Lent 2023: A Family Guide for These 40 Days

5 Ideas and Many Resources to Help Your Own Domestic Church Live the Season Intentionally

The Warner family makes liturgical living the center of their home, including at Lent.
The Warner family makes liturgical living the center of their home, including at Lent. (photo: Courtesy of Katie Warner and Unsplash)

Here are some suggestions to help your family know, love and serve God more deeply and fruitfully during Lent this year. 

Remember, however, that Lent is not really about anything you do or read, buy or try. The aim of Lent is increased spiritual fervor — a refocusing on prayer, fasting and almsgiving, which should always be a strong part of the Christian walk, but are highlighted in our lives in a special way during Lent. 

This holy season gives us an opportunity to put greater distance between ourselves and our earthly attachments, so that we may cling more devotedly to our heavenly goals and seek a more intimate relationship with Our Lord, who waged war against the devil during his own 40 days in the desert and who suffered and died for us.

These resources and recommendations are meant to serve as suggestions to help you and your family have a transformative Lenten journey this year.

1. Commit to the Stations of the Cross devotion. In addition to attending the Stations of the Cross at your parish, bring the devotion to your home. My kids give two thumbs-up to the Stations of the Cross audio CD from HolyHeroes.com. We also love using the Stations of the Cross for Kids from TAN Books with our children’s prayer group during Lent. And Stations of the Cross cards from CatholicFamilyCrate.com are perfect for praying with and displaying in the home.

2. Make acts of service and sacrifice a priority. Little Way Cards at CatholicFamilyCrate.com are so creative and perfectly interactive for children and families wanting to find small ways to make sacrifices throughout the Lenten season. Sacrifice or “good deed” beads are another great way to inspire the daily habit of offering small sufferings. Your family could also use a sacrifice jar with dried beans (that turn into jellybeans at Easter) to track sacrifices or acts of service, or even a crown of thorns made from a grapevine wreath and toothpicks (thorns) that are removed from the wreath as sacrifices are offered up. 

3. Gather for family prayer around a home altar. Lent is a great season to set up a home altar or prayer table or shelf in the home. Adorn the altar with items such as a crucifix, a Bible, prayer books, prayer cards, a missal, icons, paintings, statues, rosaries, candles, holy water, blessed salt, incense or Lenten-themed images like liturgical art prints. While considering what prayer will look like for you and your family this season, also consider one of my favorite things to do for Lent: Offering prayers and petitions for particular people. And remember, adding daily Mass or adoration to your personal or family prayer routine is one of the simplest but most powerful ways to draw closer to Christ during the penitential season. 

4. Give alms — together! This is a perfect season to participate in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a family. Consider making an effort to practice one each week together. If you increase your financial almsgiving this Lent, include your children in the process. Help them choose a charity to support, and be involved in the donation process. Give them some work to raise money that they can then contribute to a special organization or cause, using a giving jar or “rice bowl” for collecting their alms. Have them assist you in making dinner for a family in town in need of a little extra support or going through the house and selecting unneeded items to donate. The opportunities to give are abundant. 

5. Nourish your mind and soul through spiritual reading, listening and watching. Check out my Lent and Easter reading list for adults and list for children. Other titles to consider include this year’s new releases from Catholic publishers, including Meditations on Death from TAN Books. Sophia Institute Press also has some great titles available, like Aquinas’ Lenten Meditations: 40 Days With the Angelic Doctor. If you are a podcast fan, listen to Father Mike Schmitz’s The Catechism in a Year by Ascension Press, or if you’re looking for a great series to watch through the Lenten season, check out the Augustine Institute’s course on prayer at Formed.org. Also check out edifying programming on EWTN.

If you’re looking to add some feast-day celebrations and liturgical living at home to your Lenten practices as a family, check out the collection of helpful Lenten items in the CatholicAllYear.com Market, as well as the collection of Lenten devotionals, media, books, apparel and more at EWTN Religious Catalogue at EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316.