The Church will soon begin to observe the liturgical season of Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 17, Lent lasts forty days. During Lent, the whole Church prepares for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum. Lent is a season of simple living. Here are two resources to help you mobilize young disciples to do good works during the season of Lent. Available in English and Spanish!
During Lent, Catholics make special efforts to pray, do penance, and do good works. While we are called to do good works every day of the year, we make a special effort during the season of Lent.
Good works help us to do penance during Lent. Penance is an important part of conversion – turning to God with all our hearts – during Lent. One way to do penance is to engage in good works. To do this, we can share our time and talents, or practice the Works of Mercy.
During Lent we follow Jesus’ example of service. He provided for the hungry and cared for the sick. Like Jesus, we do our best to help other people get the things that they need. We work to ensure that others have what is rightfully theirs. We can take part in parish collections for food and clothing. We can dedicate our time assisting at a soup kitchen or food pantry. We can visit elderly neighbors or those who are sick. We give witness to Jesus when we perform the Works of Mercy, acts of love that help us care for the needs of others, both physical and spiritual.
The Corporal Works of Mercy, which address the physical and material needs of others, are: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; visit the imprisoned; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; and bury the dead. The Spiritual Works of Mercy, which address the needs of people’s hearts, minds, and souls, are: admonish the sinner; instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; comfort the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; forgive all injuries; and pray for the living and the dead.
Getting Young Catholics to Do Good Works
Even the youngest disciples can engage in good works, by helping their family members, making a special effort to share, and participating in a class or family initiative to assist those who are poor or in need. Older children can work together on larger and more impactful service projects. Creating opportunities for these projects, as well as a forum for reflection and discussion, is an engaging and wonderful way to encourage good works during Lent.
Here are two resources to help you mobilize young Catholics to do good works during the season of Lent. These resources allow students to be engaged and make a real difference in their communities, guided by a leader or concerted community effort. Rely on these resources to help you plan engaging, meaningful service projects during the season of Lent or anytime during the year.
Resource #1: Service Projects Children Will Love
A quote attributed to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.” These words ring very true, especially for our students today. The best way to teach them to live out the love of Jesus in their daily lives is by teaching them to go outside of themselves in service to others.
Download the 10 Service Projects Children Will Love eBook to provide students with the opportunity to know, love and serve the Lord. Written by a Director of Religious Education, the eBook includes ten suggestions for meaningful, manageable service projects. The resource is available in both English and Spanish.
Resource #2: Helping the Homeless Activity
Homelessness is a life condition that can arise from many different circumstances. Invite young people to plan and implement an outreach to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen during Lent. In the process, participating students will come to better understand the causes of homelessness so that they can help to provide assistance to “shelter the homeless,” as well as advocate on their behalf.
Download this combination retreat and outreach event to actively involve junior high school students in living and celebrating their faith. The entire event requires two ninety-minute planning sessions, the activity itself, and a ninety-minute reflection session. The resource is available in both English and Spanish.
Mobilize young disciples to do good works during the season of Lent with resources that inspire service projects. When we encourage children to go outside of themselves in service of others they learn what it truly means to live out the love of Jesus.