Lent is a great time for families to take part in prayer, fasting and almsgiving; to use the rhythm of the 40 days to return to a closer friendship with God.
Families wishing to experience a fuller penitential season can agree to take fasting seriously this year and plan to sacrifice something this season. Younger children don’t need to fast as intensely during Lent as adults or teens do, but everyone can commit to giving up a favorite snack, TV show or game.
Giving alms is another way to enter more fully into Lent. Families might choose to set aside part of their household budget for charity during this Lenten season. One year, our family held a brainstorming session to decide where to donate the money we saved from our Lenten sacrifices — maybe to a local charity, or a family in need, or an international hunger organization.
To fully engage in Lenten prayer, families might plan to attend the Triduum services this year. Children can learn powerful lessons from the daily rituals: washing the feet on Holy Thursday, reading the Passion and venerating the cross on Good Friday and lighting the Paschal candle in the darkness on Holy Saturday before pouring living water on the newest members of our faith community.
It’s probably asking too much to expect younger children to attend all the services during the three days of the Triduum, but families can plan to attend one or more of these liturgies according to their own circumstances.
It’s important for families to continue observing their own cultural and family rituals during Lent. These traditional practices give children a strong sense of belonging and a deeper connection to the sacred. As our children get older, they still enjoy the family tradition of coloring Easter eggs, and our annual walk together as we pray the Stations of the Cross.