Lenten Living: A Family Guide
Celebrate the season with purpose (and find perfect presents for sacramental occasions, too)
Let’s start our journey through Lent on the right foot. Here are some simple ideas for adults, couples, families and children to make the most of this penitential season:
For the Whole Family
Pray the Stations of the Cross together at least once a week. Your local parish may pray together on Fridays, but you can also pray together at home. Children will love the Stations of the Cross CD (1) from HolyHeroes.com; and adults will enjoy meditations on the Stations of the Cross at FORMED.org (check with your parish for a subscription code, but know it’s worth every penny if you subscribe yourself). If you really want to enhance your Stations experience at home, display the beautiful and durable plates from the Emmerich Stations of the Cross Set (2) inside or in your backyard and move from station to station together as you pray; available to order at EWTNRC.com or call (800) 854-6316; Item: 415Q, $84.
Get a Catholic Family Crate box or subscription (4): Sink into the meanings, teachings and blessings of the Church seasons and feast days with this ready-to-use box of beautiful books, activities, prayer guides and suggestions to live the liturgical year meaningfully as a family.
Use sacrifice beads/good deed beads: The practice of using “good deed” beads helps form a daily habit of giving and sacrificing for Our Lord, moving a bead from one side of the string to the other, toward the crucifix. The idea actually comes from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and Lent is the perfect time to start it. Etsy has some great choices for both adults and children, and you can find tutorials online to make your own beads.
Create a Works of Mercy Tree as a family: Lent is an ideal time to form a habit of discussing and practicing the works of mercy together. The Works of Mercy tree activity is a great way to learn and practice as a family.
Grab some trash bags and get cleaning: Donate items you do not need or use regularly to a worthy organization or to someone who does need them.
Do the Jesus Tree together (5): Walk with Jesus through Lent and Easter with this beautiful ornament set and accompanying readings.
For the Adults
Improve your marriage during this Lent. Pray for each other using these prayer journals.* Or join Cana 90 together (MessyFamilyProject.org). If you’re not already doing FIAT90 (women) or Exodus 90 (men), use their guidelines to inspire fasting and prayer goals you can work on together.
Watch a FORMED series together. This six-episode course on prayer (30 minutes per episode), specifically about lectio divina, makes a great Lenten study (6). (Again, if your parish has a FORMED subscription, you can access the course for free with your parish login information. Otherwise, at least sign up for a free trial. You can also buy the course from their market.)
Read the wisdom of Fulton Sheen (7): Use a daily devotional for Lent and Easter, which begins Ash Wednesday and journeys through the first week of Easter, providing reflections, Scripture passages, prayers and Lenten actions for each day. Lent and Easter: Wisdom From Fulton J. Sheen, also from EWTN Religious Catalogue: Item: 1118, $12.
Think outside the box when deciding how to fast: Here is a great list from Dynamic Catholic and another from Ascension Press with creative ideas for fasting this Lent that go beyond cutting out the chocolate.
Try “My Favorite Thing to Do for Lent”: Tens of thousands of people have considered or undertaken this awesome prayer challenge over the years: praying for a specific person. It’s my favorite thing to do for Lent.*
For the Kids
Print this Lenten calendar from Catholic Icing: Kids can color the black-and-white version of this Lenten calendar day by day during the Lenten season. It’s an easy activity that helps track the time from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
Have a giving jar or rice bowl: Having some sort of visual, physical way to collect monetary donations as a family throughout the Lenten season is especially helpful for everyone in the family to be reminded of the need for increased almsgiving. Be creative in how you want to contribute to the jar/bowl.
Make a home altar (8): If you don’t have an altar table* or a daily prayer habit with the kids, do it this Lent. Cover it with a purple cloth and top with devotional items for a great Lenten prayer space.
Do the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure: A great resource for the elementary-aged group, with activities, audio and video, and games.
Get some “Brother Francis” Lent resources (3): The Stations of the Cross DVD is a wonderful visual resource for children to learn to pray through the stations. Also check out the devotional fan (shown above), coloring storybook and poster, too.
Be creative in your sacrifice: Your older child or teen will find something on this long list, from LifeTeen.
At the beginning of Lent, Easter can feel far away, but before you know it, the glorious Resurrection season is here, and it’s time to celebrate the sacraments!
Here are some gift ideas for your sacramental celebrations during the Easter season:
First Faith Treasury board books (9): Good, beautiful, true catechesis and colorful and fun to boot.*
Saint softies: Handmade, beautiful saint dolls with many to choose from.
First Bible (10): The Catholic Child’s Baptismal Bible from the EWTN Religious Catalogue is a great pick: Item: 14001, $20.
Personalized holy water bottle makes such a beautiful gift that a child can use for years to come.
Chews Life Rosary (11): Check out the chaplets and bracelets, too.
For First Communion
Rosary or rosary bracelet (12): The EWTN Religious Catalogue has a number of options, including the First Communion Swarovski Wrap Rosary Bracelet. Item: S4C, $50. Or design your own custom rosary for your first communicant at The Catholic Woodworker.
MagnifiKid Subscription: What child doesn’t love getting mail? Invite your child to deeper faith through great content, comics, coloring pages and activities.
The Lego Catechism of the Seven Sacraments (13): This book is a huge hit at our house and provides the perfect building blocks to the faith — literally — for this age group; EWTN Religious Catalogue, Item: 8701, $34.95.
Gift card to your local Catholic bookstore: Provide a special opportunity for your first communicant to pick out something uniquely important to him or her, while also supporting your local Catholic shop.
Made for Greatness (14): This growth mindset journal for “courageous Catholic youth” will inspire your recent confirmand to live a life of virtue and growth in the Holy Spirit.
Jewelry (15): A medal of their confirmation saint, a Miraculous Medal, a crucifix ring or necklace all make long-lasting gifts. You can find a huge variety of choices in the EWTN Religious Catalogue, including a St. Thérèse medal (Item: 7210S, $59.50) and a St. Michael medal (Item: S1601, $50). My Saint, My Hero bracelets are a favorite, too.
A hand-lettered mug with a prayerful reminder: Faith-inspired mugs make beautiful gifts. Or grab a “handmade cozy for Christ” for your teen’s coffee mug or tumbler from this large selection (which includes custom choices, too).
Books: EWTN Religious Catalogue has a wide variety.
Faith-inspired phone cases (16): fun, colorful, and inspirational.
Love & Marriage-themed print (17): There are so many beautiful quotes available from the store at JustLovePrints.com. All would make great home décor.
Catholic marriage devotional (18): Forever by Jackie and Bobby Angel is a great book choice for newlyweds; EWTN Religious Catalogue, Item: 4336, $15.95.
Hanging wall rosary (19): These wall rosaries come in a gorgeous variety of colors and display beautifully in any room.
Mass intention: Have a Mass offered for the happy couple, an inexpensive but spiritually rich gift.
Set of sacred candles: A perfect indulgence, and you’ll support a Catholic small business in the process when you grab some of the lovely saint and spiritual life-themed candles from CordaCandles.com.
Katie Warner writes from
Georgia, where she lives with her family,
writes children’s books and home educates.
She is online at KatieWarner.com.
*denotes products by the guide’s author.