But as jarring as the early arrival of Ash Wednesday was, I know that I NEED this season of Lent, maybe even more than Christmas! Don't get me wrong; I enjoy the decorations, parties, goodwill and generosity of Christmas. But truth be told, there's a lot of work that goes into preparing for the holidays that come ON TOP of the other duties that come with taking care of a family and running a household.
Lent is almost the opposite of that. Instead of putting up elaborate lights and decorations, we are taking things down, and making our decor and our daily lives simpler. Instead of parties, we attend stations of the cross or an extra Mass. And instead of labor-intensive cookies and other goodies, we prepare simple suppers and give up excess sugary treats. Lent is a liturgically built-in retreat that calls us to simplify our lives and focus ourselves and our families on our relationships with God. It's the time to re-examine our priorities and make the changes that need to be made with the time we have left. The church gives us the next 40 days to just be still and evaluate how we are doing on that pilgrimage towards heaven.
Part of my role as the Catholic mom in our Domestic Church is to help my family get into the mood of Lent by setting the tone of our home. The beauty of Lent is that setting a tone of penance and introspection is really easy.
- A simple purple tablecloth goes on the table for the entire Lenten season.
- Religious books and readings are available for the entire family on the coffee table.
- A Lenten calendar is on display so that we can follow the readings and read inspirational materials for each day of the of the season.
- Simple dinners are on the menu for Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent.
- T.V., cell phones, tablets, computer - off for dinner and until bed unless needed for homework.
- No candy or pop! - which is a bigger sacrifice for some than for others!
- Attend Stations of the Cross every Friday.
- Family rosaries at least once a week.
- One extra mMass per week if possible - which can really be a penance with infants and toddlers, or defiant teens!
Anything we can do for yourselves and for our families that helps us to really find meaning and spiritual depth in the season of Lent will give help to make Easter Sunday celebration all the more joyous!
Copyright 2016 Elena LaVictoireAlmost one week into Lent and it still feels like a shock to the system - understandably so! Lent is very early this year. Christmas was just six weeks ago, and only two weeks ago we were celebrating Candlemas!
About the Author
Elena LaVictoire is a graduate of Baker College and a retired medical transcriptionist. She is married and homeschooled six children. Elena is a public speaker on the topics of marriage, homeschooling, and confirmation preparation. She was also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. Elena practices and performs with her flute and records with the Peace Together Choir. She blogs at MyDomesticChurch.com.