Lent in the Western Church is rapidly approaching and this year will run from Wednesday, February 22 until (depending upon how you include certain days of Holy Week) until Saturday, April 8 with Easter being on Sunday, April 9.
Lent is a solemnity of joy, a bright sadness as my Orthodox friends say, and a time for fasting, praying, service, devotion and renewing ourselves for the time ahead.
Here are some brief suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week:
- Attend church. As believers in Christ, we are designed to be in community with one another so church attendance should have a priority in this season. Attend church on Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, any of the services available for celebrating Saints, and attending the liturgies available during Holy Week all lead to a meaningful and beautiful Easter celebration. Children learn by doing and modeling what we are doing.
- In the Anglican Communion, some of my favorite and special Saint days and feasts during Lent include St. David on March 1 (eat leek and potato soup, daffodil crafts, and see the story about St. David at www.mainlesson.com); St. Patrick on March 17th, St. Joseph on March 19th, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 25th, and Innocent of Alaska on March 30th.
- Establish a Lenten mood by doing something small, such as taking the time to listen to the birds sing every morning during Lent or watching the sunset every night. This small act of breathing into the world and work of our Creator is so meaningful.
- At the beginning of Lent, use wooden letters available and “bury” the alleluia that is not said during Lenten liturgies.
- Create a Lenten calendar. You can see several examples on my Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/carriedendtler/lent/
- Collect alms for your particular religious denomination or a monastery or convent. During Lent many Episcopal parishes collect for the United Thank Offering or for Episcopal Relief and Development.
- Daily prayer is so important. In the Episcopalian tradition, The Book of Common Prayer has many places to start with prayer. I think this year I will also use an app to help myself. I am not Roman Catholic, but I am thinking of using the Hallow App since this app will be celebrating the Lenten season.
- Fasting and confession are integral parts of Lent. Please discuss with your parish priest or spiritual advisor what is right for your family.
- My favorite books for Lent include “Kevin and the Blackbird’s Nest”, “Ravens of Farne”, “Rechenka’s Eggs”, “Petook” and “The Legend of the Three Trees”. We have many books for Lent and Eastertide, and continue to build up our collection over the years.
- With older children especially, I think one can really get into meaningful conversations about prayer, the role of prayer, and about what God is doing in their lives.
- Gratitude lists
- Make pretzels together.
- Crafts for young ones include wind rings and wind wands, walnut boats to sale, God’s eyes
- Lenten spring cleaning!
How are you planning on marking the season of Lent?