To make Lent as special as possible, the Animate team have been offering services of Reconciliation to pupils in the schools working with us. This provides an opportunity for them to better understand what Reconciliation is, and also to break down preconceived ideas about the Sacrament. Using game shows, film clips and even art works, we have tried to bring home the purpose of Reconciliation to these young people. We did the same last year, but this year has seen a much greater uptake.
Coming from a Salvation Army background as I do, I have always taken a slightly different approach to Easter. It usually falls just after our annual Self-Denial Appeal and so I had never given something up for Lent before. Additionally, we do not celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the same way. Yet this does not mean Lent is not an important time for us, and this has led me to think about what Lent really means for me as a Christian.
There are certain things people do which have been adopted by the secular world – notably giving up chocolate for no real religious reason. But there are myriad other ways in which people prepare themselves for Easter. People do fast – some out of solidarity for those who go without, or to share in Jesus's days in the wilderness. Others give money, perhaps by cutting something out of their usual routine, or perform extra charitable works. Some try to kick bad habits or take up good ones; others seek a deeper prayer life.
Regardless of what we do, the really important thing is: why? Do you celebrate Lent simply because you are meant to? Or do you do it because you want to as a Christian?
It is a time when we should humble ourselves before the Lord as we come closer to Good Friday, and remember that Jesus took on death for us all and that this took our sins away; and that if we live for Him and through Him we can find true happiness and eternal reward. So, however we have spent Lent, let it be for the right reason: to grow closer to God and into fuller union with His will.
Dates for the Diary:
Youth Alive Mass
SS Peter and Paul, Kirkby – 9 April (6.30pm)
Life and Soul+
St John's, Wigan – 26 April
St Teresa's, Penwortham –3 May
St Bridget's, Warrington – 7 June
(7–8pm, but feel free to come and go at any time)
Father Simon Gore writes: In May last year the Archdiocese launched the national Faith in Action Award Scheme. This is a scheme designed to encourage young people in our schools and parishes to put their faith into action: to live out works of mercy in their local communities and to reflect on those works in the light of Scripture and Church teaching.
The award has been taken up enthusiastically by many schools and parishes and we have over 1,000 young people already signed up and performing works of mercy in our Archdiocese.
As part of the scheme each participant must complete a final piece of work that shows how they have reflected on the acts performed over the past 12 months. Each work will be reviewed, with feedback given, though this is not a final exam and it will not be assessed. This moderation is more a show of the diocese supporting and affirming our young people in their efforts. As such, no teaching qualifications are necessary to be a moderator, but simply a willingness to devote a few hours over the summer to affirming the work of our young people in trying to live out Christ's message to love our neighbours.
If you feel you could offer some time to act as a moderator for the award, or would be interested to hear more, contact Father Simon Gore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01744 740467/740460.