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Lenten Symbols and Sacramentals for the Home Church

Since a family is a domestic church, a church of the home, it is appropriate to observe the liturgical seasons in our home churches as well as in our parish churches. The following suggestions are offered as several ways in which our families can enhance their observations of Lent at home.

~ Select a prominent place to display the following symbols and sacramentals, so they are seen frequently by family members. The kitchen may be a good place, since it is often the "heart of the family."

~ Each week of Lent move a different symbol or sacramental to the forefront as the "symbol/sacramental of the week." Only four symbols and sacramentals are provided here. Feel free to add or substitute other symbols from your cultural or family heritage.

~ During each week, explain the symbol or sacramental, and discuss as a family the ways it is experienced in your life and the lives of others. Use the discussion as an opportunity to develop your family faith life and the service you offer in the name of the crucified and risen Jesus.

A Cross recalls the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. It also reminds us of the sufferings and deaths we experience through the loss of loved ones, of health, jobs, dreams, and through unkindness, criticism, etc. It motivates us to deeper levels of love.

Reflection: In times of loss, how have we as a family experienced God's loving care? What can we do to bring hope and comfort to someone who is suffering loss of loneliness?

A Seed or Barren Branch recalls the need to die to ourselves before we can rise to new life, and the letting go of self that accompanies loving service to others.

Reflection: What has our family already let go of that was keeping us from growing closer to God and each other? What do we still need to let go of so we can rise to new life in Christ?

Holy Water recalls the saving power of Baptism that makes us adopted children of God, and removes original sin.

Reflection: How do we as a family already forgive each other's major and minor failings? What do we need to do to make our love for each other more unconditional?

Palms recall Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Reflection: What do we do as a family to make Jesus present in our home? What can we do to make the Kingdom of God more present in the world?

From The Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia