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Faith-sharing resources enrich Lenten season

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

Giving up food or a television show can make us feel like we’ve accomplished something during Lent.

It may also be a temporary gratification fix.

More challenging is examining our faith life and including ways to enhance it.

One of those ways might be to embrace Lenten faith-sharing booklets or devotional resources.

According to Justin Frato, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life for the diocese, the Lenten season is a time for reflection, as well as an opportunity to re-examine our thoughts and actions and the ways in which they bring us nearer to or separate us from God. Lenten devotionals and faith-sharing booklets are strong aids to help.

“These resources help us to draw closer to the Lord by growing in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,” he said.

The Diocese of Sioux City is promoting several booklets for Lenten devotions; among them are “Catholicism Series,” “Oremus” and “Walking towards Eternity” studies from Ascension Press. For those Smartphone users, Lenten apps from Catholic Relief Services, Divine Mercy and Laudete provide daily Lenten meditations and devotions.

“’Opening the Word’ app from Symbolon is good and also has other DVDs and materials,” Frato noted. “Also Lighthouse has CDs and brochures on Lent, confession and prayer.”

Diocesan author Cary Brown has penned faith-sharing booklets on Lent, as well as Advent, for a number of years.

“I started to write daily thoughts and would email them to my friends and then, Bev Hurni (formerly with the Diocese of Sioux City), suggested I take those thoughts and put them in booklet form,” she said. “Father William Vit (rector at Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City) has also encouraged me and checked my theology in the booklet.”

Brown would search Scripture for inspiration until a theme popped into her head.

“Last year, it was ‘People of Faith,’” she said. “This Year, it was ‘Come Walk with Me,’ a Lenten faith-sharing on the Stations of the Cross.”

"Come Walk with Me" invites the reader to journey with Jesus as he carries his cross. The reader is also asked to examine how we carry our own crosses and being with those around us, as they carry their cross.

“Writing the booklets has deepened my faith life immensely,” Brown insisted. “I’ve noticed changes.”

Brown’s booklets are $10 each – to cover shipping and handling – and include a free leader’s guide. For more information, email her, caryb407@gmail.com.

Mary Johnson, co-owner of The FitzGibbon Co., Sioux City – a full-line church supply dealer – has seen the popularity of faith-sharing books change over the years.

“We’ve changed the ones we carry from the theologically-academic to the more personal insights,” she said. “It’s clear our customers have wanted that, something less ‘preachy’ and more applicable to their daily lives.”

Among the best sellers are “The Gift of the Cross,” by Andrew Gawrych and “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” by Clarence Enzler.

“Both of these provide readers with the opportunity to do the stations in their homes instead of worrying about getting to the church when stations might not be held at a convenient time,” Johnson explained. “Also, the Enzler book was just recently revised and has some wonderful illustrations that accompany the stations.”

For those looking for scriptural meditations, Johnson recommended “Reflections on Lent” by Mark Link, S.J., which follow the liturgical readings of Year A, B, and C.

“That booklet provides daily mediations on Lent and the readings during Lent,” she said. “The author also has written booklets on Easter, Advent and Christmas.”

Taking a broader approach to devotions would be a good suggestion, Frato noted.

“I would recommend people make a resolution this Lent to live out your prayer, fasting and almsgiving more, all throughout the year,” he said. “That might be the best way to enhance one’s faith during Lent.”

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