Finding Meaning and Joy in Lent

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By Dr. Allan and Maribel Dionisio

Lent 2023 affords us greater mobility compared to the past two years due to COVID-19. Hopefully, we can resume face-to-face Lenten season traditions or create new ones for a more meaningful celebration.

What are the different ways of finding meaning and joy in the Lenten season?

We know a family who attends Lenten recollections as a tradition. There are numerous groups that give a three-day recollection, usually in the morning of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday or the Triduum. Individuals, couples, and even families, take time out to attend the recollection as a way to reflect and quiet down.
Other families attend the washing of the feet and other activities in the evening of Holy Thursday where male relatives participate as one of the twelve Apostles. On Good Friday, the Santo Entierro procession starts at 6:00 p.m. after a brief church activity. When I (Maribel) was a teen, I had fun attending this, since our friends from the parish attended as well. It was fun to be with friends during the procession. Learning more about the event came secondary to spending time with friends and making friends. This is a good way to introduce Lenten church practices to teens and young adults: by encouraging them to join with friends and letting them know that they can meet more new friends.

Some families attend the Santo Entierro in the nearby towns of Antipolo, Cavite, or Pampanga where each town has its own tradition. One time, our family did the Visita Iglesia and visited seven different churches during the season. A significant religious observance among Filipino Catholics is to visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in memory of Christ’s death. We went to seven different towns in Rizal, visited seven churches, and tried the local food as well.
There are also families who celebrate Easter like Christmas, since Easter is a big event in the Catholic Church. They also prepare meals like in a noche buena and do gift-giving during Easter Sunday.
Young people, especially single professionals, see the Lenten season as an opportunity to take a vacation. Since there is no work for four days, some file for two to four days additional vacation leave to maximize their travel. As a young family, we went to Baguio during the Holy Week, taking a break from the city, but also attending the Lenten services in the churches there. So, our Lenten services experience was more enjoyable since we were on vacation too.
Indeed, there is a way to have family fun while observing the Lenten season services. We just need to be creative so our children will enjoy this sacred season more.

*This article was taken from FEAST MAGAZINE March 2023 Issue, available in paperback and e-book copy at!

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