Friday, February 13, 2015

Living Lent

It's hard to believe we're less than a week away from Ash Wednesday.  But on the other hand, signs of spring around town remind me that Easter is not so very far off.

Within the traditional Catholic liturgy, the season of Septuagesima marks the beginning of voluntary penance in preparation for proper Lenten practice to come.  The Alleluia and Gloria have been missing from our Mass for the past few weeks, and our Morning Basket has begun to mirror that tone:

Marigold Hunt's St. Patrick Summer
Inos Biffi's The Way of the Cross
Jennifer's Lent for Children: A Thought A Day
Attende Domine and Stabat Mater
The Divine Praises in English
Confiteor in Latin

The wonderful thing about living the liturgical year with children year after year is that after a decade, we have our favorite ways of marking the season that we do over and over again, and we can spend time pondering those activities instead of researching and planning.  Our Lent this year is going to look very similar to last year's and the year's before--and the children wouldn't have it any other way.  (All you mothers know just what I mean.  An activity once done becomes a "tradition"!)

In light of that, I wanted to point you to a few posts from years past:

A Simple Lent for Children
For Ash Wednesday, a Thought and a Prayer (including a link to the printable hymn card shown below)
Lent in Our Home

Enjoy and wishing you thoughtful weekend as you prepare your own Lenten family observances!


  1. I can not believe it is this time of year already...we are a week off in the Eastern churches this year but we too have been kiddos have a list ready of all their "traditions" ready ;) Sometimes it begins to feel like a burden to me their expectations then I remember that these kids are joyfully striving to a life of prayer...which is why we started the traditions in the first place! Again and again it is them leading me back to where I should be...praying it is a blessed Great Lent for you and your family!

    1. Thank you--praying for the same for your family! "joyfully striving to life of prayer" << that's such a lovely way to think of it. I'll be reminding myself of that as I'm creating seven salt dough crowns of thorns next Tuesday! LOL

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    3. I goofed and deleted my comment...salt dough makes me shudder! You could try grapevine wreaths...there are some pics from years ago under my Lent tag...of course the kids might revolt if you mess with tradition ha!

    4. Haha! We did a grapevine wreath when we first started the tradition, but as we added children to the family, it just became too many toothpicks for one wreath, and we didn't have enough grapevine wreaths for each child to have his own, so we switched to the individual salt dough wreaths...but I'm thinking about putting my foot down this year and going back to one with fewer toothpicks. I'm looking ahead to the future (and the future kids we are likely to add), with the toothpick situation getting out of control--I think I need to clamp down now while I still can. LOL

  2. Thanks so much for this!! Since this will be the year we enter the Catholic Church, I'm wanting to start some traditions for Lent. My goal is a family rosary and going to Mass on Weds. I'd also like to add some Lenten readings with my girls. I'm just curious, do you feel like your younger kiddos (3 and under) pick up on any of the readings? My girls are 3 and almost two. Since I didn't grow up Catholic, let alone with a Christ filled home, I'm just struggling with how to introduce Jesus and the wonderful traditions of the Catholic Church to my girls.

    1. First, I just want to say that family rosary and an extra Mass weekly are the absolute best things you could pick to add into your home this Lent! My rule of thumb for living the liturgical year with my kids is to choose the devotions I would do as an adult and just find ways of incorporating them into those devotions. That means that prayer is prioritized over crafts and games--so I really prefer to add in the traditional prayers of the Church before or rather than some of the more cutesy stuff. ;) So if family rosary and Mass are your only inclusions, you are really choosing the better part! :)

      I am always surprised at what little ones pick up on. My Bridget is 3yo and sits in on our readings and prayers throughout the year. I remember being in your position--I was not raised Catholic or with any domestic religious customs, and when my two oldest were just littles, I was trying to figure out how to incorporate some age-appropriate but meaningful devotions. I would suggest two simple things that I think might be just right for your kids' ages this year:

      :: Stations of the Cross box - This is a tactile way of introducing children to the story of the crucifixion, and it's one that my 3yo absolutely understands and even asks for. We pray it every Friday. Since you only have littles, you could do a modified version of the prayers: just read the title of the mystery, lay out the card and object, sing the appropriate stanza from At the Cross Her Station Keeping, then move on to the next. Prayed that way, it would only take about five minutes--a good length for little ones. And you get a chance to go through the stations as well, so win-win. :) I write a bit more about it here:
      And more information at Jenn's (with images to print) here:

      :: Jenn's Lent for Children: a Thought a Day. You asked for a reading to maybe do along with your children. This is really written for slightly older kids, but it takes just a few seconds daily and is free (I just read it off my tablet!), and Jenn has placed a work of art alongside that my 3yo likes to look at while I'm reading. The little rhyming lesson at the end of each day's reading is great for little ones. I like it better than any of the Lent picture books I have seen that are supposedly for the younger ages. We read through it every year. Here it is:

      Oh, and I always tell myself that I have lots of years ahead of me to add in activities, devotions, and whatnot. I remember being both awed but also intimidated by just how much richness there is in Catholic practice! But we cannot possibly do it all! So just make your priorities and be at peace that there will be time for the rest another year. :)

      Blessings and congratulations to your family, Jamie!

  3. Thank you so much!! That was very helpful, especially to affirm the direction I'm headed towards. I just printed out the Stations of the Cross pictures and will be getting a box together. Thanks so much for your help!