SASKATOON — Creativity and spiritual insights from two generations went into the creation of a family lenten resource being used across Canada and the United States.
Mother and daughter team Leah and Robyn Perrault of Holy Family Cathedral Parish in Saskatoon worked together to produce the booklet of daily reflections, activity, and prayer, entitled Practicing Love.
It was one of Leah’s former editors at Novalis who recommended her to Creative Communications, a U.S.-based publisher who was seeking someone to write a family resource for Lent.
“They described what they were looking for — something practical for families — and I asked, ‘Would you mind if I did it with my daughter? She is creative and I think she would be able to help think up the activities,’ ” explained Leah.
Robyn, 10, said she enjoyed working on the project, providing input into the daily reflections and ensuring that the examples and ideas would resonate with children as well as adults.
There is a one-page entry for each day of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, which includes a Scripture verse, a short reflection, a one-line prayer, and a “Practice Love” activity for family members — such as a hands-on craft or action, a ritual of asking for and receiving forgiveness, or finding ways to show love or offer service.
“We tried to make sure there were examples for adults and children, so that it was relevant, and to help both children and adults imagine how a practice or a principle is applicable for all ages,” says Leah. “For instance, Robyn knows how hard it is for kids to be patient, but maybe she sometimes forgets that it is also difficult for mom and dad.”
It was Robyn who suggested that they use the same prayer every day — “Jesus, I give you my heart with my acts of love today” — in order to help families learn and remember it.
Focusing on love as a lenten practice resonated with the authors, who undertook the project in the summer of 2017, which was a difficult time for their family, in the midst of grieving a miscarriage and the death of Leah’s sister.
“When I was thinking about what our family needed from Lent, it wasn’t penance, it wasn’t pain. Rather, it was finding ways to practice the love that Jesus does, walking toward the cross,” explains Leah.
The introduction encourages families to use Practicing Love in a way that works best for them. “When you practice, be gentle with yourself and each other,” write Leah and Robyn. “If you cannot read the reflection in the morning, then read it at night and practice tomorrow. If you miss a day, don’t let that stop you from coming back the next day. If you love one idea for practice and can’t do another, repeat an activity or make up your own.”
The authors also note that love never goes out of season: “Practicing love for Lent can deepen your faith in times of difficulty just as much as in times of great joy,” notes the introduction, with the authors expressing the hope that families will join “in practicing love at home so that it can spill out into a world longing for God’s love.”
Response to the resource has been positive, says Leah, with many people sending affirming messages. In fact, Practicing Love sold out before Lent began, with some parishes disappointed when orders could not be filled.
Although this year’s booklet is designed so that it can easily be used during future lenten seasons, the mother/daughter team says they would be willing to do it again next year, if the publisher is interested.
“Maybe we could think about practicing hope,” says Leah.
“I just hope people enjoy doing it as much as we enjoyed writing it,” says Robyn.
In the meantime, their own family is using it together as a way to practice love on the road to Easter joy.