Today is Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Laetare means rejoice and this Sunday is marked by a relaxation of the penitential character of the Lenten season. After days of penance and somber fasting we are given this day to relax and recharge. This mid-point of Lent is the perfect time to reflect on just how well we are observing the season – and perhaps make adjustments to the journey. One that we can all help improve our Lenten focus this season is to make our homes reflect this spiritual journey – to help us raise our minds and hearts to God when the world is trying to lure us away. Symbols are an easy way to raise our awareness throughout each day.

Here are few symbols to bring Lent into your home:

A Crucifix. Hopefully, all of our homes have at least one crucifix. Lent would be a great time to move it to a special location where it would serve as a reminder of the season.

Water.  A simple bowl of water (perhaps from the OLA baptismal font) can be placed in a prominent location, transforming it into an ongoing reminder of our journey to the font of baptism and our commitment to a Christ-centered life.

Sand. A bowl  of sand can help us remember our journey and remind us of Jesus’s time in the desert where he retreated with God and also faced the three temptations. Our symbolic desert can be a place of retreat that frees us from the distractions we face and helps us face our temptations.

A Candle.  A special candle can serve as a reminder that Christ is the Light in the midst of all darkness and that darkness will never overcome the light.

A Bible. A bible placed in a prominent location in our homes can represent our desire for God’s Word in our lives.  It can also be a reminder that we need to nourish ourselves with the Word of God on a daily basis.

A Symbol for Almsgiving. Lent has always been a time to focus on those who are less fortunate as us – those who suffer materially or spiritually, those who live or work in unjust environments. The Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl is an obvious symbol and can make almsgiving a concrete way to focus our prayers and efforts on those who have much less than we do. If not the Rice Bowl, perhaps you can make sacrifices to support another charity that is dear to your family.

It is my prayer that you continue to have a blessed and fruitful Lenten journey while looking with hope toward the coming of our Savior.

Yours in Mary, our Mother,
Father Jim