Before going on to our pick of family Lenten traditions though, you may also want to refer to the “checklist” below, inspired by Lacy Rabideau, the mom blogger behind Catholicicing.com. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for Lent in a deeper way:
• As a family, try to talk about what you’re “giving up” for Lent. However, Ms. Rabideau says that although “giving something up” for Lent is a traditional practice, each family member can also do more of certain things too, like saying extra prayers, going to Mass during weekdays (aside from regular Sunday Mass), and doing more “acts of kindness” to others. (In this writer’s case, being more patient, forgiving and understanding of my spouse and kids would certainly be on the list too!)
• Consider using a Lenten “countdown calendar,” similar to an Advent calendar. This is a visible way for both parents and children to “count down” the 40 days to Easter. An example of a printable Lenten calendar for children can be found here.
• Make plans for Ash Wednesday. Most Catholic Filipino families usually observe the practice of going to Mass on this day but why not go one step further by explaining the meaning of the practice of placing ashes on the forehead to your kids before you attend Mass? For ideas on how to do so, please click here and here.
• If you haven’t already done so, begin the practice of almsgiving as a family. Involve your children by making an offering box (we did one last year and our preschooler loved it). For older kids, you can also ask them to help choose a charity or organization that they would like to make donations to during Lent. To be more socially relevant, you may want to donate to the victims of the recent earthquake in Negros Occidental, or the victims of Typhoon Sendong.
• For Catholics, make time to go to Confession. You can even make this a “family activity” by going together with your kids. For a children’s guide to going to confession, click here. Older kids and parents may find the guide here useful as well.
• Make your shopping lists in advance and stock up your pantries or food cupboards for “meatless-meal” groceries and simple foods, since Catholics are encouraged not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent or on Ash Wednesday. For Lenten meal inspirations, you may refer to the Catholic Cuisine blog here.
• Make plans and commit to participate in your local parish’s Stations of the Cross services. These are usually done every Friday. You can also do your own Stations of the Cross at home. Ms. Rabideau has compiled some wonderful ideas for DIY Stations of the Cross on her blog here and here.
• Explain to your children that Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, which is the greatest celebration in the Church (yes, even greater than Christmas!). Tell them that Easter is the time when Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death and sin forever. Read the Easter Story.
Watch out for our next Lent/Easter-related article on “Five Family Traditions to Try During Lent.”
Photo by bigbirdz via flickr creative commons