Lent: preparing our hearts

The church was packed both this morning and tonight for our Ash Wednesday service. I’m glad to see so many come out to hear the words “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

More and more I am seeing the need for us as Catholics to stop just “following the herd” in our culture and take a stand. Lent is a perfect time for us to start to do that. In our parish, we have a special practice on Sunday to reinforce this special “examination of conscience”. We have an overhead projector + screen in the church, and each Sunday at the penitential rite we put up the Ten Commandments. The penitential rite is then introduced with these words:

“My brother and sisters, to prepare ourselves to celebrate these sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins, and do so in a more deliberate way this Lent by reciting together the Ten Commandments.”

And then we recite them, with a penitential rite proper then following. At the end the priest invites people to consider completing this examination of conscience in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

One thing I can tell you: this really works! The first year we did this, both my pastor and I were amazed at the volume and quality of the confessions that we heard, all from something as simple as reciting the Ten Commandments together. And the people seem to really like it. I’ve been getting lots of questions from people hoping that we will do it again this Lent. And we will (or at least the parish will, as I will be temporarily serving in another church).