Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent & Easter Websites

Lent may be a time for penance and giving up chocolate and sugar in your tea (though if you're Irish you're already looking forward to St Patrick's Day-our national "Day Off" Lent and some Sundays. And your birthday if you're lucky enough to have it fall in the 40 days (though is it really 40? Can we squeeze another day off from somewhere?) but it's something that's being featured more and more on the Internet. Lent even has it's own hashtag on Twitter where #imgivingup is currently a trending topic on the site.

I'm trying to DO something for Lent rather than suffer misery and asked for suggestions on Facebook-some websites people recommended were:

CAFOD the official overseas development and relief agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has great ideas on what to do with the money you save over Lent (thank you Jane!)
LiveSimply hasn't updated their site for 2010 but the Lenten Ideas page for 2009 is excellent
The American Franciscan website (thank you Nancy!) has a great focus on reducing your carbon footprint. Accroding to Nacy this is all the rage stateside for Lent and something worth embracing all year round!

In Ireland it's Give Up Smoking Day so those addicted to the weed should check out the HSE website-good luck with that and may it last longer than 40 days!

Here's a few other websites concerned with the Lenten Season and some you could look at for ideas for Easter:

This Franciscan run website features a Lenten calendar, activities, readings and reflections updated daily throughout Lent, from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and Good Friday. One particularly useful aspect of the site is the “Lenten Radio Retreat” which includes inspiring words and songs for Sunday Lenten reflection either online, or offline with a MP3 player. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the site will post a new retreat each week for the duration of the Lenten season. There are also links to many articles from the publication “Catholic Update” that may be used for reflection including an excellent examination of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, the significance of the Cross and some helpful FAQs on Lent which could be included in your parish bulletin. The e-cards on the site are slightly cheesy though-Have a Happy Lent?

The website run by the Global Catholic Network offers beautiful reflections on the Stations of the Cross with accompanying graphics. Websites such as this offer an excellent resource for small pastoral groups and even educators who may wish to offer a guide to the Stations but may not have the time and resources to attend a church or other physical representation. The ever popular Sacred Space website offers an online retreat on its well maintained site. The site also has an e-card resource and provides links to other sites that offer Lenten resources. One of the most admirable aspects of the content of the site is that its resources are translated into many languages making it accessible to practically all members of our communities.

Fr James McSweeney from Cork runs this excellent site that offers a “thought for the day” and is a good recommendation for those who resolve to take some time out from a busy day and focus on the philosophy of the site- that today is God’s gift to you. As a keen (and talented) photographer, James updates the photo on the main page each day and manages to blend the secular and spiritual with a reflective and inspiring approach that is worth a visit during the Lenten season.

Trócaire and the box with a wide-eyed child on it are synonymous with Lent for many Irish people and their website and provides background information on their Lenten theme, this year it is Hunger. There are plenty of development education resources for teachers and students featured on the site with information on Trócaire’s work with displaced people and an online form for ordering a Lenten DVD for schools. The colourful and easy navigable site provides not just information on Trócaire’s work with displaced people but resources that may be used in parishes. Clergy would benefit from reflection on the “thought for the week”, based on Trócaire’s ongoing charitable work throughout the world.

This site provides a beautiful resource on the Way of the Cross for use during Holy Week. The presentation is based on the “Bitter Journey” and provides reflections on Jesus’ last journey before his crucifixion through scripture references, reflections and religious texts accompanied by music and other sounds. The graphics that are used to portray a more modern, audio-visual contemplation on the traditional Stations of the Cross are the strong point of the site, promoting a real engagement with the material. The concept for the site is based on the traditions associated with the Tenebrae services, the Stations of the Cross and the Lamentations of Good Friday. In omitting some of the traditional Catholic stations, this feature refers to Pope John Paul II’s revised celebration of the Way of the Cross, which he led in Rome in 1991. The series of scenes is played using Adobe Flash player, which may be downloaded for free on the Internet. Teachers and those involved with small parish groups can easily download the montage using Real Player.

As our attention turns towards Jerusalem during Holy Week, it is interesting to use the Internet as a competent visual aid. This website provides a gateway to the holy city of Jerusalem with easy access anytime and from anywhere to the 3.4 billion people around the world have a special place in their hearts for the city. Those adventurous enough can record their own prayer to be broadcast by the websites owners through loudspeakers at various points over Jerusalem. The site offers educational resources on all areas of religious significance in the city, including video guides to the principal prayer sites. The option on the left hand side of the main page “Western Wall” provides a live feed to those praying at the Western Wall, a privileged view only those luck enough to travel to the city can witness. For more detailed images of the city, equirectangular images are used on Jerusalem360 to provide a 360 degree, virtual tour of Jerusalem. Sites such as the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, All Nations Church and the Western Wall (both a day and night view) can be viewed in a full 360 degree “sphere”-all the benefits of the tourist experience without the crick in your neck! You can also get a “feel” for the culture of the city by clicking on the “People” tag and see 360 degree stills of children at a history lesson in the Old city and a brightly coloured souk. The site needs Quicktime to load the images but provides a link to a free download if your computer does not already have it installed.

And if you're still stuck for ideas just donate some money to the people of Haiti and the relief effort


  1. After reading your blog today about Ash Wednesday and how you connected it to the need in Heiti, I thought you may like to join us on facebook and “give up something for Lent to help Haiti”!

    Please join and encourage others to join too so we can walk the journey of Lent together while helping Haiti.

  2. Looks great James! I've joined the group and sent out the word! Best of luck with it-there;s some great ideas!

  3. I like the idea of this which is a collection of patristic writings laid out for lent:

    But mostly I just want to prove us Presbyterians don't *entirely ignore* lent:

  4. 198 pages of the Patristic Fathers? Is that informed reading or penance? :)
    I like the theme in the second website-I reserve the right to "adapt" that for my RE seminars :)