Lenten Challenge for Families: Turn Inspiration into Action

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"Lenten Challenge for Families" by Hannah Christensen (CatholicMom.com)

Photo courtesy of the Apostolate for Family Consecration. All rights reserved.

The Apostolate for Family Consecration is a Catholic organization geared towards helping families grow in holiness. They put on retreats throughout the year including week-long summer fests for families and they produce media resources and tools to help parents pass on the faith to their children. Their newest project is called Family Hour Initiative and it’s a series of one-hour-long video presentations that include dynamic speakers, personal testimonies,  faith challenges and a recited rosary with visual mediations.

My husband and I reviewed one of the 16 episodes and this is what we thought and discussed afterward.

The family hours are very colorful, modern, reflective and informative. They are meant to inspire busy families to turn their faith into action through tangible ways.

Throughout the presentation there are words sliding across the screen,  highlighting the key points of the presentation. Every few minutes they put up a short phrase, bullet point list, quote or scripture verse that echoes what the speaker is currently saying. This effect really helps emphasize the main points as well as visually assist the viewer to internalize the message.

The camera angle continually changes throughout and the colors, music and pop-up words just pull your attention in, which is perfect for the short attentions span of our modern technological culture. Yet the transitions are done so smoothly that is it not distracting.

There is an introduction to let you know what the family hour is and how you can get the most out of it by looking for the action tips and principle challenges to help you live the faith and dive deeper into the points that are being taught.

Multiple dynamic speakers appear, each giving a mini-talk with educational topics that appeal to the young generation of Catholics. The talks are only 5 to 10 minutes each but they are packed full of information, personal and relatable experiences from authentic Catholics, and quick points about the Catholic faith.

Throughout the presentation, the screen overlay transfers from color to color with upbeat music playing quietly in the background. The camera jumps back and forth from the speakers to relevant religious images and bullet point sentences.

During the talks, they weave in the six principle challenges that cover 6 different faith categories for prayer, serving other, learning the faith and sharing the faith.

There were certain points that jumped out at me and that are good to hear even if I have heard them before, such as:

  • whenyou have anxiety what you are really grasping for is peace
  • as a mother and wife sometimes you listen to the lie that you are not enough
  • my deepest identity is being the beloved of God.

The talks are followed by an examination of conscience based on the ten commandments with music and meditative scenes.

After that, the rosary is recited aloud while showing scenes of a family praying together. Throughout each decade of the rosary, an acted scene is played that corresponds with the mystery of the rosary. It is done very artistically with close-ups on individual objects and slow motion movement to focus on the feelings present in each scriptural moment. Included is soft music and titles announcing each mystery. Each biblical scene is brought to life with a fresh perspective and a simplified way to meditate.

It’s a great way to spend family time too. Our daughters, who are four and three, were in and out of the room but they seemed to understand what was going on. For instance, our four-year-old, Heather, was playing in front of the TV with her princess magnets and she stated that “all the princesses are saying the rosary” while Stella, our three-year-old,  sat and rocked with Daddy with her hands folded for part of the presentation.

The episode ends with a challenge to track your progress and the viewer is encouraged to accept one of the  6 challenges that were mentioned throughout the video.

The challenge categories are prayer, sacramental life, living the virtues, learning the faith,  sharing the faith, and the joy of service. There is an option on the main menu to review the challenges by themselves in case you need a refresher.

The pattern of these six types of challenges repeats coherently throughout all the episodes.

These episodes are effective tools because the content is simple enough that it’s accessible to anyone who has a desire to grow in their faith yet the principle challenges accommodate each person’s capability and motivation level.

The challenges are the key to the success of these family hours because they give you something to focus on,  help you to think about your faith and motivate you to follow through with action. Once you have completed the first challenge for a week or a month, you can move onto the next episode and tackle a new challenge of your choice, or you can choose to do more than one challenge at a time.

After watching this, we have decided to challenge ourselves and our friends to a Family Hour Initiative during Lent. We are going to invite our adult friends and their kids to come into our home once a week during Lent and watch an episode with us.  We would like to challenge you to do the same.

Here is a sample of the email we are sending out if you would like to copy it:

Greetings Friends!

 We are excited to propose a challenge to all of our friends to join us 1 night a week during lent for a Be Not Afraid Family Hour! These family hours include a rosary and short video presentations that provide practical ways to help you grow in your faith each week!
See a video preview here:
Please fill out this survey letting us know what nights work best for your family!
[insert your online survey link]

Purchase a few episodes and then schedule a time where you can watch them in your home and hopefully  invite other families to join in. It doesn’t have to be just during Lent, but there is no better time to start!

Copyright 2017 Hannah Christensen

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About Author

Hannah Christensen and her husband David have been married for five years and have two lively little girls. They reside in Nebraska where they are proud to be members of the vibrant Diocese of Lincoln. A stay at home mom and medical biller, Hannah loves morning coffee, scrap-booking, themed parties, date nights, play groups, mom friends, creative writing, Husker sports, and all things organized. She has been featured on http://catholicmommyblogs.com and manages a blog where she explores the lovely little moments of everyday family life: lovelylittlelives.com.

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