During Lent, we want to stop and prepare our hearts for a penitential time of fasting, alms-giving, and prayer.
Lent does not have to be just a time of personal reflection, but it can also be an opportunity to instruct our children to “grow deeper in holiness and please God, all the while growing closer as a family.”
1. Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Cooper O’Boyle’s book, Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families, is the perfect aid to help jump start your family’s Lenten practice.
Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux gives a day-by-day guide that helps both parents and children experience a more meaningful Lent this year. It contains six suggestions to help deepen your daily Lenten practice:
- Parental Reflection Section
- A Family Prayer Section
- A Story from St. Thérèse’s Life
- A Section on Fasting
- An Almsgiving Section
- A Suggested Prayer Intention
The structure is very simple and helps those of us who easily fall into the trap of starting out Lent with a bang and then fizzling out after two or three weeks when things start to get harder.
One of my favorite examples from the Almsgiving suggestion section is:
“Give some time away today. We are all busy, but take a moment to compliment a family member or help someone with a chore. If possible, take this loving act out beyond the household too.”
This is a perfect, simple example of how you can teach your children to be charitable, love one another, and be selfless like Christ.
Take home a better Lent this year with Bringing Lent Home with St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
2. A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families
Another book to help enrich your family’s lent is Monica McConkey’s book A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families. It provides an interactive guide to help parents teach their children the traditions of and understand the meaning of Lent.
It offers a variety of Saints’ feast days through out the year, but also directly correlates day to day activities as if we were one of Jesus’ disciples walking with him on his journey to the Cross.
From pages 83 to 97 a variety of daily activities are given. Starting on Shrove Tuesday, McConkey suggests making a big feast with the family consisting of either the family’s favorite treat or pancakes with Smiley faces.
McConkey’s book provides suggestions for Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, Lenten Alms Giving, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, Simplifying meals and donating food, Prayer Pretzels, The Hour of Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the thrice denial of Christ, and finally Resurrection Sunday.
3. Inspiration from Pope Francis
Another wonderful supplement to have during lent is Inspiration from Pope Francis by Maria Flores. Flores combines a series of excerpts from Pope Francis’ homilies that offer “comfort, strength, and inspiration”. They act as a guide for parents and provide a rubric for explaining to our children why we make the sacrifices we do.
The book itself contains a short chapter on several of life’s most important topics including:
One of my favorite excerpts from the Lent section reads:
“Lent is not about being sad, wearing a listless face (as Jesus says in the Gospel). Instead it is for gazing at that horizon of love and opening our hearts, allowing that these desires spring from something greater.”
Help your children understand the “why” of Lent so that they too may participate in Lent with hearts ablaze with the fire of God’s love.