Resources for Lent, parents of children with special needs

One of the most popular pages on these days is “Your Guide to a Catholic Lent” — a good sign seeing as March 16 is the second Sunday of the penitential season.

For those in need of a Lenten boost, this page has just about everything you need. And when I say everything, I mean everything.

For starters, it’s got a free download of last year’s “Keep Lent Simple” In Focus, featuring a 1-1-1 plan. The idea is to focus on one sin or fault that is coming between you and your relationship with God or others; add one positive activity that will deepen your spiritual life; and give up something that you really like or to which you are very attached.

The site also features basic information: the 2014 Church calendar; information on fasting and abstinence; Lenten prayers and devotions, including the Stations of the Cross; tips for making the season more meaningful; tips on how to make a good confession; and meatless recipes.

Editor's preview of this week's issue

Our In Focus from March 2, “Pray your way through Lent,” also has been very popular. In case you missed it in print, it’s also available for free download on

Lent is such a great opportunity for us to refocus on God as the priority of our lives. I hope these resources will be able to help you in these efforts.

Moving to this week’s issue, I’d like to draw your attention in particular to our In Focus (Pages 9-12) that centers on faith formation for special-needs children. Several years ago when I was reporting on this issue, I spoke with a mother who really struggled to help her son make his first Communion.

“I want (my son) to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the same reasons I wanted my other boys to make their first Communions,” she said at the time. “And I believe strongly that Jesus wants these special-needs kids just like he wants our typically developing children.”

As our In Focus points out, parents of special-needs kids are constantly advocating for their children — at school, in doctors’ offices, in public, even at home. The one place it should be easy for them is at church.

This week’s issue is packed with resources and information that should not only help parents of special-needs children, but should help parishes wondering how to begin reaching out to that population.

It also includes a special list for parents of special needs: 10 tips to help their children acclimate to attending Mass each Sunday. As many parents readily will admit, this can be one of the toughest struggles of the week, so I hope that sidebar will be able to offer some assistance.

Finally, I am really enjoying reading our readers’ conversion stories and the profiles of priests. In the midst of so much bad news in the world, it’s truly uplifting to read your submissions.

Please continue to email your short pieces (250 words) to to be considered for upcoming issues in April and May.