Created on: February 24, 2011 Last Updated: February 13, 2013
There are quite a few activities for Catholic families during Lent, which may eventually become traditions. Lent is not only about giving up things, it's about giving to other people, either your time or money. There are many wonderful activities to strengthen your family's faith and bond all of you together at Lent.
Candles at dinner-
Lighting candles at dinner is one way to celebrate Lent. Think of an Advent wreath and you'll get the idea. Instead of four candles, you can use seven, one for each week of Lent and an extra for Easter. Set them up in the shape of a cross or use a wreath the way you might for Advent. Use deep purple candles for each of the weeks leading up to Easter and on Easter light a white candles, much the way it's done during Advent.
Use one candle per week and each night say a prayer and light that week's candle. There are many books with Lenten meditations, prayers and reflections that can be read while lighting a candle. Or just read from the Bible.
Make helping others a family affair. Whether it's bring extra canned goods for your church's food pantry or actually going to a shelter and helping to feed others, do something outside of your own family for others. This is a good time to go through outgrown clothes and toys and give them away to the needy. Giving away things that you no longer need but are in good enough condition for others, is an excellent Lent activity for children and grown-ups alike.
Giving something up together-
Rather than give up something as individuals, try giving up something together. A favorite television show, take out on the weekend, shopping, whatever it is, do it together. Rely on each other to keep your promise and not do whatever you've given up.
If your children are not old enough to fast during Lent, make sure to explain to them what fasting is all about during Lent. If your kids are old enough to fast, it's another opportunity to bond together in your faith.
Before you start your day during Lent, gather together and read a passage from the Bible or a meditation from a book specific to Lent. Check out books by Saint Anthony's Messenger Press, Every year, they put out daily reflections for lent and they're fairly cheap, too. This is a great way to start the day and bond with each other.
Stations of the Cross-
Most parishes have some kind of weekly Stations of the Cross tradition. If your particular church doesn't, another in the diocese might. This is a lovely way to be together in Christ and spend quality time together during Lent.
The Easter Vigil is a great tradition to start with your family. Traditionally in most parishes this is when the Catechumen and Candidates are welcomed into full communion in the church. It's normally a moving and enlightening time. Be aware though, if you have young children, this Mass can run up to two hours and may be best suited to older children.
Lent is a time of renewal and it's the perfect time for families to share their faith. Starting traditions will make memories and perhaps, your children will do some of the same activities with their own families one day.
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