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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

February 8, 2013

Five Opportunities for Evangelization During Lent

During the season of Lent, Catholics visibly practice their faith in unique ways that can catch the attention of non-Catholics. These practices then become opportunities for evangelization. Students should be ready to explain why they do what they do during Lent for their own sakes and for the sakes of those who want to learn about Catholicism.

You may want to take each of these five topics per day as you begin the Lenten season. You may also want to reference a past post at Engaging Faith titled "Background Information on Lent."

1. The Ash Wednesday Ashes: Why do you have dirt on your forehead?

First, ashes are a symbol for the need for forgiveness in the Old and New Testaments. Ashes on Ash Wednesday remind us that we need forgiveness from God.

Second, ashes remind us that God created us from earth and that our bodies will return to the earth after death, but our souls are destined to be with God forever.

(Do students know that the ashes come from burning palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration?)

Discussion Questions:

  • What does it feel like to need forgiveness from another person?
  • How can we use this human experience to find areas in our lives where we need God’s forgiveness?
  • Why do humans sometimes need a reminder that their physical origin and destination is dirt?

2. Abstaining from Meat on Fridays: Why can’t you have a burger today?

Abstaining from meat on Fridays is a small sacrifice for us to make to remember the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross on Good Friday. In addition, we need to pray for a clean heart, the readiness to follow God’s will, and a connection to others who are suffering, especially the poor.

Discussion Questions:

  • Why might it be easier to perform physical acts of sacrifice than to pray for personal conversion?
  • Why does the external act become meaningless if there is not a deeper desire to draw closer to Jesus?

3. Giving Something Up for Lent: Why do you give something up for Lent?

Giving something up for Lent strengthens our love for Christ and our resistance to temptations to sin. This practice really does not mean much, however, unless we become more loving persons. Lent gives us the opportunity to pray more and to perform additional acts of kindness and service.

Discussion Questions:

  • How does giving something up remind us that it is Lent, a special time?
  • If giving up coffee coffee tends to make a person shout at their kids, should that parent give up coffee for Lent? Why or why not?

4. Palm Sunday: Why do you get palm branches at Church?

We take palms home because they remind us of the story behind Palm Sunday in the Bible. Jesus rides into Jerusalem and people put palm branches on the road in front of him as a sign of honor as they call him a king. Palm Sunday is a day to honor Christ as king but also to remember that he is a humble king, riding on a donkey.

Discussion Questions:

  • The palm branch is a symbol. What are some other symbols Catholics use to deepen their relationship with God?

5. Good Friday: Why do you go to church on Good Friday afternoon?

On Good Friday, we go to church at about 3:00 p.m. to honor Jesus’ hours of suffering on the cross before he died. We reflect on Jesus’ love for us and listen to the story of the Passion as well as participate in other venerations.

Discussion Questions:

  • For what practical reasons do you think that some parishes hold their Good Friday service on Good Friday evening rather than at 3:00 p.m.?
  • How does listening to the story of the Passion help us understand Jesus’ love for us?

(Adapted from “Six Ways to Evangelize During Lent,” USCCB)

(photo credit: LarimdaME)


1 Diane Casey

Feb. 15, 2013
Great resources but it says that I need an ave maria press admin password to access them. I would like to use the powerpoint for stations of the cross??

2 Jared Dees

Feb. 18, 2013
Hi Diane, thanks for the compliment. You will need to create an account and apply for access to the teacher-only resources. We check each of these manually to prevent student access.

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