Pancake Tuesday; Shrove Tuesday, Carnival… all these are names for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. We celebrated Shrove Tuesday by eating some wonderful “treat” meals. We had pancakes for breakfast (and had Daddy join us – a rare occasion, since he leaves for work fairly early most days), scrambled eggs with chips and juice for lunch (juice isn’t a regular thing at our place), and we had lentil burgers with homemade buns, fries, and gelato for dessert. It was a great day of having nice meals and treats one last time before embarking on our lenten journey.
I love lent. It’s a beautiful time of reflection, sacrifice, thinking of others, and waiting in joy for the celebration of Easter, the day when our Saviour rose again from the dead. To me, it’s a better time to “make resolutions” than the end of a calendar year – because you make commitments to do things that benefit others in order to praise God and love your neighbour as yourself. It’s a time of working on becoming a better person.
As I mentioned in a previous post, although I grew up Catholic, I didn’t grow up observing lent in any serious way. when I was a bit older, I did the usual “give something up for lent” tradition, but I was never fully committed to this wonderful season.
Last year, I decided I wanted to embrace Lent fully, and I gave myself a theme: “seek to serve.” I embraced lent by praying more frequently and earnestly, doing good for others, and not only saying the Prayer of Saint Francis, but really savouring the words within it, and trying to live them out in real life. I really enjoyed lent last year, and I think it helped me live life more fully and consciously, serving others and doing more good things.
This year, my oldest is mature enough to understand what lent is about, so I decided to start a new tradition with our family. I am doing this as part of her homeschool Religion; however, I thought involving the family would be a good way to get us talking more about lent and about the ways in which we will fully embrace it this year. We are doing a “Lenten Journey” portfolio together, and I think it will be a great tradition that will both bring us closer as a family, as well as help us to live lent more fully and praise God more earnestly. If it goes well this year, we will do it as a tradition each Lenten season.
I grabbed some duo-tang folders that I already had in storage, and added a few things into it. I printed out a page that said “My Lenten Journey” and left the rest blank. This will be the cover page for each of us. In it, we can draw or write something that reminds us of lent and/or of the things we will do during lent. Above is mine. I drew a cross to remind me about the reason for lent – Jesus dying and returning to life again, and in the middle I wrote “Awaiting his Rising.” At the end of lent, I will add another blank page with the same drawing, but this time it will say “He is Risen.” I also wrote on the cross some of the things I will concentrate on doing during lent. I coloured the background purple, since this is a colour often associate with lent. As you can see, I’m no huge artist, but this is what spoke to me with regards to lent.
Here is my daughter’s cover page (she just turned 6).
She wrote “Happy Lent Everyone” – perfectly, if you read it phonetically. I only laughed about happy “lint” inside, of course. She drew a cross “because Jesus died on the cross,” and she made pictures of animals carrying Easter basket and eggs. K-girl loves to draw.
The little ones will probably make some scribbles on the cover tonight (ash Wednesday).
For the second page, we used a worksheet from our Religion Curriculum, the “Image of God” series:
On this page, we each wrote down how we will show our love for God and others during lent. This year, I decided my theme will be “My body is a temple of the holy spirit.” I’ve been neglecting my health, and when I do so, my kids suffer (i.e. not taking my asthma medication as prescribed means I can’t play with them well, because I’m often out o breath; not exercising makes my arthritis pain worse, so I can’t pick them up as often). Thus, I wrote things I will do to take care of my body as well as more direct things I will do for others.
Here is K-girl’s. She is still figuring out that she needs to write things on a straight line; often her words will run into a previous sentence. Having said that, she is in Kindergarten and just turned six, so I’m pretty impressed at her near-perfect phonetic spelling of everything.
She didn’t have guidance for this part, as I wanted her to come up with her own ideas. She wrote that she would make “breakfast in bed for dad;” “lunch in bed for mom;” dinner in bed for [her brother];”snack in bed for [her sister]. She also wrote that she would “share love to others;” “Be kind to others;” “help others;” “play with my sister;” “be nice ot my mom” and “read to my brother.” She seemed to really enjoy doing this worksheet. Unlike most kids her age; K-girl loves worksheets; especially the ones where she has to be somewhat creative within a few guidelines. So she doesn’t necessarily enjoy tracing worksheets, but the ones like this, where it looks like a little project, she just loves.
For the third page, we came up with an “Acts of Kindness Calendar” to do together as a family during lent. Each day during lent, we will do one nice thing for someone else. Of course our acts of kindness need not be limited to this calendar, but we will do these items together as a family. You can download the calendar by clicking the picture below.
For our Acts of Kindness calendar, we are doing some things repeatedly each week. We are keeping a “Food Bank Box” on our counter. Every Thursday and Sunday during lent, each family member will pick something out of the cupboard to put into this box, and on Sunday, we will take the box to church, where they are collecting donations. We will be purchasing extras at the grocery store to fulfill this particular act of kindness. We are also keeping a Donations Box during lent, and each Wednesday, each family member will pick a toy or household item to put in the box. On the last Wednesday of lent, we will take the box to a local charity. I love this particular act because we not only help others, but also de-clutter our home – most of us have more than what we need anyway. This particular act can remind us of our blessings and remind us to think of others who may not be as fortunate, while actually doing something to help them. The Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays all have different acts of kindness that we will do. All of these will be done as our Religion lesson for the day. Click on the picture to download the modifiable Microsoft Word Document.
The last 2 pages of the portfolio are some pretty neat calendars I found online. The first one I found on The Catechists’ Journey website. This calendar has a cross on each day of lent, and we can colour the cross a particular colour depending on what we’ve done that day: green if we said an extra prayer; purple if we helped someone; red if we did something good that was hard for us to do, and yellow if we did what we were supposed to do without being told.
I think this will be a really neat calendar to discuss each day during lent – we will probably review it in the morning and decide what we will do for the day, and then colour it in together in the evening.
The final page of the portfolio is a really child-friendly lenten calendar that almost looks like a maze going from ash Wednesday all the way to Easter Sunday. I found this calendar on Catholic Icing (fabulous website for Catholic teaching resources, by the way!)
At the end of each day, we will colour in that day, until all days are filled in on Easter Sunday.
I will probably add some journal pages as well, so that the adults can write down reflections and prayers and the kids can be free to draw, scribble, or in K-girl’s case, write down a short prayer if she so wishes.
I am very excited to start this tradition with the family; I think it will be a wonderful way to fully embrace lent and prepare ourselves for our most important holiday, Easter (which also happens to be my favourite holiday – Holy Saturday mass is my favourite of the whole year).
What about you? How will you embrace lent this year? Let me know in the comments 🙂