Embracing Lent as a Family
great time to either start or enhance this practice with a parental matching fund.
Q: How would you suggest that families emphasize prayer and spirituality during Lent?
A: We’re fortunate to have many beautiful and deeply moving prayer practices during Lent: Stations of the Cross on Fridays; and the foot-washing and Veneration of the Cross ceremonies during the Triduum come immediately to mind.
Praying and discussing the Sorrowful Mysteries is certainly one practice families can observe together. Creating table graces that reinforce the lessons of Lent (e.g., love and sacrifice) before and after meals is another.
I’m also a big advocate of providing sensory cues for sacred activities. Something as simple as using purple placemats or playing any of the classic requiem Masses would help create a Lenten atmosphere in the domestic church.
Q: For young children and those who are physically unable to observe Lenten fasts and abstinence, how can parents teach the concept of fasting or sacrifice?
A: Since your children will (hopefully) notice what adults are doing (or not) during Lent, you’ll need to create opportunities to discuss these practices. See if you can instill a respect, if not reverence, for the way sacrifice sharpens perceptions on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Explore with them the nuances of “giving something up” for Lent. What does this mean to your children? When have they experienced sacrifice? How did that feel? Ask your kids what they might consider setting aside during Lent as a way to think about the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. Try not to laugh out loud if a bedraggled blankie is offered up.
Q: Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share on this topic?
A: How much time and space do you have?!? Even though I’ve been a Christian for many years, I still find myself engaged in a lot of “simultaneous translation” during Catholic rites and rituals.
During Lent, more than any other time of the year, I’m keenly aware of Jesus’ Judaism. I’m fascinated by the way Hebrew scripture and Jewish practice permeated everything Jesus did and said.
During Lent and Easter, the Jewish roots of the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation—come especially visible to me. My prayer is that my work helps other Catholics understand and embrace our Jewish heritage—during Lent and throughout the year.
Meredith Gould, Ph.D., is the author of The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions Feast Days (Doubleday). She’s a columnist for Faith & Family Magazine and www.godspy.com. Her newest book, Come to the Table: A Catholic Passover Seder (Plowshares Publishing) is available via www.plowsharespublishing.com or by visiting http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0976396203/catholicmomcom
http://www.catholicmom.com CA, US
Lisa M. Hendey - webmaster, 559 5551212
Lent, Catholic, family
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