Strengthening Catholic Identity Through Lenten Observances at Trinity Catholic School
A major part of the mission of Catholic schools is to enculturate our students, faculty, staff and families into the Catholic faith; to foster in them a Catholic Identity, which helps to build up and strengthen the Catholic identity of the whole Church. This is done is so many wonderful ways in our Catholic school through the daily routine of prayers, Mass attendance, religion classes, the ongoing observance and celebrations of the many seasons and feasts of the Church calendar along with countless other activities. One of the most important seasons in the Church’s calendar is the season of Lent. Here at Trinity Catholic School our whole school community takes the time to enter more deeply and profoundly into our Catholic faith and identity through several traditional practices and observances. During Lent we offer our students the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we teach our students about the responsibility as Catholics to serve God through our service of others, we participate in the Stations of the Cross weekly and finally we have a Passion Play on Holy Thursday before our students go to finish their preparations for and celebration of Easter with their families and parish communities.
Perhaps one of the best and most direct ways to prepare for Easter and to experience and encounter the love and mercy of Jesus is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As Catholics we have the obligation to receive this Sacrament at least once during the year and the Church suggests to us that we do this during Lent so as to better enter into the penitential nature of the season and prepare ourselves for the joyous celebration of Easter. To aide our students in fulfilling this obligation and to give them the opportunity to encounter the Mercy of Jesus that is the promise of Easter we invite the priests from the parishes of Tallahassee to come to Trinity and be available to hear our students’ confessions. To prepare the students for this teachers will teach the students the meaning of the Sacrament and guide them in examining their consciences. As well as preparing them for Easter reception of this Sacrament within the school community helps our students to develop their Catholic identity in relation to that of the whole community and the whole Church.
The Lenten Pillar of almsgiving calls Christians to serve the needs of others. Our students have the opportunity to participate in various service based projects and assignments throughout the school year. During Lent the students have the extra opportunity to put their faith into action through activities like planning and designing a service organization in Middle School Religion class and donating the coins they would usually use to buy Spirit Day sno-cones to the needy.
One of the greatest and possibly oldest observances by Catholics during Lent is the commemoration of Jesus’ Passion and death in the Stations of the Cross. Every Friday during Lent the students, faculty and staff of Trinity Catholic School gather in the Church to participate in this practice. Our school is lead by our eighth grade students who are responsible for writing the meditations for each stations and leading us all in the prayers involved in this tradition. Having our eighth graders prepare the meditations and lead the other students through the stations gives them the opportunity to make a more personal connection with Jesus as they reflect on his suffering and sacrifice in relation to their own life and experiences, it also allows them to take greater ownership of their faith and its traditions and practices. The fact that the mediations are written by fellow students also helps the other students to relate to the Stations of the Cross at their own level. All of this helps our students to develop their own Catholic identity which in turn builds up and strengthens the overall Catholic identity of Trinity Catholic School.
All of our Lenten observances at Trinity culminate in the Passion Play that is presented by our eighth grade students on Holy Thursday. Not only is this the culmination of our school’s Lenten observances, it is also, in many ways, the culmination of the faith experience of our eighth graders in their time with us at Trinity. Along with preparing the meditations for the Stations of the Cross the preparation for and performance of the Passion Play gives these students an opportunity to reflect on and express the Catholic identity they have developed in their years at Trinity Catholic School and to pass this on to the rest of the students.
Although the strengthening and deepening of Catholic identity is part and parcel of the daily life at Trinity Catholic School it is wonderful to be able to pay special attention to this mission during the most holy season of Lent. What better time to enter more deeply into our faith and to experience and encounter some of its greatest traditions than during the time set aside to prepare to experience and encounter the source of our faith in the Risen Christ at Easter.