"I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”
When my children were all much younger I had a hard time explaining Lent to them. Advent was easy. The children understood very well what it meant to prepare for the coming of a new baby. But Jesus’ passion and resurrection were mysteries I struggled to put on a toddler/pre-school level.
I did my best to explain to them about how our bad choices hurt Jesus. I read them children’s books that showed His passion, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. But the whole idea of sacrifice and fasting seemed a little lost on such young children.
Then I came up with an idea that seemed to help make the Lenten season more accessible to little minds. I cut out dozens of paper hearts and explained to my family that for the next 40 days during our night time prayers each of us would take a heart and write a good deed on it that we had performed that day. The idea was to encourage my children to be more loving and to think of others, just as Christ was thinking of us and loving us as He hung on the cross.
The children’s acts of kindness included things like: “I shared my toys”, “I helped my little sister”, “I gave mommy a kiss”, “I let my friend go first”, “I prayed for our neighbor.” It was such a simple thing but as Lent progressed that year, my children grew to enjoy being more kind and thoughtful. They started to understand the idea of giving to others and the value of sacrificing their little wants and desires for those of others. It gave the children a chance to practice little forms of fasting and almsgiving in addition to our prayers each day. And, it gave us a way, as a family, to prepare our hearts for Easter and to focus on doing saintly acts, instead of sinful ones.
We hung our “good deed hearts” on the wall in the kitchen, adding more and more of them each day of Lent. The growing line of them along the kitchen wall provided a wonderful visual of how love can multiply when we offer kind acts in Jesus’ name. By Easter, we were literally surrounded by love because our hearts had stretched around the entire room meeting again to make a complete circle.
|Purple for penitence|
|And red for the blood Jesus shed for us|
The first year with the paper hearts was about seven or eight years ago but we have continued the tradition. And, though many other Lenten practices have joined it as the children have matured, this one continues to be special and meaningful to us.
Some of our other Lenten traditions include:· Attending the Stations of the Cross at Church every Friday evening· A family sacrifice- for us it is always desserts· Focusing exclusively on the Sorrowful mysteries for our family rosary· Participating in the Holy Week services at Church
How have you explained and observed the Lenten season with your little ones?
Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.
Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!
Lenten Love: Little Acts of Love (pending)
Building Rocks (pending)
This Cross I Embrace: Keep LOVE In Lent (pending)
Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent