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40 Practical ideas for living Lent as parents

PARENTS AT MASS
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Pick one or several from this list and get ready for a fruitful season.

Here is a creative and practical list of ideas for parents to do during Lent. These ideas are meant to inspire you to develop a plan for how you can go about living out your Lenten practices.

Let’s take a quick look at this quote from the Catechism #1438:

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

    1. Allow the Eucharist to be Your Strength. Consider going to Mass one more day a week (check out www.masstimes.org for suggested times near you). Maybe you can make the All School Mass at your Catholic school nearby or a Saturday morning Mass.  
    2. Go to Confession. Make an appointment on your calendar to receive God’s healing and forgiveness. You will gain new graces to help you in your vocation. Check out your local bulletin for times of Lenten Reconciliation services near you.
    3. Read the Daily Readings. Start your day with the readings, unite yourself with Mother Church and the Readings of the Day. Check out the www.usccb.org website for daily readings. They even offer an audio version for people on the go!
    4. Take the Coffee Mug Challenge. Get a new mug with a prayer or spiritual symbol that will trigger a reminder to say your morning prayers. I have a Morning Offering on mine.
    5. Add Prayer Petitions to Your Calendar. List names of friends, family, and acquaintances for whom you want to offer your special prayers and works on each day of your calendar. It is much easier to offer up your trials, tasks, and prayers when you are thinking of others.
    6. Give Up Take Out and Sit Down as a Family. Consider giving up drive-through coffee and other take-out meals. Consider going out of your way to cook homemade meals for your family and do it with renewed love and dedication to having family meals together.
    7. Unplug. Work on developing screen-free moments that can last hours, days or even weeks. Develop time where everyone in your family puts down their phones and devices and spends time together. Consider a family meal at least three times a week.
    8. Pray with Your Spouse Daily. Set just a few minutes aside each night to pray with your spouse. It can be a simple decade of the Rosary, sharing your prayer intentions or spontaneous prayer. It can be a little uncomfortable at first, but take it slowly and allow this beautiful new habit to develop. Image 40 days of praying with your spouse and the changes it can make in your relationship.   
    9. Declutter. Make it your goal to keep a clean car and home all during Lent. Take some time to work on keeping things neat and orderly. Have your children help, and everyone should do it without complaining! When we are better stewards of our stuff we often appreciate more our many blessings.
    10. Idleness Needs to Go. Keep an extra eye on how you spend your time. “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27. We all a need to wind down at the end of the day but be careful not to “check-out” from your family and their needs.  
    11. 40 Bags for 40 Days. Consider cleaning out unwanted clothing, shoes, toys, decorations, and items from which others can benefit. Begin with asking other friends if they need these items or find a thrift store that targets helping those most in need.
    12. Practice Friendship Fridays. Reach out to your friends on Fridays — no matter how busy you are we are never too busy to be a good friends to those God has placed in your life.  
    13. Write Meaningful Messages. Send words of encouragement in an old-fashioned letter.
    14. Pause and Remember. Journal a list of your friends, family members, and role models, and write why you are grateful for them and take some time to thank God for these amazing people.
    15. Work Out with Jesus. Take some time this Lent to focus on not only your spirit but your mind and your body as well. Walk with Our Lord, run with Our Lord, lift weights with Our Lord, do physical acts as a way to strengthen your body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit in a spirit of prayer and contemplation. Lately I’ve been watching www.formed.org videos when I am on the treadmill.
    16. Listen to Catholic Radio. Consider tuning in and listening in on your drive to work, while you are in the kitchen or doing your laundry. This type of radio can not only be informative, but you will find it entertaining! I did this as my Lenten offering a few years ago and found it very fulfilling. If you don’t have a local station, stream it off your phone or computer.
    17. Read Spiritual Books. There are so many beautiful, inspiring Catholic books that can help us along the journey. Consider starting a book club or joining one for spiritual support
    18. Be a Better Friend and Stop Gossiping. This habit can only be broken with extra graces and a determination to change how you think and what comes out of your mouth.
    19. Pause Before You Post. Consider practicing this formula for speaking about others: Before you speak or post, take a minute and ask if what you have to say about your friend: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Allow this Lent to be a time of taming our tongues and redirecting our thoughts to be more charitable.
    20. Come, Holy Spirit. Invoke the Holy Spirit throughout your day and watch this awesome series on the Holy Spirit at www.thewildgooseisloose.com. Your life will never be the same.   
    21. Examine Your Conscience Daily. St. Ignatius advised us to always take a moment out to examine our conscience each night before bed. Check out Fr. Michael Denk’s Examen Prayer app to help you learn this meditative practice.
    22. Stop Yelling. Make a conscious effort not to yell at your children. This is the hardest thing I have ever done for Lent. However, one priest advised me that if you make it through Lent without failing at least once in your resolve, you chose something too easy! “She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26)
    23. Reset your day with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This powerful chaplet will bring peace and graces to your day! Consider praying it at 3:00 p.m.
    24. Practice the Works of Mercy. Spend less time on Facebook and social media and more time practicing the Works of Mercy! As a busy mom of 7, I can find myself wasting time trolling the internet and reading about my friends’ lives, but not always reaching out to others. Here is a simple mommy friendly list of ways to live out the Works of Mercy. Works of Mercy Checklist for Busy Moms and the Spiritual Works of Mercy Checklist for Busy Moms.
    25. Take Time Out to Share Your Faith Journey. Take time out to share your faith journey with your children. It is easy to tell them about the faith, it is just as important to share how the gospel message has impacted your life.
    26. Find a charity. For example, Mary’s Meals feeds more then a million children for less than 10 cents a day.
    27. Seek Out More Silence in Your Life. The fact is we all need more silence! Carve out time to be able to hear the voice of the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:11
    28. Get Up Without Hitting Snooze. It’s said this is a chance to start your day off with a “heroic moment.”
    29. Listen to the In Conversation With God Podcast. I consider this my best 15 minutes of my day. This free podcast is based on the book series called In Conversation With God by Scepter Publishing. This series is being offered in an audio version at relevantradio.com and you can download it to right to your phone. This app also has a great variety of free audio prayers!  
    30. Give Up Sweets. You can do it! God can give you the graces you need to eat healthily and ditch the sugar.
    31. Get More Fresh Air. Go outside and enjoy a daily walk. Reduce your stress by walking and enjoying the fresh air. When was the last time you were outside?
    32. Turn Your Car into a Shrine. Turn off the radio, enjoy the silence, say your prayers and take time out to allow God to speak to you.
    33. Go On Pilgrimage. As we learn in the CCC 1438,  we are called to seek out holy places to visit and grow in our faith. Plan a trip for your family.
    34. Seek to Mend Friendships. Where do you need to initiate forgiveness and help offer the olive branch of mending a relationship? The words “I am sorry” go a long way.
    35. Pause Before You Criticize or Complain. Try to only speak words of encouragement! See what happens if for one day you couldn’t highlight the negative.
    36. Pray the Rosary. So many graces can come our way from the Daily Rosary. Consider making this a habit this Lent.
    37. Open Your Home. When is the last time you had friends and extended family members over?  
    38. Play with Your Children. Set some time aside and interact and play with your children on a daily basis. Spend the 40 days reading and playing with young children or grandchildren and see how your relationship grows!
    39. Get Your Family Discipline Under Control. Take some time out to evaluate whether your family needs to hit the reset button when it comes to family discipline. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too praises her.” Proverbs 31:28
    40. You Are Strong and Able to Make Holy Changes. Lastly, know that you can make changes in your life. Ask the Lord for His graces! “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
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