Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bring LENT Home

Lenten Traditions within the Home

How can families better live the spirit of Lent in their homes?

The Catholic Church has designated the liturgical season of Lent to be a period of fasting and self-denial in imitation of Christ’s fasting for forty days and forty nights (CCC, 538-40).  Through participation in Lenten Liturgies and pious customs, families enhance their experience of the glory of Easter.

“Either we live the liturgical year with its varying seasons of joy an sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the patters of the world.”  Writes Helen McLoughlin in Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home, commenting on the challenge Catholics have to be “in the world but not of the world” throughout the year.

Because we both learn and express ourselves through our bodies, we subject ourselves to meaningful practices during Lent.  On Ash Wednesday, foreheads of the faithful are anointed with blessed ashes in the sign of the cross, while the priest pronounces the words, “Remember, man that thou art dust, and dust thou shalt return” (see Genesis 3:19).  Fridays and Ash Wednesday are obligatory days of penance.  Len is particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages, voluntary self-denial (fasting and almsgiving), and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works). 

Within the home, families try ideas that may eventually become customs.  Here are a few suggestions:

FAMILY OFFERING: Decide as a family to give something up for Lent.  This could be anything from desserts or sweets to watching television.

LENTEN CANDELABRUM (Stations of the Cross):  Twelve wooden candleholders on a three-foot board, perhaps with small pictures for each station.  After each station extinguish a candle.  After the twelfth station it is dark—the Light of the World  is gone.  Finish the last two stations with a small flashlight.

LENTEN CENTERPIECE: Six candles on a cross of wood (perhaps two pieces of the trunk of the Christmas tree to symbolize the Incarnation), four on the vertical  and two on the horizontal.  Trim with a violet ribbon and place on a violet table runner.  As with an Advent wreath, light an additional candle each week.  The candles symbolize a growing light of the coming Resurrection.

READ SCRIPTURE TOGETHER: Read especially the Gospel accounts of Christ’s Passion.  Be forewarned that the children might raise questions.

VISIT THE SICK: If you don’t have an elderly family member nearby, visit a convalescent hospital and adopt an elderly person as a grandparent.

FAMILY PRAYER TIME: If you have given up the television or computer games, why not fill that time with conversation with Our Lord and Savior?  The children develop a true friendship with Christ; the reality of His life, Passion and Death becomes more real to them.

SING TOGETHER: Bring a missalette home and sing Lenten songs together.   Sacred music before, during or after any family prayer helps us to meditate on Lent and anticipate Easter.

PALM SUNDAY: Bring palms home from Mass and place them behind a crucifix or statue or in some other prominent place.

HOLY WEEK: Rally the troops to deep clean the home. Pack up unused clothing and toys and give them to the poor and needy.  Reflect on Christ’s Passion and death.
What will work well in your family and become a Lenten tradition?  Form a lasting impression on your children and teach the fundamentals of our rich Catholic Faith.

Taken from Faith Fact at

 Prepare, Pray, Fast and Give this Lent
as you Walk through the Lenten Path Calendar.

 Print the Lent Calendar PDF and calendar marker template each onto an 8 ½” x 11” flexible magnetic sheet. Frame the Calendar without the glass and then cut the magnet markers with paper cutter or scissors. This was an easy project and a great way to help kids keep track day by day during the Lenten season.