March 4, 2022

Pastoral Ministries / Gabriela Ross

The season of Lent, according to your season

Gabriela RossSeveral years ago, someone shared a resource page with me full of ideas for celebrating Lent. In true “mommy-blogger” style, the website came with printable worksheets to plan out meatless meals, faith-based movie nights, prayer and service activities, and even a music playlist for Lent and Easter. I loved the opportunity to dive into Lent with multiple layers of participation and get the most out of this spiritual season which the Church gives us to grow in holiness.

I look back fondly on seasons of life that included “sacrifice beans” in a jar. For every little sacrifice offered up, a bean went into a jar. And on Easter Sunday, the sacrifice beans were replaced with jellybeans or chocolate Easter eggs, because every sacrifice was transformed by the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, who brought new life.

I remember watching YouTube videos from the Food Network, trying to figure out how long lamb chops needed to be cooked on a frying pan before they were done. We had lamb chops and fresh bread one year for Holy Thursday, because Jesus is the Lamb of God, and he broke bread with the disciples on Holy Thursday when he instituted the Eucharist.

I remember hopping on a bus with members of my parish and traveling on pilgrimage from church to church around Indianapolis during Holy Week and visiting the “altar of repose” at each parish, to adore our Lord on the eve of his Passion.

I recently came across my old binder of Lenten resources, tucked away in the bottom of a bookshelf, and I marveled as I flipped through it. So much has changed in my life from the time when I was putting together the Lenten binder, and so many of those activities, which were part of a particular season of life, are no longer present.

Yet Lent has not changed. It continues to be an opportunity to enter more deeply into prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and to evoke a conversion of heart.

I think this last part is the measure by which we can measure our Lenten season. While some seasons of life come with Lenten pilgrimages, and others come with Lenten popsicle stick crafts, every season of Lent and season of life comes with the question: Is this changing my heart and drawing me closer to Jesus?

What is your season of life, right now? Are you able to participate in opportunities at your parish and with your faith community, to grow closer to God this Lent? Do you take joy in having those opportunities during this season of life? Or do you take them for granted? What will prayer, fasting and almsgiving look like for you during this season of life? What activities and traditions will serve as external reminders of the Lenten journey that you are on? What internal devotions will draw you to conversion of heart?

Life looks different whether you are single, married, have small children or are an empty-nester; whether you’re widowed, divorced or living in a care facility; whether you’re a parish volunteer, lay minister, religious or clergy.

But no matter what our circumstances are, or what our season in life may be, all of us are called to enter into Lent and respond to God’s invitation to let him change our hearts.

(Gabriela Ross is the director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. She may be reached at or 317-592-4007.)

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