It’s hard to believe that Lent starts tomorrow! The only good thing is that I’ve actually prepared for it now instead of two or three weeks into it. I know, right? Shocker. We are doing many of the same traditions we did last year. Here are the main ones.
I love putting wreaths and welcome signs on our door. For Lent, I made a simple Lenten wreath to mark the season.
We have our regular family altar in the entryway of the house and that stays pretty much the same all year. However, we have a shelf in the family room by the table where we eat that we decorate according to the season. Here is where we keep our Lenten things.
We set up a candle centerpiece using a long rectangular tray filled with six votive candles for the six weeks of Lent.
I purchased tiny wreaths from Michael’s that fit around the candle. We add a wreath to a candle on each Sunday of Lent.
We printed off Catholic Icing’s Lenten Calendar and I placed it in an inexpensive frame from Ikea. I use a dry erase pen to mark a cross on each day as it passes. It is great for the kids, who have no sense of time, to see how many more days until Easter.
One of the kids favorite activities for Lent is their Act of Love and Prayer jars. The Act of Love jar has different things they can do each day such as share a toy with your sibling or be extra nice to someone at school or do an extra chore. The Prayer Jar has a special intention for each day. With our evening schedules, we have found our best prayer time to be before dinner since we are already gathered together. Since the altar is right next to our table, we light our candle, Brian leads us in prayer and then we chose an act and prayer intention for the next day. (The morning of the following day I remind the kids what our act of love and prayer intention is for that day.)
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This year we also added Kendra’s idea of using Sacrifice Beans. Every time the kids complete one of their Acts of Love or makes a sacrifice they put a dried kidney bean in the bowl. On Easter Sunday the dry beans are changed to jelly beans or some other treat. (I’m thinking a visit to the Aquarium unless I can swing a trip to Disneyland. I’m trying to work some Disney magic…)
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In case you think we are a holy family with heads bent in prayer, let me also give you a dose of reality. I also had to add a “prayer helper” of the day sign. When it comes to who gets to offer their prayer intention first or who gets to blow out the candle or who gets to choose the Act of Love that day, we have had the boys literally come to blows and screaming, which ends in me yelling at them and Brian sending them to their rooms for misbehaving. (Aw, peaceful prayer time.) Since they are used to having a “Student of the Day” in school so we took that same concept with the “prayer helper of the day.” The name rotates and we have greatly reduced the yelling and body blows. (Now if we can just get John-Paul to stop praying for things like “more Star Wars toys” as his prayer intention.
Lastly we added our Stations of the Cross pictures to the altar. When we say the Stations of the Cross as a family, we follow this book The Way of the Cross from Magnificat/Ignatius.
Here are some other Lenten activities we will be doing as a family.
- Turn off the TV and the computer/iphone more. I have a basket of religious type books that the kids can look at or we can read together. I am also using the Lenten Adventure Activity Books from Holy Heroes, which are great! There are activity pages and coloring pages for the young ones for each day of Lent up until Divine Mercy Sunday.
- Fasting from Eating Out. Instead of eating out we will eat whatever left overs we have in the house. We will use the money we saved to buy food to put into the food boxes at church for St. Vincent de Paul’s ministry. The kids get to pick out food and take it to the church. (My sacrifice is letting them “help” me.)
- Visit Jesus – Make more visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Let the kids light a candle before they kneel and pray.
- Donate – Spring clean the toy box and donate toys they don’t use anymore to our local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.
We can add more as we go but this is what is planned so far. For ideas for your own family, check out these sites.
Today I focused on things we do as a family. Tomorrow I’ll share what I’ll be working on myself this Lent. In the meantime, share you favorite Lenten traditions in the comments. If you have a blog, leave your link!
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