Our Lenten practices can be divided up into Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
Prayer helps grow and strengthen our relationship with God. Lent is an excellent time for families to pray together more; to read through one of the Gospels together; pray the rosary together (or pray one decade together); read that Sunday’s Gospel before Mass and talk about it; make an effort to say morning and bedtime prayers; to pray before meals; go to daily Mass whenever possible; attend our parish’s Stations of the Cross on a Friday; and definitely to go to confession.
By saying “no” to something we might really want, we strengthen our will so we can resist the temptation to sin when it comes. We also strengthen our willpower to choose what is right, even when it is difficult. Just as physical exercise makes our bodies stronger, practicing self-denial strengthens our will-power.
Fasting from treats like chocolate, cake, biscuits and all drinks but water is a common way to fast. But also consider some fasting from things like TV, music, social media and computer games, or switching off phones at a certain time in the evening or on Sundays. This all helps us to foster a greater interior and exterior silence in order to hear God better and to have more time for the family to be together and to do good things together.
Whether we give large or small, we strive to imitate Christ, who gave His life for us on the cross so that we might have eternal life. It is the size of our generosity, not the size of our act, that makes the difference. Children can be encouraged to donate toys, spend pocket money on a Mass said for a deceased family member, raise money for their parish or some other good cause, or to give of themselves by spending time helping younger siblings, assisting their parents around the home, or doing volunteer work. Anything which involves charity and self-sacrificial love for another person will help in bringing us closer to God.
Picture by Mazur/CBCEW.