Love and Lent
We are a little over 40 days from Ash Wednesday and although our annual Lenten journey doesn’t begin until March, your social media planning should begin in February. There are so many themes to develop engaging content around.
As you know if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know about my “5 Things Every Parish Should Post” strategy of creating content around the saints, daily inspirational messages, behind the scenes, parish life and the clergy. Start thinking about how you can create content this month for each of these categories for your parish.
The feast days of the saints during Lent is the easiest category to find content resources for during the Lenten season. Visit the Catholic Culture website to find out which saints will be celebrated during the Lenten season. My favorite resource to share about the saints is Portraits of Saints. They have social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that you can easily share their posts onto your pages. Sharing daily inspirational messages may serve to be challenging for many in parish ministry, because you perceive you don’t have resources readily available. Let me say first that there are many Catholic resources available to help you share a daily devotional to fit every parishioners needs, however depending on your pastor or pastoral council you may have limitations. Start having conversations now with your pastor or pastoral council about the options I will share with you here. My favorite share is Best Lent Ever from Dynamic Catholic. It is a resource that can be shared simply because they provide bulletin inserts, links to sign-up for the daily inspirations to arrive in their email inbox daily that can be placed in a social media post or email blast from the parish. Bishop Barron just dubbed this week as the “Bishop of Social Media” shares a daily reflection for Lent. I am super fortunate that my parish pastor, Monsignor John Barry is not camera shy and shares a daily reflection 365 days a year that you may find on our parish You Tube channel and share. Another option that is appealing to millennial and digital natives is suggesting an app. My two favorites are Hallow and Pray as you Go. Sharing behind the scenes planning for Easter whether it’s ordering supplies, decorating committee meetings, call for the palms to burn for Ash Wednesday or prepping the vestments for Lent spark crazy engagement so share behind the scenes in pictures, video or even a meme! Each parish community has unique happenings during the Lenten season that can be shared across social media pages to engage followers. The most common practice across the board is the Friday night fish fry or dinner. It is a great opportunity to call for recipes from the senior members to share and to capture the community breaking bread together. Last, but certainly not least is to ask your pastor to create a parish wide Lenten challenge and here are a 101 ideas that I’m resurrecting from 10 years ago that are still relevant today except the reference to myspace to help you create a good one!
Love and Marriage
The most recognizable theme for the month of February is love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day as the focus for most, but it is also the focus of the family for the church. The USCCB observes marriage week from the 7th through the 14th and marriage day on the 10th which is a Sunday. This link is to resources to help you engage your parishioners that include a virtual retreat, prayer, flyer and special intentions to be shared. I encourage you on February 10th to have people share their wedding photos or invitations. Sharing a video about the real history behind St. Valentine is an awesome share to educate followers on Catholic teaching versus the consumerization of the observance.
There are two references to human trafficking this month to be aware of, first and foremost it is the prayer intention of the Holy Father for this month and St. Josephine Bakhita whose feast day is on the 8th of this month. St. Josephine herself was trafficked as a slave and became a great saint of the Holy Catholic church. It inspires the faithful to pray for those in servitude and inspires those enslaved that they are not vessels of sin devoid of the opportunity to be holy.
February 2nd is World Day of Consecrated Life a day of prayer dedicated to those who have chosen the vocation of a consecrated life. Celebrate your parish priests and nuns on this day and profile their top 3, 5 or even 10 reasons why they love being a member of the clergy. On February 21 - 23 the USCCB and Bishops from all around the world will be meeting to discuss the crisis of clerical abuse affecting the integrity of our Holy Catholic church. Many Catholics are torn and conflicted by what some perceive as duplicity in this climate of cover ups. Designing comprehensive plans for prayer while the Bishops meet is a powerful way to influence the outcome of their meeting. Another nod to clerical lifestyles is the observance of the feast of Seven Founders of the Order of the Servites is another observance of the power religious vocations have had on our church. Lastly, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the most beloved of the Christ’s apostles and the rock that our church was built upon is the most profound memorial of our faith and celebrated on February.
Prayers of the Faithful for February
Keeping with the traditional themes of this month it’s American Heart Month and Black History Month. There are a number of Catholic themes that marry well with American Heart Month the few that come to mind to share are the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, novena or sharing ways to honor the heart of Jesus as a part of your strategy would be an awesome way to provide a spiritual focus for the faithful on this traditional theme. Prayers for those who are struggling with heart related illnesses can be added to the prayers of the faithful.
In terms of Black History Month there are many resources that you may share that chronicle the evolution of Black Catholics in our Holy Catholic Church. This month could also be an opportunity to share the recent pastoral letter from the USCCB titled “Open Wide Our Hearts” calling for an end to racism within our church and society that includes a prayer that could be invoked during mass. While the greater society celebrates the history of Black History in our country in February the church celebrates the contributions of Blacks in our church in November. Here’s a great video from the USCCB on the road to sainthood for a number of blacks who have made contributions to our church and here is a link to an article I wrote in the Angelus News on the topic as well that you may share.
When I think of love the powerful scripture of Corinthians 13 always comes to mind and provides me an opportunity to reflect on my own marriage as this scripture was read at my wedding.
Wishing all my readers the spirit of love of family, friends and faith!