Preparing Our Hearts For Easter
8 Simple Things to Do This Lent as a Family
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but Lent has become my favorite season in the liturgical year… Setting aside 40 days to renew my relationship with God through intentional fasting, prayer and almsgiving has borne great fruit in my life.
While I spend a lot of time working on my interior life during Lent, I also love finding ways to live the Lenten season as a family. When we do this, it prepares our hearts for Easter so we can all truly appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us. And it makes Easter Sunday that much more joyful.
My family keeps it fairly simple, but I have found it's more about being intentional than it is about doing anything grandiose. So here it is - 8 simple things you can do as a family this Lent:
1. Family Lenten Commitment
Although we are encouraged during Lent to work on our personal sacrifices and/or commitments, we also love having a family commitment. It’s important to involve your children in choosing what to do as a family. You can brainstorm ideas together and then take a vote. This year, we are praying the rosary together on Sundays, and when weather permits we like to do it around a bonfire in the backyard. We find this makes it a fun family activity that also involves praying together. You could also consider making a sacrifice as a family or another type of prayer commitment - it doesn't have to be complicated!
2. Good Deed Beans
This is a great activity for young children that will inspire them to make small sacrifices and conduct good deeds within your family. Get a jar and some dried beans (we use pinto beans, but it could be any bean). Every time someone does a good deed, they get to put a bean in the jar. The goal is to get it as full as possible by the end of Lent, because on Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny will turn all those beans into jelly beans.
3. Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross are a great way to walk through the story of Christ’s sacrifice, and there are many different children’s versions that you can find online. We especially love getting together with other families on Fridays to go through the stations together. The kids get involved with reading at each station as well as acting out the scene. Being with friends and playing a role in the stations make it fun for the kids but also help remind them what Lent is all about.
4. Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure
Holy Heroes offers incredible programs for families, including their Lenten Adventure. This free program includes videos and activities for children, ages 5-12 every day during Lent. My kids love watching the videos and doing the activity sheets.
5. Watch/Read Stories About The Passion
Depending on the ages of your kids, you can choose to watch movies or shows that depict the Passion and the Easter Story. For younger kids, the TV series, Superbook, is a great way for kids to learn Bible stories; and they have episodes for Lent and Easter - you can find these on their website or through Amazon. If you have older kids, The Passion is of course a great watch. There are also a myriad of children’s books and Bibles you can read together to share the story of Easter.
6. Go to Confession as a Family
Confession and penance are integral to healing our relationship with God during Lent. While the sacrament of confession is very personal, I also find there is solidarity in gathering up the family to go to confession together. And even if you have children who are too young, I still find that bringing them along starts to set an example for them, making them more prepared for their own First Reconciliation some day.
Almsgiving is an important, although often overlooked part of Lent. While your children may not have much money to give, they can donate old toys, books or clothes to those in need. You can also donate food items to local food pantries, such as St. Vincent de Paul. To include the kids, go shopping together and drop off the donations as a family.
8. Acts of Service
We love to find ways to perform acts of service as a family, and for the past 5 years we have participated in Regnum Christi’s Holy Week Missions. We gather together with other families to pray and serve our local community, such as feeding the homeless, visiting nursing homes and helping those in need. You could find ways to serve with your family in your local area. It doesn’t have to be a big event. Anything you can do as a family will show your kids what it means to sacrifice for others.