With the publication of his pastoral letter, “Enriching the Church: The Role of the Family in the Life of the Church of Syracuse and Beyond,” Bishop Robert J. Cunningham announced a special Year of the Family, which began in the diocese on Dec. 3, 2017.
In his letter, Bishop Cunningham reflects on the mission of the modern family — evangelization — and how it can be accomplished by forming an “ecclesia domestica,” a “domestic church,” through prayer and worship, formation, community, and service.
Throughout the Year of the Family, the Diocese of Syracuse and its ministries will focus on each of these pillars and provide resources families can use to build their domestic churches. This week, find some resources available to your domestic church this Lent, a reflection on Lent from a diocesan family, and a family Bible study from the Office of Faith Formation.
The Diocese of Syracuse will offer the following resources for parishes and faithful during “Lent: 40 Days of Family”:
• Weekly Lenten prayer intercessions. Visit the diocesan Facebook page (facebook.com/dioceseofsyracuse) each Sunday during Lent for a special Lenten and family-themed intercession. Consider praying for the weekly intention as a family throughout Lent.
• Weekly family Bible study. The diocesan Office of Faith Formation will help you and your family journey through the season with an approachable, practical Bible study series. Each week the series will focus on an aspect of Sunday’s Gospel reading, provide questions for reflection, and suggest ways to live out the Lenten practices of praying, fasting, and giving. Find the continuing series each week in the Sun (see below) and on the diocesan Facebook page!
• Lenten family reflections. Eight families from across the diocese will share their Lenten traditions with the Sun. These reflections will be available in the print edition (see the Redmore Family on this page) as well as on thecatholicsun.com and via the diocesan Facebook page.
• Weekly video messages from Bishop Cunningham. Since the beginning of the Year of the Family, Bishop Cunningham has offered weekly video messages focused on topics related to family and faith. To send these messages right to your inbox, visit syrdio.org and click the SIGN UP tab. The messages are also available on the diocesan Facebook page (and include captions for those who are Deaf and hard of hearing). During Lent, Bishop Cunningham will reflect on honoring grandparents, preparing for Easter, God’s plan for the family, and more.
Share our Lent: The Redmores
Editor’s note: During this Year of the Family, the Catholic Sun and the Diocese of Syracuse have invited eight families to offer reflections on how they observe Lent in their “domestic churches.” The series continues this week with the Redmore family. Keith and Jennifer Redmore are the parents of (pictured at left, clockwise from bottom) James, 14; Mark, 8; John, 10; Peter, 3; Ann, 6; Luke, 16; and Mary, 12. They live in Binghamton and are parishioners of St. James Church.
During the Lenten season our family tries very hard to make it a time of prayer, sacrifice, and giving. Our children attend Mass at their schools (St. James and Seton Catholic Central) on Ash Wednesday, and my husband and I usually go to churches near where we work. When we all come together at the end of the day we will compare homilies. The words of Father Bob Sullivan always remind me, “no dashes for ashes” — stay for the whole Mass.
I have great memories of Fridays during Lent at St. John the Evangelist School. I try to join my kids now for Friday Stations of the Cross at St. James School. The schoolchildren take turns reading about each station. Seton Catholic Central and the Catholic elementary schools all have a Lenten Penance Service. This is wonderful for them and they always remind my husband and me we need to get to Confession before Easter.
We have a Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl on our kitchen counter that we fill as rewards for good deeds the kids do for others. We follow Catholic Relief Services on social media and during Lent they do a wonderful job teaching about those in need all over the world. It really encourages us to sacrifice knowing we are helping others. [Find CRS on Facebook at facebook.com/CatholicReliefServices.]
At St. James Parish in Johnson City, on Fridays during Lent different parish groups host Simple Soup Suppers where all are welcome. My family and I like to attend. We have also volunteered and find it very rewarding to serve others.
For us Lent is also a time to reflect and pray. Attending daily Mass or signing up for Holy Hour are great Lenten practices. There’s no better time to read the lives of the saints than at bedtimes during the 40 days of Lent. Over the years we’ve read the biographies of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Thomas More and many others. Reading about the saints inspires us all.
We all strive to be more loving and generous with one another and others during Lent. We love to do the daily Busted Halo InstaLent Photo Challenge. This is a great way to get teens focusing on Lent in a creative way. Every day there is a challenge and you share a photo. Examples include #reflection #sacrifice #mercy. [Check it out at bustedhalo.com/ministry-resources/2018-instalent-photo-challenge.]
Meatless Fridays are a must, and we enjoy some favorites like homemade macaroni and cheese, meatless chili with homemade cornbread, fish sticks, and of course pierogies from St. Michael’s in Binghamton.
On Palm Sunday (Saturday Vigil) every year we attend Mass with the Catholic Deaf Community in Syracuse. Bishop Cunningham is the celebrant and homilist. We love the Passion in American Sign Language. My mom, Jane Long, who is Deaf herself, suggested we go to the Mass at Christ the King Retreat Center years ago. She wanted us to be together and promised us it would a wonderful experience. We’ve gone ever since. It is even more special since our daughter Ann, who is also Deaf, gets to know members of the Deaf community from all over the Diocese. My big kids are often asked to be altar servers. We all look forward to Holy Week at St. James. The kids know they are officially “big” when they go to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil services.
Family Bible study: First Sunday of Lent
Lent is a perfect time to strengthen your family’s faith life — but time can so often be at a premium for today’s busy families.
This Lent, the diocesan Office of Faith Formation will help you and your family journey through the season with an approachable, practical Bible study series. Each week the series will focus on an aspect of Sunday’s Gospel reading, provide questions for reflection, and suggest ways to live out the Lenten practices of praying, fasting, and giving.
The series continues this week with a reflection for the First Sunday of Lent.
Jesus was sent by the Spirit into the desert. (Mark 1:12-15)
• What will you do this Lent to become more like Jesus?
• Lent gives us a chance to do things differently — to “go to the desert.” How can you make Lent a time for growing in faith?
• What is the one area of your life that you most want to “reform” as you get ready to embrace the Gospel?
Suggestions for action
• Pray for those who are preparing for baptism or full membership in the Catholic Church.
• Talk about your favorite meal and decide to donate food items to make this meal to your local pantry.
• Decide to honor the fast from meat on Fridays during Lent.