Lent - Family Activities



Lord, we gather here together to plan for the coming season of Lent.  We want these forth days to be truly special for us this year, so we begin by asking for your guidance and help.  Give us good ideas for new ways to return to your through increased prayer and sacrifice, service to those around us, and repentance for the many times we have failed you by sinning.  But more than all these, Lord, give us hearts that are ready for this special time of Lent, hearts that are prepared for this season of repentance, prayer, and sacrifice.  Draw us near to you, Lord, and help us grow as individuals and as a family of faith.  Right now, keep us focused on the task at hand - planning this year's Lenten season for our family.  Amen 


The following are some family activities you can participate in during the Lenten season: 

1) Praying Together as a Family:  

Benefits of Family Prayer 

(1) Builds a sense of family and trust.  Families, like all the other important relationships in our lives, need to be nurtured if they are to grow strong. 

(2) Nurture and strengthen your own personal faith.  Praying at home can help strengthen your own commitment to your faith and church. 

(3) Strengthen family communication in general.  If you can pray together, it's more likely that you'll be able to sit down and talk about the challenges, frustrations, and joys in your lives.

(4) Help connect your faith to your life.

Ideas for Family Prayer

(1) Create a Lenten wreath (similar to an Advent wreath) with six candles to mark each week of the Lenten season.  Light the appropriate candles when you gather to pray.

(2) Celebrate special feast days of saints during the Lenten season.

(3) Create a Stations of the Cross in your home using your own drawings, photos, or pictures from magazines and the Internet.  Process together around the house and pray at each station.  You can also participate as a family when your parish offers the Stations of the Cross.

(4) Pray the rosary together.

(5) Together watch a movie with a religious theme, and follow it with discussion and reflection.

(6) Cook and eat a simple meal together, and then help each other fast for a designated period of time.  Get together to talk about how it feels to be hungry, and pray for each other during the fast.

(7) Create a special quiet place within your home that can only be used for prayer or quiet reflection.  Encourage each family member to spend a certain amount of time there on a daily bases.

2) Devotions:  Lent can be a time of family focus on the meaning of the Christian life.  You may want to commit to a regular pattern of family worship - daily, weekly, or whenever you can.  You may post Bible verses, especially the words of Jesus, on the refrigerator, bathroom mirrors, wherever a busy family is sure to see them.  Talk about them at dinner or on the way to school - especially how verses apply to events in our daily lives. 

3) Attend a Lenten Retreat Our parish, as well as others, offer Lenten retreats so participants can take the opportunity to focus clearly on what God is saying to us during this season.

4) Sacrifice During Lent we care called to make sacrifices, to give up things we really like in order to focus better on God.  WE are called to do this without grumbling and without thought of reward or recognition.  We are called to serve others and to be Christ for those around us.  Here are some ideas to help your family sacrifice together during Lent:  (1) Share what you are giving up for Lent so others can encourage you and keep you accountable.  (2) Pray for each other and for the strength to keep up your sacrifices. 

5) Serving:  Our families are our communities, and we must be willing to serve those around us and let them serve us.  Here are some ideas to help your family to serve others during Lent:  (1)  Have each member of the family select a person outside of the immediate family for the season of Lent.  Secretly do things for those people like pray for them, leave small gifts, write them anonymous notes, or spend time with them without them knowing why.  (2) Volunteer to do something together as a family for the parish or another non-profit organization.  Plan and them execute a family service project.  As a family, collect change for a special charity or cause.  (3) Plant flowers or trees for a neighbor, your parish, or a local organization.  (4) Pay special attention to parents and grandparents during Lent.  Invite them over for a meal, visit them, pray for them, pray the rosary with them, do odd job for the, ask them to share their childhood memories of Lent and Easter.

6) Repenting Together:  We are called to repent of our sin during Lent and seek reconciliation with God and with those whom we have wronged.  You may consider going to church as a family to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and encourage each other to go to confession regularly. 

7) Fasting and Abstinence:  

Some families find spiritual value in giving up something for Lent - television, sweets, video games - not as a penance, but as an outer symbol of dying to self during a season of spiritual reflection. 

The purpose behind fasting and abstinence is to help us connect with the suffering of Jesus. 

Fasting during Lent has its origins in the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and praying.  Days of fasting during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

8) Stations of the Cross:  Each Friday during Lent our parish will offer Stations of the Cross, which depict the final hours of Jesus’ life.  Consider attending each week, with your family, during Lent.

9) Charity:  Support or volunteer for a charitable organization such as Easter Seals.  Easter Seals was founded in 1934 as a means to raise funds to help children with disabilities.  In the original words, “Easter means Resurrection and New Life, and the rehabilitation of crippled children means new life and activity … physically, mentally, spiritually.”

10) Giving:  While we usually think of Christmas for gift-giving, Easter has a richer heritage.  God gave His Son.  Jesus gave His life.  Find ways to give unconditionally: money to the homeless, treats for those in nursing homes, old clothes to children in another country.  Jesus told us clearly, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

11) Jonah: In Matthew 12:39-41, Jesus points to the story of Jonah as a sign of his own destiny.  So this is a great time to review it with your children, discussing the issues of sin, obedience, and God’s mercy.

12) Pretzels:  Bake your own pretzels.  Pretzels originated as early Christian Lenten treats, designed in the form of arms crossed in prayer.  Click here for a great pretzel recipe.

13) New Clothes: New converts were traditionally baptized at Easter, wearing new white garments to symbolize their new life.  If your family has new Easter outfits, share with your children where this tradition came from. 

14) Easter Eggs:  In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent.  Eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved.  Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants.  In addition, eggs have been viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages.  It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals.

15) Easter Parades:  In Medieval Europe, churchgoers would take a walk after Easter Mass, led by a crucifix or the Easter candle.  Today these walks endure as Easter Parades.  People show off their spring finery, including lovely bonnets decorated for spring.

16) Keep a Lenten Journal:  When we write our thoughts down in a private journal, we sometimes can see ourselves for a whole new point of view.  Try writing a few sentences each day.  Include your Lenten promises and your progress in keeping them.  End your daily writing by describing one thing, person, or happening for which you are grateful that day.  This little practice helps us to develop that important attitude of gratitude and allows us to see that the little things we give up are nothing when compared to all our blessings.



St. Patrick's Church at Moody Air Force Base