Lent is just one week away! Our Ordinary Time has not been ordinary. It never is.
I wonder if you could point me towards some saint's writing on the purpose of Lent. We (all two of us) have recently revived the public recitation of the rosary and so far during a three month period only one other person has shown up. This is fine, really, as the main point is to give people the opportunity to come and stay constant without pouting that we're the only ones there. However, we are hoping to recruit some others during Lent. There is something of a liturgical guilt trip and we'd like to use it to good end.
I'm trying to put together a short article for the parish newsletter for February but I'd like to find something substantive to back me up about the purposes of Lent: prayer, good works and such. Please help!
I got this question some time back. Sorry for the long delay in answering. I hope the person who asked is still hanging around.
I don't profess to be remotely saintly, but I have lots to say about Lent, my favorite time of year after Christmas. I've always felt guilty that I don't get more excited by Easter, since it is the moment we've all been waiting for, so to speak. What can I say? I identify with the excitement of new babies and the suffering of Jesus.
Which is what Lent is all about. Not the babies part.
Here are some of my thoughts:
My Lenten Rule of Thumb.
It's not too late for your article! In fact, the timing is even better, because if you are trying to bring in people to your rosary group for Lent, it's better to invite them now rather than a long time ago and then they have to remember about that Lenten rosary group for weeks and then have time to come up with all kinds of excuses. This way, you have the 'see you Wednesday!' moment, and now we all know that they will remember and so if they don't show up they've been the doofusses. And voila! There's your guilt.
If it's a guilt trip you're looking for, I'd go with Mary herself. She never stops begging and pleading for people to say the rosary. She goes on and on about how sad Jesus is, how mad Jesus is, how the world is going to Hell in a handcart, all the terrible things that will happen that only the rosary can hold back.
Let me gently suggest that maybe guilt isn't the way to go.
Here's how publicity works: you have to have something that people want in the first place, and if they don't actually want it, you have to make them think they want it. That's why Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves are in so many movies. We've already seen "War of the Worlds" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Why should we come and see them again? Because Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves are in them this time.
Normally, I'd say offer something besides the rosary group, like coffee and cookies. But not just coffee and cookies, because you can have that at home. Something like everyone's best cookie recipe, like one of those cookie swaps. Then next time have everyone bring whatever fun soap they can lay their hands on, have everyone bring a candle to exchange, or children's art work.
But it's Lent. We can't be having that much fun.
So you're going to have to go the Tom Cruise route. Have somebody there that everyone wants to see, hear or associate with. A guest rosary leader. Tom Cruise is in that crazy Scientology church, so don't even think about asking him.
Here's the problem with your guilt trip and Lent: if you write an article about the purpose of Lent being to align ourselves with the suffering of Jesus then you're pretty much saying that to come to your rosary group is going to be a miserable experience. "Come suffer with us!"
I think you might want to go with a 'the power of group prayer' angle. Group prayer is a powerful thing, that's why we don't attend Mass for shut-ins on TV when we are not shut in. That's why we ask as many people as possible to pray for us. Even the pagans get this idea. The rain dance is not done in private.
Part two of publicity is getting the word out. Make some cards to hand out, get on Facebook, send out some emails, put up some flyers, tell the school children. Maybe you could Tweet. Even that poor goofey guy on CNN has figured that one out. If he can do it, you should have no problem.
You could even borrow that movie tagline from The Day the Earth Stood Still: "From out of heaven and warning and an ulitmatum!"
But to answer your original question. Here are some saints, just the same.