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This Week's Liturgy

February 22nd, 2012 (see other dates)

Ash Wednesday

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

God's trumpet blast is not the only wake-up call we receive on Ash Wednesday. What do you think the ashes on our foreheads awaken us to? When you see your friends and other parishioners wearing the Sign of the Cross in ashes, what are you reminded of? What are some of the ways we can show that we are ready to return to God with our whole heart?

Reading 1 Joel 2:12-18

Reading 1 Reflection

The early morning sound of a trumpet or bugle playing reveille at Scout camp calls us to wake up and start a new day. In this first reading for Ash Wednesday, the trumpet calls God's people to wake up and return to God with all their hearts. They have once again been unfaithful. But God invites them as a faith community to repent, fast, and pray for mercy.

God's trumpet calls us to return to him with our whole heart on this first day of the season of Lent. Because we too have sinned, it is time for us to seek forgiveness, do penance, and pray for a fresh start as followers of Jesus.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

Ash Wednesday is often a day of good intentions for many Catholics. We decide to give up sweets, be more patient with family members, or celebrate Reconciliation. What are some other decisions you might make about Lenten practices? Why is it often hard to be faithful to these decisions throughout Lent? How will you show you believe that "Now is the time to be reconciled"?

Reading 2 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Reading 2 Reflection

Sometimes when we get too busy or distracted, we have bad timing. We send a birthday card two weeks late or miss an opportunity to try out for the basketball team. In this reading, we see how important it is to have good timing. God announces, "Now is the day of salvation!" The exclamation point means, "Don't miss out on it!" Lent is the time for us to be reconciled with God and with others. Then others will recognize us as ambassadors or representatives of Christ.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

Look back over this reading and choose one sentence that wakes you up to how Jesus wants us to pray, fast, or give alms. Why should we not boast about our good deeds? What are some of the ways you enjoy praying in private? How might you respond to someone who complained, "I'm fasting today and you have no idea how hungry I am! I'm starving! Most people couldn't do it, I'm sure"?

Gospel Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Gospel Reflection

If you have ever done a good deed in secret so that you would not be rewarded for it or thanked, you will understand Jesus' message in today's gospel reading. He warns us not to do any religious acts out of a desire to be noticed or to be repaid. People who fast or pray or give to the poor to make themselves look good are acting like hypocrites. They should not expect a reward from God. He sees the good that we do in secret or without notice. And he will repay us with lasting rewards.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

Way of the Cross

Reproduce the cross for each child. Explain that the Liturgical Season of Lent is a time when we focus on Jesus’ life and sacrifice. Tell the children that each day of Lent, they must give up something special or do something extra. Each day after doing this, encourage the children to color in one section of the cross. After forty days, the cross will be complete.

Class Prayer Book

Lent is a time when we are called to spend more time in prayer. Make a class prayer book. Ask them to think of people they want to pray for during Lent. Then give each child an 8 ½ x 11  piece of plain white paper and have them write the names of or draw pictures of people they want to pray for. Collect the pages and make a prayer book by punching holes and placing them in a binder. Throughout the season of Lent, offer prayers as a class for these people.

Proclaiming Faith Activities

Sketching Divided Hearts

God's message to us on Ash Wednesday is "Return to me with your whole heart.” We can only do that if we recognize some of the ways in which our hearts are divided as Lent begins.

You might choose to do the following as a group, using markers and mural paper. Or you can do individual sketches on drawing paper.

Sketch a large heart with several lines dividing it into various parts. Label the parts with some of the persons, things, and activities that occupy your heart right now.

Decide which of these parts, if any, will not help you to return to God with your whole heart during Lent. Fill that part in with purple and write one way you will give more of your heart to God in the coming season.

Praying in Private

Jesus often went off by himself to pray, especially when he needed guidance, rest, or renewal. Young people often experience those same needs. To you, Jesus says, "Go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private."

In the space below, write a prayer to your Father expressing your needs. Make a simple plan about how you will pray in private during Lent.

For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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