I've written before on some of the things we do during Lent but don't really have one cohesive post that pulls it all together. So I thought to myself, hey self, you should do that. Because when people ask you what you do, you can actually have some sort of intelligible answer and maybe even give them a link.
Let me say again first, like I've said before, that Lent should only be found at His feet. It's so so so easy to get pulled into what others are doing and there is a crazy amount of ideas and inspiration online, now more than ever. A person could drown in the flood of posts (so clearly I needed to add another one ;) and I very easily get overwhelmed with all of it. But I also know that some people are looking for ideas and traditions to share with their family. So take what you see and if it sparks something in you and matches where the Lord has been leading you, then awesome.
I'm a simple girl especially when it comes to Lent. For me, the season is about breaking down to the bones of the Christian life. Getting back to the basics of growth in holiness. Sometimes, especially lately, there are so many voices and options that it can almost backfire. We find ourselves (self)pressured to DO ALL THE THINGS lest our Lent be a failure. The Church, however, has given us very very basic guidelines: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving. That's where I find my peace. Shutting out all the voices and focusing on those three things with myself and my family simplifies the purpose of this time and draws us nearer to Him.
We exchange our normal pre-bedtime Rosary on Fridays with the Stations of the Cross.
This year I'm also trying to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with the boys at 3 p.m. (which any mom knows also involves a whole lot of offering up, too ;)
We have exactly 14 stairs which works perfectly during Lent. This is how the boys learned the Stations.
Some years we've made it to daily Mass. Those were good times and really fruitful. I'm hoping to get to a few this year, at least. Incorporating more Mass and official liturgy of the Church into Lent is always a good first move when it comes to deepening our life in Christ!
We talk about giving something up and we all usually choose something for the entirety of Lent. This year, though, a couple of the boys decided a few weeks before Lent to work out a calendar for themselves.
(How cute is this? Weapons.)
We also have our crown of thorns on the dining room table. When a sacrifice is completed (either the one they've chosen for all of Lent at the end of each day, an extra one they chose, or a pain they endured bravely) they take a thorn out of the crown and learn to share some of Jesus' sufferings.
Doing good works and giving more manifests itself in some way in the bean jars. They each have a jar and the boys may place a bean in their jar for every good work they do. On Easter morning they find the beans they've earned have turned into jelly beans. It's not about earning goodness but more a tangible reminder of the reality that our good works are treasures stored up in heaven that will be rewarded and that God uses our little offerings of self to bear good fruit in the world.
We've also had success with placing coins in the jar that will be used to buy something for the poor (usually through Food for the Poor).
And there are usually several opportunities presented for food drives or giving in other ways in which I try to include the boys.
Some of the other practices we do or have done as a family during Lent:
Hiding the Alleluia - I have wooden "Alleluia" letters that get wrapped in a gold bag and then placed in a brown bag and hidden away. On Easter morning, they go on a hunt for the letters (along with eggs and their baskets) and find the Alleluia again.
Simplified Decor - I take down any 'extras' and they're either not replaced or replaced with purple and burlap and Lentesque decor.
Draping the pictures and statues - Just like in the church we've some years draped the religious pictures and statues in our home with purple cloth.
Simplified Food - In the spirit of the season, there's lots of simple meals in the meal plan - soups, beans, rice, etc.
Family Sacrifice - Some years we've given up something specific together along with our personal fasts.
Scripture on CD - This Audio Scripture is absolutely amazing and I try to have this on in the house often during Lent to sink into our souls a bit.
Spring Cleaning - I used to be great about this but it's getting harder and harder as the babies come and the schooling increases. But Lent is a great time for a whole house spring cleaning - curtains cleaned, floors washed, ceiling corners vacuumed, the whole deal. I at least try to do something beyond my normal cleaning routine in those last weeks before Easter to prepare.
I'm also definitely looking forward to our boys embracing these tenets of Lent on a more personal and mature level as they grow. We're seeing the beginnings of that now with our oldest and it's pretty awesome.
When it comes to Lent personally, I find peace in following that same basic formula. Some sort of new (or renewed) practice in personal prayer, some sort of personal fast, and some extra way or ways to give. Every year it looks just a bit different depending on where God has me but if I've learned anything it's that the more I give and become available to Him during Lent, the more beautiful and deep my Easter becomes.
And there we have it. I've got a Lent post.
May God abundantly bless you and yours this Lent and draw us all deeper into His merciful heart.