Sunday, March 2, 2014

7 Ways to Observe Lent with your Family

Lent! It's like 3 days away!! Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday. Ahh! Freak out! Another liturgical season almost snuck up on me. Almost.

This year, I'm actually a few days ahead of the game, so there's still time to do some little planning.
I had some friends over the other day and we were all talking about what our families do for Lent. I love hearing these stories, because I grew up Protestant and had no Lent experiences as a child. I feel like with all things related to the liturgical year, I'm just slightly behind the game. Sure, I can read all the great blogs out there, but it doesn't feel natural to me until we actually just do it. Establishing traditions can take years, but a lot of times, it's just a matter of starting. I blog it to have a nice reminder for myself the following year. =)

Here are some things we have done and some more things we plan on doing this year, I mean, in three days, for Lent.

1. The Good Deed Bean Jar

One Lent, we did the Good Deed Bean Jar. The kids loooved that, because they were rewarded with jelly beans at Easter. I don't think I'll be giving them additional candy this year. They get so much sugar already, without me handing them a huge jar full of it. We can still do the Good Deed Jar, but instead of rewarding the children with a bunch of sugar beans, maybe we will go on a special outing, like the zoo (that's special these days, because unlike when we lived in Omaha, 15 min. from the my favorite zoo in the country, we now live 40 minutes from both the free & the non-free zoo).

2. (Un)Decorate the Mantel

I have slowly created a tradition of decorating my mantel to reflect the liturgical season. I usually incorporate my chalkboard. Doing that this year is going to be a sacrifice, because after all this winter and snow, I will just be so ready to make my mantel flowery, happy, and springy, but I can wait until Easter...I think. =) The children can easily help with this! Let them add their own ideas and help you decorate.

Our lenten Mantel in our previous home.
3. Pray the Stations of the Cross

You can either pray the stations with your local parish, local Catholic school, or homeschool group, or you can just pray them in your living room. You can buy Stations of the Cross images and hang them up around their living, dining, or other large room, and pray together.

My friend suggested putting something physical at each Station to keep the younger children focused.

  • A bandaid for when Jesus falls the first time
  • 2 bandaids for the second time, etc.
  • A little cross for Jesus carrying the cross
  • A nail for nailed to the cross
  • Scrap fabric or holy card of the Shroud of Turin for Veronica 
Use your imagination! You could even turn this into a craft project and involve the children with their ideas. If it helps them (and me!) stay focused during the Stations, it's great!

You can also print coloring pages for Stations:

  • I love the ones Sarah hung up in her house. I think hers are the CHC Stations of Cross prints. I really love Catholic Heritage Curricula (CHC), they have a lot of other great faith-inspired resources for the Catholic home. 
  • These coloring pages are from St. John the Baptist. You'll also have plenty coloring pages for other liturgical seasons, so definitely bookmark this page.
  • The Florida Center for Peace has a beautiful Stations booklet you can print out, color, and then fold into a booklet that you can use to pray the Stations.
  • Family Feast & Feria has a whole system all set up with links and printables and ideas for you to use in the home. I really like these.

As you can see, there's really no excuse not to have Stations in your home! I really love all these ideas and if you google, you'll find a hundred more! If you'd like to buy Stations prayer booklets, you can check out these Catholic businesses:
4. Silent Friday Monastery Lunches

Silent Lunches! My friend mentioned this the other day and I thought this was so genius. Especially for my home and my loud boys and my nerves! I really don't react well to overall loudness. I should be used to it by now, but I still crave silence. So....what a great excuse for Mommy to have some extra silence! Give up speaking for your Friday lunch during Lent! Of course, this isn't really a sacrifice for Mommy, but I think we should still do it..definitely. =)

It will be very difficult for my eight-year-old, and the three-year-old will probably not quite get it, but I am going to pull out my Twelve Months of Monastery Soups cookbook and make a different soup every Friday. My five-year-old complains every time I mention the word "soup". He is really strange with textures and things, but with a different soup every Friday, he's bound to like one. I can always hope. I'll make them kid-friendly of course, meaning, I'll skip the roasted garlic soup. 

If I was really high-speed, I'd sew all my boys a brown monk costume, but, that would be way too much fun, and this is Lent, so I guess we'll just wear our regular clothes. 

5. Give Up Something as a Family

Our kids are almost too young to give up something on their own, but the eight-year-old will be doing his First Holy Communion this year, so he is really getting close to being able to do this on his own. My friend was asking about this, since it got a bit crazy in her house with many children. I can see how that might be complicated, the more children you have, so I think chosing one or two things to give up as a family is a great idea. Mommy is in her third trimester though, so I'm afraid the dark chocolate isn't going anywhere this Lent. ;)

6. Pray a Little More

Every year, I like using Lent as a motivator to get back on track spiritually. What spiritual habits have I let go of, that I could start back up again?

