Parents are being reminded in a very real way of the Baptismal promise they made to be the first people to pass on their faith to their children this Lent. Our family, our domestic church, is the place where the faith is first seen and passed on, in all the little things we do each day with and for each other.
In this Lent of 2020, we are being called to make many sacrifices for the good of ourselves and others. Helping to keep your family focused on the Lenten season in a productive and tangible way will help us keep our faith alive.
“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:26
As people of faith, let’s focus on doing our works where we are right now, with our families.
The Catholic Church’s Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy provide for us a means of focusing on what is most necessary when loving and serving others.
The Corporal Works are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead.
The Spiritual Works are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, pray for the living and the dead.
How can we focus on works of mercy with children during Lent?
- Lift up spiritual bouquets.
A spiritual bouquet card is a way of letting people know you have done certain spiritual acts for them. You offer those up for their health or personal concern. You can pray a rosary, Divine Mercy chaplet, a Hail Mary — whatever you’d like. Make a list of family members or friends to pray for each day. Every morning pick a person’s name and commit to praying for them that day. Children can then make a “spiritual bouquet” card for those persons — telling them that your family prayed for them. The card could be a sign your children hold up and you take a picture and text it to the recipient. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it’s a way to let others know you are caring for them long distance.
- Share hopeful Bible verses.
Have your children draw a picture and add a Scripture quote. Then take a picture of it and text it to family and friends. If you have Facebook or Instagram, you can post it there as well. People appreciate good news!
- Put together a family litany of saints to pray together.
The pattern is like this: St. “x,” pray for us. If you want to add more, you could do this, St. “x,” patron of “y,” pray for us. Include Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus and then your names, names of other family members and the names of your favorite saints. Other endings after the saint name could be “protect us,” “guide us,” or “help us.”
- Write a family prayer together.
Maybe each family member can add a sentence to it. Pray it at mealtimes.
- Find a patron saint for your family.
Find a patron that can inspire you perform works of mercy. Or, look up saints based on things you like to do, where your family is from, or a specific need and find one that you can ask to intercede for you when you need help.
- Keep in touch with people outside of your home.
Call, email or send a note every day to at least one person.
- Take care of those thirsty.
Each day pick one person to be in charge of drinks and snacks for the family. Whenever it is time for snack, that person can set them out and clean up.
- Help feed the hungry.
At lunch or dinner, pick one person to fill glasses with drinks or bring plates already with food on them to the rest of the family.
- Sort clothes for future donations.
While at home, sort through clothes and toys to decide what can be donated to others in need.
- Donate whatever you can.
Taking into consideration your family’s safety and financial situation, consider donating food or money to a local food bank or shelter.
Create A Visual Reminder for the Season
It helps to keep track of the good we are doing in this season. (This is one idea that requires no trips to the store for most parents.)
Gather construction paper and/or colorful tissue paper, 2 small baskets or boxes, and glue.
Make a paper cross from construction paper and display it on a wall. Keep one of the boxes or baskets near the cross, and label it “Daily Works of Mercy.” Keep it within reach of everyone.
Tear up colorful construction or tissue paper into small pieces and put them in the second basket or box. Put this box in another place nearby where the supply of paper is easily reached by everyone.
As each person in the family does a spiritual or corporal work of mercy, they should take a torn piece of paper and put into the Daily Works of Mercy box.
Each day, at dinner or before bed, get together and glue the pieces of paper onto the cross.
By Easter, you will have a very colorful cross to celebrate the Resurrection.
Deanna Bartalini, MEd and MPA, is writer, speaker, and catechist serving on the retreat team at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach, Florida. She is the author of Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women: Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Life. Find out more at DeannaBartalini.com
Banner: Enterline Design / Shutterstock 216036064
Paper cross : Vadim Sazhniev / Shutterstock 1676817340
Shredded paper: Timquo / Shutterstock 642852625