“Why should I care about what happens to anyone else?”
What a wonderful question! It addresses the heart of what it is to be human. It helps us focus on a central conviction of our life: that God creates us in His own image (Genesis 1:27). We reflect the One who made us. Our human dignity is grounded in God’s creative care for us.
A Careful Lent lets us explore how we can grow in caring about what God cares about. God’s loving care for us is ultimately shown in Jesus, who gave His life for us. Each year the liturgical cycle lets us revisit Lent and prepares us again to re-accept this infinite care from the One who created us and “reconciled us to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18). As we deepen our experience of how He cares for us, it is natural that we grow in care for all around us (1 John 4:11).
As we grow up in our families, we learn to take care of things and each other. In so many ways, families teach us to care for what has value and for the people we cherish. Lenten practices - prayer, fasting, and alms-giving - help us to stretch our vision of what is valuable and whom we love. A Careful Lent can lead us to a greater fullness-of-care.
One day a week over the next several weeks of Lent we will offer an exploration of how God’s Spirit moves us to care more deeply and love more expansively. Within our families, we can carefully grow through Lent becoming ever more open to the promise of Easter, to the mystery of the Risen Lord in our midst.
Ash Wednesday invites us to ponder our created selves and the hope that our faith realizes. The first words of Jesus as he began His public ministry can accompany our being marked with ashes: “Repent, and believe...” (Mark 1:15). We repent when we choose to grow and change. We believe when we trust the Good News that Jesus proclaims. To become more care-filled for others is a sign of God’s Kingdom taking root in our lives.
So as Lent begins, it might be helpful to do a reflective exercise on the different ways that we care. If we can, it might be fun to gather as a family and look through some family photos taken over the years and share memories of how we cared about the events, places, and people in the pictures. We might pray that we be open to God’s Spirit, moving us through the feelings and thoughts that come to us during the sharing. The goal of the exercise is simply to become more aware of how care-full we are and where Lent may take us with God’s Spirit leading our growth.
Additional resource for families: View and discuss the short 7-minute video, Lent, on Catholic Central by Family Theater Productions, a ministry of Holy Cross Family Ministries.
About John Dacey
John Dacey is a retired Catholic high school teacher. He has taught Scripture, Ethics, and Social Justice. He enjoys being in the company of family, reading in the field of spirituality, and gardening. John and his wife have been married for more than 40 years and have two children and four grandchildren.