As a family, it's nice to spend a bit more time in prayer. 

  • Maybe it is just adding a decade of the Rosary to the evening prayer.
  • Maybe it's praying a Litany of Saints at bedtime. Our kids love this!
  • Light a candle during prayer, to make it more special.
  • Maybe it is learning a new prayer, and adding it to the daily routine, like the Morning Offering, or the Anima Christi in English, or learning it in Latin.
  • The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song is one of my favorite ever prayers. You can hear it on YouTube here, and buy the CD at EWTN. I can't recommend this enough. It is the one thing that calms all my children down when they are going crazy in their car seats. You can feel the Holy Spirit come into your home when you play this Chaplet. It is a very special prayer that I have come to love. What better time than Lent to begin praying it again, especially at 3pm, the Hour of Mercy?

7. Lenten Activities for Children

For this one, I'm going to send you over to Lena at the Joy Filled Family. Her Stations of the Cross resources and activities are great!  

Lacy at Catholic Icing also has many ideas for liturgical activities. I always like browsing her website for ideas. 

Nicole always does a great job at incorporating the liturgical year into her family.


I think having so much snow on the ground and possibly not seeing the grass until Easter is going to be a huge sacrifice this year! 

What do you have planned for Lent? 


  1. Thanks for sharing these. I am putting the final touches on what our family will be doing this Lent and you gave n=me a couple of new ideas. I especially like the silent lunch and the sacrifice beans. :-) BTW, this is my first time visiting your blog and I've enjoyed the last few posts I browsed. Will be adding yo to my bloglovin. :-)

    1. Thank you, Bobbi! You have a beautiful blog!

  2. This is a great collection of ideas, Elisa! I love the idea of having a different soup each Friday (in silence would be heavenly)! I am going to bookmark this post and come back to it throughout Lent ... to incorporate a few new things throughout the season! I recently heard some advice about Lent ... that basically it is OK to do things one week at a time or even CHANGE what you're doing during Lent. This has given me so much peace of heart! We are close to finalizing our plans, but knowing we can add things/take things away throughout the whole season is such a relief. It doesn't all have to be perfect on Ash Wednesday and on every day for 40 days! Normally, that's my train of thought ... But not this year! Praise the Lord!

    P.S. I heard a Lenten retreat at your parish advertised on the radio. Sounds great! Wish I lived closer!

    1. Sarah, I totally agree with you! Even if we can't do every thing we want to do EVERY day, just doing ONE thing extra per week or per day, will still benefit us. I like to aim high and then just do our best without stressing the entire family out or causing everyone to sin more than usual due to our new "holy" routines...haha. I'm sure everyone with young children knows exactly what I'm talking about. =)

  3. [Thumbs up!]

    (I wanted to write out some thoughtful comment but me brain is fried) :o)

    1. Haha, Josee, I'm a little shocked at myself for getting all of this out, considering my third trimester pregnancy brain. =L

  4. Awesome ideas, Elisa. Thanks for the shout out too. :)

    I have to confess something. I hate the good deed bean jar. I dislike all the beans and how little hands make a mess and how it's much more of a pain than anything good in my household. Last year I did the crown of thorns thing where the kids could do a deed and pull a thorn. That was a bit better. This year, I wasn't going to do anything but my oldest saw the pre-printed good deeds in a jar (one for the kids, one for me) and was so excited so we just pulled out the jar and kept it plain and simple. The only reward they get is that happy little feeling inside. It's also totally optional. We too do family sacrifices, prayer, etc. with the kids so young.

    And I completely agree with the sung Divine Chaplet Mercy. I love, love, love it. I struggle with the Rosary but the chaplet draws me in every time.

    I pray you have a fruitful Lent.

    1. Haha, Nicole, I'm starting to dislike the jar too. The 3yo took a big handful and put it in there...oh well. We picked up a Rice Bowl from church and the 5yo came over to me and said: "Mommy, I put in 3 pennies into the rice bowl." I gave him a little kiss and told him I was proud of him. So cute.

  5. I was able to go to the Stations of the Cross at Sts. Peter and Paul in Hopkinsville KY. Beautiful stations and we did the booklet by Alfonso Liguori. I like that one. In last weeks bulletin was a wonderful Lenten Calendar for kids I'll be sending up. It's published by and has wonderful ideas as well.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I love reading them and I try to get back to you one way or another. =) +Elisa+

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