CRS Rice Bowl -- following God's lead

The CRS Rice Bowl program asks people to prepare themselves to follow God's lead -- a fitting element of Lent.

CRS Rice Bowl is Catholic Relief Services' Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, Catholics hear stories from people in need worldwide and devote Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Lent, a season of joy

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

The prayers of Mass refer to Lent as a "joyful season." But many people think of Lent as a sad time -- either because they're engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel sorry about what they're giving up, or because they aren't engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel guilty about what they're not giving up. Why should we -- and how can we -- think of Lent as a joyful season?

Hot cross buns remind us of Jesus as the Bread of life

Father Francis Hein, O.S.B. from the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis, developed his own recipe for hot cross buns.

The pagans were among the first to make them. Queen Elizabeth I banned them. The British love them with tea. For centuries, hot cross buns have been a longstanding Lenten tradition. These densely toasted buns, loaded with dried fruit, spices and topped with a sweet trace of icing, have an important religious significance, according to Benedictine Father Francis Hein of St. Louis Abbey.

"They remind us that this is the bread of life that comes to us through the cross. And the icing signifies that we're rewarded with the sweetness of everlasting life."

THE GOOD STEWARD | Lent challenges us to experience the joy of God's love and forgiveness

Dan Conway

In his first year as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis repeatedly stressed the boundless mercy of God. None of us is perfect, including the pope who says simply, "I am a sinner."

We Christians are not perfect, by a long shot, but we are forgiven. That's a reason to rejoice and be glad -- especially as we prepare for the great feast of Easter.

Lenten resolution leads to lifelong friendships

Left: A group of women from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish were inspired to walk to different parishes each week as a Lenten resolution. They continued doing so for 20 years and remained lifelong friends. The group, from left, Evelyn Leindecker, Mary O’Connor, Irene Enklemann, Marcella Queensen with Enklemann’s grandchild Jessica Smirl, and Jeanette Keuss, posed for a photo on a trip to the Botanical Gardens many years ago. Right: Marcella Queensen, left, and Irene Enklemann, both in their late 80s, keep to the indoors during severe winter weather. They recently walked in the hallways of Crestview Senior Living. Walking all three floors adds up to a mile, they noted.

A 43-year-old Lenten resolution led to a lifelong bond among friends from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in south St. Louis.

The women became acquainted as volunteers in the parish school. They worked in the cafeteria or in the schoolyard. Occasionally they would go out for lunch to celebrate a birthday.

In 1971, the women decided to walk to a different church for Mass every Tuesday during Lent. They would go out for breakfast afterward.

THE CATHOLIC DIFFERENCE | Lent: The annual catechumenate

George Weigel

Historians of the Roman liturgy generally reckon the restorations of the Easter Vigil (by Pius XII) and the adult catechumenate (by Vatican II) as two of the signal accomplishments of the 20th-century liturgical movement. I wouldn't contest that claim, but I'd add something else to the highlights reel: the recovery of the baptismal character of Lent for every Catholic.

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