Letters of Love is a Lenten Meditation for Catholic families. Weekly emails feature Scripture, inspiration from the saints, and flexible suggestions for prayer, sacrifice, and service. You’ll build a collection of letters to God and each other as a keepsake of your family’s spiritual growth.
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Every time my father gave me a book, he wrote an inscription in the front.
Some were short, like the message inscribed on the front page of Molly Bang’s Goose:
I hate to see you leaving the nest, but that’s the way of God’s Creation!!
I love you!!
Others were longer, like the one he scribbled in the front of William Bennet’s The Children’s Book of Home and Family:
I couldn’t resist a copy of this book for you – you’re still my little girl and these are the kind of stories a loving father would want to share with his girls. I know it’s premature, but even as an adult I enjoy stories like these. The maxims extolled in this collection are as those followed by your grandparents in the family my siblings and I were blessed to be in. I admire the compiler of these tales, and would hope that you and Dan (God bless him) would want to use them should our Almighty Father bless you with little ones. You have a very special place in my heart and I will always think of you as my baby. I love you and am proud of you and wish God’s blessings for you, always!!
Merry Christmas, 2003
My dad was a man of letters, and it pretty much started the day I was born:
His habit continued until his death 27 years later, though I must admit he sends me notes from time to time.
My father wrote on everything. He’d leave love notes for my mother on the bathroom mirror; scribble “Yes!” and “A-hah!” inside his faded paperback Bible. Later in his life, I even caught him correcting grammar and spelling mistakes in books he checked out from the library.
“You’re a librarian, Dad!!!” I’d holler.
“I am,” he’d respond, dark eyes twinkling, “and a conscientious one, at that.”
Dad just couldn’t help himself. The written word was a vehicle for the deepest expressions of his heart. He lived language, he loved language, and he loved sharing that joy with all of us.
It must have worked, obviously.
His love of language is now part of me.
If you’ve followed my writing for a while, you know that our oldest child’s first and only year of school was a traumatic, emotional experience. It started with a massive meltdown in late August and cascaded downward from there. Her school days were fraught with anxiety, tantrums, disinterest, and elopements. There were even a few physical altercations.
At least twice a week we’d come home in tears.
No, we didn’t pull her out – not immediately. We waited and instead hoped for some sort of change. I was trapped in a maelstrom of broken hearts and expectations; I couldn’t stay there in her classroom or hold her hand to ease her struggle.
I thought of my father and wrote her letters instead.
Every day, twice a day, for 180 days, my oldest received a note written on a paper towel, tucked into her lunch and snack bags. Some days, they were silly:
I think we should make Pinecone Pie for Thanksgiving. Thanks for the idea, Little Brachiosaurus!”
Other days, they were profound:
Do you know that I sometimes kiss your cheek at night when you are sleeping? Well, I do.
On still other days, they were reminders of unconditional love and behavioral expectations.
You are my sunshine and I love you forever. Remember to ask for help when you need it. Stay with your class!
I couldn’t be in the building with her. But my words could be, and that mattered to our girl.
If I had been on the receiving end of these notes, I would have read them, smiled at them, and thrown them in the trash. But that wasn’t her.
She’s was, and still is, a still-waters-run-deep kind of kid.
One afternoon in the late fall, I was looking through her book bag to find a missing assignment. Down in the bottom among squashed granola bars and broken crayons were scores of wadded up paper towels.
Those lunch and snack notes?
She had saved every single one.
Five years later, I have three shoeboxes full of love notes written to my daughter in a time of aching need. In hindsight I have begun to see them as more than expressions of love from mother to daughter.
They are desperate prayers for healing, simple words and drawings that remain a record of our journey – our journey to each other, of course, but to Christ, too.
When I stumbled on the boxes again last year, I felt called to renew this connection and share it with the rest of the family. We’d fallen into an afternoon screen time rut, and I felt as though we spent more time tapping and clicking than praying and talking. Our need for lunch and snack notes has diminished as s homeschool family, so I resurrected our family notebook and decided to use it for Lent.
I called it Letters of Love, and I shared the idea with my readers.
I’ve decided to do it again.
Letters of Love: A Lenten Meditation for Families
Letters of Love is a Lenten meditation for families. It combines simple prayer, Scripture, and the wisdom of the saints with suggestions for sacrifice, service, and family writing activities. I’ve streamlined the process this year and made it much more user-friendly, as last year it was hard for even me!
Don’t let the writing part scare you off, especially if you have littles or reluctant writers. While writing is at the core of Letters of Love, it doesn’t always mean forming letters and sentences on paper. I’ll walk you through including everyone, from the very young to the very hesitant.
When you sign up to join the Letters of Love Lenten Meditation, you’ll get a brief, weekly email with that week’s focus. I’ll include flexible activities, prayers and prompts adaptable to any age or ability level. By the end of Lent, you’ll have a permanent record of your family’s Lenten journey and a notebook full of letters of love.
Each week includes:
- inspiration from Scripture and the Saints (including St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Bernadette, and more)
- ideas for living out the three pillars of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) in accordance with the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
- writing prompts (with variations) for family letters
- suggested crafts and family activities
Are you with me? I promise it won’t be overwhelming. You can pick and choose what you want to do and modify as you see fit. I’ll even be there along the way to support and pray with you. Sharing Letters of Love is a way for me to pass on the gift my father gave to me: using the written word to grow closer to Christ and to our own beautiful families.
I’ll hope you’ll join us for the second year as we grow in love and faith.
If you’d like to sign up for Letters of Love: A Lenten Family Meditation, you can do so here.