Educators across our Sydney Catholic Schools.  Ultimately, this mission belongs to every Christian by virtue of our Baptism.  We are all called to evangelise others through our witness and our words. Witness means to live out the values of the Gospel in a way that evokes curiosity about the source of those values, and we are called to love and serve others in the way that Christ loves us.

We are also to use words through the sharing of our testimony, which is the story of how our lives have been changed by our experience of God’s love, and we can also share the Good News that God has loved us so much that his Son Jesus both died and rose again to bring us into a life-saving relationship with God.

1 John 4:8 puts it this way: “whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.”  So to give the season of Lent true significance and worth, we can show the world through our actions how the virtues of compassion, forgiveness, humility and service can be brought to life by love.  By embodying these values and being a living example of them, we can truly make a difference during this Lenten season.

Laura Neeson is the Family Educator at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, Clovelly.

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