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Lent in the Catholic Family

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lent 300Will your Lent be well spent? Help your family live the best lent of their lives with these family devotions and activities.

• Give it Up! Although young children are not permitted to fast, it is a good practice to begin to give them an idea of the a sacrificial nature of the season by  “giving something up” for lent. It is traditional for children to make a "Lent Box" in which they put the candy, treats etc. that they are refraining from during the penitential season; but favorite toys, videos etc could also go in!But think also about the possibility of doing something positive to bolster your spiritual life and make the world a better place. Look for ways that you can increase your knowledge of your faith, strengthen your spiritual life or perform special acts of mercy and kindness at home, at school, in your parish or in your community.

• Stations of the Cross. Telling the story of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus was an important part of the early Christian's experience. In the late fourth century, people began making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, where they would follow the path that Jesus took to Calvary. During the Middle Ages, when outbreaks of war made it impossible for people to travel to the Holy Land, people created a Via Dolorosa, or "Sorrowful Way," in their towns and villages. They erected paintings or sculptures depicting the Passion of Christ along a processional route or inside a church. By the mid-18th century, the number of stations was fixed at 14 and the devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, also called the Way of the Cross, became widespread. Bring your family to the Stations of the Cross every Friday evening in lent at 7:30 p.m. at IHM Chapel!

• Make a Crown of Thorns! This is a great way to get kids involved with lent! Place toothpicks in a grapevine wreath, (found at craft stores) in order to make Christ’s Crown of Thorns. The Crown of Thorns is placed in the center of the dining room table. During dinner, the children tell us of a good deed or of something they have offered up for Christ and then they pull a thorn (toothpick) out of the crown and place it in a glass dish that is located on the table. On Easter morning, the children find the crown decorated with flowers and the glass bowl full of Easter eggs. Children really enjoy seeing how they can transform Christ’s Crown of Thorns into a true crown.

• Pretzels for Lent. Pretzels originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. A monk was making unleavened bread for Lent with flour and water because eggs, milk and lard were not consumed as part of the Lenten fast. He twisted some of the dough into the shape of people praying with both arms folded across their chests. He decided it would be a perfect treat for children learning to say their prayers. He called the treats pretiola, the Latin word for "little reward."

• 10 Ways to Make your Lent more Meaningful:

1. Slow Down - Set aside 10 minutes a day for silent prayer or meditation. It will revitalize your body and your spirit.
2. Read a good book - You could choose the life of a saint, a spiritual how-to, an inspirational book or one of the pope's new books.
3. Be kind - Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else every day.
4. Get involved - Attend a Lenten lecture or spiritual program.
5. Volunteer at your parish - Whether it's the parish fish fry, cleaning the church or helping with the food drive, it will give you a chance to help others.
6. Reach out - Invite an inactive Catholic to come with you to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.
7. Pray - Especially for people you don't like and for people who don't like you.
8. Tune out - Turn off the television and spend quality time talking with family members or friends.
9. Clean out closets - Donate gently used items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
10. Donate - Then pick one mission and decide how you can help by sending money, clothing or supplies.