One of the ideas in this book is to make a large Lenten Calendar with the child. We have been doing this every year since, and all the children love it! Every year it varies slightly, and has been made from butcher paper, construction paper or poster board depending on what we had on hand each year. This year we made it from a large white poster board and taped it to the closet door in our school room.
Across the top, our calendar is titled:
LENT: Pray - Fast - Give Alms
Through prayer, fasting and alms giving, we bring Jesus into our lives, and commit ourselves to being united with him in his suffering, death and resurrection. Through this we also love and serve him as we love and serve our neighbor.
Our calendar has a square for each day, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Special Feasts and Holy days during that period are decorated to represent that day, for example, we have a picture of St. Valentine on Valentine's Day, February 14th. My kids love this, since it breaks up the long Lenten Season with special days to look forward to.
Each of the 7 days of the week, has a special prayer intention for that day that we offer our prayer and fast for. You could customize this for your family. This year, we choose:
Monday - For an End to AbortionOur family chooses something to do for each category (Pray, Fast, Give Alms) daily. Here is what we will be doing this year:
Tuesday - For Conversions to the True Faith
Wednesday - For Pope Benedict XVI and all Priests
Thursday - For our Family & Godparents/children
Friday - For Forgiveness of sins in our World
Saturday - For our Deceased Relatives
Sunday - In Thanksgiving for God's Blessings
PRAYThe kids say their prayers each morning for the above intentions, in addition to stations on Friday, family rosary each evening and weekday mass (a few extra days each week). The kids have stickers we made, of rosaries and churches etc, to add to the calendar after completing the prayers each day.
- Each Morning for the Special Intention of the Day
- Daily Rosary
- Mass: Tues, Thurs, Friday & Sunday
- Stations of the Cross on Friday
Last year was the first year that any of my kids understood the concept of giving something up. So, in the past, we did as the book suggested and instead of the children giving up, they gave away. Every day we would open the pantry door and the children would choose a can good to donate to the poor. (I had the lower shelves full of appropriate items to be donated.) We then placed the item in a box that the kids decorated and at the end of lent we delivered it to a needy person or organization. I plan to continue this activity with my younger children, and let my older boys decided what they would like to give up on their own... Last year Captain choose ketchup! It actually proved to be quite difficult! :)FAST
- Take one item from the pantry each day for the poor
- No meat on Fridays
- Religious Videos ONLY (Sunday’s excluded)
In Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler the author says, "Playing with pennies is fun, and so is putting them in a piggy bank. So try combining the two... Almost every church has Rice Bowls for lent... Think of items in your home that you can count. Select something different for every day of lent and put this on your calendar. For example, after deciding to count all the doors in your house, take the child and count all the doors. For each item counted, give him a penny to put in the Rice Bowl. There can be forty or forty-five pennies each day. It can add up, especially if you have more than one child! After Easter, bring the Rice Bowl to your church and have your child give it to your priest. Explain that this money will be used to buy food and clothes for people who do not have enough money to buy their own."GIVE ALMS
- Count the items listed for each Day
- Put corresponding number of pennies in the Rice Bowl
(Some examples of things that could be counted include: shoes, beds, windows, chairs, tables, pictures on the walls, trees in the yard, rooms, lights, books on the shelf, silverware, stairs, toys, etc, etc... You can be creative!)
This is a great opportunity to show the children how extremely blessed we are. It is also a good time to purge some unneeded items and pass them on to bless someone else with...
To finish up, each day after we finish our prayer, fasting, and alms giving we will place a purple cross over the square of that particular date on the calendar, this shows the children how we are moving closer to Easter!
The kids all REALLY love doing this each lent, and it helps ALL of us keep our focus.
Does your family make a Lenten Calendar? I'd love to hear about it if you do!