Sunday, February 26, 2017

Planning for Lent 2017

It's that time of year again! Lent begins this Wednesday, so our family had a meeting today, Sunday, to discuss our plans.

Parents Are Spiritual Directors

We parents are the spiritual directors of our children. It is very important at Lent--and throughout the year--that we be guiding them, making suggestions, drawing boundaries, and helping them develop their spiritual lives. Having kids "give up candy" for Lent and give it no more thought than that doesn't help them mature spiritually and leads to their being adults who don't know what else to do during Lent but give up candy. We spoke with each of our children about their Lenten ideas, what we see as areas in which they should be improving spiritually, making suggestions about Lenten practices that would help each child specifically with his or her particular weaknesses.

Plan Lent Specifically

For years, the individuals in our family have used the "Lent is Coming" worksheet prepared by a dedicated traditionalist priest. You can obtain the worksheet yourself at Rorate Caeli (here). The idea is that each Catholic should decide upon doing:

  • a voluntary amendment of life: kicking a bad habit that will remain kicked after Lent
  • an act of penance: giving up a little thing to train ourselves to give up big things; you may resume this good thing after Lent
  • works of charity: perform good and holy actions to strengthen our relationship with Christ and his Church

Each of our family members age five and above filled out a worksheet, then mounted it by his or her bed to glance at each morning of Lent.

Live Lent with one's Children

I greatly appreciate Leila Lawler's Lenten planning over at her blog (here), and am particularly meditating this year about skipping all the crafts and artsy projects and simply living Lent with my children. Our oldest children are now moving beyond "little kids ages" and we're so busy homeschooling and expecting Number Six that I'm starting to see that it's enough sacrifice and effort simply to live Lent and probably more spiritually salutary. Adding in all the crafts and coloring pages doesn't do so much if I'm then too tired to actually drag my brood to the Stations of the Cross at church or to perform the extra prayers at home.

I highly recommend reading Leila's blog post and the links she provides.

Our Lenten calendar from Shower of Roses

Feeling Arid and Hopeless?

Looking back over my own Lenten planning, I had to laugh aloud at my discovery two years ago that every other year, when I am pregnant, I feel arid and lost spiritually. Guess how I've been feeling this year as I prepare for Lent while pregnant? I was so glad to be reminded that apparently this is my pattern and is an understandable emotional status when all my physical and mental energy goes into making it through each day. Here is what I wrote in 2015:
"In past years, I've posted rather extensively ideas for planning for a fruitful Lent, particularly for the plans of homeschooling parents. This year, I found myself feeling what I thought was aridity, a smallness of self, a low amount of energy. I drafted this blog post writing disappointingly about how I couldn't even plan this Lent and how I'd have to look to my own self speaking to me from the past. However, when I actually looked back through my own Lent planning posts for resources, I noticed sharply that every other year I wrote the same blah post: those were the pregnancy years! And on the non-pregnancy years, I bubbled over with planning enthusiasm. This realization has relieved me: there's nothing wrong with me, I'm just putting most of my bodily, mental, and emotional energy into creating a new wee one!"

Brush Up on the Rules

If you visit the Mater Dei parish website (here), you will see a useful chart comparing rules for fasting and abstinence from the current practice and the discipline of 1962, so you can follow whichever you'd like during Lent.

Let's all pray to have a fruitful Lent!


  1. That link with the Laws of Days of Abstinence and Fasting is VERY helpful, and very interesting. Thank you!

  2. I found the information so helpful in this post. A week and a half into Lent, we printed the suggested worksheet for each participating member and posted them as excellent reminders. This coming about just when the novelty of Lenten practices were beginning to fade, thank you!